Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (3/24/20)–Crown of Coral and Pearl

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Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve talked briefly about this novel on Goodreads Monday and Everything That I’ve Managed to Cross Off of Goodreads Monday or Down the TBR Hole (Part I of ?),but I wanted to take the time to write an entire review for this one just to get out some…feelings. My addled brain thought this book had mermaids, and I was desperately wrong; that disappointment may have skewed my feelings on the rest of the novel, but even beyond that, Crown of Coral and Pearl was a fairly forgettable novel, though it did have a few bright spots.

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Enjoy this week’s review!

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Crown of Coral and Pearl (Crown of Coral and Pearl, #1)

For centuries, the mountain kingdom of Ilara has demanded tribute from the lesser coastline village of Valeria–once the Ilaran Crown Prince has come of age, a Valerian bride must be sent to become the queen of Ilara. What emerged in Valeria was a morbid beauty pageant among the eligible girls; only the most beautiful and unblemished girl could be considered to be sent to the Crown Prince.

For her whole life, Nor has known that her twin sister, Zadie, would be sent to live in Ilara; a scar on her face ruined her own chances of being eligible. Zadie is chosen, but on the night before being sent to Ilara, she retains a near-fatal injury, and Nor is sent as her replacement. Undercover as her twin sister in the Ilaran palace, she meets Prince Ceren, her groom-to-be, who may be harboring a secret that may spell the end of life as the Valerians know it. Will her secret be discovered–and will she be able to save her home from Ceren’s wrath?

 

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All kinds of meh…

I’m not sure what genre to put Crown in, and for once, that…really isn’t a good thing. It’s been most often shelved as fantasy on Goodreads, but other than the fact that there are a few magical creatures and a bit of mythic lore, there’s nothing that would peg it as fantasy. Same with science fiction, too, but the closest I could say is that it was fantasy.

Crown of Coral and Pearl, for all intents and purposes, was a mass regurgitation of the same plot that’s been plaguing YA for the past decade or so–forced arranged marriages that lead to the toppling of the royal family/government/society. Not to say that it can’t be well-executed from time to time, but it’s just been done innumerable times before, and it’s been stale for far too long. Not the most original of books.

I…sort of liked the characters. Though most of them were pressed from the mold of said arranged marriage plots (the determined heroine who is Not Like Other Girls, scheming prince, royal love interest, etc.), they were decently written. I did sort of have a liking for Talin, Ceren’s brother, even though the romantic subplot between him and Nor could be seen a mile away. Nor had some moments of being wonderfully butt-kicking, and her twin relationship with Zadie was very well-executed and genuine. The dialogue was very forced, but overall, characters seemed to be something of a stronger point here.

Overall, Crown of Coral and Pearl had the beginnings of good characters and writing, but ultimately fell prey to many of the overused tropes that run rampant in the YA genre. Two and a half stars for me. 

 

Crown of Coral and Pearl is the first in a duology. The final book, Kingdom of Sea and Stone, comes out this October.

 

Today’s song:

[zoom in on my last brain cell dancing with a giant grin on its face]

 

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Stay tuned for more content later in the week! Have a wonderful day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (3/23/20)–A Constellation of Roses

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Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

Apart from its gorgeous cover (and title?), I’m drawn to this one on the prospect of magical realism. When done well, it can produce lush, rich, and unforgettable novels like Wild Beauty and The Looking Glass, and if all is well-executed, I’m hoping to find another gem.

Let’s begin…

GOODREADS MONDAY (3/23/20)–A CONSTELLATION OF ROSES by Miranda Asebedo

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Blurb from Goodreads: 

Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.

Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.

Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life . . . or keep running from the one she’s always known.

 

So why do I want to read this? 

This seems like a PERFECT, misfitty magical realism novel! I’m getting themes of family, feminism, sisterhood, and some wonderful magical powers on the side. Trix seems like a lovable character, and the more I pore over this synopsis, I’m reminded again and again of Wild Beauty. It doesn’t seem like a ripoff, luckily, but reminiscent of it in several places.

At best, I’m hoping for a well-written tale of magic, sisterhood, and the powers that bind family and friends together.

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Today’s song:

Today just keeps getting better and better…new music from Car Seat Headrest AND my APUSH teacher just removed our homework for spring break!

Also, before I go, I’m *thinking* of making an original book tag. I can guarantee that it’ll be a fandom-related one, but I might make that happen in the next few days or weeks.

 

That just about wraps up this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Books, Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: March 16-22, 2020

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Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

Whew, what a week it’s been…

Not tiring, necessarily, but this week was the first week that my school tried out online learning. It wasn’t too bad, per se, just…a chaotic and strange transition, at times. (*coughcoughcough SPANISH coughcoughcough*) Nice to do everything from bed, at least. Our spring break is next week, and then we have a good three weeks more of online learning, almost through the end of April. I’m a very introverted person, but I still tend to get kind of stir-crazy. So I’m going to try and make this month at home into a time of creative productivity (working on my WIP, drawing, blogging, etc.), LOTS of reading, and plowing through my movie bucket list. (Once this social distancing time is over, I’ll try and dedicate a post to all of the movies that I’ve watched. So far, I’ve only crossed off and RBG, but I can assure you that I will be SUBSISTING off of Netflix in the next few weeks…)

Hopefully I’ll be a *bit* more prolific blogging-wise during this time.

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WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: 

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said–Philip K. Dick (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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Crown of Coral and Pearl–Mara Rutherford (⭐️⭐️.5)

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Sisters–Raina Telgemeier (re-read) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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Cadaver and Queen–Alisa Kwitney (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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Cannery Row–John Steinbeck (finished for school) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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The Unhappening of Genesis Lee–Shallee McArthur (⭐️⭐️)

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POSTS AND SUCH: 

 

SONGS: 

 

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK: 

Just to let you all know, in the future, this part of the weekly update might be far sparser in the next few weeks. I’ll be relying on the Kindle library and Libby for books to read, so I don’t really have anything “on hold” that I know for certain that I will read in the next week(s). But, I just bought this one yesterday, and I am ENJOYING EVERY MINUTE OF IT…

The Survivor (The Pioneer, #2)–Bridget Tyler

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Today’s song:

 

That’s it for this week in blogging! Please stay safe out there, anyone, and don’t endanger yourself or others in these strange times. Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Tags, Books

The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

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Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I found this tag at A Little Haze.  You all know how fiery I can get when ranting about a book/series/trope that I hate, so I’ll channel all of my bookish salt into this one.

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Let’s begin…

 

A POPULAR BOOK OR SERIES YOU DIDN’T LIKE 

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Red Queen has gotten BOATLOADS of hype over the years, and I just don’t. Understand. At. All. IT’S EVERY BAD YA TROPE ROLLED INTO A SINGLE MONSTROSITY. UGH.

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A POPULAR BOOK OR SERIES THAT EVERYONE SEEMS TO HATE BUT YOU LOVE 

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I mean…?

From what I can tell, Daughter of the Pirate King has been fairly well-received (and has a solid 3.98 on Goodreads), but both my mom and I have noticed that when the bad reviews come in, they are positively scathing. I know this doesn’t really count, but I couldn’t think of any other books/series.

 

A LOVE TRIANGLE WHERE THE MAIN CHARACTER ENDED UP WITH THE PERSON THAT YOU DID NOT WANT THEM TO END UP WITH OR AN OTP YOU DON’T LIKE 

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UUUUUUGGGGGGHHHH. I am still FURIOUS over the fact that Juliette ended up with Warner. He’s just…I don’t know, they’re trying to make it seem like he’s “changed” or whatever, but I can’t see past the manipulative, controlling creep he was in the first two books or so. I’ve jumped off the Shatter Me ship anyway, after the disappointment of Defy Mebut this was my first dealbreaker.

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A POPULAR BOOK GENRE YOU HARDLY EVER REACH FOR

Mystery. I mean, it’ll do in a pinch, but it’s never been my go-to.

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A POPULAR OR BELOVED CHARACTER THAT YOU DO NOT LIKE

As much as I adore the Harry Potter series…the chosen one himself really doesn’t do it for me. I suppose he’s got some admirable qualities, but I think it was his actions in Order of the Phoenix that really ruined it all for me. He was just so whiny…so entitled…so repulsive…

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A POPULAR AUTHOR YOU CAN’T SEEM TO GET INTO 

Weeeeell…

I’ve only read one of his novels (Foundation), but I really haven’t taken much of a liking to Isaac Asimov. Eh…it had such a fascinating premise, but most of the book seemed to be a bunch of old white guys sitting around… “Oh, so we might all be annihilated in a matter of days? Let’s discuss…”

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A POPULAR BOOK TROPE YOU’RE TIRED OF SEEING 

Love triangles. Never start well, never end well, and they create a disgustingly unnecessary (in most cases) romantic subplot. And even if you’re rooting for one party, the main character ALMOST ALWAYS, WITHOUT FAIL, PICKS WHOEVER YOU’RE ROOTING AGAINST. Disappointing.

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A POPULAR SERIES YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN READING

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After the train wreck that was Atlantiayou can consider me all but turned off to anything else by her. Matched is no exception, and even though it may have been one of the first series of the YA Dystopia revolution, I have zero interest in it.

 

THE SAYING GOES “THE BOOK IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN THE FILM,” BUT WHAT FILM OR TV ADAPTATION DO YOU PREFER MORE THAN THE BOOK?

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As much as I adore Roald Dahl, Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of the few movies that I feel surpasses its source material. Anderson expanded so much on the world that Dahl built, and brought an immeasurable amount of life to it via the gorgeous stop-motion animation.

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Today’s song:

 

I tag anyone who would like to participate! 

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Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Books, Down the TBR Hole, Goodreads Monday

Everything That I’ve Managed to Cross Off of Goodreads Monday or Down the TBR Hole (Part I of ?)

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

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For the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve put on my Goodreads Monday and Down the TBR Hole posts. Now that I’ve been doing both for a fair amount of time, I’ve actually managed to read a few books that I’d posted from my TBR. It’s gonna be interesting to see how my initial thoughts measure up with how I actually feel/felt about the book. Some of them, I’ve already reviewed, but there’s some that I haven’t, so let’s see…

(These are posted in order of when I read them, not when I posted them.)

 

1. Breakfast Served Anytime, Sarah Combs

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INITIAL THOUGHTS (from Goodreads Monday, 11/18/19):

First off, I’m glad that Breakfast Served Anytime seems to be a novel about self-discovery, but without the romance aspect at the forefront. I’m not opposed to romance, but as I said in Goodreads Monday (9/9/19)-Loveless: WOMEN 👏 CAN 👏 DISCOVER 👏 THEMSELVES 👏 WITHOUT 👏 A 👏 MAN 👏

Other than that, most of the concepts and plot points in here seem to be pretty intriguing, what with Gloria trying to find her way amongst fellow outsiders, and navigating her own loss and heartache. Plus, you know I’m here for these X-Men references…

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

THOUGHTS AFTER READING IT: 

Though I’m disappointed (but not surprised) that the “Professor X” plotline wasn’t also an X-Men reference (they probably had to change it up for copyright reasons), this was a cute and fluffy novel, and very much a feel-good read. Forgettable at worst, but a nice reprieve from more intense literature and the state of the world. I’m also glad that somebody else appreciates The Magnetic Fields, at least.

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2. Anya’s Ghost, Vera Brosgol 

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INITIAL THOUGHTS (from Down the TBR Hole #1):

Oh, yeah. This one’s been on my TBR for three years, and I’m still on board with this sarcastic spookiness.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

THOUGHTS AFTER READING IT: 

I’m so glad I was right about this one. An absolute joy to read, with relatable themes, adorably stylized artwork, and witty writing. Don’t regret reading this one, not one bit.

Read my full review here! 

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3. Roar (Stormheart, #1), Cora Carmack 

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INITIAL THOUGHTS (from Down the TBR Hole 2: Electric Boogaloo):

A fantasy with a female lead who can control the weather? I’M IN. SIGN ME UP.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

THOUGHTS AFTER READING IT: 

I put a GIF of Storm from X-Men after my blurb on that DtTBRH post, and though Aurora/Roar doesn’t *quite* measure up to her (I mean, it’d be incredibly hard to do that, anyway), Roar was a fantasy with incredible chemistry between its characters, though a bit lacking in the romance department.

Read my full review here! 

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4. Crown of Coral and Pearl (Crown of Coral and Pearl, #1), Mara Rutherford 

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INITIAL THOUGHTS (from Goodreads Monday, 9/23/19):

Okay, maybe it’s not exactly a mermaid book, but it seems like a good execution of the concept of undersea kingdoms. If all goes well, it sounds like Crown of Coral and Pearl has a lot of political intrigue and some interesting world building. I’m not expecting another Smoke Thieves, but here’s hoping that we’ll get *something* as good as that.

And let me elaborate on the whole “desperate to read a mermaid book” thing. I haven’t read a book in years that has executed the concept of mermen well. Case in point: Jennifer Donnelly’s Deep Blue. Avoid this one at all costs; the mermaids were uncreatively designed, as was the kingdom. And, there was the unrealistic dialogue and the onslaught of awful puns that the author seemed to think that we were going to take seriously. Just stoooopppp. Ally Condie’s Atlantia has a similar plot to Crown of Coral and Pearl, but it fell into a nearly identical trap: corny dialogue, cardboard characters, etc. So yeah, I really need a good mermaid book. Soon. Right now. 🅱LEASE?

RATING: ⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to 3

THOUGHTS AFTER READING IT: 

I was promised mermaids. Kind of.  The pictures I’ve seen from some of the giveaway boxes that came from it had mermaid drawings. But did we get mermaids? Nope. Just a shoreline kingdom with some pearl divers. That’s it.

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[both songs play simultaneously on a broken recorder as I smack myself in the forehead]

I just finished one up a few hours ago, so here are my firsthand thoughts. Though the worldbuilding, political systems, and writing were intriguing enough, it lacked in most other departments. The plot and romantic subplot were both riddled with cliches, and I only felt the slightest bit of sympathy for the characters. They were well-written, to be sure, but it felt like the same plot that’s been plaguing YA for years, vomited up yet again. And…it’s shelved as fantasy, but there’s almost nothing that would qualify it for fantasy–or even science fiction–save for a few semi-magical critters and oceanic lore. Disappointing, really. Meh.

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Today’s song:

Man, this one brings back some serious memories…

For now, that’s all the books that I’ve read that have come from my Goodreads Monday and Down the TBR Hole posts! I’ll post more of these once I start stacking up more finished books. Have a wonderful day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Tags, Books

The Lunar Chronicles Book Tag

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Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I found this tag over at Brianna’s Books and Randomness, who is also the creator of the tag. Though I haven’t re-read the series in ages, The Lunar Chronicles was, from what I can remember, my gateway into YA books, so it will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason. It sounded like a super fun tag to do, so here I go!

The rules are simple: Answer each question, tag or pingback to the creator, and who you found the post from, and tag as many or as few people as you’d like.

 

CINDER: A SARCASTIC CHARACTER WITH ALL THE SASS

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I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again: Finian from Aurora Rising is the YA king of sass. I’m in stitches from his one-liners every time I go back and re-read this.

 

PRINCE KAI: AN AUTHOR THAT DESERVES A CROWN

Though there’s a plethora of authors out there that deserve this title, today, I’ll dedicate the crown to Sarah Maria Griffin. Nowhere else have I seen such a deft portrayal of emotion and human nature–and not to mention, easily the only author that I’ve ever seen write the 2nd person and make it believable and readable.

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QUEEN LEVANA: A COVER WITH STYLE

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Ah, Crier’s Warso iridescent…so intricate…so wonderfully sapphic[wipes single tear from cheek]

 

CRESS: A FICTIONAL PLACE YOU WOULDN’T MIND BEING STUCK IN

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I would have absolutely no qualms about staying anywhere in Leigh Bardugo’s richly imagined Grishaverse. Except for the Unsea, maybe…

 

CAPTAIN THORNE: THE LAST FUNNY BOOK YOU READ

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By no stretch of the imagination is Rogue One a comedy, but there’s something to be said for K2-SO’s one-liners.

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SCARLET: A BOOK WITH A RED SPINE

[internally catalogues all of the library holds I’ve read in the past few months to search for a red spine]

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I’ve had this one for quite a while, and since I’ve already given lots of love to The Demon WorldI’ll shine the light on Inkmistress this time.

 

WOLF: A WHOLESOME CHARACTER THAT COULD KILL YOU

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I mean…what gets more “wholesome-but-could-kill-you” than a massive tardigrade that acts like a puppy? All my love to Otto the giant water bear…💗

 

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WINTER: A BOOK THAT PORTRAYS MENTAL ILLNESS

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How it Feels to Float is a beautiful and deeply moving portrayal of depression and anxiety, and an incredibly underrated one, at that. I highly recommend this one!

 

IKO: A BOOK WITH ANDROIDS OR ROBOTS

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LIFEL1K3So many robots. SO MANY!

 

I tag anyone who’d like to participate! Give Brianna some love, everybody! 

 

Since I’ve already posted today, just head over to this week’s Book Review Tuesday if you’d like to see today’s song.

 

That just about wraps up this tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (🍀3/17/20🍀)–Loki: Where Mischief Lies

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Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and a happy St. Patrick’s Day as well! I don’t/haven’t had anything planned to celebrate on here [ahem], but…I suppose we’ve got a green book cover here? I hope that counts for something…sorry…

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Hey, since I’m reviewing Loki, why not throw in a Tom Hiddleston gif while I’m at it?

Anyway, I also had my first day of online school today. It’s been…an experience. Most of my teachers have been fairly organized in their lesson plans, but my Spanish class was absolutely chaotic, so that was…interesting, to say the least. My AP US History teacher showed us her cat in one of the videos she put up, so that was a major plus. Cats. Always cats.

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Now, back to our main program…

I bought Loki about a month ago, along with Sky Without StarsThough I was a tad hesitant going into it (I’m not sure why, come to think of it), Lee delivers an absolute joyride of a historical fiction/Norse mythology/Marvel comics mashup!

 

Enjoy this week’s review!

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Loki: Where Mischief Lies 

Pushed aside in favor of his brother Thor more often than not, young Loki is tired of his sibling having all of the limelight and the unwarranted scorn he garners from his father Odin. His only friend–and partner in crime–is Amora, a budding sorceress. When they cause the obliteration of a vital artifact, Amora is banished to the realms of Midgard, where she is cursed to watch her magic slowly fade away.

Distraught after his best friend’s banishment, Loki’s scorn for the people of Asgard only grows. But soon after her absence begins, a series of horrendous crimes begin to crop up, Loki and Thor are split up and sent to a sprawling, 19th century London, where nothing is as it seems. Can Loki crawl out from under the shadow of his older brother–and not spell ruination for the human city, while he’s at it?

 

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Despite my expectations, Loki pulled out nearly all the necessary stops to make for a fun, twisty, and whimsical adaptation of Marvel Studios’ younger Loki.

I haven’t read as much by Mackenzi Lee (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, and a few short stories scattered across some YA anthologies), but she deftly weaves in her love of history–specifically, London in the 1800s–seamlessly into Loki’s mythological heritage, even tying in an early version of S.H.I.E.L.D. into the dark, mysterious world. Loki and the rest of the varied cast of characters fit snugly into the historical setting, despite their magical backgrounds.

Full disclosure: I’ve been a huge fan of Loki since I started watching most of the MCU movies, so at this point, I’m primed to like him as a character. But someone like him can easily be poorly-executed, and Lee perfectly balances his trademark mischief and the deep envy festering inside of him. The other characters, though a few seemed a tad interchangeable and difficult to keep up with, were well-written, and generated palpable emotion and chemistry. Oh, and I *kind of* imagined Amora looking similar to Princess Nuala from Hellboy II: The Golden Army, so that’s always a plus.

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My only major complaint was the dialogue; I get that the various denizens of Asgard and beyond are supposed to be overtly formal in their mannerisms, but even so, some of the exchanges between Thor and Loki in the early parts of the novel felt unnecessarily stilted. There was a lot of potential for some good banter from those two.

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And finally, another wonderful given from Lee’s works…LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION, EVERYBODY! Besides Loki (who is now canonically genderfluid and pansexual), we do have a gay side character, and a romantic subplot between him and…okay, I won’t spoil it, but you can probably guess. 🏳️‍🌈

All in all, a wonderful imagining of Marvel’s Loki that’s just as mischievous and mysterious as he is. Four stars for me! 

 

Today’s song:

I can always count on this one for an atmospheric song to write to. 💙

 

That just about wraps up this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day, if you’re celebrating, and take care of yourselves!

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