Saturday, April 8, 2017

Strange the Dreamer Review

 Warning: This review contains spoilers.

This book came out on my birthday! It was perfect! But how on earth do I review an experience like this novel? For one thing, the writing is gorgeous and exquisite--but you only have to open up the book and read the prologue to know that.

Let me just make a list of things I loved and things I didn't:

Things I loved:

  • The poetic writing
  • The way she describes colors
  • The fact that I had to look up a few words 
  • How it disobeyed the rules of POV, poetically and perfectly, especially during the dream sequences between Lazlo and Sarai
  • How Lazlo isn't perfectly handsome
  • The story of how his nose got broken
  • The moths and their innovative dream-magic
  • The love story and how relatable and bright it was
  • How Minya can't age
  • The prologue
  • The sense of magical, awesome wonder I got when the citadel was first described
  • The buildup to the romance  how Sarai and Lazlo don't even meet until halfway through the book
  • Minya's gift
Things I didn't love:
  • The cliffhanger!! T.T
Other thoughts:

  • I thought it was strange how absent of humor the story was until Sarai entered the picture. I haven't puzzled out what that's about yet. 
  • Check out these drawings of the characters done by BlackBirdInk

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Court of Thorns and Roses Review

This book is a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a Hunger Games twist. Feyre is a fae-hating human who kills a wolf just because she suspects that it might be fae—and she’s right, and the wolf’s friends come to claim her life. Tamlin, her captor, plays a Beast-like role, while she’s anything but a demure, bookish Belle. She’s not even literate. As a fairytale retelling, the book is exceedingly clever and definitely makes the story feel fresh and new.

Dat opening line: “The forest was a labyrinth of snow and ice.” Drool.

The humor (mainly provided by Lucien, and a little by Rhysand) made the book sparkle for me, even though the story gets darker than dark.

All in all: 5 stars. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book Review

Warning: This review contains mild spoilers.

Even though she gets along with the Lumiere and Chip and the rest of the housewares, and even though she’s warming up to the Beast, Belle wants to escape the castle—and then the goddess of Death gives her an opportunity to do just that. Between her moments of escapism, we get interactions between her and the Beast and bonus scenes that could have been in the movie. Score!

I love Beauty and the Beast. I saw it on Broadway when I was 10, and I’ve listened to the musical soundtrack hundreds of times. When I first saw the trailer before Fantastic Beasts, I literally started crying. And I loved the new movie.

But I also recognize the flawed messages in the BATB story. For example, it explores bestiality, and it implies that kidnapping is okay as long as you’re rich enough to give a girl a library. Lost in a Book softens both of those flaws. Otto, a love-crazed automaton, emphasizes the power of platonic love, suggesting that Belle’s final “I love you” might have not necessarily be romantic—or that it’s at least asexual. There’s also a moment where Belle realizes that the Beast cares about her specifically, and her affection for him deepens in a moment of character revelation rather than materialism or horror.

I have two complaints, one of which the author probably couldn’t have avoided. Belle is supposed to be supremely innocent, with “a heart of gold.” Although Jennifer Donnelly gives her flawed moments—she fibs, especially about Nevermore—but she also uses “Crumbs!” as a curse word and has other lines that make her seem younger than she’s supposed to be. I’m sure this is meant to open the book up to middle grade and even younger audiences, but it was a little off-putting for me.

My other, more serious complaint is that the book contains an assisted suicide of sorts, and Belle is the one to assist. I appreciate the author trying to throw in some dark twists, but as a mental health advocate, I cringed. It’s not a message I can support.

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

What I Learned from The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron: Worldbuilding and Memories

The Forgetting is a story about a world where everyone forgets everything every twelve years. Only Nadia remembers everything. She’s an adventurer likes to go over the wall that confines the city and explore the world beyond. With one sister who loves her, one sister who hates her, a father who abandoned her, and a mentally ill mother, she has plenty to want to escape from.

I honestly probably wouldn’t have read this book if I had realized it was science fiction and not fantasy, but I’m glad I did.

The planetary worldbuilding is beautiful. The planet has distinct terrain, and it’s more severely tilted on its axis than ours, or maybe the settlement is just farther north, but they experience different seasons: a light season and a dark season. Nighttime is referred to as resting time. Even the names have worldbuilding built into them: Lydia the Weaver, Nadia the Dyer’s Daughter, etc. I’ve been going through Patricia C. Wrede’s Worldbuilding Questionnaire. It’s very intense—26 pages single-spaced when copied into a Word document—but I’m willing to bet Sharon Cameron went through similar effort.

Because I lost some memories in a recent brain operation, I read this book hoping for a message about the importance of memories. In the book, there’s a famous inscription that says “I am made of my memories. Without memories, they are nothing.” Accordingly, anyone who goes through the forgetting and doesn’t have a book to tell them who they are gets put in separate labor camps with poor conditions, where breeding is prohibited. Reacting to this, it’s easy for the reader to see that, of course, the inscription isn’t true. Even without memories, people are worthwhile. Furthermore, one character chooses to live without memories and becomes happier and more valuable to society without them. I appreciate this message that memories do not completely define us, and I’m sure it means a lot to people in similar situations, and people who are impacted by dementia and Alzheimer’s. Thank you for this message, Sharon Cameron.

All in all: 5 stars