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Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine – Book Review 

Isn’t it great to have lots of booky friends who know what type of books you’ll love? Thanks to Stacey for spotting this and to Ailsa from Allison and Busby for the copy. All opinions are as ever mine. 

Ink and Bone is Book one in The Great Library trilogy followed by Paper and Fire and Ash and Quill (I’ll definitely be checking the others out). 
First up I have to fawn over the stunning cover. Butterfly, Books and Quills…Oh My!! Check out my Instagram picture below. 

Synopsis 

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. POWER CORRUPTS. 

In a world where the ancient Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, knowledge now rules the world: freely available, but strictly controlled. Owning private books is a crime. 

Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market book smuggler, sent to the Library to compete for a position as a scholar… but even as he forms friendships and finds his true gifts, he begins to unearth the dark secrets of the greatest, most revered institution in the world. 

Those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life – and soon both heretics and books will burn…

What I thought

I’ve not read any books by Rachel Caine before, even though I own a number of her Morganville Vampire series. Yup, I own lots of private books – I would be in serious trouble in this universe! I was very impressed with her writing and worldbuilding. 

Jess Brightwell’s father tells him “You have ink in your blood, boy, and no help for it. Books will never be just a business for you.” And so begins his journey away from the family book smuggling to the Library and curating knowledge. Training to be a Librarian is not as safe as it sounds and Jess has a gift that may make it even more dangerous for him. He makes for a very likeable character and joins a fun group during his training. 

Every now and then the chapters from Jess’ point of view are broken up by what are called Ephemera. Mainly letters by Scholars from the Great Library. These hint that not everything at the Library is what it seems. That Jess needs to be careful about where he places his allegiance. 

This book reminded me a little of Nevernight (with slightly less murder) by Jay Kristoff – that I also loved – and there’s definitely the unusual boarding school vibe about it. 

I too was freaked out about the Ink Lickers!!! People in this universe who eat books so that the knowledge they contain can never be shared 😱. Considered worse than Book Burners who are more like revolutionaries wanting to bring about change. 

This is a dystopian fantasy sci-fi with steampunk automata, super speed travel, magic and lots of corruption. I highly recommend if you like any of those things. 

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher – Review

Yesterday I shared with you Clare Fisher’s guest post on self-acceptance and it was a piece I asked her to write considering that it was mentioned as a theme in her debut novel. Huge thanks to the publisher, and Josie, for finding my blog and sending me a copy of the book (Plus a nifty themed notebook). My review is not affected by this. I will share my honest opinion below. 

I gave the book the somewhat arbitrary rating of 4.5 stars on Goodreads. I struggle with giving numbers but do it anyway?! I tend to not be a reviewer who rounds up half stars either and reserve my 5 stars for something Je Ne Sais Quois. Do you know what? I think I need to come up with my own qualitative rating scale. I really can’t stand numbers. But other people look at them and … anyway. Back to the book. 

This is an accomplished debut. Clare has succeeded in creating a character in Beth that is so flawed, so complex, so bloody human that I have a million different thoughts about her. Good books change you, and I think reading books means different things to you at different points in time when you read them. When I read this again, which I hope to, who knows how my thoughts will change. 

If you’ve read reviews of mine before you might be aware that I don’t always write about things like the use of language and other objective stuff. I write about how the book affects me. That’s because to me reading is about emotion. About ideas and stories and it is about how it connects with me. I can make objective statements about books but I prefer to make subjective ones. Because you know what. My opinion will never be the same as anyone else’s. I break one of the cardinal rules of reviewing but it’s my blog so *pokes tongue out. 

Back to Beth. She is 21. She’s in prison. She refers to a bad thing that she has done. Her counsellor Erika asks her to write down all of the good things in her life. 

I loved how the chapter titles were the summary of the good things, and especially that one is left blank. It was such a clever device and structured the book so well. 

We hear from Beth’s point of view in first person narration. We are limited to her view but we can see outside it. Can read between the lines. So clever. I love how she talks. I love that she’s a reader. Booky people are just awesome. 

But Beth thinks she isn’t awesome. Beth has done something bad and bad people don’t deserve to be happy. Except that there are rarely, if ever, truly truly bad people, we are a product of genetics and circumstance. And Beth doesn’t have the best lot in life. 

Does that excuse the bad thing? 

No. 

Does that make the bad thing understandable?

Maybe. 

Does it mean she never deserves a moment of happiness? Never deserves good things?

No. 

Crime and punishment is such an interesting topic and as an Occupational Therapist who has studied Psychology, Sociology and of course Occupation I am so interested by this. Hate the act. Hate the outcome. Try to understand the person. 

So. Why didn’t I give it 5 stars? Reading my review I don’t really know. I hope Clare won’t mind being tagged in this review because I’m going to be honest. It just didn’t. I did kind of guess the bad thing early on – not that it truly mattered really except in that I felt it was made up to be such a big thing that it felt slightly anticlimactic. And you know what. That was possibly the point. 

I also felt it ended a little abruptly and with lots unanswered. Again this isn’t at all a bad thing and wanting more is the sign of a good book. 

In summary, if you’ve actually read my waffle (well done if you have – please let me know somehow), if you are interested in humanity, in why good people do bad things or why bad people do good things, in how you define good and bad. Read this book. I hope you won’t regret it. 

I think I’m going to use my branded notebook to write about All the Good Things in my life. Because there really is some shit at times. But even with the shit there is some good, and that’s what we need to find. The glimmer of hope. 

Clare. Thank you for your glimmer. 

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – Review

A very happy book birthday to Strange the Dreamer – the first in a new duology by Laini Taylor author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.

This has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2017 after reading a sampler last year. The sampler also encouraged me to finally read her first series, which I loved, and I entirely blame, for making me plan a trip to Prague in 2018.

The setting of Strange the Dreamer is entirely fictional so that should save me some money, although I will be needing the follow up in Hardcover too. I got my little grabby hands on a beautiful signed and blue edged copy on Saturday so spent the weekend reading it. I’d already made a mask prop for bookstagram and the story is set in a city called Weep so Sadness was a must for the picture below.

Weep

Synopsis

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

What I Thought

Looking at the reviews on Goodreads it appears Laini Taylor is quite a polarising author, and I’m glad to say  I am fully in the love her camp. Her writing is so beautiful that it made me read more slowly because I didn’t want to miss any words or the images they create. I’m not a very visual reader normally but, I can see her worlds.

We are thrown straight in to a world where people have two hearts and blood and spirit runs through them. I would have liked a pronunciation guide for some of the words because my brain was getting twisted trying to read them but I loved the myth and mystery that that bought.

Much as in her previous series we focus mainly on two points of view, that of Lazlo and the blue skinned goddess, though we do step into the minds of other characters too at times. There was only one point where the POV shifted within a scene unexpectedly. But, it was in a shared scene.

Lazlo is a dreamer and believer, a lover of books and stories, and as a fellow book person I was naturally drawn to him, but I also felt for Sarai, and was compelled by her inner conflict. Gods and Monsters seems to be a common theme in Laini’s work and she doesn’t shy away from exploring the murky side of what makes a Hero or a Villain. Consequently her characters are rich and complex, as well as humorous and human. There’s one character that reminded me of Claudia from Interview with a Vampire and there is more than one heartbreaking relationship explored in this book.

I don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to spoil it but this book is magic and you will want to savour it and it will destroy you and … how long do we have to wait until part two?

If you’ve read the book and want to discuss DM me on twitter.

Also over the weekend I read samplers for The Boy on the Bridge by MR Carey and Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh but thankfully only have to wait until May to read them. Lucky really as I’ll be doing Camp NaNo in April.

 

 

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