Book Review, Thoughts and Feelings

April and May Wrap Up

During the month of April, I read 6 books, which consisted of 1 physical book, 2 Ebooks, and 1 E-ARC. April was an okay month for reding for me, May however was not, not at all. I read 1 physical book in May.

It is likely that I did not read as much as I did in march due to all of my masters assignments being due at the end of April beginning of May.

The first book I read in April was The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo, this is a short novel which describes the life of a young exiled Empress’s life through the perspective of her handmaiden named Rabbit. This short book splits between past memories and the present in teaching moments of a young cleric. This book was very fantastical and deeply enriched my imagination in creating the characters and plot of this story. The imagery was beautiful and created a final solidarity feeling for the feminism in the final rebellion of the young empress. I gave this book 4- stars, as I really eno=joyed it but to fully understand the story I do feel I need to read it again. 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir was the second book I read in April via kindle. Now now please don’t hate me, I know this is a beloved book within the community but I didn’t love it, and I’m sorry about that. I did thoroughly enjoy the characters all of them except Helene, in fact, I actually hate her a lot.  I enjoyed the political components of this book,  as well as the dual perspective of Elias and Laia.  I do thoroughly hate Helene with a passion and her character ruined the experience of this book for me, she is very unlikable. The inclusion of her character has actually lowered the sequel book on my TBR, I am not rushing to read the sequel any time soon. The book was however very well written and I gave it 4-stars.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. Now if you’ve watched my booktube videos or my twitter you’ll know I was severely disappointed with this book and almost DNF-ed by the 2nd page.  Firstly it is written in 1st person which I struggle with anyways, 3rd person is the superior POV. I found it really hard to connect with Jude and to like the characters within the book. Thi book was 370 pages long and I did not care for the characters until I i was 300 pages in. After reaching page 300 tough I’ll admit I was incredibly intrigued and couldn’t wait to find out what happened and the ending was actually very good that it got me excited to continue onto the second book, The Wicked King.  For these reasons I actually rated the book 4-stars and after reading the second and third book I may be a Holly Black fan- maybe, you’ll have to read my June wrap up to find out.

I received The Raven and the Dove by Kaitly Davis as an E-ARC from Netgalley, I gave this book a 4-star rating. I liked a lot of aspects of this book, however, I wish that it was only written from Lyana’s POV instead of having 4 different POV perspectives. This book didn’t particularly need the different views. The characters were really unique and interesting; I loved Rafe he was so sweet, I really enjoyed Xander within the first 2/3rds of the book, I found Lyana slightly irritating but relatable, and Cassi was an interesting character, possibly my favorite, but I hated reading her chapters. Overall the writing was excellent but it wasn’t perfect, I wish more of the story was held a little more secret.

As you can see April was a very 4-star month, May also was.

The only book I read in May was Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, this book gave me mixed feelings. I didn’t start until the 16th of May due to assignments, however, I didn’t finish the book until the last couple of days before the end of the month. For about 10 days I tried to put off reading Elantris, I wasn’t enjoying myself and I felt one of the three characters within the POVs wasn’t required- which is an opinion I still stand by- I understand why that POV is there but it wasn’t needed. As I was approaching the end of the month and the end of the deadline for me to read it in, I forced myself to continue reading. I’m not sure when the shift happened but I found myself enjoying this book, likely when Raoden started understanding the magic system, and I actually cared about the characters. I am actually really happy I enjoyed this book and whilst I was reading I decided that I will be reading Warbreaker quite soon. If you would like a more in-depth exploration of my experience whilst I read this book, I will have a reading Vlog for Elantris up on my youtube soon.

This concludes my April and May wrap up and I will be uploading my June wrap up in a few weeks which is likely to be much more interesting!

Happy Reading!

Courtney

A Nerdy Book Birdy

 

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Book Review, BookTalks

The Poppy War By R. F. Kuang- Review

The Poppy war
Photo Credit is the author of this blog @ANerdyBookBirdy on Instagram.

Title: The Poppy War

Author: R. F. Kuang

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

“When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.” – Goodreads

Review:

So some of you may be thinking… “hang on, Courtney you read that in March… why are you only reviewing this book now?” We’ll let me tell you… it’s because I loved this book so much it took me 4 months to accumulate words to describe it.

If you subscribe to me on YouTube (you should) or follow me on twitter (you also should, trust me… I’m funny) then you will know I absolutely adored The Poppy War and gush about it all the time, like seriously I’ve mentioned it in every video I’ve made on YouTube. You could say I’m a big fan and I’m going to tell you why… we’re gonna start from the beginning.

This year I have been living in a completely different city to my boyfriend, I’ve been doing a full time Masters degree and have been going to see Tommy on alternate weekends, hopping on the train and travelling for 2 hours to see him for two and a half days.

Now I have travel anxiety about trains and things I can’t control, so I often book my trains an hour+ after my lectures end, so that I have the smallest possible chance to miss my train. This quite often leaves me with 55 minutes to wait for my train, considering the train station is right next door to my university and (this is where the Poppy war fits into this situation) Waterstones is across the road.

You might know where this is going…but yes I quite often peruse around Waterstones whilst I wait for my train, on this occasion I had almost 2 and a half hours to wait for my train as my only lecture that day had been cancelled. In typical uni fashion the lecturers didn’t say until 10 minutes beforehand.

My local Waterstones thankfully has a cafe so I perused around the Ya section before walking to the fantasy section. On the very top shelf cover facing me was The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang, now I hadn’t heard of the book before but the cover reminded me of Brandon Sanderson covers so I picked it up thinking my boyfriend might enjoy it and I could treat him (he’s a big Sanderson fan). Low and behold the synopsis intrigued me more for me rather than for Tommy’s pleasure.

I sat down in the teeny chairs they have floating around the store front and read the first chapter after which I decided I liked Rins sass and was going to buy it for myself. I proceeded through the checkout, got 10% off for being a student and wandered upstairs to the cafe. I ordered a hot chocolate with coconut milk and took this picture for bookstagram.

I continued reading whilst I waited for my train, watching Rin educate herself so she could get out of her arranged marriage. I got 6% into the book when I declared Rin a badass and a further 16% when I had to go to my train.

The entire train journey I got to read, the carriage was clear and quiet enough that I was cruelly able to concentrate and I was very happy about it. I continued to read over the weekend when I could and finished it quite quickly compared to other books I’d read at the time- aka 1 a month.

I knew it wasn’t the best idea to read The Poppy War 3 days before my most anticipated release of the year came out (House of Earth and Blood) but my brain quite often has stupid ideas.

I sped through it absolutely loving the entire thing except for a few sentences that made me feel quite severely ill with the descriptions but otherwise LOVED IT. And here’s why:

The plot as already quoted in the synopsis follows Rin a peasant girl who tries to bargain herself out of an arranged marriage and into a prestigious school whilst her country is at war. The main aspects of the plot did not go where I thought it would, I beloved this story to centre on a magical school which is only a small part of this story. The later parts of this book is where the darker aspects of the book play through which are completely unique, I’ve not read a fantasy book like this.

Rin was incredibly enjoyable to read, I adored her thought processes and the way she rationalised her world. This book follows Rin through daily racism and ostracism due to her class whilst at the school and the ways in which she combats the negatives in her life by attempting to improve herself and her situation. I’ll quote myself but Rin truly was a badass and I can’t wait to read The Dragon Republic to witness more of her sassiness.

I feel this book could be labelled in many ways, for a YA fantasy book this book is dark. This book contains some scenes that may trigger people due to the violence and refers to non consensual activities. This book could have easily been marketed as Adult fantasy, dark fantasy, New adult fantasy as-well as YA fantasy. This is not a book I would recommend to a 12 year old, I would consider the age range to be 15+.

Rebecca Kuang was 19 when she wrote and published this book, only 19 and the writing had 0 faults (for me), the characters were fully fledged, diverse and undertook development. The plot was an A* although slightly predictable but the tropes displayed was heavily hinted from the start. I just can’t believe I’d not heard of this book sooner and I urge every person to read it, for me this is the book I will recommend for a very long time. One thing also to note is that Rebecca Kuang is also an author of colour and this is an own voice story.

I ended this book with feelings, feelings I hadn’t felt from a book in a long time which is why it has taken me such a long time to review. It’s so incredibly hard to summarise and review books that come to you during life at just the right time, especially when they hit you in the feels so perfectly.

I hope you enjoyed my review and I recommend you read The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang, the final book in the trilogy comes out in October.

Happy Reading!

Courtney

A Nerdy Book Birdy

xxx

You can find me:

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BookTalks

March Reading Wrap Up

Before I start this post I’d just like to thank everyone from my heart for getting my blog to over 100 followers! I’m so grateful and shook that over 100 people want to read my opinions and wouldl ike to support me! I love you all, Thank You so much!

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During the month of March, I read 6 books, which consisted of 3 physical books, 2 Ebooks and 1 audiobook. March was a very positive month for me in regards to reading due to all of the spare time I’ve had during our self Isolation.

The first book I read in March was The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang, this book follows Rin an orphaned peasant girl who attempts to avoid an arranged marriage by passing an exam which would grant her to study at a notoriously famous warrior school. The story follows Rin through different stages of her young adult self, quite often skipping large periods of time. I adored this story, I’m so happy I randomly picked it up in Waterstones and just started reading. I loved this book so much that I genuinely could not express myself through my words and thus there is not a review for it, for this I am sorry but maybe one day I will be able to reflect on this book and finally write a review for it.

Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas was the second book I read in March, this was a book I had highly been anticipating and had it preordered. This book is an urban new adult  fantasy by my favourite author and I could not wait to read it. The story follows Bryce who lives in Crescent City, she is half-fae and is best friends with a werewolf. The book heavily follows Bryce as she experiences grief and acceptance of the death of her best friend while she is accompanied by an angel named Hunt in attempting to solve her best friend’s murder.  I loved this book, even for all its flaws I will still have the sequel book on preorder when it is announced. If you’d like to read more of my feelings on this book you can read my review.

The Near Witch by V. E. Schwab I read as a cure for boredom in those first few days of isolation, this book is about Lexi a girl who lives on the outskirts of Near, a small town surrounded by moorland. A stranger appears in Near one day, soon after children star to disappear. Lexi takes it upon herself to save the children of Near and protect the stranger who has come to town. This story for me was good but not amazing, and has decreased my urge to read V. E. Schwab books even though I am aware that her books are widely loved.

I requested to read Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust on Netgalley, this book follows Soraya a princess with a curse.  Sorya encounters problems when she attempts to relinquish her curse. This book involves a LGBTQ romance and is written with inspiration from Persian fairytales. I gave this book a 4.5 star review, this book was brilliant.

I also requested Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust due to loving Girl, Serpent, Thorn. This book was dual perspective retelling of Snow White following Mina and Lynet. The spin that Bashaardoust put on Snow White was beautiful and  I also highly rated this book. This book also feautured an LGBTQ romance, I further discuss this book in my review.

I listened to Idiot by Laura Clery on audiobook over the course of a couple of weeks, this book is an autobiography highlighting different events that have impacted Laura Clery’s life. This book was hysterical, narrated by Laura Clery herself who reflects on her past so bravely and humorously. This is quite a short audibook and is actually the only audiobook I have ever enjoyed, I gave the book a 4.5-star rating.

This concludes my March reaading wrap-up, the Goodreads links are in order of appearance:

The Poppy War 

House of Earth and Blood

The Near Witch

Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Idiot

Again, Thank You for the positive response and for following!

 

Courtney

(ANerdyBookBirdy)

xx

P.S. I made a Youtube channel based on discussing books, go subscribe, like and comment for more @ANerdyBookBirdyx  content!

Book Review, BookTalks

House of Earth and Blood Review

Photo credit- @ANerdyBookBirdy on Instagram.

Title: House of Earth and Blood

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Date Read: 27/12/19- 24/01/20

Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Adult

Review:

For my reading challenge for 2020, I had to read a book written by my favourite author, I chose House of Earth and Blood as Sarah J. Mas is my favourite author. 

I know this is a very anticipated book so I’m very excited to review it for everyone. I’ve noticed on Goodreads that not many people have left a review but only their ratings which is a shame because after I finished this book I really really wanted to read everyone else’s opinions, especially those that rated it highly like I did! 

Also, review spoiler, this is my longest one yet. 

So if you’ve not heard of this book (which is unlikely) the synopsis is as follows:

“Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.
Goodreads

I gave this book a 5-star review purely because my rating system isn’t about the negatives and positives of a book, I give reviews on my first thoughts after completion and how you feel after turning that last page. After I finished the last page of House of Earth and Blood, I was breathless, my heart was pounding and I felt euphoric, those feelings for me indicate a 5-star book. Upon completion and thoughts after reading some would change their review to something less but I won’t because I feel like those seconds after reading are important for the enjoyment of the book.

This book is not perfect, but to me after those moments it was. I know many people have opinions on Sarah J. Maas and her books who would disagree with my overall review but this is my review and not theirs.

The plot of House of Earth and Blood was not what I was expecting from a Sarah J. Maas fantasy but I found myself really enjoying it, I do hope however that the plot arch follows a more fantasy book in the sequel and doesn’t follow the crime/ mystery book tropes. When I found myself disappointed in this book it was because the book was too much of a mystery crime book rather than a fantasy.

What I love about Sarah J. Maas is that the characters she writes about are very well fledged out and have extensively planned backstories, I like how we don’t find out all of Bryce and Danika and Hunt’s secrets until the end and still we don’t know them all. I feel like it makes the story much more likeable as there are these snippets of personality and you start to understand as the story progresses. I love how in each of Sarah’s stories characters have real-life struggles, such as depression, domestic violent relationships, betrayals and grief.

Bryce Quinlan struggles with her mental health throughout this book, struggling to grieve for her best friend. I really enjoyed the realistic approach to this grief, I feel that if my childhood best friend died I would react extremely similar to how Bryce reacted. I liked how throughout the story Bryce used snippets of thought to remember her best friend.

I don’t want to talk too much about the characters and romance in this book for spoiler reasons, but I found our love interest very charming and yes I did see some similarities between him and Rhysand, however I thought that the way he was portrayed was not just similar to SJM books but to all books written for romance… Tall, Dark, Handsome and a little mysterious; I don’t think SJM was ripping off her character, especially since other authors also write about this type of man in general.

The romance for me was cheeky and created a lot of sexual tension. In my opinion for an adult book this book didn’t have enough sexy times. There, I said it. Many have commented about how Sarah has too many sexual scenes and that they aren’t needed but I did find myself slightly disappointed that there weren’t enough sex scenes in this book, which I know sounds weird but for a New Adult book for them to only passionately kiss is disappointing, that’s less graphic then what’s in her YA books.

As always I can’t fault Sarah’s writing. I felt that she had improved and didn’t particularly use any weird language, there were a lot less “purring” than there usually is which I did like. She often used the word “alphahole” which I thought was a little cringey. Some said that the first 100 pages were an information dump of background and world building, but in the world of Adult Fantasy that is quite often what you will find, E.g. Brandon Sanderson books, Game of Thrones they’re both information overload books that are loved and aren’t criticised for extensive world building.

Sarah definitely improved in including more diverse characters within this series, Bryce is described as tan and her mother is described as looking like Bryce but with black hair, dark eyes and a different complexion, Bryce’s dad is described as red haired. I don’t know but from my personal imagination Bryce’s mum is Black, meaning Bryce is half black. Hunt is described as having light brown skin, with dark hair and dark brown eyes. Other characters such as Fury, Juniper, Hypaxia are described as being people of colour, I liked how the best friends of Bryce were also an inclusive LGBTQ relationship. I do feel like Sarah has left a lot to the interpretation of her readers rather than being actually inclusive, for example she could have said Bryce’s mum was a person of colour rather than making us guess.

I did incredibly enjoy this book and I genuinely cannot wait for the Sequel, I feel like this book is the most solid and best starting first book in any of SJM’s series so far. I loved Hunt and Bryce and their cheeky banter, I loved the ending, I loved how Hunt isn’t the most powerful and he isn’t the one in charge either. I loved the inclusion of the epilogue, and I love love love Syrinx.

Overall I loved this book, I cried many times reading this and out of all the SJM books I’ve read (All of them , except Catwoman) this is the best one. This book pulled at heartstrings I didn’t’ know I had. Improvement is still needed though but I am excited for the sequel.

Courtney (ANerdyBookBirdy)
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