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DNF Reviews: Dissonance, Allegiant, Frostborn, and Grim

Thursday, July 31, 2014
Dissonance
Dissonance #1, by Erica O'Rourke

Genre: Science Fiction   Hardback: 496 Pages
Publication: July 22, 2014 by Simon & Schuster BFYR


Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.

Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.

But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.

One of my first thoughts upon starting this novel was: Del is kind of a brat. Not a great way to start a relationship, and unfortunately, the feeling just got stronger the more I read. Del doesn't seem to have a strong regard for the rules. At first, I decided to give her a chance. Sam from Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall also starts out as a brat but changes into a beautiful, strong, kind-hearted character after all.

The problem with Dissonance, however, is that no character motivation is provided for why Del thinks and acts the way she does, making it harder for me to connect with her than it already was. She's into Simon Lane but doesn't seem to know anything about him other than the general facts that most anyone can list. She goes on a Walk by herself even though her parents forbid her to do so with good reason—and the things that happen during the Walk only prove their point. Del even suggests hiding what happened during her Walk from the Council. Seriously? At that point, I didn't have the heart to continue the story and see what happens.

DNF 9% into the novel

A copy was provided by Simon & Schuster for review



Allegiant
Divergent #3, by Veronica Roth

Genre: YA Dystopian   Hardback: 544 Pages
Publication: October 22, 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books


The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

I just couldn't read Allegiant anymore. I couldn't. From the beginning, I didn't feel any connection to the characters or the world in which they live. The dual perspective didn't help. It switches so constantly, sometimes with little time skips, that I never got the chance to settle down into the world. The plot moves really slowly, taking us here and there and setting up all the pieces, such at almost 50% into the novel I still didn't know what the point of this book was or what our protagonists would do about the information they find in the outside world. It felt like it was taking us on a meandering journey where, somewhere along the line, some big event / discovery would take place to tell us why we were here in the first place.

Furthermore, I couldn't connect with either Tris or Four. I just got so fed up with them, Four especially. They're burdened with so many problems and yet cannot communicate with each other about their fears. Instead, they resort to making out, seeking a physical connection that will allow them to temporarily block out the problems they don't want to think about. I missed the kickass, take-action couple from previous books.

DNF 43% into the novel - story fell flat

Content: kissing, intense making out, violence

Related reviews
Divergent | Insurgent | Four: A Divergent Collection



Frostborn
Thrones and Bones #1, by Lou Anders

Genre: MG Fantasy   Hardback: 352 Pages
Publication: August 5, 2014 by Crown BFYR


Meet Karn. He is destined to take over the family farm in Norrøngard. His only problem? He’d rather be playing the board game Thrones and Bones.

Enter Thianna. Half human, half frost giantess. She’s too tall to blend in with other humans but too short to be taken seriously as a giant.

When family intrigues force Karn and Thianna to flee into the wilderness, they have to keep their sense of humor and their wits about them. But survival can be challenging when you’re being chased by a 1,500-year-old dragon, Helltoppr the undead warrior and his undead minions, an evil uncle, wyverns, and an assortment of trolls and giants.

This is a different kind of DNF read in that I actually really liked what I read of the story. The writing is fantastic, the world is fascinating, and Thianna and Karn are wonderful characters. I have a special place in my heart for Norse mythology, and I'm glad that the author really did his research for this book. What didn't work for me is how the POV is constantly changing between Thianna and Karn—as in constantly changing. I'd barely get into one scene before I was whisked away to the other character. Plus, there'd be a time skip from the last time we saw the current narrator. While I'm all for dual perspectives, this was taking it to a whole 'nother level in a way I didn't like.


On a personal note
I learned something in my Family Psychology class about how rapid scene changes are detrimental to children developing longer attention spans. This was with regards to movies, however, and is an argument for why Sesame Street is actually bad for children (though the content sound). I'd be interested in learning if the same goes for books. . . .

DNF 16% into the novel

A copy was provided by Random House for review



Grim (Anthology)
edited by Christine Johnson

Genre: Fairy tale retelling   Hardback: 476 Pages
Publication: February 25, 2014 by Harlequin Teen


Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today

I only read a couple of these, so my comments may not necessarily be applicable to everything. I've read anthologies in the past where I only liked a few of the stories. However, what I did read didn't make me eager to read the rest. They were poorly formulated, more like snapshots than a whole story that can stand by itself. To be fair, short story writing is very different from novel writing, and these authors' primary focus is on the latter. And as an English major who has studied short stories, I'm comparing these to a higher standard. As it is, this wasn't the anthology for me. I've seen great reviews on it, however, so there's definitely an audience for it!

Content: N/A

A copy was provided by Harlequin for review

Author Interview: Carolyn T. Dingman

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Today, I am pleased to have author Carolyn T. Dingman over to talk about her debut novel Cancel the Wedding.


Cancel the Wedding
by Carolyn T. Dingman

Genre: Contemporary
Hardback: 240 Pages
Publication: July 8, 2014
by Harper Collins


On the surface, Olivia has it all: a high-powered career, a loving family, and a handsome fiancé. She even seems to be coming to terms with her mother Jane’s premature death from cancer. But when Jane’s final wish is revealed, Olivia and her elder sister Georgia are mystified. Their mother rarely spoke of her rural Southern hometown, and never went back to visit—so why does she want them to return to Huntley, Georgia, to scatter her ashes?

Jane’s request offers Olivia a temporary escape from the reality she’s long been denying: she hates her “dream” job, and she’s not really sure she wants to marry her groom-to-be. With her 14-year-old niece, Logan, riding shotgun, she heads South on a summer road trip looking for answers about her mother.

As Olivia gets to know the town’s inhabitants, she begins to peel back the secrets of her mother’s early life—truths that force her to finally question her own future. But when Olivia is confronted with a tragedy and finds an opportunity to right a terrible wrong, will it give her the courage to accept her mother’s past—and say yes to her own desire to start over?


Author Interview


Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
I live in Atlanta with my husband and two girls (ages 13 and 14 at the moment). I moved here about a hundred years ago when I graduated from Clemson University. Okay, it wasn’t a hundred years, more like twenty-something, but it does feel like it’s been a long time since spiral perms and pegged jeans. My degree was in Architecture and I worked in the field until my first daughter was born.

I wish I had a better answer for how I got into writing other than to say that there are always stories swirling around inside my head with voices and characters and situations that just pop in there. Sometimes I write them down. I realize this makes me sound like a crazy person who is symptomatically hearing voices, but I like to think of it less as insanity and more as the creative process.

I learned the actual nuts and bolts of how to write through a personal blog that I had when my girls were little. Blogging taught me what it means to write, not just creating storylines and pacing the plot, but also the physical act of sitting down to do it. You have to make yourself go to the computer and do the work. I quit the blog cold turkey one day when my younger daughter, who was about eight years old at the time, came home from school and asked me not to write about her on the internet anymore. So I was left with the habit of daily writing, the voices in my head, and the privacy clause I had just signed with a crayon. There was nothing left to do but get serious about trying to write fiction.

How would you describe your novel in a tweet (140 char. or less)?
As a side note, I totally suck at Twitter, but here goes: An unexpectedly witty and often funny story of a woman unraveling the poignant mystery of her mother’s past while charting her own future.

What inspired you to write Cancel the Wedding?
The initial spark for Cancel the Wedding came from the idea of exploring that moment in life when your path changes, whether you do it consciously or not, something happens to shift your course. I wanted to follow a character as she went through that mess and turmoil to get to the other side. I think we can usually look back on our life from a distance and say, “that was the moment, that was the choice I made that forced my entire life to change,” but you can’t always see it while it’s happening. When you’re in the midst of the changes it doesn’t feel like a necessary transition to something better, it just feels like you’re in the middle of life’s shit sandwich and everything is falling apart. It was a perversely fun moment to explore.

What did you enjoy most writing Cancel the Wedding?
For me, the best part of writing this novel was when the characters would do something I wasn’t expecting. It’s a strange thing to be going along typing away thinking you know exactly where your story is heading and then, boom, a character says or does something and you’re shocked. I have no idea what sort of creative force is out there in the universe controlling your fingers as they race across the keyboard, but every once in a while I would tap into it and I was always so pleasantly surprised.

What challenges did you face?
The biggest challenge I faced was the waiting. There is a lot of waiting in the world of writing and publishing, which is not easy for an impatient person (points to self.) Sometimes you have to make yourself wait, walk away from the writing for weeks to allow yourself a fresh perspective to edit. Sometimes you’re waiting for an editor’s notes or for it to be your turn at the top of that pile of manuscripts on someone’s desk. Then at the end you’re waiting for the publishing date to roll around. It’s a hurry up and wait business. I found that to be the most challenging aspect. Totally worth it, but challenging.

How have your life experiences influenced your writing?
I grew up with very little family. My sister and I have no aunts, uncles, or cousins. And as an Air Force family we grew up moving constantly. My main character, Olivia, is curious to find some touchstone to a past, an extended family, someplace that she could call a hometown. I’m sure this desire on Olivia’s part comes from my own curiosity about family ties and the rooted sense of place that would have come from having a hometown. I see this theme popping up again and again in my writing, the idea of discovering your family’s past and trying to understand what they were like.

I also think my fascination/aversion to the numerous man-made lakes in the north Georgia mountains created aspects of the story I didn’t necessarily see coming. Cancel the Wedding is set in a fictional town on the banks of one of these lakes. They are beautiful and strange bodies of water created from damming up rivers and flooding everything in their path in order to create a reservoir. And for some inexplicable reason people go missing in their waters every year. Seriously, it’s creepy. A person will fall off a boat or a dock and simply vanish. It can take weeks to recover the body. Sometimes the bodies are never found. What the hell is happening with the strange currents and sunken debris of these lakes that bodies can just disappear? I’m sure that setting Cancel the Wedding near one of these man-made lakes was the cause of the manifestation of the mystery that develops in the story.

What would you like readers to get from reading Cancel the Wedding?
I would hope that they would get simple enjoyment from reading it. That’s why most of us read, isn’t it? To be wrapped up in someone else’s life story and escape for just a bit. I would hope they bring it with them to the doctor’s office because they weren’t ready to walk away just yet. Stay up a bit too late to get in one more chapter. But beyond entertainment I would hope they could take a moment to understand who their own parents were, before they were parents. If you’re lucky enough to have your mother and father alive then dig out their secrets now. It’s much easier to get their stories from them while they are living. You might be surprised what you learn.

What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m having a fun conversation in Q&A form with you! I’m also initiating a campaign to close off the entire Buckhead area of Atlanta from vehicular traffic so when my oldest daughter gets her learner’s permit in October she won’t be distracted by all of those pesky cars. It will just be her, the road, and the five-point safety harness I have bolted to the driver’s seat Nascar-style. And possibly a helmet. When I’m not lobbying for the road closures I’m also at work on my second novel.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I would like to add that I’m grateful for the support of the book blogging community is giving to Cancel the Wedding. It’s especially sweet since I was once a part of a blogging tribe and I am so appreciative of the support of my old blogging friends and the new ones I’m making along the way.



About the Author

Carolyn Dingman grew up as a nomadic military brat often making up stories that the adults referred to as "lies." She is now a grown-up and hardly ever lies anymore unless she's writing fiction where it is considered socially acceptable. She studied Architecture at Clemson University which in no way prepared her for a career in writing. Carolyn lives in Atlanta with her husband and two girls. She volunteers too much, eats too much chocolate, and prefers beer over wine.

Connect with Carolyn
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


You can read my review of Cancel the Wedding here.

Review: The Fire Wish by Amber Lough

Tuesday, July 29, 2014




The Fire Wish
Amber Lough


Series: The Jinni Wars #1
Genre: Fantasy
Hardback: 320 Pages
Publication: July 22, 2014
by Random House Children's




Synopsis

A jinni. A princess. And the wish that changes everything. . . .

Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love.


Review
◆ A copy was provided by Random House for review ◆

I found out the power of author blurbs when I saw that Tamora Pierce blurbed this. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have picked this up otherwise because the synopsis looks so much like a fantasy romance. In a way, it is. At the same time, there's some compelling element to the story that kept me reading even as other elements had me finding it hard to suspend disbelief.

The story alternates between Najwa and Zayele's perspectives. At first, it was hard for me to connect with the characters or even enjoy the story because it switches perspectives so quickly, barely giving me time to immerse myself in one storyline before moving on to the next character. I eventually adjusted to the story's pacing. What really bugged me about the narration from start to end is how both perspectives are told in first person without distinguishing traits in either voice to help me tell them apart. Though Zayele is labeled as braver and Najwa more passive, it's just that—a label. Their characters aren't developed well enough for me to know for sure who is who. Furthermore, though Zayele is essentially raised as a princess, her behavior suggests otherwise, and she does a poor job of carrying out her duties.

I never felt a strong connection to any of the characters, even our narrators. While I know who they are, it's only on a superficial level. I couldn't tell you anything about them except for the most basic of information. There isn't any real depth to the characters or their relationships with each other. The only time I felt any real emotion was when Atish seeks to avenge a wrong done to his girl at the end of the book (if you've read the book you'll know what I'm talking about). That gave me feels, then clichéd things happen, and the feels didn't last very long. I know I should want them to be happy, but it'd be nice if we could spend more time feeling the war damage instead of giving things a Disney ending.

That's the thing. The entire plot felt formulaic. I figured things out before they were revealed ike Najwa and Zayele's unique relationship and where the whole royal wedding before they were actually revealed. And Najwa and Zayele's actions are pretty much what I'd expect from the brash teenage girls so popular in YA books today and who are celebrated as being passionate and kickass. Yes, they take strong action, but there isn't any good cause so far as I can see for them to act the way they do. What they do is stupid and reckless, and they're surprised when older, wiser people lecture them on the dangers of their behavior. I like strong girl characters, but I also want girls who set a good example.

The writing is as youthful as its narrators. I know what it wanted me to see, but it didn't immerse me in the world and the characters' lives. Not only that, but the story didn't have much organization to it. For the most part, it felt like it was taking us from place to place, following the girls as they try to find a way out of the mess they've gotten themselves into, and the story ends rather abruptly without giving us an idea of where it will be taking us in the next book.

I do like the Middle Eastern setting. It's rare to see, and though the crafting could use work, I enjoyed exploring Najwa and Zayele's world for the most part. I'm intrigued and am interested in seeing where The Jinni Wars will take us next.




Additional Information
Series
  1. The Fire Wish
Similar Books
  • Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
  • Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Content
  • Kissing
  • Violence

Review: The High Druid's Blade by Terry Brooks

Monday, July 28, 2014





The High Druid's Blade
Terry Brooks


Series: The Defenders of Shannara #1
Genre: Fantasy
Hardback: 320 Pages
Publication: July 8, 2014
by Del Ray




Synopsis

Legend has it that Paxon Leah is descended from the royals and warriors who once ruled the Highlands and waged war with magical weapons. But those kings, queens, and heroes are long gone, and there is nothing enchanted about the antique sword that hangs above Paxon’s fireplace. Running his family’s modest shipping business, Paxon leads a quiet life—until extraordinary circumstances overturn his simple world . . . and rewrite his destiny.

When his brash young sister is abducted by a menacing stranger, Paxon races to her rescue with the only weapon he can find. And in a harrowing duel, he is stunned to discover powerful magic unleashed within him—and within his ancestors’ ancient blade. But his formidable new ability is dangerous in untrained hands, and Paxon must master it quickly because his nearly fatal clash with the dark sorcerer Arcannen won’t be his last. Leaving behind home and hearth, he journeys to the keep of the fabled Druid order to learn the secrets of magic and earn the right to become their sworn protector.

But treachery is afoot deep in the Druids’ ranks. And the blackest of sorcery is twisting a helpless innocent into a murderous agent of evil. To halt an insidious plot that threatens not only the Druid order but all the Four Lands, Paxon Leah must summon the profound magic in his blood and the legendary mettle of his elders in the battle fate has chosen him to fight.


Review

Paxon Leah runs an airfreight business. He makes  enough to support his family but feels unsatisfied with his life and wonders if there isn’t more out there for him in the world. He constantly worries about his reckless and wild younger sister Chrys, and his fears come to life when she is kidnapped by the sorcerer Arcannen, who seeks to use her as a bargaining chip, as Paxon has something that he wants.

The plot is fairly typical for a fantasy adventure novel. To save his sister, Paxon discovers powers that he did not know he had, receives training from the magical Druids, and confronts the dark sorcerer. Despite this, I enjoyed the book and found it very well written. One aspect I found particularly interesting was how the point of view changed between characters, even showing those of the villains. This gives a lot of insight into the various characters and thus the plot.

As opposed to most fantasy villains, Arcannen is not unrealistically powerful compared to everyone else. In fact, he is not even significantly more powerful than an experienced Druid. He relies more on strategy and wits and readily flees from combat if he feels he cannot win, which I found really cool. I also found Paxon to be a likeable protagonist. He is kindhearted and does not like to put his friends in danger. He does act recklessly at times and without much thought at some points, which does consequently puts his friends in danger and even indirectly leads to a death. However, his behavior is understandable, as he's a young man, and most of his reckless acts are efforts to save his sister.

While I have not personally read any other books in Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, I did not feel lost at all while reading this book. The High Druid's Blade does a good job portraying the parts of the world in the Shannara series that are applicable to it. Still, if you have any interest in reading more Shannara books, I would recommend reading them to get a better understanding of the world.




Additional Information
Series
  1. The High Druid's Blade
  2. The Darkling Child
Similar Books
Content
  • Torture
  • Violence

Imagine Weekly: Stacking the Shelves 7/27

Sunday, July 27, 2014
Imagine Weekly is a weekly feature where we share a summary of what has taken place on the blog the previous week and show off books that we got.


Mailbox

Kris
I received for review:

The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace (Goodreads | Amazon)


The Maze Runner by James Dashner - Hardback, movie tie-in (Goodreads | Amazon)
The Maze Runner by James Dashner - Paperback, movie tie-in (Goodreads | Amazon)
Inside the Maze Runner: The Guide to the Glade (Goodreads | Amazon)


The Green Teen Cookbook, edited by Laurane Marchive and Pam McElroy (Goodreads | Amazon)
Sticky Fingers: DIY Duct Tape Projects by Sophie Maletsky (Goodreads | Amazon)

Thanks to Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Zest Books
* Check out more book hauls through Stacking the Shelves at Tynga's Reviews *


On the Blog

Reviews this week


What did you get this week? Leave a link in the comments section, and we'll check out your week's haul!

Review: All Those Vanished Engines by Paul Park

Saturday, July 26, 2014



All Those
Vanished Engines

Paul Park



Genre: Historical Fiction, Science Fiction

Hardback: 272 Pages
Publication: July 1, 2014
by Tor Books




Synopsis

In All Those Vanished Engines, Paul Park returns to science fiction after a decade spent on the impressive four-volume A Princess of Roumania fantasy, with an extraordinary, intense, compressed SF novel in three parts, each set in its own alternate-history universe. The sections are all rooted in Virginia and the Battle of the Crater, and are also grounded in the real history of the Park family, from differing points of view. They are all gorgeously imaginative and carefully constructed, and reverberate richly with one another.


Review
◆ A copy was provided by Tor Books for review ◆

To summarize what I think was going on in part one: the protagonist of an alternative historical South, where a matriarchic Confederacy has won the American Civil War, is writing/thinking about an alternative steam punk-esq America in another war against invaders. The protagonist of this alternate world, who is a mirror of the first protagonist, is also telling a story, which is actually the first protagonist’s life. Sounds completely mind boggling right? That summarizes a small part of my experience reading All Those Vanished Engines.

This book uses the concept of “Braiding” is used to weave multiple plots together to form a whole story. This in itself is not uncommon, see Game of Thrones for a proper demonstration. All Those Vanished Engines differs, however, in that it uses multiple dimensions of inception so that the stories simultaneously weave in and out of each other. The concept in and of itself is incredibly interesting and innovative, but the execution is handled so poorly that I had a hard time following even a few pages. I had to step away from the book and re-approach to get the full picture.

I like the idea behind the three-part narrative. It is balanced on key locations and artifacts, which keeps the reader more or less focused during the narrative progression. In many ways, it reminds me of tag words used in Norse poetry and prose that date before Latin comes to Scandinavia. In these forms, like the “Lay of Rig,” certain key elements are repeated in order to help the listener keep track of the story’s progression. The protagonists themselves aren’t particularly interesting but serve their purpose as part of the overall plot movement.

That said, parts two and three are far, far better in terms of readability. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t say that the overall book is worth the read, as the poor narrative framing of part one ruined for me what could have been at least a moderately decent book.

I give this 1 out of 5 K. W. Jeter’s




Additional Information
Series
  • N/A




Similar Books
  • Infernal Devices by K. W. Jeter
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Content
  • Gore
  • Aliens
  • Violence

Review: Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Friday, July 25, 2014




Through the Looking Glass
Lewis Carroll


Genre: FantasyLiterary Nonsense
Paperback: 208 Pages
Publication: March 17, 2011 (originally 1871)
by Puffin




Synopsis

Nothing is quite what it seems once Alice journeys through the looking-glass, and Dodgson's wit is infectious as he explores concepts of mirror imagery, time running backward, and strategies of chess-all wrapped up in the exploits of a spirited young girl who parries with the Red Queen, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and other unlikely characters.

Review

Much like Wonderland, we’ve probably all heard at some point the basic story of Through the Looking Glass. Alice is in her family’s drawing room when she climbs onto the mantel, slips through the drawing room mirror, and finds herself in the Looking Glass world, a place with the loose structure of a chess game and where things happen in reverse. Just like in the previous story Carroll wrote, Alice wakes up and finds that her adventure was all a dream.

Like its predecessor, there wasn’t a firm plot in the story. Alice’s driving motivation seemed to be her desire to become a queen, a feat she could accomplish by arriving to the eighth square. Like I said before, the Looking Glass world is supposed to be structured like a game of chess, hinted at by the fact that some of the secondary characters are game pieces brought to life, and the pieces' behavior is different according to their color (the red pieces are more aggressive, while the white ones are more meek).

The tone of the story seemed rather different than the one in Wonderland. Where the previous story came across as colorful and had a few more fun characters, the denizens of the Looking Glass world seemed more aggressive, and the world itself seemed darker to me. The biggest problem I had with the story was that it felt too confused. Even though there was the whole deal of Alice wanting to become a queen, there didn’t seem to be a real payoff when she accomplished it. Where in Wonderland there are several memorable characters, some of whom return during the trial at the end, there weren’t as many in the Looking Glass world. The majority were just quick cameos that, in my opinion, could easily have been cut.

The saving grace for this book, I think, was the portrayal of the few memorable characters. The Tweedles were absolutely fun, and the sibling rivalry between them is nonsensical but still funny to watch. There were brief cameos made by the March Hare and Mad Hatter from Wonderland, though in Looking Glass, they went by different names. The White Knight was easily my favorite character in the book. Despite his clumsiness and tendency to invent unusual and mostly useless utensils, he was gallant and chivalrous, and he wasn’t offensive nor easily offended, making his company more enjoyable for Alice and, in turn, for the reader. Even though he only appears for one chapter, I would’ve loved to have seen more of him. I personally think he would’ve been a great companion for Alice through the rest of her journey.

Again, I would recommend you watch the Disney film if you haven't done so in a while. Though it mostly adheres to the storyline of Wonderland, it does include some bits from this story as well. (The edition of the book I read for this review contained both stories. If you would like to check it out, click here.) Among the iconic elements associated with Alice present in Looking Glass include the Tweedles, the Walrus and the Carpenter, the concept of an unbirthday, and the Jabberwocky poem. The fun part will be spotting these elements in the film and seeing how they were blended in with the other story. Though Wonderland is the better known (and in my mind, the better done) of the two Alice stories, Looking Glass does have some strong bits that make it worth checking out.




Additional Information
Series
  • N/A
Similar Books
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Content
  • N/A

Review: The Year of Chasing Dreams by Lurlene McDaniel

Thursday, July 24, 2014



The Year of
Chasing Dreams

Lurlene McDaniel

Series: The Year #2
Genre: Contemporary
Hardback: 336 Pages
Publication: July 22, 2014
by Delacorte Press




Synopsis

Ciana Beauchamp hasn't seen or heard from Jon Mercer in months. Until now. He's back in Windemere to see her. Deep down Ciana is filled with joy and relief. She's never stopped loving him. It's proof of Jon's love that he has returned, but what will their future be?

Working hard to maintain the family land that her grandmother left to her, Ciana is approached by a real estate developer who offers her a deal that could benefit the Beauchamp estate and possibly the entire town of Windemere, which has seen better days. But Ciana is determined not to sell—for the sake of her heritage and the honor of her grandmother.

When tragedy strikes, almost no one in town is left unscathed. Tragedy has a way of bringing people together, but it can also tear them apart. Ciana can hardly face her choices, but she knows she must, and there are now people who she can turn to if only she is willing.


Review
◆ An ARC was provided by Random House for review ◆

The Year of Chasing Dreams made me feel a whole mess of emotions.

Months have passed since he and Ciana parted, and it's rather shocking to see Jon turn up on Ciana's doorsteps all of a sudden at the start of this book. As we aren't given much context on what has transpired since then, and time jumps around with Ciana unsure of how to deal with his reappearance into her life, it takes some time for the story to warm up. The slow development and Ciana's refusal to confront her feelings for Jon and his betrayal of her made it hard on me emotionally, as I still can't quite find it within myself to forgive Arie... and Jon... for putting Ciana and Jon's relationship through the wringer in the last book. I don't believe in affairs, and it was really unfair of them to put Ciana through all that.

Though time does pass in this novel, Ciana and Jon's relationship seems to progress surprisingly fast, especially for a couple that has avoided talking about what happened between them in the past. I guess it works for some people(?), but I would have expected them to need to sit down and work through some things. Getting over my initial disbelief, however, I found myself more and more engrossed in their developing relationship as the novel progressed. There's real chemistry and connection between these two, and I found myself emotionally invested in their relationship. The same goes for Eden and Garret. They're a wonderful couple, and I'm so happy that they find each other again!

At the same time, the multiple perspectives didn't work for me in this book. The story switches perspectives frequently between Ciana and Eden, and it can be jarring to jump from one girl to the next. It's disappointing because I love both girls so much and would have liked to spend more quality time with each of them, and I'm not fond of the time lapses in between each turn with have with a girl. There are plot threads that come up and go away without having been given much attention such as the appearance of Garrett's ex-girlfriend, who wants her man back.

Some shocking things happen in this book. It's almost as if the worst things that can happen do happen for these girls. Though it also means that the wonderful, beautiful things that find them are all the more beautiful and amazing. Like the amazing, supportive guys they've found in their lives. (The romance definitely gave me a lot of feels in this book!) And the family they find in each other. It does seem like a disturbance has come up in Eden and Garret's relationship, however, and I'm intrigued to see how their relationship progresses from here on out. I'd also love to see more of Ciana and Jon and the life they are building for themselves at Beauchamp.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I'll definitely be on the lookout for another book in The Year saga!




Additional Information
Series
  1. The Year of Luminous Love
  2. The Year of Chasing Dreams
Similar Books
  • Sweet, Texas series by Candis Terry


Content
  • Kissing, making out
  • Sex (not explicit)


This post was made as part of the Year of Chasing Dreams blog tour hosted by Random House