An Enchantment of Ravens | Book Review

Title: An Enchantment of Ravens
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publish Date: September 26, 2017
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: Kindle eBook

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

This standalone fantasy novel was one that instantly took me into its pages, with its faerie premise, forbidden romance, and dangers in unexpected places, this book was a fast, fun read.

I didn’t know what to expect going into this because I actually didn’t know what it was about. I had read the synopsis a long time ago and had forgotten it, and so going into it completely blind was a fun experience for me. I found that the faerie aspect – the fair folk aspect – was done very well in the sense that Rogerson really captured the essence of the fae and their ethereal beauty and lack of human emotion or compassion, while also showing that each had a flaw somewhere in their glamour. It really tied in with what I hope for in faerie stories: showcasing the fae in such a way that they are “other” or “apart” from humans. It felt believable and real for the world it was written for.

The romance was a “slow burn” in the sense that the time that elapsed in the story was over months of time. Though the plot and story of the book itself was fast, the romance didn’t feel rushed or didn’t feel like it was instant. There was mutual attraction from the beginning, or something of the like, and it felt organic in the way that it grew.

I felt as though the plot was very centered around the romance, but it was also centered around the ego and how passion can turn something beautiful and dangerous. I did, however, find myself slightly upset when the plot didn’t go the way I was hoping – which isn’t a bad thing! I had hoped to see one part of the world it was set it, but we got a different part of the world, which was interesting to see how some of the fair folk lived and acted. But I also felt that some threads of the plot were off or thrown by the change and didn’t necessarily make sense or were very convenient. But again, there’s nothing wrong with this because it worked for the story.

I found myself enjoying Isobel’s character, while also finding her a bit too… mature for her age? I’m not sure if that’s the right word I’m looking for, but I was kind of hoping she would be in her twenties and be a prodigy painter and falling in love, but reading about a seventeen year old prodigy falling in love was still sweet. I’ve seen some amazing works teens can produce, so it’s not out of the realm of reality by any means. She was smart, careful, caring, and felt real.

Rook, as well, felt real and I enjoyed seeing how Rogerson portrayed him as having some sort of human emotion in him locked away. He was definitely powerful as a fae prince, and I really liked the aspect of how faerie magic could work in this world by using blood, and how the amount could affect how strong the effect was. He was a kind of stoic and broody character at times, but there were moments of tenderness, ferocity, and bravery that were great to see.

There were other characters along with the main two that really captured what deals with faeries could be like, and how just being around them could make a person more cautious. Gadfly, a patron of Isobel’s who has strong magic and a desire for art; March and May, Isobel’s sisters who were actually goats before being turned into humans; Lark, an excitable young fair folk who had never met a human before, and others who brought the story more depth.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! There were a few things that I found myself questioning, but I also found myself just enjoying the story for what it was, the rich world that was created, the monsters, the fae, the characters. It was an overall fun read and I recommend it if you’re looking for a standalone fantasy romance.

★★★★☆

The Book Junkie Trials & Medievalathon Wrap-Ups

Well, July was a stressful month, let me tell you. Not only did my husband and I move to a new state, but I just plain old overwhelmed myself with the amount of books I was hoping to read. So let’s talk about the books I actually did read for these readathons, my progress, and what role or location I ended with at the end of July!

The Book Junkie Trials

Looking at my TBR for this super fun and LARGE trial, I’m actually kind of sad I didn’t get all the way to the Grail. That’s right folks, I got stuck on Glimmer, distracted by all of the shiny, lovely things that the island held. I was on my way to the Dragon’s Cove, but I decided to make my home here.

Map was created by our lovely host, Rachael Marie. I just doodled over it.

What I Read

  • Orc Grove: “A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness | Review
  • Ol’ Pirate Road: “The Sea of Monsters” by Rick Riordan | Review
  • Glimmer: “Crystal Crowned” by Elise Kova | Okay, I’m 51% of the way through the book as of this post, so…

What I Had Left

  • Draconic Isle: “A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent” by Marie Brennan
  • The Bookie Grail: “Stardust” by Neil Gaiman

Medievalathon

I failed hard at this readathon, but it’s fine. Next time I won’t be such huge books for each read lol

Images made by the lovely host, Holly.

What I Read

  • Breastplate: “Strange the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor | Review to come because I got about 50% through before I ran out of time for the month.

What I Had Left

  • Crown: “The Queens of Innis Lear” by Tessa Gratton
  • Helmet: “A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan
  • Shin guards: “Stupid Love Comedy” by Syusyusyu Sakurai
  • Boots & weapon: “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore
  • Cloak: “Crown of Feathers” by Nicki Pau Preto

My Thoughts

Both readathons were very fun in concept, it was just the execution on my part that was lacking. I took on way too many books that were all fairly large (90% of them were over 500 pages), and considering I’m the type of reader to read every single word on a page, making me slow, it just wasn’t feasible for me.

I definitely want to participate in these readathons again if they take place again! I love the ideas of the teams for the Trials, and I love the concept of building your own armor for Medievalathon. I thought both creations were unique and very community oriented, allowing others to come together and rally one another.

I haven’t seen readathons like that in a very long time, I think.

For the Trials, I also really enjoyed the micro-challenges on Twitter. They were simple, fun little bits that allowed people to not only get more points for their teams, but get a conversation going. There was also the more competitive piece that I didn’t take part in that I’m sure those who did had a blast with.

For Medievalathon, I enjoyed how Holly introduced things such as “kingdom statuses” on Twitter, letting people know if their kingdom was thriving, or if there was a plague, and then incorporating page amounts to reach in order to mend and heal, or just relax.

Overall, I think both readathons were a success for others, but a flop for me. I mean, I still read some of the books I set out to read, but I wish I hadn’t hit a huge existential and depressive wall early on in the month (plus moving and unpacking and running around like chickens with our heads cut off). It’s okay, though, I still had fun and I’m still looking forward to more fun readathons from these two individuals!

Let’s Chat!

Did you take part in either of these readathons? What did you read in July? Which was your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Disney-a-thon TBR

That’s right, I’m joining another readathon! Everyone’s coming up with a lot of good ones lately, so I’m excited to join!

And, really, if you don’t know me by now: hi, my name is Rayna and I love Disney.

So as soon as I saw there was going to be a readathon based around Disney, OF COURSE I HAD TO JOIN. Disney-a-thon, here I come!

Let’s go over the details of the readathon and then I’ll jump into my team and my TBR!

Hosts: Izzy of izcurrentlyreading, Ally of nature of pages, Francisco of Books Under Covers, and Divya of celebrityreadshush.

Time: August 1st-31st

There are four teams for this readathon, and each of the hosts is going to be head of their team:

  • Izzy is hosting Team Aladdin
  • Ally is hosting Team Tangled
  • Francisco is hosting Team Lion King
  • Divya is hosting Team Mulan

Each team has their own prompts and reading goals, but I’m going to talk about my team: Team Aladdin!

So each team has a total of five books to read (this is including the group book for their specific team), and each group has a special ability granted to them by one of the characters in their movie!

Here’s the prompts and how many points they’re worth:

  • Jasmine: a book that features royalty – 10 points
  • Aladdin: a book that includes romance – 10 points
  • Magic Carpet: a fantasy book – 10 points
  • Jafar: a book that sucks you in as if you’re in a trance, and one you must read only at night/in the dark – 25 points
  • Abu: this is the group book: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell – 50 points

Our special ability is granted by, you guessed it, Genie! Our special ability allows us to DNF a book if we’re not liking it and keep our points for that specific prompt, excluding the group book.

I’m pretty excited because for my TBR I picked books that I think are going to be really fun to read – and they’re all ebooks, which makes me feel like I’m reading faster, even though I’m probably not lol

Here’s my TBR!

  • Jasmine: Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
  • Aladdin: The Risk by Elle Kennedy
  • The Magic Carpet: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
  • Jafar: The Wicked King by Holly Black
  • Abu: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

I’m going to take it easy this month and only participate in this readathon. Last month kind of overwhelmed me, haha!

Let’s Chat!

Can you keep one jump ahead of the bread line? One swing ahead of the sword? Or are you going to be swept under by the Cave of Wonders? (If you’re participating in this readathon, let me know and tell me what team you’re on!) Which book are you most excited to read in August?

The Sea of Monsters | Book Review

Title: The Sea of Monsters
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publish Date: April 1, 2006
Genre: Young Reader – Fantasy/Adventure, Mythology
Pages: 288
Format: Kindle Books

After a year spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson finds his seventh-grade school year unnervingly quiet. His biggest problem is dealing with his new friend, Tyson–a six-foot-three, mentally challenged homeless kid who follows Percy everywhere, making it hard for Percy to have any “normal” friends.

But things don’t stay quiet for long. Percy soon discovers there is trouble at Camp Half-Blood: The magical borders which protect Half-Blood Hill have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and the only safe haven for demigods is on the verge of being overrun by mythological monsters. To save the camp, Percy needs the help of his best friend, Grover, who has been taken prisoner by the Cyclops Polyphemus on an island somewhere in the Sea of Monsters–the dangerous waters Greek heroes have sailed for millenia–only today, the Sea of Monsters goes by a new name…the Bermuda Triangle.

Now Percy and his friends–Grover, Annabeth, and Tyson–must retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Island of the Cyclopes by the end of the summer or Camp Half-Blood will be destroyed. But first, Percy will learn a stunning new secret about his family–one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon’s son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.

This book picks up a full school year after the first. In fact, it’s Percy’s last day at his new school when everything kind of goes to crap and hits the fan and he, you know, almost dies. It’s fine. And he and another kid at the school – a homeless boy named Tyson who the school took on as a community service project, of sorts – are whisked away and helped by Annabeth to go back to Camp Half-Blood.

But, of course, there’s something wrong at Camp Half-Blood. The tree that protects the camp is dying, and they don’t know who could have poisoned the tree, but Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson set off to save the tree and the camp. And Grover. Because Grover is currently being held by a cyclops to become his bride and… yeah, he’s a mess.

I thought this second installment was just as fun as the last, and we’re learning a lot more about Percy and the gods around him, as well as who is for him and against him. I love seeing how mythology comes into play in these novels and how the world just continues to expand. It plays on a lot of legends and myths that don’t just center around the Greek gods (such as the Bermuda Triangle), and I think that it ties in well with what’s happening to Percy and his friends.

I also found it interesting when the reveal of his family happened to also learn more about Poseidon and to see how Percy reacts and grows from it. He learns a lot in this adventure about family and how you can’t necessarily choose who is your family – at least not by blood, anyway. And I think that that lesson is a great one for a young teenage boy to learn.

The action and adventure that he and his friends take is a long one, and it was nice to see him working alongside someone who he (still) doesn’t get along with to get through some trials that he and the others might not have been able to win on their own. I liked seeing how different monsters came into play, how different islands in the Bermuda Triangle attacked or affected them, and how they were able to overcome those trials.

I thought that Percy and Annabeth did really well planning together on how to take down the cyclops – at least temporarily – so that they could escape. And there were several moments where I was cheering because of events that happened on the island with the cyclops. Like I was literally sitting there and going, “YAY!” Probably clapping my hands, too. It’s fine.

Overall, this next installment was a fun one, and I can definitely see some growth in Percy and Annabeth as they’re slowly getting older. The lessons that they’re learning are also expanding, too.

I’m definitely interested to see how Luke’s role plays out in this and how the possibility of releasing Kronos might happen. It’s all very exciting and I can’t wait to continue and see what happens next at Camp Half-Blood!

★★★★☆

A Monster Calls | Book Review

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Candlewick
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Fiction, Horror
Pages: 224
Format: Kindle eBooks

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

This book follows a preteen named Conor during a time when his mother is fighting cancer, and his anger and grief takes the form of a monster that he sees outside of his window one night: an ancient tree that came to life. The tree tells him four stories – well, only three, as Conor has to tell him the fourth – and with each Conor learns something, or something happens in his environment as a result of each story.

I thought that this novel was a great exploration into grief and how it can manifest itself into something entirely different if it’s not dealt with properly. The book didn’t make it something that could easily be covered up, it didn’t make light of it, but rather the story focused on how, over time, grief can become a catalyst for events to happen and take place. It can be dangerous, destructive, wild, or it can be very lonely and heartbreaking. I personally felt a connection to this due to circumstances with my own family and my own grief and how my own grief manifested, but that’s another story for another day. Delving into grief as a topic is one that I don’t often see in the books I read, so it was refreshing to see.

I personally thought that the way the monster was represented by this ancient tree that Conor’s mother always pointed out was clever. The monster would come at the same time every night – 12:06AM – and after every encounter it would leave a mess behind to show that it had, in fact, been there and been real (such as leaves or branches).

I kind of expected Conor to act a bit more…surprised or scared at the fact that, you know, a giant walking tree was at his window, but he wasn’t as wary as I was expecting him to be. Of course, the more the monster came, the less he was afraid, which makes sense.

The relationship between Conor and his mother was super sweet, and I love to see how close a mother and son could be. Even though his parents are divorced (and the interaction between him and his father was awkward), it was nice to see parental units that actually loved and cared for their son. Though, Conor’s relationship with his grandmother was very much strained until the end, I thought that it was all very realistic as far as familial relationships go.

As far as relationships at Conor’s school went, I thought that it was all very interesting to see. If it’s a small school, I could understand why everyone was acting especially careful around Conor, and even the bullies were interesting. By this I mean I found the head bully to be… almost like a monster himself. I don’t know for sure if he was really real or what. But I also think he got what he deserved in the book, so that’s that. I did appreciate the one friend that tried to reconcile and help Conor, but of course, grief can make you say and do things – and avoid things – that may otherwise be of help to you.

The story ended in a way that had me crying at 2AM for several reasons, and I loved it. It was a heart-wrenching dive into what happens when you’re losing someone whom you love more than you could ever express, and how, if handled poorly, grief can manifest into a monster.

★★★★☆