Thursday, 14 September 2017

It's a Prequel! (Charlotte Says by Alex Bell)

"Houses talked all the time, it was just that nobody ever thought to listen." - Alex Bell, Charlotte Says, Page 112

Charlotte Says is the prequel to Frozen Charlotte . Set in 1910 at Dunvegan School for Girls, it follows Jemima Black, a seventeen year old who lost her mother and stepfather in a house fire she can't quite remember. It answers several important questions, such as why the Frozen Charlotte dolls are evil, how they ended up on the Isle of Skye, and why they ended up LITERALLY CEMENTED INTO THE WALLS OF THE BASEMENT.

There's something addictive about this book. I found it fairly mediocre at the beginning and yet I also couldn't put it down, as if to stop reading would be to break the spell. I think part of the problem was Jemima. I did not like Jemima. The first two people she met, she immediately disliked. One went on to treat her terribly, whilst the other was just plain catty. It wasn't until later that it clicked that Jemima was the one narrating the story...

There's a number of side characters. Henry, the love interest, who's sweet, and kind, and not much else. Or, at least, that's the way he seems. A decision that he makes at the end makes me wonder if there isn't more going on beneath the surface. Miss Grayson, who treated the girls and Jemima in exactly the same way. Abusively. Although, I suppose, given the time period, most of it wasn't at the time. Cassie, who was catty, yes, but no cattier than Jemima herself was with her. Of the schoolgirls, Estella gets the most focus. I guessed the truth about her very early on - mainly because of Jemima meeting Dolores.

The second half of the book will shock you. I got elements of what really happened the night of the fire correct, but nowhere near the entire thing. After that, Jemima becomes much more involved with the Frozen Charlotte dolls and the real games begin... 
Do you prefer prequels or sequels?

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

"M" is for Melodrama

Dramatic? Melodrama? How very dare you. Melodrama was not merely dramatic. It was an excessive banquet of expression and overacting, with an overdone happy ending for pudding. 

Melodrama was a type of play popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Character development tended to be more or less non-existant, with the plays using the typical stock characters - the handsome hero, the morally virtuous heroine, the evil villain - as mere props to play out incredibly convoluted plots. The drama is amped up and emotions run high. It's as if the world is on the edge of the apocalypse and every action, every word, every breath could tip it over. 

The term is often used pejoratively to describe a work that a reviewer feels is overdone, but melodramas are not intrinsically bad. Sure, in their purest form they were cliched and over the top, but they made people laugh. The whole idea of melodrama was to inspire the audience to great heights of emotion.

Elements of melodrama found their way into Gothic novels and today they live on in everything from soap operas and popular films, such as romcoms.

Examples of melodramas include:
  • The Rent Day by Douglas William Jerrold
  • Despite the genre being named after his time, many of Shakespeare's plays include elements of melodrama. 
Can you think of any melodramas?

Thursday, 7 September 2017

I Seriously Have to Wait FOUR Books for the Happy Ending? (Cinder by Marissa Meyer)

"'You are not part of this family. You aren't even human anymore.'" - Marissa Meyer, Cinder, page 279

I am seriously late to the party on this one, but better late than never.

Cinder is a fairytale retelling done right. It takes the old story of Cinderella, dismantles it, and drops it into a dystopian, sci-fi version of Beijing. A plague has struck earth and cyborgs are being drafted as test subjects to help find a cure. Looking down on earth is the moon, where a colony of humans has evolved into a magical race of people called Lunars. I loved the setting because it was just so different to anywhere else I'd ever read about.

Cinder is a teenage cyborg living with her adoptive mother and sisters. She works as a mechanic, though she doesn't actually see any of the money. Kai is the prince of the Eastern Commonwealth. You'd think they wouldn't have a lot in common. As it happens, a prince has about as much freedom as a cyborg does. They get on just fine. The villain, Queen Levana, is ripped from Snow White (as is her stepdaughter, who is mentioned but never actually seen). She can glamour anyone into liking her, including our heroes who have to make an effort to resist her. Other characters include the royal advisor, Torin, who is 100% done with the young prince, Dr Erland, a morally ambiguous doctor, and Iko, a (technically) faulty android who's the closest thing Cinder has to a best friend.

Plot-wise, I saw most of the twists coming. I was surprised by who had planted the direct communication chip though, and by who Dr Erland really was. I was expecting him to end up as a straight-up villain, but it's more complicated than that.

Overall, I LOVED Cinder and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm gutted that I have to read three more books to get to the happy ending. Cinder and Kai deserve to be happy now!

(...Are you feeling okay?)

I mean, maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit here, but that has to be how it ends, right? It's still a fairytale, even if it is set in mildly dystopian China.

Is there anyone here who hasn't read this novel?

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Five Books that Got Better
Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Some books are a slog at the start. Maybe it's the oceans of exposition you have to wade through to get to the story. Maybe it's the protagonist's endless whining. Maybe it's the instalove that's there from the very first page. But then, something changes. The plot gets going, the protagonist grows up, the romance turns out to be adorable regardless of how it started. Whatever it is, it saves the novel. The first time you put it down, you didn't want to pick it up again. Now, you can't tear your eyes away. For me, these five novels were like that.

1. Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

First, there was Deirdre and her inexplicable need to cry or vomit in reaction to everything, and then there was Luke. I hated Luke. That said, I loved the fairies. You wouldn't find these fairies in a Disney film... By the time I got to the climax, I didn't want to put it down.

You can read my review here

2. Transmission by Hari Kunzru

Behold, an enjoyable coursebook.

(It's a unicorn!)

Transmission is quite confusing when it starts out, because it follows three different characters along three different plotlines that eventually converge. This is the story of a computer virus and how it changes three very different lives.

You can read my review here.

3. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

A love triangle where one of the love interests was the boyfriend of the protagonist's dead sister? Why? Later, it would delve deeper into Lennie's grief. For me, that was the interesting part.

You can read my review here. 

4. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

At first, Merricat's voice seems a little odd, but it'll draw you in. Come on, come look at the skeletons in the Blackwood family's closet.
You can read my review here.

5. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

This is an odd one in that the book itself didn't actually improve. It's after reading it that my opinion changed. I grew to like Tess, who on reflection is much braver than I gave her credit for whilst reading it. She's a very independent heroine.

(It's also great rant material.)

Oh, well that goes without saying. 

Don't forget to link me to your TTT!

Monday, 4 September 2017


We're having slight technical difficulties at the moment, because -

(Rain's an idiot.)

Hey, it's not - Yeah. Okay. It kind of is my fault. I made the mistake of deleting my Picasa Web Albums. It turns out that this is not a random off-site storage site, this is actually where all of the pictures on your blog are stored. For this reason, pictures are showing up as grey boxes with a symbol inside of them. This is NOT an issue with your computer. This is entirely an issue with the blog, and I am working to rectify it. As this involves replacing the images on 174 posts, it's going to be a long time before the entire blog is back to normal. 

Sorry about that.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

August Wrap-Up (Sunday Post #11)
Hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer

August was an unprecedented, unproductive disaster. It wasn't that I didn't have the time. I just didn't have the ideas. But, things are looking up.

News from the Reading Month

It's a new season, which means a new bingo board from Bekka over at Pretty Deadly Reviews.

You can see how I did on last season's board by clicking here.

Last month, I read seven books, only one of which was a novel.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson - 3 Stars (My Review)

News from the Blogging Front

Formatting is an absolute nightmare at the moment. It's like when you paste images into Word and they align in the most inconvenient way possible, except on Word I know how to fix it. If anyone has any ideas, please drop them in the comments.

I only posted five times last month. 

(That's the least posts since January.)

Don't shame me!

My most-read post was The Ten Worst Coursebooks I've had to Read (So Far).

My least-read post was Is Blogging Unprofessional? 

How was your August?