Ohhhh HEY y’all! Guess what day it is?? It is the very first National Independent Bookstore Day! That makes my actual heart beat a little faster for so many reasons, but the main reason, OF COURSE, is my book heart. We are all happy today.
I have a quite a few posts actually written and lined up for the next few weeks- I KNOW, who AM I?– but because today is all about books, I am shoving these posts to the front of the line.
ALSO: I’m adding links to the independent book store that is closest to me, as there is not one in this delightful and annoying town of mine.
I’m working on that.
Here are some books I’ve read lately, the good, the bad, and the…well, no, I’m not going to talk about the ugly one, because that’s just not helpful. I go back and forth about that opinion in my mind quite a bit, but that’s just another discussion for another time.
SO. Let’s talk about a good sci-fi book and two not-so-good fairy tale books for “Adults.”
(Fairy tale retellings are a thing that I LOVE, by the way. I have no idea why. I do love fairytales, but even as a kid, I had so many questions about the stories. I wanted more, I wanted answers about what happened next, I loved studying the difference between the lore and the Disney versions, I REALLY WANTED TO FIND OUT HOW TO GET THE BEAST’S LIBRARY… you know, normal kid stuff. I guess that may be why I love fairytales written for the older crowd, for teens and adults. Here’s a tip though- do NOT google “Adult Fairytales.” I did NOT think that one through completely when I was searching for more retellings and I guess some lessons need to be learned the hard way.)
I took a few days to write this review because, as I’ve said, I like to let new books simmer for a while. A book can be really FUN to read but later I think “Hmmm. That entire thing made no sense and was, in fact, terrible.” Plus, I read the good book after three really disappointing books, so it could’ve just been that my brain was so grateful for quality that it caused bias.
Happy Independent Bookstore Day, y’all! Go support some local businesses 🙂
Genre: SciFi Published: November 2014
Shan’s Stars: 4 Stars
About the Book: “Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father’s killer through multiple dimensions. Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.
Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.
A Thousand Pieces of You, the first book in the Firebird trilogy, explores an amazingly intricate multiverse where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.”
I came across this book while searching for a time travel novel to add to my reading challenge and the cover was so gorgeous, I was already semi-hooked as only a book nerd can be. Book cover judging is something that I’ve already mentioned… but look how pretty!!
I may have found this book while looking for time travel stories, but this book isn’t actually about time traveling. It’s about dimension traveling. And because some dimensions developed faster or slower than the dimension the book starts in, it has the feel of time travel because of the technology available (or not available) in each dimension.
ANYWAY- too much technical talk. This book was very fun and had a depth to the story that surprised me because most stories like this are too quick to really connect with the characters. The main character, Marguerite, is an artist growing up in home all about science, so she has a wonderful, eccentric mix of traits that translated very well into her voice telling the story and learning about the other characters through her eyes.
Because I’ve read/watched/soaked up so many stories, it’s kind of difficult to shock me with twists, but I will say there were a couple plot twists in this story that I really appreciated and that took the book from three stars to four stars, for me.
For fans of: Really anyone with a penchant for time-travel will love this, but also try it if you like Doctor Who, plot-twists, actual puzzles, and philosophy pondering.
Gold Mine: Okay, this one is weird, and not literary… but I don’t care? There is a rainbow table in Meg’s family that sounds SO lovely. Her parents are hippy-ish scientists and when the sisters were tiny, they let the girls paint the family table crazy colors and kept it that way because the author says her hippy earth scientists aren’t really the type of people to care about a room’s overall design flow and scheme. I’m definitely stealing that idea. I would say “I’m so stealing that idea for when/if I have kids” but let’s be real… I’ll paint myself a crazy, rainbow table as soon as a find a suitable dining table…and have a dining room.
Winterspell by Claire Legrand
Shan’s Stars: 2 Stars
About the book: “The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums … Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear”
This book is a retelling of The Nutcracker, so I guess it is TECHNICALLY a fairy tale retelling, but you know what else it technically is? A gorgeous and awful hot mess. I could tell what the author very obviously WANTED the story to be, but it was kind of like… wanting to paint some walls in your house green. On one hand, you could get the paint and paint the walls OR you could stare at the walls all day, shouting, “I AM GOING TO PAINT YOU GREEN, WALLS. HEY YOU THERE, ONE DAY THESE WALLS WILL BE GREEN.”
(Is it obvious that I’m aching for some colorful additions to my house?)
So, that’s the best analogy I could think of for this book. The imagery is beautiful and the parts of the book where someone actually has a damn paintbrush in their hand are lovely, but those are rare. Plus, there was just SO MUCH TIME wasted on Clara’s gross and depressing family troubles before she gets whisked away and that time never paid off, emotionally or in word count. The outline was good, but the fleshed-out story was just….a HOT MESS, like I said.
Then again, I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews of this book, so MAYBE it’s just me and I just didn’t get it. Wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened. Don’t let me stop you from reading it if The Nutcracker is your ONE TRUE PASSION in life. If that’s the case, go for it. If not… your money/time is better spent elsewhere.
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Shan’s Stars: 2 Stars
About the Book: A retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, for the older crowd.
OH MAN. Another disappointment. I was SO excited for this book. The cover, the fairytale of it all, the author (who works closely with my beloved Maggie Stiefvater), the badass sisters kicking wolves and taking names. GAH I wanted it to be so good. It was not. It wasn’t nearly as irritating as Winterspell… it just wasn’t a GOOD book. It was an okay book with tons of problems and things I don’t like. It had Instant Love with no depth at all. One look, in love, the end. Yikes. Also, one of the main characters seems to have just returned from a trip and I can tell the author wanted to reveal his story slowly, yet that did not happen. It was more like OH HEY LOOK AT THIS GUY WITH A SUITCASE OKAY DON’T YOU LOVE HIM ALSO HE’S PRETTY OKAY NEXT.
I did not love him. Or care. There was also a lot of talk on the webs about the victim-blaming in this booK. I get it, it’s not oaky, don’t victim blame. But also that’s not WHAT made this book bad. It was just part of the problem. This has been bugging me ever since I noticed the drama in some reviews and articles- Hi. Hello. People are assholes. Some people victim blame. Check the news. Having a character victim blame is is not ridiculous, it’s just real life. It should NOT be real life, I agree, but there are a lot of things in the world that shouldn’t happen, and the argument of whether or not to put those things in books is just too big for right here. However, if it is your MAIN character, the one that you want your readers to care about and root for and connect with, the victim-blaming needs to be part of her arc of LEARNING and “when you know better, do better.”
That did not happen, which IS a problem, even if it was the tiniest sliver of plot. Anyway. I am hopeful because this was only the second book that this author wrote and I have a feeling that when she knew better…she did better and that the later books have more quality on all fronts.