Wednesday, 19 February 2020

#bookreview: Empire of Sand | Tasha Suri

Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1)Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW. Where do I go with this review other than... WOW!

I picked up Empire of Sand when Tasha Suri was at SRFC in March last year. And then I sat on it because I had so many other things to do and so many other things to read and... now I am filled with regret for wasting all that time.

Empire of Sand is stunning. It stuns you with the sheer beauty and intricacy of its world-building, inspired as it is by medieval India. It stuns you with the depths of its emotions as Mehr is entrapped within inescapable silk cages by her words and her honour and her love. It stuns you with its brutality, where even the simplest choice can become an issue of life or death. And as you read, your heart bleeds with Mehr, with Amun, with all those who serve the mystics, whether from fear or from love.

Love is a funny thing. It gives you courage to do the impossible, but it also takes away your choices. Protected by her father's love and his power as Governor of Jah Irinah, Mehr is also looked down on as the illegitimate daughter of an Amrithi nomad. Within those strict confines, Mehr exists as neither one nor the other, until she's caught performing a forbidden rite. And it's there, out of her love and fear for her sister, that she makes a tough decision, the first in a long line of many harder choices. Yet, if there's anything to be taken from this book, it's that love also empowers you and helps you find ways where there is no obvious solution.

I'd go as far as to say that Empire of Sand is the best book I've read this year, even if it's only February.

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look look look, signed copy!

Monday, 17 February 2020

#musicmonday: The End Where I Begin | The Script



Sometimes tears say all
There is to say
Sometime your first
Scars don't ever fade, away
Tried to break my heart
Well it's broke
Tried to hang me high
Well I'm choked
Wanted rain on me
Well I'm soaked
Soaked to the skin

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

#bookreview: Asperfell | Jamie Thomas

AsperfellAsperfell by Jamie Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Asperfell is the kind of book that you start reading, and you fall into fairly easily, even while your mind goes, I know exactly where this is going. And it goes in those exact. same. places. without deviating. But it doesn't stop you from devouring it anyway.

It pings every single YA trope there is, which may be what makes it (5 stars woot!), but also what breaks it (3 stars eh, I saw that from a mile away). Briony is the feisty, untrained but unquenchable female protagonist who blunders into everything--not quite blindly, at least, but with more faith and hope than her skill and talent warrants. And obviously, she has the one rare magical aptitude that is needed for this time... Then there is the broody, irritable, and unlikeable male protagonist, traitor prince Elyan, who holds deep, dark secrets he can't share with anyone--and is not so bad when he finally smiles.

Add in the classic enemies to lovers and a slight tinge of coming-of-age (or at least growing into responsibility), the semi-medieval setting, court intrigue, and there you have it. Only, Elyan and Briony are actually of legal age (at 28 and 20-ish?), so it's basically aged-up YA. Other than an attempted rape and backstories of abuse, neither of which go into graphic details, it's a very clean read.

Predictability aside, Asperfell is a fun magical romp, with deftly executed twists and tragically crafted backstories that add to the depth of the characters, even if they don't bring anything fresh to the plot. It unfortunately ends on a cliffhanger, because trilogy. So... book 2?

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Uproar Books via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Asperfell releases on 18 February 2020. Preorder here (affiliate link).

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

#bookreview: Brunt Boggart: A Tapestry of Tales | David Greygoose

Brunt Boggart: A Tapestry of TalesBrunt Boggart: A Tapestry of Tales by David Greygoose
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Brunt Boggart: A Tapestry of Tales is a collection of brand new folk tales. From the (imaginary) village of Brunt Boggart to the (equally imaginary) town of Arleccra, Greygoose brings you down the Peddlar Man’s track, one that twists and turns, slithers and jumps through space and time. It’s an ambitious undertaking.

And it starts off well. I fall into this quaint English village with whispered superstitions, chanted verses, and secret songs. I am enchanted by the Wolfboy who gives up the woods to become Greychild, all the while harbouring in his heart a secret quest to find his lost mother. There’s so much to discover about Brunt Boggart, about Ravenhair and her grandmother’s black ribbon; Crossdogs who is the best fighter, the Wolf Slayer, but also has the kindest heart; the Peddlar Man who trades ribbons and dolls and shiny things. It’s almost real, encased in a kind of shimmery surreality. There’s a lilt to the words, a purposeful rustic garbling that’s almost authentic, but not quite. At times, I can almost hear the rhythm and the beat, can almost be absorbed into the lyricism of the story. But then some wildly outlandish thing happens and I am dragged out again, wondering, what’s going on here?

It’s a tapestry, alright. There’s no one story, but many, thrown together haphazardly with many loose ends that just disappear. There seems to be a larger narrative arc that follows Greychild and smaller arcs following Crossdog and Ravenhair, but it’s all jumbled up and jumps around way too much for me to get a proper grip on. There’s also the impossibility of it all. Whilst folk and fairy tales have their fair measure of magic and bizarre happenings, there’s usually something that pulls them together and gives the story a cohesiveness that makes it believable, magical even. In Brunt Boggart, it just stays bizarre and confusing; I’m often left wondering if the events in the story were meant to be real, or a dream, or a fever dream, or a… what?

All told, this book is meant for reading aloud, to let its repetitions and rhythms bring you to another world… where you don’t have to think about plot and what the heck is actually going on.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Pushkin Children's Books via Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Monday, 3 February 2020

#musicmonday: Body and Wine | Jars of Clay



Rusty ground and dusty roads
It's been a while since you were king
Undermined and overthrown
You tried to run it on your own

Forget the birds with broken wings
Under piles of things on things
No one stops and no one stares
Seen it all and no one cares

What if this was all that we were made of?
This was all that we could make of love
If there wasn't more, I wouldn't be here
Hero and crime, body and wine

Drove my heart toward the sea
Passed the graves up over hills
Saw the spires hit the ground
Voices raised without a sound

What if this was all that we were made of?
This was all that we could make of love
If there wasn't more, I wouldn't be here
Hero and crime, body and wine
Hero and crime, body and wine

What if this was all that we were made of?
This was all that we could make of love
If there wasn't more, I wouldn't be here
Hero and crime, body and wine

What if this was all that we were made of?
This was all that we could make of love
If there wasn't more, I wouldn't be here
Hero and crime, body and wine
Hero and crime, body and wine
Body and wine

notes.