The Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo [BOOK REVIEW]

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★★★★ (3.8 ★, to be exact)

Sometimes, we enter a library, not really knowing what we are looking for. One day, I entered the library, only to return a few books. Instead, I returned with two more. The first one didn’t impress me, but the second one was this book –The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. I only picked it up, because I liked the cover. And I know, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I guess the magic worked on me this time around.

This book featured six stories, all six magical and beautiful in their own way. Some attracted me more, some a bit less, but I, overall, feel delighted to have read this book. I haven’t read Leigh’s previous books, so I didn’t know about this world before, but these are apparently the same woods featured in those books as well.

I will give a brief opinion on all stories, and the main rating will be the average from them all. Let’s go.

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1. Ayama and the Thorn Wood – ★★★★

‘’Interesting things only happen to pretty girls.’’

A beautiful tale that will show you how beauty comes from within. The King and Queen have two sons – one is a beautiful man, the future king, and the other one is a monster. They are scared and ashamed of the monster-boy, and let him live his life in the labyrinth they made for him. In the village, in a poor family, there are two daughters, one as beautiful as the sun, and the other one ugly. When the monster escapes the labyrinth and starts ruining fields and make disasters, everyone is scared to go and talk to him and beg for forgiveness, so the ugly lady is sent to her woods – quite certain she will never return…

‘’This little prince was shaped a bit like a boy but more like a wolf, his body covered in slick black fur from crown to clawed foot. His eyes were red as blood, and the nubs of two budding horns protruded from his head.’’

2. The Too-Clever Fox – ★★★★

‘’Freedom is a burden, but you will learn to bear it.’’

I loved this story the most, out of all six of them. It reminded me of home, and of how we tell stories back there. The whole ‘’Once Upon a Time’’ is real, and I enjoyed every moment of it. The winter theme, the hunting, the girl and the fox. This is a story that will teach you to not be assured you can outsmart everyone. Foxes in stories have always been presented as the smart ones, outsmarting every animal in the woods. This reminds me of Aesop’s Tales, which I really loved as a little girl. But sometimes, you will get outsmarted, and it might cost you your life. The twist was definitely unexpected, but indeed satisfying.

3. The Witch of Duva – ★★★

A story where girls disappear, and one girl decides to go into the woods and try to figure out why. This story upset me, and I didn’t like it. But deep inside, it’s a good one. Very creepy though, and very horror-y, but worth reading. Turn the lights off, get under a blanket, turn your torch on, and only then you will be ready to know the deep secrets this story tells you.

4. Little Knife – ★★★★

The shortest story in the book, but by all means not the least intriguing. A story that features a woman that is too beautiful, that men lose their mind as soon as they see her. To get the chance to marry her, men will have to go through a various of tasks. The twist at the end is incredible, and I really liked it. It starts off as a usual story, but it goes wild.

5. The Soldier Prince – ★★

This was a story I enjoyed the least. It all screamed ‘’The Nutcracker’’ to me, and I couldn’t see it as original. It was a re-make, and it was very different that the story we know, but it just didn’t work for me. This is a story about a man who makes toys and gives them life. And when one toy sort of ‘’wakes up’’, interesting things start to happen. Quite a creepy story. I usually like those, but this one was not my cup of tea.

6. When Water Sand Fire – ★★★★

‘’ We were not made to please princes.’’

This one is the longest story in the book. It features a world of creatures living underwater, and Ulla, who can sing and create magic, but who, as the people believe, is not a true born, but a mix between the underwater world and the humans. She is asked to help the prince become a king, but when the magic price is too high to paid, it doesn’t seem like she has a choice. I truly enjoyed this story, as it’s a beautiful mix of emotions while you read it. It was a bit disappointing that it seems as a remake of the creation of the character of Ursula from The Little Mermaid, at least to me.

Have you read this book, or any of Leigh Bardugo’s books? Let me know in the comments, I love to chat with you!

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Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi [BOOK REVIEW]

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★★★★★

‘’In the beginning, Orisha was a land where the rare and sacred maji thrived. Each of the ten clans was gifted by the gods above and given a different power to land.’’

It is not every day that you encounter a book that lets you dive in a world of magic, with such intensity as Children of Blood and Bone. A story so beautifully written, that you forget this is not the real world and you are in a fantasy story. This is one of the books I wish I could keep reading it for the first time again and again.

When majis are born with white hair, it means that they are touched by the Gods. They are called Diviners, and when they celebrate their thirteenth birthday, they have the ability to use magic.

Zelie still remembers how Orisha used to have magic. Different clans existed, and they could all control different things: air, water, earth… But Zelie also remembers the night when everything went wrong. When the king and the army came and killed hundreds of people. Zelie remembers, like it was yesterday, how on that night they brutally killed her mother. The night when magic disappeared forever.

And when Zelie realises that she is one of the very few people that can still use magic, and return magic in Orisha, she goes on a quest with her brother. With the help of a princess that escapes the castle, she has to learn to control her magic powers, and also her feelings for an enemy she mustn’t trust.

‘’I longed for the day I would feel the magic of the dead in my bones, but right now all I can feel is an unnerving tingle in my veins.’’

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The world is so well created, and the characters are all loveable and adorable. The magic story in this book is unique and I loved getting to know more about all clans, what they can do, and reading about people realising they have magic in themselves.

Zelie, as a character, is the protagonist, as all adventures are revolved around her, but the other characters are as much as important, if not in some cases, more important than her. She is a character that many of us can relate to. A person that has been denied the sole purpose of existing. A person that has suffered, because of other people’s choices. For Zelie, this was the denial of magic to her and her people, but for others it could be just anything. What I loved the most was the bravery that she showed, even though inside her she would be so scared. It felt as if fear itself made her to be brave. And I have felt that many times. Sometimes, you don’t really have a choice, but to be brave, no matter how scared you might be.

Then, we have Zelie’s brother, Tzain, who is always the more cautious one and tries to (unsuccessfully) keep Zelie out of trouble. He has so much love for Zelie in his heart and is always the one throwing himself out there to protect her. If I ever had a brother, I would wish for him to be Tzain. I couldn’t explain the love and connection they have together with Zelie. It’s so beautiful!

Then there is Amari, the princess that doesn’t agree with her father’s choices, and decides to follow her heart. I think I loved Amari the most out of all characters, as she was my true hero. Raised in a world of ruthless cruelty, and forced to do things she doesn’t want, her father, the king, always believes that she is weak, and incapable of defending herself and ruling a kingdom. And out there, with Zelie and Tzain, is where Amari finds her true self, and the moment she does is the best scene in this whole book, the beauty of a woman being so powerful, only because she was being belittled her whole life.

‘’It’s like seeing her for the first time: the human behind the maji. Fear embedded in the pain. Tragedy caused in Father’s name.’’

And in the end, we have Inan, the most controversial character in this book. The son of the king, and brother of Amari, dedicated to follow his father and rule the kingdom, but struggling between what is right and wrong. When he realises he has magic as well, he can’t confess, as his father kills those who have magic, but meeting Zelie, he is not so sure anymore of what really is happening in his kingdom, and has to make a decision on whose side he wants to be.

‘’The truth cuts like the sharpest knife I’ve ever known.’’

I loved how the story is focused on both worlds:

The world of Zelie and Tzain, where they live in small town with their father, they have to pay incredible amount of diviner tax, and the taxes get more and more expensive, and become impossible to be paid, so people have to go and do free labor for the king, never to be free again. They are faced with such unfairness and cruelty, but their families and the people in the village are sticking together to survive through everything.

And then we have the world of Amari and Inan, and the King. A world where magic is forbidden and all people that can use magic are being slaughtered. A world where being fierceless and cruel means that you are strong enough to lead a kingdom, and protect Orisha.

The only remark I have on this book were the acknowledgements. As much as I respect that story being told, and appreciate it with all my heart, I also really wished I haven’t read that part as it changed the story in the end for me, in a negative way. As I truly believe that every single person has the ability of magic in themselves. Every single person is powerful, and we all should be Diviners! And Inan having the ability himself proves my point on this as well.

A story about the battle of magic and friendships, a story about wins and losses, a world where magic lives in every single one of us. A world where we all belong. A masterpiece, this is. And a powerful one as well.

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Nights in Rodanthe – Nicholas Sparks [BOOK REVIEW]

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★★★

Nicholas Sparks is the romance genius. He is able to create stories of people falling in love, like no author I have read a book from yet. He puts so much emotion and feeling into the pages, that after one of his books, reading another romance seems boring.

Having read almost all of his books, I decided to finish all the ones I haven’t read, and when I suddenly encountered this one in the library, I told myself – ‘’Hey, why not?’’

The synopsis was intriguing, as all of his books are, but unlike the others, Nights in Rodanthe left me disappointed. With his books – this was the first time I ever felt like that. And that is why I need to mention this.

First of all, the story is very predictable. Too predictable – even. I knew what was going to happen from the very first chapters, and I was expecting at least a little bit of a plot twist, but nothing really happened.

Secondly, the romance was fake. The falling in love part? I didn’t see it. I just can’t imagine people falling in love in three days. I am sorry – but it is impossible. Crush, interest, lust, someone paying attention to you, and you feeling goosebumps – I can understand it all. But in three days, I can’t imagine anyone falling so deeply for one another, that you can’t look at another person ever again, and they are all you think about, all day.

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Honestly – how well can you get to know a person in three days? Will you get to know the real person? When you’ve never seen them sad, angry, how they behave in company, how they behave when drunk, when upset, when they are doing daily chores, like going at work (note – this all happened while they were sort-of on vacation).

I can remember how many summers I have spent going on vacation for ten days, and thinking I was in love with someone. I am sure you have gone through the same.

So, knowing all this above, I just couldn’t feel for these people as I used to feel with many from Sparks’s characters in other books. And don’t judge me, that this would be the sole reason why I rate this book the way I do. After all, it’s a romance novel.

On the other side though – it is an emotional novel. If you, for a moment forget how fast this romance happened and how unreal it is, the story is going to deeply hurt your soul, and crush you into pieces. Fake romance or not, you are going to shed a few tears for sure.

To wrap this up – I didn’t like it. I am not into fake, impossible romance. But this book seems to be a hit or miss, so if you like Nicholas Sparks – I still encourage you to read it. You never know, it might be your favourite book from him so far.

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Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu [BOOK REVIEW]

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★★★★★

A fantasy of a virtual world, and a game that brings people together. A story of a girl that struggles to pay her rent, and her ability to hack the most important game of the year – Warcross. And when the creator of Warcross hires her, needing her help – she begins her adventure.

From the first moment that I read the synopsis of Warcross, I knew I wanted to have this book on my shelf and read it immediately. A couple of reasons stand behind this story:

  • A girl is a main character, and a fierce one. As boring it might seem, I love a book with brave characters, especially if it’s a teen girl. I think when girls are featured as brave and fearless in books, it gives encouragement to a lot of girls reading the book, that are struggling through their teenage years.

  • I am a vivid video games player. I play a lot of games, and this is something you might not have known about me. Feel free to ask me anything in the comments. I love the gaming community, and I believe that if it weren’t for the video games, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

  • If you haven’t read it, you have all probably heard about Ready Player One. I absolutely loved it, and watched the movie, and I am still in love with it. And when book reviewers started comparing Warcross to Ready Player One, I had to see if this was true. I just had to check for myself.

And then, I got this book as a birthday gift from my boyfriend. (see my Birthday Haul). So here we are, a few reasons after, me having read this book and telling you all what I thought.

Firstly, I feel like I need to say this – Warcross is nothing like Ready Player One.

Yes, we have a virtual world, and (surprise) virtual characters in the world. And yes, there is a game and the creator of the game is involved. But the whole plot and story are so much different in so many ways.

The descriptions of the virtual world, the story lines, the dialogues, the way the story flows, the romance – it is all unique and original.

And for you out there that compare this to Ready Player One – it is as if you are comparing Romeo and Juliet and Tristan and Isolde, only because they both have a plot of romance and forbidden love. It is ridiculous, let me tell you.

Even though the Warcross game as its own was brilliantly explained and described, I felt like we didn’t see much of the rest of the virtual world. I loved the way Marie Lu would talk about the world – so much passion in each chapter.

The discussion opens on virtual reality and the worlds that could be created. It is not a matter of whether it will happen, but when? I keep thinking I might be alive when we will live in a world of ”virtuality”. Would we be happier? Would we be smarter? Or would this just be another tool for people to get richer, by using its users? Is the future scary? Should it be?

Emika is a character I think many girls will relate to. Brave and fierce, even though she is afraid inside. A strong, young woman, that stands for what she believes in, even when this might mean losing the people she loves the most.

The story flows so quickly, and each end of the chapter begs you to start another one, and before you know it, it’s 4am and you keep reading, unable to stop. This book has some strange power right there!

The twists were interesting, even though some of them were predictable. Even with the knowledge of this, I would always miss something amazing, and even knowing what will happen, the experience was always pleasant.

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I am so glad I got to read this book, and I am so excited to read Wildcard soon as well. I am definitely recommending this to all of you – I am sure you will enjoy it.

If you have read it, let me know what you think in the comments – I would love to discuss it!

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Circe – Madeline Miller [BOOK REVIEW]

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WHEN I WAS BORN, the name for what I was did not exist.

 

I was waiting for two whole months to get this book from the library. And I finally had a chance to read Circe from Madeline Miller. A book that everyone was talking about. The only thing you were gonna see on Instagram. Well, here I am – sitting with the cool kids now, I’ve read this book.

The reason I wanted to read this book wasn’t because I wanted to be part of the cool kids. Actually, it was because Greek Mythology has a special place in my heart. See, I was born in Macedonia, a country full of history, and so very close to Greece, where histories and cultures and traditions match and mix.

When I was in school, our teachers focused hard on history. Especially Roman and Greek Mythology. So yes, I grew up with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey  and yes, I know all the gods out there, what they do, who they married, who their children are.

I have read about Circe, but I have never given her any meaning, as she is not mentioned a lot in Homer’s works, as you might already know. And then suddenly, there is a book about her life. I had to read it!

AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!

 

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This might be my favorite book of 2018!

 

I enjoyed Madeline’s writing style. It was so explanatory and calm, and soothing, like swimming in nice calm waters. You would just gulp her words as you read, and before you know it, you have read 200 pages.

Circe, oh Circe! Her character was so well described – such a strong powerful woman. We start with her childhood, to her growing up, and we follow the process of how she learned things the hard way, how she is naive, and then suddenly isn’t, how she discovers the power she holds within, despite everyone else mocking her and saying otherwise. We see how she decides to say no, how she is not afraid to be a rebel, and how she suffers, and loves, and protects, and cares, and survives, and lives!

You will read a story about the love a mother has toward her child, the love a woman has toward her man, the love a son has towards her mother, the love for freedom, the love for glory…

If you love Greek Mythology, you will get the chance to say hi to some of your favourite gods, nymphs, titans, monsters – Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Prometheus, Odysseus and many more which I will fail to reveal.

I hardly believe that this is a great book for introducing Greek Mythology to new young readers. I also hardly believe that this book will change the thoughts of many people, the way they see things, the way they live, the way they think.

 

It was one of my favorite things about him: how he always fought for his chance.

 

There are a lot of side characters that give their own meaning to the story as well, and there is also Odysseus, and at times it feels as this is his story, but in the end you realised that this story belongs to Circe only.

 

Do not listen to your enemy, Odysseus had once told me. Look at them. It will tell you everything.

I looked. Armed and armored, she was (Athena), from head to foot, helmet, spear, aegis, greaves. A terrifying vision: the goddess of war, ready for battle. But why had she assembled such a panoply against me, who knew nothing of combat? Unless there was something else she feared, something that made her feel somehow stripped and weak.

Instinct carried me forward, the thousand hours I had spent in my father’s halls, and with Odysseus polymetis, man of so many wiles.

 

To all of you out there – please take your time to read this book! It will leave you breathless, inspired, motivated and it will change your life forever. It changed my life – that’s for certain!

 

Watermelon – Marian Keyes [BOOK REVIEW]

A lovely read! Marian Keyes is one of my favourite authors of all time. The story of how I discovered Marian is quite funny, actually.

It was back in the days when I was a teenager and I was in love with the Gifted Series from Marilyn Kaye. I have read only the first two books and I have asked my mum to bring me the rest of them (there were six in total). She came back with a book with an author that had a similar name, and here we are today 🙂

I have read Watermelon a long time ago, but I have decided to share my thoughts with you now.

This is a chick lit book about a woman left on her own right after she gives birth to her first child and then goes back to her parent’s house to start her life over.

This is a story about bravely, love, family and all little things that will melt your heart.
Prepare to cry – Actually, prepare to cry a lot, and don’t say I haven’t warned you.

A story that will stick with you for years after you’ve read it. The characters that will make you wish you met them and were their friends over and over again!

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