Book Review: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

On Instagram, I kept seeing good reviews of Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. As well as being a Fantasy novel, the story featured a library. I could not resist and decided to immerse myself in the story.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy

Blurb:

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined. 

My thoughts:

From the first pages of the novel, I was swept away by the story and the beautiful imagery. The language definitely drew me in and I often paused in my reading of the story to appreciate it. Rogerson used words to create beautiful pictures in my mind; images that are a perfect fit for a fantasy novel.

Sorcery of Thorns is set within the walls of Great Libraries and features a heroine who works within one such library. Her name is Elizabeth Scrivener. Such a clever last name, don’t you think, especially as she works in a library filled with scribed books. I enjoyed, too, that all books within the library are magical (precisely the way I see books) and are thus labelled grimoires.

The heroine, Elisabeth, sets out on a mission to save the Libraries and, while doing so, sets out on an adventure of self-discovery. The unexpected ups and downs of the story were thoroughly enjoyable for me and I flipped the pages quickly. This was one of those books that I couldn’t wait to continue reading when I got home from work. And it was definitely one that encouraged me to ignore the TV remote!

I enjoyed Robertson’s unusual heroine, as well as her counterpart, Nathaniel. Reading about Nathaniel and his demon was interesting and, even though one should Not enjoy a demon character, I did. Silas is definitely not what one would expect of such a creature.

Sorcery of Thorns is a beautifully written fantasy story that will enfold you in its magic. The bonus is that the novel is set in a bookish environment. I loved this story – as shown by the amount of post-its I placed throughout the novel. This beautiful book is a novel that I recommend to those who enjoy stories about magic and a young woman who grows to know herself better.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 91st in my book pledge for 2019)

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ARC vs Final Copy

Have you ever wondered about the difference between an ARC and the final published copy? One of the differences may be the cover.

I received an ARC of Crier’s War by Nina Varela at the last Frenzy Presents event that I attended. I loved the start to this series so much that I knew I would want to continue reading it. When I picked up a copy of the book this weekend, I fell in love with its beautiful cover.

The ARC shows the sketched outline of the proposed cover but does not do true justice to its final lines and the embossing on the book’s dust jacket.

Have you noticed any other differences between ARCs and final published copies?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge for which we will be posting square photos featuring lines during the month of October)

Book Review: Break In Case of Emergency by Brian Francis

Harper Collins Canada held a #FrenzyPresents event earlier this month at which they promoted the Young Adult book written by Brian Francis, Break In Case of Emergency. I had the opportunity to attend and meet the author so I was curious to read the novel the folks at Harper Collins were enthusiastically promoting.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, LGBT

Blurb:

Life has been a struggle for Toby Goodman. Her mother died by suicide five years ago, and her father left their small town before Toby was born. Now a teenager living on her grandparents’ dairy farm, Toby has trouble letting people in. She keeps even her closest friend, the brash but endearing Trisha, at arms’ length, and recently ended her first relationship, with Trisha’s burnout brother, Mike. Convinced that she is destined to follow her mother’s path, Toby creates a plan to escape her pain.

But with the news that her father is coming home and finally wants to meet her, Toby must face the truth of her family’s story. Not only is her father gay, but he’s also a world-famous female impersonator—and a self-absorbed, temperamental man-child who is ill-prepared to be a real parent.

When Toby’s careful plans go awry, she is forced to rebuild the life she thought she knew from the ground up. While she may not follow an expected path, through the support of a quirky but lovable circle of friends and family, Toby may finally put together the many different pieces that make up her past, her present, and her future.

My thoughts:

I do admit to beginning this novel with high expectations as it had been avidly promoted. The story also interested me as it dealt with possible mental health issues that so many teens face at this time of their lives. I think it is good that there is literature like this out there to help teen readers realise that they are not alone when experiencing suicidal thoughts or even feelings of worthlessness.

The story is written from the point of view of a teenage girl who does feel worthless; and who comes to believe that the people she is surrounded by would be better off without her. She does have a raw deal: growing up with her grandparents without a dad around, her mom having committed suicide. Francis places us right inside the mind of Toby Goodman, a girl who is having suicidal thoughts. We read of how her mind circles around suicide and why it would be such a good thing for her to do. There were moments, to be honest, when I felt that the thoughts expressed were a bit repetitive and I wished the story would move on – though I can understand that the writer wanted to reflect how a depressed person would focus on the negative and constantly obsess on a point.

Toby Goodman meets her dad who is a well-known drag queen. Not much time is spent on the encounter and subsequent meetings though. At the end of the novel, I wished that more had been written of their interaction. The moment of meeting her dad does help Toby come to certain realisations about herself, and even about her mom. Meeting her dad does put to rest some concerns that Toby had about her mother and her own relationship with her.

Toby is a character that grows in the story. She learns about herself and about what is important to her. She comes to learn more about the people in her lives; and begins to see herself through their eyes. The novel suggests to the reader that in our lives we are part of a group; and that we each have our role within that group. Out role is important and our actions do affect the others around us in a negative or positive way.

Break In Case of Emergency is a novel that celebrates a person who can overcome extreme sadness with the help of those around her. It celebrates that we, as people, can overcome the challenges in our ordinary lives with the love of those in our lives. This contemporary young adult novel will be one of those stories that can help young teens realise that they are not alone; and that they can look to the support of family and friends to help them through difficult times.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 90th in my book pledge for 2019)

Weekend Coffee Share: A Saturday Catch-Up

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I cannot believe that another week has gone by. The days seem to be moving along very quickly – I cannot believe that it is the last weekend of September and that school has been back for a month! Time really goes by quickly when you are busy and every moment of your day is occupied.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my students and I are slowly getting into our routine. For the first time on Friday, I felt the sense that my students were in their rhythm and that the class was working as I like it. It does take a lot of effort on my part and a lot of energy. September evenings always see me tired at the end of the day as I work towards getting my classes running smoothly, as well as completing all of my deadlines.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the highlight of my week was an author event I attended on Tuesday (you can read the post here). Even though I knew I would be tired the next day, I bought my ticket to attend as the publishing house was hosting one of my favourite authors: Gilly MacMillan. I had such a fun evening at the event and laughed along with the authors during the conversation.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this afternoon I watched a movie on Netflix: 211. It has been a while since I had watched a fast-paced movie and I actually enjoyed it. The film contained some emotional moments in it that I actually appreciated. It was well worth spending the time to watch.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I will call my mom tomorrow after my Zumba class. I look forward to chatting with her and I am sure we will spend a couple of hours on the phone. We have a lot to catch up on and I am hoping that the signal will be a good one.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my dinner is ready. My husband knows the way to my heart and has cooked tonight for the family. It certainly smells delicious!

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Eclectic Alli and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Book Review: A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth

At the Frenzy Presents event at the end of August, I was lucky enough to receive one of the books that interested me: A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth. This is her second novel and I wanted to compare the second novel with her debut.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy

Blurb:

Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic always kept the countryside well. And as a child, this magic kept Violet happy, draping her in flowers while she slept, fashioning secret hiding places for her, and lighting fires on the coldest nights to keep her warm.

Everything shattered, though, when her father committed high treason trying to free Burleigh from the king’s oppressive control. He was killed, and Vi was forced into hiding.

When she’s given a chance to go back, she discovers Burleigh has run wild with grief. Vines and briars are crumbling the walls. Magic that once enriched the surrounding countryside has turned dark and deadly, twisting lush blooms into thorns, poisoning livestock and destroying crops. Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain.

Vi would do anything to help, and soon she finds herself walking the same deadly path as her father all those years before. Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house—before her house destroys everything she’s ever known.

My thoughts:

As I began reading A Treason of Thorns, I was pulled right into the story. I loved the magical thread running through the story; and the fact that a house was imbued with a magic of its own. So much happens in a house and so many secrets occur within it walls. I love that this fact is transformed into magic in this story. While reading it, I could imagine the large houses in England of centuries past and the power that they used to have within society.

I felt a connection with the characters in Weymouth’s second novel much more than I did with the characters of her first. The reason could be that I enjoyed the inner strength of Violet – as well as the fact that she is loyal both to her House, Burleigh, and to her childhood friend, Wyn. In the novel, Violet has a series of choices to make and it is not always obvious what it is that she will choose. In order to make her choice, she comes to a few realisations about herself and what is important to her. I am tempted to say that Weymouth’s character development of her heroine is far stronger in A Treason of Thorns than it was in her first novel.

I enjoyed the magical quality of this novel and it is a perfect story for fans of fantasy fiction. The fantasy, however, is not too far removed from human history: readers can make a connection to the not too distant past (or even the present) when thinking of the influences of the Great Houses in society. It is a story that reminds us of the magic of the Great Houses in England. I enjoyed Weymouth’s storytelling and I look forward to reading her next offering.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 89th in my book pledge for 2019)

First Line Fridays: The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry is a fun, lighthearted read that explores a woman’s need to change the direction of her life. This romance is the perfect read for the cooler days of Fall.

“Something peculiar had happened to Marsha Kennedy. She had found herself editor of Britain’s most popular fashion magazine. While she had already edited several publications, they had been in the diet and fitness markets, promising taut bodies and rapidly shed pounds; she knew virtually nothing about fashion and had even less interest in it.”

Ellen Berry The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane (2017, Harper Collins)

I enjoyed this story so much that I went on the hunt for other books written by this author.

Would you read The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)

Grateful for Author Event

On Tuesday I headed to the opposite side of the city from where I live to attend a #HarperPresents event organised by the marketing team at Harper Collins Canada. I was especially excited for the event as I was to hear one of my favourite authors speak, Gilly MacMillan.

As I had been late for the previous event due to traffic, I left home a little early. Arriving at the location early, I found myself standing near the front of the line to enter. I looked around for people to chat to and what I noticed was that if a person was alone, they were looking at their phone. The person in front of me was one such woman. I attempted to make conversation with her but it was definitely one-sided. The questions I put to her were answered briefly and not reciprocated; she had more interest in looking at her phone and scrolling through her social media accounts than in getting to know someone new. I resigned myself to continuing solo, knowing that tonight making a connection with someone was slim – especially as most people around me were accompanied by friends.

At 6;30pm, we entered the large room and I found myself a spot. We were given time to eat a snack and to chat. People were buzzing with interest and reconnecting with friends. I chatted to some of the organisers of the event and looked at the display of candles that were set up on the table.

The highlight of the evening for me was definitely hearing the authors speak: Gilly Macmillan, Tarryn Fisher, and Shari Lapena. Shari was an excellent moderator and she kept an interesting conversation going. The authors and audience shared some laughs (quite a few actually). The authors did not speak too much about their new novels in order to avoid spoilers but what was mentioned about psychological thrillers in general is that they are an exploration of human nature – a viewpoint I agree with totally. It was interesting to learn, as well, that these big authors are both ‘pantsers’ in that they do not write an outline before they begin writing their story. This, apparently, is quite a headache for the publishers. 🙂

The second part of the evening was set aside to make a candle using sustainable materials. I have not done candle making before of any sort and it was interesting to see the process. I chose a scent that I know my husband enjoys too – sandalwood – and even now as I am typing this, I can smell the aroma. I know that this candle will be used by me in many of my future bookish posts as I love the way it turned out and it will be a while before I actually burn it.

This week I am grateful that Harper Collins Canada organises these events – and that I have the opportunity to attend them. It was an enjoyable evening and one I do not regret attending – even though I was tired the day after!

What are you grateful for this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is part of my weekly gratitude reflection. You are welcome to join in and share your post in the comments.)

An Anti-Revolution

PHOTO PROMPT © Na’ama Yehuda

All over the city, lines of people snaked around corners humming with resignation and discontent. Two weeks had passed since the last time these adult men and women waited to receive living assistance from their government. The Industrial Revolution had finally peaked and the machines were doing all of the human work; people had lost a dignified way to earn a comfortable living. Each year the lines got longer; and each year the restlessness grew. The assistance given was paltry causing families to co-exist in small, cramped spaces. The time was near for an anti-industrial revolution. The masses were ready.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post was inspired by Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle. The challenge asks for bloggers to write a story in 100 words or less in response to the photo prompt.)

Teaser Tuesday: Pressure Point by Jessie Kwak

Yesterday when I opened the door to my home after work, the place was quiet. I was alone: my husband was still commuting home and my daughters were at university. I am still not used to being the only one at home by 5pm on a Monday. With my daughter no longer at high school, I think it is going to take a while for me to get used to these moments alone.

You may be wondering what did with my silent time. Yes, of course! I made myself a coffee, grabbed a new read, and put my feet up on the sofa. I had been wanting to start Pressure Point by Jessie Kwak since I had received it last week.

I haven’t read much of the novel yet so I will share a teaser with you from the prologue:

“Manu’s found that nothing helps a negotiation along quite so well as your enemy knowing just how close you can get to them.” (p 9)

(2019, Jessie Kwak)

I look forward to reading the third novel in Jessie Kwak’s Bulari saga. Guess what I will be doing when I get home today!

Do you enjoy gangster-type stories? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)

Book Review: Crier’s War by Nina Varela

At the Frenzy Presents event at the end of August, I was lucky enough to receive one of the books that interested me: Crier’s War by Nina Varela.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, LGBT

Blurb:

After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.

Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.

Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.

Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.

My thoughts:

Goodreads describes Crier’s War by Nina Varela as a Fantasy novel. While reading it, however, it had more of a science-fiction feel to me as it describes a world that is overtaken by human-made creations. The novel describes a possibility in a far distant era on Earth, and not on a mythical land.

The story describes a contrast between the Human and the Automae: two creatures that are at odds with one another and who both want their freedom – the Humans from enslavement of the creatures they created; and the Automae from their dependence on the humans. The politics of the Automae reflects the ideology followed by many humans in today’s world; a worldview that centres on keeping one’s culture and race separate from others.

Crier’s War is not just a story set in a possible future. It is a story that deals with separatism, as well as with being different. It is a story that reflects a realisation – and then acknowledgement – of difference within one’s self. It is a story that hints at the possibility of living in harmony (a possibility that I guess will be explored more in the second novel of the series). And it is a story that explores humanity and what it is to be human.

The two main characters in the story – Ayla and Crier – experience a growth throughout the novel. I enjoyed seeing their own self-realisation unfold as I turned the pages. The more I read about them, the more I grew to understand them and to like them as characters. It is a beautiful thing to see a young person come into their own and Varela describes their unfurling subtly and gently.

I enjoyed the world created by Varela as well as the characters that people her world. The novel ended on a cliffhanger and at that perfect moment. Now I need to wait for the release of the next in the series – and I am hoping that it is not a long wait. I need to know what happens next!

If you enjoy fantasy and science fiction stories, you will enjoy this one. In addition, it is a queer story with beautiful character development of young people. This is a series that I have every intention of completing.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 88th in my book pledge for 2019)