Weekly Wrap Up : 20/3/17

Posted On 20 March 2017

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This last week I’ve been far too sociable – which means my reading has definitely taken a nose dive and also this post is late!

Last week’s reads:

  1. Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron

Haha – how atrocious is that for a reading week – just one book only!  Life just sometimes takes over.  However, not to be a totally useless so and so I have also read half of the Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi and also a third of Ben Galley’s Heart of Stone and so far so good on both counts.  Ohh, and I started my first ever audio book – the fourth Miriam Black book by Chuck Wendig which I’ve listened to the first 12 chapters of – multi tasking am I!

islandofexiles

So, next week I’m hoping to finish all of the above.  That is my plan for now and maybe start my next SPFBO book

And, finally, my cover highlight this week:

Avengers

I love this cover – it has such a retro feel to it with the colours and style.  Do you like it?

How was your week?  What you currently reading?

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Posted On 20 March 2017

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huntedHunted by Meagan Spooner is an absolutely gorgeous retelling of Beauty and the Beast that borrows from the Russian folklore of Ivan and the Firebird and in doing so manages to bring something unique to the tale whilst still remaining faithful enough to be the beautiful tale that I love.  I have to confess upfront that I’m a bit of a pushover for fairytale retellings but that doesn’t mean they always win me over and for a book that has received quite as much hype as this particular one I couldn’t help feeling a little bit wary.  In this case there was no need to fear.  This is literally the retelling of Beauty and the Beast that I’ve been waiting for, the writing is evocative, the setting moves from cold and austere to gothic and dilapidated.  The characters are fascinating and the key to the puzzle of the Beast keeps you compelled to the end.

At the start of the story Yeva, her sisters and father, live a prosperous life on the edge of town.  Yeva is a lady in waiting, all day she sits listening to idle gossip and trying to conjure up ways to escape the confines of polite society.  Basically, the restraints of mingling with the aristocracy are not for Yeva, she remembers the times as a youngster spent with her father hunting in the wilds and wants to run barefoot and corset-less through the woods once more.  However, for three young maidens in search of husbands reputation is a valuable commodity that can’t be squandered and so Yeva maintains her courteous demeanour, unexpectedly drawing the eye of a young man in the process.

No sooner have we made Yeva’s acquaintance and tasted her unrest than disaster strikes, the family lose all their wealth and are forced to seek refuge in their cottage in the forest.  From hereon things take a dark turn.  The cottage is barely liveable and in order to survive their father most delve deeper and deeper into the forest to try and catch food for the winter months.  At this point things look bleak, Yeva herself takes to hunting as their father spends longer and longer out in the wild.  When he finally does return he’s clearly unhinged, he talks of a beast that stalked him relentlessly and after a brief spell to take sustenance he once again rushes out.  Eventually, when he fails to return Yeva is forced to go in search.  Of course we, the reader, know that there is something in the wild, something clever and fleet footed, that has indeed been stalking Yeva’s father.  It now remains to be seen if Yeva can find the beast and survive to tell the tale.

Basically, and from the above you will no doubt be able to tell, this story is quite a faithful retelling of the original fairytale in many respects.  I suppose it varies in that the sisters all care deeply for each other, their father doesn’t incur the wrath of the beast by stealing a prize rose and Beauty doesn’t voluntarily submit to spending time with him. The relationship here is strongly built on fear, hatred and need.  The Beast needs Beauty, although we’re not quite sure why, and Beauty hates the Beast and fears what action he will take against her sisters if she fails to comply with his wishes.

In terms of the characters – well obviously Yeva and the Beast steal the show but I loved reading their chapters.  Yes, the beast has alternating chapters and it’s really wonderful  to read his thoughts as they become a little bit more coherent.  He’s spent a long time alone, in the form of a beast, and cares little for a human’s needs but gradually, as he listens to Yeva’s stories the beast within him retreats and his more human side begins to once again play a larger role.

The settings are really well drawn going from the enchanted forest that seems to perpetually remain in the throes of winter to the Beast’s castle, now little more than a ruin with cold, damp rooms populated with rotting furniture.  Very little has survived the years of neglect.  I loved the settings, they both held a little bit of menace that added to the dark fairytale feel.

Now, there’s only so much I can realistically tell you about this without completely giving everything away.  The motivations here are what the story is really about and the folktale of Prince Ivan is the key to in that respect.

Did I have any criticisms.  No, I loved this.  Realistically, I think this might be a slower paced story than some people would enjoy.  Personally, I didn’t have a problem with that.  The writing is just lovely and I enjoyed the slow burn to the story and the gradual development of feelings between Beauty and the Beast.  No instalove here folks – so, if you like to read about instantaneous, love at first sight, whirlwind style romances then this might not be for you.  This love story builds up very slowly.

I will definitely read more by this author and hope that she ventures into more retellings.

 

 

 

 

Back to school?

Posted On 19 March 2017

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backtoschool.jpg

The School Subjects Tag:

3. Physics – Who is your favourite scientifically minded character from a book/film?

Mark Watney from The Martian by Andy Weir.  If you’ve read this book then you pretty much know why I’ve picked Mark.  This is one guy who knows how to survive in the harshest of conditions.

themartian

4. Biology – Who is your favourite book/film/series character?

My stock answer to this would be Jean Tannen from Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series.  I love that guy!  Plus he likes books so come on people.  Just to be a big cheater I’m also going to choose a wonderful female character in Wydrin from the Copper Promise by Jen Williams – because she makes me smile every time I read about her.

5. Chemistry – Who is your favourite literary couple?

I’m going to go for the romance of the moment, i.e. my most recent series – which has to be Toby and Tybalt, October Daye and The King of the Cats from the wonderful Seanan McGuire.

the-winter-long

6. French – What is your favourite foreign book/film/programme?

My absolute favourite foreign film is The Intouchables.  I love this movie, love it.  And, it’s all the more surprising because I wasn’t so sure.  If I was going to cheat and chuck in a couple more I would have to say a whole bunch of the Ghibli films – but particularly My Neighbour Totoro, or how about Amelie.

7. Art – Have you ever judged a book by its cover, even if you weren’t meant to?!

I have to say that I do tend to judge a book by it’s cover – but, in my defence (1) the cover is the first thing you see.  (2) it tells you who the author is  (3) it gives you a little blurb that usually provides the final nudge (4) there are some fantastic book covers out there (4) I just like covers – don’t judge me.  Also, I’m happy to say that I’ve read a number of books where I didn’t like the cover and loved the books – the content is what I’m after at the end of the day but the cover is the hook

.  A cover wouldn’t stop me from reading a book if I wanted to read it – it’s just when you’re browsing, the cover is the first thing that draws your eye.  And, more to the point, book covers are a whole other part of the industry and a lot of them are like works of art.  I love that.  I love the attention and detail that goes into book covers.

8. History – What was the last historical book you read?

This is an unusual one – because, rather than going for the usual sumptuous dresses and court dramas with kings and queens I’m actually going to choose a western:

  1. True Grit by Charles Portis – a great book.  Who knew that I liked books of this style.

9. Drama – What’s a book that you think has a lot of over-dramatic hype?

Gilded Cage by Vic James.  This book was definitely a book that I was longing to read.  It didn’t quite turn out the way I hoped, I had a lot of questions about the world building, but I figure it’s aimed at a younger audience and it worked for a lot of other people.  So, at the end of the day, you can’t please all the people all the time.

10. Geography – Which literary destination would you really like to visit? (They can be real or fictional!)

Let’s be honest a lot of the places I read about are pretty bloody violent.  If I could step in and visit them (haha – unnoticed – coward much?) then maybe.  Otherwise, I’m going to say Hogwarts – although now I think about it, apart from ‘he who shouldn’t be mentioned’, his army of followers, three headed dogs, trolls, whomping willows and other challenges involving dragons – well, okay, even the schools can be dangerous..

Chamber2

‘I wish I was a woman of about thirty-six dressed in black satin with a string of pearls’

FFO.jpg

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .   This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below. This week’s theme:

Bird “Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs are too sweet and wild”

I had to go classic with this – The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier – horror!

And my favourite:

birds6

I had to go for this one – some of these birds have had to become contortionists to spell out the title on this cover (but, I hasten to add, no actual birds were hurt during the making of this cover).

Which is your favourite?  Next week – Street Lamp

Future themes:

24/03/2017 – Street lamp “He stood under the street lamp, sleet settling in his hair, hands fisted at his side”

31/03/2017 – Casino “Whisky, gambling and Ferraris are better than housework “

07/04/2017 – Circus “You can get the monkey off your back, but the circus never leaves town!

14/04/2017 – Easter “The rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate”

21/04/2017 – Bridge “I demolish my bridges behind me…then there is no choice but to push forward”

28/04/2017 – Beach/Seaside”Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!”

05/05/2017 – Lion “If you place your head in a lion’s mouth, then you cannot complain one day if he happens to bite it off”

12/05/2017 – Phone “Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it”

19/05/2017 – Plane “When everything seem to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it ….”

26/05/2017 – Mice “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘it might have been’…”

02/06/2017 – Moon “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”

09/06/2017 – Mummy “It shuffles through the dry, dusty darkness”

16/06/2017 – Guitar “You couldn’t not like someone who liked the guitar”

23/06/2017 – Cat “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this”

30/06/2017 – Hat “It is always cruel to laugh at people, of course, although sometimes if they are wearing an ugly hat it is hard to control yourself “

07/07/2017 – Gold “All that is gold does not glitter”

14/07/2017 – Boats “The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, in a beautiful pea green boat…”

21/07/2017 – Planet “Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those who live on it”

Friday Firsts: The Heart of Stone by Ben Galley

FridayFirsts
Friday Firsts
 is a new meme that runs every Friday over on Tenacious Reader. The idea is to feature the first few sentences/paragraph of your current book and try and outline your first impressions as a result. This is a quick and easy way to share a snippet of information about your current read and to perhaps tempt others.  Stop on by and link up with Tenacious Reader.    This Friday I’m reading, well, like last week, a couple of books but I’ve gone with Heart of Stone by Ben Galley.  Check it out:

Hos Final XS-1‘Keep still!’ a voice demanded.  ‘Keep still or it will take root in the wrong place, mercy me!’

He remained motionless as the soft hands dug inside his mouth; checking, shuffling, fixing.  His face felt so wide, so open.  He could feel his body tingling, as though he wore the dying embers of a fire.

‘There!’

He felt the fingers crawl back to his chin and cheeks.  Always touching.

Bite down, and slowly mind!’

His jaw did the work for him, clicking back into place under the guiding hands; teeth crunching, finding their nests.  The tongue began to burn in the pit of his mouth.

There came a clanking as the room swivelled about him.  Something tugged at him without touching, pulling at every corner of his body.  He felt heavier than a mountain.

‘It is time to open your eyes, my new friend!’

My First Impressions

I am absolutely intrigued by this start.  It makes you want to read on doesn’t it?  I can’t help but have at the back of my mind Frankenstein and his monster – don’t ask me why but just a feel of new creations.

What you reading this Friday??

*The above excerpt was taken from an advanced reader copy and it is possible that the final version may have further changes.
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