KiraKira Treasure Box

Random Readings: ...and a little bit of pixie dust.

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I'm seeing a pattern here where my RR posts start with a film...

It's been a while since I went out on a book-spree and in search for something very specific, so ta-dah, here we are again! Recently I watched the film Beauty and The Beast and—... wait, no, not the one you're thinking about. The other one. No, not the animated one either. The 2014 french film, La belle et la Bête. So I was watching this film —which is comparatively speaking a lot more fairy tale-ish than its Disney counterparts, with stunning costumes and magic kingdoms and giants— and my inner reader was once again awoken to answer the call of literature.
So voilà, here are the three books I read to quench my thirst for magic, fairies, and evil spells.

Feel welcome to express your thoughts and disagree (politely) in the comment section (discussion is always fun!!), but no opinion bashing will be allowed! Do remember the rating is my own opinion, which may differ from yours!


The Darkest Part of the Forest

YA Fantasy
AUTHOR:  Holly Black
GENRES: Romance; Adventure; LGBT+; M-M Romance
TOPIC HIT? YAS 👍

I ACTUALLY HIT THE MARK ON MY FIRST TRY AGAIN. Guys I'm actually getting good at this.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the centre of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking. Until one day, he does…

This book. This freaking book. It was exactly what I was hoping to find! The story was intriguing, full of magic, and it had just the right amount of gore to satisfy my putrid heart (muahahaha). I loved  Holly Black's depiction of the forest of Fairfold, the creatures that dweled in it, and the fascinating world of the faeries.
What I most adored about this book, though, is that despite being so very faithful to the fairy tale genre, it turned the usual romance and heroic troupes on their head and opened up new paths. Balck's writing is eerie and atmospheric, and it's hard not to get swept into the creepy, dark tale she's spinning. Black has weaved in modern society with the mythical world of fae in away that's not exactly urban-fantasy, but rather comes off a bit like the 2005 film The Brothers Grimm. Even more so because the two protagonists, Hazel and Ben, are siblings out to save their town from the evils that get unleashed after the horned boy awakens.
However! It is not without its flaws. My main issue with this book would have to be that it never truly kept the balance between the two romances that it places in the eye of the storm. With any other novel I'd suggest getting rid of the less defined romantic story arc to further explore the main couple's struggles, but in TDPotF Ben's story is just as—if not more!!!—interesting as Hazel's. I really wished Black had stuck with her double-protagonist focus and given them equal importance, but alas, it was not to be. Hazel stole most of the stage.
Overall there's little I can criticise about this book. Read it for the gay, read it for the fae, read it for whatever reason, but just read it (ʘ‿ʘ✿). I was tempted to give this one a Bananas rating, but other than the unbalanced double-romance I also had a few issues here and there with the pacing, so Shakespeare it is.

RATING

‘Tis good stuff, methinks.



A Court of Thorns and Roses

YA Fantasy / New Adult (?)
AUTHOR: Sarah J. Maas
GENRES: Fantasy; Romance;
TOPIC HIT? Hmmm... No? Not enough fairies :( 👎

I feel that this book is very much a YA fantasy novel because of the overall feel of it, but it's technically New Adult...

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

A looooot of people on tumblr have been recommending this book to me, so I thought it was high time I wrote out my thoughts about it.
This book started out smashingly, and then spiralled into... well, into ordinary YA fantasy. It lost its bite and its spice, and the "bold" protagonist lost her appeal. It's a pity, because I thought Sarah J. Maas's writing was absolutely beautiful, and those first few chapters where Feyre detailed her miserable, austere life as a huntress fighting to keep her family alive had me completely hooked.
But the story lost it's appeal completely when it became clear that we weren't going to be having much of that the moment she got spirited away into fairy land. Even so, there were just about enough dangerous and magical encounters to keep me on the bandwagon, but the book lost me when it started to play-pretend at being clever. Revelations that were supposed to be eye-opening and plot-twisting came out as silly attempts to impress the reader, and had me frowning rather than gaping.
I was disappointed to find the romance wasn't proper hate-to-love galore (you know how I love me some of that), but it was sexy and entrancing enough to keep me squealing for the better part of the story (๑ↀᆺↀ๑)✧. Yet it lost its appeal when it was handed over to me so easily on a silver plate. But hey, the events in the book happen over the course of many months, which made the whole YOU ARE THE LOVE OF MY LIFE Shakespearean drama a lot more believable, so props to that.
All in all, I was disappointed in A Court of Thorns and Roses, simply because I had expected a lot more from it, and it wasn't really what I was after. I feel that there are so many more creatures to see and magic fun we could've had that just weren't there. I know this is a book series and that the author will expand on world of Prythian in the sequels, but I'm not sure I'll be sticking around for more. I might pick up the second book? Might? But right now I'm not feeling particularly drawn to it.

RATING

Give it a go(?)



Cruel Beauty

YA Fantasy
AUTHOR: Rosamund Hodge
GENRES: Fantasy; Romance; Greek Mythology; Marriage
TOPIC HIT? Yes and no. 👋
No because I was specifically looking for fairies, but yes because it was very fable-like in style.

This book turned out to be something so different from what I expected...

Nyx's fate was decided by a bargain. Her father was given two daughters in exchange for handing the hand of one in marriage to the Gentle Lord, the demon that rules their kingdom. But like all bargains ever made with the Gentle Lord, nothing quite works out as expected. Nyx's mother passed away giving birth, and her father decided to keep and dote on her gentle twin sister Astraia, all the while training Nyx to murder the demon that stole their happiness and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
Yet Nyx finds herself a little perplexed by her new husband, the evil and also very witty Ignifex. Lost in the labyrinthine rooms that shift and change unpredictably in the Gentle Lord's palace, Nyx begins to waver between choosing love and delivering her people from his influence...

Cruel Beauty is the very ingenious mishmash of the tales of Bluebeard, Rumpelstiltskin, and Beauty & the Beast, sprinkled over an alternative fantasy world were Greek mythology is the ruling religion. The writing is beautiful, the setting enchanting, Ignifex is compelling and wonderfully witty... but unfortunately the book wasn't a perfect land with me.
It's hard to put my finger exactly on what it was about Cruel Beauty that didn't satisfy me. It's not that I disliked it per se, as Hodge's writing is too enchanting and beautiful for me not to like this, but there were a number of points in the story that felt like a flop. Nyx, despite displaying the potential to be a great MC, was as fickle as the wind: first she hates her family, then she doesn't, the she loves Ignifex, then she loves a different guy (yes, this book starts off as a love triangle drama, readers ye be warned), then she's back to loving Ignifex, then she decides to prioritise revenge... her thoughts were a mess. I suppose you could say it realistically portrays the inner turmoil someone would feel in a situation where their husband is the sole reason the entire kingdom is suffering, and though it admittedly didn't bother me too much to begin with, when piled with the odd turns the story took, I suddenly found myself unable to overlook it.
Nonetheless, this book still has a lot to praise. For one, the "beast" is actually a beast. He's a bad guy—none of that sparkling hot guy that's actually a good man here to blow up your ovaries with how wrong your impression of him was. Ignifex's dialogues with Nyx were fiery and clever, and his character broke the "mysterious reclusive male that actually only needs some love" stereotype that one would expect from a Beaty & Beast-type setting.
Unfortunately the marvellously complex fable setting and compelling male lead didn't manage to erase my issues with the very sudden turns the book took and the ridiculously...incomprehensible...ending the author went for. (No, I'm serious, I did not understand what happened...) Apparently I'm not the only one who stared blankly at the pages when the finale rolled over, and most other readers seem to be content with letting go of how confusing it was, but I just can't get over it...
In short, Cruel Beauty is one of those books that I have a hard time forming an opinion of: it was good, but not too good, but it wasn't exactly bad. I feel that the atmospheric writing has definitely bumped up my rating for it, but if you're thinking of picking it up prepare thyself to face a rather puzzling finale, dear reader.

RATING

Give it a go(?)


Conclusions

I'm a little disappointed with my treasure hunt, but my thirst has been quenched for now. I feel that the "fairy tale" genre is mostly dominated by retellings, and that books that both invoke the original dark atmosphere that was characteristic of fairy tales and also include purely original storylines, like The Darkest Part of the Forest, are actually quite rare. And within this category, books that don't necessarily focus on the romance seem even rarer.
Before we part, my dearies, let me leave you with another recommendation! This wasn't a book I picked specifically for this post so I didn't include it, but if you're into dark, eerie fairy tales with a touch of magic, you lovelies should totally check out Uprooted by Naomi Novik and let your heart be melted by the adorable main couple and get whisked away by Novik's stunningly beautiful writing.

If you have any recommendations of your own or would like to share your thoughts on the books in this post, feel free to leave a comment below! Until next time ( ˘ ³˘)♥

Make sure to read the About Kira Kira and F.A.Qs pages before commenting so that your comments may follow the rules of the blog!


Posted on: 28/10/2017

PS. Is anybody reading anything specific for Halloween? I've picked up Coraline because I'm a scaredy-cat that can't stomach anything too brutal...



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6 comments:

  1. I trully recomend the series of a Court of Roses and Thorns. Even though the first one might seem a little bit dull, and the beginning of the second one is shocking (if you read it you will know why ^^) the second and the third (in my opinion) are quite good (well, i've reread them just like a loooot of times, actually, I love them too much...). I recommend you to give them a go, at least read the second one (and don't mind to much the beginning, trust me ;) )

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    Replies
    1. I've been told by a few to read at least one more book in the series, so I'll most likely pick up the second one at some point ^^ It wasn't a BAD book, a 'Give it a go' rating is still good to me, but like I said, I was disappointed with the change in tone from the first third of the book to the other two thirds of it.
      I'll trust what everyone is saying and check out the second book! Just... not immediately >.<

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  2. La belle et la Bête is such a beautiful movie. Though what did you think of the animated dogs? xD The first time I saw them, I was like what o-o; If you want to read more fairy tale type retellings, you should try out Leigh Bardugo's The Language of Thorns. It's a bit darker (?) and an intriguing look over past myths/stories (less on the faerie side).

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    1. Oh my god THOSE DOGS, I am so glad I'm not the only one that stared at the screen like, "ermmmm okay, lemur DOGS..."

      Also. WHAT A COINCIDENCE. I literally started A Language of Thorns yesterday. I love the writing - it's so beautiful and magical! I'll probably be checking out the other stuff by this author when I'm done with Plot because of how gorgeously she depicts fantasy.

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  3. Haha that is a coincidence xD Do tell your favourite story after you've finished it :) My favourite stories are the first and last ones! Her other series (Six of Crows duology) is one you should definitely read especially if you love morally questionable characters.

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  4. Its not a book, but a fanfiction of Hakuoki that has me on the edge of my seat and waiting for the hiatus of the author to finish so i can get to read again, is what i want to recommend to you... Its called Sun and Moon (small prequel of 3 chapters) and No Longer Strangers (46 chapters so far).
    If you liked the game and are ok with Kazama/Chizuru ship, i HIGHLY recommend this fanfiction written by Fleur Lilas in fanfiction dot net. She expands on the oni world beautifuly and the pacing is not forced, and quite enjoyable to read.

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