The Song Rising (The Bone Season #3) by Samantha Shannon

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You can find the Goodreads summary here.

Goodreads rating: 4.22

This review is SPOILER FREE 😊

This book. THIS BOOK. It was worth the two year wait and more, because it was absolutely bloody brilliant. Fantastic, amazing, exquisite. It left me in a mess of feelings and emotions that I’m still trying to process. It was the kind of book that I wanted to reread the second I finished it. Not only to reread it, but the entire series that it is part of (and this is saying something, since I just finished rereading the first two books a couple of months ago). It was an adventure that I am so glad to have been part of.

The Song Rising continues the story of Paige Mahoney, now Underqueen of the London Syndicate, who is trying to jumpstart a revolution and overthrow Scion. But with the looming introduction of Senshield, a new and improved way of detecting voyants, things escalate a lot faster than Paige had anticipated.

I’ve spoken time and time again about my utmost love for this series. The Bone Season felt like a fresh air back when I first read it and now, three books later, it’s still as original to me as it was back then. Although people have pointed out problematic aspects in the first book (you can read some reviews that highlight those here and here), I feel like the next two books, The Mime Order and The Song Rising, highlight such a strong progression in the story. To put it simply, The Bone Season as a whole is the story about the birth of a revolution, which starts blossoming with The Song Rising. The scene is set, the players identified, and now the dance begins. Its message of revolution, rebellion, striving to protect what is yours, what is dear to your heart, protect the community and your sense of self – it permeates the pages. I honestly cannot express well enough the impact that this book had on me. I was hooked from the very first page – it felt like coming home.

Samantha has matured as a writer and it shows. The prose flows, it enraptures the reader and I was holding my breath for 90% of the time, because everything that was happening was so intense. I was worried at first because, compared to the second book, this one was much shorter, but having finished it, I realise it was exactly how it was supposed to be. The only downside is that I finished it way too fast and I need the next book this second. 😂 My heart broke several times throughout reading, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The characters made the journey even more worthwhile. Paige is a force to be reckoned with and she’s definitely part of my all time favourite female characters. Maria and Tom are SO dear to my heart, I can’t even. Warden is bae, so are Nick and Eliza. The only thing is that I wish we had seen more of Nashira and Jaxon, especially, but I have a feeling they’ll be back with a vengeance in the next books. Also, I love how Samantha chooses to have so many female antagonists – smart, ruthless, devious women that make your blood chill.

I also have to mention something else, and this way, say a huge thank you to the author: she made Romania, my country, a part of this story. Not many people know about it, fewer people care about it, but to see it present in a series that is so dear to my heart means so incredibly much. So thank you ❤️

What I’m trying to say is that more people need to be reading this series. It’s so, so good and I cannot recommend it enough. It has a compelling story, amazing characters, beautiful writing and I absolutely adore it.

Favourite quotes:

“When you dream of change, it shines bright, like fire, and burns away all the rot that came before it. It’s swift and inexorable. You cry for justice, and justice is done. The world stands with you in your fight. But if there was one thing I had learned in these last few weeks, it was that change had never been that simple. That kind of revolution existed only in daydreams.”

“As centuries passed in you world, I learned everything about the human race. I learned that humans have a mechanism inside them: a mechanism called hatred, which can be activated with the lightest pull of a string. I saw war and cruelty. I saw slaughter and slavery. I learned how humans control one another. When we arrived in your realm, I used the stores of knowledge I had saved from the observatory – specifically knowledge of how intensely humans can hate. It was easy to turn the tide of public odium towards “unnaturals”, and to promise control. That was how Scion was born. An empire founded on human hatred. “

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day! Also, feel free to share your thoughts, comment or tell me anything 🙂

Buy it from the Book Depository 🙂

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Hello, my bookish bees 😊

I am here, once again, to provide assurance that the bookworm life has chosen you and will never ever let you go, even if you don’t meet certain “criteria” that a lot of people think is “essential”.

Without further ado, you’re still a bookworm if…

  • … you don’t read all the new releases

There are sooooo many books coming out each month (no, seriously, it’s insane) and it’s completely normal to sometimes (or always) be out of the loop when it comes to them. It’s a lot to follow and it’s a lot to take in and sometimes it’s not just possible to keep in touch with everything new that is out. It doesn’t mean that you’re not a bookworm if you haven’t read the latest hyped book or continuation of a well-loved series. Most times, I personally can’t afford to buy all these new books. So instead, I save up for when there are sales or special offers. The only downside is dealing with potential spoilers because people are evil.

  • … you only read books from the library and don’t have a personal collection

Libraries are god’s gift to this world and more people should be using them. But I’ve had people tell me that they’re worried they aren’t “true bookworms” if they don’t have a personal collection. To these people I say “fuck that”. I know we all dream of a library like the one in Beauty and the Beast, but we’re not princes in castles and books unfortunately cost a shit ton of money. Also, a lot of people don’t actually have the space to deposit a book collection, so libraries are a great way to keep reading and not hoard books. Seriously though, libraries 👌💯

  • … you don’t have books in pristine condition

I personally keep my books as spotless as possible, but that’s just because I’m weird. A looooot of people love seeing books that are well worn, because that’s a sign of them being read and loved. And I agree! However you choose to treat your books, that’s your decision. Dog-ear them, highlight them, write in them, whatever tickles your fancy, go forth my child and do the thing! Your books, your rules.

  • … you don’t read an insane amount of books/year

I’ve touched on this before: life likes to mess us up and that usually implies it smiling at us and saying “well shit son, no reading for you today 😘”. But that’s okay. Once a bookworm, always a bookworm, whether you read 1 pages a year or 10.000 😊

  • … you only read a certain genre

Hey, we don’t all have eclectic tastes in books and that’s normal and should be in no way questioned. You only read YA books? GOOD BECAUSE YA IS A GREAT GENRE FIGHT ME 👊 You only read classics? More power to you because that stuff is confusing to me 😲 You love poetry and couldn’t think of reading novels? DO THE THING! Just read what makes you happy. I guarantee that you’ll always find people to discuss your feelings/emotions/thoughts with.

Basically, my loves, you’re bookworms. Period. You’ve been anointed into this life and I’m sorry to say, but there’s no way out ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Mary ❤️

 

If We Were Villains – book review

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If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

You can find the Goodreads summary here.

Goodreads rating: 4.20

Oh. My. God. I loved this I loved this I looooooved this! So beautifully written, rich in detail, with an amazing cast of characters, it kept me hooked from beginning to end. It’s a story about friendship, passion, betrayal, grief, obsession, and most of all, love for the theatre and for Shakespeare.

From Goodreads:

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

Let me get one thing clear from the get go: I am not a fan of Shakespeare. I had read a couple of his plays in high school (Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet), but whether it was the translations or just the fact that it’s not for me, I wasn’t hooked on his works. But this did in no way impact my enjoyment of this book. It’s very Shakespeare centric, and probably a lot of things went over my head because of my lack of knowledge in The Bard’s works, but it was just too much fun to read for me to actually care about that. And I think this is one of the novel’s very strong points: it appeals to a more general audience than you’d think. Sure, those who love Shakespeare and have a background in theatre will probably enjoy it more. But it’s too good of a book for me not to recommend it to every human that crosses my path.

I loved the shift from present to past and I loved how masterfully Rio crafted the entire plot. I had so many theories while reading, that I kept changing from one act to the next, and I kept second guessing myself about everything. The suspense keeps building and you’re sucked into a closeted, secluded world, that works according to laws of its own. These students talk to each other in verses, they get so in touch with the characters their performing, that at one point, it’s difficult to separate the individual from the role they’ve been given to perform. They all feel much more intensely than other people, the relationships they form are more acute, everything is amplified. And all this gives this story the feel of a tragedy, with the reader as a spectator, unable to intervene or change anything, but forced to watch the show until the end, when the curtain drops.

The thing I probably loved the most was how well all the characters were fleshed out. It’s not an easy task to sufficiently elaborate on so many characters in what wasn’t a very long book, but all seven of them are clear in my mind. With their thoughts, their beliefs, their insecurities – they all managed to resonate with me in a way. And while they’re not necessarily likable characters, I nevertheless enjoyed reading about them all.

I also really loved the writing. While it had its choppy parts at times, overall, it kept me at the edge of my seat and it delivered a wholly fun and intense experience. It’s also very elegant, it flows, it has an allure that really helped me get into the story. Special mention goes to the entire Halloween scene, which is probably one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever read. (also, I really want to read Macbeth because of it, so there’s that).

I wholeheartedly 100% recommend this book. It made me feel all the feelings and I had a blast reading it. If you’re a fan of thrillers, of theatre, of Shakespeare, of tragedies, pick this up. It’ll be right up your alley.

Trigger warnings for: abuse, suicide. 

Favourite quotes:

“There are things they don’t tell you about magical places– that they are as dangerous as they are beautiful.”

“Whatever we did– or more crucially, did not do– it seemed that so long as we did it together, our individual sins might be abated.”

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day! Also, feel free to share your thoughts, comment or tell me anything 🙂

Buy it from the Book Depository 🙂

meKTvHW (1) - Copy - Copy

Hello yes I am here to impart some wisdom upon you all and tell you to stop stressing about how much you are or aren’t reading (I briefly touched on this in my “Things readers feel guilty about and why they should stop” post). Cause that’s a thing. I’m going to go on a limb here and say that it’s probably the number one source of stress/guilt when it comes to bookworms. The second someone sees their reading urges decline, it’s like a panic button suddenly activates somewhere inside their brain. Cue mayhem. Despair. Choirs of “nooooooooooo life why are you doing this to me I TRUSTED YOU“. Mentions of the dreaded Reading Slump.

However, my beautiful bookish friends, this is something normal and even expected at times. Navigating life means unfortunately dealing with its less pleasant components: responsibilities. Adulthood. School. Work. Shitty mental health at times. Social life. All of these, especially combined, can take a huge toll on you. This can manifest itself in a poor inclination to keep reading. Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to get invested in a book world. Sometimes it’s easier to Netflix and chill. Knit. Collect stamps. Go boat riding. Discover the next American top model. Experience other things that can be easier to do and get involved in. And, oh my gosh, my bookish bees, that is totally and completely okay!

Just because you’re not reading (as much) anymore, that doesn’t mean you’re not a bookworm anymore. Or that you’re a bad bookworm. Or that the world as we know it will end. It just means that you have other/more priorities, which cut into your reading time. But, you see, the really cool thing is that your books will be there for you when you feel like reading again. They’re not going anywhere. The stories, the characters, the bookish worlds – they’re infinite. And they’re forever. It may take you days or months or years, but one day, you’ll feel like going back to the pages and the words. And they’ll be there to welcome you home.

We put so much pressure on ourselves sometimes, to keep doing something out of habit, out of the need to prove to ourselves that we’re the same person, out of pressure (especially bloggers, bookstagrammers, booktubers fall into this category), that we don’t realise that it stops being enjoyable. We force ourselves to keep going and we lose the joy we have for it in the process. Reading can be a chore. It can be tedious. It can no longer be enjoyable. Which is why it’s 100% okay to say “I need/want a break; I need to not be reading as much”. We constantly change, evolve as individuals. What we enjoyed at one point in our lives may not be a reality a few years later. And it’s okay to admit that.

The way I see it, once a reader, always a reader. You don’t lose that badge. You earn it the second you read your first page out of a book and you have it for life. So stop stressing about this. Read when you feel like reading. The purpose is to be happy while you’re doing it. No matter how much or how little you do it. 🙂

 

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley – book review

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Goodreads link

Goodreads rating: 4.23

THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE 🙂

I’m in love. With this book, with the characters, with the writing, with everything. As a reader, this was a book that literally warmed my soul and heart. It’s a story about love, loss, friendship, family and, most importantly, books. It’s essentially a love letter to books and I think  I’ve been waiting to read it my entire life. I’m so happy I found it.

From Goodreads:

This is a love story.
It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.
It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.
Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.

This was absolutely beautiful. As a reader, I don’t think I’ve related to a book so much before. The love for books permeates the pages and you can *feel* it. I adore the idea of Howling Books and the Letter Library – having people leave notes and letters in books, that can be later discovered by other people. Having books as a means of communication between people who might never see each other again or who have never actually met. It creates such a connection, not only between the characters, but between the reader and the book itself. I honestly want to live inside the universe of this book. Move into the Letter Library and never, ever leave.

The characters were brilliant. Henry was adorable and funny and dorky, but in a really cool way. Rachel was sweet and witty and an amazing person all around. The side characters were quirky and exactly what this book needed. I loved each and every one of them (maybe except for Amy because no). The dialogue was on point. The prose was *beautiful*. I really have difficulty expressing myself properly, because I don’t have enough words to praise this as much as it deserves. How can I explain how much this book resonated with me? You need to read it for yourself and see. As a reader, it was a perfect novel. Riddled with references to other books (I caught a reference to Ready Player One, which honestly blew my mind), discussion based on them, characters whose love for books is a defining trait… I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a love letter to books as a whole.

It’s such a… cosy book. It left me feeling fuzzy and warm and with overall just a good, pure feeling. Very few books have made me feel this way. I don’t know if it was the writing – so poetic, so gentle, so calming – or if it was something else. The truth is that it will probably be a go-to book whenever I need something to quiet the mind and the world. It’s comforting, quiet, but not boring or dull.

It’s absolutely brilliant. And a must-read for anyone who loves books. Which is probably all of you reading this. So do yourselves a favour and pick this up immediately.

Favourite quotes:

“[…] words do matter. They’re not pointless. If they were pointless then they couldn’t start revolutions and they wouldn’t change history and they wouldn’t be the things that you think about every night before you go to sleep. If they were just words we wouldn’t listen to songs, we wouldn’t beg to be read to when we’re kids. If they were just words, then they’d have no meaning and stories wouldn’t have been around since before humans could write. We wouldn’t have learned to write. If they were just words then people wouldn’t fall in love because of them, feel bad because of them, ache because of them, stop aching because of them, have sex, quite a lot of the time, because of them.”

“Second hand books have a way of travelling, sure. But what travels forward can come back.”

“We are the books we read and the things we love. Cal is the ocean and the letters he left. Our ghosts hide in the things we leave behind.”

★★★★★

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day! Also, feel free to share your thoughts 🙂

 

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Can someone please tell me how it’s March already? How did this happen? Where is time flying? I don’t want to fly with it. I want to go back and be five years old again is that too much to ask?!?!

Anyway, while I’m raising myself from this pit of despair over the passing of years and “so many books so little time this is an actual problem”, let me tell you about the books that I managed to read throughout February! *cue excitement* It was a pretty good reading month for me, so I’m pretty proud of myself 😊 (links take you to the Goodreads page for the books)

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* The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (review)
I reread this book in preparation for the 3rd book, The Song Rising, being released this month. I love The Bone Season, it’s one of my favourite series and I had the best time rereading these books. Samantha has crafted such a wonderful, unique world and I find her books a breath of fresh air. I am SO excited for The Song Rising. You guys really really need to read this series if you haven’t yet. Don’t question me, just do it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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* Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (no review yet because I’m a lazy shit)
This book utterly destroyed my feels. It’s so poignant and beautiful and it tugs at the reader’s heartstrings in a way that left me in a puddle of tears on the floor. It’s perfect for people who enjoy being murdered by books and who love historical fiction. Side note, we should totally be able to take sick days because of emotional distress caused by heartbreaking books. Who’s with me? 😂 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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* The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Heroes of Olympus book #3 – again, no review because see above)
Meh. I mean, it wasn’t bad. But I didn’t really like it. And I’ve been struggling to finish it since December. I thought it was way too long and I found myself bored while reading it. Also, I’m not enjoying everyone’s point of views and that’s a big problem. The last 200 pages were a bit better and I do still plan on finishing the series. But I’m so bummed for not liking the Heroes of Olympus as much as I would have expected. Here’s hoping the last two books redeem the series in my eyes. ⭐⭐⭐

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* Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (review)
I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. Now that I got that out of the way, you all need to read this asap. It was a reread for me now, I first read it back in 2014 and fell head over heels for the amazing world that Cline has created. As a gamer, this book was such a treat for me. I had a ton of fun reading it and I honestly cannot recommend it enough. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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* Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (review)
What even is my life. This book. I cannot. I know I’m being very articulate right now, but this book fucked with my emotions. I really really liked it, despite some issues that I mention in my review. Long story short, if you enjoy dark, twisted fantasies, this is a must read for you. Just..no really, go for it right now. ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

I’d say I had a pretty decent reading month 😂 I mean, I finished books and that’s the goal, so points for Mary 😂

What books did you read this month? Which one was your favourite? Let me know! 💖

 

 

 

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff – book review

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Goodreads link

Goodreads rating: 4.19

THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE 🙂

I don’t even know where to begin, to be honest. I’m still reeling after the insane plot twist that I 100% DID NOT SEE COMING JAY Y U DO DIS TO MY HEART, so my emotions are very very jumbled right now. But I really really enjoyed this book. It’s honestly a must read for fans of fantasy and anyone who loves intricate world building. Nevernight packs all the punches: good characters, compelling plot, twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Reading it was a roller-coaster experience. I’m still dizzy.

From Goodreads:
Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Nevernight and me… we didn’t start off too well. For the first 150 pages I was legitimately debating whether to put it down and save it for later, because I had a really hard time getting into it. The writing was dense, it was difficult for me to follow and I just wasn’t really enjoying myself. Add to that the extensive world building, and the footnotes that were scattered on almost every page and I was ready to give up (footnotes are the spawns of Satan, fyi, just wanted to put this out there). However, talking to friends who told me it will suddenly pick up and that I should try stick it through (YOU CAN DO THE THING, MARY, GODDAMN IT), along with the fact that I was genuinely intrigued by the main character, helped me power through. Once I passed that critical mark, the story just…fell into place. I wasn’t confused anymore, I was hooked. It was like someone turned on the light. I had grown accustomed to Jay’s writing and to the language of the book and things suddenly got a lot more entertaining. And bloody. But mostly entertaining. Jay crafted such a page turner and I was constantly on edge, trying to figure out what the fuck was going on. Ah, good times. (I still didn’t see the damn thing coming CURSE YOU JAY)

I absolutely loved the characters and their development. Mia’s story is one of struggle and revenge and heartbreak. She’s a wonderful protagonist, witty, smart, strong and unapologetic. I think what I really enjoyed was the fact that all the characters are morally grey. There’s no black or white in Nevernight, just as there is no proper day or night. Everything is just shades of grey. The supporting characters were a treat and all of them memorable and with a significant part to play. I think the word that mostly encompasses the essence of Nevernight is complexity – from the plot to the characters to the writing.

Speaking of the writing, I had a love/hate relationship with it for the first third of the book. As I mentioned before, I had trouble getting into it and it was partly because the writing was pretty dense and metaphoric. I was enjoyable, but it made it pretty difficult for me to always understand exactly what the writer was trying to convey. I got accustomed to it eventually, but it was a bit of a struggle. It was beautiful, though, so my issue may partly be due to a language barrier, since English isn’t my first language. That being said, I slowly got into it further on and I have to praise Kristoff especially on dialogue, because he’s brilliant at it. So much sass! And even though I said that footnotes are the spawn of Satan (which they totally are shut up), I have to mention the hilarious sarcastic commentary going on in them. The shade. The sass. It was just A+++.

Now on to some not so happy things.

First off, this is not a Young Adult book. I have no idea why people are saying it’s YA, but it’s not. It’s pretty violent, bloody and gory. Not to mention that there are several quite explicit sex scenes. So bear this in mind if these things are triggering for you in any way.

Secondly, something that bothered me was the “beautification” process the initiates go through. I don’t think it sends the best message when it comes to body image and self acceptance. I can kind of see where the author was coming from when writing it, but I still think it can be dangerous and generally a trope to be avoided.

Thirdly, there are people who have claimed the depiction of the Dweymeri people is racist. I will link a blog post here, where the author explains the problematic issues. They are mostly related to how the Dweymeri are based on the Maori people, which leads to cultural appropriation. Also, the Dweymeri are described as brown skinned, with tattoos on their faces, which are the result of rituals within their culture. I won’t comment more on this, because I’m not the person to do so, but I urge you to read the article I linked above.

All these being said, I overall really enjoyed this book. Despite the rocky start, I found myself turning page after page. I’m so, so interested to see where the story will go on in the next book. If you love fantasy, you need to read this. But don’t expect something magical and fluffy. This story is dark and twisted and sometimes hard to swallow. But it’s soooo so good.

Favourite quotes:

“The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You’re a daughter of the words. A girl with a story to tell.”

“You’ll be a rumor. A whisper. The thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the nevernight. The last thing you will ever be, girl, is someone’s hero.”

“The brighter the light, the deeper the shadow.”

★★★★ 1/2

To everyone who got this far, thank you for reading and have a wonderful day! Also, feel free to share your thoughts 🙂