Thursday, 28 March 2019

A review: The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot

Description from Goodreads

Lottie collects dead creatures and lovingly cares for them, hoping to preserve them, to save them from disintegration. Her father understands—Lottie has a scientific mind, he thinks. Her aunt wants it to stop, and she goes to cruel lengths to make sure it does.

And her mother? Lottie’s mother died long ago. And Lottie is searching for a way to be close to her.

The Art of Taxidermy is a heartbreaking verse novel exploring love and death, grief and beauty, and the ways we try to make sense of it all.

First impression: what a creepy name for a book. I had seen The Art of Taxidermy a couple of times listed on NetGalley but I skipped requesting it two or three times - simply because the title was so creepy. But my attention was drawn to the title, time after time, so I decided to give it a shot in the end. Who knows what kind of jewel it could turn out to be?

The book WAS creepy, but not creepy in the traditional way. The novel was quirky and heartbreaking and  the taxidermy  theme was just a tool to show something bigger. The novel was an exploration of a young girl's way to deal with death, grief, and longing, but also an exploration of family dynamics. The journey was both daunting and dark but there were also joys of discovery and friendship. Staying true to yourself even if it isn't easy or comfortable. 

I didn't realize The Art of Taxidermy was a verse novel until I started reading. In fact, now in hindsight, I think the novel is at its best in its current form. The short, punctual poems were straight to the point but had a lyrical and melancholy tint to them. I found it so easy to get into the story, the beautiful imagery  and the rhythm made the whole reading experience smooth and calm.

"Father's blue eyes moistened, and the blue deepened and deepened into cool, aquamarine lakes." 
"Clouds of pink coral drifted above us, almost close enough to touch." 

There was one thing I wanted to see done differently, though. The author introduced a lot of different themes, and in my opinion, the book should have been longer (currently 240 pages) so that the author really could have dug deeper into some of the themes and topics. I think there's plenty of material to write just about grief and loss, but there was also mentions of racism and colonialization, WWII and immigration. While these topics did bring depth to the characters and were interesting, I think discussions of discrimination and aboriginal's status would have required a bit more space. In fact, those ideas would have required a book(s) of its own, just simply mentioning the discrimination felt like a cop out and riding on the topic instead of fully exploring it in depth. 

All in all, The Art of Taxidermy was a moving piece and it made me think about death. Death is inevitable, but still many of us simply refuse to confront it or cope in unhealthy ways. Can we even deal with death in healthy ways, truly? I know I'm going to have big problems when death decides to visit me or my close ones. But we should try to see death as a natural part of life, because death will visit us all, and while it's unbearable, it's also something we have to learn to live with.

3/5 stars

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Can't-wait-wednesday #3: The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read.

This week, I can't wait for

by R.F. Kuang

41118857Description from Goodreads

The searing follow-up to 2018’s most celebrated fantasy debut – THE POPPY WAR.

In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.

The sequel to R.F. Kuang’s acclaimed debut THE POPPY WAR, THE DRAGON REPUBLIC combines the history of 20th-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating effect.

Genre: Adventure, Mythology, Fantasy 
Pages: 560
Expected Publication: August 6, 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager

The epic book two of the amazing The Poppy War series is just around the corner! Well, almost. But I couldn't wait to share this book with you all, whether you have read the first book or not. If you haven't started on this series yet: please do! Kuang has a very unique voice in fantasy storytelling: the author builds a detailed and dark world with an interesting take on gods and mythology. The first book was a mix of Harry Potter, The Game of Thrones, and Percy Jackson. I'm expecting a lot from the second installment, The Dragon Republic!! Those who have already got up and personal with The Poppy War, what are your thoughts on the second book?

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Top Tue Tuesday (#35): Favorite audiobooks

Top Ten Tuesday this week is about 

  ❄ Top Ten Audio Books 

I absolutely love audiobooks. My love for them goes a long way back, all the way to my childhood. I used to get those children's CD audiobooks (alongside the actual story books!) as presents. When I got a bit older I used to go to the library to loan them (I was lucky enough to grow up on the same street as our local library was). 

I rediscovered audiobooks in the summer of 2012. I got a summer job which was a very tedious and manual job where we were allowed to listen to our own music with headphones. I started to get bored with my playlists so I decided to give audio books a try. I still remember the first book I listened - The Host by Stephanie Meyer. Not that long ago I had been a huge Twilight fan and I found out the author had released a new book some time ago. It didn't take that many days to finish The Host as an audiobook! I was so sold on the whole concept. Since then I've listened to dozens of audiobooks while travelling on the bus or plane, before sleeping, while jogging, pretty much everywhere and whenever I have had the chance. I haven't kept a record of them, but I'm guessing I listen around 12 to 16 audiobooks a year. 

Here's a list of some my favorites! They are no in particular order but I have selected them for the storytelling extraordinaire.




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A special mention to these podcasts:

Welcome to Night Vale

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Monday, 25 March 2019

I rediscovered beautiful quotes by accident

I found this random unpublished post which didn't even have a title. I opened the document, and I found all these beautiful quotes I had been collecting maybe 3-5 years ago! I think I'm going to make this a regular post, maybe not every week or month but maybe 3-4 times a year. Just enough time to forget I had highlighted the lines in the first place!

But here are some beautiful random quotes, I honestly don't even remember collecting them, but they must have left me pondering or just caught up in the emotion for one reason or another. Hope you enjoy them as much as I apparently did!

"I'm sinking," she says. "You're not," I lie.
One by Sarah Crossan

"Then you can take care of yourself". And of course, she was right. Self-sufficiency is one of the few benefits of being lonely. 
Mirrored by Alex Flinn

Seems like I've been waiting for you to come around my whole life, Lee. But a man can't wait forever and stay a man. 
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

"I think all the good stuff is always supposed to be a little bit scary," he says. 
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Maybe other people have invited me to do things and I've said no before giving it a chance. Maybe all of this is my fault, just not in the way I thought. 'You watch the world, Bean'. Tucker is right. I do watch the world. I do assume. I do all of those things - alone.
Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

They had all their terrors, but at least the spiders that lived in the new girl's veins were imaginary Grace had learned a long time ago that the true horror of this world were other people.
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Anxiety is feeling grown too large. A feeling frown aggressive and dangerous.
 The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

When I was born, I was born screaming. It was the same for almost everyone I've ever heard of; if you weren't born screaming, then you were probably born with too much optimism.
Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

For me, the middle ground doesn't exist. 
Paperweight by Meg Haston

"Thank you-- Sarkan." His name tasted of fire and wings, of curling smoke, of subtlety and strength and the rasping whisper of scales. 
Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Sunday, 24 March 2019

A Review: Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1) by Tomi Adeyemi

34728667Description from Goodreads

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Oh man, I wanted to like Children of Blood and Bone so bad. The premise was something completely new - a breeze of fresh air with the West African inspired mythology. I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot, the three point of views were distinct from each other and they had a set of motives and goals which would eventually clash. I enjoyed learning about their backgrounds and how they experienced the world. The novel was full of tension between the nations, discrimination and prejudice, in other words a rather dark book, and I loved it. Adored it. But then the second half came along, and I started to become more and more bored with each chapter. 

Those who have read the book may ask: how on earth were you bored when the novel was so action-packed? In fact, that might be exactly the reason why I became disinterested in the story. While I root for action, too many twists and turns make the novel unfocused. I felt like the story was going a million miles ahead and I struggled to stay along. The novel is full of mythology and worldbuilding, I wasn't sure where to focus while all the action was taking place. There were only a few moments to let the reader have a breather toward the end, and I really missed those moments, to fully take in the incredible world Adeyemi had created. 

The absolute strength in my opinion, besides the world-building, which is rich and intense, was the different characters and how they developed throughout the whole novel. I especially enjoyed the prince Inan and Zélie the commoner's point of views, while Amari the Princess was a bit 'meh'. Through these characters, the author took a stand on the issues of institutional racism and discrimination. I thought it was wonderfully written - more young adult books need to have themes like these in them! 

Children of Blood and Bone was exciting and thought-provoking read, but in my opinion the novel was too intense and packed, especially towards the end. I know that the novels are supposed to gain speed the closer the readers get to the end, that's how they are built more often than not, but it was too jammed with all the action. I loved the magic element and the core themes, but I can't help wondering if book two is going to be as jammed as the first one? I don't have a lot to say about this book  and I think that tells a lot about how I feel about the novel. A lot of people enjoy books which are this fast-paced, but it didn't work for me. Children of Blood and Bone was an ok read for me. 

3/5 stars