Vasilisa The Wise- Review

Vasilisa The Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women: Retold by Kate Forsyth, Illustrated by Lorena Carrington. 

I have most likely in the past gushed about my undying love for Kate Forsyth and her work. I was excited the moment she first posted that she was working on this project with Lorena Carrington. I love her fairy tale retelling novels, so of course I was going to love her book of fairy tale retellings. I got this book straight away and began reading it. However, until now I hadn’t made it past the first two stories. The title includes, ‘tales of brave young women,’ and although Vasilisa and Kaite Crackernuts were brave, I was slightly disappointed both tales ended with the girls getting married. So I stopped reading and didn’t look at the book again until now.

My love for Kate and her work made me rethink; there’s no way I could be disappointing by all of these stories, and so I tried again and jumped in at story number three. This story is a retelling of ‘A Bride for me before a Bride for you,’ and I honestly loved it. I had not read the original, but in Lorena’s comment after the story she reveals how Kate changed the story, in the original the girl was forced to marry the serpent prince, but Kate changed it so she was the brave girl who made the decision, and although she still ends up with a man, she made the choice and ended up in the arms of her hot new husband, who just happens to be heir to the throne meaning she will be Queen… I thought that was pretty kickass. It also made me see the other stories in a new light, these are fairy tales after all and who am I to say the girls shouldn’t get their man and their happy ending?

After ‘A Bride for me before a Bride for you,’ my second favourite story in this book has to be ‘The Singing, Springing Lark.’ I have came across this story in the Grimms’ brothers tales before, but also because Kate told this story in her book, ‘The Wild Girl’ and retold it in her book, ‘The Beast’s Garden.’ This was actually the only story in this book I was familiar with the original. However, it felt like an entirely new tale in this book. How Kate can take the same story and retell it in so many ways I don’t know, but she has done it and it has become more gorgeous every time. If you were ever to read a version of this variant of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ read Kate’s.

The great thing about the stories in this book is that they all have different origins. They all come from different countries and Kate and Lorena reveal the source of how they first came across them. Meaning I have not only read this book, but came out with a list of other fairy tale books I am now desperate to find and read!

Of course, the other aspect of this book other than the tales themselves, is Lorena Carringtons gorgeous illustrations. The pictures were actually made from montages of separate pictures, and the images of the girls are Lorena and Kates daughters, as Lorena wanted the girls to be real. However, every other image of the fairy tale creatures from the tales were made from items actually found in the forest. Such a stunning idea and very well paid off. Here’s a few of my favourite images from the book:

‘The Singing, Springing Lark’

lark

‘The Rainbow Prince’

rainbow prince

‘A Bride For Me Before A Bride For You’

serpent prince

‘The Stolen Child’

scottish fairytale

 

It was really difficult to just select four images from this book because every single illustration is beautiful and it was clear that Kate and Lorena shared a vision when it came to the storytelling. I can’t wait to see what they do next, and I would recommend reading Vasilisa the Wise and other tales of Brave Young Women in the mean time.

 

Charlotte.

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The Nowhere Girls- Review

GR Synopsis:

Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.
Who are the Nowhere Girls?
They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:
Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.
Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.
Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.
When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.
Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.

 

I read this as my holiday book this year. I was on holiday during the recent vote to Repeal the 8th in Ireland. I was sitting on a bus tour of Barcelona, reading all the #hometovote tweets and trying not to cry in my emotional sangria-hangover state. The next day I was sitting on the beach (nursing a long island iced tea hangover) when I read the results of the vote. I had also spent the majority of that day reading this book. I was overwhelmed with pride and happiness and an overall sense of absolute girl power. Both the vote, and this book represented a chance for change for women and taking power of what happens to our bodies. To know that votes can make a change and just speaking up can make a change is amazing. I hope that women can continue to fight.

 

Now more on the book. I absolutely loved this book and I think I still would have if I had read it during a different time, when there was no life changing event happening for women. Because in this book a life changing event does happen. A girl called Grace moves into the old room of a girl called Lucy, and this sparks a major decision to see change at their male-dominated school and to fight the rape culture their fellow students have suffered.

The three girls that tell the story in this book all represent womanhood, or perhaps girlhood is more appropriate,( I don’t know, they seem more grown than many older than them) in different ways. Their stories are quite different as are their characterisations which is something I think Amy Reed has done excellently.

Let’s start with Grace:

Grace represents both the big girl and the Religious girl. She believes in waiting until she is married, but is still totally open and cool about girls who aren’t into that. She is very anti slut shaming and I love her for that, especially when she reaches out to Amber. Though I’m not sure she had quite as much of a reason as some of the other girls to start ‘The nowhere girls’, as I’m not sure just being in Lucy’s room is motive enough, I’m still glad she did and a girl like her was not only able to be part of the movement, but to also lead it.

Rosina:

My biggest issue with Rosina as a character is that she is kind of hitting all the ‘token’ diversity troupes in one character. The lesbian, latino, badgirl? I couldn’t help but think she would be joining the cast of Orange is the new Black at some point.

Also again, her motive was slightly questionable. She states she spat in the face of the boys who were accused, but other than being a girl who is angry about pretty much everything, where was her motive behind this? Though I don’t believe you need to have been through rape yourself to be angered or want to make a change, this reaction by Rosina felt a little extreme. She also states she was not friends with Lucy. I think perhaps this was Amy Reed’s way of presenting Rosina as the strong ballsy girl, and also setting up for the principal to target her later. Which I can’t call her out too much on as that was a nice twist. I honestly did think she would be the one to turn the girls in to save her grandmother, but she stuck with them and that was pretty amazing.

Erin:

Recently a classmate of mine received some rather hurtful comments after she wrote a piece about her brother with autism. Basically the comments were that she should not be writing about that kind of thing. This is nonsense. If we never see characters representing these things, we will never understand them. That is why Erin was such an important character, and getting a glimpse inside her head was even more important.

The move to create ‘The Nowhere Girls’ was hardest for her. Not only because of her fear of crowds, but also as someone who went through a rape herself. Her story is revealed slowly, as Erin would have told it herself, if Erin ever told it herself. But she knows that sharing her experience can help someone else, which we see at the end of the book. She lets down her guard to be part of the movement and it is an action that is stronger than the other girls. That is not to say the other girls were not also strong though, especially the ones who came forward to make statements to the police.

Us:

I think the excerpts of this book which are told from ‘Us’ are what really made this book so compelling. Hearing every girls struggle coming to terms with her sexuality, and even seeing some girls completely embracing theirs. Sex can be scary, but it also doesn’t have to be. I think Amy Reed done an amazing job representing this. When the girls go on a sex strike to get back at the boys, one girl Sam says, but why should we suffer? Although this book is very focused on rape culture, it is also about these young girls coming to terms with their sexuality and I’m glad there was a voice supporting those girls who have sex for themselves, just because they love it.

 

I think Amy Reed brought the issues to light beautifully in this book and focused on a society which does still face this culture and beliefs that boys can pretty much do what they want. It sends a strong message especially to teenagers and it is empowering to any girl who reads it. I believe it may have a massive effect on how they see themselves and the males in their lives.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend.

 

Charlotte.

 

 

 

Gretel and The Dark-Review

Gretel and The Dark- Eliza Granville.

 

 

The pied piper

The shadow

Kukulka

Kuckuck

The shadow crumples

The shadow dies

Once upon a time….

 

 

All a bit confusing right? It remains confusing for 358 pages and I’m not really sure why I continued reading.

Usually anything laced with a fairy tale retelling thrills me, but honestly this book made limited sense. One chapter is told in Vienna 1899 and the next is told In Germany ‘1940s’-not even a specific year.

In Vienna we are with Dr Josef Breuer, and we are rather cryptically told throughout that ‘he had relations’ with patients. But we never actually meet this ‘Bertha’. His creepy obsession with the new patient Lilie (who he named after a painting about lust…) just made me uncomfortable. He sends his poor assistant (who is actually the only character in this I liked) into situations where he knows he will come to harm and he treats his maid, who is constantly reminding him how loyal she is, like dirt. The first unlikable character. The second being Lilie herself. It’s not even that she is that unlikable, not in the horrible way that Josef is, but she seems to think she is a robot (which isn’t explained until much further in the book) and it establishes some kind of sci-fi element. It is not a sci-fi novel! She is inhuman and she acts it. Also butterflies seem to follow her around and I can honestly say if the reason for this was ever explained, I missed it.

Perhaps the reason we are in the ‘1940s’ and not an actual year in Germany, is because every other section we are jumping in time. We are now with Krysta, a little girl whose father works as doctor at a concentration camp. But one minute we are with her and her father in what I can only assume is the present, and the next minute we are with her and their old maid, who tells her fairy tales. Which is lovely, but the constant time changing gets annoying fast. And here is the other thing, Josef is horrible, but Krysta is an absolute spoiled brat. I’d say around 80% of her dialogue is her saying ‘won’t’ when asked to do something. She is extremely unlikable, and she isn’t even interesting. I felt absolutely no sympathy towards her at any point, even though terrible things happened in her sections of the book.

The thing is that, I have recently read Jessie Burton’s, ‘The Muse’ and I felt she done the time swaps beautifully. We spent enough time with both sides, she left us in suspense, and when it came to discovering the connection between the two, I was genuinely hooked on figuring it out, it was like a who done it and I was racing to solve it first. With this book however, I couldn’t have cared less what the connection was –Spoiler alert, it is absolute nonsense. It was really just the childish imaginings of a spoiled, privileged girl.

My biggest issue with this book, was the languages. I understand that the characters would speak their own language to each other, so when things are repeated to explain it to the reader, it sounds silly.  Things like Frau and Herr Doktor add authenticity to it, these words I like to see throughout and would actually expect. But when the maid asks ‘Perhaps a rakott palascinta to follow? I know how fond you are of sweet pancakes’ –this sounds ridiculous, he knows what she is saying so why would she explain it? Things like this happen throughout and most of the conversations end up sounding silly and how no one would actually speak to one another.

This is one of the more difficult books I have ever read, and my love for fairy tales made me continue with it, but I just didn’t enjoy it and even the fairy tale parts were unfortunately not enough for me.

Charlotte.

The Heartless City-Review

I stumbled across Andrea Berthot on twitter one day and seen she had a link to her book in her bio. Decided to have a look and then quickly decided I needed to have a read. And I must say, I made a fabulous discovery.

It’s 1903 and London has been in quarantine for 13 years. Dr Jekyll has accidentally created a race of heart eating monsters. The monarchy has fled leaving the Lord Mayor in charge. Elliot Morrissey, the son of the most prominent doctor (who is searching for a cure) has suffered his own brush with a science experiment gone wrong, and finds himself an empath, someone who can feel the emotions of everyone around them.

He forms an unlikely ally in Iris Faye, but soon finds she is not what she seems, like everyone else around him. Together they and their friends discover the truth of who is pulling the strings in Jekyll’s wake, and why citizens are waking up in the street infected, with no memory of ever having taken the Hyde drug…

 The book begins with a prologue, and I must admit it was slightly confusing as at this point we are with Iris and her mother and its years before. Oh and we don’t know its Iris until later on when we meet her again. But the very distinct description of her hair and eyes are a signifier later, and we need this scene to get a little background on the story. However it does start as if it is a prequel to the story we are going to enter (which I wouldn’t be against, I’d love to see Virginia’s full story).

There is good evidence that Andrea done her homework on Victorian London throughout, but in some ways it doesn’t even matter as this is a London where time has stopped. They have no influence from the outside world, other than what Cam, the Lord Mayors son has snuck in through food shipments. It is interesting to see a London so uncultured. Cam says, ‘Beyond this city there are new songs, new ideas, new everything.’ In reality London is such a vibrant moving city, but we have joined it in a time when everyone wants to get out, to move on from the past they are stuck in. Elliot, Cam and their friend Andrew, all do the exact same job as their fathers. There are no opportunities, no other careers. The women are stuck to being maids, waitresses, barmaids. Even Virginia the scientist must hideaway her intelligence.

My one issue when it comes to the female characters is Philomena. She has the quick wit and independence to make her a fast favourite, but she isn’t introduced until she is needed. This bothered me slightly as she is such an interesting character, and the second book of the series ‘The Hypnotic City’ is even dedicated to her adventures after the quarantine. But she is only introduced to the story when we discover that Cams father wants to marry him off. I don’t like to think of Philomena as a plot device, as she is probably one of the most well rounded characters in the series.

I do feel like the characters and the relationships are what mattered in this book. The hydes and the quarantine are exciting and consistent and add a good twist to the end of the story, but I feel these characters would bring life to any story. This could have been set in regular London and I still would have loved every single character, (even the bad guys were well developed).

However the relationship between Elliot and Iris did move exceptionally quickly. One minute he meets her in the bar she works in and a few hours later he is gushing about how brave she is and how much he admires her. Yes he is an empath and can see her emotions, but I would have liked an extension to this declaration. If anything, I wanted the story to be longer to allow for this.

My 2 absolute favourite things about this book were:

  • The painting scene. When Elliot takes Iris into the room he used to paint in with his mother, my heart melted.
  • Cam and Andrew’s relationship. Just because something is set in a time when it was not okay to be openly gay, does not mean that no one was gay. We can see the bond between these 2 from the beginning, and the struggle of not being free to be open about it only makes it that much stronger. It’s not something that should be hidden.

I would really recommend this book. If you are into historical fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, there is honestly a bit of something for everyone. Also pick up the second in the series ‘The Hypnotic City’, as I am currently reading and enjoying it. So happy to see Philomena in her own story, and we are now in New York, so that’s fun!

 

Charlotte.

The Princess saves herself in this one- Review

The Princess saves herself in this one- Amanda Lovelace

-the story of a princess turned damsel turned queen

 

I wanted to review this poetry book but kept thinking, ‘How can I review poetry?’ Although I have studied it and wrote it and critiqued it, it’s hard to tell where credibility matters when judging something so raw.

All I can really focus on is how this poetry book made me feel. How I opened one page and didn’t stop reading until I got to the end. How I keep thinking about it and then going back to reread certain pages. How I even made one poem the screensaver on my phone, because I want to look at the words every time I open it.

It’s strange to me how relatable I found this book when some of the themes have nothing to do with my own life. I have a good relationship with both of my parents and sister (who are all alive) and although I’ve had far from great experiences with relationships, I’m yet to encounter any ‘dragons’.

Yet when Amanda Lovelace began ‘The Princess’ with ‘I was born a little bookmad’ I was hooked. I thought, here is someone speaking my language. Although I perhaps started out thinking the whole book would be poetic metaphors about reading Fairy tales, and soon found out I was wrong, I still loved the story she told. This isn’t an Anne Sexton book of poems about fairy tales, it’s about living one. Battling your demons and your dragons and coming out the other side realising you don’t need a hero to save you. You are the hero of your story. This is something everyone needs to learn about themselves and I found it truly beautiful and inspiring.

‘The Princess

jumped from

the tower

& she

learned

that she

could fly

all along.

-she never needed those wings.’

 

 

Charlotte.

September/October/November Wrap-up

Okay so, I’ve fallen behind on my monthly wrap-ups, partly because I have been super busy and partly because I have read embarrassingly little recently (due to the being super busy). But I would like to catch up/ read more… Which I should be able to achieve, bring on that Christmas break, yay!

September Books:

1) Soulless By Gail Carriger 

I first read this book quite a few years ago now, and then I bought the second in the series, Changeless, but never got around to reading it. But after I finished Gail’s Finishing School series I wanted to give this series another go. So I re-read Soulless, and I loved it as much the second time.

Vampires, werewolves, Victorian London, robots and afternoon tea, what more could you want in a book really? I love Alexia Tarabotti, she’s got the right amount of sass and sexiness for a pretty kickass protagonist, but still keeps her womanly charms. I love any character who likes tea as much as I do. Also her and Lord Maccon melt me! Can’t get enough of those two.

5 stars!

1Soulless.jpg 

2) Changeless By Gail Carriger

Second in the Parasol protectorate series. I won’t say too much as it may spoil the first one… But I will say I didn’t love it as much as the first! Was a little disaapointed. The storyline was really good and gave a deeper insight into the world (which is useful for the next book) But it just lacked action for me, not a whole lot really happened in it.

3 stars

Changeless.jpg

3)The Year of Saying Yes By Hannah Doyle

I really really loved this book. We looked into the romance genre in my genre class at uni, and we had to read a Mills and Boon novel, which would literally almost turn you off the genre forever. But it’s books like this that make me keep reading them. Ones that aren’t just about some girl obsessed with some guy. Okay to be fair the protagonist is obsessed with some guy, but she has way more going on in her life and that is addressed. She has a torn relationship with her sister, she has a bestie who is struggling with alcoholism and she is working her way up at her amazing magazine job, which btw, totally makes me want to become a feature writer…

‘The year of saying yes’ article is so inspiring, why should we stop ourselves from doing things instead of taking on new challenges. I’ll definitely be thinking of this book when I make my new years resolutions this coming new years.

5 stars!

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4) The Songs in our Hearts By Chantal Gadoury 

Chantal reached out to me asking to review this book. Unfortunately I couldn’t bring myself to write a lone review post for this book, as honestly I have nothing positive to say about it.

The story was very dull, nothing really happened. The characters were uninteresting, especially the protagonist, and I really didn’t care about her relationships with any of the other characters.

I think the only good thing I could say is that it has a pretty cover?

1 star

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October Books:

1) Shut Eye By Adam Baron

Okay so Adam is one of my creative writing tutors at uni. He asked us to read his book for our crime genre lesson. I guess I never really read much crime, but I did end up enjoying this book. The whole ‘who done it’ thing is quite exciting, and honestly if you told me you knew in this book, I would not believe you. Totally blindsided.

It has even inspired me to write crime for Adams class this year! I will be doing mine about Jack the Ripper… So watch out, I may share some day.

4 stars

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2) Blameless By Gail Carriger

The third book in the series did make up for the second. I still loved the first best, and neither have compared to it really. But I will say this one had more than enough drama to make up for the slight lack of action in the previous one.

4 stars

carriger_blameless.jpg

November Books:

1) Tell No One By Harlan Coben 

Another book I had to read for my genre class, this one was for thriller week. This book was so good. And honestly I don’t think Coben is the most poetic author, but he knows how to play with a reader! Too many twists. I love how he gave us a tiny teaser of something happening and then left it hanging. He asks us questions on the first page we don’t learn the answer to until the last, he almost made me become one of those people who read the last page at the start…

4 stars

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2) Uprooted By Naomi Novik 

So I usually love anything fantasy/fairy tale related so when my friend told me about this it was immediately added to my amazon basket. I loved the opening, the foresty atmosphere was right up my street and I was so excited to explore this world more. But my one issue with it is that everything happens a bit too fast. We go straight into action and there isn’t much chance to reflect on the world that we’ve entered, which is a bit of a shame because it seems incredibly interesting. I want to learn more about Jaga and the history of the world, but we didn’t really get to.

My biggest criticism is that I want more please. Thank you.

4 stars

th_b_novik_uprooted.jpg

Okay I am caught up on my wrap-ups! I will try to do my next ones every month and hopefully I will manage more than 2 books a month from now on.

 

Charlotte.

 

Allerleirauh- Review

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‘Once Upon a Time…

In the kingdom of Tranen, a king makes a promise to his dying wife that he’ll only remarry a woman who possesses her golden hair. In time, the king’s eyes are turned by his daughter. Realizing her father’s intentions, Princess Aurelia tries to trick him by requesting impossible gifts: dresses created by the sun, moon and stars, and a coat made of a thousand furs. But when he is successful, Aurelia sacrifices her privileged life and flees her kingdom, disguised by the cloak and a new name, Allerleirauh.

She enters the safe haven of Saarland der Licht, where the handsome and gentle Prince Klaus takes her under his care. Hoping not to be discovered by her father’s courtiers, Allerleirauh tries to remain hidden under her new identity when she finds unexpected love with Prince Klaus, even though his arranged marriage to the princess of a neighboring kingdom approaches. Risking everything, Allerleirauh must face her troubled past and her fears of the future along her journey to self-acceptance in this triumphant retelling of the classic Grimm Fairy Tale.’

 

 

The first time I came across this Fairy Tale, was in Kate Forsyth’s novel The Wild Girl. Dortchen Wild, the wife of Wilhelm Grimm tells it to him, as A Thousand Furs. I thought it was a tragic and beautiful story and I used reference to it in my poem The Wild Deer.

When I seen Chantal Gadoury post about her novel I was so excited to check it out, I pre-ordered it straight away, although it’s a shame I didn’t get a hard copy as it has the most stunning cover!

It was nice to get a deeper insight into the Fairy Tale characters. As much as I love Fairy Tales, it’s much harder to connect to the characters with the distant voice generally used. Not that Aurelia story is easy to connect with, but it is easy to sympathize with. She isn’t always completely likable, as at times she can be slightly passive, but she is brave enough to bring her request for the dresses and the cloak to her father, and it was her own idea to attempt to burn them.

I generally thought that this was a well thought out retelling. I love the original story, but it’s great to go your own way with a story, there’s no point keeping it the exact same. Something I’d like to accomplish with my own retellings as well.

Unfortunately I did spot a few spelling and grammar issues in it, which was a bit disappointing because it did take me out of the magic of the world. I’ll forgive these mistakes, as we all make some mistakes. I definitely do in my writing.

Overall I would give this book 4 silver Starry dresses!

 

Charlotte.

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July Wrap-up

July wasn’t a massive reading month for me, but I did manage to get through 4 books and start a fifth. Those books are as follows:

1) Melody’s Key By Dallas Coryell

I won’t say too much about this one as my previous post is a full review of it as I was asked by the author to provide a review. This was an interesting read with a beautiful musical theme throughout. Although there were also some problems that I struggled to overlook, but you’ll have to read my full review to find out what they were…

Overall I would give this book 3 stars

Cover-Melodys Key (1)

2) Our Chemical Hearts By Krystal Sutherland 

I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t have that high of expectations as it was just something I bought for my kindle to avoid having to carry books around while traveling. I was very pleasantly surprised and would give this book about 4.5 stars (because it wasn’t 100% perfect but pretty close).

I actually found the main character Henry Page very relatable, which isn’t something I usually experience with male protagonists, but his struggles as a writer are similar to my own. I also find his need for Graces attention and his understanding that his feelings are wrong refreshing, as these are not always things presented from male characters.

I would definitely recommend giving this book a read if you are a fan of the not so happy ending romance… Also it might be a slight tear jerker at times if that’s your kind of thing? To me it was like a mix of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park and Jesse Andrews Me and Earl and the dying Girl. 

download

3) Penelope By Rebecca Harrington

So I won’t lie, I did pick up this book because I thought it was the book of the Christina Ricci film. When I read the blurb and realised it was not, I still bought it anyway because it didn’t sound awful and it had cute animated animals on the cover.

After typing it into Goodreads and reading some of the reviews, I was slightly skeptical, because they were mostly extremely poor, like 1 star max. However it was a sunny day in Ireland, I was out catching some rays and in a mood to give it a chance. So I did, and I don’t think I discovered a book that was a 1 star read. It certainly wasn’t a 5 star either, but I’d like to give it more than 1, so I’m going to settle with 2.5 stars.

The general synopsis of the book is that Penelope is going off to college and struggles fitting in a bit. Some of the criticism this book seemed to get is that Penelope was passive and boring, and yes I will confirm that is true. I usually can’t stand a passive protagonist, but I usually read books where more things happen. This book however is very slow paced, nothing major really happens, it really is just about a shy girl who goes to college and struggles to fit in. So in that way I don’t have a problem with Penelope being passive and boring, because this book is about her finding her way and towards the end it really does seem like she is going to. I was almost sad this book ended after just one year of her college experience because I really began to have faith in Penelope, and I sort of think that was the point of this book?

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4) Stalking Jack the Ripper By Kerri Maniscalo

So I really loved this book, and I also watched loads of serial documentaries with my sister over summer so I don’t know if I should be concerned about my new interest or if I should consider becoming a crime writer? We will see what happens…

Audrey Rose is a fierce fierce lady, and I love the thought that women like her existed in Victorian times. She was way ahead of her time and made my inner feminist cheer a little (a lot).

At points I found the book slightly predictable, but I think that is a risk of any crime book, of course we are going to suspect every single character. My main issue was that we found out who the killer was, because I was annoyed  that didn’t happen in real life. However after I thought about it more, I actually think Maniscalo is a genius, because of course in real life the ripper very well could have been found and covered up exactly as she has wrote! My inner ripperologist was also going crazy reading this. So if you are interested in unsolved crime, or crime, or historical fiction at all, read this!

5 stars!

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*I also started reading What Happened to Goodbye By Sarah Dessen, but as I read most of it in August I will include it in my August wrap-up instead.

Charlotte.

Review: The Paper Magician-Charlie N. Holmberg

This is one of the very few books I have actually read on my kindle, generally preferring a solid copy, but when I read the description of this book I couldn’t resist, I mean she can read out words on paper and the images appear in front of her!? I must learn more of this magic.

Obviously I found the plot of this book instantly fascinating, and something I hadn’t heard of before, magicians bonding themselves to certain materials was a new form of magic to me and I loved the idea of it. As well as the intriguing plot, this book also offers quite interesting characters. So often I complain about 2 dimensional characters that are totally void of personality, and that sometimes when the plot is strong all focus goes to that and the author forgets about the character. However Holmberg managed to make both equally fascinating, both main characters are set up with a wonderful air of mystery and their secrets are slowly revealed quite well.

Unfortunately (now we get to the bad stuff) in spite of this fabulous plot and multi- dimensional characters, throughout this book you can’t help but feel like something is constantly missing. And that is because so much is! The idea is that Ceony graduated Tagis Praff and is starting her apprenticeship with Thane. Now I don’t know about anyone else but when I started at this point in Ceony’s story I had to go back and check I was definitely reading the first book in the series, as it seems like Ceony’s time at school should have been included, and also would have given readers a much better insight into the world which the book is set. I mean I know the whole magic school thing has been done before, but hey it works right? (Also if I am wrong about this plot being original please correct me as I’d love to read something similar!)

In general the setting of this book is not built on enough. I only discovered this book was set in the 20th century from reading someone else’s review of it. There are so many things that were not described in this setting and should have been, I mean Lira, a female, was wearing tight trousers? Is that historically accurate? Point being: if you are going to go historical fiction, put a lot of time and research into it. Don’t have it where it could set anywhere, commit to the world you have selected. Another thing disappointing about the setting is that it is set only on the outskirts of London? I use a question mark on this statement as I personally can not understand how you can set a book right beside one of the most vibrant cities in the world and not use it. Do you even need more inspiration for a story than ’20th century London’?

Overall my biggest criticism to Charlie N. Holmberg is technically a compliment, as I’m in love with the plot and characters of this book, but I want SO MUCH more of it! More research, more setting, more background and also not meaning to spoil but more romance in your romance.Of course due to my wildly romantic hopes I have every intention of reading the follow up ‘The Glass Magician’ to see if Holmberg can deliver, and to catch up with Ceony and Thane of course.

Charlotte.

‘How to Build a Girl’ Caitlin Moran-Review

I first bought this book over a year ago, being drawn in by the ripped tights and doc martens. However I was immediately disturbed by the image of a 14 year old girl masturbating beside her 6 year old brother on the first page and promptly put the book down and picked up another.

But now a year on, I like protagonist Johanna Morrigan have reinvented myself- Into the kind of girl who keeps a jar of book titles and reads whatever she pulls out. And I am so glad I pulled this book and gave it another chance, because I absolutely loved it.

I am generally a fan of teen books and coming of age books. The greatest part about this one was in spite of there being more than two male love interests, this wasn’t a typical teen book where some horny teenage girl obsesses over some boy. If anything this is about a horny teenage girl learning to obsess over herself, and that is pretty cool. I think the quote, ‘But in the end, like all great stories, I did it all for a girl. Me.’ is the possibly the best thing I have ever read on the blurb of a book.

I am not going to lie and say that I love Johanna, as she (and everyone else in this book) isn’t the most likable character. If anything she is rather cringy and her bluntness and overt sexuality can make you rather uncomfortable at times. But the compelling thing about her character is how raw she is. It is extremely refreshing to find a character who is completely aware of her flaws and insecurities, and you know what if she wants to be a full-time Lady sex adventurer , I say you do you girl.

As a 20 year old girl living in Northern Ireland in 2016, I didn’t think I’d really relate to a 14-17 year old girl from Wolverhampton in the 1990’s but I was quite wrong. Mainly like Johanna I have horrendous judgement and would also have fallen right into the arms (and bed) of dreamy Tony Rich (who doesn’t love the asshole guy?). But like Johanna when it comes to love I can too be a hopeless romantic and have fallen madly in love with the first ever guy to pay me attention and totally would have loved to have gotten drunk on gin with John Kite. (Also I’m a massive fangirl like her, for example I finished my second paragraph of this review with ‘I absolutely loved it!)

Caitlin Moran combines numerous themes in this book to build and make comment on the society and setting it takes place in, such as politics, sexuality and depression and I believe each character truly has a well purposed place within the story. The theme which stood out most for me was the idea of rebuilding yourself. Not killing yourself physically but making a decision to change how you are and I think that this is so important. Because the thing is, you are never going to find your perfect self on the first try and if you never change you never learn and you never grow. To me that is what this book is really about: self discovery.

Overall I found Johanna’s journey to find a version of herself she was content with really brave and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I told my friend about a particular penis+vomit in mouth scene and she replied to me with three crying emojis and three laughing emojis, and I think that perfectly sums up how I felt reading this book. Caitlin Moran created a wonderful voice and writes with an excellent blend of drama and humour and I will definitely begin exploring more of her work.

-Two more side-notes:

  1. I had never before heard of Oscar Wilde’s fabulous degenerate lesbian niece Dolly, but I must remember to tweet Caitlin Moran and thank her for educating me on her
  2. And lastly, Johanna’s passion for writing and reviewing has finally inspired me to start doing my own reviews, so I must also thank her for that

 

Charlotte.