Bleu’s Reviews: A Discovery of Witches

bea3f7f05bccbf7b6b2cf106e37002ef5721044790384047149.jpg

 

It begins with a book recommendation and a purchase

It begins with a TV show and a binge session

It begins with a discovery of witches … book review

 

Rating: 5 out of 5

I am kicking myself for not having read this book sooner. I originally heard of the All Souls Trilogy  back when i worked for a company that won’t be named because they don’t sponsor me. LOL.

My coworker, another book fan soul sister recommended I check out the series. I made sure to buy all three of the books in the series and added them to my collection, TBR and c7e7739a729e409a46fa5fe50cb8aa4f328589467160928262.jpglong list of books I’d been planning to read.

I’d even attempted reading the book on two separate occasions the last of which was a month long maternity leave when I couldn’t be bothered to do much of anything, especially reading.

This year however, I made it my first book of the reading season and despite a shaky start while trying to find time to read with a growing toddler attempting to crawl everywhere, I picked up a rhythm and finished the book in about three weeks.

Alchemical historian and Oxford resident Diana Bishop, descendant of the Salem Bishop’s has shut herself off form her magic. Until she requests a not so ordinary book from the Bodlien library one day.  This book, Ashmole 782, will bring a host of magical creatures she never expected to socialize with and unravel a secret engrained in the fabric of her life…and then there are vampires.

My first impressions of the book…

I absolutely loved this book. At it’s core it’s a pretty standard formula. Matthew is the tortured hero who falls in love with our female protagonist. That Matthew follows the tropes of all vampires is a bonus, he is brooding and secretive with a killer temper, but 20200115_124316.jpghe loves fiercely and his love for Diana though sudden is unbreakable. Diana for her part plays the typical female lead in a YA love story, though she possesses great strength and abilities that rival those around her, she is fearful of her power, spends most of the book being coddled and cared for and only begins to step into her own towards the final stages of the story.

It usually annoys me while i’m reading, and I won’t lie some of the ways Matthew condescended to Diana and left her out of things irritated me a lot. However, Harkness did something few people have dared to do form what I’ve read. She gave Diana her strength back.

The best part of the story for me was “watching” Diana go through a literal transformation. At the start of the book she is completely closed off from her magic. Her past fears and an unknown spell only allow her to do tiny tasks like grabbing a book or fixing the washer. By the final pages Diana is hopeful of what she can do with her d33bfe4e23d3e4982f9b79fb20fdf4a7945846634189835100.jpgpowers and is able to control them to some small degree.

I do frequently enjoy a good vampire love story and Matthew and Diana’s forbidden love gives me all types of squishy feelings.  Their relationship mirrors that of mixed race couples during the civil rights era. Simply because they are different they are forbidden to be together and by defying this law they are putting themselves and their families in danger. They will do it for LOVE. The fear some of the characters have for their children and the support Matthew and Diana get from friends, family other people who are like them is reminiscent of the real life struggles mixed couples faced.

It’s great when a story has a deeper meaning. As a person of color, whether Deborah Harkness intended for this to be the theme or not, what stuck out most for me in this story were the ways it portrayed the downside of generational racial inequality and prejudice. Matthew and Diana are two different races of creatures and because of that they are forbidden to be together.

In a society where the hierarchy of magical creatures places value on lineage and supernatural ability Witches and Vampires are at the top and Daemons are at the bottom, Daemons aren’t even allowed to congregate together.  The way Harkness developed the society and culture of the characters in the world of All Souls is one of my favorite parts. I absolutely love a well built world.

The characters in the A Discovery of Witches  really moved the story along for me. I’d watched season one of the tv show beforehand so I was able to actually envision the cast for the first few chapters. Once I really got into the story though, the characters became more alive and no longer seemed remotely close to the way the actors portrayed them.3a956443b3e15ec5a9e1f9c7e43d8fb26087554198723611023.jpg

Diana can be annoyingly meek at times but has a resilient spirit. Her dedication to Matthew is on the one hand the stuff of feminist nightmares while the relationship as a whole draws you in. I root for this old fashioned chivalrous relationship despite being completely aware that he patronizes her and lies repeatedly. Because he’s a vampire? At one point it gets so annoying in the book I physically rolled my eyes. He eventually comes to respect her after she nearly dies trying to save his life and frequently blames himself for not being able to protect her. Even though she doesn’t seem to be able to protect herself either. Matthew’s decision  to aide her in learning her magic wins him brownie points in my book. His cute little French pet names for her makes my heart go fuzzy.

The way magic, magical creatures and the supernatural are sorted in this world is why A Discovery of Witches  is becoming one of my favorite series to read. Harkness took the c0ce585322590a49e08b7290e633998e901557597508079403.jpgconcept of the magical community and broke it down in a way that I’ve often thought about for my own writing.  Vampires long since believed to be “dead” are merely beings with an alternative metabolism that slows their heart rates and reserves energy. The term, sleep like the dead, was used as the explanation for why people thought these beings were in fact deceased.

Experiencing magic through Diana’s eyes as she finally learns to wield and control it is what kept me reading through the book. More than I wanted to know how the lovers would fair against their adversaries, more than I enjoyed meeting each new character that showed 9c005c70f2392849b97d083135c169496164085333605234820.jpgup at Sept-Tours and later the bewitched house in Madison. I enjoyed the magic and the history that was entertwined within the magic.

I guess that’s my reasoning for why I’m shirking my 2020 TBR and jumping right into Shadow of Night. I’ll be reading this along with a few shorter e-books I’ve promised to review from some lesser known authors so keep your eyes on the blog for a lot of new content.

My goal at the start of my read was to complete the first book of the All SOuls Trilogy  before season 2 of A Discovery of Witches started back on BBC. As I was checking my email this morning, sneek-peeks of the cast of season 2 are just being released, so I think I beat my deadline.

 

67b47f2c1d365ec6ebe6d1cf858ad13a3526889674511976082.jpg

 

What Was Your Favorite Part of A Discovery of Witches?

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Bleu’s Reviews: The Immortalists

c03aacba0d4db273714ae7278d8b75a57847845150090983815.jpg

Rating: 4 out of 5

There was a lot of buzz about the NY Times best -selling book, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. I’d heard tons of great reviews and recently decided to crack it open. My overall thoughts on this one was that it was interesting.

The words, Thought-Provoking come to mind which coincidentally may have been featured on the back of the book. The plot; four siblings visit a fortune teller and find out the “dates of their deaths”. 

Thoughts Have Wings. 

The prologue aptly titled, The Woman on Hester St. lays it all out for the reader to pick up. Hinting that you need to know exactly what’s about to happen so that you can follow the rest of the story. We meet the Gold children, thirteen-year-old Varya, Daniel, eleven, Klara, nine and Simon, seven. Told as if by a guardian angel watching over the Gold’s we learn of the gypsy woman and the prophecies she has for each child.

“Character is fate—that’s what he said. They’re bound up, those two, like brothers and sisters. You wanna know the future?” She points at Varya with her free hand. “Look in the mirror.” 
― Chloe BenjaminThe Immortalists

That quote was the most foreshadowing for me looking back on the story as a whole. Each Gold went into the room with the gypsy alone, each was given a different date and that date affected each child differently. However, there is never any clear indication that the prophecies were real, in fact, at least twice we can see examples of how their fates could’ve been easily avoided. Yet something in each of the siblings pulled them towards the lives they chose to live.

“And what if I change?” It seems impossible that Varya’s future is already inside her like an actress just offstage, waiting decades to leave the wings.  “Then you’d be special.’ Cause most people don’t” 

–  Chloe Benjamin, The Immortalists

The Immortalists  was a fascinatingly cerebral kind of story that forces you to ponder some of life’s most philosophical questions.Was it fate that led each Gold to their end or was it simply, the belief that things were meant to happen, that affected their realities. The destructive behaviors of each siblings seem more responsible than any fated date. Each crisis the Gold siblings found themselves in were strictly by their own design and were entirely avoidable. The recurring theme became a rather annoying race to prove the fortune teller right.

I’m still trying to reconcile O’Donoghue’s overall role. Was he cosmically linked to the Golds? Are we all cosmically linked to the random people in our lives?

***** Possible Spoilers below******

I’ve considered that maybe Eddie was the good shoulder angel in the equation. He always appeared in crucial moments offering another path. A chance for the siblings to 1b34b66af5c62296869ed3b7b20c5c227852714073979919797.jpgdo something else. He first appears in Simon’s he gives Simon a more than stern talking to but still insists he return home to NYC. He returns in Klara’s story having met her in Simon’s lifetime and falls for her. In this I saw a chance for Klara to lead another life altogether, still doing magic but perhaps not living as isolated a life, perhaps O’Donoghue being a cop would’ve saved her from herself. It seems his presence spooked her instead especially since it seemed like he was obsessed or stalking her. He weirdly becomes friends with Daniel, offering closer and a chance to move on from his grief over having introduced his siblings to the fortune teller idea in the first place.

The idea that grief is what caused each sibling to behave in the ways they did seemed liek a bit of a cop-out at times. The grief Klara felt for urging Simon to flee to San Francisco. Daniel’s grief for not being their for Simon, for not being closer to Klara. Varya’s grief over not connecting with any of them, that grief caused them to act out impulsively and in doing so it ruined them.

“If they had not lived as though life were a mad dash toward some unearned climax; if they had walked instead of fucking run” 
― Chloe BenjaminThe Immortalists

I applaud Benjamin for succesfully creating a body of work that captures a snippet of humanities obsession with mortality., or immortality depending on which angle you’re addressing. Of all the questions the children could’ve asked they each wanted to know 20180802_1906265326587727603823312.jpgthe dates of their deaths.

Knowing those dates they each took steps to achieve some form of greatness before they ran out of time. Yet as each sibling fell to their destinies, it seems hard to discern how much was actually out of their control.

Simon’s destiny was to die young, and though we can always wonder if he would’ve had a stroke or been hit by a bus we know for a fact that the lifestyle he chose to participate in. (San Francisco in the 80s for a gay male) He lived recklessly despite having every reason to find a calmer safer life. It wasn’t hard to guess that he’d be a victim of the AIDS virus, especially when introducing multiple sex partners and drugs.

Klara’s obsession with the otherworld and magic were less dangerous than her alcoholism and hallucinations. Some would even speculate that Klara was mentally ill, perhaps having a husband as a cop would’ve gotten her the help that she needed but married to fellow magician and business man gave her more pressure than she could handle. I must admit I always suspected her to fall to her death during a magic trick, to know that she ended things herself felt like cheating.

Daniel’s death also felt forced and like it didn’t belong. We start his downward spiral by having him suspended for not wanting to send unfit soldiers to their deaths and before the chapter is over he’s hunting down a gypsy, wielding a pistol and committing suicide by cop. There is no explanation for why this would’ve happened beyond it being the date he was supposed to die, yet something tells me he could’ve stayed home and seen the next day.

Varya is the only one who seems to be left standing when the book ends but her date wasn’t until 2044 and even in real life it’s only 2018, so describing a future world wouldn’t have fit within the theme of the story. Having the most time allowed Varya to got through a metaphysical death, one in which she was able to begin a new life with new possibilities unencumbered by fear which she felt far greater than her siblings.65bd58748deeff2f03312db075cb16418240064846513339096.jpg

She had been consumed by fear long before they visited the woman on Hester St. and it may have been this fear which hinted to her long life. Suffering from a mental illness of her home, she sacrificed pleasure for a chance at securing her safety. She was the only Gold who had no outward vices and she was miserable until that changed.

I like Varya’s chapter the best because it was the only chapter that showed evolution and options. Varya had started her life stagnant alive but alone, starving herself and wracked with guilt for being the last sibling standing. Yet when faced with examining her life, she rises to the occassion and chooses to make the effort to enjoy the long life she was striving for.

“It sounds like you’re saying we can choose to live. Or we can choose to survive.”
― Chloe BenjaminThe Immortalists

 

Would You Want To Know The Date of Your Death?

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on FacebookTwitterInstagramGoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Bleu’s Reviews: The Invisible Library

20180730_1031465296036983908367259.jpg

The Invisible Library By: Genevieve Cogman Rating: 5 out of 5

***There May Be Some Indirect Spoilers, I Try To Be As Vague As Possible ***

Another book completed to add to my 2018 Reading Challenge. After finishing Renegades by Marissa Meyer, I was looking for something different. I even considered that YA may no longer be for me.

My interests tend to linger on the more grotesque of topics and the more gore the better in my opinion.  As a result of fine tuning the specific kinds of books I like, I stumbled across this series and it just topped my list of MUST READS.

I originally discovered this book while doing a Bookstore browse and was actually pulled in by the fourth installment of the series. That book’s cover had a Great Gatsby layout that piqued my interest, but, as an avid book collector and lover of series I had to start with the first book to be sure it was worth the time.

Though still technically a YA novel, “The Invisible Library” turned out to be more exciting than it sounded. The book was full of my favorite things; an amazing creatively developed world, with well-rounded, expertly written, relatable snarky characters. A img_20180624_231004_5964887169042057646425.jpgcreative magical system that uses actual language, (both written and spoken) to thrive. Secret Societies dedicated to the procurement of specialty works of fiction, “By Any (most) Means Necessary” Alternate worlds offering various pending adventures as well as misadventures and a female protagonist, which I’m always down for.

There is even mild sexual tension between characters Irene and Kai and a possible love triangle if we are willing to make Vale a true contender for her affections. Those who enjoy a little romance to break up their action will be pleasantly occupied with the developments there. Cogman did an impressive job developing the plot.

The mystery aspects of the novel were so well conceived that the reader was gradually transported to the same conclusions the characters themselves reached around the same img_20180624_230527_3388987632588590467996.jpgtime. I will admit, on a few occasions, I even guessed at some of the scenes. A true indicator that I was connecting with the story.

The Invisible Library, was a relatively quick read and I would have finished it sooner, if not for family emergencies and a dread of finishing before I had time to buy the next book. This is one series I’m considering borrowing from the library.

I choose my fantasy mostly based on the entertainment factor,  though, a few books manage to toss in an underlying message that I have to dissect later. This book had such a quality. The nature of the library isn’t to interfere nor is it to become attached, yet in essence it’s function seems to be a contradiction.

Agents must intervene in order to intercept the works of fiction, either passively as in most missions (as explained by Irene) or through more direct methods as displayed in the story. Likewise forming attachments, at times prove useful as secrecy isn’t always best when trying to gain information.

I was satisfied with how the first book ended understanding that there is more to it since there are four completed works in this series. I love the overall concept that a secret society of librarians exist to gather books from alternate realms. The Mythos behind it’s forming and its true nature are also things I’m looking forward to learning more about. Very eager to get my hands on the next book, which the author was so kind as to include as an excerpt in the first one.

20180730_1035315884201925890954148.jpg

What’s Your Favorite Book About Books?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on FacebookTwitterInstagramGoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com