Books, Recountings

recountings: LET THERE BE BLOOD!

Red Rising is like Jane Eyre but without:

  • Mr. Rochester
  • Jane Eyre
  • Wives In Attics
  • St. John Rivers (THANK GOODNESS.)

(So basically … it’s nothing like it … but still … )

It does, however, feature a character who decides upon a course of action … and keeps to it. Darrow has a plan, and my word, does he carry through with it.

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I am rereading the book series because a) it is one of my favourites and b) Iron Gold is soon to be released.

THE WORLD 

I adore the world building that Brown has put into his work – there’s a colour coded class system, heavy Roman influences, and an utter ruthlessness that permeates through the upper levels of society.

It’s fascinating. And maddening. (The Reds. Oh the poor Reds. That particular plot twist was ruined before I first opened the book – it was written on the back cover. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. I WOULD HAVE ENJOYED THAT TWIST.)

THE CHARACTERS

Occasionally, I grow frustrated with myself; I have this desire to write insightful, intellectual posts analysing books in an interesting fashion. To say: THE MAIN CHARACTER WAS AWESOME!! rather puts a halt to this urge.

Oh well.

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But it is true – I find the main character, Darrow, to be quite something. The bee’s knees, so to speak.

Why?

  • He isn’t a wimp
  • Much like Jane Eyre (an analogy that I refuse to regret) he sticks to his guns. To put it more bluntly – he is like a rocket of justice that WILL NOT be swayed by the winds of opposition and peasant feelings. He’s got his mission and by golly, he’s going to do it.
  • He is like a legend of old; the whole business of ‘The Reaper’ sends shivers down my spine. (Okay, that is a tad dramatic. But to put in my mindspeak: THIS. IS. AWESOME!!!!!)
  • He has a conscious. A heart.

Sevro … is still a creepy, lovable character. The bromance is strong and it does me weathered heart good to see it.

‘I killed their pack leader,’ Sevro says when I ask why the wolves follow him. He looks me up and down and flashes me an impish grin from beneath the wolf pelt. ‘Don’t worry, I wouldn’t fit in your skin.’

As for the others? I’ve read the trilogy, I know what happens and I’m bracing for impact.

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I am, however, secretly hoping that some things will change with this reread. But don’t tell anyone that.

THE PLOT

With this second read, I think I burned myself out a little, fried zee little grey cells. I binged this book in one day.  I looked at its sequel – Golden Son – and left it on its shelf (I know, le gasp, how could I not continue?!) my brain was that fried.

I tried to appreciate Eo (Darrow’s wife); I understood her a little more but … her *spoiler* still seemed somewhat flimsy. But I could feel Darrow’s motivation so much the better for it.

Some people have compared Red Rising to The Hunger Games. I’ve never read The Hunger Games (HEATHEN!) so I wouldn’t know. I can tell you, however, that this entire book is brutal, ruthless, bloody, and unforgiving.

And I love it.

“Tactics win battles. Strategy wins wars,” I say.
“Oooo. I am Reaper. God of wolves. King of strategy.” Mustang pinches my cheek. “You are just too adorable.”

goodreads // kindle


PS. Suzannah Rowntree, from Vintage Novels, has a Proper Review right here. I always find her reviews on books that we’ve both read to be thought provoking; here she puts her finger on some of the issues in the book that I appreciate. (And expresses them in a far more lucid style.)

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Books, Recountings

recountings: the cover is pretty though

Some books and I get on very nicely; if they were a person, we could have tea and crumpets and bemoan the weather together quite cheerfully. I didn’t like Wintersong. There will be no tea and crumpets.

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Liesl likes to compose but her dreams in that direction are fading. But then her sister gets nabbed by the Goblin King and Liesl must save her. She does so, but runs smack into Angst! True love! (And dishes of eyeballs.)

SOME POSITIVES

  • Jae-Jones is a talented writer and can turn a phrase quite nicely.
  • The front cover is excessively pretty.
  • I liked the feel of the book. The font was a nice size and the spine was lovely and soft, but not too soft.
  • The ending, Liesl was able to take a stand as her own person. Huzzah for character growth.

LIESL NEEDS VALIDATION

Whether it be from her family, or the Goblin King himself, Liesl looks to others for validation; for her worth.

Yes, in the end, Liesl is able to walk away …

Elisabeth, entire.

… which is brilliant, but the path to her arriving at such a conclusion was fraught with looking to others to validate her worth. I thought this to be odd. For you see, it’s really best not to look to others in order to best view ourselves.

Like, no. Find your own mirror.

THE SETTING WAS NOT MINE SCENE

I didn’t like the Underground. The very idea of being stuck underground is an awful, no good thought. If there was a choice of: ‘would you like to go to the Underground Kingdom which is full of ILLUSIONS!!! And goblins and dishes that look nice but are actually eyeballs and lots of gothic weird and wonderful things OR paint a country house in the shade of eggshell from top to bottom’ I would choose the country house.

(I hate painting. And country homes are huge. And their ceilings are massive and, being no Michelangelo, I loathe painting ceilings. I’d still chose it though. Every time.)

THE ROMANTICLE ROMANCE

The Terrible Sorrow, Pain, and Heart-Wrenching Love that Surpassed All Others was ‘meh’.

I’m sorry. I didn’t get it; I did in that I understood the plot, but my emotions were never invested or in danger of sending streaming rivers from my teary ducks.

WRONGLY FILED

Look, unless YA fiction has greatly changed whilst I wasn’t looking (which is possible. I look away for long periods of time), I think this book is in the wrong category/genre. There are scenes that shouldn’t be classed as Young Adult. New Adult – yes. Mills and Boon – that too. But Young Adult? No. Nope. IS THERE NO INNOCENCE LEFT IN THIS WORLD?

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THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE CAST

… were selfish and horrible and unlikable. The sister. The brother. The parents. All of ‘em. Apart from the Goblin King. Maybe. I can’t remember – I was going to reread this book, just to make sure but after deep thought and momentary reflection, I decided … nah. Life is too short.

TO CONCLUDE

If you’ve read Wintersong and enjoyed it … than that’s wonderful. I’m pleased for you. But as for me? No. I didn’t like it. And that’s okay too. It’s good to have differences of opinion and books you don’t like. If we all liked the same thing, why, the world would be an astoundingly boring place.

In the future, if I ever feel the pressing urge to read about goblins, I shall pick up The Hollow Kingdom.

But take a character I didn’t much like, pop her in a setting that depressed me, add in a huge dollop of romance that felt more ‘meh’ than a cardboard sandwich, and we find ourselves with a book that simply wasn’t my cup of tea.

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Thank you and goodnight.

Books, Recountings

recountings: no love triangle, me happy

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The Rose & The Dagger

by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath & The Dawn wasn’t my favourite book to read; it had too many elements of the kind of YA I didn’t like. But I bought its sequel, because I needed to have the complete duology on my bookshelf. They’d look pretty.

Priorities. I have them.

And … I’ve just read it. And I liked it. Like what, you ask? Let me enlighten you …

writing. words. that kinda thing

The writing is rich and lush. It’s got a certain poetry to it. I have to admit though, if a line reads ‘he smelt of sandalwood’ I’m going to draw a blank. I … have smelled sandalwood (?) in the past. Probably. I can’t recall its scent. I assume ‘sandalwood’ is code for ‘very, very manly. in fact, the manliest thing ever. beyond manly, basically’.

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behold, the powers of ‘sandalwood’

they’ve grown up!

My problem with YA is that I don’t always connect with the characters. They don’t act sensibly. However, whatever frustrations I had with the characters in the first book, had practically disappeared in the second.

They were more mature! The love triangle … was dissolved. Deceased. It had popped its clogs. Kicked the bucket. Was no more. Shahrzad kept to who she loved and thank you. It’s nice to see a character fall in love and be true to that love. Because love triangles? Yeah, no.

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da sistah

For me, one of the most compelling plot lines was that of the younger sister. She transformed from mouse to a strong young woman. I can admire that; I could see it happening.

But I was a little tired of everybody lauding Shahrzad as the cleverest, bravest, strongest person to ever clever, brave, and strong. (Wud’up grammar?) I don’t want to be told this stuff; I want more evidence, man. More. Evidence!

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to wrap up. to conclude. to sum up etc

The book felt more mature. If the first one was about planning to kill a murderer, and falling in love with said murderer (okay. The situation was a little more nuanced than that, but still …) the second book was about the characters having to face the consequences of their actions.

I felt like the plot was a tiny bit jittery – like it contained spread out speed bumps, and wasn’t smooth like a fresh pat of butter (?) It is YA, and YA and I don’t always get along … but sometimes we share a pleasant afternoon, holding amiable conversation about flying carpets, and really fast healing arrow wounds.

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well done, guys.
Books, Recountings

recountings: georgette heyer and how to run a drug cartel

I’ve been reading a steady stream of factual books. This is shocking, for my reading habits generally are ‘fiction with a sparse, tiny, weeny smattering of factual’.

But no. Not this month. Nor last month. I’ve been reading books and they’ve all been off my factual shelf.

(Quite literally. I have a shelf dedicated to factual books. It’s at eye level. I haven’t necessarily read them all, but they do make me feel intelligent.)

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Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller

by Jennifer Kloester.

I wouldn’t say that I loved this book – I’ve even removed a star, for I like to re-award stars after a little thought marination.

I liked to learn of Georgette’s personal life because I’m a stalker even though what I read was a tad depressing.

Why I Didn’t Love This Biography:

  • There was a heavy focus on bills, and the need to pay them. Georgette was the family bread-winner and she had to write to keep her family’s head above water. It was a little depressing to be constantly reading about them – and it must have been even more so to have this heavy burden.
  • Her letters were one-sided. We only really read her letters to people and though I love the woman’s work, constantly reading of her very. strong. will and so very self-deprecating nature was a little … overwhelming?
  • I don’t think we’d have got on. I know. It’s an enormously sad fact, but I rather think I’d be diving under the sofa or out of the window if she was coming. She sounded like a strong character who I’d rather admire from a distance. A great distance.
  • Rather unconventional, she seems. (Like Yoda, I speak.) Her relationship with her husband was a meeting of minds and hearts, but quite passionless. And for me, I find this rather dispiriting. She wrote such wonderful novels, and I’d like to think she had a complete Happy Ever After.

She once said that she was to be found in her work. I think I’ll enjoy finding her there, rather than in her biography.

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Narconomics: How To Run A Drug Cartel

by Tom Wainwright

This book. This book. I couldn’t put it down. I came home from work, found this had arrived, picked it up, and gobbled the whole thing down in one afternoon/evening.

It. is. so. interesting.

I’m not entirely sure how Wainwright does it, but once I’d finished reading this book, I felt that I’d completed a course in:

  • business studies
  • economics
  • criminology
  • how to run a drug cartel
  • how to destroy a drug cartel

and found it all fascinating. Every bit of it. This is quite astounding for business and economics are not two words that bring much excitement to mind.

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oh yes. I just love the thought of business studies

He is one of the luckiest journalists alive just to have survived his research,‘ says the Washington Times in the first page blurb. And he is.

But honestly, if you want to be informed about the war on drugs, on how it could be more effective, on how the drug cartels work and how their franchising is a bit like McDonald’s (for realz!) I’d highly recommend this book.

It’s the best one I’ve read this year.

Happy reading!

Books, Recountings

recountings: kissing little john

I had a serious post planned for today. But then I finished reading Scarlet and thought: let’s do a recounting. So this is me, recounting my thoughts on a YA re-telling. The subject matter? One of my all time favourite heroes. Let’s plunge in …

*** spoilers abound, opinions are my own (IT IS I AND NOT THE VOICES), read at your own risk etc etc ***

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by A. C. Gaughen

Will Scarlet is a girl. Now, far be it from me to disparage any creative re-telling of a well-known story. Will Scarlet being a girl with guts (metaphorical and literal ones) is an interesting and intriguing take on the tale of Robin Hood.

And yes, this is a Robin Hood re-telling. And … it was okay.

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Scarlet is the first book in a trilogy and I’m rather certain that I won’t be reading any further. Why? Because … I have a few problems with this book.

Lip Smushin’ With Little John

There is a love triangle between Little John, Rob and Scar. That doesn’t sound too awful, does it? (Love triangles are as painful as a paper cut, but they can sometimes, occasionally, very rarely be bearable)  Let me translate: that’s LITTLE JOHN, ROBIN HOOD AND MAID MARIAN.

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I know. I know. I suppose I could write many lengthy paragraphs dedicated to the sheer awful, heinousness of the very idea of Little John being a love interest of Maid Marian’s, but I shan’t. And perhaps I overreacted a little (cough) but by golly, I grew up with Robin Hood as my childhood hero and future husband. Some things just shouldn’t be done. This is one of them.

Gisbourne’s Motivating Motivation

He wishes to heap extreme unhappiness upon Scarlet’s head. Why? Because she wouldn’t marry him. What does he do? Scours the country for her in a bright red haze of a lunatic’s vengeance.

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Dude. There’s a point where you have to give it a rest, and move on. There’s more to life than a young teenager who literally fled her home to avoid you. Take a hint. Think of your mental health. And your dignity.

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Rob. Dude. Get Over Yourself

Gaughen went with a more Brooding Robin Hood. He walks about as though Atlas thought: ‘to heck with this! lemme find a mortal to plonk the world on his shoulders. OHH LOOK A BLOKE WEARING GREEN!’

It’s a personal preference of mine but I like a more light-hearted, cheerful Robin Hood. Sure, there can be sadness and Moods of The Serious Kind – and there often is – but Robin Hood is not Batman; he laughs more than once a year.

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And, more importantly, Robin Hood would never say this to Marian (and I suppose, in a way, he did in this book BUT STILL!):

‘Hurting you is the best way I know to punish myself’

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I refuse to accept this as a valid reason for verbal annihilation

Your logic, my dear, is so beyond illogical that illogical logic laughs in your general direction and makes several biting remarks regarding your intelligence. In what world is that phrase acceptable? None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

I would suggest returning to the classroom and learning about a) Human Decency, b) Emotional Intelligence and c) Communicating With Humans 101.

In Short …

Scarlet wasn’t for me. It wasn’t my cup of tea or my kind of Robin Hood. It had traces of the legend I love so dearly and a heroine who had wicked ninja skills, but alas, it didn’t quite hit bullseye.

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scarlet can be found on: goodreads // amazon