If I could only choose two words to describe Christina Henry's Alice, they would be "whimsical" and "gruesome". The book deftly captures the essence of Lewis Carroll's classic, while giving it a gory twist that will thrill horror fans. Readers familiar with the original work will find most of their favorite characters, but none of them are as they will remember.
Each of the characters in Alice seem to be an exaggeration of their counterparts in Carroll's work. Caterpillar smokes it up, whose side Cheshire is on seems ambiguous, and the Walrus is not just eating oysters. *shudders* The Jabberwocky is pretty scary, too, but it's more of the idea of him versus his actual appearance. The idea of Rabbit is a lot worse, but I won't go there.
I would have liked to have seen a lot more explanations of various backstories in the novel. I didn't really understand the idea of the magicians, why there were inner and outer cities, or even what I was reading at times. I felt like there was so much focus on making the characters and locations more terrible versions of their original selves that something was lost along the way.
To concede a point: it worked. I couldn't read Alice at night by myself. That's why it took me so long to finish this book.
If you're a fan of horror, this book is for you. I think you'll have a great time reading this novel, and it honestly is one of the best Alice in Wonderland reimaginings that I've read. Pick it up - if you dare.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more
It has been a long time since I've read a book before there was even a cover. Hell, it's been a long time since I've read a physical book. (AudiobooksIt has been a long time since I've read a book before there was even a cover. Hell, it's been a long time since I've read a physical book. (Audiobooks have been my jam since Life has gone crazy.) But this book. This. The Continent. It reminded me of why I'm a reader. I got adventure and escape from the unpleasantness and monotony around me. I got to hang out with a tough girl named Vaela Sun who should get the Survivor of the Decade award.
There's NOTHING better than finding a book to make you fall in love with books again. The Continent rekindled that romance.
Since I've fallen off of the reviewing bandwagon in the past year, I was a turd and forgot to write down all of the various names of things from the book. Yes, they are important in the Grand Scheme of Things, but if I make up how something is pronounced in my head, what is written doesn't stick. I'm warning you before I start with the plot and stuff.
The first thing I loved about this book is Vaela wasn't some wretched, angst-ridden teenager waiting on some sparkling vampire to come along and Change Her Life. No, she had a great relationship with her parents, she had an apprenticeship lined up, and she was a happily normal young person. That's rare in YA, and I didn't even notice that until I read this book. Well, anywho, Keira Drake decided to shake all of that up because Vaela didn't get to float on Cloud 9 for long. She got to know the natives a little better than she would have liked. There are two tribes, and only one of them is civilized.
I'll leave it at that.
I appreciated the world Drake built in The Continent. I won't lie - I was a little confused by the Spire and Continent thing. I read so much science fiction that I assumed the Spire was some manufactured or magic kingdom in the clouds. They took airships to the Continent, so that made perfect sense to me. As I read the book, I started to realize that maybe that's not how things were. I didn't dwell on it, though - I was too interested in what was going on with Vaela. That's saying a lot because I'm usually picking these things apart. *shrugs* I'm hoping for a map with the finished copy so I can get a better idea of what is going on. (And yes, I plan on reading the finished copy or at least listening to it if it's on Audible.)
I don't want to get too spoilery, so I'm not going to subject you to the made-up names. I'm going to stop. But first I'm going to say just this - if you're looking for a book to be excited about reading this winter, The Continent is it.
I don't remember signing up to review Traitor Angels (it's hard to keep up with anything when you're sick), but I'm glad that I did. I have a speciaI don't remember signing up to review Traitor Angels (it's hard to keep up with anything when you're sick), but I'm glad that I did. I have a special place in my heart for history, but when you throw together British history, religious history (science so has a place in religious history), and art history, I am so on board. Traitor Angels had all of those, as well as a sweet romance, making for a fun read.
First off, I have to say that this book is not historically accurate. No, I'm not just talking about the chase for clues, but there were some liberties taken with Milton's family. That sort of thing does not bother me, but it's there. Elizabeth was still a fun character that I don't think would have been nearly as interesting if her real life would have featured. Fiction makes for better stories sometimes.
Did I say chase for clues? Of course I did! I am so happy that this is becoming more of a thing in YA because there is nothing better than reading "coming of age" novels that has young people playing race and chase to find clues or solve mysteries. Traitor Angels has Elizabeth, Antonio, and maybe a friend or two going to various destinations in 17th century England.
I like to read for descriptions of various places, food, and dress when I read historical fiction and fantasy, and Traitor Angels did not disappoint. With the scavenger hunt, I got descriptions of certain areas, as well as what people used to write, dry ink, etc. It was so very cool for the nerd in me.
Traitor Angels was a fun and sweet read for me, and I hope there are more books like this soon. This is an author that I will be checking out in the future, and if you're interested in this book at all, I recommend picking it up....more
This Is Where It Ends is not a book that I would normally consider reviewing, though it caught my eye (the author is a big advocate of diversity in books), because the subject matter is very heavy. I am an escapist reader, and since I have a school-age child, it's not my first choice to read about something that I already worry about. That being said, the lovely people at Sourcebooks were kind enough to send me an ARC at the library, so I figured I could read it as a librarian and give it some attention here, too.
I do want to say before I get into the review that I did not like This Is Where It Ends. However, with it being so short and action-packed, I think it will be great for reluctant teen readers. I will be putting it into the hands of kids at the library. Easy, action-packed reads are important. Now for my thoughts on the book itself.
Since Marieke Nijkamp is such an advocate for diverse books, I began reading This Is Where It Ends with a high expectation of the characters. Sadly, I found them to be pretty flat. There are multiple points of view and students representing every walk of life. There are black, Latino, Middle-Eastern, LGBT, rich, poor, disabled, etc. individuals in the book, and I think something might have gotten lost in trying to color the book equally. Don't get me wrong - I loved seeing a diverse cast, but the book was too short to have everyone's story AND tension from the shooter. By showing us everyone, I wasn't able to connect with anyone in the story.
Note: I greatly appreciate Nijkamp not casting the Middle Eastern as the shooter. I respect the hell out of her for that.
There is obviously violence in This Is Where It Ends, but it seemed a little gratuitous to me. Yes, I really that school violence tends to gratuitous because of the nature of the beast, but the narrative seemed to go a bit over-the-top at time. There was a lot of grand-standing in general by the characters - which didn't seem realistic at all - and it felt forced. The shooter, Tyler, was not fleshed out, so it read like he was shooting just for the sake of shooting. He was so one-dimensionally evil that I expected him to go "muahahaha" at any moment. When someone breaks and shoots up a school, there is at least some kind of bullying or underlying mental illness. That was barely used.
This Is Where It Ends wasn't my favorite book, but I can definitely see the benefit of having it around. Maybe someone who doesn't normally see people who look like them in print will make them feel more included as a reader. Hopefully more diverse books will be coming along sooner rather than later.
- 2/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
I know I've said before that I tend to avoid American historical fiction when I'm choosing my reading materials, but I had no problem with picking up The Uninvited by Cat Winters because I enjoyed her writing in her debut, In the Shadow of Blackbirds. The writing in The Uninvited was just as good, if not better, because putting the book down and doing other things (like work) made me pretty angry.
The Uninvited is a very character-driven novel, as it follows Ivy Rowan adjusting to her new life away from her family in Buchanan, Illinois. Everything is in an upheaval from World War I and the flu epidemic, so nothing is easy for her. Since Ivy feels so enormously guilty about the murder her father and brother committed, she keeps going back to the Schendel furniture in hopes of making amends with Daniel. The development of that relationship was slow, but worth it in the end.
When I saw that The Uninvited was about ghosts, I expected them to be a lot more present throughout the novel. It is not at all what I would necessarily consider a ghost story. Ivy caught glances of various dead friends and relatives, and she knew that foretold some death in the coming days.
I do want to bring it up, though I cannot say much about it, but there are certain turns of the plot that I did not see coming from a mile away. I had an idea in my mind of what The Uninvited was going to be about, and it was not THAT at all. Having said that, it made the experience of reading the book so much better.
If you're a reader of historical fiction or a fan of Winters' YA, you need to go out and find you a copy of The Uninvited. Being as it was released in trade paperback, it shouldn't be too expensive. I can almost guarantee that it'll be a reread, or you'll at least be sharing it with friends.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more