Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow

The Greenworld is ruled by many powerful women…

…and sixteen-year-old Danny can’t help falling in love with the most beautiful one.

With his mum as head witch of the Greenworld, Danny has a lot to live up to – he can’t spend all his time chasing girls.  And, as the outside world begins to threaten his community, Danny must draw on reserves of magic he didn’t know he had.

But with the beautiful sorceress Saba at his side, he thinks maybe this witch thing isn’t such a bad idea after all…

…because for Danny, magic might be mundane, but love is never boring.

IMG_E7639[1]

I had good expectations of this novel.  I enjoy fantasy worlds involving magic, the Greenworld being ruled by women suggested it might be a feminist novel and whilst I don’t read romance novels per se, I do love romance within novels, I just prefer it to run concurrently with rather than be the whole story.

I absolutely loved the world-building.  The Greenworld exists without any use of fossil fuels, and the extensive impact that would have on daily life had been thoroughly thought through and was woven throughout the story.  The author either is pagan or had done considerable research as all of the witchs’ practices are rooted in genuine pagan tenets.

The writing style relied heavily on metaphors and they were so clunky that they jerked me out of the story.  Given the fantasy setting and how much I enjoyed the world-building it was frustrating to be so roughly pulled out of the setting.

Unfortunately where the book really fell down for me was the characters of the protagonaists.  Danny and Saba are not particularly likeable, which is not in and of itself an issue – I’ve read numerous books where the protagonist isn’t likeable but the reader is still invested in their story.  Sadly this wasn’t the case for me.

Danny talks about being in love with Saba but his narration starts and ends at how beautiful she is and her long tawny hair (I get it Danny, she has nice hair).  His emotions seemed superficial and he was one-dimensional.  Saba is, frankly, a duplicitous attention-seeker.  I simply could not bring myself to care about whether they ended up together other than feeling that anyone else that might be interested in either one of them probably deserved better.

So, a mixed review for this one.  On the one had the book made me want to learn more about pagan witchcraft and eco-living so it held a certain power, but was let down by inadequate character depth.

2-Star

#SixForSunday

#SixforSunday is a meme hosted by the lovely Steph at A Little But A Lot, and this week’s prompt is ‘Series you’re dying to read’.  I’ve only selected from series that I haven’t started yet, and these are my picks:

IMG_E7592[1]

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

I so want to read this, but there are just so many *weeps*.  The woman must be a writing machine.

Legacy of Orisha by Tomi Adeyemi

This looks sooo good, but I can pretend I’m holding off because they haven’t all been released yet!

Legend by Marie Lu

I haven’t read anything by Marie Lu yet, and I’ve heard really good things.

Gone by Michael Grant

Gah, I’ve been dying to read this series for years, but when I start a series I like to read them all through consecutively so the number of them puts me off.  One day….

Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce

I have a couple of friends who adore Tamora Pierce so I’m really keen to try her books.

Starbound by Amie Kaufman

I love this author, and this sci-fi sounds right up my street.

Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman

Ice Wolves and Scorch Dragons live deeply separate lives on the Isle of Vallen.  So when twelve-year-old orphan Anders takes one elemental form andhis twin sister, Rayna, takes another, he wonders if they are even related.  Family or not, Rayna is still his best friend.  And now she’s been claimed and kidnapped by cruel, brutal dragons.  Determined to rescue her, Anders enlists at Ulfar Academy, a formidable school for young wolves that values loyalty to the pack above all else.  But for Anders, loyalty is more complicated than blind obedience, and friendship is the most powerful shape-shifting force of all.

IMG_E7590[1]

The YA (young adult) series Illuminae Files, co-written by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, is my favourite series of all time, so I was very excited to read some of Amie’s solo work.  As this is a MG (Middle Grade, ages 8-12) novel, the style was necessarily more simplistic and whilst I personally preferred the YA style (not surprising as I’m considerably older than the YA target market!), I was extremely impressed by the skillful transition.  The plot was compelling and action scenes were gripping and well-paced.

I really enjoyed the world-building.  We are introduced to the city through the eyes of homeless orphans Anders and Rayna, desperately trying to steal enough to feed themselves.  We’re given both a wonderful feel to the twins’ two different characters, and a deft portrait of life within Vallen.  Once Anders enrols at the Academy we gradually learn more about the lore behind the ice wolves and scorch dragons and the intriguing artifacts that they possess.

The characters are well-developed and given realistic layers to their stories and there were so many of the characters that I’m desperate to know more about.  Hayn, the ice wolf who designs artifacts with magical powers, Viktoria the snooty trainee who is hiding vulnerability, Sigrid the leader of the ice wolves who is vehement in her anti-scorch dragon rhetoric, but doesn’t appear to be telling the whole story, to name but a few.  A representation shout-out for casually including a character with ‘they’ pronouns without feeling the need for a full explanation

The tension built to a fantastically dramatic finale which leaves us well set up for what promises to be a very exciting sequel.

5-Star

 

 

#SixForSunday

#SixforSunday is a meme hosted by the lovely Steph at A Little But A Lot, and this week’s prompt is ‘heart-wrenching endings to a series’.  I’m going to attempt to do this spoiler-free.  Here are my picks:

IMG_E7578[1]

1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Divergent Series)

Appallingly, the author actually got death threats from ‘fans’ unhappy about the ending to this series.  Whilst it wasn’t the ending that I would have chosen, I felt it ‘fit’ the characters and story and I was satisfied with it.

2.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JKRowling

There were heart-wrenching endings for several characters in this one.  I definitely shed a tear on the first read, although for me the Order of the Phoenix was the one I’m never forgiving JKRowling for.

3. Curtain by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot books)

Curtain was written by Agatha Christie as Poirot’s last case and gifted to her family to publish posthumously.  Poirot is very elderly and infirm in the novel which saddened me in itself, but he also writes a letter to Hastings which I found desperately sad.

4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games series)

This novel really highlights the PTSD suffered by the survivors of the arena so there are a number of harrowing scenes throughout in additions to not-so-happy endings.

5.  The Last Battle by CS Lewis (Narnia series)

Oh boy.  I read this for the first time as an adult and I remember being absolutely enraged by the ending.  Heart-wrenching isn’t really the right word for it, but the atmosphere of the book was disappointingly bleak and the ultimate ending, for me at least, was profoundly unsatisfactory.

6. Specials by Scott Westerfeld (Uglies series)

I was disappointed that the overall ending wasn’t more sunshine and rainbows, but it’s the fate of one particular character that I’m thinking of here, so I won’t spoiler.

 

Odd One Out by Nic Stone

COURTNEY ‘COOP’ COOPER

Dumped.  Again.  And normally I wouldn’t mind.  But right now, my best friend Jupiter Sanchez, is ignoring me to text some girl.

RAE EVELYN CHIN

I assumed ‘new girl’ would be synonymous with ‘pariah’, but Jupiter and Courtney make me feel like I’m right where I belong.  I also want to kiss him.  And her.  Which is….perplexing.

JUPITER CHARITY-SANCHEZ

The only thing worse than losing the girl you love to a boy is losing her to your boy.  That means losing him too.  I have to make a move….

ONE STORY. THREE SIDES.
NO EASY ANSWERS.

IMG_E7568[1]

 

The first third of the book is told from Coop’s point of view and he has a distinctive narrative voice that I really enjoyed.  I loved that he’s a male cheerleader, is a feminist and extremely respectful to women and retains a strong masculinity.  I particularly enjoyed his friendship and banter with fellow cheerleaders Brit and Golly who are witty, wise, respectful, inclusive and supportive.

The second section is narrated by Rae who was my least favourite voice of the three.  She was raised by a cruciverbalist – a writer of crosswords – so she has an extensive vocabulary which made for a very different style.  Personally I disliked the incessant use of long words as it seemed disingenuous rather than natural, but that may be more a reflection of my own vocabulary!

Jupiter is raised by 2 gay dads who had her via a surrogate – I delight in seeing non-traditional families getting some representation.  Indeed the novel is particularly strong on representation, featuring multiple LGBTQ characters, biracial and ethnic minority characters.

I was impressed that the three perspectives had such different voices, and all three were well-developed characters, relatable and brought their own value to the narrative.  This book covers important issues like agency, but at it’s core is a well-written story about finding your label, but also that ultimately labels are not important.

4-Star

#SixForSunday

#SixforSunday is a meme hosted by the lovely Steph at A Little But A Lot, and this week’s prompt is ‘Favourite book 1 in a series’, so here are 6 books that are both the first in a series, and my favourite of that series.

IMG_E7550[1]

1. One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

This was the author’s debut and is a fabulous YA whodunnit.  A sequel was released this year which was also excellent, but where it featured characters from the original as well as introducing siblings and siblings’ friends I found it hard to keep track of who was who. Incidentally, Two Can Keep a Secret by the same author is also superb.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I loved this series.  I saw the movie first which was brilliant, and then went and read the whole trilogy.

3.  The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

I absolutely adored this book to the point where I was thoroughly disgruntled when the sequel didn’t take place on the same spacecraft and follow the same crew.  There was sulking.  It wasn’t pretty.

4.  Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

That was an unintentional segue!  Uglies is a dystopia with a really interesting premise whereby the young ‘ugly’ folk are raised separately and on their 16th birthday have cosmetic surgery to make them ‘pretty’ and join the rest of society in a high-tech paradise.  It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that I found the book set in the ‘ugly’ society far more interesting than the sequels in the ‘pretty’ society.

5.  The Rain by Virginia Bergin

This is a really interesting post-apocalyptic dystopia in which the rain becomes toxic and even one drop can kill you.

6.  Divergent by Veronica Roth

Ah, I love Divergent.  Unlike some fans I was really happy with the ending to the trilogy (well, happy may not be the best word, but I felt it ‘fit’ perfectly) but Divergent will always remain my favourite.

April Reading Recap

Happy first of May!  I hope you’re keeping well and safe.

In April I took part in the annual OWLs Readathon hosted by Book Roast, and I’m delighted to say that it went quite well.  I had chosen the career of Curse-Breaker this year, which meant completing 6 different books, and I also wanted to become an Animagus which required 3 books, all of which happened to overlap with the Curse-Breaker requirements. Result!

Books I read in April:

The Death House

My lovely friend Catherine has been desperate for me to read this for years, and the title rather put me off as it sounds like a horror novel and I dislike reading horror.  Oddly, goodreads does put this book in the horror genre (amongst others) which I wouldn’t really agree with.  I can see where you might get that vibe as two teens roam a faintly sinister house at night but it’s actually a beautiful story.  This was my Defense Against Dark Arts OWL and my ‘Science 2’ prompt for the #40for2020 challenge.

Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman

I wanted to read this book last month but thankfully had read the OWLs prompts early and waited so it could fulfill the Transfiguration OWL of featuring shapeshifters – quite a specific prompt.  I also used it for ‘I am not afraid of storms’ and will review it in due course.

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

I’ve had this book for such a long time, and whilst I love a good whodunnit, I tend to favour YA books these days.  Thankfully the Arithmancy OWL required a book outside my favourite genre which was the perfect excuse to dust it off.  I enjoyed it so much that I deliberately used it for the ‘4’ prompt, so that I could read another whodunnit for the crime category.  You can read my review here.

Heart-shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

The Ancient Runes OWL required a book with a heart in the title or on the cover, and this had both!  It’s a journal found after a young offenders’ institution is closed and is a really interesting read.  I decided to use it for ‘White’ from the #40for2020 challenge.

The Art of War by Sun Tsu

I was really struggling to find a book under 150 pages for the Potions OWL, and my husband pointed this book of his out to me, which is also on a ‘100 books bucketlist’ scratch off poster we have.  It’s quite a dry read – military strategies – but it was interesting to read such an ancient book, and I read it alongside my fiction novel to break it up a little.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

After enjoying A is for Alibi I was in the mood for another whodunnit, but started a different series as it conveniently fit the Charms OWL.  It’s not a traditional whodunnit – Stephanie Plum is out of work and out of money, so takes on the dangerous job of Bounty Hunter, drawn in by the promise of big bucks.  Initially the book was a little crude for me and I wasn’t going to keep going with the series, but in the last third it went from good to excellent, and now I’m itching to know what happens!  Stephanie’s ineptitudes add many comedic moments and her grandmother is positively glorious.  That’s ‘Am I not merciful’ ticked off.

Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow

The Care of Magical Creatures OWL wanted a book with a beak on the cover so I decided to read this novel, followed by the sequel which will work for ‘Red’ for the #40for2020.  I have very mixed feelings about this one which I may formulate into a review.  It fulfilled ‘Of course it’s happening in your head’.

Books read this month: 7

Goodreads Reading Challenge progress: 23/40

#40for2020 Challenge progress: 21/40

Wizarding World Tour Reading Challenge 23/56

If you’d like to take part in or see more details on the challenges, there is a challenge page here on the blog with all the categories.