ARC REVIEW: The Republic Of Birds – by Jessica Miller

Title: The Republic Of Birds
Author: Jessica Miller
Genre: MG, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: Text Publishing
Finished reading: May 28th 2020
Pages: 304

“Am I glad to be here? I really can’t say. I guess I’m in what Great Names in Tsarish Cartography would describe as uncharted territory.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I know I don’t read a lot of middle grade stories to begin with, but I’m trying to change that and read at least 10 before the end of the year. I was mesmerized by The Republic Of Birds as soon as I saw the cover, and when I read the blurb and saw the mention of Russian folklore I thought this story would be a perfect fit. What I didn’t expect is that I would end up having mixed thoughts instead… I’ll try to explain why below.

First of all I have to say that I love the idea behind The Republic Of Birds. The winter setting in high fantasy Tsaretsvo, the Republic Of Birds, the discord between humans, birds and yagas, the Russian folklore references… It definitely set the right tone for this story and it was the perfect setting and backdrop for Olga’s story. BUT. I was kind of left wanting for more when it came to the worldbuilding as a whole. We get some descriptions, and we get glimpses of the different parts of Tsaretsvo, but I would have loved to have more as some parts seemed rushed while other parts were basically info-dumps and stopped the flow of the story. The second both applies to the excerpts of a history book included between chapters and certain scenes in the book (for example the whole Bleak Steppe setting). I really feel like the worldbuilding and story could have been so much more with a little more development, although I guess long books with more descriptions might not work as well with a middle grade audience…

As for the characters… I’m not sure what to make of them. While I really liked the idea of the magic behind the yagas as well as Olga’s magic, I would have loved to see it developed a little more. I felt like the short time in Bleak Steppe was used as an excuse to rush things and continue with Olga’s journey as quickly as possible, ignoring the potential of a slower route. I also found it a bit hard to connect to Olga in the first place. Sure, she is the true heroine of this story, and I could really appreciate her love of maps as well as her magic, but her character came over a bit flat and the solutions she found were a bit too convenient to be fully believable. The same goes for the other characters; most lacked more development and didn’t feel well rounded as a consequence. Like with the worldbuilding, I think this story would have benefitted greatly if it would have spent more time developing the characters and the magic in a credible way.

The Republic Of Birds is a middle grade high fantasy read, and as a consequence there is never true danger and things are wrapped up rather quickly. It’s a story about a girl trying to save her sister while also discovering herself and her hidden powers. If you are looking for an extensive and lush worldbuilding and lots of Russian folklore elements, you might end up feeling a bit disappointed… The story didn’t really flow as I hoped either, mostly due to the info-dumps, but I do think a middle grade audience might react better to the lack of details and seemingly quick solutions. It sure is a fast read though!


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WWW Wednesdays #271 – June 3rd

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’ve finally picked up Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts, a title I’ve been wanting to read ever since I first heard about it last year… I probably already finished it by the time this post goes live, as I’ve been flying through it. I also started Good Girl by Miranda Smith, which is a short read so I might just finish it by the end of tonight… I’m going to start Somebody’s Daughter by Carol Wyer straight after as I’ve been dying to know how things will continue for Natalie Ward.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen (3/5 stars) REVIEW 07/06
I know, I know, I should have known to stay away from yet another hyped book… Especially since my first experience with this author duo, The Wife Between Us, failed to hit the mark back when I read it in 2018. But I just couldn’t resist taking a peek anyway, and I think I have just confirmed to myself the writing of Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen might just not be for me. I’m not saying that You Are Not Alone is a bad read; I think the writing itself is solid and I’m impressed by the fact how well the story flows with two different authors wielding the pen. That said, I can’t say I was blown away by this story either.

2. The Republic Of Birds by Jessica Miller (3/5 stars) REVIEW 19/06
I know I don’t read a lot of middle grade stories to begin with, but I’m trying to change that and read at least 10 before the end of the year. I was mesmerized by The Republic Of Birds as soon as I saw the cover, and when I read the blurb and saw the mention of Russian folklore I thought this story would be a perfect fit. What I didn’t expect is that I would end up having mixed thoughts instead…

3. The Child by Sebastian Fitzek (4/5 stars) REVIEW 07/06
I bought a copy of this book on a whim last year, as I was fully hooked after reading the first line of the blurb. I mean, having a ten-year-old main character who claims to be a serial killer… How could I say no to that?! I’m definitely glad I got a copy of The Child now, because it turned out to be a shocking, very much disturbing but also intriguing ride.

4. The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon (2/5 stars) REVIEW 10/06
I know I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this book… I’m not sure why I never did, but at least I now know what all the references to this story are about. Sadly, it turned out to be yet another unpopular opinion review though. Oh yes, unfortunately The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and me weren’t ment to be…

5. Evil At Heart by Chelsea Cain (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 14/06
This is the second time my TBR jar had to remind me I needed to continue this series… I’m not sure why, as I loved the first two books, but it is not happening again as I’m now determined to finish the series ASAP. Book three Evil At Heart is without doubt another winner. I have a weak spot for serial killer and detective thrillers, and this series gives us best of both worlds by putting Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell and detective Archie Sheridan in the spotlight.

6. The Night Season by Chelsea Cain (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 14/06
I decided to read The Night Season straight after book three, because when you are on a roll, you are on a roll… And I was also in the mood to spend more time with Archie and Gretchen. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Beauty Killer Gretchen hardly made her appearance in book four! The Night Season is the first book of the series without a heart element in the title, and also the first where Gretchen isn’t in the spotlight… And it shows.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m trying to make a dent in my ARC mountain, so next up is Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West. I’m also reading Sorry I Missed You by Suzy Krause soon for the same reason… Then it’s back to thriller ARCs with Left For Dead by Caroline Mitchell. And I have a new TBR jar pick! Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend by Katie Finn, which might help me distract myself from the cold weather. Winter is coming indeed!


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WWW Wednesdays #270 – May 27th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen; I’ve heard mixed things about this one so I’m definitely curious to see how I will react. I’ve also picked up a new physical copy: The Child by Sebastian Fitzek, which has an absolutely fascinating blurb and I’ve been meaning to read it for a while now.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 15/06
There is a lot to love in Fifty Fifty and while I do think Thirteen is my absolute favorite of the series so far, Fifty Fifty comes a close second. This is without doubt one of the most exhilarating legal thriller series I’ve read to this date and I definitely can’t wait to find out what Steve Cavanagh has in store for Eddie Flynn next.

2. The House Guest by Mark Edwards (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
The holy guacamole is back! Oh yes, The House Guest turned out to be one of those reads that left me completely mindblown and gulping for air… I literally finished reading it in one sitting, unable to stop before reaching that final page. Unputdownable indeed! My first experience with Mark Edwards’ work last year, Here To Stay, made me an instant fan, and this story only reconfirms my love for his writing.There is no doubt whatsoever that The House Guest is an absolute must-read for fans of intense psychological thrillers!

3. The Queen And The Cure by Amy Harmon (4/5 stars) REVIEW 31/05
I loved the first book and I had been looking forward to spend more time with Tiras and Lark… So I was a bit disappointed initially that the focus in The Queen And The Cure was on Kjell and a new character instead. The writing is beautiful though and I loved the new magical elements introduced in the sequel. The love triangle was a bit of a let down and some things a bit convenient, but all in all it was still a solid YA fantasy read.

4. The Catch by T.M. Logan (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/05
I had an excellent first impression with T.M. Logan’s writing last year in 29 Seconds, and I have been looking forward to pick up more of his work ever since. I admit that I was sold as soon as I read the blurb of The Catch, and my instincts were not wrong. This newest story turned out to be another scorcher! Trust me, psychological thriller fans will be in for a treat with this one… Because holy smokes, T.M. Logan has done it again!

5. Moederkruid by Carry Slee (1/5 stars) NO REVIEW
I won’t be writing a full review for this one… I honestly should have DNFed this one, because I REALLY struggled with it. I know I’m not a big fan reading in Dutch in the first place and it always means I struggle a little, but I think the problem here was mostly the book itself and not me. Horrible characters, didn’t like the tone or writing, events as described are basically child abuse, weak plot… I sadly couldn’t find one positive point about this story and I confess that I ended up skimreading most of it as I just couldn’t take it anymore. Such a shame, because I remember liking her children books when I was little.

6. Stranger In The Lake by Kimberly Belle (4,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 08/06
Look out for my review during my stop of the blog tour!

7. The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson (3/5 stars) REVIEW 31/05
This author has been a bit of a hit and miss for me… I LOVED the first book though, so I had high hopes my second meeting with Allan would be a successful one too. I think the Allan-Julius duo and their dry humor is the only reason I made it to the final page. This sequel was just way too political for me and fell mostly flat after initial high expectations.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

My next read depends on how much time I have left before June arrives after I finish my current reads… I’ve been wanting to read more MG, so I’ll probably pick up my ARC of The Republic Of Birds by Jessica Miller even though it’s not due yet. Afterwards, depending on time and what genre I’m in the mood for, I might pick up either Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten or Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts. My latest TBR jar pick is still Evil At Heart by Chelsea Cain


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