The The Glass Castle #BookReview #ChildrensLit

glasscastleTitle: The Glass Castle
Author: Trisha Priebe & Jerry B. Jenkins
Series: Unknown (but must be!)
Format: Digital ARC, 256 pages
Publication Details: March 1st 2016 by Shiloh Run Press
Genre(s): Children’s; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free, advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads

The king is growing old and is concerned about who will replace him. His new wife wants to produce an heir to the throne.  The only problem? Thirteen years ago, the king’s first wife gave birth to a son, and no one knows for sure what happened to him. Rumors swirl throughout the castle. The solution as simple: dispose of all the thirteen-year-olds in the kingdom. Except, it isn’t that easy. Avery and her friends won’t go quietly.  

Avery, Kate, Tuck, and Kendrick take charge of the underground network of kidnapped children, inspiring them to believe that their past does not dictate their future and pledging to do the hardest thing of all. . .reunite the children with the homes they left behind.  When they discover that one among them might be the child of a man who wants them dead, will everything they work for be lost?

Review

‘The setting from The Chronicles of Narnia meets the action from Alice in Wonderland, was the description from Netgalley which propelled me to hit that shiny request button. I’m not entirely sure I agree with said description after reading the book, but I certainly don’t regret it. 

The Glass Castle centres around Avery who along with her brother is kidnapped by a scary old woman and taken to the King’s castle where she finds a whole band of other children her age, all of whom have gone through the same thing as she.

In time Avery discovers that the King is intent on disposing of all the 13 year old orphans because his first-born may have survived and could one day claim the throne and all that comes with it. But, Avery isn’t like the others. For starters she’s not an orphan so what is she doing there? And how does it relate to her own beloved necklace which she sees in a royal portrait hanging in the castle?

I liked a lot of things about The Glass Castle. It felt quite old fashioned (which I found strangely refreshing); it was certainly reminiscent of Narnia in that way, even if it didn’t quite live up to it – but I mean, what does!? I liked the mystery surrounding Avery and her necklace, and I warmed to her character straight away.

 The old woman has hid the children in the castle to save them. Where better to hide them than right under the King’s nose? It was a bit of a leap for me to believe that all of these children can go so easily unnoticed in the castle yet participate so much in the running of it. The book explains that certain children are ‘scouts’ who run around the castle monitoring the adult’s movements and ringing bells to warn the children to move into another part of the castle. 

I really liked this idea, and often wanted to follow the scouts more than Avery. It had such good potential for some exciting near misses but they weren’t utilised enough. I felt like my favourite parts of this story were sadly unexplored. I needed more peril and more romance to make this a truly unputdownable read. 

However, The Glass Castle was a fun, quick read with the potential for much more. It was definitely required to suspend your disbelief in certain parts and not look at it from an adult point of view (not something I usually struggle with tbh) in order to fully enjoy this tale, but then, that’s the joy of Children’s literature is it not?

unicorn rating 3

 

Lazy Saturday Review: The Winter Place by Alexander Yates #BookReview

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 and writing and more on my general feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

thewinterplace
Title: The Winter Place
Author: Alexander Yates
Series: N/A
Format: Digital, 448 pages
Publication Details: October 22nd 2015 by Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Genre(s): Childrens/YA
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase
When a mysterious stranger and his brown bear show up on the same day that Axel and Tess’s father dies in an accident, Axel fears he might be going crazy, especially as only he can see them. However, the strange duo are quickly forgotten when Axel and Tess are shipped off to Finland to stay with grandparents that they’ve never met. But when they arrive in Finland, Axel is stunned when the stranger and his bear reappear. More incredibly, the stranger tells him that his parents are lost and need help.

Desperate to see his father again, and actually meet his mother, Axel follows the man and his bear, disappearing deep into the frozen wilds of northern Finland. When Tess realises that her brother has vanished she’s distraught. And so begins the frantic search across snow and ice into the dark forest. But as the hours creep by and with no sign of Axel, Tess begins to wonder if her brother has ventured onto a path that she cannot follow.

Delving into the timeless, fantastical world of Nordic mysticism, set against the harsh beauty of a frozen landscape, The Winter Place is an imaginative, beautiful story of loss, love and hope, a story of family, and of a brother and sister who find each other again.

Review

I thought I’d be describing this book as magical, beautiful, emotional, but instead I find myself thinking bizarre, odd, and quirky. That’s not to say that those things are bad, but I was certainly thrown by it.

It is quite a cute story about Axel, who has muscular dystrophy (this is only touched upon and doesn’t define him as a character-which I loved btw) and his older sister Tess. The story is steeped in Scandinavian mythology and based around the Hiisi folklore, something I knew nothing of but enjoyed finding out about.

As I was reading this story, I really enjoyed it, but I felt like I was always waiting for more to happen. I loved the relationship between the two siblings, and seeing how they kept hope and joy alive in the most horrible of circumstances. I loved the mystery of the bear, and the wheelchair that follows Axel around, and not knowing for a long time whether it was supposed to be real or all in his imagination.

Overall, this wasn’t the magical, winter tale I was expecting, but it was a really interesting delve into nordic mysticism, and I’m sure that plucky Axel will stay with me for a long time.

unicorn rating 3

The Verdict: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Click to view on GoodReads.
Click to view on GoodReads.

An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. Born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora dodges both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains, neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected family of orphans “Gentlemen Bastards.”

I don’t really know what to think of this book. I did enjoy it, but I also nearly gave up on like 3 different occasions. It was quite hard-going yet compelling at the same time. Don’t ask me how that works, but it just does. And at over 700 pages it’s not the quickest of reads.

I’ve read a few reviews that liken TLOLL to Ocean’s Eleven and The Godfather – two films I have never seen so I don’t know about that but I did make some of my own comparisons. It reminded me more of a cross between Oliver, Robin Hood and Spartacus(Blood and Sand) for all of the obvious orphans, thievery and Capas/crime bosses references.

The world Lynch has created is truly unique and really it is a unique experience to read too with all of the crazy tangents and flashbacks. I loved the whole Venice Renaissance feel it had and the place names and descriptions were perfect in creating an off-kilter reality. It is in the realm of fantasy but there is nothing too outlandish making it still normal enough to feel real.

The Gentleman Bastards themselves are witty and intriguing but I didn’t really warm to them all that much which made it hard for me to root for them. When Locke gets thrown into the sea in a cask of horse piss I thought it was hilarious, but I didn’t really care if he survived or not.

TLOLL is a witty, action-and-violence-packed swashbuckling adventure for adults that is written with remarkable detail and imagination, I just wish that I could have found it an easier read. It’s definitely worth a try though, especially if you enjoy crudeness, violence and inventive swearing!

3 unicorns out of 5 unicorns! 🙂

This copy is published by Gollancz, 2011.