Category: books

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Hellig Review

Title: For a Muse of Fire

Author: Heidi Heilig

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: For a Muse of Fire, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Heidi Heilig made quite a splash last year, with her debut novel and series starter, The Girl from Everywhere, and I really enjoyed it. I mean: Time travel! Forbidden romance! Danger and adventure! So, when I found out that she was writing a brand-new series opener, I was so excited, and I ordered it from my local library. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while, and once I realized that I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it up to the top of it, as soon as I was finished with Blanca and Roja. And I was pleasantly surprised; it took me a little bit to get into it, but once I did, I found myself totally transfixed. Full of magic, darkness, war, political intrigue, and more than a few monsters, I loved For a Muse of Fire, and I can’t wait for the sequel!

Jetta and her family are renowned as the most talented shadow troupe in the whole land. With her behind the scrim, their homemade puppets move without the aids of string or sticks. They pass it off as nothing more than trade secrets, but in reality, Jetta can see recently departed souls and bind them to their puppets with her blood. But the old, magical ways are forbidden, now that the colonial army has taken over their country. Forced to hide the only skills she has to support her family, she is seeking passage to Aquitan, where shadow plays are in high demand, and rumor has it that it contains a magical spring that could hold the cure to her own madness. But she also has even bigger problems than restless spirits: a rebellion is beginning to brew throughout the land, and there is a compelling, dynamic smuggler who has his own secrets to hide. Jetta will risk everything to get her family to safety, even if it means turning her back on everything that she’s learned before…

This book was such a dark and lovely surprise! First of all, the format of it was unusual and compelling; told in the form of sheet music, prose, letters, telegrams, and other documents, it really kept the book fresh and exciting, and it also offered a different perspective on what was happening. Jetta was a great character; desperate for normalcy, safety, and security for herself and her family, and I really liked her point of view throughout the novel. The pacing in this book was breakneck, once it started to pick up; it felt like I was right beside Jetta, experiencing what she felt as the book went on. I also really enjoyed the other characters, especially Leo and his girls, and Jetta’s mother and father. The characters on the other side, especially the Legrande family, were also intriguing. There were several things that I was aching to know more about, but perhaps the author is saving that knowledge for the next book. And that ending! For a Muse of Fire, despite its flaws, is one of my favorite books of 2018. I especially liked the way that Jetta’s bipolar disorder was depicted; we need more books that talk this frankly about mental illness, especially in fiction. I’m so excited for what’s coming next from Heidi Heilig! The bottom line: A darkly magical, unusual series debut, I loved For a Muse of Fire! One of my favorite books of 2018! Next on deck: Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2018/11/for-muse-of-fire-by-heidi-heilig-review.html

Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore Review

Title: Blanca and Roja

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I’ve been a huge fan of Anna-Marie McLemore’s work since I read her debut novel, The Weight of Feathers, and I read her third book, Wild Beauty, for my book club a few months ago. So, when I heard that she was writing a diverse, mashup retelling of Snow White, Rose Red and The Wild Swans, I was so excited. I ordered it from my local library and it’s been sitting in my library stack for a while; after I couldn’t renew it anymore, I dove into it right after I finished Muse of Nightmares. (Well, after I was finished mourning the painful end of that series. But moving on.) I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, as I haven’t really read either of the fairy tales that the story was inspired by, but I was blown away. With lush, gorgeous prose, diverse characters that felt so real that I felt that when I finished, I was saying goodbye to a beloved group of friends. Blanca and Roja is the most brutal and beautiful of McLemore’s novels, captivating and tender and full of every kind of love you could possibly think of. A deliciously bittersweet exploration of sisterhood, first love, and sacrifice, I will never forget Blanca and Roja; I feel like they’ve burrowed into my heart and soul.

Blanca and Roja are two sisters, best friends, and rivals, because ever since they were tiny, the women in their family have been cursed: One sister is doomed to become a swan, taken by the flock that live nearby, and she must live out the rest of her years as a bird, while the other is untouched. This is the way things have always been, and how it always will be. Blanca is sweet, gentle, delicate, everything that her sister, Roja, is not. Roja is sharp-tongued, tomboyish, brash, loud, and curious. They know their fate, even when it means sacrificing everything. But things become even more complicated when two different people emerge from the wood near their home: Yearling, who has spent the last year as a bear, and is drawn to Roja in spite of hiding his own secrets, and Page, someone whose identity is as unclear as their motives. As the time draws near for one of the girls to gain wings and the other to remain human, the girls begin to wonder if they can, in fact, change their destinies, and find everything that they’ve denied themselves.

This book; it was amazing, a beautiful, bittersweet triumph of family, especially sisterly bonds, love in all of its forms, magic, and most importantly, agency, and the courage to change your fate, even when it seems that all the odds are stacked against you. The pacing was breakneck, the prose so gorgeous that more often than not, I was rereading lines, absolutely in awe over it, but even more than that, I was head over heels for the characters that she so lovingly created. I was utterly spellbound by this book, and I was so happy to finally be reading a diverse, gender-nonbinary fairy tale retelling; this is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life! I also really enjoyed the way that the point of view bounced between Blanca, Roja, Yearling, and Page; I loved that everyone was giving perspective on what was happening. I also liked the other characters: Roja and Blanca’s parents, Page’s loving, if confused, family, Yearling’s grandmother, mother and father, and cousins; each character was fleshed out beautifully and I was captivated. But honestly, the ending was what really got me. I cried through most of the book, but it was the worst when the book ended. It was so bittersweet, shocking, and unexpected; my heart was broken and then stitched back together all at once. Easily one of the best books of 2018, and I will never forget Blanca and Roja! The bottom line: A tender, beautiful, and brutal fairy telling retelling involving forbidden love, diverse and non-gender binary main characters, and the bonds of family, especially sisterhood! My favorite book by Anna-Marie McLemore, and one of the best books of 2018! Next on deck: For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2018/11/blanca-and-roja-by-anna-marie-mclemore.html

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When a civil war reenactment comes to town it brings Anne to two sisters who have their ancestors pistol from the civil war, but when the one sister takes it to sell and doesn’t tell the other, it’s up to Anne to figure out if she can get it back.