Bird – Crystal Chan

Title: BirdBird

Author: Crystal Chan

Genre: Young adult, realistic fiction, fiction


“Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John.”
— Crystal Chan (Bird)

From the first line of this book, I was intrigued. I wanted to know more, for example how John, whose nickname is Bird, came in; how Grandpa stopped talking. And most of all, how the family was now coping with the death of their son and brother.
When I was recommended this book by a couple of my friends, I was warned it was sad. But oh, how the tears streamed down my face. Bird turned out to be a short novel from the perspective of Jewel, a 12-year-old girl, whose brother died the day she was born. Her whole life, she has grown up in Bird’s shadow. He mum never smiles anymore, not really. Her Grandpa doesn’t speak at all. She tries to impress and please her family, but she feels that she will never escape Bird’s shadow. Jewel even begins to hate her own birthday, because the rest of her family begins to mourn Bird again (her birthday is the anniversary of his death). She is sure that his shadow will haunt them forever, when she meets a boy in a tree who is also named John. Over the course of this book, secrets come out, and Jewel and her new friend discover her identity, and try to escape Bird’s shadow.

“Who were these people? Where was all this joy, and where does joy go when it leaves your family? Does it go into someone else’s family, soak into the earth, or does it dissolve away like your breath in the winter? And if it doesn’t leave like this, then why isn’t there any left for me?”
— Crystal Chan (Bird)

I absolutely adored this book! The characters were great, the storyline was interesting, and the style of writing was amazing. Crystal Chan uses a different style of writing than some authors, but I definitely loved it. I thought it was similar to The Book Thief’s style.

“It’s almost as if we’re afraid of words. They hang in the air, unspoken, and then seeing that they’re not going to be used, they shrivel and die.”
— Crystal Chan (Bird)

I read Bird in a day, and I believe that may be the reason that I cried so much. I devoured it so quickly that the story didn’t have time to completely sink in, I just kept reading and reading, and absorbing the story. Other people I know who have read this book said that it was amazing and definitely sad, but it seemed to me that every new page I read, more tears streamed down my face. But it wasn’t a depressing type of tear. Quite a bit of the book was happy, and I literally had happy tears, but there was a bit of sad tears involved as well

“I don’t like crying in front of people because it shows them the holes that you have on the inside. I guess with all the crying I’d been doing lately, I had more holes than I thought.”
— Crystal Chan (Bird)

I recommend this book to teens and older, and definitely to lovers of sad books. If you like John Green books, it has the same contemporary writing style, and if you like John Boyne books (The boy in the striped Pyjamas, Stay where you are and then leave) then you should like this book as well.

Looking back now, I realise that I probably would have understood and absorbed this book better, if I read it a little slower, but at the time, I couldn’t stop reading it. I am very thankful to the friends who recommended it to me, for if they didn’t, I never would have found or read it.

The only thing that lets Bird down is the slow pace. I usually can’t stand slow books, and I just get bored and put them away. But this book had so many mysteries, and I connected with the characters that I couldn’t leave them. I think that if it was quicker, then I wouldn’t have connected and understood it as much, and it would have lost a bit of meaning. Again, this is kind of like The Book Thief.

Why should you read it: Like I said earlier, if you like books that make you cry, then you should like this one. Also for readers of the contemporary, realism style like John Green novels.

Book in a word: Moving

Rating: 9½/10


The Iron Trial – Cassandra Clare & Holly Black (The Magisterium)

Title: The Iron TrialThe Iron Trial

Author: Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

Genre: Fantasy, magic, fiction, adventure

Thoughts: I’d heard mixed reviews about this book before I read it, but as I’m going to meet the two authors of it (see here), I thought that I should read it anyway. And I am pleased to say that I liked it. I wanted to keep reading and reading it, and am curious to see what happens in the next two books.

After the intriguing prologue, this book is about young Callum Hunt, who is a mage. The story is set in a world where mages and magicians are accepted and looked up to, so this is not weird. He gets called to the Magisterium, to take a test which will determine whether he will go to school there. Everyone is excited and hoping to pass the text… not Call. He tries his best to fail, but fails at failing. As the story progresses, we discover the story of Call, and learn why he was so determined to fail the test.

“They all yelled in excitement. Tamara yelled because she was happy. Aaron yelled because he liked it when other people were happy, and Call yelled because he was sure they were going to die.”
― Cassandra ClareThe Iron Trial

Callum also forms some friends along his journey, and they embark on lots of different adventures around the Magisterium, like getting lost and encountering crazy, darkness-ridden animals. The Iron Trial has a few secrets, the main one being who is Callum? I started theorising about who and what he was, but was completely surprised when I found out.

“You don’t know what you are.”
― Holly BlackThe Iron Trial

There is also, like most books I read and like, a bit of funny dialogue. Some of which made me laugh or snort out loud.

“So it’s not as bad as it looks?” Call ventured. “Oh, no,” she told him. “It’s just as bad as it looks. But I’m very, very good at my job.”
― Holly BlackThe Iron Trial

Basically, it wasn’t the best book I’ve read, but it definitely wasn’t the worst. It was pretty good. It was a very easy read, and younger readers would probably like it. The main thing that let it down is probably the writing. It is a little simple, so I’m thinking that younger readers would definitely enjoy it more.

This book is a 5 book series, the second one being released on the 1st of September 2015 (same day as Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4!!)), and don’t forget, both Cassandra Clare and Holly black are discussing this book, and its series at the Brisbane Writers festival. For more info about that, click here.

Why should you read it? Like I said before, The Iron Trial is an easy read, so not just older readers should read this. Also, if you like magic or fantasy, or books like Percy Jackson, then you would probably like this.

Book in a word: Entrancing

Rating: 6½/10

Bitterblue – Kristin Cashore (Graceling Trilogy)

Title: BitterblueBitterblue

Author: Kristen Cashore

Genre: young adult, fiction, fantasy

Thoughts: After reading Graceling, I was very excited to see how things had gone after the end of the book. If you are too, then read this book! Bitterblue’s main character is, well, Queen Bitterblue. It’s set 8 or 9 years after Graceling finished, and in case any of you are wondering, yes, Katsa and Po are mentioned and are characters in Bitterblue.

“Katsa and Po were trying to drown each other and, judging from their hoots of laughter, enjoying it immensely.”
― Kristin CashoreBitterblue

As Bitterblue is older now than in Graceling, she can make her own decisions, but her four advisers are keeping her shielded, making sure she is kept busy all day in her tower, with stacks of paper. But, Bitterblue is soon very, very bored, and one night, disguises herself and sneaks out of the castle. There she meets two thieves.

If you’re a reader who enjoys codes, mysteries or puzzles mixed into the book, then this is for you. Bitterblue’s evil father, once King Leck, has written many diaries, and Bitterblue hopes to be able to uncover some secrets about her past. But unfortunately, the diaries are written in a different language, one unknown to everyone. There are also messages written in tapestries and Bitterblue’s list of “unknowns” that she keeps. These provide readers with a little challenge and mystery.

“Teddy grinned again. ‘Truths are dangerous,’ he said.
‘Then why are you writing them in a book?’
‘To catch them between the pages,’ said Teddy, ‘and trap them before they disappear.’
‘If they’re dangerous, why not let them disappear?’
‘Because when truths disappear, they leave behind blank spaces, and that is also dangerous.”
― Kristin CashoreBitterblue

Kristin Cashore also likes to make her characters a little funny, especially sarcastic. Bitterblue has no problem with low confidence, so she does make a few little snappy responses throughout the book. Also, Cashore has added a little surprise in the end. I won’t reveal it, but I definitely liked it. It finished it off nicely. The whole book, I was wondering if it was going to happen, and yes it did. Now you have to read it to find out what it is!!

“His name was Death. It was pronounced to rhyme with “teeth”, but Bitterblue liked to mispronounce it by accident on occasion.”
― Kristin CashoreBitterblue

Why should you read it: Like I said in the before, if you like little mysteries, codes and unknowns in the story, then you should like this one. You don’t have to read Graceling or Fire to be able to read Bitterblue, but it would help to have an understanding of Gracelings, and the back story of Leck. If you liked Cashore’s other two books, then you will like this one

Book in a word: Brilliant

Rating: 8/10

Fire – Kristin Cashore (Graceling Trilogy)

Title: Fire

Author: Kristen CashoreFire

Genre: young adult, fiction, fantasy

Thoughts: When I first started reading Fire, I was still kind of living in the Graceling world, and so wasn’t really getting into the story. The action and feelings in this novel quickly changed that. This book had so many different feelings coursing through its pages, that after the first few chapters, I literally couldn’t put it down.

Now, to tell the truth, when I finished Graceling, I was so excited about the next book, not realising that it didn’t have the same characters in it. I absolutely loved the way that the characters were progressing in Graceling and was disappointed to find that there would be no mention of them in Fire. So when I started reading it, I wasn’t as interested. But, trust me, if you’re having the same doubts that I had, don’t worry. Read it! I liked it even more than Graceling, and I am now feeling a bit sad that the next book Bitterblue, is about the Graceling characters, not the Fire ones.

“There will be no yelling at people who are bleeding themselves to unconsciousness.”
― Kristin CashoreFire

Basically, Fire is about a half human-half monster named Fire, who can control and influence others minds. She is hated by most people for her differences, and heritage, even though she is lovely and polite. She has been hidden away, right from when she was born, but when a chance arrives to see the wonderful city where she was born, she has to take it. This book explains the feelings and emotions felt by Fire, as she finds ways to deal with her new emotions as well as the old loneliness. All the while preparing for the oncoming war.

“All right,” Clara said. “We have our swordsman, so let’s get moving. Brigan, could you attempt, at least, to make yourself presentable? I know this is a war, but the rest of us are trying to pretend it’s a party.”
― Kristin CashoreFire

I also think that it ends well, even though it is a little sad. It sums up the ending very well, as well as other things throughout the story.

All in all, I believe this book is really, really good, and that I am really going to enjoy the whole trilogy. Kristin Cashore is a very good writer, who captures all the feelings very well within her books.

Why should you read it: If you liked Graceling, then read this one, and if you enjoy reading a fantasy novel, then you will most probably love this book.

Book in a word: Awesome

Rating: 9/10