Stephen King is like the Smashing Pumpkins of story-telling: he isn’t afraid to sit back and explore his ideas, grow them and develop them, before he has to move on. He draws on other perspectives, tells the same moment from multiple characters, twists the timeline and takes the time to express a scenario completely. Yet, he does it effortlessly, without chunks of exposition or idle rambling (which isn’t uncommon for high fantasies).
This book came and went so so fast – and nothing except for everything has changed. It’s gonna be spoilers from here onwards, so for non-spoilery thoughts check out my review of The Gunslinger.
*SPOILERS FROM HERE ONWARDS*
Eddie Dean – what an unlikely hero. He came from misfortune and his brother cultivated until it was all he knew. Enter Roland, and he gets an odd redemption. One thing I loved was his brilliant reaction to this quest. His denial and despair was understandable and heart-breaking, until he reaches acceptance. I loved his relationship with Roland, and I’m hoping Roland becomes the older brother Eddie never had, someone to guide and nurture him.
Odetta was a curious case, and definitely someone I’m excited to see develop in this moved on world. Her becoming was… confusing for me – but I’m accepting it. Her story comes full circle, even if some parts of the circle were completed before others!
I hope we get to hear more of Jake in future instalments. Roland’s attachment to him is too precious of a character arc to drop!
This is the biggest surprise of my reading year so far! All I knew about Something’s Not Right was that it’s a collection of magical realism/speculative fiction short stories. What amazed me the most is actually how short these short stories were! Some were less than 3 pages but still packed such emotional and narrative substance. The first story had me utterly hooked into this writer’s imagination – I wish I could take a journey inside their mind just to be able to see the world how they do.
I cannot commend this author enough. Even though we only witness snapshots into these characters, I became so quickly attached to them! They were expertly and genuinely crafted. The voices and grammatical persons were suited to each story, with a mix of 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons as well as just colloquial dialogue. Some authors struggle to write in one voice, let alone dozens! Finally, the world-building for each story was so smooth and natural that I hadn’t noticed how much information I’d swallowed since it was so seamlessly embedded.
Of course, I had some favourites. don’t feel guilty was so deliciously obscure and ominous; I loved the narrators voice here especially since it was so natural and real, yet still decorative. theoretical robots and the dynamic of love also sticks out in my mind for its exploration of emotion. It had a nostalgic and bitter-sweet ending, which I loved. Another gem was gold-based offerings; I loved the narrator and the cunning cheek of the love interest. My ultimate favourite had to be the butcher, but I can’t explain why! Maybe it was the combination of beauty and darkness.
So if you couldn’t tell already, I loved this book.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Mini review of Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson.
Synopsis: Grace Williams was sent to a mental institution when she was 11. Through the pain, abuse and torment, she meets debonair Daniel – and together they find little ways of not only surviving in this life, but truly living.
So don’t kill me. This is the lowest official rating I’ve ever given an SJM book, but if I had my blog when I read Crown Of Midnight that may have been lower. To give you some context, I LOVED Throne Of Glass, HATED Crown Of Midnight, and gradually came to love the series again as it continued. But KoA, whilst being an epic end to this ambitious saga, was just too much. Where did the brave and snarky prisoner and her contest to be the king’s assassin go?? As much as I admire SJM’s world building and her ambition, I can’t deal with high fantasy novels with this much stuff. That is just a personal preference, and I can see why some people would die for this series – but for me, it’s become too Game Of Thrones.
*SPOILERS FROM HERE ONWARDS*
Props to SJM for the emotional rollercoaster! My eyes were watering the whole time, but there were two moments which made me bawl: Dorian reuniting with Chaol and Aelin, and ofc the Thirteen all Yielding to save Manon and the rest of the court. This series feeds off tragedy and sacrifice experienced by its characters, but it used to keep hope at the forefront too. I think this is what separates Kingdom Of Ash from the other instalments – the characters have lost hope completely and still keep fighting.
Unfortunately for me, the war and politics kind of fell flat. I don’t care for the battle strategy and endless fighting, and I know this is personal taste but I prefer books which focus on a smaller group of characters rather than multiple continents worth. I kept getting confused and I’d completely forgotten characters like Borte, Fenrys, Gavriel, Falkan, Nox Owen, Darrow, Rhiannon Crochan and quite a few more.
However, there were multiple moments that had me in awe of the beauty that SJM has produced from this novel:
Evangeline and Darrow – Her fate as a lady of Terresan warms my heart because if anyone deserves the world, it’s Evangeline. The way that Darrow admires her had me tearing up and it shows how even the most experienced people can learn from someone with a kind soul.
Elide riding into the battlefield to find Lorcan – Not only does this show how much these two truly mean to each other, it shines a much needed spotlight on the brave, reckless and strong-hearted nature of Elide. It reminds us that she will not be broken by her past, and would die for her friends to have a bright future.
Fenrys breaking the blood oath – Firstly, Fenrys and Aelin’s relationship whilst she was trapped was perfect. They were each other’s reason not to break, and this can be relevant to anyone with any kind of struggle in our world. When Fenrys sacrificed his life to save Aelin, he truly demonstrated how much they’ve grown together and because of each other.
There are more, but these are definitely my top three.
Overall, very mixed feelings about this novel. I think it was too long, too dense, and too ambitious, but it was also full of beautiful, heart-warming and heart-breaking moments. It might just be down to whether or not you enjoy high fantasy, politics-and-war-centric series or smaller, more character-driven stories.
I wasn’t sure if I could handle reading this book, having been in the dating trenches for long enough to induce some of the insanity Ansari references, but I finally felt ready to take the plunge. I wasn’t surprised at anything I read, or how I felt while reading: I knew that Ansari’s observations would make me feel crazy and hopeless, while also being so relatable that I’d feel less alone and maybe a little less crazy; I also figured I’d laugh, at least a little bit.
If you haven’t used online means to meet potential partners: congratulations, and I envy you. Any of the stories from women recounted in this book could have been mine, or any other number of women’s (or men’s) who have been on the dating circuit for more than a day. If you have used an online dating app, the stories from the field that Ansari shares are almost boring, because you’ve experienced/heard them so many times before. If this is your first time encountering these stories of what it’s like to be ghosted/ghost, be stood up/catfished/humiliated/demeaned/questioned about why you’re single/etc. etc., then buckle up, because reading about what dating is like in today’s age is pretty horrifying and unbelievable (not to mention disheartening), though it is all true. Ansari shares case studies, experiments, and numbers to back up the abysmal future he paints of the dating wasteland (kidding, kidding, but it seems that humans are having a harder and harder time communicating with one another.)
I think this is a worthwhile read for both single and partnered people alike, but the experience will be very different, depending on your dating experience (and when it occurred). The way we treat people over computer/phone screens is a universal commentary, and one we would all do well to consider. If nothing else, it will, hopefully, make you laugh, as I did.
Even thinking about this book makes me way too emotional. Not with grief or sadness, noooo… but with complete awe and admiration. Okay fine, maybe a little bit of grief and sadness but that’s to be expected. IT is an epic that none other than King could pull off in a single novel without the reader needing a break. I inhaled this book like the air I breathe and couldn’t help but feel a little choked when it was over.
One thing that stood out to me about IT is the effortless complexity that King can weave over the different timelines. I had no trouble understanding the sequence of events (which is unusual given my tendency to confuse myself) and there was no timeline I preferred over the over.
STEPHEN KING’S CHARACTERS MAKE HIM MORE THAN JUST A HORROR WRITER!! Horror writers stereotypically thrive off plot and shock-factor, but IT’s characters show how sophisticated of a craftsman King is. He values having 3-Dimensional characters as much as a 3-Dimensional plot, and it’s amazing that a lot authors don’t understand how much the plot relies on the characters. I would die for every. single. one. of the losers. My favourite has to be Richie, I love the inappropriate and important humour he possesses even when the world is falling apart (weelll, apart from that one time but let’s not talk about that).
As a villain, It is fascinating. King gives the harrowing, deep-seated horror of JK Rowling’s dementors a face and a sick, disturbing personality that’s almost human. It itself blurs the line between supernatural, symbolism, and the evil in humanity in a mix which was terrifying, unreal and still completely relevant.
Basically, it’s a new favourite and definitely worth the commitment of the 1,200 pages!! I might do an extended, spoiler-filled analysis of my favourite and the most controversial scenes, but we’ll see.
La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1) by Philip Pullman
I was hesitant to read this prequel to His Dark Materials, which is a trilogy from my childhood that is near and dear to my heart. That said, this book does it justice: I’m sorry for ever worrying, Mr. Pullman. I should have known you would give us nothing less than a Lyra-worthy prequel.
I won’t say too much about the content, lest I spoil anything, but I will say that Pullman has given us new characters to root for, and some favorites make an appearance. If you loved His Dark Materials, this is a must-read; a wonderful chance to revisit a world we came to love. I had the same tingles that I had when I first read Pullman’s masterpiece, and that is something that cannot be understated. I’m anxiously awaiting the next two installments.
John Green really knows how to get inside the mind of the teenager; I’d wager it’s because he remembers well what it was like to be one (some of us probably always will, myself included.) This is his first book that explicitly tackles mental illness, which makes it a standout from his other work, and is important for that reason. I’m sure this story will resonate with a lot of readers. While it’s no The Fault in Our Stars (my personal favorite), it’s on par with Green’s other novels, so if you enjoy his writing style–as I do–then you will enjoy this read.
I received this book as a birthday gift from a friend last year; she thought it was a thriller, based on the cover art and the first few pages that reference a missing person. I thought the same upon starting it, but we were both mistaken. Elmet is a work of fiction about a young boy and his sister growing up with his father, who’s a boxer, in a remote area in England. This read wasn’t for me, unfortunately. It was well-written, but I didn’t feel satisfied upon finishing the story, and it contained too much violence for my liking. (The violence seemed excessive, even though I read a lot of fantasy and thrillers that contain some pretty graphic scenes.) I won’t be recommending this read to friends, although that’s just because it wasn’t a book I would have picked up for myself, which is not the fault of the book, so I feel a bit bad saying so.