Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen

Title: Stolen Songbird
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy, #1

Cécile de Troyes dreams of being a professional singer. Her voice is the only means she has to connect with her much-absent mother, and so her happiness is complete when she is offered the opportunity to study under her. But other forces have different plans. Cécile is kidnapped and taken to Forsaken Mountain, where she discovers that the legendary city of Trollus is real. Sold and forced into marriage to the troll prince Tristan, Cécile can only bide her time until an opportunity to escape presents itself. But where Cécile expects monsters, she finds an oppressed people hoping for freedom and a curse the trolls believe only she can break.

“‘Do you think you can get away?’ The question came from above. I looked up and saw Guillaume sitting on the edge of a roof, leaning back on his hands with ankles crossed. A shudder ran through me. They were toying with me, like a pair of cats with a mouse.

But I was no mouse.”

Cécile is no damsel in distress. She understands her situation, that only patience can help her succeed in escaping. Despite Tristan’s beauty, Cécile is not taken to swooning. I tire of protagonists swooning simply because an attractive male makes eyes at her. In my estimation, one of the most valuable aspects of literature is that it lacks concrete visualizations, and the reader is free to delve deeper into a character rather than be distracted by his or her looks. The time Cécile spends in Trollus changes her and because of her kindness she finds herself invested in the lives of these people. Her faith in the people of Trollus is in direct opposition to Tristan’s own views, but this fact does not make her own opinion waver.

Tristan, heir to the Trollus throne, plays a dangerous game. His father, like many others, despises the very existence of humanity. Tristan, on the other hand, has taken it upon himself to be a different leader who does not discriminate against those of mixed blood. But he must do this in secret and his inability to lie makes it even more difficult. Despite these complications, Tristan shows himself to be a clever challenger to his father’s reign. I found the few chapters told from his perspective very gripping and only wish more of them were devoted to his point of view.

Stolen Songbird‘s greatest strength is its picture of Trollus, where half-blooded trolls are treated as slaves but lack the power to rise against those oppressing them. But this picture is not black and white, for there are sympathizers on both sides and servants loyal only to those they serve. The politics are complicated and at every turn the rebellion brewing underground is in danger of exposure. I liked the fact that Cécile and Tristan’s relationship wasn’t the be-all and end-all of the story, and both characters in their own way recognize the bigger picture.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Series: N/A

Hazel Grace Lancaster is dying. Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs, Hazel has spent the last three years of her life accepting that her death is imminent, it isn’t a matter of if but when. Hazel is forced to attend Support Group with other Cancer Kids, but the group does little to impede her growing depression (a side effect of dying), then Augustus Waters shows up. Unabashedly flirtatious, Augustus breathes new life into Hazel’s world. Bonding over an obscure novel, the two of them are determined to discover the answers to the loose ends the author has left behind.

“People talk about the courage of cancer patients, and I do not deny that courage. I had been poked and stabbed and poisoned for years, and still I trod on. But make no mistake: In that moment, I would have been very, very happy to die.”

Cancer is not something many people find easy to talk about. Hazel is impenitently honesty, she doesn’t want to hear sugar-coated truths and is even less likely to dish out her own. Understandably cynical, Hazel has spent the last three years of her life stuck. The problem with being sick is everyone sees you as being Sick, even Hazel herself sometimes suffers from this, and Augustus comes into her life and sees Hazel, not the cancer. She is hesitant to get involved with Augustus because no matter how much she doesn’t want to worry that death is coming for her, she cannot ignore who she will be leaving behind.

Augustus Waters is this bright star in the middle of a starless night. Yes, he’s pretentious but it isn’t the kind that is off-putting. There is something keenly insightful about everything he says and though Hazel does not lack cynicism, it’s hard even for her not to be drawn to the shining beacon that is Augustus Waters. Augustus teaches Hazel that life, despite death, is beautiful. One of my favorite lines from him: “I have wonderful news…You are going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!”

This is my second time reading The Fault in Our Stars and even though I knew the story and was prudent enough not to read it while in public, it still affected me in a largely emotional way. If I had to pinpoint the reason for the book’s popularity it would be this: John Green creates these beautiful, young characters who’ve been dealt the worse hands in the world and instead of making them objects of pity, makes you feel honored to read about them and maybe wish you had them in your life even for only a little while.

Rating: 5/5

★★★★★

The Friday 56, #11: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join in every Friday, the rules are simple.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.

*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.

*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.

*Post it.

*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

To All the Boys I've Love Before by Jenny Han

 

“We were having a teddy-bear, tea-party picnic on the back lawn with real tea and muffins. It had to be in the backyard so no one would see. I was eleven, way too old for it, and Margot was thirteen, way, way too old. I got the idea in my head because I read about it in a book. Because of Kitty I could pretend it was for her and persuade Margot into playing with us. Mommy had died the year before and ever since, Margot rarely said no to anything if it was for Kitty.”

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han transported me back into high school, where insecurities run wild and when everything felt big for some reason. Why is that?

From my review:

“Lara Jean has only ever loved from afar. Before her mother past away, she gave her a hatbox and in this hatbox Lara Jean keeps all the goodbye letters she’s written to the boys she’s loved. She writes these notes as a cathartic way of letting go. When Lara Jean’s sister Margot goes off to college, she struggles to fill her shoes by taking care of their dad and little sister. Then Lara Jean’s secret letters are accidently mailed, throwing her love life into a chaotic mess…” Read my full review here.

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Love Before by Jenny Han

Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #1

Lara Jean has only ever loved from afar. Before her mother past away, she gave her a hatbox and in this hatbox Lara Jean keeps all the goodbye letters she’s written to the boys she’s loved. She writes these notes as a cathartic way of letting go. When Lara Jean’s sister Margot goes off to college, she struggles to fill her shoes by taking care of their dad and little sister. Then Lara Jean’s secret letters are accidently mailed, throwing her love life into a chaotic mess.

“It came in the mail? To your house?”
“Yeah.”
I feel faint. I actually feel faint. Please let me faint right now, because if I faint I will no longer be in this moment.

Let me just say that Lara Jean reminds me of myself in high school and for 355 pages I was Lara Jean. I cringed with her and hyperventilated, so much so that someone near me told me that I was too into my book. If they only knew! Lara Jean is dealing with a lot of insecurities, exacerbated by being in between (as she perceives) two fearless sisters. I loved the complicated relationship she has with her sister Margot, the love and tension are spot on. It was nice seeing Lara Jean change from the girl who always relied on her sister to one who could stand on her own.

Let’s talk love interests. As you may imagine having the love letters you wrote but had no intention of sending sent to the boys you once liked is mortifying. Even more mortifying is if one of those letters was written to your sister’s newly minted ex-boyfriend whose been a constant friend for years. Josh is not my favorite person for many reasons. I found him to be too soft and I have my doubts he knows exactly who he is apart from Margot. Clearly he still harbors feelings for Lara Jean’s sister and when he showed an interest in Lara Jean, it felt sort of sleazy on his part. Peter, another recipient of a love letter, was not what I expected and even though it’s easy to point out why he is not the right guy, he kind of is. Although I still have some unanswered questions regarding his relationship with his ex. But you can’t deny the guy grows on you.

I found out this book has a sequel before I started reading it, but now that I’ve finished I have a few words for the author. Jenny Han, please don’t mess with my ship. Do you know how late I stayed up reading this? And for you to end it like that? You’re cruel, I tell you. Side note: please write more about Lara Jean’s best friend Chris, she deserves more screen (page) time.

Over all, Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a delightful read and I am in serious need of the sequel.

Rating: 5/5

★★★★★