Tag Archives: On the Same Page

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern #1) – Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern #1) – Shannon HaleTitle: The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern #1) by Shannon Hale
Publishing Info: November 3, 2003 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 26, 2014

    Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her.
Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.

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For On the Same Page’s September post, we read THE GOOSE GIRL which is one of Amy’s favorite books. She had read it and loved it but Alyssa and I have never read it so we chose it as one of Amy’s picks! We all have fairly similar reading tastes with minor variations here and there so even though THE GOOSE GIRL wasn’t really on my radar before this, I was hoping I would love it just as much as Amy did!

Fairy tale adaptations can be a tricky thing for me. I love SO many retellings and some of them are actually some of my favorite books/series — but I think in order for me to really fall in love with a fairy tale, I’m usually hooked into that modern twist as well. Looking back on the book, I think I figured out and actually ended up using that for this month’s post as a sort of discussion! Unfortunately, it was just a combination of very, very little things that I’ve discovered make a big difference for me as a reader and I was SO upset that this combination of elements just didn’t work for me.

I feel like SUCH a black sheep. I think just about everyone I’m friends with on Goodreads who has read this book has given it four or five stars and I really, really tried but I just wasn’t getting along with THE GOOSE GIRL. It was really general tone of the book combined with setting/time period and for some reason that combination really just doesn’t seem to work for me in anything I read. (I had a similar experience with Cruel Beauty which I didn’t realize was sort of the same deal going on until just now. (And Alyssa and Amy also loved it while I did not so maybe I should have seen this coming?) It’s not a bad book. It’s not bad writing. This was really, truly “It’s not you — it’s me.” The whole talking-to-animals thing just generally doesn’t work for me either so that was just one more thing that was thrown into the mix (and a big part of the story)!

I actually did a full discussion on why the book didn’t work for me so I won’t really rehash it here (even though this is my review) so really think of this as more of a collection of thoughts than a review (and see the previous post for details)! I’m so sad I couldn’t get into this but the good thing is that Amy knows and she’s not disowning me or phasing me out of the friend group. (She promised.)

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“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Ani // Character Obsessions: Speaking with animals, avoiding bad guys, politics.
SO many reviews say how strong of character Ani is but I just really had trouble connecting with her. For reasons unknown, she just felt very YOUNG to me and I just didn’t feel that depth in her character. She may have been strong but I just didn’t feel that depth. I really wanted to like her but I just had troublesssss.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Lesser-known fairy tales. I actually have no idea if this is really “lesser-known” or not but it is for me because I hadn’t really known much about it before this book! It’s interesting.
Left Me Wanting More: Everything. I just was not handling this book well. I finished, but it was really hard because I just couldn’t connect to really anything. It all seemed like something I SHOULD like but in the end, it didn’t work out.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

The ratings for this book are generally high. Like, really high. I’m a black sheep on this one, but I guess check out my opinions and those of others to see where you may fall!

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

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On the Same Page: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

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ON THE SAME PAGE: THE GOOSE GIRL by SHANNON HALE
On pin-pointing why some books click and others don’t

It wasn’t until I started writing my review for THE GOOSE GIRL — originally intending to use that as my post for On the Same Page this month — that I finally came up with a good topic to really dig deeper into my experience with the book. THE GOOSE GIRL is one of Amy’s favorite books and with Alyssa and I never having read it, we chose it as one of our group reads. Honestly, before we chose to include THE GOOSE GIRL as one of our On the Same Page books, it wasn’t even on my radar. I actually thought it was a middle grade book (it has a sort of middle grade feel at times, I think, but the age range of characters is more young adult) and there was just something about it that I couldn’t quite pinpoint that just didn’t jump out at me, begging to be added to my TBR.

When I started the book, I started feeling that dread creeping in. The feel of the book was pretty much what I had anticipated (or did it come off that way BECAUSE that’s what I was anticipating? Self-fulfilling prophecy? Hard to say) and I was so upset that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get into the book. It was one of Amy’s favorites!!! I was seriously in fear that she would disown me if I didn’t like it and I didn’t even give it a rating on Goodreads when I finished because I didn’t want her to see and know my true feelings. I really worked hard to get into it, but I just wasn’t connecting and the overall feel just wasn’t clicking with me. (Alyssa started the book after I had finished and told me, “Oh, yeah, I can see why you didn’t’ like this.” She just knows my tastes haha.)

It dawned on me once I started to try and write my review for the book… Why didn’t I enjoy THE GOOSE GIRL? I enjoy many, many, many other fairy tale adaptations/retellings. Hell, The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series of all time! So what’s the deal? I took a quick look at what I loved about The Lunar Chronicles and saw that aside from characters and plot and all of those easy-to-analyze things about a book, the series just has a completely different feel and the feel that makes the big difference for me is the setting. I would say the majority of the fairy tale retellings and adaptations I’ve read are either set in the present day or have a futuristic feel while books like THE GOOSE GIRL tell the story in a more traditional setting. Its original story is by the Brothers Grimm and it was originally published in 1815 and the book definitely takes after that sort of feel — I’m no fairy tale expert so forgive me for sound uneducated on this little section, but I feel like so many of the traditional and original fairy tales are difficult for me to connect with because that’s just not a time period I connect with. I’m guessing that if these fairy tales — when first penned — weren’t written as if they were in the present day, then they referred to times even before that time period, pushing the setting of the fairy tale even further back into history. From the historical fiction I’ve read, I’ve found that I’m extremely picky about what time periods work and what don’t for me and I think the general feel of the time period in THE GOOSE GIRL was one that just wasn’t clicking for me.

Seems unfair, right? It totally is. I don’t know why only certain historical settings/feelings work for me and some don’t. I loved the His Fair Assassin trilogy even though it was set in the 1400s — a time period I would never have expected to enjoy — and I really enjoy several high fantasy settings like in A Game of Thrones, Graceling, and Throne of Glass.  Then on the other hand, I didn’t really enjoy the feel of Cruel Beauty and that was a retelling as well. So what’s the difference between these? The only possible explanation I can come up with is the tone. Yes, all of these are fairly serious books with heavy subjects, meanwhile with dashes levity to keep the book from getting too dark… But I feel like there’s an overall feeling that I got from THE GOOSE GIRL and CRUEL BEAUTY that I didn’t get from the others that somehow had me feeling like something was missing.

Every way I try to describe what didn’t work for me, it just comes back to that feeling. For THE GOOSE GIRL, I was hoping to connect to the book in spite of the feel that I was anticipating but I was either searching for it and found it, or just failed to connect to the characters and plot despite it. I can’t help but wonder if it was the exact same story but told a bit more modern or set in a different time period or added a few more light moments, could that have changed the whole book for me?

I feel like the more we read, the more we realize what we won’t connect with and tend to avoid it, whether the specific reasoning as to why that feeling is there is apparent or not. It’s been two and a half years (at this point) since I’ve started my blog and I’ve tried many different age ranges, genres, topics, and characters and even still I’m never sure if a book will work for me or not but I think that more often than not, as readers we start to learn to trust our gut! I’m still glad I read THE GOOSE GIRL even if I didn’t enjoy it as much as Amy and Alyssa because it was a reading experience that helped me understand a little bit more about myself as a reader. I wish I had connected more (and Amy said she won’t disown me) but it was definitely an interesting experience to analyze after finishing!

Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts about The Goose Girl today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places)
Amy (Tripping Over Books)

On the Same Page: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

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ON THE SAME PAGE: BURIAL RITES by HANNAH KENT
  A new kind of historical fiction for me

I’m not usually a big historical fiction reader, but after hearing so many good things about BURIAL RITES and still having copies of the book from BEA last year, Alyssa, Amy, and I decided to make it one of our designated group reads for On the Same Page.

I think the thing that was the most different for me is that it was a totally different type of historical fiction than I usually read. Most of the historical fiction I’ve read and enjoyed has been a completely fictional story with completely fictional characters taking place during a real time and place. I think the deepest I’ve gotten into historical fiction with some accuracy has been the His Fair Assassin novels by Robin LaFevers with the set of three books taking place during a specific time period and even involving some actual historical figures. I’m not sure why but I just don’t always connect to historical fiction when true facts are involved — possibly because it feels too much like school? I really can’t pinpoint why — and I’ve found I’m fairly picky about what time periods I’ll connect to.

What fascinated me the most about BURIAL RITES was that I wasn’t 100% aware when I started exactly how historically accurate this book was. Hannah Kent details the story of Agnes Magnusdottir and the time right after she was found guilty of murder. I’m so used to reading fiction that I was assuming the book was more like the historical fiction I’ve read in the past — a historical time period and real place, but fictional characters and plot — but BURIAL RITES is a real story. All of the major plot points that occur in this book really did happen and Agnes Magnusdottir — along with most of the characters in the book — were actual people. Hannah Kent did a lot of research to put this book together and of course the fictional part involves the dialogue and minor plot points of the book, sort of filling in the gaps where no information was available (and a bit of embellishment as well). I don’t think I really realized all of this until the very end of the book when things were finally wrapping up and the impending finality of the book was near. All of the emotions just hit me knowing that this all really happened and Agnes was real and the ending was just a very emotional part of the book for me.

I also loved that with all of this being entirely based off of true events, I was able to go see everything after I finished. There’s a fantastic post on Picador that’s a photo essay from Hannah Kent herself, sharing various spots where the book takes place (of course as well as where the events in the book actually happened) and I almost wish I had seen this before I started because they’re such great visuals, and not even just inspiration. These are the actual places and you can picture the entire book taking place here (although I have to say, Hannah Kent does a great job with the setting so my own visuals weren’t too far off).

This is a book I feel like I need to go back and flip through again or re-read in the future. I had a bit of trouble connecting with it in the beginning because it took me a while to connect to the characters and really ground myself in the setting since I’m not used to historical fiction as much, but having the knowledge that I do now, I really want to revisit this book at some point in time. I suppose there IS an adaptation in the works with Jennifer Lawrence already locked in to play Agnes and I’m sure the movie will solidify this story for me even more. (She’s actually a little YOUNG for the part — isn’t it usually the other way around?? — but I think she’ll do a fantastic job.)

Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts about Burial Rites today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places) //  Amy (Tripping Over Books)

On the Same Page: Secret Sister Project

Hello, all! A little while ago you  may have seen Alyssa asking around about a “Secret Sister” project. The great news is, we have decided to put this project out into the world and we are finally ready for sign-ups to begin! Together Alyssa, Amy, and I as co-hosts for On the Same Page will be bring you THE SECRET SISTER PROJECT! For those of you who aren’t sure what this is, well, everything is explained below!

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THE WHAT

A secret sister is essentially a cheer club. Think Secret Santa but all year round with less emphasis on big presents, and more thoughtful notes, cards, small somethings sent just to let your secret sister know that you are thinking about her!

THE WHEN

Sign-ups run July 18- July 25. You will be paired up with your secret sister by August 1. This will run for six months from August 1st, 2014 – February 1st, 2015.

THE WHO

You guys! The only “rule” we have is that before signing up, you must “know” at least one of us. As in, we must have spoken on Twitter or SOMETHING. We are just really concerned with someone not following through, and that would just make a bad time for everyone. Also, we might be limiting the number of sign-ups so it doesn’t get too out of hand, this is just a trial run! If we have good success with the first round of Secret Sister, we can expand to accept more people! 🙂

FAQs

What will I have to do if I sign up to be a secret sister?
This is a commitment, we can’t lie to you. By signing up to be a secret sister you are promising to send at least one small card/gift to your secret sister a month. It is very important that you don’t sign up for this unless you are willing to follow through. Please think of how sad (and unfair) it would be for someone to be working hard to make their secret sister feel special and not receiving anything themselves!

Do I have to send presents?
No, you don’t have to send anything big. This really is meant to be more of a cheering up sort of club. However, in the six month period we will be going through Halloween, Christmas, and maybe your secret sister’s birthday! It is encouraged that you send one or two presents during these six months (think a book from their wish list, some Halloween candy, or if you’re feeling really fancy, some flowers for their birthday!) Honestly, this is as fun as you make it!

Do we have to remain secret?
No, though that is part of the fun! Just leave your name off of the card or box you are sending if you want to remain secret, and reveal yourself when you send a Christmas present, perhaps? It is entirely up to you!

So how do I sign up?
Easy! Just fill out the form below!

How are you pairing people up?
People will be paired somewhat randomly but we will also try to take general tastes and preferences into account because it’s just more fun to buy for someone who has similar tastes & lifestyles!
We are opening sign-ups to international bloggers as well but since there will be a smaller number of international participants and it will be more challenging to pair them up, we can’t make guarantees about pairing up international bloggers to others within their same country/region. If you are an international blogger signing up, please indicate somewhere in the notes if you will NOT ship to any specific areas. We will do our best to match international folks by area!
We will not be pairing up US/Canada participants with international participants due to shipping costs. As far as within the US, we will be focusing more on similar tastes/lifestyles than region 🙂

Anything else I should know?
For fun, take some pics of your goodies and share them with us using the hashtag #OTSPSecretSister or follow one of us (or all of us at On the Same Page) on Twitter!

UPDATE! For all those who weren’t able to get in the first round of Secret Sister, we will be opening up sign-ups for round two soon! Check back for sign-ups around the first week of January. Alyssa, Amy, and I will all have sign-ups posted on our blog so you only need to sign up once! The next round of Secret Sister will officially start on February 1st, 2015.

On the Same Page: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

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ON THE SAME PAGE: LANDLINE
  Rainbow Rowell: Relationship Expert

For the month of June, On the Same Page read Landline by Rainbow Rowell and it really just struck me that with each book of hers that I read, I just totally and completely lose myself in the relationships that she creates. It’s no exaggeration to say that Rainbow Rowell is easily one of the best contemporary writers out there in my eyes for her creation of characters and the relationships she creates amongst them.

I’m actually in the middle of re-reading Attachments via audio at the moment because having read all of Rainbow Rowell’s works and seeing how her writing has developed over time, I had to go back to the first book I ever read of hers and revisit it. I had read it when I was still in my early 20s and I was in a completely different mindset back then. I didn’t read books then the same way I do now (still relaxed and for enjoyment although a bit more analytically now that I’m actively reviewing books) and I wasn’t at the proper stage in my life to really appreciate the characters, their relationships, and their daily lives. It’s so interesting to go back to her first book and see where she started from after just having finished her most recent book and seeing how much her writing has grown.

I’m pretty sure Rainbow Rowell has written some of my favorite character interactions and relationships that include a perfect blend of friendship and romance. They ebb between showing a character’s vulnerability and building up their strengths. The characters play off of one another to discover things about themselves and really help each other grown exponentially as well. I think one thing that’s very important to me as a reader is seeing the base of a relationship — the heart and the core of everything that exists between two characters, and Rainbow includes this in every story and the way that she sews it seamlessly into the book is just amazing. She’s an author that doesn’t have to outright say something to make it known. It’s the subtle ways that characters might look at each other or touch each other or react to each other. Each little nuance builds their back story and shapes their relationship almost without the reader even realizing and I think that’s one of the most important things in character development that I didn’t even know what I missing. Sometimes it’s the things you don’t say that end up meaning the most.

Each relationship in her books also has a very strong friendship. The characters may not have started out as friends before they got involved romantically, but the basis of friendship is there. Trust. Loyalty. Patience. Faith. The willingness to do anything for someone at the risk of your own happiness. The willingness to fight for a relationship before its even put in jeopardy. And every story isn’t afraid to show the truth: that any relationship — friendship or romantic or meant to be — gets messy.

Landline was an especially interesting addition to the Rainbow Rowell collection. (Can we call it that? I think Rainbow Rowell fans need box sets. Just saying.) This was the first book of hers where we see one of those beautiful relationships that she creates already in progress and not just the beginning… and what started as a beautiful beginning (which we actually get to see through flashbacks) may have slowly started to unravel at the seams and we start the book as main character Georgie is desperately trying to stitch things back together, hopefully before it’s too late. I loved seeing a different side of relationships from Rainbow. As much as I love falling in love with her characters as they fall in love with each other, it was interesting to witness a relationship in progress and how a marriage needs as much tender loving care as a blossoming relationship. I don’t read adult books as much anymore — on occasion because I’m just not a fan of reading about relationships that end in divorce or separation (hence why I read a lot of YA with first loves) — so it was definitely something different for me to pick up Landline and really appreciate that aspect of the book. It has both the characters and the readers take a step back and assess their relationships to really see what they could do to make it better.

Landline showed me that no matter what kind of relationship Rainbow Rowell writes, she’ll nail it every time. Her characters and the way they interact with each other are always one of my most favorite things about her books and I love how different those relationships are in each book. It’s refreshing to still feel that same style of writing that’s so recognizable as Rainbow but still have a completely unique story and unique characters to get to know. Whether it’s Attachments or Eleanor & Park or Fangirl or Landline, readers of any age or any genre can find characters to identify with and learn from. Each book brings something different to the table, all the while containing the same universal messages and feelings. Whether Landline ends up being your favorite Rainbow Rowell book to date or not, I think it’s easy to see that the relationships she creates are only growing in style and strength.

Can’t get enough Rainbow? Check out these other posts featuring the author and her works!

Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts about Landline today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places) //  Amy (Tripping Over Books)

On the Same Page: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls

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ON THE SAME PAGE: THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
Pinterest Board

For the month of May, On the Same Page read The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire LeGrand! I had a really great time reading it and I felt like it was really visually dynamic! Think a cross between Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton and that’s the vibe I was really picking up from the book. Definitely Pinterest board-worthy, am I right? Besides the illustrations in the book (which were awesome!) I had a lot of pictures pop into my head so the Pinterest board was the way to go here!

Here are a few of my favorite selections! You can visit author Claire LeGrand’s Pinterest board for her own visions of the book. Here are a few of the images that would be on my Pinterest board!

THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS (The home itself)

Mysterious Garden

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CHARACTERS

VICTORIA
Curly blonde + Blair Waldorf style

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LAWRENCE
White stripe hair + Ron Weasley style

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MRS. CAVENDISH
Younger Courteney Cox + prim & proper style

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 SETTING

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Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts today too!

Alyssa — Books Take You Places //  Amy — Tripping Over Books

On the Same Page: Fairytales for Wilde Girls

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ON THE SAME PAGE: FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS
Darker Fairy Tales

April’s choice for our On the Same Page read was Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near. It’s an Australian-born book but I was so lucky to have received it for Christmas from my dear friend Amy (Tripping Over Books) and we had heard such good things about it that we decided to make it our April pick.

Don’t let “fairytales” fool you — there’s plenty beneath the surface of this book. It’s actually described as “bubblegum gothic” so if that sounds like something that’s appealing to you, I can tell you not to hesitate to pick this one up! It’s a giant ball of fairy tale, fantasy, contemporary, and magical realism all rolled into one but the fantasies and fairy tales aren’t for the faint of heart. Things get a little dark. Things get a little twisty. Things get a little horrific. And I loved the darkness of it.

So many people grow up on the milder fairy tales. Heck, we all love Disney (I surely will never deny that) but Disney adapted many fairy tales to show the softer side — the kid friendly side — and many of the adaptations out there don’t know the “true” nature of these stories. I mean, have you read a true, unaltered story from The Brothers Grimm? I was actually reading up on some original versions of fairy tales and found this article from The History Channel, actually, called The Dark Side of the Grimm Fairy Tales and Stylist Magazine details their choices for The Eight Darkest Fairy Tales which give you a little insight on the gory, gritty details of some of the originals. There are many, many things that have been cut out for the sake of protecting our ears and our minds! Fairy tales were not always for children. (Or maybe they were for scaring kids… Either way.)

I loved that Fairytales for Wilde Girls appealed to both the childhood nostalgia of fairy tales as well as a twist on what those tales actually were. It’s a story for the older crowds and yet still maintains that tug on the heartstrings of the child in us all. In honor of the darker side of these childhood-favorite stories, I’m sharing some of my own personal favorites as well as other darker and more sinister fairy tales for you to check out:

     

Still kid-friendly, Jon Scieszka has a couple of fairy tales modified to show a slightly darker side but still incorporate a lot of humor and not scare the kids too much. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man are two that I remember hearing as a kid that were fun, but didn’t always have a happy ending.

      

Gregory Maguire is obviously a popular one and actually, the broadway adaptation of Wicked and Gregory Maguire’s originally version is kind of a perfect example. The broadway show is one of my favorites. I love the pieces of music and I loved the retelling as adapted by Stephen Schwartz (you know… musicals will pretty much always reel me in) so I decided to actually try and read the book the musical was based off of. It was actually a LOT darker and more twisted than I had expected so it really took me by surprise (and oops, not in a good way) but if you’re looking for twisty retellings, Gregory MaGuire’s books are sure to shock you!

Speaking of The Wizard of Oz… Although the Return to Oz I’m referring to is the movie and not the book, it’s still kind of a twisty and darker adaptation that I know I’ve had discussions about before and my fellow Return To Oz-watchers kind of couldn’t believe we watched this movie as kids. Some parts are pretty terrifying and kind of disturbing even as an adult! Still kind of awesome, though.

  

I actually haven’t read them yet, but Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark & Grim books seem like perfect additions to this list! I got book one signed last year from BEA and I’m definitely looking forward to picking it up sometime. They’re middle grade books so although they’re darker, they’re also designed to not be too horrific so a bit younger of an audience can enjoy them as well.

    

Neil Gaiman: Now I’m a Neil Gaiman novice having only read The Graveyard Book and Stardust, but I feel like his writing fits perfectly in with this general theme. The Graveyard Book was definitely the darker of the two (which is almost amusing considering that was the one for a younger audience) but Stardust had more of the fairy tale feeling. (I would consider The Graveyard Book to be more straight-up paranormal-type.) I actually saw the movie for Coraline and still haven’t read the book yet but that definitely gives off the same vibe as well! I’m hoping to pick up Neverwhere soon because Alyssa has told me great things about it and I’d really like to make that one of my next Gaiman reads!

And of course, the book we came here to talk about today — Fairytales for Wilde Girls.  It’s definitely one of the more original books I’ve read and it combines so many wonderful elements to make one great story. I really got to know all of the characters, the setting, the plot — everything really just clicked and so the horrifying parts felt even more real and the personal relationships did as well. Sometimes it’s hard for me to get into things like magical realism or certain fantasy aspects but Fairytales for Wilde Girls just drew me in and I was mostly able to just lose myself in this book!

I know I’m missing SO many because there are just so many more darker or “true” fairy tales that I have to read. There’s still some collection of “true” fairy tales that I used to own as a kid that for the life of me I can never find, but I know it exists out there somewhere! Which ones are you favorites? I’d love to hear your suggestions! 

Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts for Fairytales for Wilde Girls today too!

Alyssa — Books Take You Places (Quotes)  //  Amy — Tripping Over Books (Pins + Pinterest board)

 

 

 

On the Same Page: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

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ON THE SAME PAGE: THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA
“The Gang’s All Here”

March’s choice for our On the Same Page read was The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. If you aren’t familiar with the book, the best way I can describe it in a nutshell is a sort of fantasy Ocean’s 11. The book takes place in a fantasy world, mainly in the town of Camorr where Locke Lamora and his gang or marry thieves case the city in pursuit of their next big job. The book alternates back and forth between the “present day” story line and backstories of Locke Lamora as well as snippets of history and backstories of other minor characters as well.

One of my favorite things about this book was the Gentleman Bastards themselves (Locke’s gang). The gang of orphans was “raised” by Father Chains, the “blind priest of Perelandro” (honestly, so many things have to be put in quotes because as with any group of specialty scoundrels, nothing is what it seems) and taken in specifically for their special talents which Father Chains took great care to help them fine tune.

One of the things I loved so much about the Gentleman Bastards was obviously their cunning knack for disguises, costumes, and mummery, but I loved how each member of the gang had a specialty and a very specific role in the gang.

  • Locke Lamora is very much the master of disguises. He could accommodate for any role with accents, facial expressions, costumes, body language, and anything else he could possibly change about himself to become a different person entirely. There is no one else as good as Locke when it comes to impersonating another man, real or fictitious. He’s also the brains behind ALL of the operations. Locke Lamora is first and foremost a clever man and all of the plans stem from his brain before they ever get put into play.
  • Jean Tannen is the muscle of the group and he’s Locke’s right hand man (and seriously check out Alyssa’s post regarding their bromance because it really is one of the best I’ve ever read — And I also have a serious crush on Jean). He’s trained specially for fighting of all sorts and where Locke severely lacks in the self-defense aspect, Jean is always there to have his back.
  • Calo and Galdo are more of jack of all trades. They’re twin brothers, also experts at disguise though not as good as Locke, and they’re sort of the support system of the team. They fill in any extra roles the group might need, constantly bobbing in and out of play and working with a lot of behind the scenes set-up as well.
  • And young Bug is the rookie of the group. He does a lot of brunt work since he’s the young one and obviously the newest to the gang and he also acts as a lookout when the Gentleman Bastards need one. Because of his age, he’s also able to get away with a few things that the older men can’t.

I think the thing I appreciate the most is that although Locke is the title character, he isn’t without flaws. He has definite weaknesses but he isn’t ashamed to admit them and he allows the rest of his team to rise up to glory in their own specialties. He knows that he can’t do these jobs alone and he doesn’t try to. Most notably for me was Locke’s reliance on his best friend and support Jean Tannen. Locke knows Jean always has his back and Jean will always be there for Locke, whenever he needs him. These two especially would risk their lives for each other and do on a number of occasions. The whole group works together not only to complete their jobs but to protect each other and help each other no matter the cost. I love their friendships and bonds between all of these characters and it really just adds another layer to the entire book. The amount of detail that Scott Lynch puts into knitting this group even closer with every obstacle they face really makes the book that much more special.

I love books with a cast of characters who work together on one big job or mission! I think it really helps establish minor characters as well as giving the spotlight to main characters without having them be unreasonably talented. Here are some of my other favorites from books to TV featuring a great cast of characters, (somehow they’re usually surrounding heists…) and let’s be honest… You should probably just go watch/read these right now.

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HEIST SOCIETY by ALLY CARTER
The Brains: Kat Bishop
The Co-Conspirator: Hale
The Support Squad: Hamich and Angus
The Tech: Simon

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ALSO KNOWN AS and GOING ROGUE by ROBIN BENWAY
The Leader: Maggie
The Brains: Angelo
The Support Squad: Roux

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CATCHING FIRE by SUZANNE COLLINS
The Sure Shot: Katniss Everdeen
The Heart: Peeta Mellark
The Brains: Beetee
The Muscle: Johanna Mason
The Charmer: Finnick Odair

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The HARRY POTTER series by J.K. ROWLING
The Chosen One: Harry Potter
The Co-Conspirator: Ron Weasley
The Brains: Hermione Granger
The Heart: Neville Longbottom
The Support Squad: Luna Lovegood, Ginny Weasley, Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas

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OCEAN’S 11 (movie)
The Brains: Danny Ocean
The Co-Conspirator: Rusty Ryan
The Tech: Livingston Dell
The Support Squad: Turk and Virgil Malloy
The Inside Man: Frank Catton
The Pickpocket: Linus Caldwell

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LEVERAGE (TV show)
The Brains: Nathan Ford
The Master of Disguises: Sophie Devereaux
The Muscle: Eliot Spencer
The Thief: Parker
The Tech: Aldis Hodge

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CHUCK (TV Show) 
The Brains: Chuck Bartowski
The Leader: Sarah Walker
The Co-Conspirator: Morgan Grimes
The Muscle: John Casey
The Support Squad: Jeff and Lester
The Heart: Ellie and Devon

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 Well there you have it! I love books and TV shows with awesome ensemble casts and gangs of characters who work together to get a job done. Keep an eye out for my review of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA, coming soon! In the mean time, you should really pick this book up and read it because even though it’s a big hefty (my mass market was just over 700 pages), it’s a really fun read and absolutely worth your time and effort! I’m already dying to read the next books in the series!

Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts for The Lies of Locke Lamora today too!

Alyssa — Books Take You Places  ||  Amy — Tripping Over Books

On the Same Page: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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ON THE SAME PAGE: VICIOUS and ANTIHEROES

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Upon finishing VICIOUS, I came to the somehow surprising realization that I really, really enjoy antiheroes. Really, I don’t know why this was a surprising revelation for me since I’ve grown attached to quite a few antiheroes featured in literature, TV, and film, but for some reason main character Victor Vale really opened my eyes to this.

Why do I love the antihero so much? I think it’s in part because I love seeing justice being served in a way that doesn’t compromise the protagonist’s virtue in a traditional sense. A lot of antiheroes have already been hardened. They’re not you’re typical hero so they tend to have dark pasts with dark motives and may or may not have already committed a few unspeakable crimes before we even meet them. When it comes down to that final moment for the antihero to eliminate the villain, and let’s face it, usually with murder on the mind, it doesn’t feel like an innocence is being lost if they succeed. We all knew that it had to come down to Harry Potter killing Voldemort, for example, but he was just a kid! He didn’t want to kill anyone. He did have a dark past but he was truly a good person and no one wanted to see him have to kill someone, no matter how evil. When a true hero is put in the position to kill someone, it’s heart-breaking and bittersweet. When an antihero is put in a position to off the villain, I find myself rooting for them.

The antihero is also very appealing to me, I think, because the villain that they come up against has committed WAY more heinous crimes. If I find myself rooting for someone who’s not a traditional hero, chances are the person they’re battling has done something extremely terrible! There always has to be a guy who’s worse, right? Often times the villain has done things that are just TOO appalling that it takes a special kind of someone to take him down where others have failed — maybe the traditional hero’s conventional methods just aren’t enough. Enter: antihero.

I also enjoy being able dabble in the dark side while still rooting for the side of “good”. Sometimes the dark side is the more interesting side. It’s like passing a car crash that you just can’t help but stare at — it’s horrifying but incredibly interesting. The antihero sometimes has a much more interesting past, or a much more complicated present and often times their morals function with more of a gray area. The antihero allows us to look the other way on certain crimes in order to right the wrongs and establish justice once more.

Enter the soft side: One of my favorite things about antiheroes is seeing them soften towards other characters. Be it a child, a dog, a romance… It’s so much more touching to see the softer side of them because it’s not something you often see. Antiheroes are more likely to keep to themselves, keep their emotions under wraps (whether by choice or by initial nature), and so when they show a compassionate side, it just makes my insides melt! I think that really establishes an emotional connection with the antihero and it makes me want to root for them even more. There’s a bit of a good guy deep down there somewhere and when the audience sees that side, it just makes them feel so much more wronged and betrayed if something bad happens to those characters!

Victor Vale is a complicated character. He’s never quite been the traditional good guy and he makes a fantastic antihero in VICIOUS. I loved seeing his motives, his thought processes, and the way he formed relationships. If I didn’t know if before, I surely know it now: I really do enjoy a good antihero to save the day.

vicious         dexter  

      flick            dragontattoo

Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts for Vicious today too!

Alyssa — Books Take You Places ||  Amy — Tripping Over Books

On the Same Page: Days of Blood and Starlight

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WELCOME TO THE FIRST POST FOR “ON THE SAME PAGE”!

ON THE SAME PAGE is a new feature that Amy from Tripping Over Books, Alyssa from Books Take You Places and I have put together! It started out as the three of us forming an informal book club and reading the same book together but several months ago, we decided to make this a full-on feature and we’ve finally got everything ready for our first very official post! We actually had a sneak peek when we all reviewed Rose Under Fire back in September (at the time calling the feature “Three’s Company”) but we wanted the feature to be perfect so we held off until January to give us plenty of time to make it exactly the way we wanted it!

So what do we do? Besides reading a book together, we’re bringing you different aspects about the book that we feel are important. Whether we were inspired to create a playlist, digging a little deeper into the history of that particular setting, or pulling our favorite quotes, each of us will be bringing a different side of the book to share!

We actually have a few other important changes and merges regarding On the Same Page so be sure to check out the official page for it for more details!

Phew, now that we’ve got all the details out of the way, let’s get into the fun stuff and the feature! For January, Alyssa, Amy and I read DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor. It was quite the emotional read (review coming soon!) and we each had specific ideas for what we wanted to talk about with this book. For me? It was all about branching out into fantasy.

BRANCHING OUT INTO FANTASY

How Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series helped me fall in love with fantasy

      Days of Blood and Starlight

I’m not usually a fantasy girl. The extent of my fantasy reads up until last year ranged from Harry Potter to the occasional high fantasy like Graceling and Prophecy and after enjoying those, the promise that I’d start A Song of Ice and Fire because that was high fantasy too and I believed I would enjoy the series! I enjoyed magic, the paranormal and the supernatural, but there was always one thing standing in my way of fantasy and that was… how fantastical it was. Silly, right? I could believe in magic. I could get on board with vampires. But for some reason fantasy was always overwhelming for me. Paranormal and books like Harry Potter always appealed to me because they had roots that tied back to the world as we know it. The wizards of Britain separate their magic from the Muggle world, the vampires can’t let humans know they exist and so on. Too many fantasy books I had tried were too much of the unknown. Magical powers, new beings, AND a new world? It was just too much for me to latch onto.

My opinions have much since changed, but before I started blogging, I basically wrote off any book that had a map. *GASP* I know, right!? How much do I love maps now? (Tons.) At the time, I wasn’t reading the right books and was trying to dive headfirst into a genre that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with yet and for me, that just wasn’t the way to do it. All of the “new” concepts, characters, ideas, and lands just made it difficult for me to follow the plot and I quickly became disinterested or just couldn’t allow my brain to feel like this world could ever exist.

I also had an issue with what I like to call “creature fantasy”. This was the reason I didn’t enjoy the Lord of the Rings series (another gasp! I know.) and what made me so hesitant to pick up new fantasy reads. Hobbits? Dwarves? Elves? Then I had to learn these new creatures AND their interesting names AND the lands AND the villains? It was a lot for me to try to take in when it just wasn’t what I was used to. I also just couldn’t wrap my head around what these new creatures where supposed to be and humanlike creatures just didn’t feel believable.

I was extremely hesitant to pick up Daughter of Smoke and Bone last year. I was incredibly concerned with how big a part of the book the chimaera were and I was afraid this would turn out not to be a Brittany book. I had nothing to fear!

From starting Daughter of Smoke and Bone to finishing Days of Blood and Starlight, I’m starting to believe that I can really fall into fantasy if I read the right kind and really what I consider “right” for me is constantly changing for me as my reading tastes expand. I never thought I would care so much for chimera and seraphim but Laini Taylor’s writing is so beautiful and her plots are so delicately interwoven that every character becomes vital to the story and the reader really finds themselves wholly invested. These books made me really come to care for the characters and I was able to so easily lose myself in this story.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone really opened up the doors to fantasy for me. It made me confident to try new fantasy reads, more so than just high fantasy. It opened the doors I had closed off in my head to new ideas and different reads. It just goes to show you that the more you open yourself up to new genres and ideas, the more opportunities you have to discover new things. I’m so thankful for my fellow bloggers who had encouraged me to read this series and pushed me to step a bit out of my comfort zone to try a different kind of fantasy than I was used to!

Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts for Days of Blood and Starlight today too!

Alyssa — Books Take You Places ||  Amy — Tripping Over Books