Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 5/5
Goodreads rating: 4.52/5

Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Summary (Goodreads):

“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.


Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

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Review: Town Of Evening Calm, Country Of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno

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Title: Town Of Evening Calm, Country Of Cherry Blossoms
Author: Fumiyo Kouno
Genres: Sequential Art (Manga), Historical Fiction
My Rating: 
3.75- 4 stars
Goodreads rating: 4.01

Summary (Goodreads):

What impact did World War II and the dropping of the atomic bomb have on the common people of Japan? Through the eyes of an average woman living in 1955, Japanese artist Fumiyo Kouno answers these questions. This award-winning manga appears in an English translation for the first time. Fumiyo Kouno’s light, free style of drawing evokes a tender reflection of this difficult period in Hiroshima’s postwar past. As the characters continue with everyday life, the shadow of the war and the atomic bombing linger ghostlike in the background. Kouno’s beautiful storytelling touches the reader’s heart but is never overly sentimental. A widely embraced best seller in Japan, where the work was also controversial, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is the winner of several prestigious awards including Grand Prize at the 8th Japan Media Arts Festival (2004), New Life Award at the 9th Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prizes (2005). Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is made up of interconnected short stories; the first is a love story entitled Town of Evening Calm; followed by the two-part story Country of Cherry Blossoms.


Cover: 3/5

A cute, simple cover which is very misleading for the plot. I like how the girl is so carefree even though she is having so many heavy thoughts and feelings during the manga.

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Review: It had been months- no that’s too generous- years since I read manga and even on the Wednesday afternoon I did borrow this book from the library I didn’t have manga on my mind when I wanted to pick up some graphic novels. But this book stood out to my on the bookshelves, I didn’t know if it was the long title (I am a P!ATD fan after all, I’m drawn to long titles) or the simply yet pretty artwork on the cover.

Whatever it was, I am very happy I picked up this Manga.

Plot: The whole theme of the manga was centered around people trying to live after the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during the tail end of the second world war. The manga is split up into two stories, Town of evening calm and Country of cherry blossoms and only has 104 pages! So you can tell it was a rather quick read.  The first story (TOEC) was very very good. It follows Minami Hirano, a young woman who lives with her mother, a clerk in an office who has depressing flashbacks to when the atomic bomb hit Hiroshima. There is also a sweet side plot as well with her love interest, Yutaka- a collegue. Altogether the plot for Minami’s story is really tragic and eye-opening as well. It was beautifully written- or well drawn.

The second story (COCB), centers around Nanami Ishikawa, who is Minami’s brother’s daughter, and who the ripples of the atomic bomb still affect generations of the same family. Now this plot did seem a bit  unclear. This is probably because they flashed forward a bit, and then flashed back and flashed back and there were other sub plots that confused me further after that. I did like the second story, lets be clear, but it wasn’t as clear as the other one.

Characters: Minami is just a normal woman in the story and I think that works in its favour. This book is suppose to show what it is like for normal woman after the atomic bomb. I felt so sorry for her because of the suvivors guilt she was carrying. She was written really nicely and real, so she was enjoyable to read, despite the whole saddening undertones.

Nanami on the other hand felt like a naive teenage, which helped demonstrate how even after a small space of time the next generation start to forget about the horrors of the generation before them. She seemed like just the microphone for the story and not really anyone important, to be honest.

What I liked:

-The drawings were marvelous

-How such a heavy topic was weaved into an enjoyable story

-The great storytelling in the first story

What I disliked:

-How unclear the second story was

-That it was so short! I wanted more!

Verdict: I seriously enjoyed learning about these two women’s stories as it is a really important thing to still talk about. I do recommend this manga to anyone who is interested in this subject matter or curious about how people were affected after the bomb because even though this is fictional it oozes reality.

-Astra

Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton


Title: The Miniaturist
Author: Jessie Burton
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 3.75-4 stars
Goodreads rating: 3.57 stars

My Summary: The Miniaturist is a pure historical fiction novel that takes place in Amsterdam 1686. The story follows eighteen-year old Petronella Oortman as she starts to live her life as a wife to the rich and handsome Johannes Brandt. Though keen to start her life a fresh, Nella is intimidated by her new surroundings and sister in law, Marin, who seems to keep the Brandt household in tip top condition.

Many secrets linger in the house and Nella soon realises that being the wife to one of the wealthiest merchants in Amsterdam comes with as many downfalls as there are ups. With the her mysterious wedding gift, a miniature of the Brandt House and the strangely intriguing Miniaturist making eerily lifelike furnishings, Nella goes on a private mission to find the Miniaturist, who seems to hold Nella’s  life in her hands.


Cover: 4/5

  

My Review: I liked this book. I mean just liked this book. It was a nice and cosy historical fiction to read, but that’s all it was. Nice. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but I found that the whole book just stayed on a straight line. Not saying that there wasn’t any spikes throughout the book, because there definatley was some points, but not enough to keep a tight grip on my interest.

Lets talk about the main character, Petronella Brandt nee Oortman. First of all, I loved the name a lot, it is just a fun name to say, but my friends did get a  bit annoyed when I kept on saying it during random spaces of silence. Though Nella acted like she knew what was going to happen when  she became a wife, she reeked of naivety which made me want to guide her, almost like the Miniaturist did. She had these many rigid images of what it means to be a proper woman, but by the end of the novel those images came crumbling down, and it made her into a stronger woman I feel.

It is now around twenty-four hours after I have finished the book and I can confidently say I had no issues whatsoever with the characters. The main characters were developed enough for me to enjoy and I could picture most of them very clearly in my mind, which is helped by the lovely description that flowed through the book. The plot on the other hand…I had some problems.

The mystery of the Miniaturist was never really solved. I wanted Nella to have a proper conversation with her, I want to know how she talked, how she sat, if her teeth were sparkling white. What I’m trying to say is that the Miniaturist seemed like a hollow character to me. My second point kind of links on the first but the ending was like cold cup of tea you expected to be hot. After building a relationship with the characters (the novel seems more character than plot driven) I was left feeling Cornelia slammed a door in my face. I wanted to know what happened, so many questions were left unanswered for me and knowing that this is a stand alone novel,I am a little bit disappointing that many of my questions will not be answered through another greatly written book.

Verdict: Though I enjoyed the characters, the writing and pace there was just too little suspense and sharp, unpredictable plot twists that kept me fully intrigued.

-Astra

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