Down the Rabbit Hole We Go; Alice by Christina Henry

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Alice

By: Christina Henry

Released: August, 2015 published by Ace

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi/Horror

Length: 291 pages

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: purchased

“You’re only a mouse if you let them make you one.”

Christina Henry’s Alice is not your average retelling of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Alice is a patient at an institution in the “old city” of this alternate universe. The old city is full of nothing but mob bosses, felons, and the struggling people. The New City is where the rich live. The people who lived in a peaceful society protected by Ministers. Once a citizen of that part of society, Alice is now trapped. Trapped with a large scar on her cheek and no memory of events that led her to here. As it turns out, the rabbit marked her. Marked her as his own after she took his eye out. But, how did she meet this Rabbit? And, who exactly is he?

With returning favorites like the Rabbit, Caterpillar, Jabberwocky, and Walrus, you are also introduced to Hatcher. A killer with a penchant for axes, he is Alice’s “cellmate” next door. Attached to the Jabberwocky, Hatcher is an interesting character. He has no problem killing. In fact, I think he might get off on it. Alice, on the other hand, is thankfully appalled. Their chemistry is undeniable, though. Even from the start as they communicated through a mouse hole. I really loved them together. They were completely different, but worked in such a powerful way. The last page of the book is fantastic. The way the words form on the page is great.

Henry has a fresh voice not to be missed or overlooked. This is one of those stories that can stand alone from the Alice in Wonderland world. I think that’s what I liked best about it. This wasn’t your average retelling. It didn’t retell the story with just one or two elements changed. Oh, no. It was completely reimagined.  Yes, some of our favorite characters return, but they return in a completely unique way. No longer do they stand for what they once did.

This new world was not Wonderland. Nor, was it mentioned really at all. I think I liked that a lot. It was a refreshing read. After reading a previous retelling I wasn’t too fond of, this made me love the world Carroll created even more. I can’t wait for the sequel, Red Queen. I am hooked on Henry’s writing. It is powerful, shocking, and terrifically horrific. Considered fantasy/ Sci-fi for there are magicians and this alternate universe, it reads more like a light horror book with thrills added in. I can’t recommend this enough for fans of Alice in Wonderland. Even fans of horror, fantasy, and Sci-fi.

I know I am constantly saying read this. Read that. But, really, read this! You won’t regret it in the least. Borrow it or buy it; this is a book not to be missed. I wish I read it sooner. But, then again now I have a shorter wait to reading the sequel.

Happy reading!

-Indie

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This is No Ordinary Love..Story; Another Day by David Levithan Book Review

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Another Day (Every Day #2)

By: David Levithan

Released:  August 25th 2015 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Length: 327 pages

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: BEA 2015/ netgalley

 

“Maybe this is what we’ve needed all along. Distance from everything else, and closeness to each other.”

In David Levithan’s companion novel to best seller Every Day, Another Day takes the readers on Rhiannon’s journey of navigating love, both new and old from a fresh perspective. Unlike companion novels, such as Just One Year by Gayle Forman, this work is a somewhat retelling of Every Day instead of a what happened next novel from the opposite perspective. It is  as every bit creative and insightful as Levithan’s previous works, especially Every Day.

The reader really gets the opportunity to be inside Rhiannon’s head and life. Trying to adjust to these budding feelings for A, an extraordinarily unique human being, Rhiannon also has to deal with the complications of her current relationship with her distant, troubled boyfriend, Justin. There is a great scene between Rhiannon and her best friend where the best friend discusses Rhiannon’s relationship with Justin in an honest way. It’s not often people are completely up front about certain feelings regarding other friends’ relationships. It was refreshing to read that. I did shout, “You go girl,”  because while powerful, a little mean, but true, her message translates universally. Something Levithan specializes in.

The good thing about Another Day, and Every Day, is you can start with either one, I think. It is clear what the condition is that A has as much as it can be, in both novels. You are told in two ways–once per novel– who, what A is; so if you do decide to start with Rhiannon’s story, you won’t be totally clueless. You’ll have some idea, just not in the full capacity of how A himself explains it in his narrative.

It’s no secret that I am a huge David Levithan fan; having read a majority of his published works. This may be one of his better novels. The series is, quite frankly. It is inventive, thought provoking, and something we need to see more in YA, or literature in general. I loved how Levithan’s character A has no gender. It’s not that he doesn’t see gender, he really has none because he changes bodies constantly. How this translates into Rhiannon’s views and acceptance of such a condition is flawless. There is an apparent struggle with accepting A as A–a boy or a girl on any given day. It wouldn’t be close to realistic if she didn’t have a problem, or hesitancy regarding A’s various identities.

Part fantasy/ sci-fi, this novel can also be categorized as realistic, teen fiction. The concept of A may be unusual, but everything else is real. The struggles, the successes, and the love. I can’t recommend this book, and series, enough. Both characters tell interesting stories. Stories you don’t won’t to miss out on reading.

I loved this novel. It would make a great standalone. The end. The end! Once again, Levithan pulls us in with a cliff hanger of sorts that leaves readers like myself wanting more. If you haven’t read Every Day, you won’t know how the end leaves off. But, it’s a good one. However, it doesn’t continue over to the second book. I think Levithan is writing a third, from what he told me at a signing. This will, hopefully, tie in the two cliff hanger endings.

This series should not be missed. The  way Levithan tackles topics it explores, such as gender identity, abusive relationships, and first and second loves, is a great start to better understanding these on your own. I can see either, hopefully both though, books being taught in High School. The tackled topics are so important, universal, and important to learn. Especially when it comes to understanding gender, gender norms, and gender constraints. Another Day tackles these topics a little more heavily than in Every Day because it is about someone who has an assigned, accepted gender that may fall for a person who has none, while both at the same time. Things can get messy!

Please, just read this. You won’t regret it, I promise.

There She Goes: After Alice by Gregory Maguire

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After Alice

By: Gregory Maguire

Released: October, 2015 by William Morrow

Length: 273

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: BEA 2015

 

“The day is wound up and begins even before the last haunted dreams, the last of the fog, those spectral and evanescent residues, have faded away.”

 After Alice takes place in an alternate universe where Alice was followed down the rabbit hole. Ada had hoped to find her only friend to play with. What Ada sees instead as she spots Alice, is her falling through this strange hole. Curious, and maybe even worried for Alice, little Ada jumps in to save her. What Ada soon discovers is a strange place called Wonderland where she meets talking flowers, a Mad Hatter, and the Red Queen as she seeks to find and save Alice. What ensues is a journey unlike Alice’s from the original text.

Ada’s journey, although a bit fanciful, is slightly dull. She mostly just questions everyone. Although not spineless, she doesn’t necessarily have a courageousness to her. While she is inquisitive, she tends to accept things and follow the leader. I wasn’t impressed with this narrative. But, to be fair, it was more exciting than the second narrative of that of her sister trying to find her with a new visitor by her side.

My, how bland! I passed certain parts as they were uninteresting. It was mostly just Ada’s sister bashing her for disappearing again. There wasn’t much to this narrative. There was a present day twist that was interesting, but it was towards the end. If you gave up on this book, the same way as I almost did a few times, you haven’t missed much. If you haven’t read this book yet, but want to, might I suggest the adult fantasy series by Christina Henry instead. Ada is not exactly featured, but the concept is certainly different and unique. I will be writing a review within the next couple of weeks.

Maguire fails to hit the proverbial mark. Although at times entertaining, or more so surprising, it didn’t capture this big fan of the original text. I had hoped for so much more from this book. Maybe because I had created hype for myself, but honestly it’s not worth a read. There are too many spots where one might want to give up. The first forty or so pages were hard to get through! If you make it past that, you are possibly in the clear to continue. But, it will drag. The twist at the end is the only redeeming part; and why I decided to give it two stars.

When You Travel into the Crooked Little Vein of America: Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis Book Review

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Hello all my indie readers, it’s finally here! My first review in over a year of many to come. Ain’t that exciting? Have you heard of this underground gem of a book, Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis? If not, you will now.

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Crooked Little Vein

By: Warren Ellis

Released: July, 2007 by William Morrow & Company

Length: 280 pages

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: Lent to me

“This is the mainstream now, Mike. This is how life in America is. Moment by moment, our country has grown sicker. Our borders, Mike, have come to encompass the nine circles of Hell.”

What a journey through America, and the “nine circles of Hell”  Warren Ellis takes the reader on. Part crime/detective story, part mind fuck, Crooked Little Vein takes us through America as hard on his luck Private Investigator Michael McGill is sent on the case of a lifetime by The President’s Chief of Staff to retrieve the real US Constitution. With little to go on, McGill and Trix, his partner in crime, discover what America is really like ; and it isn’t pretty. From guys injecting saline into their nether regions in Cleveland, Ohio to  crazy rich men in Texas, and much more, this novel is a wild goose chase that I couldn’t put down.

If you know my reading tastes, I don’t normally read crime novels. When this was lent to me, I was immediately hooked; just by hearing the first couple pages being read to me. There is something refreshing and new in Ellis’s first novel. True underground classic. A complete mind fuck that gets darker, funnier, and intriguing as the story goes on. If you are looking for a light-hearted book, this is not it. Each page gives you pause; with a little What the– thrown in for good measure.

I absolutely loved it. I honestly wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. It’s just so original. Something that I haven’t read in a while. Sure, I’ve read other books this year, and in the past, but this–this book is the one that has blown my mind completely. I’m not even going to ask for the remaining pieces. It was that good. Warren Ellis, I am not sure what, if any, drugs you were on, but thank you!

If you like books that make you question reality, all that this country is, and that takes you on a crazy, explicit ride, then this book is for you. For fans of Will Christopher Baer, author of the Phineas Poe series. You will love it, I assure you! To the person who recommended the book to me, I’m hooked. Give me more!

The DUFF Stops Here; The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger Book Review

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The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

By: Kody Keplinger

Released: 2010 by Little, Brown

Length: 280 Pages

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

What happens when the school’s Male slut calls you your friend’s DUFF? A drink gets thrown in his face? Check. You sleep with him? Wait, what? This is a book where the main character makes some really bad choices

While at a teen night club, High School Senior Bianca Piper is approached by the attractive, sleazy, no good Wesley Rush. During their brief interaction, she is called the DUFF, a drink is spilled, and Bianca’s life is forever changed. What soon follows is a few months of bad, bad choices. The first…sleeping with Wesley Rush to “escape” her problems. Her mother is never home. She believes the DUFF label. Her Dad is becoming an alcoholic again. So, to Wesley it is. Then, the lying to her best friends happen. The ditching them comes next. Followed by a few spoilers I will not reveal. She’s a mess. And a character I could not get behind. There was no liking her. No feeling sorry for her. Nothing. I know that sounds bad, but she was a really hard character to like. She cursed A LOT. Did a lot of bad things and complained about it afterwards. Didn’t care that she used a human being. She was awful.

Many bad things happened to Bianca. Her parents were about to get a divorce that her mother suddenly sprung. Her dad relapsed after seventeen years of being sober. She realized some stuff about herself. But, in no way does that justify her behavior, selfishness, and attitude towards Wesley. I was team Wesley all the way. Now his life sucked. He basically lived alone. Was pretty much banned from seeing his sister. And his grandma, with whom his sister lived with, hated him. And, yet, he wasn’t acting sorry for himself. Yes, he was sleeping with everyone, but still. I really liked him as a character and oh man, the end! The end was amazing! That’s the only reason this book got two stars and it’s all because of him. Totally team Wesley.

Although I gave this book two stars, I would surprisingly recommend it just for the ending. It’s worth the struggle. I read this book in a day. Less than that. I couldn’t stop reading the train wreck. It’s one of those books you love to hate I think. I love to hate this book.

The Garden of Letters was a Wall…; The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman

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The Garden of Letters

By: Alyson Richman

Released: September 2nd, 2014 by Berkley

Length: 384 pages

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: BEA

Portofino, Italy, 1943. A young woman steps off a boat in a scenic coastal village. Although she knows how to disappear in a crowd, Elodie is too terrified to slip by the German officers while carrying her poorly forged identity papers. She is frozen until a man she’s never met before claims to know her. In desperate need of shelter, Elodie follows him back to his home on the cliffs of Portofino.

Inspired by a true story the author was told by a friend’s relative about being rescued by a stranger in the same situation as Elodie, The Garden of Letters tells the story of two opposites who must learn how to grow and rediscover themselves after separate losses as they are brought together under dire circumstances.  It’s an interesting plot. I must say I was intrigued from reading the synopsis. Unfortunately, this book did not hit the mark for me. It dragged on in parts. Was often boring, or just okay. I wasn’t wowed or invested much in either of the three sub plots. I liked Elodie’s sub plot the best; as well as finding her the most interesting, but not by much. Unfortunately, the two other sub plots took up much of the story that Elodie’s wasn’t enough to make me like the novel.

The sub plot I liked the least was actually when Elodie gets rescued. It takes up the least amount in the novel, but I found it lacking. The end wasn’t very good. It tidied things up in a way I was dissatisfied with.  The relationship between Elodie and the Doctor was quiet and soft. It seemed too neat. Too fitting for two strangers who just met and are forced to live together. I didn’t find it very realistic.

The characters were decent, though. As much as I didn’t like the novel, Richman did write okay characters. Elodie and her best friend were great characters. The Doctor was the only one I didn’t like.

Now, the garden of letters. THERE WAS NO GARDEN!!!! This may be a spoiler (sorry!) but I was annoyed by this. It’s a wall. The wife of the doctor pastes his letters onto their bedroom wall while he is serving in Africa. She makes it look like a Garden, kind of.  But the book title is still a little misleading. For me, at least. Maybe I am too literal.

I won’t recommend this novel. It just didn’t do anything for me. I can’t honestly stand behind it. It sounds good in theory; maybe it will work for some, but it didn’t work for me.

Green is the New Black: Green Girl by Kate Zambreno

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Green Girl

By: Kate Zambreno

Re-released: June 24th, 2014 by Harper Perennial

Length: 304 Pages

Genre: Fiction

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: Purchased

 

Look at me don’t look at me look at me look at me don’t look at me don’t look.

 Ruth is a young American in London, trying desperately to navigate a world she feels uncomfortable in, while battling with herself. Time and again she questions her existence and the existence of others while trying to find the pursuit of contentment. She discovers herself often in precarious situations that she must find a way out of. Full of epiphanies and life lessons, Green Girl introduces us to the new The Bell Jar and Esther Greenwood.

It is hard to put into words how much I loved this book. From the first page when the other is naming Ruth, to the epigraphs before each chapter that I bookmarked almost each time. Was it all the inner battles Ruth had? There are too many reasons why. I was hooked from the beginning. Ruth was by far the most interesting character I had met this year in my year of reading. She was troubled, confused, promiscuous, fierce, and strong without realizing it.

There wasn’t much that happened, but the prose! The prose was beautifully written. It was insightful, intelligent, and left me wanting more. This debut was moving. Zambreno has a brilliant career ahead of her. I was really impressed. It did remind me a lot of The Bell Jar which is one of my all time favorite novels. So, I may be a little biased. There was something just so raw and fresh about this novel. Something I haven’t seen in a while. This is definitely a novel to be checked out. I highly recommend it.

 

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