Title: The Worst Princess
Author: Anna Kemp Illustrator: Sara Ogilvie
Genre: Children’s Book / Picture Book
First published: 2012
Edition: Paperback, published by Simon and Schuster Childrens Books
I was reading this feminist twist on classic fairytales to my daughter today and realised how much I love this book. It gives exactly the message that I want to impart on my five-year-old.
At the start we meet Princess Sue, who is waiting in a tower for her prince. She knows how fairytales work! When he finally shows up Sue is glad to finally get out of the tower, but her joy is short lived when he puts her in another tower. When she sees a dragon approach, she takes destiny in her own hands.
As an adult I love the obvious satire in this tale and my daughter just loves seeing this balsy princess flying away on a dragon. She has never been the fairytale princess kind of girl anyway. The only Disney princess movie she likes is Vaiana (Moana), so I guess she likes a strong independent girl! Fine by me!
I love the illustrations by Sara Ogilvie as well. Nothing is too polished, exactly like Princess Sue and I love that. A great match.
This definitely is one of my favourite picture books on my daughter’s shelf and I would recommend it to any parent of young children. Teach them that they are in charge of their own story!
6 out of 7 stars
Title: The Last Unicorn
Author: Peter S Beagle
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
First published: 1968
Edition: Paperback, published in 2008 by Penguin
All I can think after closing this book is how wonderfully crafted this story was. It is whimsical, but wise, beautiful and kind of dark. This is a classic fantasy tale for a reason.
The Last Unicorn has elements of myth, fairytale and folklore and the tone of the writing is spot on. It never digs too deep. It always feels like a tale and I like that. I guess that is the reason I never felt like I quite knew the characters, neither Molly, Schmendrick or the unicorn, and yet I cared for them even if I did not quite know what exactly I cared for. This is one of those books that pulls you in anyway. Though it did not have me in its thrall from beginning to end it left me satisfied and happy.
I had been meaning to read The Last Unicorn for years and I am so glad I finally did so. This book is going back on my shelf and I know it will always make me smile when I see it.
5 out of 7 stars
Author: Clare Littlemore
Genre: Fiction / Young Adult / Dystopian
First published: 2017
Edition: E-book, provided by author (self-published)
I sped through this novel, written from the point of view of a sixteen-year-old girl growing up in a community called The Beck. Her world is constantly threatened by floods and she has never known anything else but the Lower Beck, the area she works in. Until she gets reassigned.
This is a very well written gripping story. I got into it very quickly and was with Quin every part of the way as she learned more about The Beck. The author’s writing style is perfect for this tale; clear and to the point. Yet, this book gave me so many feels. I felt sad, angry, frustrated and heartbroken by the end, but man, was it worth it.
If you have enjoyed dystopian YA novels like The Hunger Games and Divergent, you are sure to love this one. It is well written, has an excellent plot and engaging characters. I kept thinking it would make a great movie as well.
The author provided me with an e-copy of this book, but this does not in any way influence my review. As it is, I thoroughly recommend checking this book out. It is awesome and I am looking forward to reading the sequel Break.
6 out of 7 stars
Title: Delivering Virtue
Author: Brian Kindall
Genre: Fiction / Historical Fiction
First published: 2015
Edition: Paperback, published by Diving Boy Books
I was not sure what to expect from this book. The premise sounded interesting, so I was happy to give it a go. I am so glad that I did. The first thing that struck me was the tone of the writing. It is quite dry and witty and a few pages in I was pulled in by Didier Rain, the narrator.
Rain is charged with delivering the infant Virtue to the Prophet Nehi to be his bride and is given a strict set of rules to abide by. The generous reward is enough to make him take this most unlikely of charges on.
Didier’s observations of his own actions and those of others feel really lighthearted and refreshing and make for an entertaining read. Even when serious events are broached, like rape and murder, they are glossed over by Rain’s whimsical version of affairs. With his carnal urges and defying of the rules he has been given it is clear he is not exactly a good man and yet it is hard to dislike him. He tries so hard to be a good man, but the rogue inside him always seems to win out.
Then there is Virtue, the infant, the bride of the Prophet. For a character that does so little, she has such a big impact on those that encounter her, and on the reader. Her story is handled so well, without any fanfare. Her extraordinariness is mentioned in passing, but never dwelt on.
The book is not perfect, and I am sure its dry wit and at times too lighthearted a tone, may not be for everyone, but Delivering Virtue a cleverly written novel that I found very easy to read and enjoy.
5 out of 7 stars
Title: The Brontë Sisters: Life, Loss and Literature
Author: Catherine Rayner
Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography
First published: to be published 28 February 2018 by Pen & Sword
Edition: e-ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher
I am in two minds about this biography of the three Brontë sisters.
It was very interesting to get a wider context to the lives and works of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and I enjoyed reading about the enigmatic sisters. The writer succeeds in painting a picture of their lives, their characters and the circumstances in which their works of literature came into being.
However, I did feel at times the book was quite repetitive and jumbled, which especially the first half the narrative suffers from. Of course, the subject is three sisters, who were touched by much the same events in their lives, such as the loss of their mother at an early age, the death of their two older sisters and the demise of their brother. I just found the way their life story did not flow that well. The second half, in which the author talks about each sister in turn, felt a little more focused and I enjoyed learning about all three women.
I read Jane Eyre in November and was not the biggest fan. I do wonder how I would feel now I have read Charlotte’s own story. The same goes for Wuthering Heights, which is on my shelf still to be read. I think that knowing more about these extraordinary women who wrote novels that still endure today, will enrich my experience reading their works in the future.
This is a very comprehensive look at the life and times of the Brontë sisters and if you do feel inclined to pick up any of their books, I think reading this biography will help understand the authors better and through them, their books. I simply feel it would have been a stronger read if it had been a bit more condensed and edited.
4 out of 7 stars
Title: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)
Author: Jay Kristoff
Genre: Fantasy Pages: 643
First published: 2016
Edition: Kindle e-book
This is a book I have seen floating around the Internet a lot. I never felt compelled to read it, but a special offer enticed me. I am glad it did.
Nevernight was not at all what I expected. I expected it it to be some gritty tale of war and kings and battles. It was not that. It was something else entirely. A strangely enticing mixture between a light hearted YA fantasy novel and something far darker and I liked it!
This is the tale of Mia, a girl who saw her father executed as a traitor, who will stop at nothing in her quest for vengeance. And how better to get close to the ones you dream of murdering than training as a Blade, the most dangerous of assassins.
I love Kristoff’s dry witty writing style, but at the same time I do not think it is for everyone. Personally, I loved the tongue-in-cheek tone, so refreshing in this genre, and it was a treat to read this book. I loved how a dark tale of a girl with murder on her mind could be so amusing.
I really enjoyed the footnotes as well. Although mostly completely unnecessary, on my Kindle they were very easy to tap on to read and tap away again, which made it a breeze to include them in the narrative. I am not sure how this was done in the physical book.
I really enjoyed the plot. Some of the twists in this book I could see coming a mile off, others took me by surprise. The ending was satisfying and I am looking forward to reading the second book Godsgrave and catch up with the characters.
6 out of 7 stars
Author: Jane Austen
Genre: Classic Pages: 188
First published: 1817
Edition: Paperback, published by Dover Publications in 1997
I have been meaning to read more Jane Austen, and settled on Persuasion. What a treat! I really loved this tale of Anne Elliot, who once turned down the man she loved because she was persuaded he was not good enough for her. Now she is older and wiser and of stronger mind when she encounters Captain Wentworth again.
In Persuasion, which is more restrained than say Pride and Prejudice, character studies are key and this is one thing that Austen does so well. I love the way she writes her characters. Not just Anne herself, who is a perfectly humble heroine, but also supporting characters, like her vain father and sister Elizabeth, her deluded sister Mary and even the happy-go-lucky Mr and Mrs Croft, and many more.
I like that Anne is much to blame for her own situation and that her future is in her own hands if only she has the strength to make her own choices. I like the way her storyline progresses and shows how she has grown as a woman within the constraints of her society.
I believe that the reason for the continuing popularity of Jane Austen’s books is the fact that many of the character traits she describes in her cast of characters are still quite current. We all know someone who is too influenced by others, or someone who seems kind, but does everything for their own selfish reasons.
It took me a couple of chapters to get into the story, but once I did I quickly loved it.
6 out of 7 stars