Book Review: Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer

Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer

Genre: Poetry, Mythology

Publishing Info: October 2019 by Central Avenue Publishing

Pages: 224

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Bestselling and award-winning author Trista Mateer takes an imaginative approach to self-care in this new poetry and prose collection,
Aphrodite Made Me Do It. In this empowering retelling, she uses the mythology of the goddess to weave a common thread through the past and present. By the end of this book, Aphrodite make you believe in the possibility of your own healing.

Thank you so much to Central Avenue Publishing and NetGalley for the eARC of this book.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, or how much I would enjoy it, as I don’t often read poetry. In fact, I didn’t enjoy much poetry when I did my English Literature degree, but I’ve come to realise that I don’t hate poetry, it’s just a matter of finding the words that sing to you.

This book has a varied style, with some written in more poetic form and other sections written in more of a prose style. The mixture makes it more accessible, and although I personally would have enjoyed more of the fragmented poetry sections, I think this does give it appeal to a wider audience. You don’t have to like poetry to like this book.

The topics covered are very relatable, put in simple terms that everyone can understand, but those words are put together in a beautifully lyrical way. Subject matter such as body image, assault, love, coming out, abuse and family are all explored in a very honest way. Using mythology as a way to tell the story and explore the themes of the book was an interesting and effective choice. It does help that I’ve always had an interest in mythology. Aphrodite is given a voice and the book gives an interesting perspective on how the love goddess is represented in literature and culture.

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Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas  

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: May 2015 by Bloomsbury Children’s

Pages: 419

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Feyre is a huntress.

She thinks nothing of slaughtering a wolf to capture its prey. But, like all mortals, she fears what lingers mercilessly beyond the forest. And she will learn that taking the life of a magical creature comes at a high price…

Imprisoned in an enchanted court in her enemy’s kingdom, Feyre is free to roam but forbidden to escape. Her captor’s body bears the scars of fighting, and his face is always masked – but his piercing stare draws her ever closer. As Feyre’s feeling for Tamlin begin to burn through every warning she’s been told about his kind, an ancient, wicked shadow grows.

Feyre must find a way to break a spell, or lose her heart forever.

Having loved the first two books in Maas’s Throne of Glass series, I was eager to dive into the first book in her other series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and I wasn’t disappointed. The book is quite slow to start but everything comes together brilliantly in the second half. The slower pacing earlier on meant I had time to get to know the characters and become invested in their fates. It didn’t drag or get boring, so if you start reading it and find it a tad slow, please persevere because, well, it gets so good.

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Book Review: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

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Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne  

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Publishing Info: August 2015 by Usbourne Publishing

Pages: 434

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

I met Holly Bourne a couple of years ago at a talk and got this book signed. She wrote ‘Normal = overrated’ and I am so thankful to her for that message. I have only just got round to reading this book. I’ve been catching up on all the books I didn’t have time to read during my degree, and I wish I’d read this one sooner. A few times I picked it up, read the first page, and put it back on the shelf because I wasn’t sure it would be for me. I don’t very often read contemporary books, I’m more of a fantasy person, and I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy the writing style. But here we are, and I finally read it, and I’m so so glad I did.

The writing style is quite conversational, which is what put me off reading it, as I’m not always a fan of this style. However, I ended up very much enjoying the style of writing. Holly Bourne captures the voice of the main character brilliantly and the style works well for the book. At time the writing got a bit rambling but I didn’t mind too much.

What Bourne did so well is show Evie’s thought processes. Evie has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which has sadly been very stereotyped in our society and a lot of people have misconceptions about this condition. Bourne didn’t fall into clichés and it was clear she had done a lot of research. It was eye opening to see the thoughts that might go through the mind of someone with OCD, and also how that can spiral into relapse.

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Book Review: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

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The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: May 2018 by Gollancz (first published 2017)

Pages: 432

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

Dragons are what attracted me to this book. I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. The concept of dragons being attracted to stories is an interesting one, and I liked that this provided a different angle to the well-trodden road of dragon rider novels. Riding dragons wasn’t the focus of the book for the majority, as dragons have in fact been hunted for some time.

Kristen Ciccarelli doesn’t use much description in her prose, yet I was still able to visualise every scene. This also meant it wasn’t bogged down in in-depth description like many fantasy books get lost in, and it kept the book fairly fast paced. I would have perhaps liked a bit more sensory description, to make the settings come alive more and create more atmosphere in some of the tense scenes.

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Book Review: The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

51lDNLBOP+LThe Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror

Publishing Info: January 2019 by Hot Key Books (first published 2018)

Pages: 248

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.

Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor – only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.

Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .

Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, THE TWISTED TREE is a ghost story that twists and turns – and never takes you quite where you’d expect.

 

Can’t lie, the cover is partly what attracted me to this book. I love trees as a visual, and often take photographs of them, so that got my attention. The cover also gives off creepy, mysterious vibes that piqued my curiosity. I also liked that it sounded a little unique, and certainly quite different to other YA fantasy I have read.

Rachel Burge does an amazing job of creating a mysterious, spooky atmosphere. The suspense is great and really had me on the edge of my seat and rooting for the main characters. It’s actually scary at times. The plot didn’t follow the typical heroes fighting evil villain route as such, which I found refreshing. Norse mythology was weaved in well with the plot and fit very naturally.

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Book Review: Internment by Samira Ahmed

38167114Internment by Samira Ahmed   

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Publishing Info: March 2019 by Atom

Pages: 386

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

Rebellions are built on hope.

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.

 

Having seen the description for this book, I just had to buy it. The idea drew me in right away because of its relevance. Negative attitudes towards Muslims have sadly become more prominent lately, which is completely unfair. This book imagines what could happen if the situation in America escalated, and shows how quickly things can change. I wanted to love this book. It had so much promise, but I was a little disappointed. Although I felt it could have been better, it was also incredibly shocking, as well as moving and heartbreaking.

Rather than being set in a far-flung ultra-futuristic setting, Internment is set in a near future that unfortunately you can really believe could actually happen. I think it being near future makes it more terrifying. So many dystopias are set in a distant future that feels a long way away, like something that wouldn’t happen for a while. But sadly you can imagine this happening now. The book tackles big issues such as Islamophobia and illegal detainment, and it’s so good to see serious subject matter explored in young adult fiction.

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Book Review: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

51toTzgHGXL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin  

Genre: Fantasy

Publishing Info: July 2011 by HarperVoyager (first published 1998)

Pages: 913

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Throughout Westeros, the cold winds are rising. From the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding lands of Winterfell, chaos reigns as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms stake their claims through tempest, turmoil and war. As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky – a comet the colour of blood and flame – five factions struggle for control of a divided land. Brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night.

 

Having read A Game of Thrones last year and being completely sucked in, it was no surprise that I picked up its sequel, A Clash of Kings. For contextualisation, this is my first time reading the book series A Song of Ice and Fire and I haven’t watched any of the TV series.

I wondered whether A Clash of Kings could live up to the high bar set by the first book, and while I think I enjoyed A Game of Thrones more, there was still plenty to love about A Clash of Kings. With Westeros divided, there are plenty of rivalries and tensions between the various houses to provide conflict. Many of the characters have now been well and truly separated, meaning it feels like there are more threads to try and keep track of. It does get a little confusing at times trying to remember who belongs to what house and who is allied with whom.

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