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.

Where a Miniature House Can Tell So Many Truths: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

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The Miniaturist

By: Jessie Burton

Released: August, 2014 by Ecco

Length: 416 Pages

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction- 17th Century Amsterdam

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via publisher

What would you do, if at eighteen, you just get married to a man you hardly know? To a man who isn’t around? Nella Oortman is faced with those questions and more. When her husband finally returns from sea, he gives her the strangest wedding gift–a miniature replica of their house. Once a miniaturist is sought out to make the furniture, it is then secrets start to tally up. How does the miniaturist know? How does he or she predict these things? 

Taking place within three months in 1686 Amsterdam, The Miniaturist takes a deep look at what it was like for the working to high middle class at the time. Full of secrets, twists, and back-stabbing intrigue, this debut is not to be missed. Nella starts off as a small voiced, scared newlywed who is afraid of her older, much more out spoken sister in law Marin. With brilliant character development, and a more brilliant twist, the reader is taken on a surprise journey with these two women. Not to mention how the marriage goes! This book is full of plot twists that take you aback. You won’t expect a single thing that happens, which makes this book ever more engaging and fun to read.

Burton’s writing is fresh, imaginative,  and daring. With one of her plot twists, she goes there. Really, really goes there where most authors, established or not, would be hesitant or afraid to. But, not Burton. She takes it to the unexpected, especially for that time period. The way she did it was highly successful in my opinion. I was shocked, surprised, and not at all in disagreement with her choice. I was impressed with what she did, actually. That wasn’t the only plot twist where she pushed the envelope, either. She wrote one more thing, where in today’s time would not be too big of a controversy, but in 1686, big big big controversy. And, it worked! It wasn’t put in the story just to push our limits. It made complete sense.

I loved this book. I loved everything about it. The plot twists impressed me. The writing was astonishingly good for a first time author. The characters developed perfectly. The end was nicely open ended for the readers. There wasn’t a thing I could complain about. I was completely invested. It was hard not to be. The first page alone pulls you in by starting with a funeral for someone who apparently has no friends. You have to think who it is for. It’s that good. It pulls you in that fast. I’m going to say it. This book was one of my favorite reads of this year. It was that good. I can’t recommend it enough. It will pull you in; leave you wanting more. If there is one historical fiction novel you read this year, I honestly think this is the one you should read. It isn’t about Kings or Queens. Treason and the like. It is about people like us. Finally, a historical fiction novel we can relate to!

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!

This Book is Truly Wild; The Wilds by Julia Elliott

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The Wilds: Stories

By: Julia Elliott

Released: October 14, 2014 by Tin House Books

Length: 376 pages

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: BEA

 

For fans of Amy Hempel and Aimee Bender, this debut collection of short stories doesn’t disapoint. It lives up to its name.

In Julia Elliott’s collection of short stories, the journey is certainly a wild one. This is one of the weirdest collections of stories I have ever read; and, not been turned off by it. I tried reading Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls  by Alissa Nutting. It was just too strange. However, The Wilds is just strange enough. There is a story entitled “LIMBs” that is about an elderly woman with bionic legs living at a senior home. It was an interesting story that immediately drawn me in to the collection. It wasn’t just that she had bionic legs, although that was one of the best parts. She had Alzheimer but there was this new out of the box treatment that led her back to her memories. It was a really sweet story.

One of the more wilder stories was “Regeneration at Mukti”.   Mukti is not your typical restort. Oh, no. Besides being extremely Eco friendly, it is also the place where you’re body goes through hell, literally. It’s called The Suffering where you enter The Hell realm. It’s a nasty story with boils, puss, and just grossness. But…I loved it. Every page of it. There was something really unique about it that I wasn’t turned off by it.

By far, the most outrageous and my favorite story, was “Caveman Love”. Now, if you’re wondering if cavemen are involved, you’d be half right. The story takes place at a Cavemen-esque vacation place where you dress up like cavemen and behave like them. There was an undertone of orgies. It was hysterical, the orgy scene. I just loved the whole story. Like “Regeneration at Mukti” there was this uniqueness about this story that connected with me. The weirdness level was perfect.

This collection was great. I really enjoyed reading this. Each story was different. The characters were interesting, unique, and kept me hooked. There were some stories I wasn’t too fond of, but none that I didn’t actively like. I highly recommend this collection if you like short stories, or are looking for a new author to read. It’s very entertaining and will keep you wanting more.

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.

 

Dreams Do Come True?: John Dreamer by Elise Celine Book Review

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John Dreamer

By: Elise Celine

Released: February, 2014 by Authorbuzz

Length: 203 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Seven chairs, seven strangers, one strange white room.  What ensues, is only in your dreams.

John Dreamer is simply about living out what you desire most; but not in the way you think. The first dream , one of the more intense dreams, is a brutal battle. One of the “strangers” is mistreated during the battle, and the weakest stranger protects her. It turns out it’s his dream, to be strong and tough. He succeeds, both there and in life afterwards, becoming an award winning scientist. He is the first to leave.  As the novel continues, more dreams are fulfilled, deeper secrets are revealed and connections are made.

My favorite dream sequence comes from the tough guy Ray. His was the most powerful and gut wrenching. It really hits you.  As each dream had, it had a great message in the end. Celine really leaves you with a good sense of the character, what they were after, and what they got. And better yet, what you can learn from them. Learn from them you certainly do.  Even with the characters that aren’t there for very long, there is great character development because of how well the dream sequence is written. You really see what the character is all about. At the end of each successful dream, you get a follow-up of each character, which is nice. You see how this really helped them.

Of course, there is a love story between the main character Andy and John Dreamer. At first I was weary of their romance because of a comment Andy makes. It’s a little nauseating. It’s about falling in love so fast. However, I quickly changed opinions. The love story became believable pretty fast. The twist at the end was great, too.

I really liked this book.  This is going to be a series. I will definitely continue reading this series. I hope you’ll give it a chance.

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