Posts Tagged: Fantasy

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

To Be Savored, Not Devoured: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

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I received this book for free from Random House Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

To Be Savored, Not Devoured: Tess of the Road by Rachel HartmanTess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on February 27th, 2018
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, YA
Source: Random House Books for Young Readers
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four-stars

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a scene at your sister's wedding and break a relative's nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she's tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Tess of the Road is not an easy book to read. At 544 pages it is long and those pages don’t fly by. In the traditional sense at least. Here is the thing about Tess though, it is a long book, it is winded and yet, I wouldn’t really have it any other way. The slowness can at times be exhausting but the book isn’t really about a big adventure that Tess takes. It’s about Tess’s character arc and her trauma. This book would NOT work if it was a speedy read you could flip through. It is a painful read but there is so //much// that Tess has internalized that it makes no sense if we could uncover her and her experience in a mere handful pages.

Tess is not a ‘nice’ girl. She has always been seen as the bad influence, the untamed child, the forgettable twin. Always in the shadow of her twin sister and older sister, she no longer knows who Tess is or ever was. On a whim, and maybe to prove a point, she runs away from home. She encounters an old friend, Pathka, and together they journey to find a mythological serpent.

Words are so hard to use for a story that is so full of layers, each one unfurling the more you read. At its heart, Tess of the Road is a deeply feminist story. It examines rape culture in our society, mother-child relationships and the bonds between sisters. And it does all of these things in ways that not only break your fucking heart, but also heal it. There are many a time when I couldn’t help but tear up the more and more we saw how much damage had been done to her by those she should have been able to trust and count on.

Tess isn’t an easy character to like and you know what, there is nothing wrong with her being unlikeable. It is hard if you’re a huge Seraphina fan like moi and spend the first quarter of the book absolutely home-sick for her and the OG squad and yet, by the end, I found myself head over heels in love with Tess and her story. To the point where I wondered if perhaps I liked her even better than Sera? Tess is so nuanced in a way I don’t think Sera was and I can see just how much Hartman has grown as a writer since she first introduced us to Goredd.

The reason why it still isn’t a 5 star read for me (which Sera was and will be if I re-read) is because we’re thrown into a world that readers are expected to pick on right away or be familiar with from Seraphina. Don’t get me wrong, if you haven’t read Seraphina, you won’t inherently be at a disadvantage. Hartman is particularly fond of throwing readers into the midst of the world. But, I still struggled for a bit, trying to get used to the world and to take it in all in so I could enjoy the journey I was being taken on.

So should you read Seraphina? Yes if you’re into good character development because that’s what this book IS. If you’re looking for a breath-taking adventure (much like I usually am), you might not enjoy Tess on the Road as much but I’d still wanna shove it at you because I am 99.9% sure the sequel (and there better be a sequel) is going to give us the show-stopping adventure we deserve.

four-stars

4 Hot Espressos

Vaguely Narnia Vibes + Unicorns: The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko

Vaguely Narnia Vibes + Unicorns: The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko

Posted by on 02/07/2018 • 0 Comments

I love middle grade novels and I love discovering new ones. As far as I can see, The Unicorn Quest is shaping up to be a major middle grade release this year and it synopsis sounded up right up my alley. The vaguely Narnia vibes along with unicorns sounded like it would be an enthralling read.

Here is what I can tell you. The Unicorn Quest is an adventure of the best kind. We get sucked into a new world from the get-go and like the MC, we kind of have to assimilate to the new world we find ourselves in. This is great because we experience the world alongside the MC which allows us to form a special bond with her but it also means that it takes…

Dark & Rich: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Dark & Rich: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Posted by on 11/08/2017 • 11 Comments

I think there is this general conception that for a fantasy novel to be truly good, it needs to have about a 1,000,000 pages and at 304 pages, Beasts Made of Night is not a particularly long book. Do not and I repeat do NOT let that fool you. Tochi Onyebuchi packs a fucking punch in those 304 pages. World building? You got it. Adventure? You got it. A mother-fucking rebellion? YOU GOT IT. Beasts Made of Night isn’t just a great novel for fantasy readers but also for people too vary of the genre because of its reputation for long-winded novels that take lifetimes to get through.

Onyebuchi has a background in screenwriting and honestly, the high stakes and the quick pace of the novel really reflect this. For some people,…

The Princess Bride Meets The Emperor’s New Groove: The Emperor’s Ostrich by Julie Berry

The Princess Bride Meets The Emperor’s New Groove: The Emperor’s Ostrich by Julie Berry

Posted by on 07/27/2017 • 0 Comments

I feel like aesthetics for middle grade novels are fairly uncommon but The Emperor’s Ostrich is so laugh-out loud hilarious and really just lends itself to aesthetics. It’s got adventure, an unexpected romance (b/w a cow and an ostrich) & magic.

As the title of this post suggests, I believe that this book can best be described as The Princess Bride meets The Emperor’s New Groove. What happens when a spoilt man-child is on the verge of getting control of an entire empire? Why of course, he must be taught a lesson! Magic, mayhem and adventure ensue and a young dairy maid might be the answer to all. Basically, this book will make you LOL and draw you in for a ride. READ IT or give it to people who read middle grade. Seriously.

An Adventurous Middle Grade Novel: The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

An Adventurous Middle Grade Novel: The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

Posted by on 05/10/2017 • 1 Comment

5 Things You Need To Know About The Gauntlet

1. It is a great book for kids who love games and kids who love RP games. Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you were made a character in your fav game? WELL THIS BOOK ANSWERS all those questions and more.

2. Friendships are a huge deal in this book. Farah and her friends grew apart when she moved and as they are forced into The Gauntlet, they reconnect and work together to rescue Farah’s brothers. Lots of cutes to go around.

3. It is fast paced. While I do enjoy a fast paced book, I did feel like it was a little rushed in terms of development and transitions from challenge to challenge.

4. FOOD PORN. Lots and lots of…

Giveaway: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Giveaway: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Posted by on 02/20/2017 • 14 Comments

Today we are partnering with the lovely people over at Little, Brown to bring you a fabulous giveaway for FROSTBLOOD by Elly Blake. It has a cover that is hella gorgeous and a blurb that got me glued. I am so excited to dive into this book and hope you guys are too! 🙂

About the Book

About the Author

Elly Blake loves fairy tales, old houses, and owls. After earning a degree in English literature, she held a series of seemingly random jobs, including project manager, customs clerk, graphic designer, and reporter for a local business magazine before finally landing on her current job as a library assistant. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids, and a Siberian Husky mix that definitely shows frostblood tendencies.

Offical…

Q&A With S. Jae Jones

Q&A With S. Jae Jones

Posted by on 02/13/2017 • 2 Comments

Hello and welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. Today we have a Q&A with the author and hopefully they’ll make you feel even more excited about reading the book!

Please give a round of applause for S. Jae-Jones!

Q&A With S. Jae-Jones

What was your favorite part about writing this book? What was your favorite scene to write?

I loved that I was able to draw on so many things that inspired or influenced me aesthetically as I wrote this book. I love goth stories, Death and the Maiden tropes, Jacques Cocteau movies, Phantom of the Opera, glitter, David Bowie, Mozart, and all of that made it into my book in some form or another. I don’t have a favorite scene,…

A Middle Grade Novel in the Vein of Grave Mercy: Maresi by Maria Turtschanioff

A Middle Grade Novel in the Vein of Grave Mercy: Maresi by Maria Turtschanioff

Posted by on 01/10/2017 • 2 Comments

Maresi is being marketed as YA but is very much a middle grade novel. I mention this because I know a lot of people don’t enjoy MG the same way they do YA but don’t write off Maresi right away. This well-formulated MG novel is clearly a set up for even more energetic, high-stake sequels that are more YA than MG.

I think the biggest draw-back of this novel was the writing. I assume part of it is that translating from one language to another is no easy feat and I don’t want to dismiss the hard work that goes into translating. The writing did however feel a little clunky and like it needed a whole lot more polishing. I was able to move past that and ultimately really enjoy the book.

The…