Book Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

the-snow-childWhat’s it about?

Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?

Written with the clarity and vividness of the Russian fairy tale from which it takes its inspiration, The Snow Child is an instant classic.

 

My thoughts

This was our book club read for December (yeah I know, I’m way behind on my reviews),  and in all honesty it wouldn’t be a book I’d choose for myself, but that’s the whole point of book club reads.  Being set mostly in Winter itself, it was a perfectly timed read.

All in all, it’s a bit of a strange one this, there’s no contest that it’s beautifully written which sets and explores the haunting and stark landscape but it’s the whole is it a fairytale or isn’t it? Is it real or isn’t it, and is Faina real or just imagined?  Regular readers will know I don’t really do magical realism, in the sense I like books that are cut and dried, so this one was never really going to appeal, nevertheless for the most part I enjoyed it.

I particularly liked the scenes involving Esther (Jack and Mabel’s neighbour) who was such a lively, extrovert character that she really woke the book up because the scenes involving Jack and Mabel tended to be slow and quite repetitive, in fact, a lot of the book is repetitive with Faina’s comings and goings and the daily slog in trying to survive in such a wilderness.

I’m taking from this book that essentially Faina saves Jack and Mabel; before she came into their lives they were just existing but by the end they were living again.  Perfect for fans of the magical realism genre but just not my preferred type of read so I had to persevere to finish.

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author Links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source:  Borrowed from library
No of pages: 432
Publisher: Tinder Press


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Book Review: The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

The Rabbit Back Literature Society What’s it about?

Ella Milana is a literature teacher, and the possessor of beautifully curving lips.

But when she starts trying to unearth the truth behind the Society, Ella finds a lot more than she bargained for. What is ‘The Game’? Why are the words inside books rearranging themselves? And what explains the strange disappearance of an author, in a whirlwind of snow?

 

My thoughts

Ok, so I’ll admit I was drawn to this book for its stunning cover; and therein ends my love affair with this book. It was just plain wierd, often slow and I’m not entirely sure what the point was!

It reads like a Finnish folk story, goblins and elves and fairies and a there’s whole load of unexplained things happening.  The Finnish names don’t help either, trying to prounounce them in my head just added to the frustration.

In part one we learn more about Laura’s life and relationship with her parents and school which all seems relatively normal if a little boring.

But then we move into part two and the strange disappearance of author Laura White and the effects on the townfolk and the Society members – this is where the strange stuff starts happening and I totally lost the plot…yes, exactly that, I really had no idea what was supposed to be going and I found it a slog to read this section.

In part three there’s these truth games with the purpose to get its members to ‘spill’ their deepest most innermost secrets but why?? And they were taking this ‘yellow’ truth drug, I mean why would you do that?.  This Literature Society was so revered that its members were doing all this weird out of character stuff just to be included, they were successful published authors, surely they no longer needed this ‘notoriety’.

There’s nothing wrong with the actual structure of the book and the writing is perfectly acceptable, if somewhat simplistic, I just didn’t get it.

If you liked The Night Circus or even The Invisible Library or any kind of magical realism I suspect you’d like this, unfortunately not for me.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

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Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live HereWhat’s it about?

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

My thoughts

While the Indie Kids or Chosen Ones are battling forces of evil ‘the rest of us just live here’ and get on with our lives.

Like in a horror movie the popular kids get hunted, stalked and murdered but think of all the other kids that are on the outside; this is their story. This book is all about those kids that are in the background, making up the numbers, they know the shit is going down but are not meant to be involved or have no control. It’s a very cleverly structured book having the chapter openings explain briefly what’s happening to the Indie Kids, this makes it feel like 2 stories in 1 that interact on the periphery.

You have to applaud Ness for his diverse characters and the issues that they’re dealing with; anorexia, OCD, mental health, their sexuality…oh and being a God, all this coupled with normal teenage worries, insecurities and relationships. But I do wonder whether trying to tick all the boxes to include so much diversity was a little overkill?

I don’t read a lot of this genre, a kind of mix up of fantasy and paranormal realism so don’t have anything to compare it too but it’s intelligently written even though aimed at young adult readers. I enjoyed the book although it took me probably a third to understand what was going on, and it didn’t take me long to read (just the weekend) but I preferred More Than This!

Oh and the beautiful blue pages…..

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Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Book Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible LibraryWhat’s it about?

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

My thoughts

This was our book club read for October and I think I have to accept that fantasy and magical books are just not my type of read. I persevered with it as it was for book club and I wanted to be able to contribute to the group discussion because if it hadn’t have been I would have abandoned.

This is the first in the Library series and I appreciate a lot of this book was groundwork and setting up for the next in the series but I struggled to remember what I’d read and had difficulty getting to grips with the magical language and events. I don’t think it’s a particularly difficult read, I think it’s because I lacked interest in the magical elements. Unfortunately because of these reasons I lacked the enthusiasm to pick the book up so it took me longer than usual to read.

That said, the parts that were investigative were good. I enjoyed the scenes where Irene was thrashing out her thoughts and the other characters were either shooting her down or backing up her theories and there were a few good action scenes which helped speed things along.

I quite liked the Victorian setting that Irene and Kai were thrust into; albeit a very different kind of Victorian era you would normally expect. There was a mention of traffic lights and it made me think had I got the era right so I went away and Googled Victorian traffic lights to see what was in existence at that time (that was quite interesting actually).

I figured out one of the twists quite early on so was waiting for the characters to catch up but all is revealed at a steady pace to keep you reading and hold your interest.

Also, the blurb of this book leads you to believe Irene is a spy…well if traveling between alternate realities stealing books is a spy’s job description so be it, but pretty it up as you like and for whatever reasons; she steals that book!

Although not for me, this would be perfect for lovers of The Night Circus and the Rivers of London series.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night CircusWhat’s it about?

Opens at Nightfall

Closes at Dawn

As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.

Le Cirque des Rêves

The Circus of Dreams.

Now the circus is open.

Now you may enter.

My thoughts

Oh guys, I really don’t know what to say about this book. After first seeing it on You Tuber Carrie Hope Fletcher’s vlog I really liked the look of it and every time I tweeted about it or mentioned it in a Wednesday post, people were so positive about it. What did I miss?

I loved the cover of this book and I loved the idea of this book more than I actually liked it unfortunately, it really didn’t do anything for me.

Initially there’s a lot about the setting up of the circus and the introduction of all the characters, of which there are a lot, but then they come and go and visit the circus and then aren’t mentioned again for a few chapters. I usually love a dual time line but this one just confused me and I often found myself going back to check at what time we were at before which I found disrupted my reading rather than enhanced the experience.

Things happen without anything really happening; all with this backdrop of some sort of contest between two of the main characters that I didn’t really know what it was or what they were expected to do but it was to the exclusion of what you’d expect to be legally and morally right.

On the plus side, it is mysterious and magical and the writing is very descriptive and expressive and I found it easy to visualise the circus acts. It also reminded me of the movie The Prestige which I love.

My book club is a small group of 5 and nobody got on with it. I was a bit gutted as I’d chosen it and it is rather a long book to get through so it was a shame that it wasn’t for us. We all agreed it may be better suited to young/new adult readers.

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