Review: Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

Review: Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollTitle: Through the Looking-Glass
Author: Lewis Carroll (Website)
Series: Alice #2
Genre: Children's, Classic, Fantasy
Pages: 208
Publisher: Puffin
Format: eBook
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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. In many ways, this sequel has had an even greater impact on today's pop culture than the first book. Summary from Goodreads

As I said in my review of Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland, I decided to read these two books because I want to read Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars trilogy and I thought I should start with a proper foundation. Just like with Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland, I thought Through the Looking-Glass was a discombobulated book of nonsense.

I didn’t have high hopes going into this one because I didn’t enjoy the first one very much. On that note, I wasn’t too disappointed by it, but I still didn’t enjoy it. Alice still went off on unnecessary tangents, nothing was coherent nor did anything make any sense, and this book was even more confusing than the first one which is a feat!

The only thing I liked about Through the Looking-Glass were the backwards letters on everything and the “Jabberwocky” poem. I think it’s neat that Carroll coined the terms galumph and chortle. And, the fact that everything takes place on a chessboard is also kind of neat, except that you can’t follow the game very well so it really doesn’t add anything to the story.

The one thing I did learn from reading both of these books is that most adaptations to these stories mix the two together. For example, in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, the talking flowers, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and the Walrus and the Carpenter tale are all in Through the Looking-Glass not Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Even though I didn’t enjoy these very much, I’m glad I took the opportunity to read them. If for nothing else just to familiarize myself with them and get a foundation in the cannon of Alice and her adventures.

two-starstwo-stars

Review: Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Review: Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis CarrollTitle: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Author: Lewis Carroll (Website)
Series: Alice #1
Genre: Children's, Classic, Fantasy
Pages: 146
Publisher: Puffin
Format: eBook
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) is a novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit-hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures. The tale is filled with allusions to Dodgson's friends (and enemies), and to the lessons that British schoolchildren were expected to memorize. The tale plays with logic in ways that have made the story of lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the most characteristic examples of the genre of literary nonsense, and its narrative course and structure has been enormously influential, mainly in the fantasy genre. Summary from Goodreads

This is the first time I’ve ever read this classic story. I’ve been somewhat familiar with Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland because of the numerous movie tie-ins. However, I was never versed in the original story. I decided to read it because I want to read Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars trilogy and I thought I should start with a proper foundation. I was expecting a fun, whimsical tale about Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. Instead, what I read was a discombobulated book of nonsense. Gasp!

I tried to like this book. I really did. But there were only very few parts that Carroll actually showed and not told. I now understand the importance of that writing rule! All the telling was boring. And, Alice was always off on some tangent that had nothing to do with the story, which didn’t add anything to it. In fact, it just made me hate it. Plus, Alice is seven years old? Really?! She acted more like a teenager or even an adult.

I liked the idea of the story–a young girl somehow finding herself trapped in a world she doesn’t understand, meeting curious creatures and people, and then finding out that it’s all a dream. Such a great idea! If only the execution were better. Nothing was coherent and there was no rhyme or reason for anything. I take things at face value. Allegories and symbolism are completely wasted on me most of the time. One of the reasons I hated my literature classes so much was the constant analyzing of books’ meanings. Sometimes, a book is just a book. But, I digress.

My favorite part of the story was Carroll’s description of the Queen of Hearts’ court. I loved that he didn’t just come out and say that everyone was part of a pack of cards until he gave you a visualization of it all. And, I loved that the different suits meant different things. It was fun and it made those characters come alive for the short time they were there. I wish the rest of the book were like this.

I’m going to read Through the Looking-Glass next. I’m not looking forward to it to say the least, but I really want to make sure I understand Carroll’s world before I dive into Beddor’s. Hopefully, I’ll like Through the Looking-Glass better than I did Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but I don’t have high hopes.

two-starstwo-stars

Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie RutkoskiTitle: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski (Blog, Twitter, Facebook)
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Pages: 355
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Format: Hardcover
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As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him--with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. Summary from Dust Jacket

I had a couple of friends recommend The Winner’s Curse to me, and my good friend Rachel lent me her book. I’m really glad they recommended it because I really enjoyed it!

I loved the world Rutkoski created. It was so interesting because it was like reading historical fiction mixed with fantasy. The world feels like it’s set in the 1800s but with a lot of Greco-Roman elements mixed in. I actually pictured Valoria and Herran as Greece and Italy when they talked about sailing from one place to another.

I loved the politics in this story. They were intense and had so many elements that made the story rich and meaningful. There was no simple explanation for anything. Everything had a purpose and reason.  And, the dynamics between all the characters and the different cultures made the story interesting to read.

I loved Kestrel, the main protagonist. She was a very likable, strong, and emotional character. I don’t mean emotional as in all cry-y and weepy. I mean that she had feelings and cared for others. I loved that she questioned things and didn’t just follow everyone around her. She was torn with how their society was built and how it functioned. She didn’t want to disappoint her father, but she also didn’t want to hurt anyone that didn’t deserve to be hurt.

I also loved Arin. And, I loved that we got to read his point-of-view from time to time. It was fun to know his motives before Kestrel did and then see how everything came together. Even though we knew his motives, we didn’t know everything about him. We had to learn it along with Kestrel and we still don’t know everything. I really love that about this story. It’s like an even more limited view of a main character. It really adds to Arin’s mystery and intrigue.

I want to read the rest of the story now; I don’t want to wait. I actually need more! There’s so much potential. A lot of great things have been set up for the rest of the series. I just hope there won’t be a love triangle since it could happen easily. I really, really, really hope it goes another way. And, I hope it ends how I want it to, but only time will tell.

All in all, it was a very fun and interesting story. It had so many things going for it–romance, fantasy, great characters, awesome world building, and an interesting plot.

four-starsfour-starsfour-starsfour-stars

Review: Evertrue by Brodi Ashton

Review: Evertrue by Brodi AshtonTitle: Evertrue
Author: Brodi Ashton (Blog, Twitter, Facebook)
Series: Everneath #3
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Romance, YA
Pages: 368
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Format: Hardcover
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Now that Nikki has rescued Jack, all she wants is to be with him and graduate high school. But Cole tricked Nikki into feeding off him, and she’s begun the process of turning into an Everliving herself ... which means she must feed on a Forfeit soon--or die.

Terrified for her survival, Nikki and Jack begin a desperate attempt to reverse the process using any means possible. Even Cole, who they expected to fight them at every turn, has become an unlikely ally--but how long can it last? Nikki needs to feed on Cole to survive, Cole needs Nikki to gain the throne in the Everneath, Jack needs Nikki because she is everything to him--and together, they must travel back to the Underworld to undo Nikki’s fate and make her mortal once more.

But Cole isn’t the only one with plans for Nikki: the Queen has not forgotten Nikki’s treachery, and she wants her destroyed for good. Will Nikki be forced to spend eternity in the Underworld, or does she have what it takes to bring down the Everneath once and for all? Summary from Dust Jacket

I’m so excited that I was finally able to read Evertrue. I’m just sad that I have nothing else to look forward to in the Everneath realm.

I loved that we had a chance to go back to Everneath and experience other places than just the Commons, Labyrinth and the High Court. It was fun to see the new places, like Lake Tantalus, as well as others Cole knew about and experience the Everneath as an Everliving might.

I feel like I connected with Nikki in this series. She’s pessimistic and blames herself for others’ fates. She wants to run away, but she also takes responsibility for her actions. She cares for others and doesn’t want to put them in harm’s way. And, yet, she can forgive others. I thought she was a very real and believable character.

I loved having Nikki and Jack together in this book. All the sensual moments between them made me feel warm and fuzzy. But, I also loved the uneasiness between them and Cole. I loved the dynamic of Nikki being dependent on Cole while Jack was there watching. It created some awesome tension and angst. And, I loved that Cole was different in this book, but also the same. I loved the stress of wondering if he was leading Nikki and Jack on, if he had ulterior motives, or what he’d do in the end. I had wondered if he’d surprise me after I finished reading Everbound and he certainly did–both in a good and bad way.

I’ve been anticipating Evertrue since the very beginning of the series. I’ve wanted to know what would happen to Nikki, Jack, Cole, and the Everneath from the moment I read the first page of Everneath. The journey to get here was amazing and suspenseful, and I’m glad to have experienced it.

five-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-stars

Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

Review: Defy by Sara B. LarsonTitle: Defy
Author: Sara B. Larson (Blog, Twitter, Facebook)
Series: Defy #1
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Pages: 323
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover
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Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect? Summary from Dust Jacket

There are a few minor spoilers in this review. I don’t think it will ruin the book for you.

I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews about Defy, but I still wanted to give it a shot and I’m glad I did. I loved it. I thought it was fun, intriguing, and full of all kinds of angst.

I really loved the concept of Defy. I thought it was interesting that Alexa had to disguise herself as a boy to stay away from the horrors of the breeding houses. I don’t think I could’ve done what she did. The breeding houses were interesting by themselves. Not in a good way, though. They were scary, creepy, and sad. And, I think King Hector created them under the guise of breeding when he actually just wanted them so he and his men could whore about. It made me hate King Hector all the more.

I loved the characters. Alexa was strong and emotional, which made me happy. Just because she disguised herself as a male doesn’t mean she could, or should, suppress her female emotions. And, no I’m not saying all females are emotional and males aren’t. All I’m saying is that it made her character more realistic and it helped me connect with her. I loved Prince Damian. I knew there was something about him from the beginning. I knew he couldn’t really be the way he was. And, while I had guessed some of the things about him, I didn’t guess the big reveal. It was an awesome surprise. And, as the story progressed, I just ended up liking him more and more. He’s one of my favorite literary males now.

The supporting characters were great too. I loved the dynamic they brought to the story. I loved the closeness of Prince Damian’s guard; how they trusted and loved each other. I really liked Rylan, but I liked him more as a friend than as a love interest. While the love triangle didn’t affect me like they normally do–wishing the third wheel would die a horrible death–I still didn’t want it in the book. I’m sick of them and Defy was no different. I wanted the focus of the story not to be on the love triangle like it was at times. I wanted the focus to remain on the horrible war and King Hector’s evilness with the romance between Alexa and Prince Damian sprinkled in.

I loved the action. It was fun to read all the sword fights. I could picture them in my mind. It was almost like I was playing a game of Zelda. I was Link and doing the fighting while I read about Alexa’s exploits. Larson did a great job of transporting me into the story as one of the characters. It felt real. I love when an author and story can do that.

The ending was killer for me. Alexa reminds me of Katsa from Graceling. Too independent for her own good, well for my own good anyway. I didn’t want her to make the decision she did, even though I know why she did it. I just hope somehow it gets rectified in the way I want it to by the end of the series.

This is Sara B. Larson’s debut. As I’ve said, I love it and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series. I just wish I didn’t have to wait so long.

four-starsfour-starsfour-starsfour-stars