Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

Wow! This book was phenomenal! I went into it hoping for a new fantasy with an old school fantasy feel (I’ll explain more about that, I promise), and I was not disappointed. It surpassed everything I hoped for.

Here’s a very simplified take on the premise of this book: Veronyka and Val are sisters, eking out a living with only each other to rely on. They’ve been raised on stories of phoenix riders and fierce queens, though their time has passed after a long war. Since then, there have been mutterings of remnants of the Phoenix Riders hiding out and trying to rebuild their diminished numbers.

After Val does something completely horrible, Veronyka leaves her, and disguises herself as a boy in order to join the ranks of the phoenix riders and-hopefully- become one herself.

That is a very basic blurb. There is so much more to this book and it’s all fantastic! There’s another fascinating story line that twists and turns throughout the book, related but separate. Phoenixes, wars, twists and turns-it’s all there.

When I mentioned an “old school fantasy” feel, I meant the sort that includes a hero learning to be who he/she is, magic, fantasy creatures, and a world fully separated from ours, where the fantastical is accepted and not questioned. This all exists within the pages of this book. Now, without further ado, it’s time to spew opinions:

First of all: phoenixes! How cool is that? I’m a sucker for fantasy creatures written well, and these are. In fact, everything about this book is well written. Each character is fully developed and important in some way. There are no “red shirts”, there just to bite the dust. In fact, they’re all so well written that I’m having a hard time deciding who my favorite character even is.

Another thing that I loved about this book is the way it told a very realized history of its world, including wars, betrayals, and belief systems, without ever feeling like it was dragging. It was woven in so well with the main plot line that it just felt natural to be learning so much about this world. There’s also a timeline and glossary at the back of the book, which is awesome.

This book builds slowly, investing time in making you actually care about what happens with these characters. It’s never boring, though, and once it gets going, it really gets going. So much happened so quickly that I was on the edge of my seat for the last quarter of the book.

I can’t think of a single thing about this book that I didn’t like. There is absolutely nothing I would change at all. Well- maybe I’d have the sequel be released already so I don’t have to wait…the agony that can only be caused by a good book.

Read this.

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Tale As Old As Time: New Spins on Old Stories

There’s been a plethora of fairy tale re-imaginings lately, some good, some not so much. It got me thinking: is this a new trend? While it seems that retellings are much more popular recently, there are always books that reinvent older fairy tales and myths. Here are a few that I’ve read, complete with my unsolicited thoughts on each:

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Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige: This reinvention of the Snow Queen was good, but not amazing. I think I would have liked it better if it had been longer, giving it some extra time for setup. That being said, it’s still one worth picking up.

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in the Whittaker Psychiatric Institute, but deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there. When she meets a mysterious new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree, she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.

After Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods, she stumbles into icy Algid–her true home–with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she’s sure she can trust. As secrets are revealed, Snow discovers that she’s on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything . . . including Snow’s return to the world she once knew.

With Algid’s fate resting in her hands, will Snow embrace her destiny, even it means paying the ultimate price? (taken from Amazon)

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Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier: This is a re-imagining of The Six Swans. I remember really enjoying the book, but it’s been quite a while. I think the time is ripe for a reread! It’s much more of a full-on fantasy book, which is always a plus.

Lord Colum of Sevenwaters is blessed with six sons: Liam, a natural leader; Diarmid, with his passion for adventure; twins Cormack and Conor, each with a different calling; rebellious Finbar, grown old before his time by his gift of the Sight; and the young, compassionate Padriac.

But it is Sorcha, the seventh child and only daughter, who alone is destined to defend her family and protect her land from the Britons and the clan known as Northwoods. For her father has been bewitched, and her brothers bound by a spell that only Sorcha can lift.

To reclaim the lives of her brothers, Sorcha leaves the only safe place she has ever known, and embarks on a journey filled with pain, loss, and terror.

When she is kidnapped by enemy forces and taken to a foreign land, it seems that there will be no way for her to break the spell that condemns all that she loves. But magic knows no boundaries, and Sorcha will have to choose between the life she has always known and a love that comes only once. (taken from Amazon)

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The Looking Glass Wars trilogy by Frank Beddor: Very loosely based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (not technically a fairy tale, I know), these books are madcap fun.

The Myth: Alice was an ordinary girl who stepped through the looking glass and entered a fairy-tale world invented by Lewis Carroll in his famous storybook. The Truth: Wonderland is real. Alyss Heart is the heir to the throne, until her murderous aunt Redd steals the crown and kills Alyss’ parents. To escape Redd, Alyss and her bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, must flee to our world through the Pool of Tears. But in the pool Alyss and Hatter are separated. Lost and alone in Victorian London, Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author to whom she tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Yet he gets the story all wrong. Hatter Madigan knows the truth only too well, and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts. (taken from Amazon)

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Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer: I love, love, love this re-imagining of East of the Sun, West of the Moon! Everyone needs to read this! Lovely and atmospheric, it’s not one to miss.

Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf―the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: if she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books- turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever. (taken from Amazon)

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East by Edith Pattou: This is another retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. It’s a lot more simply told than Echo North, possibly intended for a younger reader base, but it’s still a good one.

Rose has always felt out of place in her family. So when an enormous white bear mysteriously shows up and asks her to come away with him, she readily agrees. The bear takes Rose to a distant castle, where each night she is confronted with a mystery. In solving that mystery, she finds love, discovers her purpose, and realizes her travels have only just begun.

As fresh and original as only the best fantasy can be, East is a novel retelling of the classic tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” told in the tradition of Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine. (taken from Amazon)

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A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I’ll be honest: I really don’t like this one at all, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this one on the list. Based loosely on Beauty and the Beast, as well as The Ballad of Tam Lin, it’s much more of a romance than I enjoy. I also found that some parts bordered on the icky for me. This is an unpopular opinion, though. Most readers really enjoy this series.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. (taken from Amazon)

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Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton: This is another book that’s not based on a fairy tale, exactly. It’s based on Beowulf. It’s so well done, though! If you enjoy this book, watch The 13th Warrior, adapted to screen from this book. It’s held up well over time.

The year is A.D. 922.  A refined Arab courtier, representative of the powerful Caliph of Baghdad, encounters a party of Viking warriors who are journeying to the barbaric North. He is appalled by their Viking customs—the wanton sexuality of their pale, angular women, their disregard for cleanliness . . . their cold-blooded human sacrifices. But it is not until they reach the depths of the Northland that the courtier learns the horrifying and inescapable truth: he has been enlisted by these savage, inscrutable warriors to help combat a terror that plagues them—a monstrosity that emerges under cover of night to slaughter the Vikings and devour their flesh . . .(taken from Amazon)

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: Inspired by Russian fairy tales, this book is  beautiful and engrossing. I highly recommend it.

Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.

Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village. 

But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales. (taken from Amazon)

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer: This is a steampunk re-imagining of Cinderella. I have tried multiple times to read it, and for some reason I just don’t enjoy it. I don’t know why: by all rights it should be right up my alley. Give it a go: then tell me what I’m missing so I’ll stick with it. Ha ha!

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. (taken from Amazon)

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Uprooted by Namoi Novak: Last, but most certainly not least, this book is based on a Slavic fairy tale. While parts of this book followed usual fairy tale tropes, it’s an incredibly unique book overall. I need to read more Slavic fairy tales because the feel of this book is fantastic. I have a feeling I’d love the original source material as well.

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. (taken from Amazon)

While this list is in no way complete, here are some that I’ve read. Which retellings have you read? Did you enjoy them? What are some I’ve missed that I need to read?

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

I was immediately curious about this book: the title held so many possibilities! I’d just watched the TV show The Librarians (which I highly recommend, if you haven’t seen it), and this looked like a fun adventure in the same vein. Indeed, it was!

The main character is Irene, a spunky employee of the Library, a place that collects  dangerous fiction from multiple realities and stores them. Honestly, I’m still a bit shaky on what makes a book “dangerous” enough to be added to the Library’s collection: if you’ve read this book and have the answer, please let me know!

This book already had a lot going for it: A unique premise, room for lots of creativity-after all, multiple realities can look any way an author wants-, and a female main character who is able to think quickly and act decisively. She’s very self-assured, despite being far from perfect.

In this first book, Irene is sent to a version of London with her assistant Kai to pick up a dangerous book for the library. Unfortunately, it turns out it’s already been taken. This particular version of London is full of  magic, supernatural creatures, and some seriously interesting steampunkish critters (don’t mind me, I’m just over here inventing new words).

Add a nemesis for Irene, a quirky Holmes-esque helper, secret societies, and twists aplenty, and this book is just a blast to read. I liked that, while there’s a lot of action, there are also “Aha!” moments, as well as a slight splash of romance. It’s a fun combination of a “whodunnit” and an action novel.

This book is lighthearted, and a fast read. I’d suggest reading this after finishing a heavy book, as a fun detox before starting in on another complicated book. If you like quirky, this is for you.

Have you read it? What did you think?

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Books for Littles #2: Read about Reading

When I was younger, I used to watch Reading Rainbow. It was a great show, not because it taught children how to read, but because it showed that reading is fun. Books are magic and I feel that it’s important to teach kids to love books, not just to read the words. Here are a few great books about books.

The Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk: This is all about a mouse named Sam, who lives in a library and starts writing little books and leaving them out for people to read. Eventually, the librarian (who has no idea he’s a mouse) asks the author to come talk to the patrons. What will Sam do? How can a rodent give writing advice? The answer in this book is both sweet and inspiring. With cute illustrations, this is a great book to read to littles learning to write.

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I Can Read With My Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss: I have to include the classic Dr. Seuss, of course! As with 99% of his books, this one is just fun!

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce, illustrated by Joe Bluhm: This is a newer one for me. I finally read it for the first time the other day, after my husband had pointed it out (quite a while ago: the youngest was still in the board book phase at the time). While I was reading it to my toddler, I noticed my oldest (who has recently decided he’s too old to be read to), sneaking over to listen. This book is wonderful! All about the wonder of books, it had both kids riveted. The story had me a little choked up by the end, to be honest. Read it and you’ll see why.

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Dewey: There’s a Cat in the Library! by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter, illustrated by Steve James: This is based on Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Changed the World, an adult nonfiction book. It’s heartwarming and a great bedtime read.

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Born to Read by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown: This book reminds me so much of my oldest when he was young! He taught himself to read at a young age, and would read everything (I remember a certain afternoon where, as we drove in a rather derelict part of town, he suddenly asked, “Mom, what’s the ‘Bottomz Up Club’?” That’s an interesting conversation to have with a four year old). When I read this book to my toddler, I change the character’s name to that of my oldest. It’s super cute and has a cadence that keeps my little toddler tornado interested.

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Have you read any of these with your children? What books about books would you add?

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers

My quest to read outside my comfort zone in 2019 continues with The Monk of Mokha. I don’t read many biographies, although I’ve read many more over the past year or so, and this one looked interesting.

This is the story of Mokhtar Alkahanshali, a Yemeni American who grew up in an impoverished area of San Francisco. One of many children, Mokhtar had a propensity to get in trouble as a kid, was rather directionless , and working as a doorman when he came across a statue of a Yemeni man drinking coffee. Mokhtar was intrigued, and did a little digging. He discovered that coffee brewing originated in Yemen and, so to speak, a star was born.

Mokhtar became driven to become a coffee exporter, improve working conditions of farmers in Yemen, and hopefully build a profitable business for himself. The first half of the book was about his aspirations, and the plans he put into motion. While interesting, it wasn’t fast-moving.

The second half of the book felt like an action novel. In 2015, a civil war broke out in Yemen, trapping Mokhtar there with no way to get out. The U.S. wasn’t working to evacuate its citizens from the country, and Mokhtar was one of many who were trapped in a very dangerous place. How he made it back to the U.S was nail-biting, even more so because it actually happened.

Interspersed throughout were Mokhtar’s viewpoints on money, what it means to be a Muslim in America, and life in general. I really liked reading about another person’s perspective. I’m so glad I read this book!

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Unpopular Opinions Tag

The Orang-utan Librarian did a lovely book tag called Unpopular Opinions (you can find hers here: . Since I have many of those, I just had throw in my two cents’ worth.

A Popular Book or Series That You Didn’t Like: Nope, no, uh-uh. Sarah J. Maas is not an author I enjoy. At all. To each their own, but I definitely feel like she’s a very overrated author and I wanted to smack the main character the entire time.

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A Popular Book or Series that Everyone Else Seems To Hate That You Love: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. I’m right there with you, Orang-utan Librarian: this book is great! Eerie, with a dark fairy-tale vibe, I quite enjoyed it. I’d love to read a book of short stories that take place in the author’s Hinterland. Plus, look at that gorgeous cover!

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A “One True Pairing” That You Don’t Like: I really don’t mind most canon relationships as long as they don’t detract from the story. Hmmm…I can’t think of a single one. Moving on!

A Popular Book Genre That You Hardly Reach For: I don’t read romance or erotica. It’s not my thing.

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A Popular/Beloved Character That You Do Not Like: Snape. He was a Deatheater (basically the KKK of the wizarding world), he only decided to change his ways, so to speak, because he was in love with another man’s wife, and he was just an all-around jerk (and kind of a lousy teacher. Ha ha!).

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A Popular Author That You Can’t Seem To Get Into: Ah, this is where I lose blog followers. Ha ha !
I’ll narrow it down to two:

Gillian Flynn. I hated the movie Gone Girl, and I found the one book I read that she’d written (Dark Places) to be predictable. She’s an author that I feel writes the most messed-up things, not to further a story line, but just because she can. However, that’s a very unpopular opinion.

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John Green: He’s the Hallmark commercial of the fiction world. You know, going into the book, that’s he’s going to do his level best to make you cry. Not my thing.

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A Popular Book Trope That You’re Tired of Seeing: “I hate him, but I love him, but I hate to love him, but he loves this girl, and this girl loves a different girl…” ad nauseum. Oh- I also hate it when the main female character thinks it’s attractive when ye random guy she just met messes with her hair, or tells her how to wear it. That’s not hot. That’s creepy and possessive.

A Popular Series That You Have No Interest In Reading:

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Both of these series, are ones that I know are too harsh for me to be able to get through. I stay away from certain subjects for my own mental and emotional well-being.

The Saying Goes “The book is always better than the movie”, But What Movie Or TV Show Adaptation Do You Prefer To The Book? The Fellowship of the Ring. The book spends so much time describing places that I’d often lose track of what was happening. The movie was able to show those places without slowing the story down.

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I tag anyone who wants to participate! Have fun!

The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

This book was fantastic! Steeped in Norse mythology, and utterly creeptastic (add that to your vocabulary: if “fleek” can be a word,  “creeptastic” can be too), this was just what I needed .

Martha senses things about people just by touching their clothes. It started after she fell out of the twisted tree at her Mormer’s (grandmother’s) house, and became blind in one eye. Trying to get answers for this disturbing development from the one person she suspects might know something about it, she runs away to see Mormer- only to learn that she’s dead and that a teen boy has been living in her house.

The book quickly picks up an incredibly eerie atmosphere: out in the middle of nowhere with a huge storm coming, something outside (a wolf- or worse?), ghosts inside, and questions that need answering,  Martha has to face the truth of the Twisted Tree and who she is.

At less than four hundred pages, this is a quick read, perfect for an evening cuddled up with your warm drink of choice. Actually, the shortness of the book is the only thing that I felt even a little negatively towards, and that’s simply because I enjoyed it so much that I wanted it to continue.

The book builds to a crescendo, the mythology aspect is incredibly interesting (although a few liberties have been taken), and the relationship between the two main characters is one of the few I’ve read in a long time that didn’t annoy me. It was natural-feeling, and didn’t distract from the plot-line at all.

This is Rachel Burge’s debut novel, and I sincerely hope it won’t be her last. If you’re looking for an eerie read, this book is for you.

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The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

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Um…this is going to be a rather convoluted post, simply because this is a book genre that I don’t normally read. I’m trying to read outside my comfort zone this year. It’s going to make for some interesting reviews.
In the 1820’s The Montrose family leaves Boston, amid a scandal, to move to Willow Hall, a big house in the country. The family consists of the parents, the oldest son (whom we never meet), and three daughters; Catherine, Lydia, and Emmeline. The story is told from the point of view of Lydia, the middle daughter.

What is described as a ghost story is actually a family drama, with a large dose of romance added in. That is far from the usual type of book I read, so I can’t really compare it to others in the same genre. But maybe that’s a good thing?

The author is very skilled at creating an eerie atmosphere, and the first few chapters were engrossing. Unfortunately, the ghost story aspect ended up being left by the wayside in favor of relationship drama and romance. The romance seemed to be going for a Pride and Prejudice vibe, so if you go for that sort of thing you might be jazzed. I honestly didn’t care about it at all, though.

I liked the youngest sister, Emmeline, and the leading man, John Barrett, but I couldn’t stand either of the oldest sisters. It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to reach into a book and smack someone as much as I wanted to wallop Lydia. She had an irritating martyr complex that grated on my nerves. The oldest sister, Catherine, was selfish and narcissistic. There was never any explanation for the reason she was that way, so she came across as a very underdeveloped character.

There were some parts of Catherine’s storyline that were very difficult for me to read about. I don’t want to give anything away, but be aware there is some serious unpleasantness throughout the book.

If you enjoy period romance, including longing glances, misunderstandings, and “propriety be damned”, then this book is for you. There is a review on the back of my copy of the book that compared it to Kate Morton’s works. I quite enjoyed The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Morton, so I would suggest you read that as well (or, dare I say, instead?).

Have you read this? What are your thoughts on it?

Chinese New Year Book Tag


The Lunar New Year started last Tuesday. Apparently, 2019 is the year of the pig. I saw this great tag from Lauren at Narrative Paradise,(tag created by Kay at Hammock of Books) and now I’m taking part. So, here goes:

My Zodiac Animal: I don’t really do the whole zodiac thing, but according to google, I was also born in the year of the pig. Oink, oink.

1. New Year/ A book with a phenomenal beginning: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. The beginning of this book gives me chills. It’s so beautifully worded, it will suck you right in.

” The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.

The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking. If there had been a wind it would have sighed trough the trees, set the inn’s sign creaking on its hooks, and brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumn leaves. If there had been a crowd, even a handful of men inside the inn, they would have filled the silence with conversation and laughter, the clatter and clamor one expects from a drinking house during the dark hours of the night. If there had been music…but no, of curse there was no music. In fact there were none of these things, and so the silence remained.

Inside the Waystone a pair of men huddled at one corner of the bar. they drank with quiet determination, avoiding serious discussions of troubling news. In doing these they added a small, sullen silence to the larger, hollow one. it made an alloy of sorts, a counterpoint.

The third silence was not an easy thing to notice. If you listened for an hour, you might begin to feel it in the wooden floor underfoot and in the rough, splintering barrels behind the bar. It was in the weight of the black stone heart that held the heat of a long-dead fire. It was in the slow back and forth of a white linen cloth rubbing along the grain of the bar. and it was in the hands of the man who stood there, polishing a stretch of mahogany that already gleamed in the lamplight.

The man had true-red hair, red as flame. his eyes was dark and distant, and he moved with the subtle certainty that comes from knowing many things.

The Waystone was is, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the other inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn’s ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.”

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2. Chinese New Year/ A Book By an Asian Author: The Girl King by Mimi Yu. I have yet to read this one, but it looks intriguing.

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3. Lunar New Year/ A Book Set in Space: Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I’ve raved about this book many times, and I will probably never stop. It is so well done!

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4. Zodiac/Year of the Pig/ A Book With an Animal Sidekick: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. Does a familiar count as a sidekick? Either way, the mountain cat Camden, is a fantastic addition to the book.

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5. Lucky Color Red/ A Book With a Red Cover: The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers. It’s a biography that I’ve just started, so I don’t have an opinion about it yet, aside from thinking the cover is striking.

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6. Firecrackers/ A Book Exploding With Action: The Black Company by Glen Cook. It’s high fantasy- meets a military novel in this book series.

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7. Red Envelopes/ A Book You Can’t Wait to Open: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. Since falling in love with The Night Circus, I’ve been hoping the author would write another novel. It comes out November fifth, and I am so excited!

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8. Delicious Food/ A Book that Made You Hungry : Redwall By Brain Jacques. I want to sit and eat with Constance the Badger! I don’t even know what half of the stuff described in their feasts are, but it all sounds delicious.

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9. Gathering With Family/ An Amazing Fictional Family: I have to go with the Weasley family (minus Percy. He’s a booger). They’re all so warm and welcoming.

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That’s it. Happy Chinese New Year! Feel free to join in the fun!

The List by Patricia Forde

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In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world. 

On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself. (taken from Goodreads)

I have mixed feelings about this book. I really can’t say why (maybe it’s the feel I got from the cover?), but I expected a lighthearted, sweet story. That does not describe this book at all. Really, it feels like 1984 or The Giver, but written for a younger demographic. It’s much more serious and thought provoking than I thought it would be.

I did like the way this book brought to the fore how powerful words can be. Noa, the leader of the city of Ark, knows that words can be deceitful and dangerous, so he restricts the words that are allowed. It’s your typical dystopian novel in many respects: art and music are forbidden, and every aspect of life is tightly controlled. Letta, the main character, has to decide whether she will fall in line, or risk everything for the possibility of a different future.

I was surprised at some of the harshness of this book. If your child reads this, expect to have some deep conversations about it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. I think kids can handle a lot more than we sometimes give them credit for. That being said, I did tell my ten year old to expect some heavy subject matter should he choose to read this. As of yet, he hasn’t.

The characters seemed to be developed just enough to not be one dimensional, but not much beyond that. I felt that the pacing of this book was a little off. The beginning went very slowly for me, while the ending seemed rushed. Some things were a little heavy-handed, such as the names (Ark; Noa). I think that makes it seem as though I disliked the book, but I didn’t. I thought it was a solid addition to the dystopian fiction genre. It’s just nothing new.

Have you read this book? What did you think?