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3 star, YA

Review: Fable by Adrienne Young

For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.


Rating: 3/5 Drink Me Potions

There were five rules. Only five.

1. Keep your knife where you can reach it.

2. Never, ever owe anyone anything.

3. Nothing is free.

4. Always construct a lie from a truth.

5. Never, under any circumstances, reveal what or who matters to you.

Fable was a decent story on the complications of love, family and survival. This is definitely a title that joins other recent YA tales on the high seas full of rambunctious seafaring crews. As a Reese Witherspoon YA book club pick, I came in with obviously rather high expectations. Unfortunately, that became a part of its downfall.

Our titular protagonist, Fable, did a lot to survive on her own for four years on the island her father left her on. At first it was kind of hard to understand who was bad (apparently everyone, don’t trust them!) or what exactly she was doing to get herself off to this hunk of rock. The answer is looking for treasure (duh!). And a good thing she was such an expert on foraging for quality minerals. This point was a little confusing at first but eventually Young explains some of that down the road.

Thankfully most of the story does not take place on this lawless island, and the crew she escapes with is quickly introduced. I’m all for a good on-the-high-seas kind of story, but I have noticed that the makings of a really good one is not so much in its plot alone, but in the made-family the protagonist finds in the crew she finds herself in. A great example is Seafire by Natalie C. Parker or even Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller.

Young makes it easier on herself by aptly following this route and giving us a few secondary characters to know. West as the captain/helmsman of the crew needs no introduction as you just know from the synopsis that he’s a character we will get to know and maybe even salivate for. But the rest of the crew? Willa, Hamish, Auster and Paj all have a few words I can use to describe each but otherwise, I don’t really know them. And I think that’s a bit of a shame because it would’ve definitely elevated this book for me.

Much of this book also lies on Fable’s relationship with her father whom she is trying to reach after escaping the island. Instead of harbouring only resentment for his actions, she yearns to prove herself as fit for this world he is so hugely a part of. I liked how it never went down the road of simply hating him or only trying to gain approval. It was a mix of both which felt real for someone in Fable’s shoes. I hope this is something that can be further explored in the future.

This book kept it relatively short. It was a decent introduction to the Narrows where they live and how crews operate on the day-to-day. There is a little mystery behind Fable’s mother’s death that was laid here but will keep us speculating until next time. I will definitely check the rest of the series out, but I wished the story flourished a little beyond these things.

The romance was altogether sudden in my mind. I’m always a sucker for a good romance within a larger, action-heavy plot, but this really came out of left field. Don’t get me wrong, I like West and I’m glad there’s something going on between them. But when he declares that he’s wanted to be with her since he first laid eyes on her since she was stuck on the lawless island, I mean, he barely interacted with her at all during those years. I just want to feel how they came to care for each other so much instead of be TOLD that they do, you know?

But hey, overall I can’t complain. Strong female lead, daddy issues and adventure on the high seas, this was still a fun read to take me away to a wonderful far off land.

Overall Recommendations:

Fable follows its titular protagonist as she navigates a way to escape the lawless island her father abandoned her on. She encounters a small crew of people with their own secrets, meanwhile holding hers close to her chest. As Fable pushes to earn her right to step into this world alongside her father, mysteries surrounding her mother’s death arises as well as complications in relationships with this new crew family she’s starting to fall for. While a little light in plot elements, it sets a decent foundation for the world of the Narrows and the relationships of this family tied by more than blood. Book 2 should hopefully take us to even greater heights!

4 star, YA

Review: The Binding by Bridget Collins

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Books are dangerous things in Collins’s alternate universe, a place vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century England. It’s a world in which people visit book binders to rid themselves of painful or treacherous memories. Once their stories have been told and are bound between the pages of a book, the slate is wiped clean and their memories lose the power to hurt or haunt them.

After having suffered some sort of mental collapse and no longer able to keep up with his farm chores, Emmett Farmer is sent to the workshop of one such binder to live and work as her apprentice. Leaving behind home and family, Emmett slowly regains his health while learning the binding trade. He is forbidden to enter the locked room where books are stored, so he spends many months marbling end pages, tooling leather book covers, and gilding edges. But his curiosity is piqued by the people who come and go from the inner sanctum, and the arrival of the lordly Lucian Darnay, with whom he senses a connection, changes everything.


4 Drink Me Potions


The Binding is an alternate world where some chosen individuals are born to be binders, a special type of person who is able to “bind” a person’s memories, releasing the original memory from the original holder. This story follows Emmett Farmer, who is called to work as a binder. Not dissimilar to a coming of age story, we follow Emmett as he embarks on the journey to learn this sacred trade – not looked upon highly by all. To some it is evil, a black magic that only witches perform, and to others, a means to an end, whether to forget a painful memory or for something more sinister.

I’ll admit it, I actually randomly picked this off the shelf at Chapter’s one day because it seemed interesting – and boy was it interesting! This led to me getting hooked on the first 100 pages, and then forced me to find a way to finish the rest of the story. This world is just so darned interesting. Like the brief suggests, the world is reminiscence of 19th-century England. The main difference is of course, the art of bookbinding. Now, as if I wasn’t already interested enough in the art of bookbinding in real life, Collins put an extra spin on it, and I almost wish that her imagined bookbinding it were a real art.

At first glance it’s harmless enough, what’s wrong with forgetting a bad memory? Feels like most people in the modern day world can agree to a thing (or two) that would be better left forgotten. How much easier then would it be to just start over after that? Quickly you discover that just like any tool or technology out there, it can be monetized, taken advantage of, and even abused. A tool is just a tool, depending on how you use it. This story follows Emmett as he transitions from being a common farmboy into a revered (or outcasted) bookbinder. He meets many different people in his journey, and most have a differing opinion on the bookbinding profession. He travels between the countryside where he grew up as well as the big city, and just like in real life, the difference between the two settings is stark.

The story really takes a wild turn when he discovers certain names on books, which threatens to reveal secrets of the past meant to be hidden (forgotten?) forever. Collins does a fantastic job leading us through this journey, and really explores the value of memories, now that they can be detached from the original owners. The cost of having something so valuable ripped from you will certainly leave behind a type of scar if not done properly. Which memories are worth keeping, and what is the value in forgetting?

Whew! I really enjoyed this book, and also quickly ate it all up in one day after my initial taste of it at Chapters. The themes that are explored are extremely fascinating, and you quickly find yourself on the emotional journey with Emmett, ready to face the very interesting world that Collins has built.

Overall Recommendations:

The Binding follows a farmboy, Emmett, as his whole life changes when he is called to the sacred art of bookbinding – or the taking of one’s memories and sealing it in book form. This novel truly explores the importance and value of human memory, as well as the whole concept of a book in general. Just what should and shouldn’t be forgotten? And how does one determine the value of a memory? This concept of memory and bookbinding certainly had me spellbound, and wishing that it were real. If you have any interest in this concept, or love a realistic world with just a hint of magic, this may be the book for you!

3.5 star, adult

Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Amazon.com: The Silent Patient (9781250301697): Michaelides, Alex: Books

The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.

“Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word…”

This story follows the criminal psychotherapist, Theo Faber, who has long waited for a chance to work with Alicia Berenson, to discover the truth behind her eternal silence, and her motivations for killing her husband. The plotline starts off innocuously as one might expect, we follow the point of view of Theo as he picks up his life to head to The Grove where Alicia is being treated. When he gets there, he discovers layers and layers of secrecy which he must unravel to find the real cause of Alicia’s silence and the truth of that fateful day. Occasionally letting us peer into Alicia’s diary in parallel to Theo’s point of view, Michaelides weaves an exciting tale, one that straps you down into the seat of the rollercoaster and doesn’t let go until the exciting finish.



3.5 Drink Me Potions


I found myself quite enthralled with the premise of this book. One of the main driving mysteries is the last painting that Alicia paints before she was locked away. It was titled Alcestis and is based on a Greek tragedy – a heroine of self-sacrifice. This is the narrative that is the key to unlocking Alicia Berenson. What on earth drove the painter to the point of murder? And how can it possibly be related to a heroine of self-sacrifice? Was it really possible for a move like murder to be altruistic in some way? This was one of the main questions I had throughout the whole book, driving me to read along, to find out what happened.

We quickly find out that Theo has issues of his own, a rough childhood with a tormenting father, and very keen to escape the shadows of the past. The novel really explores the theme of the past being an important precedent for the future. Many psychological and psychiatric themes are laid out in the many characters that are introduced. This also really tended to blur the boundary lines and create a type of moral ambiguity present in each character – how much can you blame a person for acting according to what their past has defined them to be? I found myself wonder what I’d be like in each of the character’s shoes, or how I would personally react to the same situations.

To be honest, I found some of the characters rather shallow and underdeveloped. A little bit inconsistent even, sometimes. That being said, it wasn’t badly written or anything like that. Some of the characters and actions just seemed a little bit unnecessary, or a bit out of place – this may have been to place red herrings for the readers, but I wasn’t completely convinced. This novel is kind of a hybrid between a thriller and a mystery, it has the setting of a murder mystery narrative but is also of course written in a first person POV that keeps us on our toes at every turn.

All that being said, I actually really enjoyed the ride! I’m also a sucker for Greek mythology, so that really rung true for me. If I think about the minor details and little twists and study them individually, I don’t find that I really appreciated the mall that much. However, if you are talking about the the holistic experience of a thriller “ride”, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even if I was able to see the little twists that were coming up, I still felt like the way that it was written was very exciting for me, and the parallel chronological storylines particularly captured my attention. After all, I did finish this novel in one day!

Overall Recommendations:

The Silent Patient follows the deceivingly perfect life of Alicia Berenson and her descent into madness and murder, and how a psychotherapist comes to save her from her self-imposed silence. More and more secrets are revealed as Theo dives into Alicia’s past, uncovering her own troubled childhood, not unlike his own. And how does Alicia’s famous painting Alcestis tie into all this? This is a very exciting thriller from beginning to end – if you enjoy the uncovering of secrets and watching a puzzle come together, this is definitely one that you will enjoy!