Falling Into Place Review

As she lies on the grass with the shattered window tangled in her hair, her blood all around her, she looks up and sees the sky again. She begins to cry, because it’s so blue, the sky. So, so blue. It fills her with an odd sadness, because she had fogotten. She had forgotten how very blue it was, and now it is too late.

I’ll admit that this was a cover buy. Can you blame me? The book has been gathering dust, quite literally, on my shelf for months and it wasn’t until I was stuck in limbo between just having finished A Torch Against the Night and waiting for my book mail of Six of Crows to arrive that I picked it up. The summary on the inside cover didn’t really intrigue me, but now I know that it was the fault of the summary rather than the book!

Liz Emerson was popular, a true mean girl. She appeared to delight in the suffering of others and was unreachable, dancing in the mob and drinking to oblivion. But one day, she drove her car off the road and crashed it.

It was an accident.

Or so the world believed. In reality, it was all planned. The perfect, faultless suicide that no one could blame themselves for other than Liz Emerson. Except…it failed. She doesn’t die on impact and ends up in the hospital on the brink of death.

It wasn’t just the plot that drew me in; it was the entire structure of the book. What the summary doesn’t capture is how her story is told of snapshots of memory scattered through the chapters. One chapter will be set five minutes before she crashed her car, and the other will be set six months before. The book unravels the many sides of Liz Emerson, told from the point of view of an anonymous narrator revealed at the end of the book. Not only that, some chapters are told in the point of view of her best friends, the boy who secretly loves her, and her mother, all about their experiences in the waiting room of the hospital as Liz Emerson lies dying.

It was so interesting reading about Liz because she wasn’t just a mean girl. She felt true guilt for everything and knew that she was ruining lives everywhere she went, and thought that by ending her life, she would stop hurting the world and other people. My favorite line was, “she did not deserve the world,” which is the opposite of, “the world did not deserve her”. She felt so hopeless, and was stuck in a fake world, where her friends were superficial and did not love her. We’ve all seen them: the “popular” people who will hug each other and throw around I-love-you’s, then talk crap about each other in the next minute.

The parts told about her two best friends, the boy who loved her, and her mom were the most important, I felt. They talked about the parts of Liz that she couldn’t see herself, like the way her face lights up when she sees a sliver of blue in the sky, or the moments where she is beautiful on the inside, even though she sees herself as a body with dust for insides. But those points of view also showed the mistakes of Liz: how she destroyed all of their lives, but also completed their lives. She was a force for both good and bad, but she could only see the bad. Which is why she chose to give up- to die and make it look like an accident, so that once again there is no one to blame but herself.

I loved this book to pieces. I cried, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I was crying for. I wasn’t crying because Liz Emerson was dying; I think I cried because of what she had lost- the little girl she once was who believed she could fly and saw the beauty in everything. It made me miss my childhood because like her, I’ll never go back to that time, when the world was blissfully beautiful and everything was an adventure. I also cried for the people she hurt because there was so much raw pain in it. The book was such a beautiful thing full of broken lives: It felt like Liz Emerson, beautiful but broken.

Let’s Fangirl #1: A Torch Against the Night

My reviews are just so serious and essay-like and you all know I’m not all like that! I’m starting a series where I let out my inner fangirl on this blog and be the usual capslock and exclaimation point loving bookworm I am!

Warning!!! Contains spoilers *gasp*

What better book to start with than A Torch Against the Night? Let’s just say, it left me in freaking pieces. Or rather, the pieces of my BROKEN SHIPS!

Keenan. Oh my gosh I LOVED THAT BOY! He was so rough and serious but also gentle at the right moments, his smiles so rewarding and rare. I honestly fell in love with him and yes, I admit it, preferred him over Elias. Then it turned out that my little flaming cinnamon roll was the NIGHTBRINGER! And…and SHE HAD SEX WITH HIM! I was so horrified because that’s like doing it with a dementor. It was such. a. shock. and I am still so sad about that.

Elias. HE DIED?! I thought that Helene would heal him with her magical singing powers (I would love to have those powers but I can’t sing note: that doesn’t mean I DON’T sing), but he just died. Sure, he became the ruler of the Waiting Place but he’s tied there forever in all eternity. I shipped Laia and Keenan, but I also shipped Laia/Helene and Elias but that would be as impossible as dating an immortal (Aelin, looking at you!). Which ship sunk more? At least I’m not horrified about Elias and am just sad.

I feel that Elias and Laia don’t belong together. He is so serious and strong and old beyond his years, while she’s so gentle and soft and young. Polar opposites can work, but with them, I don’t feel like they really know each other! On the other hand, Helene and Elias are like Rowan and Aelin (two Throne of Glass references? Don’t mind if I do!): they’re like twin swords, perfectly coordinated and dangerous together. Their only problem is their differing views on the Empire, but I feel that Helene can change! I DON’T need another sunken ship!

What do you all think? Let’s fangirl!!!

Who is Cook? (An Ember in the Ashes)

I have been plagued with this since the moment I started An Ember in the Ashes. Mysteries aren’t my forte and I generally stay away from the entire mystery genre. I can’t stand just not knowing! I’m impatient that way, and since I can’t physically shake the answers out of the book characters, I resort to coming to my own conclusions.

Cook is particularly frustrating. But I have finally come to what sounds like a far-fetched conslusion, but hear me out!

Cook is the Lioness.

Don’t leave! I started to laugh when I thought of this, but then it stayed on my mind. First of all, Laia never saw her mother. Her parents and sister left when she was too young, and she would never have seen their bodies. Resistors wouldn’t be granted the dignity of a funeral and burial with their family.

Cook’s face is brutally scarred beyond recognition, and her voice is destroyed. The fact that her voice is destroyed has a significance if she is the Lioness: she’ll never roar again, and the Commandent wants her to know that. Her hair is white, which is typical of old women, but white hair can come even faster with stress so she may be a lot younger than she looks.

Then there are the odd emotions coming from Cook. When Laia first meets her, Cook stares at her for a moment then leaves the room. We are left to assume that it was because she was ashamed of her scars and because Laia was staring at her. But actually she recognizes Laia as her daughter and starts freaking out. She doesn’t tell Laia who she is because she wants to protect her and is ashamed of what has become of the great Lioness. But at the same time, she cares deeply about Laia, crying when she’s dying and even specifically telling Helene to not hurt Laia in the beginning of A Torch Against the Night. This is interesting because she rarely talked to Laia and they had little of a relationship. Also, her voice cracks when she talks about the Lioness and her husband. She doesn’t like to remember it, which suggests that it had a huge impact on her. She had never told Izzi her name in the many years she knew her, and Izzi even says, “I don’t think she wants to remember it,” which is understandable because of how far she would have fallen from the roaring Lioness. And finally, she tries to warn Laia away from the Resistance, which she feels bitter about because of the traitor and knows that her daughter would be betrayed too.

She is remarkably strong and intelligent for just a normal member of the Resistance. For one, she knew about both poisons and explosives, first poisoning the Commandent and blowing up a large portion of Blackcliff. She also manages to sneak up to Helene in A Torch Against the Night, which is incredible because Helene is a mask and can detect anything. Directly before she tells Helene she will gut her and “no force in this land” will stop her if Helene hurts Laia, she also admits to killing the Mask we know was the one who killed Nan and Pop. Coincidence? I think not. It is also strange that she says ‘which reminds me. The girl–Laia. Don’t touch her,” after she says that she killed the Mask.

But why would the Commandent keep her alive? It’s the simple answer that she enjoys long, drawn-out torture. She is known to keep spies in a torture chamber for weeks at a time. For her enemy, the leader of the Resistance, the Commandent would want to give her the worst kind of torture, something worse than death: letting the world believe her dead and forcing the Lioness to serve the Commandent for over a decade.

 

The Tea Planter’s Wife Review

Goodreads Synopsis:

Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married to a rich and charming widower, eager to join him on his tea plantation, determined to be the perfect wife and mother. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbours treacherous. And there are clues to the past – a dusty trunk of dresses, an overgrown gravestone in the grounds – that her husband refuses to discuss. Just as Gwen finds her feet, disaster strikes. She faces a terrible choice, hiding the truth from almost everyone, but a secret this big can’t stay buried forever . . . 

I read this book in just six hours on a Friday night, almost definitely delirious from sickness. Somehow, when I’m sick, the very last thing I want to do is actually rest. My mind shoots off fireworks and does math problems; the best solution is to read a book until my head pounds and I can’t actually, you know, think. Anyways, that point aside, this book was such an adventure!
First off, it’s set in the 1900s in the point of view of a tea planter’s wife. Gwen is so different from other female characters I read about, generally timid and kind and just so unrebellious! I read Empire of Storms right before, and going from the fire-breathing queen Aelin Galathynius who can kill an entire army to sweet and docile Gwen was a shock to the system. Just as I was about to put the book down, I was suddenly tossed into a rollercoaster of character development.
It was beautiful, to say the least, the way that her character development was written. She suddenly became someone different, and it was not abrupt: instead, the book gently eased me into her journey. One key thing that stuck out to me was the fragility of happiness. She went from a young girl hopeful for a new marriage to a woman far older than her age who has to make decisions that will stick with her forever. She had to sacrifice so much for happiness, and even then, it was more for the happiness of others than for herself. Gwen was still kind, but she was so quickly hardened from experiences. Some books have huge experiences not change the character’s personality at all, which is unrealistic, but this one completely changed her, showing that it’s our experiences that make us who we are.
Moments in this book were so sad, with an air of helplessness from Gwen. She often sank into depression, her husband Laurence doing his best to make her happy again and her sister-in-law working to bring her down even more. It was such a struggle for her, being surrounded by one positive force in her life and another sick, negative one that was always trying to bring her down. The effect that other people can have on you was so well demonstrated.
For the other characters, I loved their detailed back stories. Laurence, her husband, is tormented by the memory of his first wife, and details of it is slowly fed to the reader. Verity, her sister-in-law is a strange, tormented soul that clings so tightly to Laurence and is the leech that pulls on their happiness and money. By the end, I did not really think of her as a bad person, more of a mentally ill, sad person that only needed help. In other books, I am often completely against the antagonist and will hate them to my last breath, but with this book, the human sides really shown through, as well as again the example that it is our experiences that shape us.
I loved this book, but was also frustrated at times. I loved the time period and how different it was, but also disliked that Gwen was so weak in the beginning and would not stand up for herself. I’m used to equal rights and feminism but this book gave me a good insight into what life was like back then. Not all of the women worked to have equal rights: most of them lived their lives. One thing that I did dislike, however, was that the book was very predictable until the last few chapters. I honestly could see everything that would happen and was sometimes confused that Gwen could not see it herself. Characters that are blind annoy me because I just want to scream in their faces and tell them to look around them! The end, though, completely took me by surprise and I admit that I cried, even though my heart has been hardened by all of the fictional character deaths I’ve experienced…
I would recommend this book to everyone. Even if you’re a fan of fantasy, you need to read it. It gave me so many valuable life lessons and showed exactly what life was like back then. I think it’s the type of book we all need to read, and now all I ask is that you pick it up yourself.

I recieved this book from Blogging For Books for this review. I value honestly and this did not impact my view of the book at all.

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