Review: The Form of Thing Unknown by Robin Bridges

cover93174-mediumThe Form of Things Unknown by Robin Bridges
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, (Re-telling)
Published by: Kensington Books
Pages: 304
Format: e-book
Rating: ★★.5
Note: I received this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review!

Natalie is suffering from some strange hallucinations while on the set for her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With questions of ‘who’s dating who’ and ‘we’re all crazy here’ the characters’ lives somewhat mimic those in the story they’re retelling. It’s an interesting concept, similar to Robin Bridges’ other novel Dreaming of Antigone where the protagonists are both aware of the text they’re retelling whilst retelling it. I’m not sure if it’s a style that completely works for me, but I’ve never been a fan of really meta fiction. But I think The Form of Things Unknown does a good job of blurring the lines between the original text and the new characters’ lives.

Continue reading “Review: The Form of Thing Unknown by Robin Bridges”

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On Reviewing Books

There has been a lot of discussion on the book blogosphere recently about the purpose of writing reviews (and why we should continue to LOVE it!) and whether writing reviews is something that needs to be done to be considered part of the community. I suppose this post is a response to a whole host of blog posts that I’ve read recently, and there will be a little appendix at the end for those that haven’t read these posts yet. So here are my thoughts on the topic:

Reading and reviewing are basically my only hobbies. I write and I also love filming and editing videos for our booktube channel, but other than that I spend the majority of my time reading (when I’m not revising or panicking for exams, of course.) My hobbies revolve around sharing my love of books and trying to write my own! And I read a lot of books. Maddie and I always get asked how we manage to read so much so we made a video entitled How To Read More where we tried to explain it, but really it’s a simple as reading is my whole life.  You’ve heard of stress eating, right? Well I stress read. I read when I get all freaked out about the future (aka exams), when I’m feeling frustrated or upset, when I’m happy, excited – any time and all the time.

So naturally I have a lot of book reviews to write. Around December 2014 we decided that we wanted to try and post everyday, and somehow we’ve managed to do that for the past four-ish months. I know, crazy! But when it comes to writing reviews, sometimes I find myself putting them off, because I just want to get on to reading something new. I almost feel obligated to review all the books I read, because I’ve set a precedent that I need to be posting something everyday. I may be an insanely dedicated reader, but I do have a life outside of reading (which extends to school work and seeing my best friend Stacks of Sarah, like, twice a week.)

Heart Full of Books has a NetGalley account, which is pretty much where we receive the majority of awesome books we review. Undoubtedly, NetGalley has given us some really greats reads – and some not so great ones – but there always seems to be a time limit on them. Especially for ARCs, because you have to get your review ready for publication. (Not a hard and fast rule, but one I pretty much stick to.) We’re also bloggers that will happily review self-published or small authors, examples being Branded, and Rite of Rejection. Recently, we’ve been getting a lot more requests from independent authors to read their books, which is super great because I think it’s important to promote unknown authors as much as it is to rave about new releases from bestselling authors. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I love working to deadlines for things like blog tours, but other times it can be a real hassle.

Our main content on this blog is book reviews, although we do have a Wider Reading page for our non reviews. This is because we’re predominantly YouTubers, with our blog working as a complimentary site to our channel, rather than the other way around. Therefore, the majority of our discussions and topical ideas are posted in video format. I think generally reviews are the least viewed content on both platforms. We give minor reviews in our monthly wrap-up videos and that’s pretty much it, because, realistically, I don’t think people want to dedicate more than 1-2 minutes watching a book review, especially for something they haven’t read. And so reviews are put on our blog, because it’s a lot quicker to read a written review than watch an eight minute long video review of a book that, at the end of the day, you might not even enjoy.

I will never stop writing reviews. Even if I have to work to deadlines, or if my review takes an hour to write(!) because when I’ve finished, I’m really happy with what I’ve written. I’m proud of every post on this blog, even if some of them took longer to write than it took to actually read the book!

I don’t write reviews for anyone except myself, because I get such a kick out of it! So I don’t really care if my reviews are only seen by two people. Maybe my review impacted how they saw the book, or whether or not they’re going to pick it up. Really, no matter how much effort it takes to upkeep a blog, I’m going to continue, because sharing your opinions matters more!

If you have written something similar on the topic, feel free to share it in the comments so I can add it to the Appendix!

Appendix

1. Queen of Contemporary announces she’ll no longer be writing reviews.
2. Thirst for Fiction explains why book blogging is hella great.
3. Writing From The Tub writes about publishing houses and deadlines.
4. Author Anthony McGowen’s misinformed tweet rant about book bloggers.
5. Day Dreamer’s Thoughts on…Book Blogging.

Changes to How We Review

Heart Full of Books has undergone quite a few changes in the past months. We’ve been really trying to increase how much we post, and we’re also really hoping to improve how  we review books in the near future.

If you’ve been with us for a long time, then you may have noticed we’ve decided to start including this layout at the beginning of our reviews: Title, author, genre, published by, pages, format, rating, series and where to find. We implemented this change because we wanted to make our reviews as comprehensive as possible, and we realised if people wanted to know our immediate opinions we should really include our rating at the start of the review!

Maddie recently made a video talking about Rapid Fire Reading, and that got us thinking about how we actually format our reviews. A few weeks ago we clarified our star rating system on the Review Policies page, because we realised that without a clear structure of rating, we were reviewing books to two different standards – that’s what happens when one blog has more than one author! In the video she talks about the splurge of emotions that comes pouring out if we review what we read straight away, and although the immediate reaction is always super fun to write, and re-read after letting our opinions simmer ( Bee’s review of Waterfall  by Lauren Kate is a pretty good example!) sometimes the jumble is a little hard to read!

To improve our reviews even more, we want to start splitting up our reviews into subheadings – because who doesn’t love a good subheading? Those subheadings will be specific to each novel we read, although there will be some universal ones, such as ‘characters’ and ‘pacing.’ Hopefully, with these changes that will be gradually introduced over the next few weels, will really improve our reviews, and our lovely readers will get the most out of them too!

We hope you like the change in how we review books just as much as we do!
Maddie and Bee
xox

(Mild Spoilers) Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

siegeSiege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Published by: Indigo
Pages:
386
Format: Paperback
Rating:
★★★★
Series: Shadow and Bone (#1)
Where to Find:
Goodreads | Amazon

The sequel to Shadow and Bone was just as good, if not better, than it’s predecessor. Again, with such a beautiful cover the writing can only be wonderful too. Although we weren’t left on a cliffhanger per say, in Shadow and Bone, and you could probably read the first book in the series and be done with it, I would not recommend a hasty finish. I hypothesized that Siege and Storm would be a ‘getting there’ book. By this I mean that it’s mostly travel, and there isn’t a lot going on. As with a few ‘middle’ books they just seem to serve the purpose of turning a duology into a trilogy. I have to say that I thought this was going to be the case up until half way through. There is pain. There is deception. There is heartache. There is some happiness, but not much so it makes for an intense read to say the least.

The way the story is told sucks the reader in completely. For a fantasy novel, I thought it would be quiet dense, but the first person narrative from our teenage protagonist still somehow manages to make murder and power plays upbeat. Who knew, right? Once again Alina proves to be strong and confident. She’s developed from the first book, but perhaps not in the way I wanted her to. But she can still work out what is right and what is wrong. She’s still got her moral compass in tact and she’s making decisions that benefit more than just her. For a girl who’s had greatness thrust upon her she’s working up to the image of Sankta Alina in an incredibly mature way. However, she is still a teenager and there is still room for improvement and lesson learning, which I can only hope accumulates in the final installment.

Siege and Storm starts on a boat. Sailors. Privateers. Perfect. We’re introduced to a new character ‘Sturmhond.’ I’ll admit that I kept tripping over the pronunciation when reading, but it wasn’t as bad as when I tried to sound out the Russian. I think the only word I mastered effectively was ‘sobaka.’ Sturmhond is something else entirely and one of my favourite characters. He’s exactly what the – rather depressing at that point, if I’m honest – plot line needed. He also acts as another tier to out love triangle. Seriously? Three guys in love with her at once? Apparently so.

I’ve already expressed my profound love for Mal, and was overjoyed to know that my prophecies for his future have not come true, at least for this book anyway. There’s still a chance that he’ll die in Ruin and Rising, and with the amount of death threats and how many times he’s been used as a pawn so far in this series, I would not be surprised. The relationship between Alina and Mal developed rapidly. It evolved. Alina is changing due to her increased power and I’m worried for her. I’m worried for what’s going to happen in the final chapter of her journey. Will she get the firebird? There is pictorial evidence on the front cover on Ruin and Rising to suggest that she does, but can she really handle it?

For a main character the Darkling was remarkably…not present, or at least not us much as previously. But as much as I feel it would be a betrayal to Mal, I think that Alina and the Darkling’s relationship is the one that I am interested in most, because the dynamic is just so different to anything I’ve read before. The powers pollute their relationship and I’m never entirely sure whether they’re using each other or if they genuinely like each other. As I’ve said, there is quite a lot of death and some of it is rather unsettling, but the betrayal of Genya was what had me cringing away from the story.

Overall, I’m looking forward to the progression of this series, because other than some character deaths I have no idea what is going to happen. I hope that Alina can somehow keep it together, and I hope that the new characters continue to surprise and liven up the story.