Size Doesn’t Matter (143): Blood Rose Rebellion; Word by Word

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (143): Blood Rose Rebellion; Word by WordBlood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Series: Blood Rose Rebellion #1
Published by Knopf BFYR on March 28, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

For a book that I actually enjoyed quite a bit, Blood Rose Rebellion took me a seeming eternity to read, though in reality it was more like two weeks. Blood Rose Rebellion is a debut novel, and that shows, but there’s a lot of promise here.

I was immediately won over by Anna’s narrative voice. In my opinion, Eves successfully navigates the difficulty of writing a naive young heroine and not having her seem like the biggest, most annoying idiot. Anna’s basically bought into everything society ever taught her. She’s young, and she’s always been unpopular, due to her lack of magic. Her main desire in life is to be loved, and she makes mistakes as a result, but her voice is so charming and consistent that this made me love her, rather than want to shake her.

Anna has a pretty traditional “check your privilege” narrative arc, and it works well. I like that, when first asked to join the rebellion in Hungary, her response is a strong negative, because she wants the upper crust people to like her. Anna’s got a lot to learn but she’s loving and kind. She truly comes off as a sixteen year old heroine, not one of the oddly mature teens so prevalent in YA.

Plot-wise, I’m less in love. Once Anna left England for Hungary, the novel lost its sense of cohesion and began to move in fits and starts. It certainly doesn’t help that only Anna was truly well-developed. Her romance with Romani Gábor made me cringe because, though it’s clearly trying to set aside the stereotype of the “gypsy lover,” he doesn’t have much development aside from clever, hot, Romani guy. The plot takes a long time to get to the place you inevitably know it’s heading, and there’s a fair bit of discomfort along the way.

That strong narrative voice and the humor that often appears in it won me over, and I’m positive Rosalyn Eves’ books will only get better from here.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from ALA, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (143): Blood Rose Rebellion; Word by WordWord by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
Narrator: Kory Stamper
Published by Random House Audio on March 14, 2017
Genres: Nonfiction
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four-stars

Brimming with intelligence and personality, a vastly entertaining account of how dictionaries are made a must read for word mavens.

While most of us might take dictionaries for granted, the process of writing them is in fact as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography--from the agonizing decisions about what and how to define, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why small words are the most difficult to define (have you ever tried to define is ?), how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. Throughout, Stamper brings to life the hallowed halls (and highly idiosyncratic cubicles) of Merriam-Webster, a world inhabited by quirky, erudite individuals who quietly shape the way we communicate. A sure delight for all lovers of words, Word by Word might also quietly improve readers grasp and use of the English language.

Bring the word nerd that I am, Word by Word immediately caught my eye. Like most people, I don’t give much thought to dictionaries, unless I’m looking up a word really quickly. And I’d say I’m looking up slang in Urban Dictionary as often as I’m looking up something in a more legit dictionary online. Not only did a learn a ton from Word by Word, but I enjoyed the hell out of it too.

Kory Stamper’s nerdiness about words puts mine to shame. Part of me listened to this book and went “man, it would be so cool to be a lexicographer,” but, introvert that I am, I’m not sure that even I could handle the silence the lexicographers like, unless she played it up a ton. Stamper’s really funny, and I laughed out loud several times during the 10+ hour audiobook, which went by in no time. I made my boyfriend listen to part of it, too, and he enjoyed what he heard a lot too (which is telling since we have pretty different tastes).

Basically every single fact in this book was fascinating, though the hard truths about grammar being a shifting set of rules made by a bunch of pretentious folks shook my foundations. Maybe that will make me less of a grammar nerd. But maybe not.

Knowing precisely what function dictionaries aim to serve, as opposed to what I was taught they did, is helpful. Yes, they define words, but they’re not the bastion of good language I’d always expected them to be. The addition of words like “ain’t” and the figurative “literally” always threw me for a loop, but now I understand why that happens. Dictionaries aim to capture all the actual uses in editorial media of terms; if used enough in edited media, those words go in the dictionary, even if they’re used incorrectly (like irregardless and literally—though Stamper makes an interesting case for irregardless).

If you’re a dork about words, which tbh there’s a good chance you are since you’re reading a book blog rn, Word by Word is a delightful nonfiction look at dictionaries specifically and English in general.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (143): Blood Rose Rebellion; Word by Word”

  1. I was just saying today that I needed to give YA fantasy another shot… think I’ll be adding this one to my list! And that dictionary book sounds fascinating!
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – Odd & True by Cat WintersMy Profile

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