Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones #BookReview#YA #FantasyReads

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wintersongTitle:
 Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 508 pages
Publication Details: February 7th 2017 by Titan Books
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy; Romance
Disclosure? Nope I bought it! 

Goodreads 

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‘Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.’

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Review

Inspired by one of my favourite films of all time, Labyrinth, I met Wintersong with equal amounts of excitement and apprehension. It’s not a short book at 500ish pages, but it flew by…however, I don’t feel like I can say I loved it. In fact I’m really not sure how I felt about it and I finished it a couple of weeks ago!

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Basically, The Goblin King steals away Liesel’s beautiful sister Kathe to lure Liesel to the Underground where he plans on making her his bride. Liesel has always dreamt of The Goblin King. She’s drawn to his beauty and his power, but also fears him. There is a passion between the pair but being The Goblin King’s bride means leaving her family behind and never setting foot overground again.

Wintersong was certainly cringe-worthy in places, and outright bizarre in others, and it never went where I thought it would which is a double-edged sword in that it’s good that it was unpredictable but bad in that I wanted things to happen that didn’t.

Overall, I enjoyed this strange, slightly melancholic tale that brought a new Goblin King into my life. I obviously pictured a young Bowie with a ridiculous wig and an even more ridiculous cod piece but that’s not the point (swoon). There were some deliciously dark moments in Wintersong, but the relationship between the MC and The Goblin King never truly felt right, not even in that ‘so bad but good’ way.

I do think Jae-Jones has written a lovely tribute to Labyrinth though, and I also loved the evident use of, and inspiration from Rossetti’s The Goblin Market which I’ve only ever read snippets of but now want to read in its entirety.

“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.

– The Goblin Market

unicorn rating 4

(I rounded-up)

This Month in Books: October 2016 #HorrorOctober

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Horror October came and went in a flash! I got a lot of reading done at the beginning of the month and spent the rest blogging. IRL I saw some good films, went to a gig (on a school night no less) and visited my friend’s new flat on the other side of London (read: the world). I thoroughly enjoyed the change in the weather and I’m loving the dark nights. I’m weird like that.

October 2016 Stats

Total Posts: 36 (+ 18 from previous month)

Books Read: 7 (+1) 
Self-Made Man ~ Poppy Z. Brite
The Daemoniac ~ Kat Ross
The Merciless II ~ Danielle Vega
Reckless ~ Cornelia Funke
The Travelling Bag ~ Susan Hill
Miss Peregrine’s Home… ~ Ransom Riggs
Hunter of the Dead ~ Stephen Kozeniewski

The Breakdown:
Genres: YA (4/7); Horror (5/7); Crime/Thriller (1/7); Supernatural (5/7)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (2/7); Digital (3/7); Hardback (2/7); Paperback (2/7) / Owned (3/7); Borrowed (1/7); For Review (3/7)

Most Surprising: Hunter of the Dead
Most Disappointing: Reckless
Most Exciting: Hunter of the Dead
Most Swoon-worthy:  Hmm…I guess The Merciless at a push. 
Most Beautifully Written: The Travelling Bag

Reviews: 6 (=)

    • Haunt Me by Liz Kessler, 3/5 (View)
    • The Daemoniac by Kat Ross, 3/5 (View)
    • The Merciless II by Danielle Vega, 3/5 (View)
    • Reckless by Cornelia Funke, 2/5 (View)
    • Self-Made Man by Poppy Z. Brite, 4/5 (View)
    • The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill, 3/5 (View)

Most Viewed Posts

  1. Flash Fiction Battle: Let the voting commence
  2. Come in Here by Stevie Kopas
  3. The Secret of the Basement by Lily Luchesi

Promos, Guest Posts and Highlights

Awards

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TBR Shelf Update

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Earlier this year I decided I HAD to do something about my physical TBR shelves. Each month I’ll be doing a quick update to see how I’ve done. See my original post here, and my updated TBR list here. 

Previous TBR Count: 72

Books Added: 2

Books Read: 2

Remaining: 72

That was my month, how was yours?

The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones

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Title: The Barefoot Queen
Author: Ildefonso Falcones
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 656 pages
Publication Details: November 25th 2014 by Crown
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads
Purchase

It’s January of 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wondering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When her path crosses with Milagros Carmona’s-a young, rebellious gypsy-the two women are instantly inseparable. Milagros introduces Caridad to the gypsy community, an exotic fringe society that will soon change her life forever.

Over time they each fall in love with men who are fiercely loyal and ready to fight to the death for their rights as a free people. When all gypsies are declared outlaws by royal mandate, life in their community becomes perilous. They soon find themselves in Madrid-a city of passion and dancing, but also a treacherous one full of smugglers and thieves. Caridad and Milagros must help in the gypsy’s struggle against society and its laws in order to stay together; it’s a dangerous battle that cannot, and will not, be easily won.

From the tumultuous bustle of Seville to the theatres of Madrid, The Barefoot Queen is a historical fresco filled with charaters that live, love, suffer, and fight for what they believe

Review

When I requested this from Netgalley I’d been reading YA after YA and felt like I needed to get stuck in to a grown-up book to break the monotony, but by the time I got round to starting this 600+ page book, I wasn’t really in the mood to be honest. Therefore I’m not sure if my enjoyment of it – or lack of- is down to that, or something more.

The Barefoot Queen started so promising. I flew through the first hundred pages eager to find out what would become of Caridad, a former slave whose master died on the ship The Queen, which took her to Cadiz.

I thought the writing was beautiful and it started off at a good pace…but then I got lost. It didn’t take me long to realise that Falcones was going to throw in unnecessary details, backstories and cultural observations that added nothing to the story in my opinion. It just got too bogged down and I struggled to get through.

I really agonised over what to rate this book because there were parts of it I loved, and in essence it’s a great story that deserved to be told. It was just a slog. I felt sorry for Caridad who finds herself in Seville completely clueless as to what to do with herself after a lifetime of slavery. She needs to find work, but only knows how to labour on a plantation, and who’s going to hire a negro woman with no master?

When she meets gypsy, Milagros, the two discover just how dangerous it is to be a woman in 1700’s Spain.

Again, I wanted to like this book. It’s an epic tale of two women’s bravery and is clearly well researched. I just wish Falcones had pulled it back a bit, and not got so bogged down in detail. The pace was too slow for me…that’s what binge-reading YA books does to you.

Overall, I wouldn’t want to put people off this book as it’s an important and interesting story if you don’t mind a bit of a slog. It’s also extremely violent in parts, and you won’t come away from this book without a twinge of sadness and despair for these poor characters who really go through the ringer.

unicorn rating 2

The Barefoot Queen is available in hardback and paperback from Waterstones now.