Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan #BookReview #Thriller

cuttotheboneTitle: Cut to the Bone
Author: Alex Caan
Series: N/a
Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: November 3rd 2016 by Bonnier Publishing
Genre(s): Thriller; Crime Fiction
Disclosure? Yep, I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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One Missing Girl. Two Million Suspects.

Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls.

And she’s missing . . .

But she’s an adult – nothing to worry about, surely?

Until the video’s uploaded . . .

Ruby, in the dirt, pleading for her life.

Enter Detective Inspector Kate Riley; the Met’s rising star and the head of a new team of investigators with the best resources money can buy. Among them, Detective Sergeant Zain Harris, the poster boy for multiracial policing. But can Kate wholly trust him – and more importantly, can she trust herself around him?

As hysteria builds amongst the press and Ruby’s millions of fans, Kate and her team are under pressure to get results, and fast, but as they soon discover, the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much darker than anyone could have imagined.

And the videos keep coming…

Review

I was in the mood for a dark, crime thriller so I picked this book up slightly ahead of schedule and I enjoyed it a lot.

Cut to the Bone opens with a girl being kidnapped. I instantly found the writing-style exciting and intriguing. It’s sharp and very matter-of-fact which I’m sure some people with have an issue with but I lapped it up. 

We soon discover that the girl being kidnapped was Ruby, a YouTube star. Ruby does beauty tutorials and talks about her life, depression and other things on her Vlog, to a huge teen audience. She’s a good role model, she tries to use her experiences to help others. So when she goes missing there’s instant interest in it. But it doesn’t explain why commissioner Justin Hope seems to know about it before she’s even classified as a missing person- only hours after her disappearance. 

Like all good crime thrillers, Cut to the Bone is complex, with many strands weaving through it at once. There’s the unreliable cops, the exploitative media agents, ex-boyfriends, stalker-fans and a strange family, (amongst others) all thrown into the mix. Any one of them could be the culprit. 

Caan does a good job of throwing in some red herrings and keeping you guessing, and I couldn’t stop digitally turning those pages, although to be fair, I was never that invested it finding out who the killer is, because we don’t actually know if she’s dead.

I feel like I can’t really give Cut to the Bone more than 3/5, mainly because it wasn’t anything special. I enjoyed it and all, but it didn’t blow me away. It hasn’t stayed with me, you know!? Maybe I’m just in a harsh mood…

I also got pretty bored with all the drawn-out explanations about what Vloggers do and how they make money. I’m sure it’s just a case of timing, and that probably when the story was actually written Vloggers weren’t very well known, but it felt quite dated and well, out of touch. Like it was written by someone who has only just discovered the internet or something.

Anyhoo, for a debut novel, Cut to the Bone is a winner. The writing is quite different than your run-of-the-mill thrillers and that’s what really impressed me. 

Definitely worth a read – and I’ll be looking out for more from Caan in the future. 

unicorn rating 3

Cut to the Bone is out now on Kindle, but not due in paperback until November 2016

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New Picture Book Releases: Mini Reviews

I’ve recently started paying attention to picture book releases, and existing picture books because I’m trying my hand at writing a couple. If anyone would like to be my beta readers -email me!

I requested the following books on Netgalley so I thought I had better write reviews for them, albeit very teeny ones🙂

Dreaming of Mocha ~ An Swerts

mocha

Hardcover, 32 pages
Expected publication: November 15th 2016 by Clavis
Florence wants a dog. It doesn’t matter what kind of dog. Just any dog. To take care of, and to pet. To run with, and to play with. If she gets a dog, she will NEVER whine again and she’ll always be good. That’s what she promised Mom.
One day there’s a little dog in Florence’s garden. He came out of nowhere.
“Mocha” it says on his collar. Mocha and Florence become the best of friends.
But then Mocha’s owner is suddenly at the door. And he is a very nice man.
What will Florence do now?An endearing picture book about loving animals and loving people.
For pet lovers ages 4 and up.
I can’t really review this book properly because the epub I downloaded only had the illustrations! Only after reading some reviews on Goodreads I realised that it is supposed to have text. However, the illustrations went a long way in telling the story, which is a great thing! The illustrations were simple but very cute, and I’m sure young children will love them and fall in love with Mocha as much as Florence did.
unicorn rating 3

Baba Yaga ~ An Leysen

babayaga

Hardcover, 56 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Clavis
Once upon a time, in a land far away from here, lived a girl named Olga. Olga lived with her father in a beautiful house, and they were very happy together. Until Olga’s father one day fell in love again … His new wife was cruel and mean. And her sister Baba Yaga, who lived in a dark forest, was even meaner. Baba Yaga was a real witch! There was a rumor she was fond of children … on her plate! One day Olga’s stepmother sent her to Baba Yaga. What was she supposed to do now?
Baba Yaga, the witch from Slavonic mythology is coming alive in this fairy tale. An Leysen takes you on a journey in an imaginative story about a wicked witch and a sweet and brave little girl.
 
I absolutely loved this book. It’s exactly the kind of picture book I’d love to write. It had just the right balance of adventure, magic, and creepy/scary that children will love. Baba Yaga is terrifying but I don’t think it will worry young children too much – plus, the happy ending will be sure to put them at ease.
I’d not heard of this fairy-tale before, and I’m desperate to read the original now. But what I loved most of about this book is the stunning illustrations. They took my breath away, really! Perfect! 
unicorn rating

Gracie Meets a Ghost ~ Keiko Sena

gracie

Hardcover, 32 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2016 by Museyon
Gracie hasn’t been able to see very well recently, so she decides to get some glasses. But, after playing on the mountain one day, she realizes that night that her glasses are missing. She heads straight out to look for them on the mountain–where a bored ghost is hiding in the darkness, waiting for someone to scare. Although Ghost tries to scare her, Gracie doesn’t react by being frightened, not even little–because she can’t see Ghost well enough to be scared without her glasses! Ghost really wants to see Gracie scared, so he helps in her search all night long and finally finds her glasses. But what happens when Gracie puts them on...
This is an adorable story that kids will love in the run-up to Halloween. It’s cute and silly, and just ghoulish enough without being scary. I liked that Gracie wasn’t at all scared of the ghost because she couldn’t see him without her glasses. I’m sure this book will make having to wear glasses seem a lot less terrible to young children. The illustrations are lovely and quirky too.

unicorn rating 4

This Week in Books 21.09.16 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week. 

It’s Wednesday so you know what that means…time to share how our reading week is shaping up! Don’t forget to leave your link in the comments for everyone to see :) 

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Now:  Cut to the Bone ~ Alex Caan // The EnchantedRene Denfeld

Cut to the Bone is a fast-paced police procedural thriller that I’m enjoying a lot. The e-book is out now but the paperback is due in November. I picked The Enchanted up at work and didn’t want to put it down so I’m reading that in my breaks too. 

Then:  Stealing SnowDanielle Paige

This started off well but went downhill😦 My review went up on Monday. You can read it here

Next: ??? 

Probably Reckless by Cornelia Funke, or Haunt Me by Liz Kessler. Both are  ARCs that I’ll be reading for Horror October. They’re both YA. 

New on the Shelves

For review:

hunterofthedead.jpgSomeone has begun targeting vampires.

Vampire leaders of the thirteen Houses attribute the string of recent losses to over-zealous vampire hunters. Only Cicatrice, the most ancient and powerful vampire in the world, suspects that the semi-legendary Hunter of the Dead may be the real culprit.

Carter Price, a vampire hunter who despises the way his profession is becoming centralized and corporatized, begins to suspect the Hunter of the Dead is back, too – and no longer distinguishing between vampires and mortals. Against his better judgment, Price agrees to work with Cicatrice.

The uneasy allies attempt to uncover the truth about the Hunter, while a vampire civil war brews in the background. But perhaps most difficult of all, they must contend with their new apprentices, who seem to be falling in love with each other against every rule of man and monster…

Waiting on Wednesday

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine

 The Travelling Bag and other stories ~ Susan Hill

 

 I love Susan Hill’s atmospheric ghost stories and these editions are really pretty. I’m looking forward to this arriving in time for Horror October!
 
thetravellingbag
 From the foggy streets of Victorian London to the eerie perfection of 1950s suburbia, the everyday is invaded by the evil otherworldly in this unforgettable collection of new ghost stories from the author of The Woman in Black.

In the title story, on a murky evening in a warmly lit club off St James, a bishop listens closely as a paranormal detective recounts his most memorable case, one whose horrifying denouement took place in that very building.

In ‘The Front Room’, a devoutly Christian mother tries to protect her children from the evil influence of their grandmother, both when she is alive and when she is dead.

A lonely boy finds a friend in ‘Boy Number 21’, but years later he is forced to question the nature of that friendship, and to ask whether ghosts can perish in fires.

This is Susan Hill at her best, telling characteristically flesh-creeping and startling tales of thwarted ambition, terrifying revenge and supernatural stirrings that will leave readers wide-awake long into the night.

Expected Publication: September 29th 2016 by Profile Books

 So, that’s my week in books, now how about yours?
 

If you’re joining in leave the link to your answers in the comments so everyone can take a look🙂

And while I have you here I’m looking for guest posts/features/reviews/spotlights for Horror October. Get in touch if you’ d like to get involved. 

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige #YA #Bookreview

stealingsnowTitle: Stealing Snow
Author: Danielle Paige
Series: Stealing Snow #1
Format: Digital ARC, 384 pages
Publication Details:  October 6th 2016 by Bloomsbury Childrens
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy; Retellings
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave …


She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate …

Review

I read the original Snow Queen at the beginning of the year after getting it as a Christmas present. I enjoyed it a lot. It’s an odd little fairy-tale but totally compelling. I am also a huge fan of Frozen (which is very, very loosely based on Andersen’s tale) so I was really excited when I saw the premise of this book. 

Snow resides in a psychiatric hospital in New York. We’re not sure why she’s there but she seems to have accepted it. It’s all a bit of a mystery; she doesn’t seem ill enough to be in a secure hospital, although she does have one hell of a temper. Her best friend and part-time boyfriend Bale is also a permanent resident there. But he’s been kept away from Snow ever since he fractured her wrist the first time they kissed. 

But Snow knows he didn’t mean it, he’s just unwell. And she becomes convinced that he’s been kidnapped and taken into another world via a magic mirror.

OK, I know this all sounds a bit hokey but this was actually the most believable and exciting part of the story.

I loved the hospital setting. It was written well and full of intrigue. The characters – both the staff and the patients- were interesting and fleshed out, and the bond between Snow and Bale felt real. Paige seems to have taken a lot of care in building this world for it to be used in such a small part of the story. 

Snow manages to pass through the mirror to the other side – Algid. And this is where it all goes a bit wrong. I felt like Snow was just dumped there with no thought as to where the story should go. The world-building from here on out was almost non-existent, the characters she met were bland and one-dimensional, and quite frankly I had no idea what was going on.

All of a sudden, Snow is a princess who can summon ice and snow, and conjure these elements whenever she feels like it. There was no transition period at all. No fleshing out, no descriptions, it was all just a bit too fast and brief. WhamBamNoThankYouMam.

I felt really disappointed and let down by everyone involved in this book to be honest. Mainly because it had such great potential. It could have been this amazing Snow White / Snow Queen mash-up, but instead it was just painstakingly flat and messy.

I did like that Paige preserved some of the original story, and the idea that Snow’s icy kiss was slowly killing Bale but I couldn’t see past the rest I’m afraid. 

If it wasn’t for the great first couple of chapters and the idea in itself, I’m not sure I would have been able to finish the book, never mind give it two unicorns, but I think it’s a fair rating for the potential alone. 

P.S Three love interests, really!? Sigh. 

unicorn rating 2

 

 

Lazy Saturday Review: Siege & Storm #MiniBookReview #YA

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

siegeTitle: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2
Format: Paperback, 435 pages
Publication Details: June 5th 2014 by Indigo
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Nope. I borrowed it from the library. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

 

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Review

I was looking forward to this book after loving Shadow and Bone, and I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed, but I definitely didn’t love it as much as the first book.

I quite liked the plot of this one; with Alina and Mal on the run, the Darkling’s extra-dark return, and a whole lot of trust issues surrounding everyone involved. That was all good. It was the characters that bugged me…

Alina went all whiny on us, and then power mad and abrasive, and she could probably win some sort of Martyrdom award. Mal wasn’t any less annoying either. He became petty, and jealous and didn’t even try to understand what Alina was thinking, or why she was doing what she was, but I liked that he still stood by her, as much as he was able.

However, pretty much all of that is insignificant because ENTER: Sturmhond. My favourite character by far. Bardugo really knows how to write them doesn’t she!? Sturmhond was cheeky and witty. One of those all-round-good-guys-hidden-behind-an-armour-of-sarcasm-and-razor-edged-tongue kind of deals.

I never really saw him as a love interest because I kinda pictured him as this larger-than-life scruffy pirate but I’m so rooting for him now. Not that Alina will ever choose him over Mal but one can dream. Sigh.

There were other great new characters too which I hope will return in the third book to sort his whole shadowy mess out.

Next! Thankyouplease.

unicorn rating 3

 

Gruesome Guest Posts, Revolting Reviews, and Frightening Features Wanted! Open Call for Submissions…

Lipsyy Lost & Found

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It’s that time of the year again….Brush the cobwebs off your costumes, because Horror October 4 is fast approaching!

Last year’s horror-themed month was a huge success so I will of course be doing much of the same this year and hosting my fourth Horror October (how have I done 4 of these already!?).

I’m looking for reviews, features, guest posts/interviews, anything goes as long as it comes under the umbrella that is horror (I use the term very loosely and hope to cater for everyone, even you scaredy cats out there😉 )

So get your shocking-scary-supernatural caps on and get involved. Leave a comment or email me on:

lipsyylostnfound[at]gmail[dot]com.

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This Week in Books (14.09.16) #TWIB

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week. 

It’s Wednesday so you know what that means…time to share how our reading week is shaping up! Don’t forget to leave your link in the comments for everyone to see :) 

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Now:  Stealing SnowDanielle Paige

Not much to report on this so far but I’m enjoying the psychiatric ward setting! Looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Then:   Labyrinth Lost ~ Zoraida Cordova // Siege and Storm ~ Leigh Bardugo

I enjoyed both of these but Labyrinth Lost wasn’t quite as amazing as I was hoping. my review is here

Next: ??? 

Probably Reckless by Cornelia Funke, or Haunt Me by Liz Kessler. Both are  ARCs that I’ll be reading for Horror October. They’re both YA. 

New on the Shelves

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Charity Shop Find: 

A Christmas Party ~ Georgette Heyer

A Christmas Murder Mystery – yes please!

It is no ordinary Christmas at Lexham Manor. And the mood is anything but festive.

Six holiday guests find themselves the suspects in a murder inquiry when the old Scrooge who owns the substantial estate, Nathaniel Herriard, is found stabbed in the back.

Whilst the delicate matter of inheritance could be the key to this crime, the real conundrum is how any of the suspects could have entered the locked room to commit this atrocity.

For Inspector Hemingway of Scotland Yard, the investigation is complicated by the fact that every guest is hiding something – throwing all of their testimonies into question and casting suspicion far and wide…

 

Borrowed:

The Last Act of Love ~ Cathy Rentzenbrink

I’ve heard great things about this memoir. A genre I don’t read much so looking forward to the change. 

In the summer of 1990 – two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school – Cathy Rentzenbrink’s brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out, suffering serious head injuries. He was left in a permanent vegetative state. Over the following years, Cathy and her parents took care of Matty – they built an extension onto the village pub where they lived and worked; they talked to him, fed him, bathed him, loved him. But there came a point at which it seemed the best thing they could do for Matty – and for themselves – was let him go.

With unflinching honesty and raw emotional power, Cathy describes the unimaginable pain of losing her brother and the decision that changed her family’s lives forever. As she delves into the past and reclaims memories that have lain buried for many years, Cathy reconnects with the bright, funny, adoring brother she lost and is finally able to see the end of his life as it really was – a last act of love.

Powerful, intimate and intensely moving, this is a personal journey with universal resonance – a story of unconditional love, of grief, survival and the strength of the ties that bind. It’s a story that will speak to anyone who has lost someone close to them, to anyone who has fiercely loved a sibling, and to anyone who has ever wondered whether prolonging a loved one’s life might be more heartbreaking than saying goodbye.  

Waiting on Wednesday

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine

 The Daemoniac (A Dominion Mystery, #1) ~ Kat Ross

 Looking forward to reading this for Horror October!

thedaemoniacIt’s August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim’s throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.


But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.
From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York’s richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?

Expected Publication: October 12th 2016 by Acorn

 So, that’s my week in books, now how about yours?
 

If you’re joining in leave the link to your answers in the comments so everyone can take a look🙂

And while I have you here I’m looking for guest posts/features/reviews/spotlights for Horror October. Get in touch if you’ d like to get involved. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Fairy Tale Inspired Books #TTT

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is: Top Ten ALL TIME Favourite Books of X Genre. I’ve chosen fairy-tales.

Ok so confession time. I have done list before for an actual fairy-tale TTT but I really couldn’t decide what genre to do and when I compiled the list the first time round I hadn’t read what are now some of my favourite books… so I have at least changed it a bit. Promise. 

I LOVE fairy-tales and really like modern re-tellings but they don’t always work. Here is my ultimate list of my favourite books that have been inspired by fairy-tales, as many of them aren’t actually re-tellings. 

The Lunar Chronicles

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Each book entails a new take on an old fairy tale, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White. The story takes place in a futuristic world where humans, cyborgs, and androids all coexist. 

I love them all, including Winter (not pictured).

Poison

w1A brilliant, twisted, spirited anti-fairy tale from the amazing Chris Wooding.

Poison has always been a willful, contrary girl, prone to being argumentative and stubborn. So when her sister is snatched by the mean-spirited faeries, she seeks out the Phaerie Lord to get her back.
But finding him isn’t easy, and the quest leads Poison into a murderous world of intrigue, danger, and deadly storytelling. With only her wits and her friends to aid her, Poison must survive the attentions of the Phaerie Lord, rescue her sister, and thwart a plot that’s beyond anything she (or the reader) can imagine. . . .

This one was a complete surprise. It has taken so many different fairy-tale elements to create a completely fresh, almost sinister world. 

The Darkest Part of the Forest

ng2Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

I can’t rave about this book enough. It.was.Amazing. Holly Black is the Queen of the modern fairy-tale! Love, love, love!

Blood Red, Snow White

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It is 1917, and the world is tearing itself to pieces in a dreadful war, but far to the east of the trenches, another battle is breaking out – the Russian Revolution has just begun…

Blood Red, Snow White captures the mood of this huge moment in history through the adventure of one man who was in the middle of it all; Arthur Ransome, a young British journalist who had first run away to Russia to collect fairy tales.

Told as three linked novellas, part one captures the days of revolution but retells the story as Russian Fairy Tale, with typical humour and unashamed brutality. Part two is a spy story, set over the course of one evening, as Ransome faces up to his biggest challenge, and part three is a love story, full of tragedy and hope, as every good Russian love story should be.

I wasn’t sure if anyone could pull off a story about the Russian Revolution as a fairy-tale, but mannnnn, Marcus Sedgwick smashed it out of the park. Again!

The Princess Bride

800388What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it’s about everything.

I saw the movie before reading the book and I don’t usually enjoy doing things that way round, especially when it’s been such a staple in my childhood, but I really loved the book too!

Beauty

fairyt3When the family business collapses, Beauty and her two sisters are forced to leave the city and begin a new life in the countryside. However, when their father accepts hospitality from the elusive and magical Beast, he is forced to make a terrible promise – to send one daughter to the Beast’s castle, with no guarantee that she will be seen again. Beauty accepts the challenge, and there begins an extraordinary story of magic and love that overcomes all boundaries. This is another spellbinding and emotional tale embroidered around a fairytale from Robin McKinley, an award-winning American author.

Not all of Robin McKinley’s re-tellings have worked for me, but I really loved this one. 

The Looking Glass Wars

fairyt2Alyss of Wonderland?

When Alyss Heart, newly orphaned heir to the Wonderland throne, flees through the Pool of Tears to escape her murderous Aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!

Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss’ story – and he’s searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland, to battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.

The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges our Wonderland assumptions of mad tea parties, grinning Cheshire cats, and a curious little blond girl to reveal an epic battle in the endless war for Imagination.

This was the first Alice re-telling that I ever read and it was great. Utter batshit, but great. I have no idea why I didn’t finish the series. Sigh. 

The Book of Lost Things

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High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own — populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.

This is such a beautiful book inspired by so many different fairy-tales you would recognise and lots of new ideas too. 

Shadow and Bone

summer16.7Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

I loved that this book is clearly inspired by Russian fairy-tales. I’d love to know more about them.

What are your favourite fairy-tale inspired books?

Bookshop Finds: Copperfields

This secondhand & antiquarian bookshop can be found in Wimbledon, London. Since my friend moved there a few years ago we’ve been meaning to check it out, and we finalllllly did.

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Copperfield’s is a whole run-down house full of books. It’s labyrinthine  rooms and corridors are literally piled with books of all ages, all genres and all conditions. It’s hard to figure out the ‘method’ behind it all, but I loved the madness of it. I’m not sure I’d feel the same if I was looking for anything in particular however.

Every nook and cranny is bursting with books.

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We found the young adult section under the stairs.

And the Dickens’ section on what I think was an old fridge.

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Apparently upstairs there was a kitchen area with an empty bottle of wine sitting there a la Black Books. I can’t believe my friend Dora didn’t tell me about that until we’d left. She’d put me off going upstairs because she said it was all non-fiction and mainly science. Pfft. Thanks Dora. I WANT TO SEE FAKE BERNARD BLACK’S KITCHEN.

Ahem. I’ll definitely go back to Copperfield’s. On this visit I didn’t buy anything but I’m sure I will in the future. Outside they also did that blind date with a book thing where a selection of books are wrapped in brown paper and only a few hints to what is inside is written on it – I was really tempted. I don’t know what stopped me. Next time!

From the website: 

Copperfields opened eight and a half years ago as the culmination of a longheld dream.

Our initial stock of some 10,000 books has now grown to 42,000 titles in our shop with a further 8,000 books in readily accessible storage.

The subject base is broad, ranging from art to zoology and is constantly changing. Our aim is to cater for all tastes so there are plenty of entertaining page turners alomgside more specialist rare and antiquarian and academic titles.

Copperfield Books
37 Hartfield Road, London, Greater London SW19 3SG, United Kingdom

Labyrinth Lost #BookReview #YA

summer16.3Title: Labyrinth Lost
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
Format: Digital ARC, 336 pages
Publication Details: September 6th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep, I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Review

I was dying to read this as soon as I saw that stunning cover. It’s also not often you come across YA books built upon Latin American culture. So WIN.

Labyrinth Lost is the story of Alex and her close family of bruja’s – sort of witches. Alex, a middle sister, should have come into her gift by now and had her Deathday ceremony just like her older sister and and her parents before her. Little do they know that Alex’s magic is much, much stronger than they ever imagined and she’s been hiding it for years. 

Unfortunately, an incident exposes Alex’s magic and her family rally around to arrange her Deathday party – the one thing Alex was fearing – as once the dead are raised and her magic is blessed, she will be stuck with it forever.

However, the ceremony doesn’t exactly go to plan for anyone, and Alex’s family disappear leaving just her and brujo Nova to journey through the Labyrinth of Los Lagos to reclaim their souls. 

This was a book of two halves for me. I was absolutely entranced with the  first half. I loved Alex and her family. Her relationship with her sisters was so full of love but fraught with annoyances it really rang true. 

I also loved the dynamic between Alex and her best friend, and felt for her for having to keep so many secrets from colourful Rishi. 

Córdova brings Latin American history, spirituality and mythology to the forefront in Labyrinth Lost and I found it spellbinding. I did however, think it lost a lot of pace when they got Los Lagos – a definite downside to creating a dreamy, psychedelic limbo – I did wish it moved along a bit faster during the second half. I also thought the believability factor was stretched to breaking point in parts.

Overall though, this was a quick, interesting read which stands out from a lot of generic YA fantasy. The mythology Córdova built on and evolved was a delight, and now I’d love to read more about Latin American beliefs. It was also nice to see a gay relationship in here – although I wasn’t convinced of Alex’s feelings half as much as I was the other character’s.

unicorn rating 3