Charm by Sarah Pinborough

Title: Charm

Series: Tales from the Kingdom

Author: Sarah Pinborough

Published by: Titan Books

Release date:April 28th 2015

Length: 187 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy tales

Format: Paperback

Why I read it: I’ve been seeing it in the book store for a few years, and I love fairy tales

What it’s About: In short, this is a retelling of the Cinderella story. Cinderella lives with her father, yep, he’s still alive, and useless, step-mother, Esme and step-sister Rose. Yep, only one. the other step-sister, Ivy, has gotten married and moved out. After her mother died, her father fell in love with Esme, and Esme, in turn, fell in love with, and left her husband for Cinderells’s daddy. That in turn led to a fall from grace for Esme, Ivy, and Rose. An undisclosed number of years later, and Cinderella has become the housekeeper of the family. One night, her friend Buttons come by to drop off a gift of coal that he’d stolen from work and informs Cinderella that the mouse that has come in from outside has been following him for a while, and he doesn’t think it’s an ordinary mouse, and we get the first glimpse of a more…Ahem…adult side of Cinderella. Next day or so, All the ladies of the house learn that there is to be a ball at the palace. Rose and step-mother attend, and Cinderella’s jealousy rears it’s ugly head. Another two weeks, and there are to be two more balls, this time to find the prince a bride. As before, Esme and Rose prepare, and attend. And Again, Cinderella’s jealousy is present. This time however a mysterious woman appears and cracks a walnut over her, and she transforms. Well, her clothes do. The fairy godmother gives her two more walnuts to break open, one for the next night for the second ball, and a black one to use if her dream doesn’t turnout the way she’d hoped. Before disappearing, the FG says that as a payment for her help, once Cinderella gets her prince, she must search the castle. She’ll know what she’s looking for once she finds the item. So, Cindy goes to the ball, meets the prince, and seemingly falls in love. Same thing the other night, except Something almost happens before the clock starts chiming midnight. Cindy loses a shoe, and the prince’s search of the kingdom ensues, and the Cinderella family learn that the prince’s foot men (no pun intended) will get to their house in two weeks time. Meanwhile at home, Esme is throwing the world’s biggest tantrum over Rose not catching the prince’s eye, which she did before Cinderella showed up to the ball, but as the Brandy song says “almost doesn’t count” in Esme’s eyes, so she’s making everyone miserable, which results in Rose doing everything she can in order to fit into the shoe, from binding her feet to trying to cut off her toe. Ant that is where I’m going to leave the synopsis, so I don’t give away spoilers.

What I liked: This was not your typical retelling. There were parts where I really liked Cinderella. She was Sympathetic to Rose, but also jealous and didn’t mind stabbing her in the back. She was a sexual person, as was shown when her and Buttons, with her and the prince, and even once in the bath, I loved she wasn’t portrayed like an innocent little girl, because she wasn’t. Rose even said Cinderella had been spoiled, and Cinderella scoffed at the notion. I liked that there was a happy ending, but it wasn’t one that was expected. There were elements of the Disney version of the story, and the Grimm’s version, but there were also new elements to add to it as well. There were nods or mentions to other characters from other stories. There was a hint of Robin hood and Hansel and Gretel. I’ll be honest. When I bought this book, I didn’t know that it was the second in the series. I knew there are two other re-tellings of Snow White and Sleeping beauty, but I thought they were all stand alone books. That said, I loved that even after learning that is was indeed a continuation of the first book (at least from what I could tell), it still could be a stand alone book. As far as I know there aren’t many mentions of events from the first book, so I never felt lost or like I’d missed something during my read of the book.

What I didn’t like: Sometimes the twists or reveals were way too obvious. I saw them coming before the halfway point in the book. They slapped me in the face. And don’t get me started on Cinderella’s father. He was more than useless in the book. I don’t understand why he was even in the book. There was a scene in the book where Cinderella is looking for comfort from her dad, and while he gets points for not sugar-coating the truth to Cinderella and treats her like an adult, he didn’t have to be a dick to her. The other half of the time he was a pushover. It was clear that Esme didn’t respect him, and he sat and took it! not only that, but he let her torment Rose, and spend money they didn’t have to get Rose ready for the ball, but didn’t speak up about Cinderella.

Things I have mixed feelings about: There were some plot points that just didn’t seem important to me. The first chapter of the book is about kids going into the woods and disappearing. It is revealed what it is that is making the kids vanish, but except for a few mentions here and there, there isn’t a point to have it as an issue. Also, the troll road. Again mentioned a few times, even used in a chapter, but except for making it known that it is a place a person wouldn’t want to be sent, there wasn’t a real point to it. Maybe these are things that were more prominent in the first book, but I didn’t read it, so it was lost on me.

Would I reread it? Maybe after I read the first book.

Would I purchase it? I did purchase it.

Would I recommend it? Already done that too.

Love it or Leave it? Liked it, but didn’t love it. It was a quick read, and there was enough to make it a new story, it just wasn’t what I expected.

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Trying to come back to reviewing

Almost two years since I’ve updated this old blog. To tell the truth, I don’t know if it”l be a regular thing like it was. But a friend told me I should get back into it, and so I’m taking her advice and I’m going to try. Last year was the biggest, longest reading slump of my life. I think I read six books. Hopefully with the new year, and new books I’m excited to read, I can get back in the swing of things here after being away so long.

I do have a post I’m working on and will hopefully get up soon (like the next hour or so). Hope to see you (if anyone) soon.

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

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 Title: The Friday Society
Series: None
Author: Adrienne Kress
Published by: Dial/ Penguin Young Readers Group
Release date: December 6th 2012
Length: 440 pages
Genre: Steampunk, Young Adult, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Format: Hard Cover

Why I read it: I love anything steampunk and the cover is so gorgeous.
What it’s About: Cora is an inventor’s assistant. She was taken in by Lord White when she was ten, and works in his secret lab. Nellie is a magician’s assistant. She does regular magic shows with The Great Raheem and loves it. Michiko is the assistant to a fighting instructor. She speaks very little English, and is a former samurai student. One night after a gala the three girls stumble upon a dead man in the street, after staying the night at Nellie’s place the three go about separately trying to solve the mystery of who killed the man. Meanwhile, there also happens to be a dead man in Nellie’s living room. The three girls keep running into each other and helping each other out of tight spots, so they come to the conclusion that they can work together and form the Friday Society.
The Review: Like I said above, I  think the cover is gorgeous. I saw it in the book store and was drawn to it. I read the blurb on the inside flap, and I knew I had to read it. I honestly could not put the book down. I HAD to see where this story was going. I stayed up way too late on multiple nights just so I could read this book. These are the things that Authors want and deserve to hear/read from fans. There were smart, Likable, independent characters, there was flirting, there was mystery. These are all things I look for in a book, at least in a YA book. This seems like the perfect formula, so….why do I feel so….empty after reading it?
What I liked: I liked all three of the girls. They were all unique and I loved that they were able to take care of themselves. A lot of people are tired of the “Women going against society norms” trope, but I personally love it. I loved the quirkiness of the chapter titles. Chapter 10 3/4 in particular made me giggle, as well as some of the titles. It was refreshing. I liked how there were crushes and flirting, but no real romance. The main focus of the books relationships were between the girls, and between them and their bosses.
What I didn’t like: It was sometimes hard to remember what time period took place in. Kress often used modern slang or phrases, and it read more Victorian than Edwardian to me. Which is fine, due to the fact that the book takes place in 1900, and it was the last year of the Victorian era. But it just felt more…Jane Austin when it should have felt more early Downton Abbey. My biggest gripe about the book overall is that the story didn’t match the title. First, the girls spent the majority of the book trying to solve the mystery separately, they just ended up at the same place by chance. It happened a lot. Also, the idea for them becoming the titular Friday Society didn’t happen until the last few pages of the book, and there has been no word or indication that there will be a sequel, or if it will be a a series. For now, I’m going to assume it will always be a stand alone, and that is disappointing.
Would I reread it? I doubt it.
Would I purchase it?  I did purchase it. Twice. Once in hard cover, once as a nook book.
Would I recommend it? No. Simply because it doesn’t have a follow up book.
Love it or Leave it? a mix of both actually. I loved the story itself, but the ending and, again the lack of a sequel, leaves me without a sense of closure.

Who Could That Be at This Hour? (All the Wrong Questions #1) By Lemony Snicket

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Title: Who Could That Be At This Hour?
Series: All The Wrong Questions
Author: Lemony Snicket
Published by: Little Brown
Release date: June 17th 2014
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Middle Grade
Format: Paperback
Why I read it: I read Snicket’s previous Series of Unfortunate Events books, and loved them.
What it’s About: A teen aged Snicket becomes the apprentice of S. Theodora Markson, and the two travel to a small semi abandoned town to steal an object of great value. While in the town of Stain’d by the Sea, Lemony meets a series of…..interesting people and gets swept up in a bigger mystery than he realized.
The Review: This series is supposed to be a prequel to Snicket’s Series of unfortunate events books. And I read somewhere (maybe goodreads, I’m not positive) that as the books progress characters that we met in SOUE will make cameos. That being said, you do not have to have read SOUE in order to read this series. Or at least not this book. It reads like a stand alone series.
What I liked: The silliness was just a fun as it was in SOUE, in fact that was pretty much the only indication that it was even remotely related to SOUE. The wacky characters were funny and irritating at the same time. The setting was just as wacky as the characters and, let’s face it, it wouldn’t be half as entertaining to read if it wasn’t. Also the time period is ambiguous as it is with SOUE, and it has a feel that it could be set anywhere. I like how Snicket never mentions a recognizable landmark like Big Ben or the Statue of Liberty. You as the reader can imagine it taking place in any country you wish. I Also like how it wasn’t like SOUE. In SOUE, you knew that it wasn’t going to end well. Bad things were supposed to happen to the  Baudelaire’s, but in this series, the outcome could be good or bad.
What I didn’t like: Like I said above, some characters were irritating. Like The Mitchum’s. I understand that they were supposed to be the useless police officers, but they really were very useless, and their arguing was just tiresome. And don’t get me started on their kid. he was a nightmare. And Prosper Lost for me just wasn’t a needed character at all. He didn’t add anything to the story, and just seemed like a filler character.  Another thing I didn’t like was that Snicket gives very little background information on himself. I know that it’s supposed to add to the mystery, but when he says things like ” I had an unusual education” I’d like to know more about this education myself.
Would I reread it? Most likely, yes.
Would I purchase it? I did purchase it, and no regrets about it.
Would I recommend it? I would if you loved SOUE. I’d love for my 8 year old nephew to read it, but I think he thinks too literally to get the silliness.
Love it or Leave it? Somewhere in the middle. I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars.

 

I have some explaining to do…..

It has been just under a year since I’ve done a review, and I feel bad about it. I want to get back into blogging, and I hope I will this year. Last year, I read so many good books, a few books that I really didn’t care for, and I even read a lot of good comics. The main reason I haven’t blogged, is because I wasn’t really getting any enjoyment out of it. The other reason is because my Mom came to live with me, and I had my hands full taking care of both her and my Mother-in-law. But Mid-November, my mom passed suddenly. She moved to Seattle in June, and came for a visit in November. While I was at a friend’s wedding she went missing. Turns out a neighbor found her collapsed in his/her yard, and called 911. She had to be put on life support, and three days after the doctors told us she would be in a vegetative state for the rest of her life, I decided that it would be best to let her go. It was a hard decision and one I don’t regret making. I realized a few days ago, that she’d want me to do what makes me happy, so I dyed my hair, and decided to jump back into blogging my book reviews. They may be socratic at first since I haven’t done it is so long, but I’ll try to get back to a schedule as soon as possible.

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Title: Bumped
Author: Megan McCafferty
Length: 323 pages
Genre: YA; Dystopia; Science fiction
Format: Hard Cover
Why I read it: I kept seeing it at the library, so I decided to give it a shot

What it’s About: A virus has made it impossible for anyone over the age of 18 to conceive a child. In the year 2035 16 year old Melody is in a contract to get pregnant and give the baby to a couple. But before that can happen, the couple wants to find the perfect match. Meanwhile, Melody’s discovered that she has a twin sister, Harmony. One day Harmony runs away from her home in the religious community of Goodside, where she is supposed to get married. Harmony believes that she must convince Melody to come home with her and become a wife, mother, and live her life free from sin.

The Review: Where to start? The concept is interesting. In McCafferty’s world, a virus will have made it impossible to conceive a child after you turn 18. In the book, it is common place for anyone 20 and over to not only have to adopt, but they hire girls to be their surrogates. And Parents of these girls are not only okay with this, they pimp them out. Melody’s adoptive parents have spent years and who knows how much money to make her look perfect on paper so that she could get a contract to be someone’s surrogate. They’ve hired a publicist and everything. There is a couple who is interested, The Jaydens. But they don’t want just anyone “bumping” with Melody, they want their baby to come from the two most perfect parents possible. But when Melody discovers her twin, she will do whatever it takes to keep Harmony a secret. Because in this world, having a twin makes you not so special in the ultra competitive world of “Pregging”. I know I’m not explaining it very well, but honestly, I think in order to get it, you’d have to read it.
The Setting is also interesting. I mean, women only have a limited number of years to conceive as it is. But this book limits it even further with the help of a virus. Except in religious communities. Apparently Where Harmony grew up, women are still able to conceive after the age of 18. But it’s unknown why. And yet, girls are still getting married at the age of 16 to become mothers….yeah, that part confused me.

I felt, personally, that there wasn’t enough information. I know a virus caused this to happen, but where did this virus start? What kind of virus was it? Cold? Flu? STD? Why were the religous people not affected? Is it because the virus was an STD, and they don’t believe is sex before marriage? I don’t know. The there was the slang. I’m fine with how it was used. I’m fine with how often it was used. What I’d like is an explanation as to what some of these things mean. I can figure out “bumping” is sex, and “Pregging” is getting pregnant, but there were some that were just confusing as hell. And the technology was just weird. I’d love to look like I’m trying to get dirt out of my eye or have a weird eye tick every time I want to talk to someone.
I’m not going to say that this book is giving 16 year old girls permission to get pregnant. They were doing that long before this book came out, and they will continue to do so long after this generation is dead. I’m not saying I’d like it if my daughter (if I have a daughter) came home pregnant, but it happens , so why act like this book would be the cause?
As for the characters, I didn’t feel like I got to know them. The perspective jumped every chapter, which is fine, but The girls personalities didn’t shine through, and I know that they grew up separated, and the sibling bond wasn’t there, but it seemed like Melody didn’t want to try to get to know here twin, and Harmony was just using Melody as an excuse to not go home. I don’t know about you, but If I found out I had a sister, let alone a twin, I’d want to get to know her and learn everything about her life.

Did I like it? It was…different. I don’t know. I didn’t dislike it.
Would I reread it? Probably not.

Would I purchase it? No.

Would I recommend it? I have no idea.

Final rating: 2 out of 5 stars. Simply because I don’t know how I feel about it.

Long Live the Queen by Kate Locke

Title: Long Live the Queen
Author: Kate Locke
Length: 320 Pages
Genre: Fantasy; Steampunk; Urban fantasy
Format: Hard Cover
Why I read it: I checked out the first two and loved them.

What it’s About: (Taken from goodreads) Queen Victoria wants her head, Alpha wolf Vex wants her heart, and she still doesn’t know the identity of the person who wanted her blood. What she does know is that a project from one of the ‘secret’ aristocrat labs has gotten free and she’s the only one who can stop the perfect killing machine — a sixteen year-old girl. With human zealots intent on ridding the world of anyone with plagued blood and supernatural politics taking Britain to the verge of civil war, Xandra’s finding out that being queen isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and if she doesn’t do something fast, hers will be the shortest reign in history.

The Review: This book was fast paced, just like the first two. Xandra seemed to be adapting better to being a goblin. In the second book, she seemed to still be questioning herself and where she belonged, so it was nice to see her with more confidence in that regard. I love Xandra anyway, but I loved that her relationships were complex. I know she cared deeply for her siblings, but when it came to her parents, she wasn’t sure if she could trust them and I’m glad for that. I don’t think I would like her as much if she trusted anyone too easily. The story itself was fun. I’m glad that it strayed from the “missing sibling” thing it had going on in the first two books. Like I said, the book was fast paced, but not too much. There were quiet moments, but not so quiet it became boring (I’m looking at you 7th HP book). The action was just enough to get you on the edge of your seat and not want to put the book down. This book would have been perfect if not for some of the things that bothered me. First, where was Penny? I loved her in the second book and she proved to be an important character, so why not include her in this book? Secondly, Xandra herself. Like I said, I loved her but she was stubborn. I get wanting to try to figure things out for yourself first, but I also know when to ask for help. Especially when people that I love and trust are offering that help. I loved the story, but some of the twists were either not twisty at all or not resolved. And the ending felt rushed.

Did I like it? I loved the whole trilogy. In fact, I want more. While I did feel that the story was over, I didn’t want it to be. I want to know how Xandra continues to balance her life with the Goblins and life with Vex. And I think that this will be one of those books that stays with me. It obviously won’t be a big phenomenally, greatly loved book/trilogy like Hunger games or Harry Potter, or even Lord of the Rings, but It is one that I will always think of.

Would I reread it? Eventually, I think I will. But I have so many other boks that are on my list, I don’t know when it will happen.

Would I purchase it? Already did.

Would I recommend it? Again, I already did. I put the first book up for consideration in my book club.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars