If you are lucky, you will come across scrumptious books like Dreamhouse at least once in your lifetime. A loose (adult) retelling of Alice in Wonderl...moreIf you are lucky, you will come across scrumptious books like Dreamhouse at least once in your lifetime. A loose (adult) retelling of Alice in Wonderland, Habens, in a stroke of pure genius, reinvents all the characters in Alice in Wonderland giving them a distinctly human hue that retains all the craziness that characterizes the denizens of Wonderland. Dreamhouse is a treat for the evil little girl in you who loves irreverent situations, who delights in crazy retellings and who simply loves a story that is soaked deep into the narrative and can mean something different every time you read it.
If you read the title, you will be misled into thinking that the "dreamhouse" is descriptive of that wonderful house that people assume little girls dream of, you know, the one with the white picket fences, pretty poppies in the nicely kept yard, stuff like that. Instead, Dreamhouse, very literally means "dream house" a place where dreams happen. Okay, that sounds campy and it's not meant to.
Celia Small is getting engaged and on the night of her engagement dinner, her two horrible roommates throw parties of their own. So in that one house, there are three simultaneous parties occurring and one of them has um...some "magic" tarts that Celia just happens to eat. There is a logic to the narrative that sort of explains how the wonderland is achieved. One of the parties is a costume party, therefore the rabbit costumes etc, Celia's delusions come from the magic tarts and other, uh, substances that may be around. The mad queens etc are Celia's parents, in laws etc.
The construction of the popular story is firm enough that it holds up the very real and very contemporary themes in the book. What it means to be oppressed, what it means to be a woman and what freedom really tastes like. I was also impressed by how Habens inserted the transvestite issue and that rape, regardless of gender, is rape. I also really liked Celia's gradual evolution and the ending is bloody fantastic. Haben's gleeful experimentation with language to express her characters' emotions in a veritable manner is nothing short of genius.
So, after all is said and done, I recommend this book. Wholeheartedly. It tells a wonderful story in a strange new way that I found absolutely fascinating. (less)
I was worried before I read this book that it would turn out to be one of those sappy books that are all about soulmates and falling in lurve. You can...moreI was worried before I read this book that it would turn out to be one of those sappy books that are all about soulmates and falling in lurve. You can’t blame me. Look at the cover! Look also at the trailer. However, to my surprise, I found that the novel was refreshingly brisk and while there are loads of tense moments where hearts beat in the rhythm of first love, it is not the focal point of the novel. And yes, I totally did that purple prose on purpose. Hur. I also alliterate to entertain myself.
Everlasting is an adventure. The kind with swords, pirates, shipwrecks, tough decisions and islands with buried treasure. The novel is populated with colourful characters who will make you chortle, who will make you seethe with anger and who will make you wish you were present right there in the novel along with two loaded pistols. There are spiders, thick and as huge as a man’s palm, that had me shivering and shuddering, there are beasties who would kill you and eat you as a snack between luncheon and dinner and there is good writing, folks.
There are themes of greed, of sacrifices, of filial piety, of acceptance and forgiveness, both of one’s own self and other people. The pace of the novel is brisk at times and I loved how minutely the author has envisioned the world her world is set in. I must say this because I am currently reading a novel that is driving me nuts with its absolutely overwhelming description that this author manages to create a world without descending into extreme verbosity. I felt the heat, felt the spray of the ocean, heard the roar of the beast.
I also liked how the romantic conflict is approached. The physical part of a relationship is addressed and considering that it’s a historical novel, I found that refreshing. She has a fiancé but he doesn’t give her thrills and she has a friend who actually does. There is no insta-love in this, thank you author, but a gradual realization of love that does not seem contrived at all.
In plain speak, I enjoyed the hell out of this novel and I recommend to all you people looking for a good book adventure to go on.(less)
I have been wanting to read the sequel to Meridian for a long while now but only just got around to it. Despite it getting mixed reviews, I really lik...moreI have been wanting to read the sequel to Meridian for a long while now but only just got around to it. Despite it getting mixed reviews, I really liked Meridian and thought it presented an intriguing mix of magic and a new twist on the overdone and very stale trope of angels in YA novels. But unfortunately Wildcat Fireflies suffers greatly from second book (in a series) syndrome. While the book does not suck horribly, it does have several things that bothered me a whole lot.
The first thing was the length of the novel. I don’t mind reading long novels. In fact, I would go so far as to claim that I prefer reading thick tomes that tell a story well and unhurriedly rather than thin books that rush through the narrative. However, Wildcat Fireflies, at 528 pages, was unnecessarily long. It could have easily been shortened by more than a hundred pages. There were whole unnecessary portions where the horridness of the mistress was reiterated once and again. Then there was Juliet. I don’t know what Kizer intended. Was she trying to develop Juliet as some kind of paragon of mercy by laboriously describing the horrors she went through under the mistress of the care house/orphanage?
Because let me tell you, Juliet was insufferable. She made me detest the novel a whole lot. I like Meridian, I still do. And I liked the development of her relationship with Tens. It was interesting to observe a relationship that was already underway and not have to go through that “he likes me, oh he really likes me!” brouhaha again. I thought the mythology was well developed and carried on where Meridian had left off.
However, considering my considerable (insurmountable, perhaps) distaste of Juliet’s character (she is TSTL) and the dragging pace of the novel along with the fact that the next novel stars Juliet as an important character making more stupid decisions, I believe I’m done with the series. I might read book four if a new character comes and replaces Juliet but until then, eh.(less)
I have so many things to say about this novel. Okay. Let’s take a deep breath.
First. For the longest time, I didn’t think I would be able to get into...moreI have so many things to say about this novel. Okay. Let’s take a deep breath.
First. For the longest time, I didn’t think I would be able to get into this novel. It is like a sprawling southern estate, queenly manor, expansive gardens, it spans ages and miles and miles. It’s vibrant, lush and almost overwhelming. Dizzying and exhilarating. This is the first novel in the trilogy so it spends a lot of time setting up the…er, setting, the characters and the locations in which the novel takes place. It is also one of those novels that does not follow just one character but a group of main characters. While Evie is the main character of this novel, she is not the only important character. I would not be surprised if the next one in the trilogy follows around Theta or someone else. The first few pages of The Diviners can seem overwhelming because of the descriptions and the writing style but I promise that once that settles down and the narrative finds a rhythm, you will be able to go with it.
I love Libba Bray’s writing. I have the greatest faith that she will deliver and she does deliver. Evie is perhaps one of the most unique protagonists I have had the pleasure of reading. She does not just sound like a flapper, she talks and walks and looks like one. You do not get the feeling that Bray is writing from the 21st century about a flapper but it is as though Bray is observing a living breathing Evie and writing down her observations. The slang is awesome. I just might start using it in my everyday language. Of course, no one will understand but no one understands me anyway. There is this exuberance about the Evie, she is irrepressible and irreverent – in the best ways possible.
Then there are the many other characters. If you followed my reading updates, you will have heard me mention Theta and Memphis but there are also Jericho, Mabel, Sam and many others. Every character is created with care and every character is imbued with personality. They spring up as real people who could dance out of your head and onto the streets, fully formed. The dynamics between the characters is not stilted or awkward but is genuine and realistic. The novel twists and turns and surprises you with the interactions between people you would not have thought would interact. Also, Bray’s villain is one of the creepiest and scariest villains out there. I seriously had to pause, take a deep breath before reading his parts because he scared the crap out of me. I’m not even exaggerating.
The breadth of the novel is immense but it delivered. The plot is convincing as is the denouement of it. The romance is uncertain and I liked it that way because it fit Evie’s character. I also liked how Bray coheres a sisterhood between the girls. There are no mean girls in this novel and I should think that that by itself would be a huge recommendation. The novel ends with the sense that this was only the first showing of a battle before the real war is actually fought. It ends with a tense expectation, like, if you have ever tasted the air before a hurricane, pregnant with anticipation, a false calm, that is how I felt at the end of The Diviners. I really cannot wait until the next one comes out. Do I recommend this? Most certainly.(less)
This one has gotten so many mixed reviews I was a little wary about starting it. Once I did, I let out a sigh of relief because although Celaena (I’m...moreThis one has gotten so many mixed reviews I was a little wary about starting it. Once I did, I let out a sigh of relief because although Celaena (I’m pronouncing it Selina) is not my favourite character, she is not as horrible as I had been led to believe. Oh sure, she has a love for clothes but I reckon spending a year doing slave labor in a mine gives her the right to demand and want some pretty things. You don’t begrudge a girl her sparklies!
I liked the action sequences. They were fast, thrilling and liberally sprinkled in the narrative. I didn’t buy too much into substituting Celaena’s name with “the assassin” as there were other assassins around and there was nothing special about Celaena to warrant her being the only “Assassin.” I mean, if she was the only assassin around, yeah, I’d understand it but she isn’t…I’m being picky? Well okay. I liked the female friendship though the mean girl wasn’t entirely missing. Yes I’m talking about you Katlin (did I kill the name? Something with a K, then.)
I liked this book a whole lot until we got to the end. Okay, fine, I was bothered by the romance, the very large love triangle, I mean. However, and here be spoilers so stop reading and don’t whine to me if you get spoiled because I need to speak out my feelings cuz I has them!
Anyway, Celaena is pashing the prince dude quite happily, lying in bed beside him, snuggling, has stars in her eyes and does not notice (much) the love struck guard dude (who is not trained to fight in a war? Seriously? What’s different about fighting otherwise and fighting in wars? They both require killing, right? I mean, seriously?) and then all of a sudden she’s like, “welp, sorry buddy, I know you may love me and whatnot, but guess what, I ain’t loving you back, I just used you for the smooches, now I have freeeedom to think of.” Right. Okay. And then less than a minute later, she’s with the soldier/guard who is a very horrible best friend because he’s happy the prince got dumped. SERIOUSLY. How do you expect me to like a girl who is so callous of other people’s feelings? So now that I think about it, all those reviews that talked about the superficiality of the main character? Yeah I get it now.
Do I recommend this to you? I don’t know. Do you want to read it?(less)
This will be an interesting review to write simply because I have such conflicting feelings about this novel. I gave it four stars but really, that is...moreThis will be an interesting review to write simply because I have such conflicting feelings about this novel. I gave it four stars but really, that is no reflection at all on how I actually really feel about it so read on and I might be able to articulate myself. I read the ARC version of the novel so that may account for my muddled feelings but well...let's just get on with it. I really liked how Cassandra and her twin, Paul were characterized. There seems to be a gravity to them, in them that you normally don't find in protagonist - almost a melancholy in their characters. Also, they are metis and are inheritors of the years and years of violence, injustice and discrimination done to them by the Colonizers. A history that is being repeated in their time as they are the only group of people immune to the mysterious plague that has thrown the rest of the world into chaos. Okay. First sticking point here. The plague is obviously an important part of the novel as is the immunity of the First Nations people but there is not much attention given to both of these things. I wanted to know what exactly the plague is, how many people had died, was it the same thing around the world, and who are these "non-Others" who are dying. Are they made up of white people or are other countries and races affected the same way or do they not even exist anymore considering their lack of access to the First Nations people. Also, why are the First Nations people? What is in their blood that makes them immune? Have the white people/ruling body tries to reproduce whatever is in their blood to make their antidote and if not, why not? Things like these are what makes books so difficult to write but are what holds a book together. The little details that somehow become the most important ones by their absence. I was interested in the world Knutsson created and that is exactly why I want to know more about it.
The story moves to what I read is a mythical representation of Vancouver Island and as I said, I really like Cassandra, Paul and their father so I continued reading and I am glad I did. Shadows Cast by Stars is rich in mythology, culture and legend. It has a different flavour of paranormal that has not been represented in the YA genre before (as far as I know) so I found it absolutely enriching and fascinating to read about the different Gods and supernatural creatures that populated the pages of the novel. Usually when you come across Native Indian mythology in YA novels, it is of the American flavor and I think this is the first time I've come across stuff that has a uniquely Canadian taste to it and I loved that. I also loved how detailed (but not overwhelmingly so) the description of every day life is. Also, the way the conflicts that play out between Paul and Cassandra is also intriguing. Cassandra's love for her brother is obvious in her concern for him and I found that relationship to be much more interesting than the romance. Which brings me to my second sticking point. There are tinges of insta-love in this. Tinges because it is not quite. In fact, I am not sure why Cassandra loves Bran or if she even loves him. There is an ambiguity to her feelings, a mystery to them so that even though she is with him, she goes through all the motions that say she loves him, it doesn't seem like she does. There was insta-love but none of the following dramatic love and melodrama that are so characteristic of insta-love. In fact, Cassandra is remarkably self-contained which made me like her more. There is a love triangle but of a different variety than the usual in that the third side of the triangle starts off as a hostile character who may or may not have reformed by the end of the novel.
The plot is a bit blurry and lacks the clarity and the sharpness that I would have liked. It has a lot of abstract action by which I mean that there is a lot of metaphysical stuff occurring which is okay for me but I fear that some readers may get lost in all of it. What I liked a whole lot was how the action is evenly distributed through the novel so there is no one chapter of action and 74 chapters of dithering. And the end of the novel is poignant and though there is no cliff hanger, Knutsson does create a logical bridge to the next novel which means that I will wait anxiously for the sequel because I have a soft spot for Paul. I kinda wish that the sequel would be from Paul's perspective but I am not sure I am willing to lose Cassandra's point of view.
Okay, this doesn't really have anything to do with reviewing but considering that I am a lit major, I couldn't help but notice how interestingly the women in the novel were portrayed. There's obviously Cassie but there are also three mother figures who are as different as can be. Bran's mom is certifiably insane, Madda is...well, what anyone would expect a mystical healer to be and there's Cassie's Mom who is...well, you'll have to read it to find out. Then there are the three girls - Cassie, Avalon and um another character who I really liked but whose name I don't remember at the moment. And three boys. Cedar, Paul and Bran. I wonder what it is with the number three and if it's a coincidence or if there is a deeper meaning to it. I'm probably just reading too much into it.
Anyway, in conclusion, I recommend this novel. Strongly recommend it because even with its faults, it contains a rich world where the line between folklore and reality is very thin. Where survival is more than staying alive and a world where monsters may just be the only allies you have. (less)
I found this novel to be extremely plot driven and lacking the character development that is necessary to make a story truly excellent. Silver Phoenix...moreI found this novel to be extremely plot driven and lacking the character development that is necessary to make a story truly excellent. Silver Phoenix does deliver on interesting mythology that I was not familiar with prior to reading the novel and it does borrow liberally from the rich Chinese legends to construct the narrative. I wish we could have gone at a slower pace and learned more about Ai Ling and Silver Phoenix. The reincarnation angle is not a new one but it was barely touched upon in the novel. I wish the author had spent a bit more time going into the details of the actual reincarnation stuff.
Complaints aside, the novel is still readable as Ai Ling as an extremely likable character. The thing is, used as I am to reading books in the perspective of North American young adults, you get used to the confidence and self-assertion that seems to characterize them. This is not to imply that Ai Ling is a weak heroine because she is anything but she reads as a whole lot more innocently than I would have expected.
I wonder how difficult it is to write a main character who thinks differently than the usual one. Anyway, the romance in here was complicated. There was a triangle but one angle was missing. The other triangle that was in the middle of coalescing fizzled out when one of its angles was removed unexpectedly. I really liked the ending though. Pon thrusts Ai Ling into the spotlight and she carries the show all on her own. It was fun.
I liked the novel but I did not love it. So read at your own risk(less)