What is it this season with YA and the goats? Loving it. But seriously. Goats.
"A Thousand Nights" is a retelling of 1001 Arabian NPossibly even a 4.5.
What is it this season with YA and the goats? Loving it. But seriously. Goats.
"A Thousand Nights" is a retelling of 1001 Arabian Nights... sort of. In the same way that a beautiful, delicious cake retells a grocery store mini-cupcake. They're both cake, and basically similar. But one has so many more layers. (Har har.)
No, the characters don't have names. Because this is a story. A story about stories. Because it's not about the names and hair color and height and whether the king is a YA hottie. It's about love and sisters and souls and the power that belief carries. It's about storms in the desert and shrines in tents and goats. Yeah, goats too. (I'm going to make a Goodreads list about best books with goats. It'll be awesome.)
I loved the basic concepts here. The why behind Lo-Melkhiin. The power between sisters. The Skeptics. The rise of power through belief. And it's all pieced together so well.
The inevitable comparison between this and "The Wrath and the Dawn"? I liked this better. The prose was more beautiful, the themes more poignant, the emotions more true. That said, they both stand up well as very different kinds of books. Would you compare "Jane Eyre" and the sitcom "The Nanny"? Though they're both the same basic retelling. ...more
The book opens with Ursula, a she-bear, introducing her story of her time as a governess aIn two words: absolutely phenomenal.
In more than two words:
The book opens with Ursula, a she-bear, introducing her story of her time as a governess at The Cottage. From the get-go it has a very "Jane Eyre" feel - now, "Jane Eyre" is my favorite book in all the evers, and I have to admit at first I kept a wary eye out for this just being a JE re-telling, but with bears. But it's so, so much more. Yes, the Bronte-like tone carries throughout the book, but the story is very, very much its own. (Even as a Goldilocks retelling.)
Characters from other stories - Mother Hubbard, Peter Pumpkin Eater, among others - peep in and out of the story, giving it color and fairy-tale feel. Setting the story in Bremen was a stroke of genius on Coville's part. Of COURSE the figures of tales would live in the city with the folklore of the animal musicians.
Ursula exists in full, not just as a mouthpiece for the story. All three bears and Goldilocks are fully realized and grow in their own ways throughout. The subplots of "racial" discrimination never feel shoe-horned or out of place, and serve to give the story depth and realism.
I can't really sing this book's praises enough. Fans of Austen, Bronte, Shannon Hale, Patricia C Wrede, and Tamora Pierce should all give it a go. And everyone else too. ...more
First and foremost I should say, I have great reservations about giving this book to kids - or, at least, anyone under 16. Which is a shame, because MFirst and foremost I should say, I have great reservations about giving this book to kids - or, at least, anyone under 16. Which is a shame, because MOST of the book is written as kind of lower-YA and I wouldn't have any real hesitation recommending it to the 12+ crowd. But then there's this one element, this totally gratuitous, unnecessary-to-the-plot element that makes it unsuitable. (view spoiler)[And, of course, I'm talking about the sexual abuse. Not just the attempted rape near the beginning which, while not strictly plot-relevant, made sense in terms of the setting and atmosphere. But the creepy-ass hints that start to get dropped, that build to Essie's father taking forcible advantage of her - it's all gratuitous and like, an over-the-top attempt to make the king a pure villain rather than shades-of-gray at all. (hide spoiler)] And that's a big part of WHY I find it too jarring, and too much - it's NOT necessary. Remove it, and the book would otherwise be EXACTLY the same. Dark and shocking just for the sake of being dark and shocking is a serious book-peeve of mine.
OTHER THAN THAT, "Stitching Snow" is an enjoyable, if ultimately somewhat forgettable read. Other than Essie, most of the characters lack fleshing out, and it should not have taken me so damn long to figure out that the seven droids were supposed to be the dwarves. I'll chalk some of that up to my being a little dense, but other than Cusser and Dimwit, their presence in the story is so minor (heh, miner) they might as well not be there.
Lewis gets points for world building - I enjoyed the distinct, thought-out planets and societies. I'm not sure what the body-hopping ability added to, well, anything - another thing that could have been removed and maintained the story. I suppose it was an excuse for the Exiles to be feared/ostracized, but something less extreme and crazy could have been conceived.
I will say that - apparently, unlike everyone else - I wasn't mentally comparing this to the Lunar Chronicles while I read it, and truthfully I don't find them terribly comparable/competing at all. They're both scifi retellings. Other than that, I think they both stand on their own very well. And god knows if this fairy-tale retelling trend continues (I like them, I do! But it's wearing thin, guys...) more scifi versions are bound to crop up.
Thanks go to Netgalley for the e-ARC.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Wrede does a lovely job fashioning this retelling, setting the fairy tale in Elizabethan England and historically linking it with figures such as JohnWrede does a lovely job fashioning this retelling, setting the fairy tale in Elizabethan England and historically linking it with figures such as John Dee. Personally, I found the reading a bit dry, and a bit of a slog, but that was due to the style more than the skill. ...more
The premise here is largely interesting: Aislynn is essentially demoted from royalty to fairy godmother-hood (a sort of demeaning, servitude positionThe premise here is largely interesting: Aislynn is essentially demoted from royalty to fairy godmother-hood (a sort of demeaning, servitude position in this world, but still a step up from actual *servant*). She becomes the fairy godmother of monarch princess Linnea, whose parents are dead and her aunt is commonly known as "The Wicked Queen," though in truth aside from rumors and stories, we see very little action from that wicked quarter.
Mostly, I felt that the aspects of the world, society, magic structure, etc, wanted some fleshing out. There were holes, things didn't make sense: it came across as kind of sloppy, and like we were supposed to just nod and go along with it because yaaay, fantasy story with princesses!
I also found the whole mass subjugation of women thing REALLY disturbing and uncomfortable and, worst of all, never really addressed. The good/evil nature of magic is addressed but it makes the full circle to, okay, then do we really believe this nonsense about WOMEN being inherently tainted/unreliable/need to be guided/WHATEVER. The dogma did NOT get addressed or challenged enough for my comfort. It didn't even get shown as WRONG enough for my comfort. And the manipulation of female sexuality and ...ugh it was just awful. And making me drop this rating to a 2.5, not a 3. I put this on the "sex abuse issue" shelf because if you are trigger-prone, this one could really do you in. It's just not written in an... informed, responsible way, in terms of what it's presenting. (Ironically, of course, the plot itself is very light and fairly standard.) ...more
An interesting premise that unfortunately falls prey to many of the common diseases that plague fantasy.
Diagnosis One: Over-describing. Evie has emerAn interesting premise that unfortunately falls prey to many of the common diseases that plague fantasy.
Diagnosis One: Over-describing. Evie has emerald eyes - never green, always emerald. There are instances where the author clearly consulted a thesaurus for an adjective and chose the fanciest sounding one. There are florid, purple passages, and lots of flashing eyes (or speaking from them).
Diagnosis Two: Under-describing. Though this sounds contradictory, it is not. While we definitely, definitely know Evie's eyes are emerald, and Forbes is handsome, and M-whats-her-name's hair is black, there is very little sense of setting. The Pennyroyal compound is described as two or three times the size of Morland (a nearbyish, thriving city), but I never have a good feel for what that consists of. Especially since that would be really, really, impractically huge.
Kingdom names are also constantly being dropped to the point where I have no sense of geography. Not that I NEED it, but with the number mentioned, I'm starting to think every kingdom is about the size of Boston. (Which, it should be noted, is not a very large city.)
Diagnosis Three: The female protagonist is clumsy. This is a very tired flaw.
I'll say it again: it was a great premise. And a lot of the choppy and/or over-blown writing smoothed out as the book went on (or I got used to it) and I felt it improved quite a bit. In some ways Evie is a very unique, interesting character in a unique, interesting world. I loved the glimpses of her adopted family, and I'm interested to see where the series goes next. ...more
- Engaging, strong female lead who didn't have purple eyes and wasn't magiLazy today, so bullet points!
- Interesting takes on fairy-tale tropes.
- Engaging, strong female lead who didn't have purple eyes and wasn't magically good at everything. (Except for what she was, and that's BECAUSE of magic. (view spoiler)[LOVED how she had to struggle with her physical condition after the loss of the fairy gifts. (hide spoiler)])
- Complexities of characters and moralities. Yay, shades of grey within good and evil!
- The narrative itself was well-written, fun to read, and didn't drag.
- Why, why, WHY did the male lead have to have god-like beauty? WHY? This is probably my biggest complaint of the whole book.
- I would've liked to see more of Jor. I understand why we didn't, but the emotional bond between him and Aurora is so critical... But I can also see how flashbacks would have dragged. So this is not a major issue.
- The ending/resolution was a little confusing. I understand it, kind of, looking back, but while reading it was kind of hard to grasp.
- (view spoiler)[ Similarly, the resolve between Aurora and Niklaas seemed a little artificially dragged out. I mean, she wrote a dozen letters and he still wouldn't listen at all? But then he listens at the very end? It was like the author wanted to get it to that last night-before-swan-ness more than let it play naturally. I did really like, though, that Aurora admits that IDEALLY she would not be marrying him at 17. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Usually I find these YA short story anthologies VERY hit or miss - like, if I like every other story, that's lucky. In this one, I think there were maUsually I find these YA short story anthologies VERY hit or miss - like, if I like every other story, that's lucky. In this one, I think there were maybe two I wasn't fond of. I found the rest anywhere from enjoyable to totally compelling and a little haunting. Seriously, some of this shit I can't get out of my head. And I loved the basic premise of the book, re-writing old stories. ...more
Loved how fairytale-y it was. Loved a whole lot about it, actually - saving it for a proper review closer toWaffling between a 4.5 and 5 on this one.
Loved how fairytale-y it was. Loved a whole lot about it, actually - saving it for a proper review closer to publication.
It's another one of those: is it middle? is it YA? for me, though, which as a bookseller I find a little annoying. I'd say 85% middle, but just enough creeptastic stuff to make it iffy. But I'd probably rec it to 10+.
PS: I have had Prince(ss) cake and it is delish....more
Vibrant and brilliant. Smooth, engaging and vivid. I'm not sure I can ever find enough adjectives to capture this book. It's not just a story about aVibrant and brilliant. Smooth, engaging and vivid. I'm not sure I can ever find enough adjectives to capture this book. It's not just a story about a hacker, jinn and a revolution. It's about magic, legend, love, God and the unseen, loyalty, devotion, and that undefinable spark in life. It is full of hope, faith, and beautiful lines. It makes an atheist want to believe in something....more
A worthy sequel; my only complaint may be that there wasn't quite as much time with old faces as I'd have liked. But Valente kept this second journeyA worthy sequel; my only complaint may be that there wasn't quite as much time with old faces as I'd have liked. But Valente kept this second journey into Fairyland fresh, full of new sights, feasts and information, but tied-in enough that it felt like the same world and the same September (if not a little bit more grown up). Lovely. ...more
It took me months to pick up Cinder. Every time I read the back my brain would glaze over. Cyborgs? Inter-galactic struggle? Ehhh...
Just not my thing.It took me months to pick up Cinder. Every time I read the back my brain would glaze over. Cyborgs? Inter-galactic struggle? Ehhh...
Just not my thing. But eventually I was bored on my lunch break, had nothing else to read, so I picked it up... and promptly got sucked in.
Here, Cinderella is a cyborg, with a human step-mother and two step-sisters. (By the way, can I say how much I LOVED that one of the step-sisters was cool with Cinder?) And yes, there's a prince (who is more than a vague face with legs), and even inter-galactic struggle, but it's well-done. Well-done is that way that YA and fantasy/sci-fi readers long for after reading too many pieces of junk.
I'm hesitant to give out much more of the plot (though I'm sure other reviewers have), just out of respect to the author and the book itself. As the book moves along, information is revealed first in little clues before a reveal. I'm truly impressed at how tightly the author wove the story: all remarks and minor events somehow linked to the plot as a whole. There was no excess information.
But what REALLY made this book for me were the characters. Almost every single character had depth - was whole and well-rounded. Came across as a real person, with real complexities. Even the non-humans.
So why not five stars and a fireworks show? Well, I really, really wanted this to be a stand-alone. And it could have been. Tighten up the middle, cut down on some of the political complexities, and it would have been a fabulous, one-book fairytale. Instead, we've got a four-book series. (Okay, at least it's not a trilogy.)
I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt. I am intrigued by what the author has set up, in terms of a new fairytale character in each book. If the series ends up strong, I suppose it can have the five stars. Jury's still out on fireworks. ...more