Bookish Oscars

Best Foreign Language Film: Book in foreign country – Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

So technically most books take place in a foreign country for me since I live in South Africa, but for the sake of trying to be exotic (I usually fail in this department so bear with me) I’m going to pick Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini which takes place in Afghanistan, America and in Pakistan—whoop, whoop triple threat!

nfd

There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.

All jokes aside, there are a number of other reasons I chose this novel out of the enormous pool of books that take place in another country, the biggest one of them being the heartbreaking themes that take place in this novel.

You will experience Hosseini’s emotionally draining story through the eyes of Amir, a 12-year-old Pashtun boy, who grows up in Afghanistan with it’s rich and alluring culture and social hierarchy. Beginning with a rocky father-son relationship, to the unusual friendship of two boys, this incredible tale will take you through the unforgettable journey of betrayal, guilt and finally to a realistic redemption.

I guarantee the Kite Runner will have you ugly crying more than once as you walk in the shoes of these characters and come face to face with their harsh reality.

Bookish Oscars

Best Screenplay: Favourite Book – Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series

Here’s the thing about this category, Favourite Book – it’s a freaking nightmare to pick just one! I’m sure you’re like me and so you’ll know I’m not lying when I say I’ve got several favourites in almost any genre. The task of picking just one out of my complete list practically sent me spiralling into a bookworm freak out.

After I calmed down from my freak out I realised that my mind kept going back to one specific series and so I decided to officially make it my choice for this category (and yes, I know  instead of picking one book, I picked an entire series, but you know what I have to say to you, judgey bookworm? You try picking just one). I give you – Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

dosab.jpg

Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.

Anyone who knows me, or has even mentioned the word “book” around me, knows how much I adore Laini Taylor and for very good reasons. She’s extraordinary and her writing style is hauntingly beautiful. It’s almost poetic, but never turns into purple prose that’s trying too hard. All in all she is simply exquisite.

Case in point – Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Taylor embraces the classic plot of good versus evil, angels versus demons and let’s not forget – forbidden love, but retells it in the most original way. You’ll go on a journey where you discover that there is no such thing as wholly good or evil, there are villains on both sides of a war and at the end there are no winners; only death and the long road to recovery. Unfortunately, I think I’m painting this as quite a dark story, but believe me when I say that this is the kind of story that will give you hope and make you believe in the power of good in the world. In all worlds.

I could go on and on and on about this story until the sky falls, but there is nothing I can say that will adequately describe just how brilliant this series is and there are no words to describe my utter and pure love for Laini Taylor.

Bookish Oscars

Best Supporting Actor/Actress: Favourite sidekick – Ron and Hermione (Harry Potter series, J.K Rowling)

Let’s face it, being called someone’s sidekick is kind of the last thing you want to be known as, but I really feel like we’re taking it the wrong way. To me, being a sidekick implies a strong bond and unbreakable loyalty. And let’s not forget that there is a distinct difference between loyalty born out of love and blind devotion, and I think this is where the confusion comes in. People tend to associate being a sidekick as being nothing more than the hero’s lapdog, so let’s just myth bust this right now.

sidekicks1

We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.

You want to know why sidekicks are not lesser characters or lapdogs? Look no further than Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley – the best sidekicks the world has ever known.

Sure a lot of us can argue that they’re not sidekicks and instead are heroes in their own right with dynamic personalities and their very own set of unique skills. By dynamic, I don’t mean gloriously perfect. I mean flawed and real; like the sometimes irritating, know-it-all Hermione Granger who was downright uptight and bossy, and Ron Weasley with his many quirks and seemingly so-not-suited-for-these-crazy-situations appearance. Let’s keep it honest – these traits just made these characters all the more lovable and relatable.

However, back to the point at hand… they are sidekicks! There I said it, and you know what? It doesn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth and the world didn’t go up in flames. Being appointed the task of standing by the chosen one’s side no matter made them our heroes, teaching us that there is something uniquely heroic in loyalty.

As a last thought – just bear in mind that a hero is only as great as the people who stand beside him, and that is the difference between a sidekick and a follower. They are not less than! At the end of the day being a sidekick just means that that particular story is not yours to tell and there’s no shame in being someone’s sidekick as long as you remember to be the hero in your own story. So stay calm and sidekick on!

 

 

 

Bookish Oscars

​Best Actress: Favourite Female Character

I’m not going to lie – I am super pumped for this category! I’m a huge believer in feminism and I definitely love strong female characters. The problem was choosing just one! As a huge Sarah J.Maas fan the obvious choice would have been almost any one of her amazing female characters, but instead I decided to go in a different direction.

So without further ado my vote for this category is the badass Diana Bishop from A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

It might not be the typical YA book you’re used to, but that’s only more reason for you to give this one a go!

The strange thing is that I’ve come across so many people who haven’t even heard of this incredible series and if you are one of them then please do yourself a favour (and restore my faith in humanity while you’re at it) and READ THIS! Go out and grab a copy right. freaking. now!

What I loved about Diana from the very beginning is just how different she is from the typical YA fantasy heroine. For starters she’s a bit older than you’d expect, like a lot older… she’s in her 30’s – shocking I know! What is a YA novel without a moody teenager and yearning looks? Secondly she’s an accomplished historian who relies on her intellect and not on her abilities as a witch. Thirdly she’s strong in a realistic sense that I could relate to despite the fantasy element of this story. I honestly found her pretty damn refreshing, which is why she gets my vote.

I’m just going to say one last thing – you might want to roll your eyes at the idea of another witch/vampire love story, but trust me when I say that this book and these characters are not part of the usual YA starter pack. They’re exceptional!

Bookish Oscars

You guys, it is storming right now which means I have the gloriously dramatic background music of crackling lightning and booming thunder while I tell you the winner of the second category.

Best Actor: Favourite male character – Rhysand, Cassian and Azriel from A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J Maas

IMG-20170425-WA0001.jpg

To the stars who listen and the dreams that are answered.

I could just pick one and say Rhysand, but why pick a favourite when you can have the holy trinity of hotness. Rhysand, Cassian and Azriel, you three are not only squad goals but simply perfection as far as male specimens go. There’s not much else to say here if I’m speaking to someone you has already read A Court of Mist and Fury except—I know, know, my friend, no one will ever measure up to these men and now we are forever doomed to loneliness…yay!

However, if you have not read the sequel to Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses then… what are you waiting for! Go read it and have your expectations in men forever altered and raised to unbelievable heights.

Bookish Oscars

Typically this would come out around the same time as the regular Oscars, but since we’re kind of a mess with dates (unless it’s the date of a book release) we’re doing it now. Better late than never, am I right?

There are 30 categories in total ranging from the expected Best Female/Male Character to the more unusual Best Book Soundtrack and let us tell you—that was not the easiest to pick a winner for!

So instead of posting one giant list of winners, ’cause let’s keep it real—who’s going to read that? We’ve decided to post a winner with a bit about why it won and what makes it awesome every 3rd day to keep it light and fun, because isn’t that what a book blog is all about? So without further ado here is the first category.

1.) Best Picture: Favourite read of 2017 – Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo

IMG_20170422_113731.jpg

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

As much as we try to refrain from being a cliché we’re going to give in and say this, this book was one hell of a rollercoaster! We apologise folks but there is no other way to describe the beauty Leigh Bardugo has created. From the fantastic writing to the avalanche of twists (seriously though, a pretzel has nothing on this book) to the hilarious-knee slapping-stomach aching banter, so obviously we had to pick Crooked Kingdom.

The story begins right where we left off in Six of Crows, with the Wraith gone and the gang’s pockets not full enough. What follows is a series of crazy events to change those two things—of course, we knew all of this but that’s about all we knew.

Bardugo managed to write a sequel that Six of Crows deserved, surprising us more than we had anticipated by kicking off the story with action and high stakes that kept us glued to the pages to the very end. Okay, we’re lying, the part regarding our Fjerdan soldier killed us for about 15 minutes where we proceeded to eat away our pain and then we were right back to reading.

Six of Crows Review

With gloved magician hands and fluent in the language of trickery, there is no job too dirty for Kaz Brekker, the deadliest boy in Ketterdam. But what about impossible?

Well just give him two things: the right incentive—an unholy amount of money would do—and a deadly crew.

Leigh Bardugo’s, Six of Crows, follows six badasses (eh ehm, technically criminals) in the brilliantly complex world of Grishas as they attempt an impossible heist, whilst trying not to kill each other. Sounds fun! And it certainly is. Kaz Brekker, the leader of the Dregs, is offered a job—to retrieve a scientist who is being held hostage in the impenetrable Ice Court. A scientist who is being forced to create a drug that enhances the abilities of the Grisha, who will, in turn, be used as the Ice Court’s weapons against their enemies.

IMG_20170416_132240

A quick note: saying this to non-readers will result in them questioning your sanity.

 

This novel will have you catching your breath at the end of almost every chapter, and closing the book is not an option – I would know the feeling as I stayed up till 5am devouring it.

This is my first time reading something by Bardugo which is why I can safely say that you can read Six of Crows without reading The Grisha Trilogy, despite what my friend thought. I was warned that reading this before The Grisha Trilogy was a lot like going straight to the dessert, but like any person who has chosen chocolate mousse over food–I have no regrets.

In this tale, like most jaded characters, Kaz Brekker’s past is filled with the kind of darkness only monsters survive, irreversibly setting him on the path to becoming the infamous, Bastard of the Barrel. He is the perfect anti-hero, so full of layers; cruel and ruthless, yet you find his unpleasantness rather charming despite yourself. In fact, it’s because of his many flaws I found myself drawn to him and concerned about his wellbeing (and praying for his much-deserved happily-ever-after to come soon).

cameff_1492337291052

He has a heart, I swear.

 

With such an intriguing leader, it’s often hard to create other characters that shine just as bright. But Bardugo managed just that. In their own unique way, the rest of the gang pulls at your heart strings just as strongly. Inej and Nina, the two females in the group are great examples, both of them are physically and emotionally kickass. Inej Ghafa is the acrobat turned spy who can scale any building (or anything for that matter). She is the girl who finds comfort in her knives and will not allow her heart to be taken for anything less than it deserves.

“You may still die in the dregs.” Inej’s dark eyes had glinted. “I may. But I’ll die on my feet with a knife in my hand.”

Nina Zenik, the bubbly one out of the two, is hilarious, daring and charming. Fiercely loyal to her Ravkan roots, she will not betray her fellow Grishas, no matter what—even at the price of a friend’s freedom. I wouldn’t say that it was her loyalty that was her downfall, but rather how she stubbornly clung to her Ravkan influenced views on certain things.

“It’s not natural for women to fight,” he said.

“It’s not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet there you stand.”

All in all, despite the girls’ rough edges, they maintained their femininity, flaunting and wielding it like one more weapon in their arsenal, which I highly respect.

The three boys rounding out the team consist of Jesper Fahey, the smart mouth sharpshooter, Wylan Van Eck, the inexperienced, yet highly valuable demolitionist and Matthias Helvar, the hostile former Fjerda soldier. Each of the members is fleshed out with their own reasons for taking on this heist and they offer drama and comic relief. The banter between the characters is just what you need to keep you sane through this hectic, action-packed novel.

“You were early, Jesper,” Kaz said as he nudged Matthias towards the boat.

“I was on time.”

“For you, that’s early. Next time you plan to impress me give me some warning.”

“The animals are out, and I found you a boat. This is when a thank you would be in order.”

“Thank you, Jesper,” said Nina.

“You’re very welcome, gorgeous. See, Kaz? That’s how the civilised folk do.”

One of the things that I had a problem with (because this is a review and I need to put this bloody part in, to keep it balanced) is the ages of the main characters. I had trouble thinking of them as 16, 17 and 18, and although I get that it was their upbringing that led them to be so mature for their ages, I often found myself imaging them in their mid to late 20s.

Speaking of their upbringing, these characters’ pasts are revealed in just the right doses to better inform you but still keep you curious enough to read on, which is the golden standard as far as writing styles go. The writer interweaves the characters’ past seamlessly throughout the novel so that the reader never feels bombarded with flashbacks. IMG_20170416_124213.jpg

Bardugo’s writing style is a balanced mix between fast-paced and taking time with certain details, action and emotions, drama and… Okay, I was going to say downtime but that would be a lie – and ups and downs.

In saying all of that, I still need to read Crooked Kingdom which is worrisome since a lot happened and not one of the main characters died in Six of Crows. I’m not sure about Bardugo’s style in killing off characters since this is the first book I’m reading of hers, but I know deep down that one of my babies are going to have to die. And since I’ve been told I’m weirdly psychic (thanks, Lee-Anne), here are my predictions:

  • Some love stories end before others and Nina is already in a poor state, I have a strong feeling that for some weird poetic injustice, Matthias, Nina’s Fjerda soldier, is going to die (fingers crossed I’m wrong).
  • I have no doubt that Inej will escape, it’s just the case of how. Will Kaz get her out or will she save herself? My money is on Inej breaking herself out of that prison, because to be honest she is as much of a damsel in distress as Mulan is.
  • And for the love of cute, innocent monkeys freaking Jesper and Wylan will be an item in the next book. If they are not – heads will roll!