Friday, 30 October 2015

Mirrored by Alex Flinn

Description from Goodreads

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Alex Flinn's modern and mysterious retelling of Snow White, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and true love doesn't necessarily mean Prince Charming.

Celine's life is the stuff fairy tales are made of. She's beautiful, talented, and brave. Unfortunately, her tale comes complete with a wicked stepmother! When Violet steps into Celine's life, everything changes and weird things begin to happen to her—bizarre accidents, strange illnesses, and rabid animal attacks. Celine doesn't feel safe anywhere. It's almost as if some hateful witch is out to get her.

And there is. Violet has been waiting all her life to have Celine's father to herself. Getting rid of his gorgeous daughter is child's play for a witch as powerful as she is. Happy-ever-after isn't enough for Violet. She wants to be the fairest of them all, and Celine is in the way . . . but not for long.

Forced to take refuge with her friend Goose and his family, Celine gives up everything she loves and goes deep undercover. But will it be enough to fool Violet, or will Celine's fate be decided by a reflection in a magic mirror? And where do you find Prince Charming in Miami anyway?

Mirrored is a modern retelling of Snow White—told from the points of view of Violet, Celine, and Goose—with all the magic and mystery readers will love.

Well, well, well. I have to say that this was my very first Snow White retelling and I was really looking forward to it. The author also being a published writer made me even more excited. Yet, I finished reading Mirrored with very mixed feelings. Even though the novel was a light and easy summer read -type of book, there was this certain simpleness to it which made me a bit disappointed. However characters like Goose and multiple point of views definitely were the life savers, making me even smile a bit while reading. 

Maybe I should start off with the good things. First of all, I really enjoyed the compartmentalisation of the book  - 4 parts, 4 point of views. The novel began in 1984, when Violet, the evil step-mother, was just a child and wasn't aware of her magical powers. She was the teased 'ugly duckling' virtually with no friends, despite of being bright and kind. The first quarter of the novel was dedicated to showing the motivation behind Violet's action later on - which was the best freaking part of the book. I absolutely love it when authors humanise the villains by show their backgrounds, what they have gone through, and what made them eventually the people they are in the present. Even though I ended up hating Violet, I can't help but feeling empathy too for her. She really had it hard.  

Another amazing thing about this novel was the fact that Goose was just being Goose all the time - he must have been the only constant thing floating the whole boat called Mirrored. While our Snow White, Celine, was undoubtedly the most beautiful girl in the world (because it was announced pretty much in every paragraph, and it got pretty annoying pretty quickly - we got that the she is beautiful by the time it was told readers 50 times), I didn't really identify with her that well. Yes, she was described as kind and loyal, but at times she just felt too innocent and too good-hearted. I mean, I can't say one fault in her and that just isn't my thing because people aren't perfect, and that's perfectly fine! But on the other hand, I don't want to be too harsh on Celine, because well, there wasn't anything wrong with her (duh). Maybe she just wasn't my type of heroine this time. But yes, going back to the original point: Goose. Goose wasn't perfect with his insecurities, yet he was able to overcome them and that made him so loveable. With his funny, courageous and determined personality, who couldn't like him? Especially when Goose got his own point of view!

Something tells me that if I had been 10 years younger, maybe even 5 years younger, I would have probably loved this novel. I'm 22, so maybe I'm just getting a bit old for Young Adult fantasy? But then again, I've just recently read some amazing YA fantasy books which had the depth of adult fiction, good vocabulary, and general maturity to them. From my point of view, Mirrored was some what lacking in all of these aspects. The novel felt thoroughly superficial and immature (excluding Goose), and I kept wondering to myself "is this really a young adult novel, and not a children's book?", because it most definitely felt like one. Maybe it was the author's aim, to have a light and juvenile retelling of Snow White, but why, why would she do that when the book had so much potential to be so much more? All the ingredients were there: great themes of importance of family and inner beauty, very interesting characters, and original additions to otherwise well-known story.

I have to add though that there was some pretty serious raving about Game of Thrones and its brilliancy, so that alone made me to give this novel one extra star. I mean, if someone has so much good to say about Game of Thrones and its actors, there is always hope for the thing/person (surprisingly, it was Goose who was praising the show..). I think this novel will be right up someone's alley, but Mirrored wasn't just my thing. I did enjoy the novel but I think I started feeling that way after I'd read 70%. I suppose I could think Mirrored as a fun, light summer read, but for me, it was just a bit too childish. But I don't regret reading it either, it had its fun and deep moments, and that's why it's so difficult to give a rating to this book.
+(For the Game of Thrones referencing)

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Description from Goodreads

A new YA novel from novelist Patrick Ness, author of the Carnegie Medal- and Kate Greenaway Medal-winning A Monster Calls and the critically acclaimed Chaos Walking trilogy, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a bold and irreverent novel that powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

What if you aren't the Chosen One? The one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you're like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week's end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Patrick Ness's books are sort of like a comfort blanket for me - you can never go wrong with his novels. His writing is always so on point, his characters engaging, the humour always gets to me, and this author always handles important topics with such subtlety, such precision that it's impossible not to get affected by Ness's ideas and thoughts. The Rest of Us Just Live Here wasn't any different, in fact, this novel might be my favourite of all of his work that I've had the pleasure to read. 

The Rest of Us Just Live Here was very different from what I've ever read before. Instead of writing about the Chosen One, Ness had decided to focus on Mike who has always been on the sidelines and will continue to be, at least in terms of saviours of the world from vampires, Immortals, and whatnots. Even though we cleverly (and also somewhat mockingly too, which was just awesome, bless you Patrick Ness) get to see what the Chosen Ones are doing as every chapter starts off with a brief chapter of their doings, the majority of the novel doesn't focus on the fantasy element, making the novel strongly more a contemporary novel than anything else. The readers get a glance into Mike and his friends lives, what troubles they go through and how they try to stick together. After all, they are the only thing they really have, and need. 

I was kind of surprised how dark the mood was. The novel wasn't exactly depressing, but it definitely had that sad existential crisis feeling to it. What's my worth? Am I really needed in this world by others? These are probably questions that all of us think about at some point in our lives, some more often than others, Mike belonging to the former group. In fact, he got so anxious about these thoughts that he had started to develop obsessive-compulsive behaviours, which were somber and disheartening to read about. And on top of this, Mike's friends weren't without their problems either. What was really heart-warming though, was that these friends had very strong bonds formed between them and they relied on and supported each other. And this element was the exact reason why I liked this novel much. The friends didn't just bail at the first sight of trouble - they stayed, like a brick wall, from the very beginning to the end.

Ness is somewhat a literary prince - I want to have his book-babies (whatever that means). His style of writing combined with smart remarks and  observations is exactly my kind of thing. Ness also has an impeccable eye (mind?) for writing cinematic text. When I was reading The Rest of Us Just Live Here, it was just so effortless to picture all the events playing in my head and go with the flow. The pages basically turned by themselves, which can be pretty tricky to write considering that this was a character-driven novel rather than focusing on action and blowing high schools (but some of that might have been included too). 

What else can I say, but read the novel! The Rest of Us Just Live Here is packed with diverse  and multidimensional characters, profound yet subtle elements of self-exploration and mental illnesses, occasional good laughs, and also with a commentary about friends sometimes being the real family. I feel very privileged that I got a chance to read this, because it definitely made me think about my own friends and family, and how I don't need to be the Chosen One to be special and needed. Very, very solid 4 stars. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#31): Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Waiting on Wednesday is about sharing a book every week you cannot wait to be published. 
This week, I'm waiting on

by Nicole Castroman

Description from Goodreads

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything. This is their story.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to CuraƧao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

Genre: Young adult, Romance, Historical, Fantasy, Adventure, Pirates, Retellings

Pages: 320

Expected Publication: February 9, 2016

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Adventure.. Pirates.. Romance.. This is exactly what I've been looking for! I can't tell you how difficult it seems to be for me to come across with fascinating adventure stories, and this one here, Blackhearts, this is definitely fascinating to me. It just sounds so perfect with the setting, and the forbidden romance, and ugh, probably heartache too and heart-pounding escapes. Count me in!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (#29): Horror To-Be-Read List

Top Ten Tuesday this week is about 

 Horror TBR List 
(In no particular order)

1. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee. 

I love the original Frankenstein story by Mary Shelley, so I have to admit that I'm looking forward to what kind of retelling Lee has written for us. I actually have this on my Kindle, so I can't wait to get to it! I think I'm going to read it exactly on Halloween, just to make it a bit creepier. 

2. Horns by Joe Hill. 

I've been wanting to read Horns forever now, but I just recently moved to a different city, and now I can't find the book from my local bookstore! UGH. I think I just need to rely (once again) on the magic of Bookdepository.

3. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma.

Another beauty! I just wish I had all the money in the world, so I just could keep on buying books like this. I've read so many good reviews on The Walls Around Us, and as it sounds exactly my piece of cake, I promise that I'll get around to it. Sometime. Promise. 

4. The Stand by Stephen King. 

I have a huuuuge confession to make. I've never read a book by Stephen King. There, I said it! The source of my eternal shame. It's not that I don't think his books aren't appealing to me, but it just that they are very intimidating. In size. I'm sure many of us been there. I mean, I see this very interesting book, but then. You see how big it is. And you get scared and run for the hills. BUT. I want to do it as well. And I will. 

5. Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by various authors. 

Are you serious?! Short stories by Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Nova Ren Suma, and April Genevieve Tucholke, among many other cool names. This is a must. 

6. The Passage (The Passage #1) by Justin Croin. 

Yet another book which has been on my TBR list forever. I'm kind of starting to feel sorry for myself for not even trying to read these wonderful sounding books. What's wrong with me, seriously. Take The Passage - it has such a unique premise with all kinds of survival, sci-fi, and horror elements in it. And I think I even might have it on my Kindle.. Yep, just checked it. I have it on my Kindle. No excuse anymore then.

7. Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Another walk of shame but this time with this little dark baby. To add even more to your shock, I haven't seen the movie either. And the thing is that I could get the book online only for a couple of pounds. Maybe I should...

8. Let the Right One In by John Ahvide Lindqvist. 

Reading this bad boy here would serve me in two different ways: 1) most likely entertain to me to death (no pun here intended..) and 2) the original book is in Swedish, and since I really want to practise my Swedish, I could try to read in the original language. Even though I might miss half of the plot in the end. 

9. Blood and Salt (Blood and Salt #1) by Kim Liggett.

 I was a bit hesitant at first to add Blood and Salt to my list, since many of my Goodreads friends hadn't exactly loved it. BUT. I do find the synopsis pretty intriguing and I'm willing to give it a chance. 

10. The Nest by Kenneth Oppel. 

I just discovered this book about 10 minutes ago when I was on Goodreads, and I was immediately hooked by the blurb as it described the novel as 'eerie' and it has illustrations! And besides, the rating is over 4.0 so count me in.

What  Halloween-y or horror books do you have on your TBR list?