First thing first, Happy Galentine’s Day (and Happy Pancake Day – what a great combination)! You may remember that Mim picked out a few of her fave female friendship focused reads last year on this most blessed day of Galentine’s, so this year I thought I have a go too. Like Mim, I ended up finding this way more of a struggle than I thought it would be! Female friendship is really underrepresented in adult fiction, where female characters are more often surrounded by a cast of men, whether they’re romantic interests or not. Children’s and YA lit seem to be a little more populous with gal pals – probably because their characters are less occupied with romantic partners or their co-workers in a male dominated workplace – but as I’m not a wide reader of either I’m going to stick to what I know and the few gems I have found.
Da da daah! Tie In Tuesday is back!
I’ve been a little less than active on the blogging front lately, but super active active on the reading front, so I’ve built up a small backlog of tie ins for review. Thus, I’m pairing these two together, for, despite being written thirty years apart, they share many similarities.
I read twelve books in January, which is a personal best, with an average rating of 4.5 stars – so it was an extremely good reading month for me. Below are mini reviews for each book (excluding book club picks and ones with longer reviews to come).
Rip Van Winkle and Other Stories by Washington Irving
This is a collection of short stories, each of which is supposedly based on an element of Dutch-American folklore. My least favourite story was actually the title one, I felt it was quite anecdotal and a little bit misogynist – we’re supposed to feel sorry for Rip because his wife is always mad at him, but if he could be bothered to help around the house she wouldn’t be! I enjoyed ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ the most as this was the story that felt most true to the folkloric nature of the stories, whilst also providing a ‘rational’ explanation. The folklore aspect was definitely my favourite part as I haven’t read many American legends before.
Happy New Year everybody! So December’s Book Club post is a few days (ahem, a week) late, but as one bud was out of the country over the holiday period and the others were passed out on their sofas after consuming insane amounts of Christmas food, we’ll let it slide this once…! This month we took on C.S Lewis’ classic high-fantasy tale, where four children climb through a wardrobe into the magical world of Narnia, filled with witches, talking lions, thinly veiled Christian mythology and Turkish Delight. Let’s get right to it!
SPOILER WARNING: The following post contains major spoilers for the plot of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
I feel like it’s a lot harder to read a book you think you should like more that you do than a bad book you went into with low expectations. The Night Circus is definitely a book I went into hoping I would love, and unfortunately one I came out of a lot more disappointed than if I hadn’t had those expectations to begin with because I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it and I felt it had decent potential, but at the same time I also saw some pretty crucial flaws in it and I think its popularity exacerbated those flaws and made them all the more irritating to me. After all this was a hugely popular book, and not just with the kind of audience that I might expect to love books that maybe aren’t quite my thing (*cough* every YA bestseller *cough*). Nope this book was lauded by people whose opinions I thought generally matched my own so I went in with the impression that The Night Circus was supposed to be a Great Book. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it to be one, and as I was reading it I became more and more baffled as to why everyone who given it glowing reviews couldn’t see the problems I saw in it. As a result those problems because more and more irritating and obvious, because I wasn’t expecting them to be there.
The Night Circus ostensibly revolves around two characters, Marco and Celia, who both exhibit some kind of magical powers and have both been prepared from childhood for a ‘game’ in which they must use this magic in competition with an opponent. Eventually the two meet through their shared connection to Le Cirque du Rêves, a black and white circus that only opens in the dark and then the game begins…
Remember back in the first Tie-In Tuesday post I compared the tie in novel to fanfiction? Well, this week we reach the dark side of that parallel, because this particular tie-in novel is like bad fanfiction, hampered by the same problems that drag down so many of its less dignified sister-form. It’s hard to know where to start with the negatives here, from the confusing plot, nonsensical pacing or almost complete lack of continuity with the Buffy television series and its characters.
Night of the Living Rerun is the third novel from the expanded Buffyverse; its plot revolves around the Master’s attempt to rise from beneath Sunnydale through repeating the ascension of a demon called the Despised One in witchhunt-era Salem. Cue reincarnation and visions ahoy for almost everyone.
Welcome back to Tie-In Tuesday, where every other week I take a peek into the weird and wonderful world of TV tie-in novels. This time I’m looking at the second novel in the expanded Buffyverse, Coyote Moon by John Vornholt. Coyote Moon was published on 1st January 1998 while Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s second season was airing on the WB, but is, like its predecessor Halloween Rain, set during its first. The plot revolves around a group of supernatural coyotes that come to Sunnydale alongside a travelling carnival staffed by unusually good-looking workers and their connection to an old mausoleum containing the remains of a former Wild West star…
SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the plot of Coyote Moon.
I have a confession to make: one of my absolute favourite genres is the tie-in novel. Essentially published fanfiction, I love these books because they tend to be quick, easy reads that allow me to spend time with characters I already love in the fictional universes I enjoy. While tie-in novels have to abide by the rules of canon, they are then free to go wherever they want without having to worry too much about the long term consequences of the plot. This leads to the exploration of supporting characters who rarely draw sole focus on-screen, a deeper look at character’s backstories, and, in some instances, the creation of straight-up alternative universes. Moreover, as the reader’s imagination tends to have less constraints of budget and technology the villains and set-pieces are often far more ambitious than anything that could be attempted in the source material. To celebrate the awesomeness of this oft-ignored genre I’m devoting at least one Tuesday a month to the review of a tie-in novel, starting with Halloween Rain, the first book in the expanded Buffyverse.
I remember reading Buffyverse novels on loan from the library over ten years ago, back when I was super-obsessed with the show. (I mean it – I had Buffy duvet covers.*) I recently started a re-watch of the series that will hopefully take me from beginning to end, something I’ve never quite managed before. As I’m a major completionist, I’ve decided to read the novels in publication order along with the show. Sadly, the local library no longer has a shelf dedicated to the exploits of Buffy and her pals, but most of the Buffy oeuvre is available cheap and secondhand from Amazon. Halloween Rain is handily collected in the second of a series of omnibus editions published in 2011, the covers of which feature more blood spatter than possibly the entire seven seasons of Buffy proper.
SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains some minor spoilers for the plot of Halloween Rain.
We just covered the book of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children for our September book club, where it met with a rather *ahem* mixed response. As the person responsible for the choice, one of the reasons I suggested this book is because I was intrigued by the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation. While the trailer looked very promising, reading the book did suggest that there may have been some difficulties in adapting it for film. The photograph conceit may have added an extra point of interest in the novel, but would easily hamper the already visual medium of film. The adaptation also has to contend with the book’s somewhat unsatisfactory ending, which is largely concerned with setting up for its sequel – something not guaranteed to the film.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for anticipation, but equally trepidation, towards this film comes from its director. Tim Burton established himself as a modern auteur with his early films, but has suffered diminishing critical returns on most of his later features. His last two literary adaptations, 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland from 2010, received particularly harsh criticism. However, Burton appears to be attempting to refresh his style at the moment, parting with frequent collaborators Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter and moving away from his traditional gothic wheelhouse with 2014’s Big Eyes. So could a move to the YA market and the pairing of Burton’s kooky darkness with Rigg’s peculiar children prove a winning formula? After all there are plenty of films that manage to rise above their source material.
SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the film and book of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children.
‘A good book, Marcus, is a book you are sorry to have finished.’
p. 613, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair
So says the titular Harry Quebert in one of his many “life lessons” that preface The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair‘s chapters. By its own definition then this is not a good book. I was not sorry to finish this book, I was sorry I ever started it. If it weren’t for my compulsive need to find out exactly “whodunnit” and how at the end of every murder mystery I pick up I most likely would have abandoned Truth within the first one hundred pages for its problems are evident from fairly early on.
Truth begins with its protagonist, successful young writer Marcus Goldman, wallowing in writer’s block. Searching for inspiration he goes to visit his college mentor, Harry Quebert, writer of arguably the best novel of the twentieth century. Eventually, a body is found in Harry’s garden and he is arrested for the murder of Nola Kellergan, a fifteen year old girl who disappeared in 1975. Marcus then sets out to prove his friend’s innocence and possibly write his next bestseller while he’s at it.
SPOILER WARNING: Under the ‘Read More’ this article contains major spoilers for the plot of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. However, as I would not recommend actually reading this book, feel free to continue.