State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury | Fantasy, politics, and a whole lot of grief

State of Sorrow

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A grief-stricken world void of colour and laughter. Stories that seem legendary, but were real eighteen years ago. A girl taking the chance she never realised she wanted. All of this – and more – you’ll find in State of Sorrow, and I guarantee you it’s worth the read.

Set in a dismal world of permanent grief as the chancellor mourns over a tragedy eighteen years ago, we follow the chancellor’s daughter, Sorrow, as she stands up for election and fights to take over her father’s chancellorship. As you can imagine from such a synopsis, the family dynamics are rocky to begin with, but the family elements feature so much more prominently in this book than I was expecting. The temptation to off all family relations the second drama begins in a book out of convenience is so often followed, but instead Melinda Salisbury incorporated them into the story and made them a dominant part of it, surrounding our main protagonist with a whole host of people and varying, conflicting opinions. A point I think is especially important when the story itself is politically based.

Who says politics is boring?! I loved seeing a teenage girl navigate her way through the politics of her world, seeking advice and forming her own stance on how things should be run. I loved seeing how intense things can get, but how it’s entirely worth it. I loved how in today’s society especially, reading this story – even in a fantasy setting – came off as empowering and motivational. Because this is what I’d love to see more of in YA. When so many people look down on teenagers and everything they do, let books like this empower those teens and dare people to look down on them again. PLEASE.

As for the story itself, there was not one moment where I wasn’t gripped. Which is saying a lot, considering I had to take extended breaks from reading to focus on uni work. But nope – every single time I picked up this book, I was instantly drawn back into the world. I found myself repeating “just one more chapter” numerous times when considering putting it down, only to end up reading another hundred pages purely by accident. It was fascinating learning about the world and its history, even more so when the smaller details of its effects began to unravel. Reading about a world tamed into showing no signs of happiness was enthralling to me, because how can such a thing work?

If there’s one thing I was particularly impressed by, it had to be how Melinda Salisbury writes grief. So many times, I’ve read books featuring elements of grief that never quite seem…whole. They get the sadness, the distraught feelings, the standard things you think of. But this book captures how that one event can affect everyone, even those not directly involved. The elephant-in-the-room feeling around people who don’t quite know how to navigate the topic. The heavy atmosphere that instantly hits the second the subject is brought up. The way grief can become an obsession experience for a lot of people. It made for a darker read at times, and yet seeing the contrast between this and the tiny glimmers of happiness in the story helped lift my heart in a way. Seeing Sorrow’s amazement at the thought of colour, at people’s smiles, at anything that indicates something close to happiness was amazing to read, and I feel like the emotions were described perfectly.

I just feel like there’s so much going for this book. The plot was intense, the world rich, the characters all full of personality. And did I mention – one of the main characters has a wheelchair. Their hindrances are acknowledged without becoming weaknesses, it was simply something to be adapted to and that was fine. I’ve not see many YA fantasy books featuring prominent characters with disabilities, but the representation definitely needs to be a recurring thing.

With tensions pulling between darker atmospheres and lighter moments, politics and family drama, this book had me hooked from every word. I can’t wait for the second one to come out, because I just KNOW it’s going to be a good ‘n!

 

*Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book. This in no way affects my opinion.

 

Rated 4.5/5 stars!

4.5 stars

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this if you’ve read it! Or if you haven’t read it, is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Until next time…

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March // It’s the little things…

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So, I came to write a March summary and thought…what do I write about? Because I didn’t do much that would typically be considered worth writing about. I had no events to speak of, no new plans to get excited about. It was just a month of uni work really.

But to me, March ended up being a month that meant the world to me, because it was full of all the little things.

Continue reading March // It’s the little things…

Penguin Moderns: Part 1 | Otherwise titled “The death episode”

Penguin Moderns

If you’ve followed me on any social media in the past month or so, you just *might* know how excited I’ve been about the new little Penguin Moderns. At £1 each, these tiny books seem to be a fab way of trying new authors or bumping up your Goodreads goal, or even – if you’re like me – giving yourself a tiny confidence boost as you still manage to finish a book within your busy schedule (even if it is only 50 pages long, but shh). And so after eagerly anticipating these gems, I promptly bought 4 of them the day of their release.

…And then went back and bought 3 more. Oops.

But having acquired a little collection, and with the likelihood of me buying more in the future, I thought I do a little review series for them. Since they’re so tiny, I’ll be combining together 3 mini reviews for each post, this first one covering The Vigilante by John Steinbeck, The Breakthrough by Daphne du Maurier, and Four Russian Short Stories by Gazdanov and Others. Without realising, they can all be connected with one common theme: Someone, at some point, dies in each of these lil books. We’re morbidly kicking things off with a death episode. Still, let’s chat books…

Continue reading Penguin Moderns: Part 1 | Otherwise titled “The death episode”

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor | Dreams, gods, and a few (hundred) moths

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Goodreads | Amazon

The paperback from Strange The Dreamer is finally coming to the UK! *throws confetti* It’s been a long time coming, and at long last here we are. To celebrate, I’ve joined the Strange The Dreamer blog tour today, sharing my review from when I read this delight of a read and reminding you all that you should give it a go. In fact, I’ve reminded myself that I should reread it sometimes this year, especially with the second book Muse of Nightmares coming out later this year.

Anyway, enough rambling – onto the (spoiler free) review!

Continue reading Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor | Dreams, gods, and a few (hundred) moths

February // Birthdays, early screenings & the dreaded reading slump

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Where January proved to be the longest month in existence, February flashed by quicker than a blink (as I’m sure everyone has determined by now).

Honestly, it’s kind of a struggle thinking back over what happened this month, since it went by so quickly I barely had time to think. Or rather, I only had time to think about essays, which is a pretty standard thing by now. Despite working on things nonstop anyway, upcoming deadlines are always my cue to go into a sort of frenzy, not allowing myself to have a moment’s respite – which I know, is bad. But it can’t be helped. Even now as I’m writing this, my brain is gnawing away at itself with thoughts of “how DARE you not be doing uni work!”, thoughts that won’t be satisfied until I inevitably pick up some of my work after publishing this post. Still, at least I enjoy what I learn.

The coming deadlines also brought on a reading slump through February, though.

It very, very rarely happens to me. So when it does, it’s almost like my world tilts because what on earth do I do with my time?? I don’t spend my spare time reading, and all of my other hobbies revolve around the books I read so…what?

Continue reading February // Birthdays, early screenings & the dreaded reading slump

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty | Can I just *be* Nahri?

City of Brass

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Set on the streets of 18th century Cairo before plunging us into the world of Daevabad, this is a fantasy novel I’ve been eagerly anticipating for months. Following a conwoman called Nahri, we witness her healing tricks long before she admits to them being magical – that is, until she accidentally summons a (kind of) djinn warrior in the process. Which, to be fair, would convince me too.

Continue reading The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty | Can I just *be* Nahri?

The books I gave a home, but not a read (yet)

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“How many books do you have on your shelves that are unread?” is probably a question that’s better left unanswered (although, I’ll have you know it’s not as many as I thought…it’s bad, but not as bad). And when it comes to my good old phrase of “I’ve been meaning to read this one for years!” you can guarantee I’m not exaggerating. But it had me thinking – which books have I been meaning to get round to the longest?

I actually loved doing this post and unearthing the lost treasures on my shelves. Not that they were ever hidden…they just became vastly overshadowed by at least 3 or 4 years worth of shiny new books (yikes). But since I log all the books I own on Goodreads, I managed to trace back the ones I’ve had on my shelves the longest quickly enough. And so here’s the books I gave a home to all those years ago, but have still yet to read…

Continue reading The books I gave a home, but not a read (yet)

Force of Nature by Jane Harper | What happened to Alice?

Force of Nature

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Book Depository 

Today, my lovelies, I’m taking part in a blog tour! It’s been an awful long while since I’ve done one of these, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity when I heard about this book. It caught my attention immediately, and with the need for mystery I’ve been feeling lately, it came at just the right time!

Set in the rainy bushland of the Giralang Ranges, this book follows a team of five women reluctantly sent out on a team building hike. What better way to build team spirit, right? Well, sure…apart from one of them doesn’t come back. Things go downhill real quick when Alice Russell disappears from the group and the rest of the women come back looking worn and disheveled, the situation calling for Aaron Faulk and a whole team of investigators to get involved.

Continue reading Force of Nature by Jane Harper | What happened to Alice?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte |Ignore 10 year old Jane, and all is good

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• Goodreads | Amazon UK | Book Depository  •

Despite being one of the most popularly known pieces of canonized literature, I still struggle to explain what this book is about beyond “it follows the life of Jane Eyre”. Honestly, I don’t feel like all that much happens for the length of it. But that’s not to say it doesn’t deserve it’s high acclaim. It’s just that when you read a lot of fantasy, you come to expect a lot of events (and numerous opportunities to wield your magic slaying-powers, of course).

So we start off with Jane as a child – a state I can just about manage. It’s far from my favourite stage to read about. To me, the language just seems rigid and almost wrong for her age. I’m well aware that the story is being narrated through an older Jane Eyre’s perspective, recounting her story and being able to add intelligence and hindsight beyond her focused years. But when that language and voice doesn’t change at all in recounting the dialogue of a ten year old…it’s strangely jarring. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it, no matter if it was true to the time period or character. So we’ll just ignore ten-year-old-Jane, okayy? Okayy.

Saying that, Jane Eyre soon grows older – as nature requires – and from that point on I can barely find anything to fault in the book. Because ohhhh it gets intense.

But how can it get intense if not all that much happens?

Well.

Continue reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte |Ignore 10 year old Jane, and all is good

January // Uni 2.0, travels, and other rambles

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January. The month that seems to last a year, despite being the one to introduce us to a new year in the first place. The irony.

January was a mixed lot. The year ahead looked at once both hopeful and daunting. The weeks preceding only proved it would, indeed, be both. So in every way possible, this month has dragged, a sentiment it seems the majority of the world agrees on. But oh, so much has happened.

Continue reading January // Uni 2.0, travels, and other rambles