Review: Mostly Void, Partially Stars by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

29634931From the authors of the New York Times bestselling novel Welcome to Night Vale and the creators of the #1 international podcast of the same name, comes a collection of episodes from Season One of their hit podcast, featuring an introduction by the authors, behind-the-scenes commentary, and original illustrations.

Mostly Void, Partially Stars introduces us to Night Vale, a town in the American Southwest where every conspiracy theory is true, and to the strange but friendly people who live there.

Mostly Void, Partially Stars features an introduction by creator and co-writer Joseph Fink, behind-the-scenes commentary and guest introductions by performers from the podcast and notable fans, including Cecil Baldwin (Cecil), Dylan Marron (Carlos), and Kevin R. Free (Kevin) among others. Also included is the full script from the first Welcome to Night Vale live show, Condos. Beautiful illustrations by series artist Jessica Hayworth accompany each episode.

Welcome to Night Vale is a cult phenomenon. If you’ve not heard of it, I urge you to check it out. It’s wonderfully weird and weirdly wonderful and more than a little bit odd.

I’ve listened to some of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast and thoroughly enjoyed it. My only problem with it has been that if I am doing anything else at the same time, I don’t properly pay attention. With Night Vale if you don’t pay attention for a moment you can end up lost in the middle of a completely different plot point than you remember having heard before. I wanted to consume it a lot quicker than I was able to listen to it, so I was so happy when my boyfriend bought me the books for Christmas. I do intend to listen to the rest of the podcasts but having the book meant I could devour it in a few sittings.

At first Mostly Void, Partially Stars is very, well, random. Most of the scripts are almost entirely separate, with only Cecil, the Night Vale Community Radio Host, and the mention of other characters connecting them. This is not a bad thing by any means. You never quite know what to expect with a Night Vale. Fink and Cranor are especially good at being ridiculous without it being so ridiculous that it just makes no sense. It makes very little sense. But it makes a weird Night Vale sort of sense.

By the time the book draws to a close, story lines are being woven through the episodes and everything seems that much more connected. I found the later episodes more enjoyable than the earlier ones. The earlier episodes were like dipping a toe in the water of Night Vale every week and coming out with a different kind of water, whereas the later ones seem to have found their particular flavour and clung to it, determined to make it taste like the best flavour ever.

If you’ve already listened to the podcasts then you know what you’re getting with the book – you can probably hear the podcasts as you read. However, also included are the commentaries alongside each episode. I loved these. It was so great to get an insight into the creative minds behind the series, and it was so wonderful to find that they live up to the surrealness of the series.

The episodes are decorated with illustrations by the fabulous Jessica Hayworth. They are perfect. The style of them is so appropriate and they really bring the world to life. I have so many favourites that I can’t possibly choose any. They’re such a brilliant companion to the scripts, I really can’t praise them highly enough.

If you’re a fan of Welcome to Night Vale, I would recommend reading Mostly Void, Partially Stars for a different experience. If you think you’re not a very podcasty person but love weird, out there sorts of things, read Mostly Void, Partially Stars. It is very much out there.

Bone Season Giveaway Winners!

Hi, all! How are we?

I am delighted to announce the winners of my first giveaway! Thank you so much to everyone who entered, I hope you manage to get your hands on the book even if you weren’t successful this time around.

So without further ado, the winners are:

Jessica (@askewcrow) and Justin (@Justin_1889)!

I really hope you both enjoy your books, I would love to know what you think once you’ve read it. (An email is pinging your way now so that I can gather your delivery addresses.)

I hope to do some more giveaways on here in the near future, so watch this space. :)

Happy reading!

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On insta-love

Greetings, greetings, one and all. This is a bit of a weird one, bear with me though because I think it’s worth reading. (Well, would, I am the one writing it.)

Insta-love. Not the kind you show on instagram by liking as many of someone’s photos as is humanly possible in one sitting (though, that can be good) but the kind you see in books and movies. Often hailed as unrealistic and annoying and a plot-ruiner.

Well, I have a confession to make on that front.

It’s not that unrealistic. (Controversial?) Sure, if it’s terribly written or portrayed and you’re getting no feeling from either character, I can understand it ruining everything. But as a thing, on the whole, it’s not that bad. Love is weird and it’s different for everyone. This is common knowledge. A love being different to the love I experience, doesn’t make that love invalid and I would never dream of saying it does so why do we assume insta-love isn’t a thing?

Why am I writing about this? Why am I defending insta-love? Well, quite simply, because I feel it myself. Perhaps not full-blown cherubs-with-trumpets-I-want-to-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with-you-immediately love but it’s very fast.

Context: I met my boyfriend through online dating, we spoke for maybe a week before we met each other in person. We spent a day together and before he went home, I ended up deciding ‘Yup, this is the person I want to be with.’ (If we’re being completely honest, I decided that about an hour into the day.) He agreed. And so we officially became a thing. I didn’t need a second date to know that he was who I wanted, or that a relationship with him was both what I wanted and right for me at the time. Over a year and a half later, and here we still are, living together harmoniously in a little flat on the top of a hill.

I can’t ‘date’. I don’t see the point in devoting time to someone I don’t see or want a future with. If I decide to be with someone it’s because I’m in it for the long-haul from day one. When I was doing the online dating thing, if I felt a strong connection with someone (like my other half) I would cease talking to anyone else on that platform until I had confirmed whether it was something both of us wanted to pursue.

I feel very quickly and very deeply – I felt strong feelings for my other half before we even met. I am exactly the kind of character that gets complained about for being unrealistic but does my existence not make all of those claims a little bit false? Sure, it might be annoying as hell, and it might be difficult to understand if it’s not something you go through, but it’s very much a real thing.

It’s not all sunshine and roses, it hurts when it goes wrong – especially when it goes wrong after a short period of time and the people around you can’t quite understand why you’re so upset about it. That side of things, I think, needs to be explored more. I’m all for happy, wonderful love stories but I’m also all for raw, emotional, painful, not-quite love stories.

A lot of the complaints about it come from young adult fiction, and TV shows and films aimed at teenagers but it’s very much something that teenagers go through. I had so many dramatic unrequited teenage crushes and my teenage relationship(s), other than being a train-wreck, were very much that immediate, sickly sweet kind and so were many of the other teen relationships going on around me. What’s important, I think, is that books/films/shows that deal in insta-love should also deal with how to react healthily to it ending. There are so few stories that I know of that can be used as an example of a healthy way of dealing with a break-up, if you know any, do share them.

Is it just me? Am I the only person on this planet who gets insta-love and doesn’t revile it on principle? Am I speaking into the void?

The Liebster Award

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Another break from the scheduled programming (maybe we’ll just hang the schedule and post as much as we like, maybe) this week in the form of an award! Eeee! I have never been tagged in anything before. This is incredibly exciting. I was tagged by the wonderful Not-So-Modern Girl, who I discovered recently as part of my unwritten (but now written) vow to become more involved with the blogging community instead of just sitting in my own little bubble, as lovely as my little bubble is.

The rules of the tag are

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions they wrote for you.
  3. Nominate 11 people.
  4. Give them 11 different questions to answer!

So, without further ado, onwards to the questions!

What three words best describe your reading habits?

Fantastical, odd and… delayed.

I like reading books with a little bit of magic and whimsy, I like my books to be a little bit weird. I’m also kind of slow on the up take. I buy books when they are new but more often than not it takes me yonks to actually read them because I have so many books.

On average, how many books do you read a month?

For a while, I read an abysmal amount but at the moment I am trying to finish a book a week.

If you could visit any time in the past, where would you go and what would you do?

I wouldn’t go far, I think I would just go back to when my grandparents were young and get to know them a bit more. I’d love to have seen what they were like when they were young and what their lives were like. It’s something I always wonder about.

Which character in a book has the same name as you?

If we’re talking the name I use for my blog and creative exploits… no one. Because I am a special snowflake. However, my actual name is Emma. There are lots of Emmas. Emma from Emma, Emma from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to name a couple.

What is your best reading memory?

Oh. Oh, now this is difficult but I think I am going to go with a fairly recent one. My friends and I do something we call book-napping. It’s where we’re all in the same room but doing completely different things while enjoying each other’s company.

We call it book-napping because normally there’s at least one person reading and another person napping. This time was no exception. I was reading Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, I think, my best friend was napping, and the rest of our little group were watching Downton Abbey. We were all on the same giant bed and it was just incredibly cosy and warm and lovely.

Who is your favourite classical author (if you have one!)?

Confession time: I find it very difficult to read classic novels. However, I love Lewis Carroll and really enjoyed Wuthering Heights. I don’t know if I’ve read enough to have a favourite.

If you could only have one type of weather forever, what would it be?

Mist and fog. Always mist and fog. It’s just so beautiful and wonderful and it inspires me so much.

If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Oh god. This is almost impossible to answer right now. I’m currently on a weight loss journey and am fitting back into clothes I have long loved but have not been able to wear. I’m also trying to find the style that I like.

If I had to choose, it would definitely involve my Ravenclaw jumper and one of my three favourite pairs of leggings (pictured below). But which pair, I don’t know. It’s like choosing a favourite child. I might be leaning towards the starry ones (that entire outfit, perhaps…)

If you could swap places with one character from a book, which character would it be and from which book?

September from Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland series. I want go on a merry jaunt around Fairyland. I would like to go to the moon, I would like to cause trouble and fix everything and brandish a wrench. All of the above, please.

Have you ever borrowed a book and never given it back? Or has someone borrowed your book and not given it back?

Shamefully, yes but I think we both forgot. I found them under my bed years later (about three years ago now? So I’d had them for a good few years). Yes to the second question as well. But I don’t mind so much. I don’t think I was ever going to read it again.

Cats or dogs?

I love both but I don’t think my long-distance dog would ever forgive me if I said cats. He’s long-distance because he lives with my parents, and he’s always so happy to see me. Loves a good snuggle does that one.

So dogs.


Right! That’s all of the questions. That was fun, I enjoyed that.

My questions are as follows:

  1. If you had to write your autobiography right now, what would the title be, what chapter would we be in, and what would the cover look like?
  2. If you could only read the work of one author for the rest of your life, which author would you choose?
  3. If you had a dreamscape, what would it look like? (For people who haven’t read The Bone Season, a dreamscape is kind of where your subconscious lives. It is influenced by your past and often resembles a place – Paige’s dreamscape is a poppy field for example.)
  4. If you had to be a combination of two animals (i.e. top half cat, bottom half chicken), which two would you choose and why?
  5. You have to erase a genre of books from history, which genre do you get rid of?
  6. For one day only, you can bring any character to life, which character and what do you do with them?
  7. Who would play you if your life was a movie?
  8. What is your favourite music to read to?
  9. If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow for one week, what would the rule be?
  10. What is your biggest achievement? (Blogging, life, anything goes.)
  11. What is your go to book to recommend to people, why should everyone read it?

Phew! I hope my questions are interesting – I tried my best.

The first question is my favourite question to ask people. I ask it on a regular basis because the answer is always changing. For me, at the time of writing, the title would be What Exactly Do You Want From Me? (and other questions which don’t have answers), the chapter I’m in is ‘There’s no such thing as One-Size Fits All Feminism’ (owing to an email I had to send earlier) and the cover would have me standing on a road with my back to the camera and my hands in my pockets. The title would be in a blocky sans serif vertically down my back with each word on a new line. The subtitle would be on the road under my feet. By the time this entry is posted, it will be very different. (Hello, future me.)

To answer these questions (should they wish to) and win this award I choose:

  1. My lovely Mel from Les Deux Lapins
  2. My favourite wanderer, Bethan, from Vagabondage
  3. The fab Jane from Books With Jane
  4. Stacey from Pretty Books
  5. Emma from Emma’s Blog
  6. Becky from Adventures of a Blue-Haired Girl
  7. Avi and Vishwa from Panic at the Bookstore
  8. Kate from Writer in Residence
  9. The mystery behind Gold is From Aliens
  10. Sofii from A Book, A Thought
  11. And finally, Caitlyn from Words and Other Beasts

These are all either people I know, or have known, or blogs that I have found and enjoyed recently, whose authors I think might have some pretty neat answers to these questions. :) I have no idea if they will want to answer them but they are here if they do! Either way. You should go and follow them all.

Harry Potter re-readathon: The Deathly Hallows

9781408855959_309031We did it! We completed a series! The blog is alive! Alive with the sound of pages ruffling and words shuffling about on the spot waiting to be read. I am proud of this.

Here we are, on the last stop of our journey. The Deathly Hallows.

This book is painful. It hits you right in the gut so many times. With every grave injury or character death, I felt a crack splinter into my heart. It takes its toll – a mark of good writing.

It’s amazing to compare this to The Philiospher’s Stone, the two books are so different and yet they still feel like the same series. True, The Deathly Hallows is a much older, more experienced, and hardened brother to the sweet, innocent Philosopher’s but they are still brothers.

Speaking of brothers, I adore the Tale of the Three Brothers and I wish more folksy fairy tales were included in the body of the series. It added so much to the story and it felt like a real tale. I am a sucker for stories within stories.

Another thing I love about this book is that we get to visit the Ravenclaw common room and its wonderful riddle entry system. I identify as a Ravenclaw (if I haven’t already made that abundantly obvious) so I was so happy when the common room popped up in the books. It’s so wonderfully appropriate, I just want to curl up in there with a good book.

I am, however, still waiting for an epic Ravenclaw protagonist.

We get more helpings of McGonagall, who is just as bad-ass as I wanted her to be. It goes without saying (yet here I am saying it) that I am very much here for more McGonagall, in all of her forms. I am so glad she survives to pass her sass on to future generations of Hogwarts.

Like most Potter fans, however, I feel a great sense of exasperation towards the epilogue. I don’t think it was necessary and I think Harry needs to drastically improve his choice of names. There is no way Ginny had anything to do with that monstrosity. I refuse to believe otherwise.

I don’t quite know how to end this. I’d never thought this far. So I a just going to end it with this:

I bloody love these books. Thank you, J.K. Rowling.

[[CLOSED]] The Bone Season: Giveaway! (UK Only)

bone-visHello, wonderful people!

On a break from our (current) normal schedule, I give you a post on a Monday! What is this? How am I so productive all of a sudden? It’s a mystery to us all.

However, this entry is not about me, it’s about you!

As I’m an advocate, Bloomsbury have been especially lovely and given me two copies of the beautiful new paperback version of The Bone Season to give to you guys! It’s the first real giveaway I’ve done so I am very excited.

As it says in the title, it’s UK only, so please don’t enter if you’re from outside the country. You will only be disappointed. :( Booo.

If you’ve never heard of The Bone Season, read on:

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The giveaway is running until February 22nd so make sure you get your entries at the link below!

 Click here to enter!

I’m so in love with this book, I am so happy to be able to share it! Comment below if you’ve entered, I would love to hear from you!

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Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

25493853At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

I cannot even begin to tell you how hopelessly I have fallen in love with this book. I mean, I am going to try but it might just sound like loving nonsense. I am okay with this, as long as you know that I love it. I’ve already mentioned this book on here before, and I am almost certain that I will be mentioning it again.

Just thinking about it makes me feel warm.

So, as written in the blurb above, The Bear and the Nightingale tells the story of Vasilisa (or Vasya as she is commonly referred to), an impish Russian girl who lives and breathes the old stories in more ways than one. I love Vasya. I love that she is not pretty. I love that she is gangly and frog-like and her eyes are large and that she likes to climb trees. I have taken Vasya into my heart and I am going to cling to her for the rest of my days.

I love a compelling main character, and Vasya is that. She has a set of beliefs which she values over all but she also has respect for her family, even when they are cruel to her.

Speaking of cruel, I love it when a book gets me to react and, boy, did I react. I wanted to strangle Anna, Vasya’s stepmother, and Konstantin, a priest. Every time they were horrible, every time they were being ridiculous, I found myself shouting a little at the pages (luckily I read this book from the comfort of my own sofa and not on public transport). But I wanted to strangle them for all of the right reasons, I wasn’t supposed to like them. It is a powerful and talented author who can get you to react visibly and audibly, and I bow down.

I find Konstantin particularly apt in the current political climate – he wants people to be afraid. I couldn’t help but compare what Konstantin was doing with what is happening in the real world. Even though The Bear and the Nightingale is steeped in fantasy, I couldn’t help but relate it to my current view of the world.

One of the central themes in the book is the clashing of the old and the new, the old stories, the chyerti with Christianity. The old gods and spirits with the new, and how village life can fit into that. It looks at the roots of its people and pulls them from the ground, only to tentatively put them back again. We learn about all of the various spirits that keep the world turning, the grass growing, the houses protected, and we learn about them both from the perspective of someone who wholeheartedly puts their faith in them, and someone who fears them. It’s so interesting to see both sides, even if one side makes you want to throw something.

It’s a slow burn. The Bear and the Nightingale takes its time and revels in the storytelling. It is in no rush to end but everything feels essential. It’s not heavy-heavy action but it’s not dormant either. It grows into itself as Vasya grows into herself, it is a journey in and of itself.

I just love it so much. I want to shout out to the world, I want to command the world to read this book and love it and take it into their hearts.

#FolkoreThursday: Books I Want to Read

Greetings bloglings. We made it! We are in the second post. Folklore Thursday posts are officially a thing. Pat on the back for me. And for you for reading them.

Today, I’m going to share some of the folklore and fairy tale inspired books that I would really like to read. At least one of these is sat on the desk behind me so I will be reading it very soon. Hoorah! Anyway, without further ado, a list:

1. The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood

30052003Look at the cover. Just look at it. It is beautiful and wonderful and I wanted to read it for that. Then I read about it. Now I own it. It is only a matter of time. It’s described as a Victorian murder mystery, delving into folktale and superstition. The title is drawn from the Icelandic Huldufólk, from what I gather they are elves of some description. Having never looked into Icelandic folklore, I am intrigued.

I am unsure what to expect from it, not knowing anything much about Icelandic culture, or even whether it takes place in Iceland, maybe it doesn’t. I will be going into this one blind and that’s fine by me. Come at me, Victorian murder mystery. I am ready!

2. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

30809689It’s a new book by Neil Gaiman. Of course I want to read it. I already know that Gaiman is an exceptional author and that he knows how to handle his mythology so I am expecting great things from this book. I’ve never been disappointed by his work so I am almost completely certain that I am going to love it and I want it to fall from the sky into my waiting hands. Right about now. Any minute now.

No? Ah well, it was worth a try.

I’ve seen a couple of early reviews and from what I gather, it’s been well-received by those lucky few who have read it already. I am jealous. Incredibly jealous.

3. The Bread We Eat in Dreams by Catherynne M. Valente

17694319Yes. It is possible that every single Folklore Thursday post might mention Valente several times. I am not even nearly sorry.

Unfortunately, I am almost certain that I will never get to read this book. It is notoriously hard to track down and when you track it down, it is often incredibly expensive. Cue long sigh. I can dream. And what a wonderful dream it would be.

There is always some hint of folklore in a Valente work. I could probably list every book of hers I’ve not read here and they would all be valid (spoiler alert: there is another Valente book on this list).

4. The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker

21075386I am behind the times with this one. It came out a while ago and it has been on my wishlist since then. I just haven’t got round to buying it, and it’s not yet been bought for me by those in possession of my list (for birthday and Christmas purposes, I don’t force my loved ones to by me books – but if I could…). At least, I don’t think it has. I am doubting myself now.

I was mostly drawn to this book because it’s not about humans. It’s about very established mythological beings and I’ve never read a book from the perspective of a golem nor a djinni – heck, I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book about a golem or a djinni. I really need to get a wiggle on with it.

5. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

28220892Russian folklore again gimme! (See my last Folklore Thursday post for context.) Vassa in the Night is set in modern day Brooklyn but promises all of the magic and wonder of the folklore it is based on. I want it and I want it now.

I’ve seen it described as quirky, nonsensical and whimsical – three words which just make me more excited. I love a bit of whimsy and a bit of nonsense and the quirkier the read the better. I think this book and I will get on a treat.

I’m intrigued to see how the folklore fits in with modern day Brooklyn, I’d’ve never thought to mesh the two together. I hope it lives up to the magical impression of it that I have so far.

6. Myths of Origin by Catherynne M. Valente

12180219I love a good origin myth, I love it even more when they are well-written, well thought out and completely believable. I know Valente is capable of delivering this so there is no doubt in my mind that these are going to be incredible. Again, it’s an old book but who said these lists had to be new?

Honestly, if I could live in Valente’s books, I would. She’s a poem in human form and I am pretty sure she’s in possession of magic. There is no other explanation. She has to be otherworldly.

Whether she is or she isn’t, she’s definitely talented and for that I am ever thankful.

So those are six books I want to read, which all have at least something to do with folklore, mythology and fairy tales.

Have you read any of these? Did you like them? Will like them? Will I love them? Will I be swallowed whole by a sudden gap in space and time? Who knows. Not me.

Happy Thursday.

Review: The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

28260402Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilizing the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it . . .

31451267PLEASE NOTE This book is the third in a series, if you have not read The Bone Season or The Mime Order, please, please, please read them first. This post may contain unavoidable spoilers for the first two books. However, it should not contain spoilers for the third.

But how, Elou? How did you get your mits on The Song Rising, it’s not out for another month?! Well, dear reader, I am lucky enough to be an advocate for the series, meaning I get each book early for shouting-about-it-everywhere purposes.

You may have seen me shouting, loudly, on twitter and for good reason. I love this book. Starting where we were left at the end of The Mime OrderThe Song Rising leaps straight back into the action. Even though there has been quite a gap between the second and third installments, it’s like the series has never gone away, I was instantly transported back to Scion London and enveloped in Samantha Shannon’s world of clairvoyance, intrigue and somewhat intimidating paranormal beings.

Paige is, as ever, a strong protagonist not without her moments of weakness. I love Paige and I will love her until I am withered and tiny. All of the characters in these books are brilliantly well thought out, I love each new character. Even the ones I love to hate. Once more, we are introduced to new members of an already excellent cast. So much of the world in these characters is built through its characters that it’s so important for them to be exactly right. Spoiler alert: they are.

The stand out thing about this book is the departure from Scion London, seeing other parts of the UK was in equal parts exciting and intriguing. I’d long wanted to know what the rest of the country was doing while London was falling more and more under the heavy thumb of Scion and its not-at-all human helping hands. I was more than satisfied. Everything about the locales we visit in The Song Rising is great – I won’t say too much more because I am desperate not to spoil anything.

What I will talk about is my favourite part of the book. Everyone who has read The Bone Season and The Mime Order knows that the titles always appear in the books in some way. I love it when a book’s title is thrown into a book nonchalantly mid-sentence. Or not nonchalantly, the sentence in this book is not particularly nonchalant. It is my single favourite bit of the book. When I read it I squealed “She did the thing!” aloud. It’s the little things. You’re going to love this one.

I said in my last review that the writing had gotten even better with the second book and the same is true of the third. This series is going from twisty-turny strength to strength and it’s well worth the hype. This series is like nothing I have ever read before and I know that I could never in my wildest dreams have thought of this myself. I love books that catch me off guard. Of course, every book is predictable on some level (in a romance novel, you expect a romance and so on and so forth) but it’s the things that surprise you that matter the most. There are a fair few surprises in this book. Gut-wrenching, belly-churning surprises. I love it.

It’s a wonderful addition to the series and I can’t wait to see where it’ll lead. Things happen in this book that I wasn’t expecting, it managed to surprise me multiple times and I bow down to Samantha Shannon’s imagination. It’s a cracker. The wait may have been long but, boy, was it worth it. She can take all the time she needs. It is a privilege to be able to read her work.

Go buy this book. Pre-order it and receive super cool swag. (You have to love a book that comes with swag.) You know you want to.

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#FolkloreThursday Favourites: Retellings and Folklore-based books

I’ve been following the Folklore Thursday tag on Twitter for a while and it has only just now occurred to me that perhaps I should do some Folklore Thursday happenings on my blog. I am not sure how this managed to pass me by for so long but pass me by it did.

No longer! I am going to try for an interesting folkloric/fairy tale-esque post every week. It’ll give me more excuses to read folklore, so I am excited.

For my first foray into the world of Folklore Thursday, I am going to share some of my favourite retellings and books based heavily on folklore.  Hoorah.

1. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

9781472108685Oh my goodness. I am still not over this book. If you’ve been lurking in this corner of the internet for a while, you already know how much I love this book.

It tells the tale of Marya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless, and it is probably my favourite book. It is the book that made me interested in Russian/Slavic folklore and mythology (an interest which is very much bubbling at the moment). It is lyrical and beautiful and dark and painful, and I will never get over it. Ever.

I will always recommend this book, it is the first book I mention whenever someone needs something to read.

2. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

4407If you’ve not heard of this book before: 1. How? 2. Look it up, look it up right now.

American Gods is fantastic. So fantastic that it will soon be a TV show. I am eager. I’m not sure whether I will actually be able to watch it from my little flat in the West Midlands but I am eager.

Unlike DeathlessAmerican Gods does not just focus on one particular country’s mythology. It has everything, it even creates new things. New gods. New gods which make me want to squeeze them until they break. Ahem. Bit scary there, sorry about that. It’s a jaunt through many mythologies and comes highly recommended.

3. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

276750I discovered this book in college, I think. Someone had found it or been reading it and was outraged by the dark, dark story ‘The Snow-Child’. Of course, I had to read it for myself and then I had to buy the book.

Again, this collection draws from a lot of different places and isn’t just a collection of retellings of tales I was familiar with. My favourite stories are: ‘The Bloody Chamber’ from which the collection gets its name, which tackles the story of Bluebeard; and ‘The Erl-King’, a story featuring a figure from Danish and German folklore, who I’ve been interested in since discovering a wonderfully dark piece of Labyrinth fan fiction which uses the tale as its inspiration. If you like a bit of darkness, give both the Carter and the fan fiction a read.

4. Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente

24886019Of course, of course, there is another Valente book on here. How could there not be? She just has so many greats to choose from! This book is gorgeous, both in the writing and in the illustrations by Charlie Bowater. I have long loved her work and was so happy to discover that it would be paired with Valente’s writing.

Six-Gun Snow White is a Western take on, you guessed it, Snow white and it’s a take only Valente could think up. I adore it. It’s a quick read, I discovered it last year and I am pretty sure I devoured it in one sitting.  It’s a wonderful twist on the tale and is just as very enjoyable experience all round. Plus, the hardback is beautiful.

5. The Book of Lost Things  by John Connolly

69136I’ve mentioned this book briefly on the blog before. It’s lovely. Aimed at younger readers, it includes a number of different fairy tales as well as a few little things of its own. Definitely one I intend to read to any potential future children I might end up having.

My love for this book also comes from my experience of it. My copy is delightfully deformed. The book block has been put into the hardcover upside down and back to front. I wouldn’t have noticed if not for the fact that I like to look under the jacket. Much to my amusement, I found the embossed cover upside down on the back of the book. It just seemed to suit the novel so well that I couldn’t help but enjoy it.

6. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

25493853The most recent read of this list, The Bear and the Nightingale is another book based in Russian folklore. I will be posting a full review in the near future so won’t say too much here. I will say that as soon as I saw the cover of this book that I needed it. I didn’t even know what it was about at that point but I needed it. Just look at it, it’s beautiful.

It draws on folklore that I hadn’t yet discovered, which made me deliriously happy and has a wonderful way about it, which I will talk more about in my review.

I know a lot of people had been excitedly anticipating this book until its release on January 12th – it was worth it.

So there you have it. Six of my favourites. I’m always on the look out for more books of this ilk so please do tell me your favourites in the comments – recommend some books! All of the books! I may have a mighty TBR pile but there is always room for more.

Tune in next week (we hope) for a list of books I want to read, and the week after (we hope even more fiercely) for something that isn’t a list.

Have a lovely Thursday!