Full Title: Hook’s Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself
Release Date: 7/18/17
“Hook’s Tale…” is probably my new favorite Pan retelling. In fact, it might just be my new favorite retelling. And its a debut novel!! Seriously, the writing is captivating, the perspective is unique, and overall the reading is pretty easy. In the Introduction, the book proclaims itself to be the Peter Pan/Hook version of The Wizard of Oz/Wicked Witch tale and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. I actually am not a big fan of the Gregory Maguire books, but this was much easier to read.
James Cook (aka the character “the Scotsman” JM Barrie writes as Captain Hook) basically writes his own autobiography from his life as a young boy in school, to his voyage to Neverland, to his quest for a full life. It was really fun to hear the “real truth” behind James’ family, how aging/not aging in Neverland works, what all of the pirates are like (hint: they’re hilarious), how Hook really got his hook, the story of the crocodile, and several other Hook-isms.
This was a great fantasy read. Just a heads up, though: every time I started to think that this book could be for younger (middle grade?) readers, something violent or mildly gory would happen. So just be warned that there are a few descriptive scenes in the book and some very mild swearing. Overall if you like Peter Pan, if you are a fan of retellings, if you enjoy fantasy books, or just need a quick and fun read, give this book a go. I definitely recommend it!
Listening to: “Perfect Places” by Lorde
I was a little skeptical about this book because the author’s first book, Mirror in the Sky, received ratings that were quite low on Goodreads (3.29 as on 7/9). I decided to give this book a try because I was offered a free ARC from Penguin’s First to Read program, the cover is beautiful, and YA book companies were making quite a buzz about it. I am SO glad I gave it a go. Now I am on the bandwagon and recommending that everyone mark the release date of July 18th on your calendars and go buy it and read it on that day!!
The Library of Fates opens with a really neat story called The Parable of Trees. (I, personally love trees and nature so I was hooked in a second!) Then we get into the rest of the book with our main character Princess Amrita, who lives an easy, sheltered life in the kingdom of Shalingar. Until the day that the Emporer of Macedon–known for being a brutal man–comes to finalize the terms of their arranged marriage and Amrita loses everything. She flees the palace and sets off on a journey that will completely transform not only her, but all those she loves.
What I really loved about this book is that most of the things that I expected would happen did not. I would think to myself “She’s going to abandon the plan to go to X and go to the Library in stead. I mean, that’s the title of the book.” But nope! The plot absolutely did not happen how I thought it would, and I loved that!!
The characters surprised me around every turn, and part of the beauty of it all was how magic and folklore was seamlessly woven into the story. There were so many elements to it and they weren’t so complex that I was bored or confused like in some fantasy books. It was a really good balance so as to make it just mystical enough to be really beautiful and special. Plus everything came out full circle in a really great way. I just loved it.
So overall, I enjoyed it enough to where I was given a free e-copy and I will probably purchase my own hard copy for my shelves. I know it won’t be for everyone, but that’s my take on it. It was a pretty quick read at 354 pages. I devoured it in about 2 days and could have read it faster if I didn’t have a lot of things going on. But this is one I could see myself reading again, and I don’t see myself forgetting anytime soon.
Listening to: “The Gateway” by Ahmad Ebadi
Ivory and Bone–what an awesome title, in my opinion! Kol is the main character of the book and we witness everything through his eyes (male narrator–relatively rare. Cool!). Kol is the eldest son of the High Elder of his tribe. Home and family are everything to him. The book is written in second person (very rare), so Kol is telling the story TO the love interest, Mya, who is from a neighboring clan. Conflict arises when a third clan emerges, wanting to go to war. Of course by the end, the strong win and love conquers all and its on to book two.
First and foremost, I loved the setting of this book. Ivory and Bone is set in prehistoric times and this is one of the most unique things about this YA book. With the setting comes another aspect about the book that I loved: the culture. I really liked reading the storytelling, the roles of the various clan members, and seeing the interactions between the clans. Julie Eshbaugh did a great job of describing the landscapes and hunting grounds–in these respects, the book was really beautiful.
However, all of this being said, I am not a fan of second person writing. Thankfully its not very common because its not my thing. Secondly, and I think its partially because of the writing style, I felt that the pacing of the book was slow and lacked some emotional depth so I didn’t really like that about the book either. One final thing that is really just a heads up to anyone looking at the Goodreads page, its hard to label this book. Fantasy? Historical Fiction? There’s no magic but its in a maybe-fantasy time, but not really?? So don’t go into this expecting fantastical elements because you’re not going to get those. You will get action and romance though. So take that for what its worth.
Listening to: “I Should Live in Salt” by Asgeir
This book took me a while to finish because it dragged on. And on. And on.
We are hearing the story from Lalla’s point of view. Lalla (short for Lallage) is the daughter of the ‘revolutionary’ who basically bought, founded, organized, and coordinated The Ship. In these dystopian times, the safest place to be is in the middle of the ocean (so these people believe). There are 500 people on the ship–each one of them selected by Michael himself for being good, worthy people–and the ship is equipped to sustain them for twenty years. They have a plan to ‘go peacefully’ at the end of these twenty years, but they are also optimistic that within those twenty years, they will have engineered new ways to grow things or sustain their lives, etc. The degree to which the people on the ship are happy is almost scary. Michael is portrayed as nearly god-like and the ship is almost heavenly. To everyone except Lalla.
So here comes the fun part of the review. Lalla’s inner dialogue. Lalla’s mother is killed early on in the story and she spends the entire book mourning over it. Yes, I know its heartbreaking to lose your mother, but everyone on that ship lost someone. Many people, in fact. They all give their testimonies, as you’ll see. Next point: being the daughter of the founders of the ship, Lalla was very sheltered. She didn’t see hardly any of the conflicts happening on land and she was very young. Since she wasn’t exposed to much of the horrors of the conflict (I mean, we’re talking famine, murder, prison camps, cannibalism, starvation, the list goes on….) all she talks and thinks about is *LAND*LAND*LAND* “ARE WE THERE YET?” “ARE WE THERE YET?” “ARE WE THERE YET?” So its a pretty hard situation, and I understand to an extent because a) she associates the ship with her mother’s death. b) she is literally the only person on the ship who didn’t willingly choose to be there. Her parents chose it for her. BUT, its not like she doesn’t have any friends or companions because she is given a job and finds a friend/mentor there AND she finds a boy who, of course, she begins to fall in love with.
At this point, if I talk about the book anymore, I will give away huge spoilers, but my general overall thoughts are that the book is okay. It really has some points that make you think, but they are buried within a lot of parts that I wish I could just fast forward through.
Listening to: “Shallow Brown” by Sean Dagher
“Carnivalesque” is a fantasy book about a boy named Andy who enters Burleigh’s Amazing Hall of Mirrors at a travelling circus. He becomes trapped in the mirrors and an identical-looking stranger exits the hall and goes home with his parents. Thus begins the tale of Andy/Dany.
This book is a little difficult to rate. It started off reading like an old classic or fairy tale. Think Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland. “The boy did this and then he went to wherever and the boy was sad. But the boy’s mother held his hand and entered the carnival where the air smelled of caramel and candy.” bla bla bla. We literally do not find out “the boy’s name” until about page 75. Then the writing style completely changes to a more contemporary feel for most of the book and then the last 75 pages or so is back to the classic/fairy tale feel again.
The middle part of the book has some interesting action. In the middle of the action, there is a ton of written word. Most of it is history, and some of it seems slow, and some of it seems a little irrelevant or maybe just out of order. I enjoyed hearing a new perspective on carney mythology and most of all, this legend of ‘Burleigh’s Amazing Hall of Mirrors,’ which is really how the whole Andy/Dany duology originates to begin with. Some parts of the book are fun and fantastical, while others are freakish and almost scary. I like the polar opposites and think that every fantasy needs some of that. It gave the book depth, whereas the wordiness robbed it right back.
So for these reasons, I had to go with a middle of the road rating for this book. Loved the cover and the concept, but several things fell short. I like a good carnival book but this does not come close to the top for me.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Listening to: “Half Jack” by The Dresden Dolls