[Book Review] Why rich fairy godfathers really are too good to be true

Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

This book is so far off my usual beaten reading path that I can’t even. But it caught my eye both for the cover (yeah, yeah, I know) and for the blurb. The book bills itself as a retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale.bronze-and-gold

Now, I couldn’t recall what the Bluebeard story was about (Was it the Grimm story in which the hero has to whittle a key out of a finger or – ?) but if there’s anything I love more than pretty covers, it’s retellings of classic stories. So I got myself the book.

Turns out, Bluebeard is a French folktale by Charles Perrault: Girl forced to marry rich nobleman. Discovers rich nobleman keeps the corpses of his wives in the basement. Nobleman tries to kill girl. Girl’s family kills nobleman. Girl inherits big.

You know, the stuff Disney movies are made of. Or Lifetime movies.

The story takes this framework, shakes it out, and modernizes it for the pre-Civil War U.S. South. It also ramps up the creepy factor.

In this version, spirited red-head Sophie has left her humble home and siblings to live with her insanely-rich and super-generous plantation-owning godfather, Monsieur Bernard de Cressac. Once Sophie arrives at his Mississippi estate, the 17-year-old is lavished with everything she could wish and wants for nothing. But since this is a book, we know that’s not what’s going to happen. Because who gets their happily ever after on page 2? Continue reading

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Girls reading books about boys

I remember towing my kid brother around the library in a doomed attempt to inspire a love of reading.

“This one sounds cool,” I said, handing a book to my brother. It was an adventure story with a shiny gold spine. “It’s about a kid genius who tries to kidnap a fairy and ends up with high tech fairy operatives chasing him.”

My brother wasn’t impressed. He inspected the cover with a kind of resigned patience usually reserved for trips to the shoe store. With a furtive glance at me, he slid the book back into its slot on the shelf.

“What’s wrong with that one?”

“Dunno,” he mumbled. “It sounded boring.”

“Okay then, how about this one? It has a quest and dragons.” I said, pulling another book down. He was shaking his head before it cleared the shelf.

“No,” he said, looking relieved to finally have a good reason to veto my pick. “It has a girl on the cover.” Continue reading

[Book Review] Persephone, stuck in boarding school

Book Review: My Ex From Hell by Tellulah Darling

exfromhellI don’t always read YA books, but when I do, they usually have something to do with Greek mythology. So when I saw this book’s premise, I had to give it a read:

When, in the middle of a revenge prank, Sophie ends up kissing a handsome stranger, sparks fly and she gets flashes of a past life as a Greek goddess. Oh, and the guy she’s kissing may or may not be her ex from her time being a prisoner in Hades, the Greek underworld. Oh, and the Olympus Powers That Be may want her dead.

Just another day in boarding school. Continue reading

Buddy Read with Tash | The 5th Wave

Last month, I dove into The Handmaid’s Tale and talked genre drift and the flavors of oppression across the books different international covers. (Check out Tash’s great insights here.)

thefifthwaveThis month, we decided to go in the Teen Alien Invasion Romance direction and tackle Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave. After all, the movie version just came out, it’s streaming on Amazon, AND the trailer promises an alien invasion with aliens taking over human brains. Who’s infested? Who’s still human? NO ONE KNOWS.

And also because, clearly, I learned nothing from watching The Host. Continue reading

Defining Dystopia. Hint: It’s not about love triangles.

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I’m about halfway through reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale with Tash from The Bookie Monster, and it has dawned with me that over the last few years, I’ve slowly lost sight of what the dystopian genre is all about.

The Handmaid’s Tale takes North Korean oppression, mixes in the gender-driven segregation of fundamental Islam, and frames it all in the language of Christianity. In no place in the text can you take a step back and scoff, this can never happen. It might. The story makes you believe it might.

This is the chilling power of the genre – it says, This could be the world. Our world. Tomorrow. The dystopian genre is a cautionary tale. It’s a warning. It’s the uneasiness of premonition. It is the Greek seer Cassandra, blessed by the gods to see the future and cursed to never be believed.

Reading The Handmaid’s Tale, it occurred to me that the mushrooming teen dystopian genre has been selling oppression lite. To win itself a shiny “dystopian” label, the ubiquitous YA book checks the box  marked “oppressive society” and perform a token wave to its character’s rejection of the status quo. These worlds don’t need to be realistic or thoughtful or threatening (and perhaps that’s why Divergent’s world pissed me offSeveral times.) They just need to involve oppression. The weirder the better. Continue reading

[Book Review] Shiver, or how one girl’s wolf obsession turns uncreepy when wolf becomes a boy

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)

Hey, an angsty teen romance I didn’t hate. What? Whaaat?

I keep swinging between two emotional extremes when it comes to this book. On the one hand, Shiver is so cute! It is sweet, and cute, and full of purple prose and sad lyrics and little poems. And cute.

On the other hand, it’s so stupid. Oh the inexplicable plot holes. Oh the silly beginning. Oh how you want to grab the characters and shake them till they do something™ about the obvious story devices being put into play. Oh how you want Sam to stop making up little sad song lyrics. Oh the crazy annoying ending.  Continue reading

[Book Review] Crimson Crown and the book review that wasn’t

Note from the desk of CanaryTheFirst: I was browsing ancient drafts in the depths of our reading coal mines when I came across this review from theothercanary. It’s about time for it to see the light of day!

Book review: The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

The Crimson Crown (Seven Realms, #4)I started reading this book, but abandoned it for meatier tales like Dresden. When I finally got back to it, I thought that’d I’d made it at least halfway through. Imagine my horror to reopen it on my Nook to discover that I was on the paltry page 68. Out of 448. I almost abandoned it again in favor of rereading Behemoth for the zillionth time.

EDIT: I wrote that much as an intro while I was still reading the book. Then on page 240, I did abandon the book to read Behemoth again. And Cold Days. And Beautiful Creatures. And Deadline. And a whole schlew of nonfiction goodies. And upon trying to return to this book, I simply couldn’t make myself do it.

Based on the stellar ratings on GoodReads, I’m among a small minority who did not utterly and completely love this book. I can see why so many love the Seven Realms stories. I did too. You can read my reviews of past books here:

But as far as the Crimson Crown goes, it’s time for me to declare this book a dead canary.