Monthly Archives: October 2015

Happy Halloween

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel with more than 500 pages. In the spirit of October I decided to change my first choice and pick a spookier book. I found The Little Stranger on Pinterest under the top 50 scariest books. I adore scary stories, even if it means a night of restless sleep. The books I like the most are the unsettling ones. I’m not much of a slasher gore fan, but I do like psychological thrillers and paranormal novels. The Little Stranger fell perfectly in my category.

The back of the novel describes it as very similar to The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, which is just the kind of scary novel I like. The movie based on James’s work, The Innocents, remains one of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen.

The Little Stranger, like The Turn of the Screw, deals with the unknown paranormal realm and the people that try to make sense of it. I can’t wait to see what scares The Little Stranger has in store.

Stay tuned for the ghostly review. Happy reading!

Human Croquet

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Human Croquet is like the offspring of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, Grimm’s fairy tales, and a dash of Agatha Christie. The origin story is all Terry Pratchett magic with dashes of Jane Eyre and the wife in the attic. The story quickly progresses to that of Isobel Fairfax, a descendant of the illustrious Fairfax’s, and her painful coming of age in small town Lythe, England. Isobel’s story starts on her 16th birthday and continually moves back and forth in time to tell the story of her family as a whole and the decisions they made that shaped their lives and their worlds. The further Isobel goes into her own family’s past the more she learns about the past of the land she inhabits. Full of images of fairy tales like Bluebeard and literary allusions, a la William Shakespeare as a tutor to one of Isobel’s ancestors, Human Croquet tells a complex story of fate and how fate can play out over centuries.

The one thing that struck me the most whilst reading Human Croquet was how flawed human perception is. We really do see what we want to see and make up stories to explain exactly what we saw. Isobel does precisely this throughout the novel. She creates scenes to help explain and block out her own past, especially regarding her mother Eliza.

Eliza is probably the most interesting character in the whole novel. At first she’s not quite real. She doesn’t even have quotations when she speaks. She speaks all in italics like an all knowing seer, or what I imagine the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. Her history is tragic and colors the entire world around her. Her absence is felt by everyone in the novel and as a consequence you as the reader feel it too. Her absence is where the Agatha Christie dashes come to play. It takes the entire novel to figure out what happened to Eliza and her end is just as dramatic and tragic as her beginning.

I can’t tell you how much fun this novel was to read. Just trying to guess all of the literary illusions was entertaining in itself. Atkinson has a way with words. Her sentences are beautiful and flow effortlessly into one another. I love how each of her novels has a facade storyline and an unseen one that you have to piece together yourself. Her writing is dense and full. but that’s what I love about it. Atkinson novels always make you think and second guess yourself. But isn’t that what literature is all about, digging and discovering what it means to you.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015.

Playing Games

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book that I own but have not yet read. For this category I chose Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson. After finding Case Histories lying on a table in a coffee shop I went on a Kate Atkinson binge. Her writing is so lyrical and compelling. Life After Life was absolutely enthralling. Her characters are always so well developed and all a bit damaged. You have to look at them through tarnished glass to see them clearly.

It was during this binge that I bought Human Croquet. I moved and lost it for a bit but just found the book the other day in a box I hadn’t unpacked. I can’t wait to start this Atkinsonian journey. I’m sure exciting things are in store. From the jacket, this book promises a rip roaring time warping adventure story. Set in England in the 1960s, Human Croquet is told from the persective of 16 year old Isobel as she tries to navigate family secrets and growing up.

Stay tuned for the full review of Human Croquet. Happy reading!

Scarlet

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After finishing Cinder I was so caught up in this alternative fairy tale world that I had to go out and buy the next two books in the series. I even changed up my book choice for this category because I wanted to continue. And I have to say that Scarlet did not disappoint.

At first I was a bit throw off. I had been so caught up in Cinder’s character and her world that it was a bit jarring to suddenly find myself in someone else’s. Scarlet is a spit fire of a person. She is intensely loyal and intensely hot tempered. This novel kicks off with Scarlet looking for her grandmother who she is convinced has been kidnapped. The police refuse to believe that anything untoward has happened and drop the case. Though Scarlet refuses to drop it. She decides to take up the case herself and begins her search for her grandmother. During the search she meets Wolf, a mysterious stranger and street fighter. He tells her that he will help her find her grandmother and she accepts. Together they go off into the woods in search of Michelle Benoit.

I loved seeing the elements of Little Red Riding Hood being led down the path by the wolf. Scarlet is so alternately naive and worldly. She is eager to place her trust in anyone to find her beloved grandmother. But, just like Red Riding Hood, there are a few surprises in store for Scarlet.

Let’s not forget Cinder. Her narrative picks up with her in a prison cell waiting to be transported to Luna. After a visit from the doctor, Cinder is able to escape the prison and sets out in search of Michelle Benoit, the woman who might have held her while she recovered from her injuries as a child. During her search, Cinder and Scarlet cross paths and Cinder’s past comes out.

I won’t give too much away from the plot. Only to say that Scarlet is a wonderful addition to the Lunar Chronicles. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Cinder and co in Cress. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel with a color in the title. Originally I was going to read a different novel for this category but after reading Cinder I just had to continue with the series. So instead of reading the novel I had chosen, I’m reading Scarlett by Marissa Meyer.

I have to say I am absolutely loving the world Meyer has created. There are elements of Star Wars, Grimm’s fairy tales, and heroes journeys. Each of her characters is so fleshed out I can’t wait to find out more about them.

In this particular novel we are going to meet Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. I can’t wait to see Meyer’s take on this classic fairy tale.

Stay tuned for the full review of Scarlett. Happy reading!

Cinder

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New Beijing is a melting pot of humans and androids, science and the living. Stuck smack dab in the middle is Cinder, a cyborg mechanic with big dreams. The novel starts out much like Cinderella. Cinder is under appreciated and overworked by her wicked stepmother. Gifted with mechanical abilities, Cinder uses her knowledge to provide for her adoptive family. But things change when the prince comes to Cinder’s stall and asks for her help fixing a royal android. Little does Cinder know that this android holds the key to her past and will open up endless possibilities and endless strife.

While reading Cinder, I loved tracing the story of Cinderella and seeing the differences. Creating a cyborg Cinderella is a bold move but an amazing one. I really enjoyed that Cinder was a strong female character. She didn’t sit by passively while life happens to her or wait for a fairy godmother. She goes out and gets what she wants. She strives to be in control of her own destiny one way or another.

I also enjoyed the relationship progression between Kai and Cinder. It never felt particularly forced and moved on at a more natural pace. Both actually acted more like the teenagers they both are. They’re confused and not sure how to proceed. They don’t know what will happen in the future and desperately want to find out.

But all is not a fairy tale in New Beijing. A deadly plague has been sweeping through the Earthen colonies clamming many lives. In addition to the plague, Earth’s relationship with Luna, a moon colony gone rogue, is at best tense. Luna claims to have found a cure for the plague, but everything comes with a price. The Lunar queen, Leavana, is known for her cruelty as well as for her “beauty.” She has grand plans of conquering and ruling the world with an iron fist and wants nothing to stand in her way.

The only thing slightly negative I can say at all about Cinder is that it was a bit formulaic. I saw the ending and the big reveal in the beginning of the novel. Though I do have to say it did not hamper my enjoyment of the novel. Meyer did a fabulous job creating lively and complex characters. I can’t wait to see what the next novel has in store for them.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!