A Thousand Beginnings and Endings Book Review

A Thousand Beginnings and EndingsImage result for a thousand beginnings and endings

Author: Ellen Oh (editor), Elsie Chapman (editor)
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 336
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Sixteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman—who both contributed stories to this edition, as well—the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish.”

This anthology of Asian myths and legends features some well-known authors whose books I have read and enjoyed, as well as some authors I had not come across before. It’s set in the style of a retelling followed by a short explanation from the author regarding the origin and inspiration behind their retelling, introducing me to some legends I had never heard of! I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories and I’m pleased to say I enjoyed more of the stories than not, which is always a concern when reaching for an anthology – but not in this case!

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings starts off strong with Roshani Chokshi’s Forbidden Fruit story and while it dips in the middle for me, I thought there was a great variety of retellings so there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy from fantasy and magic to ghosts and vampires, and of course the inevitable android story.

Here is a list of the stories with their respective authors and my mini rating for each:

  • Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Smile by Aisha Saeed ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Nothing Into All by Renée Ahdieh ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

My favourite stories were probably Forbidden FruitOlivia’s TableNothing Into All, and Eyes Like Candlelight but there are elements of the other stories that I really enjoyed, particularly one passage in Spear Carrier. I also really enjoyed where some of the retellings went compared to the myth and the author’s individual take on such a story. I especially liked the different cultures embedded into each story and even though I had to do a bit of googling – mainly for different types of clothes – I still loved reading the stories.

I really recommend this anthology of Asian myths and legends and adding this diverse book to your TBR because you won’t be disappointed! I would love to see a sequel to this anthology done be it by the same authors or new ones – it’s such a fantastic idea and it was executed very well.

It’s YALC in 3 days!

It’s that time of year again where the Young Adult Literature Convention comes to London Olympia and I’m super excited! I first went to YALC back in 2016 where I just attended on the Sunday and it was very exciting indeed. I absolutely loved the whole experience and couldn’t wait to go again but unfortunately I couldn’t attend any day the next year, but last year I was free and I travelled down to London on the Saturday.

I really wanted to go all out and do all three days this year, however it is a big expense and I think this sort of trip will have to wait until I’m not a uni student anymore and I actually get a full time job at some point. So I’m attending the Friday this year which means I will have done all three days but just not in the same year! Oh dear, but I’m still really looking forward to going on the Friday which looks awesome and I’m planning on attending a few panels and workshops as well as getting my beautiful books signed!

Now if you’ve never heard of YALC, it’s your first time or you want to know a bit more about what to expect, then follow the link here for a past post of mine on some tips for preparing for YALC and on the day itself.

There are so many posts that have been published in the last week from book blogs I follow and I’m going to leave some links for you to check out because everyone has different advice and a different perspective, and it’s always good to peruse through a few posts as some people include tips others have forgotten. So here’s just a few from some amazing book bloggers I follow with their YALC prep posts:

The main thing is to just have fun and enjoy it! I had no real idea what to expect the first time I went and the next time I was more clued up on how to manage my day and what to do. It’s a bit different if you only go for one day compared to all three because you only have to prepare for the one day so it’s much less stressful I think! I can’t imagine what it’s like to travel to London and sort out what you need for each day as well as arranging accommodation and meals etc. Just fall into the experience and magic that is YALC and see what it brings you – it’s bound to be brilliant! Just definitely wear comfy shoes, bring a decent sized and comfortable bag to house your books in, and print off the day’s schedule to bring with you so you know what’s happening when.

Lastly, if you do see me and recognise me at all, then do feel free to come say hello – I’m very bad with coming up to people and saying hello if I recognise them off social media but I would very much like to expand my bookish friends!

If you are attending YALC then I sincerely hope you have a beautiful time and it’s everything you want it to be, if for an unfortunate reason you aren’t going this year then do not despair! Each year is different and who knows what will await us next year?

Have a brilliant day bookworms ♥

Mid year check-in

We’re over half way through 2019! This is where I start getting excited because we’ve had the summer solstice which means the days only get longer from here and soon it will be autumn with the beautiful oranges and browns, and then Christmas! Okay I won’t get too excited just now but still, I’m buzzing we’re over the worst half of the year (spring and summer are my least favourite seasons – roll on autumn and winter!) but that also means half way through the goodreads challenge!

It’s been a weird six months so far. I finished rotations at uni, sat my exams but I’m still not done yet. I went on the Eurostar with my sister to visit the gorgeous Brussels in January, and finally travelled to the Lake District with a couple of my friends from uni which was beautiful and so much fun! I also got to see the opening night of the new musical that has come to London, Waitress, and Sara Bareilles was on stage! I’ve seen some amazing new film releases this year: How To Train Your DragonAvengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home. But of course, I’ve also read some amazing book and I’ve been working hard on reducing my TBR and reading some backlist books but the odd 2019 release has of course snuck in there!

So my target for 2019 is 45 books and the total currently stands at 26 so I’m 3 ahead of schedule! But what have I read so far? I made it a personal goal of mine to read more of my TBR shelf rather than new releases this year and I have actually only read two 2019 releases!

Here’s what I’ve read in 2019 so far:

  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Wicked King by Holly Black ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • 12 Small Acts to Save the World by WWF ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Dark Vault by V E Schwab ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Furyborn by Claire Legrand ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Springtime at Wildacre by Lucy Daniels ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Legendary by Stephanie Garber ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Finale by Stephanie Garber ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Legendary by Stephanie Garber ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Finale by Stephanie Garber ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Lost Lamb on Honeysuckle Lane by Lucy Daniels ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Image result for i love books gif

I’m pleased to say I’ve read some amazing books so far as well as finally picking up those poor souls that have been sat on my bookshelf for months! My favourite reads so far would include: The Dark VaultLegendaryFinale and 12 Small Acts to Save the World. I’ve only had one book that I really didn’t enjoy even though I was sure I would so all in all, I think I’m doing pretty well with my reading challenge!

What about you guys? What reading goals have you set yourself this year? Now we’re over half way through the year, now is the time to reflect on your situation. I’m planning to keep on with my goal of reading those backlist books and I also want to finish off some more series like Strange the Dreamer and finally start some others I’ve been meaning to like The Kiss of Deception! Let me know your reading goals and how you’re getting on with them in the comments below!

Here’s to a great second half of 2019 filled with wonderful books and thrilling stories ♥

Flame in the Mist Book Review

Flame in the MistGuest Post: Renee Ahdieh on FLAME IN THE MIST | The Young ...

Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Pages: 392
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.”

This book has been sat on my TBR shelf for ages and I really don’t know why – I absolutely loved Renée’s The Wrath and the Dawn duology so I was sure to like this new Mulan-retelling duology and of course I did! It’s a Mulan-retelling! Need I say more? This book was lavish in Japanese culture as we follow the story of Meriko who infiltrates the mysterious Black Clan in order to find out who orchestrated her murder.

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Meriko is a great character and I loved how we saw her evolve throughout the book – she doesn’t start off as a great fighter or really seem to get things right to begin with, but she learns and adapts making for a more realistic and interesting story. She calculates her chance of survival with certain choices and weighs them up against caring for her family. It was so much like the Mulan we know and the big moment when she cuts her hair is just as great in the book – when she makes that choice and follows through.

There were so many Mulan moments like bathing in a lake and nearly being discovered, proving her worth through intelligence rather than brute strength, but the best was the mantra:

“As swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain.”

Who doesn’t LOVE this song?! And I loved the nod to it in the book.

What I found different to the film was Meriko’s family because they didn’t seem to really care about anyone but themselves which is unlike Mulan’s family who seemed so nice in the film. And sadly there was no Mushu in Flame in the Mist, but he isn’t needed because Meriko copes just fine on her own and the mistakes she makes pay off in the end.

Okami was a brilliant character and I can’t wait to see more of him in Smoke in the Sun and see where the story goes with the emperor and his sons. Everything seems up in the air – this is a book where the sequel demands to be read if you want answers, and I very much do so want those answers!

What I loved about this book was the gorgeous writing which was augmented by the Japanese culture that added richness to the story. A helpful glossary was included at the back to explain unfamiliar words and terms, but a lot of the time it wasn’t needed because it was explained in the story itself; it was definitely useful to further understand and immerse yourself into Meriko’s story.

Flame in the Mist is a brilliant Mulan-retelling and I can’t wait to read the sequel and find out what happens. If you love Mulan, then definitely read this, or if you’re already familiar with Renée’s The Wrath and the Dawn duology then what are you waiting for? Don’t be like me and leave it on your shelf for ages – pick it up now because you won’t regret it! Here’s a quote to leave you with which resonates so much:

“I’ve never been angry to have been born a woman. There have been times I’ve been angry at how the world treats us, but I see being a woman as a challenge I must fight. Like being born under a stormy sky. Some people are lucky enough to be born on a bright summer’s day. Maybe we were born under clouds. No wind. No rain. Just a mountain of clouds we must climb each morning so that we may see the sun.”

-Renée Ahdieh, Flame in the Mist

June wrap-up

I normally start off a wrap-up with a little life update and reflection on how the month has gone both reading wise and life in general, but this month has been a really difficult one for me due to a personal reason. I don’t wish to delve into details, but I had one of the worst days of my life so far which had nothing to do with any ill health of myself or friends/family, but it was a personal loss and I’m still coming to terms with what it means for me now and my future.

But on a more positive note, I did do something brilliant this month that I have never done before – I went to the Lake District! I finally visited this beautiful National Park and stayed in Bowness-on-Windermere with a couple of friends where we went hiking with some absolutely stunning views. Luckily, it didn’t rain on us and we reached the summit of Brant Fell Viewpoint and Claife Heights as well as traversed Lake Windermere on a ferry, and visited the lovely town of Ambleside where we went to the most gorgeous cafe (The Apple Pie Cafe) and I ate the most delicious Bath Bun and apple pie ever! This was definitely the highlight of the month.

So I didn’t manage to read many books this month but I did read three books and a novella.

The Lost Lamb on Honeysuckle LaneImage result for the lost lamb on honeysuckle lane

Author: Lucy Daniels
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 35
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
Goodreads link

This was a free ebook as part of the Hope Meadows series by the pseudonym, Lucy Daniels. It takes place after the third book in the series (Springtime at Wildacre) where Mandy the vet has to judge the fancy dress competition at the local May fair and a lamb goes on the loose. This short story was super quick and easy to read and was a cute addition to the series but it wasn’t quite up there with the other books I thought and could have done with a little more depth for me or been a bit longer.

Wonder Woman Warbringer

Author: Leigh BardugoWonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1) by Leigh Bardugo ...
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 364
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Goodreads link
Full review here

The first in the DC Icons series, Warbringer takes place when Diana is seventeen and very much wanting to prove herself to the rest of her family on Themyscira which involves being thrown into the human world as she tries to stop war from breaking out on a mass scale. I loved the author’s portrayal of Diana in this book which was just like the representation in the 2017 film. It was a book filled with sass and action, and can be read before or after seeing the film as it’s separate but just as enjoyable.

Rivers of London

Author: Ben AaronovitchRivers of London Ben Aaronovitch | House of Blog
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 392
Rating: ♥
Goodreads link

A series that I’ve been wanting to explore for a long time now, it’s crime mixed with magic and while it sounded awesome, unfortunately I just didn’t enjoy this book at. All.

There’s misogyny and a main character that has to comment on breasts whenever he sees them on any woman, a boring storyline that got a bit too convoluted and disengaging, and what magic was included didn’t add anything to the story. It was a shame that I didn’t enjoy this much as I had high hopes. It just wasn’t for me.

The Flame in the Mist

Author: Renée AhdiehGuest Post: Renee Ahdieh on FLAME IN THE MIST | The Young ...
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Pages: 392
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Goodreads link

A Mulan-retelling?! Say no more! This gorgeous retelling set in Japan is exactly what you expect it to be and more as Meriko infiltrates the mysterious Black Clan in order to find out who orchestrated her murder. I adored the Japanese culture in this book and really appreciated the glossary at the back to further understand and immerse myself into the story. It started off a little slow but picked up to end in a dramatic fashion and I ordered the sequel straight away.

 

It’s a bit of a shame I didn’t enjoy the Rivers of London book as I thought I would love this series, but misogyny is a real turn-off for me in books and you can tell when you’re not enjoying a book as you start skim-reading towards the end. That’s why I finally picked up Flame in the Mist to lift up my spirits after that book and boy did it work! I loved the Mulan-retelling and I wish we had more of these in books. I’ve just started reading A Thousand Beginnings and Endings which is a YA anthology of Asian myths and legends retold and I’m thoroughly enjoying it so look out for that review coming soon! I plan to read the sequel to Flame in the Mist which is Smoke in the Sun but other than that, I’ll see which books on my TBR take my fancy for July.

I hope you all had a successful reading month – let me know what you read in the comments. Have a great start to July everyone and here’s hoping it doesn’t get too hot!