Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Faerie Tale: Book Review

Before I start with this review, I want to warn you that Faerie Tale wasn't a nice book, so this review will contain topics that aren't pleasant. If you don't feel comfortable reading about sensitive topics like rape or molestation, then you probably don't want to read this post.
You have been warned.

 Faerie Tale, by Raymond E. Feist, isn't a book I would usually pick up (or review for that matter, but I felt so strongly about it that I thought I should talk / warn people about it!). It was recommended and lent to me by somebody else, and I thought I should pick it up. I have never really been a fan of horror books, so I was dubious about whether this was my kind of book.

"In early summer, the Hastings - Phil, his wife, teenage daughter, and eight-year-old twin sons - move into the Old Kessler Place on the edge of a densely wooded parcel known as Erl King Hill. The twins, Sean and Patrick, are the first to feel emanations of evil and danger, even before they hear odd tales of the woods - missing children, peculiar lights, eerie music. In the following months, disturbing and often terrifying scenes are witnessed and strangely forgotten, desires inflamed, and fear and dread raised as the evil purpose of the Erl King, ruler of the Dark Lands, is carried out."

There is little that I can discuss regarding this book without spoiling the story, other than I really don't think this book should be read by children. If you haven't read the book and don't want to know the story, please don't proceed in reading this review. On to the spoilery parts..!

The first 100 pages or so of Faerie Tale bored me slightly. It took me quite a while to get into it, and I wasn't really enjoying it. However, while the word 'regarded' was considerably overused, I did actually like the writing. After the beginning, it really picked up and the middle in particular was quite fast-paced. I have read quite a few reviews saying that the characters were poor and the writing was disappointing, but I personally quite liked it. I thought the characters were fairly strong and clearly defined, and that the writing portrayed the story really well. I really didn't have an issue with that part; it was the concept I had a problem with.

The general idea for the story is a classic, I guess. A family moves to a big, old house in the middle of nowhere. There's sense of danger as evil 'spirits' take over the place and takes a fancy to the people inside the house. Something big happens, someone is hurt, they have to save the family, yada yada yada.
The main thing that made Faerie Tale different was that it used a species and characters that you already know of and don't associate with bad or scary things. Some of the characters from Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream were used, and these aren't really connected to evil doings. I did like the idea of the story; it was quite interesting to read about a different version of things we've come to accept as a certain thing. Faeries have generally been thought of as creatures of goodness, and I think many people think of them in a nice way. This story completely turned that around; it was like everything we thought we already knew was completely out of the picture. I did like this aspect as it made an interesting read.

The big issue I had over this book was the sexual aspect of it. This isn't something I have a big problem with in most other books, as it's used appropriately and for a valid reason. Even when characters in books are sexually abused, it's told in a way that doesn't glamorise it and shows it to be a bad thing. Faerie Tale didn't do that. In the book, the faeries have a sort of power over humans which makes them 'desire' things they wouldn't normally think of.
When Phil's daughter, Gabbie (who was an adult in the story), found herself seduced by one of the faeries, it took a while for her to come to her senses and realise that she didn't want what was happening, so as the faerie disappeared and Gabbie was discovered, the case was recorded as an attempted rape.
When Gabbie was talking to family friend Mark about the situation, a big deal was made over the fact that it was as if she had actually wanted to be abused and raped, which wasn't the case at all. The way it was done and approached made it seem like the author's view was that rape isn't such a bad thing and that the girls often want it to happen.
My bigger issue, however, was the way Phil's twin sons were affected by the faeries. When the Erl King entered the twins' room at the middle of the night to kidnap and possess them, despite Sean wearing the 'protective necklace' which stopped him from being possessed, he was still made to 'desire' and react accordingly to things no child should have to face. It was really quite disgusting. But it didn't stop there. Patrick wasn't protected so was able to be 'possessed' by the faerie creatures, which, when he was taken to hospital, left him acting in a very un-childlike way. I'm sure I'm not the only person who sees a problem with an eight year-old boy taking his 'desires' into his own hands, or attempting to rape a grown woman. It was just wrong. And again, while the characters were disturbed by this, it was written in such a way that made it seem like the author didn't have an issue with it.
On top of this, it seemed that every female faerie was depicted without clothes, and a big deal was made over their bodies. It just felt a little sexist to me. I don't know if Feist was portraying his own views or not, but I wasn't a fan.

Other than that factor, I did like the story. I wasn't a big fan of the ending or the whole 'quest' aspect since it seemed as if it should have been from a completely different book and it really didn't seem to fit with the rest of the novel. Nevertheless, I didn't hate it!

Overall, I enjoyed the writing and characters Faerie Tale, however I felt parts and aspects of it were just disgusting, which is why I would only give it 2.5 stars. I wouldn't recommend this book to many people, especially children, because it wasn't pleasant, but if you do like this type of book, then I don't mean to offend you in any way; it's all down to personal opinion.

That's the end of this review. I should be back for more soon but until then, au revoir!

Charlotte xxx

Saturday, 4 April 2015

The Lunar Chronicles Review

The Lunar Chronicles is a series of four books by Marissa Meyer. It is made up of Cinder, Scarlet and Cress, with the last book, Winter, being released at the end of this year.
I hadn't really heard that many things about this series before I read it. Obviously there are a lot of reviews for it on Goodreads, but none of the book shops near me stock it, and there doesn't really seem to be that much talk about it. This made me assume that, despite its great reviews, this series wasn't all that amazing. I couldn't have been more wrong! I cannot believe so many people haven't heard about these incredible books! They have become immediate favourites and I love them to bits. More people need to read them!

Cinder, as can be assumed from the title, is a retelling of the fairytale Cinderella. It is set in a futuristic New-Beijing, where a deadly plague called letumosis, which is spreading like a wildfire and killing everyone it comes into contact with. Cinder, our protagonist, is a cyborg working as a mechanic to bring in money for her step-mother and two step-sisters. When Prince Kai needs a mechanic to fix his android, Cinder suddenly becomes stuck in a dangerous situation and forced into a battle between an evil Queen and a city in despair.

Cinder was the first fairytale retelling (I think) I have ever read. I was quite curious about how it would all turn out, since they obviously can't completely stick to the original story. Before my Harry Potter phase began at the age of six, I loved fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White, and I loved to watch the Disney adaptations. From what I can remember, my favourite princess was Cinderella, so I was really interested in how it would be changed.
I loved this book so much! I really connected with the characters and thought the plot line was well thought out! Honestly, this book had a bit of everything in, which was great. There were great characters, humorous scenes, just a touch of romance, a bit of mystery, a lot of suspense, a couple of sad parts, a few cool fight scenes... oh, yeah, and CYBORGS!!!!

If you haven't already read the rest of the Lunar Chronicles and don't wish to be spoiled, then please don't read the rest of this review!! I really don't want to spoil it for anybody!

I personally didn't think that Scarlet quite lived up to the incredible standard Cinder had set for this series, but nevertheless, it really was a great read! While Cinder followed the Cinderella storyline, Scarlet is based loosely around Little Red Riding Hood. In this book, Scarlet's grandmother has been missing for weeks and the police are giving up on the case. Determined to discover her whereabouts and bring her back, Scarlet must turn to Wolf, the dangerous and mysterious street fighter, who claims her can help.
Meanwhile, Cinder, now a known fugitive, is escaping from prison to avoid her fate on Lunar. Along with new found friend Thorne and his trusty ship, Cinder must put a stop to Queen Levana before it's too late...

As I've already said, I didn't enjoy this instalment as much as I did the first book, but that doesn't mean it wasn't amazing. I didn't like Scarlet and Wolf's relationship as much as I liked Cinder and Kai's, but they were still two strong, reasonably well developed characters and it was interesting to read about them. I really liked finding out more about Cinder, and I loved meeting Thorne- he was a great character! So overall, I thought Scarlet was an amazing book!

Cress is the third and latest book in the series, and was one of the best books I'd read in a while!
This is a retelling of Rapunzel, with Cress as the 'damsel in distress'. However, as an expert hacker locked up on a satellite, trying to save the world, Cress isn't your usual 'fairy-tale princess'! As Cinder and the gang attempt to rescue Cress from her solitary confinement, their plans to save Emperor Kai from Queen Levana are corrupted when they find themselves separated. Some lost, some captured and some abandoned...
How far away is their happily ever after?
I loved this book. It was absolutely incredible and had me on the edge of my seat for most of it! I knew the original story of Rapunzel, but not as well as Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood, unlike I had done for the previous books, I couldn't guess how it would all turn out. However, this didn't stop me from falling in love with the whole thing! Cress was definitely my favourite book of the series (so far!) and has left me twiddling my thumbs in wait for Winter!
I thought all of the characters were brought closer together in this book (except those who were killed off!) and feelings towards each other were revealed. While I'm still a little wary of Wolf, I felt so sorry for Scarlet in this book! Not only did she miss out on all those cool battles and all of the action, but she was tortured in such a horrible way! It was not nice to have to read about her ordeal, particularly when her finger was chopped off and she was mind-controlled by little Lunar children! I really hope that she is rescued in the last book and everything will be okay for her!

I am really, really, really, really, REALLY excited for Winter to be released and I hope it lives up to the standard of Cress! I think it will be really interesting to read about Princess Winter more, because while she unnerves me slightly, I find her a really intriguing character. At first, particularly when she speaks to Scarlet, I thought that she was less than 10 years old, so it shocked me when I realised that she was a lot older than that! We don't know that much about her, except that she's the step-daughter of Levana and has been driven slightly crazy from not using her Lunar powers. We can also infer that she was friends with Princess Selene before her disappearance, and I'm guessing she'll end up getting together with Jacin!


What I loved about this series...
  • I really felt connected with all of the characters and they seemed really vivid and real to me. My favourite character overall has got to be Iko- she was so funny and I loved her so much! Out of the 'main' characters, I think I prefer Cinder, and not just because she's part cyborg! I really like how level headed and human (is that the right word?) she seems. But all of the characters were incredibly well developed and were relatable. I thought they each had their own qualities and brought something different to the story.
  • While it does frustrate me in a story, I do quite enjoy working things out before the characters do, and these books enabled you to do so if you paid close attention. For example, I had guessed the relationship between Cress and Dr. Erland before it was revealed in the book, and although it annoyed me when the characters themselves took a long time to realise it and were forced to face the consequences of that delay, I do quite enjoy knowing things before the characters do! 
  • In a similar way to the Harry Potter series, everything ties in and seems to be foreshadowed in The Lunar Chronicles. On many an occasion, I found myself reading something in one of the later books, and then realising I recognised a name or snippet of information from a previous book, so I had to flick through it again to find it! I don't quite think this series did it to the extent of Harry Potter, but it was done in quite a good way, and who knows- maybe more will be revealed in Winter!
  • I really enjoyed the writing in these books. The writing format reminded me of The Mortal Instruments but I felt the books, despite their lengthiness, were really quick reads- particularly Cress! Winter is said to have roughly 800 pages in it, which will make it one of the longest books I've ever read! But the fast-paced, easy-reading writing style should make it a relatively quick read!

If you haven't yet read this series, I really recommend that you pick it up soon because you're missing out on so much! I would say you should be older than twelve to read these books as it has quite a few violent scenes and a little bit of bad language in. Other than that, I think everyone should read them!!

I will definitely write a review for Winter when it comes out, and I'm also looking forward to reading Fairest, which I think has already been released, and is about Queen Levana!

I think that's all I have for this review!
Until the next one, goodbye!

Charlotte xxx

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

March Reading Wrap Up

I don't quite know how I've been doing it, but I've managed to keep up this amazing reading pace that I started the year with! I haven't read quite as many books as I did for the previous months, but I have managed to read 8. These are...

This adds up to 3544 pages, which is 114 pages per day.
My favourite new book of the month was We Were Liars. I knew this would be a good book, but I didn't expect it to be as incredible as it was. I've already reviewed this book, so you can read my review by clicking here.

My series review for The Lunar Chronicles will be posted in the next few days so keep an eye out for that!
On to the other reviews..!

All the Bright Places is Jennifer Niven's first book in the YA genre. Before reading it, I wasn't fully sure on what the book was about. On the cover, it said 'A story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die'. This didn't really give a lot of information away, but it sounded quite interesting.
Suicide is a huge part of this book, and not really having read many books concerning this topic before (I think the only one I've read is Thirteen Reasons Why), I wasn't all that certain of what to expect.
While I did enjoy All the Bright Places, it ended differently to what I was expecting and almost contradicted everything that went on in the book, or so I felt. In the least 'spoilery' way possible, I wanted a happier ending than I was given. The ending wasn't miserably depressing, but I just wanted it to turn out differently. But I suppose that Jennifer Niven did what she did for a reason, and I guess it's true to life. 
Despite me not loving the end, I really did enjoy reading this book and would recommend it to fans of Rainbow Rowell, Annabel Pitcher, John Green and Jay Asher. 

I read the Divergent series for the first time last March, but thought I'd better re-read it before Insurgent came out in the cinema. It was in my top 5 books of 2014, so I was looking forward to reading it again. 
Divergent is a dystopian YA book, centred around a fractured society and a girl who doesn't fit in. 
When Tris, along with every other 16 year old, is forced to choose which of the five factions that make up her city to live in for the rest of her life, she learns that she isn't like everyone else. She is Divergent and doesn't fit into one category, which is extremely dangerous for her. Hiding out with the Dauntless, who value bravery over everything else, Tris is forced to fit in a place she doesn't belong and learn why her Divergence makes her so dangerous...
I loved this book just as much, if not more, than I did when I first read it. I love the whole of the series, even if Allegiant does seem to shoot me in the chest every time I read it!
If you're a fan of The Hunger Games, Shatter Me, The Maze Runner or Delirium, then I'm sure you'll love Divergent. If you've been put off reading Divergent because so many people are saying 'This is exactly the same as The Hunger Games' or 'Oh, it's just another Hunger Games rip-off', then please ignore these comments and read the book anyway!  As a huge fan of both series, I can assure you that they are both completely different from each other! Yes, they both have similar traits with them both being from the dystopian genre, but other than that, they're two completely different books.
Anyway, rant over! I really, really love this series and Divergent is my favourite of the three books. I have a feeling that these books will become some sort of a classic in the YA genre and will remain around for a while!

Well, that's March over! I'm hoping to get just as many books read in April, but my aim for this month is to try out a few different genres instead of sticking to my usual YA Fantasy!
I hope everyone else has had a great month of reading and I'll be back soon with more reviews!

Goodbye for now!

Charlotte xxx