Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson AND Bluebeard

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
Publisher: Listening Library
Publication date: March 2013
Length: 12 hrs, 28 min
Source: Audiobook from Library
For: YA Audiobook Challenge

Summary of Strands from goodreads:
The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .
When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi. 
Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world. 
Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.
Things I Liked (about both):
I really enjoyed falling into the sort of creepy fairy tale feel of Strands.  Watching Sophia try to figure things out was both frustrating and fascinating.  I was especially creeped out by her tendency to forget what bad things her guardian had done just a little bit before.  It wasn't unbelievable, but rather terrifying.  I was intrigued throughout, especially as I hadn't read Bluebeard before.  I got a hold of two different Bluebeard fairy tales after that.  What a creepy fairy tale!  Definitely one of the more depressing and horrifying fairy tales I've read.  One of the versions sort of glossed over the gory details, but there isn't much you can do to cover up a husband who kills off multiple wives.  The other original telling was quite creepy and Strands could have really drawn on that, but I think fell short.  Strange, fascinating, and disturbing are very good descriptors for this tale.

Things I Didn't Like (about both):
I had some issues with Strands.  I wasn't really fond of the narrator, Caitlin Prennace, though she kind of grew on me (her drawn out s's were annoying).  The book didn't really start to be creepy until the very end, which I thought was a waste of all that building up.  Could have been more suspenseful and scary.  One thing I never would have noticed if I hadn't read Bookshelves of Doom's review is the fact that Sophia didn't talk like someone in that time period would, while the slaves and some others did.  It was jarring, but I probably wouldn't have noticed otherwise.  Overall, I thought it was good, but not outstanding.  Also, Bluebeard is not exactly an endearing fairy tale, what with the murdering of wives and all that.  Glad I got a chance to read an unfamiliar fairy tale, but sometimes I just need one that is a bit happier (ok, I know most of the originals were quite depressing and disturbing, but still).

Here's a list of some other really good fairy tale retellings

s-factor: !
a few mild ones

mrg-factor: X
mostly innuendo, though some rather sensual moments

v-factor: ->->
mostly just disturbing, but there is some gore near the end

Overall rating: ***

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Classic Double Challenge: July-December

I know, it's ridiculous to have the last six months in one post, but I really want to have a place for people to link if they are still reading for the Classic Double Challenge :)

Hopefully you have all been reading so much better than I have.  I did manage to finally finish The Turn of the Screw and I also listened to Strands of Bronze and Gold (though that was AGES ago and I'm just now working on the review) and read a few short versions of the Bluebeard fairy tale (so, so disturbing).

Anybody out there want to see this challenge back next year?  I'm thinking I'd like to do it, but if interest has waned, then I might skip it and just read for my own enjoyment.  How are you all faring with the challenge?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia

Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: December 2009
Pages: 563
Source: Gift
For: Dusty Bookshelf Challenge
Series: Beautiful Creatures, Book 1

Summary from goodreads:
There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Things I Liked:
It took me long enough to read this!  It's been on my shelf for ages.  I loved the atmosphere!  I loved the Southern feel and the accents.  The small town Southern gossip and prejudices were pitch perfect (if, perhaps, a bit annoying).  I especially liked the Casters and the mythology (or whatever you want to call it) of their magic system.  I loved how intricately things worked together.  Oh, and Marian has to be my favorite of all the characters - the rockin' librarian.  It was pretty unique and interesting.

Things I Didn't Like:
I think my biggest complaint was that it was just too long.  I guess my attention span is getting shorter, because I kept waiting for stuff to happen and waiting and waiting.  It took too long to get there and I got bored a number of times during the story.  Also, I never particularly cared for Ethan.  He didn't feel quite complete to me and thus I never connected to him.  Lena a little more so, but still not enough for me to feel really invested in their future.  I'll likely listen to the next books on audio, but I feel no burning desire to know more.

Felt a bit like Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

s-factor: !@
here and there, not too many

mrg-factor: X
mostly some sensuality

v-factor: ->
a little bit, nothing too gory

Overall rating: ***

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
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