Soundtrack Saturday: Emmy & Oliver (Robin Benway)

 

Soundtrack Saturday is a weekly meme created and run by Erin at The Hardcover Lover.

Last week I chose to make a soundtrack for The Fairyland Series by Catherynne M Valente.

 

This week I decided to do one for Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway. This was a lovely little book and I had so many songs pop into my head when I was reading it, I just knew I needed to make a soundtrack for it.

 

13132816See You Again – Carrie Underwood


Said goodbye, turned around
And you were gone, gone, gone
Faded into the setting sun
Slipped away

Over You – Miranda Lambert


You went away
How dare you?
I miss you
They say I’ll be okay
But I’m not going to ever get over you

Come Back, Be Here – Taylor Swift


And this is when the feeling sinks in
I don’t wanna miss you like this
Come back, be here
Come back, be here
I guess you’re in New York today
I don’t wanna need you this way
Come back, be here
Come back, be here

I Thought I Lost You – Miley Cyrus ft. John Travolta


Nobody listens to me,
Don’t hear a single thing I’ve said
Say anything to soothe me
Anything to get you from my head
Don’t know how I really feel
The faith it takes to make like I don’t care
Don’t know how much it hurts
To turn around like you were never there

Two Pieces – Demi Lovato


There’s a boy, lost his way, looking for someone to play
There’s a girl in the window, tears rolling down her face
We’re only lost children, trying to find a friend
Trying to find our way back home

All About You – Birdy


You don’t have to do this on your own
Like there’s no one that cares about you
You don’t have to act like you’re alone
Like the walls are closing in around you
You don’t have to pretend no one knows
Like there’s no one that understands you
I’m not just some face you used to know
I know all about you

You Found Me – Kelly Clarkson


You found me
When no one else was looking
How did you know just where I would be?
You broke through all of my confusion
The ups and the downs
And you still didn’t leave
I guess that you saw what nobody could see
You found me

Nothing Like the First Time – Lady Antebellum


Ain’t nothing like the first time
Nothin’ like the first smile
Looking at you seeing forever
Keeps me going to the last mile
And I held on like crazy
Until our goodbye baby
And I still miss you lately
Ain’t nothing like the first time

Book Review: Clockwork, or All Wound Up (Philip Pullman)

Publisher: Yearling
Pages: 96
Release Date: 3rd October 1996
Summary (From Goodreads):

 
A magical tale featuring a tormented clock-maker, a deadly knight in armour, a mechanical prince, and the sinister Dr. Kalmenius, who some say is the devil. There are puzzles and riddles, and twists and turns in the plot.
Review:
This is a book I read when I was much younger and thought I’d revisit. I really love reading these old(ish) books now and sharing with people, and hopefully getting a few to read them!This is a very short read – I’m sure it was much bigger when I was younger! – but it is full of a very creepy kind of charm. Pullman paints a beautiful picture in a wintery German village with a wonderful clock who’s clockwork figures are marvelled at from all over the world and which you’d have to watch the whole year round to see each piece come out. It’s so magical and picturesque.

Even as an adult, I still found the story very creepy. It reads like a cross between a Grimm tale and a Victorian fairytale and the overall effect is equal parts charming and sinister. The different threads of the story weave perfectly together to create the perfect quick and scary read.

Alongside the story there are little comments and asides from the narrator with lovely little pictures to go with them. These sometimes add a little more background information on characters and places, or just little warnings from the narrator to his characters. Because, as he says, once a story is wound up, there’s no stopping it.

I’m going to end with a quote because I loved it so much:

“For every once upon a time there must be a story to follow, because if a story doesn’t, something else will and it might not be as harmless as a story.”

 

My Verdict:
 
 

OMG GEE WHIZZ How have you not read this yet?!

Book Review: Water For Elephants (Sara Gruen)

This review is part of Stacie and Maia’s Random Reads

#RandomReads

Publisher: Hodder Paperback

Pages: 429

Release Date: 2008

Summary (From Goodreads):

Orphaned, penniless, Jacob Jankowski jumps a freight train in the dark, and in that instant, transforms his future.

By morning, he’s landed a job with the Flying Squadron of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. By nightfall, he’s in love.

In an America made colourless by prohibition and the Depression, the circus is a refuge of sequins and sensuality. But behind the glamour lies a darker world, where both animals and men are dispensable. Where falling in love is the most dangerous act of all…

Review:

I have to say this is not the kind of book I would usually pick up for myself – it mostly sounded like a romance, and that’s just not my kind of thing. But that’s why I love doing this feature with Stacie, so I can try things out of my comfort zone.I tried to go in with an open mind, but my head just kept providing images of the film with Twilight guy and Bridget Jones (I’ve not watched it, and I don’t think I will after reading the book).

There were two things that I really liked about this book. One was the beginning, and how it influenced the way I read the book and thought about the characters. I can’t say too much without spoiling it, but it was very clever.

I also really liked the bits in between the main storyline, where we see Jacob as an old man in a nursing home. This is just a personal point for me, but I found it really sad. I have a grandmother who lives with me and a nan who lives in a home and they both have varying stages of dementia. This book let me imagine things from their point of view, getting frustrated when you forget things you know you should remember, getting confused over time and over your words. It was a bit painful to read to be honest, but in a way I could appreciate.

I think the main downfall for me on this book was that I just didn’t feel the connection between the main couple (Jacob and Marlene). It was a bit insta-love for me: they both just saw each other and fell in love and I don’t buy it. Even when they were together, I just didn’t see it, and as a lot of their actions – towards the end especially – revolved around that love for each other, it just didn’t make sense to me.

Marlene was also a disappointment to me. The other characters in the book felt so well rounded and I completely believed in them, but she felt a little hollow to me. It felt like she was just there for Jacob to fall in love with – I didn’t get much character from her. A big bugbear (is that really a saying?! It looks weird…) was the fact that the two bits where she spilled her heart out and talked about her past and relationship problems, were narrated by Jacob, rather than us hearing it from her, which spoke volumes to me.

I think her flaws were more obvious because Jacob was such a brilliant character. Again, I loved him as the old man, where he was witty and grouchy and loveable in equal measures.

Overall, this isn’t really my kind of read, but I can see why others like it. I didn’t hate it by any means, but I also probably won’t read it again.

 3

Check out Stacie’s review here

Book Review: Prep for Doom (Band of Dystopian)

*I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Details:Publisher: Your Elemental Solutions
Release Date: 18th June 2015
 
Blurb (from Goodreads):

From the imaginations of twenty authors of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction comes PREP FOR DOOM – an integrated collection of short stories that tell the tale of a single catastrophe as experienced by many characters, some of whom will cross paths.

What begins with a seemingly innocuous traffic accident soon spirals into a global pandemic. The release of Airborne Viral Hemorrhagic Fever upon New York City’s unsuspecting populace brings bloody suffering within hours, death within a day, and spreads worldwide within a month.
An online community called Prep For Doom has risen to the top of a recent doomsday preparation movement. Some have written them off as crazy while others couldn’t be more serious about the safety the preppers could provide in a global disaster. But when AVHF strikes, their preparation may not be enough to save them.

 

Review:

I really loved the sound of this book: a worldwide disaster told in the form of short stories just sounded perfect. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but it was an interesting read.
The good, first.
It was great to read the same wider story (the virus outbreak) told from so many different points of view. It made it feel realistic – instead of following one protagonist who just happens to be immune and great with a shotgun and really world-savvy, we meet a lot of different people, some who are immune, but also some who get sick, some who die, and that made the whole thing feel more real.
As a whole I enjoyed the book but when I think about individual stories its hard to pick out favourites. A lot of them had a tendency to make very dramatic statements or rely on cliches, which got annoying. I did find that, with so many stories to follow, it could get a little confusing. Sometimes characters popped up in other people’s stories later, which was great when I recognised them, but often I couldn’t remember which story they belonged to and had to flip back to check.
I also felt it was a shame that, for what is stated to be a worldwide disaster, all stories bar the prologue were set in America. I understand this is an American book, but it would have been so great to see the reaction in different countries and cultures, rather than just across a few different cities/states.
Overall, I think this was a brilliant idea that could have been a little better executed, but still worth a read if you’re ready for some doom and drama!

My Verdict:

 

I enjoyed – give it a read

If you enjoyed this, you may like The 100 by Kass Morgan

Top Five… Nursery Rhymes

The book above is one that belongs to my mother, and has some of my favourite nursery rhymes in. It’s really old – there’s a gift tag inside that says my mom got it for Christmas 1961, her first Christmas! It’s been passed on to some of my cousins and me before ending back at my mom, and I wanted to share some of my favourites from the book.
5.
I always thought this one was a bit of a riddle, which is always fun.
4.

 

This was my mom’s favourite, hence the ripped page from where it’s been used so much! I think I remember her singing this when I was younger.
3.
 
This always made me thinking of Alice in Wonderland, and I always pictured Tweddledee and Tweedledum from the Disney film!
2. 

 

This is how I learnt never to lend my pony. (I jest, I wish I had a pony)
1.
 
Another Alice themed one, this just makes me think of the trial and the Queen trying to chop everyone’s head off.
 

 

Book Review: Emmy & Oliver (Robin Benway)

 

 *I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 352
Release Date: June 23rd 2015
Summary (From Goodreads):

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

 

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

 

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

 

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

 

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

 

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.
Review:
This book was a really gentle read that did a great job of showing one traumatic event from more sides than I ever imagined.
When Oliver’s dad kidnaps him, it’s not just his family that is affected by it: it rocks the world of all his family friends and neighbours, and it’s an event they never really ger over. And when Oliver comes home, their world is changed again. The most fascinating part of this for me was the way everything with Emmy at home seemed to stand still while Oliver’s world moved on. It’s understandable of course: his mother is traumatised and no one knows what has happened to him, whereas for Oliver, life is different without his mother and old friends, but he’s young and he bounces back easily.While to everyone else Oliver’s return home is an amazing event and his father is a criminal, to Oliver it’s still his dad, the man who brought him up when his mother didn’t – even if that wasn’t her fault – and it was really interesting to see the conflicts he had.

I found Emmy a really likeable narrator and it was interesting to see how this kind of event has rippling effects across those enarest to the victims, but I did think it would have been more interesting to see things from Oliver’s point of view. That’s obviously a bit of a different story, but it would have got right to the heart of his conflict rather than seeing what he confesses of it to Emmy.

This was quite a slow, quiet read, enjoyable but without anything too dramatic happening until right near the end. I wasn’t overly interested in some of the minor storylines – Emmy’s parents over protectiveness, Drew’s family problems, etc –  and I found the end flashback-esque scene a little weird. Fans of contemporary and romance will definitely enjoy, but it’s not for those seeking something fast paced or action packed.
My Verdict:
 
 

I enjoyed – give it a read

If you enjoyed this, you may also like If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

 

Book Review: The Boy Who Lost Fairyland (Catherynne M Valente)

Details:Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 256
Release Date: March 3rd 2015
 
Blurb (from Goodreads):

When a young troll named Hawthorn is stolen from Fairyland by the Golden Wind, he becomes a changeling – a human boy — in the strange city of Chicago, a place no less bizarre and magical than Fairyland when seen through trollish eyes. Left with a human family, Hawthorn struggles with his troll nature and his changeling fate. But when he turns twelve, he stumbles upon a way back home, to a Fairyland much changed from the one he remembers. Hawthorn finds himself at the center of a changeling revolution–until he comes face to face with a beautiful young Scientiste with very big, very red assistant.

Review:

So I’ve been on a Fairyland binge of late, and this is the latest book in the series (for now, at least). If you’re interested in the books that came before this one, you can find them here – books One, Two and Three. You can also check out my soundtrack for the series.

If you read my last review, you’ll know I was getting a little tired with the series. I complained that it was formulaic and that if the author didn’t shake things up a bit, she’d lose me as a reader (I don’t mean that to sound like a threat, it’d just be a shame not to finish the series!)Honestly, it’s as if she heard me and took on board what I said.

The fourth installment in the Fairyland series certainly does shake things up a bit. For a start, we’re not journeying with September at all. This time, we join Hawthorn a troll turned Changeling who is spirited away by the Red Wind to our world.

I loved the way the first chapter echoed that same one so long ago when September was spirited away by the Green Wind. They asked the same kinds of questions and received similar answers from the tricky winds. But the cleverest part was the way she made the rules a peculiarities of the human world sound just as bizarre. It completely flipped the premise of the Fairyland books on its head, and it worked perfectly.

There were small parts where my interest began to waver in the human world, as Hawthorn (or Tom, as is his Changeling name) and his strange ways began to get the tiniest bit irritating, but no sooner had it started to bug me than everything changed again as he found his way back to Fairyland.

Once there, there was only the slightest hint of the formula that I’ve come to dislike (meeting a strange character, having some speech/explanation and being sent on their way). It was great to be back in Fairyland and see what had happened since the fairies came back, and to meet some familiar characters too, as well as a whole host of new, wonderful ones (Tam was a particular favourite).

While you might gripe that it was obvious who was going to be the person at the end of their quest, it was an enjoyable one nonetheless. And while it solved some of the cliffhangers from the last book, it still left you with a taste for more.

This book has redeemed the series in my eyes, and I will definitely be sticking with it until the next book comes out. 

 

My Verdict:

 

 

Ahaha I love this book, you should totally read it!

Soundtrack Saturday: The Fairyland Series

 

Soundtrack Saturday is a weekly meme created and run by Erin at The Hardcover Lover. I’ve been really enjoying making these so am trying to make it a regular thing on my blog.

Last week I chose to make a soundtrack for The It Girl by Katy Birchall

This week I decided to do one for the Fairyland series by Catherynne M Valente. I’ve been reading the whole series this week (a bit of fairy tale binge) and thought it’d be interesting to match songs with series. These may be less about the plot and more about strange sounds at times – I just wanted to get that whimsical feel!

 

Creation – Emmy the Great

And then the child becomes the warrior
And you’re the worrier so worry over this
What’s the thing that has you reaching out to grip it like a phantom limb?




AEIOU – Charlotte Sometimes


Saw you the other day
You said my hair was brown and long
I said I wasn’t sure
Why I take the time to talk to you boy 




Sad, Sad World – Amy Studt


Flattery has me endeared to you
As any flesh and blood would
You say you’d be good to me
Well so you should
I’m not that girl anymore
She went away
Now I’m the one with the game
And I won’t be played

Rabbit Heart – Florence + The Machine


The looking glass, so shiny and new
How quickly the glamour fades
I start spinning, slipping out of time
Was that the wrong pill to take?

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane


When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head

Running Out of Time- Motion City Soundtrack


Drip drap
Peeling back the skin of summer
Autumns, everything aligns
Inside out and I’m without
My heart is always running out of time
Always running out of time

Dreams Like Oceans – Meg & Dia


I see the ones who got a taste of their dreams
I think I want it more than them
But wanting is what children do
And taking is for ruined me
You gotta earn your way

Take a Step – Milo Greene


Upon the throne
Is a garden’s leaf
Is this the sigh
Of sweet relief?
Don’t dim the lights
No early grey
I’m all too soon
Forget this place

 

Book Review: The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Catherynne M Valente)

Details:Publisher: Much-In-Little
Pages: 351
Release Date: 2014
 
Blurb (from Goodreads):

September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home, and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers.
Review:


This is the third installment in the Fairyland series by Catherynne M Valente (see here for reviews of books One and Two).
I have to say, this has been my least favourite of the series so far. The little bits that began to annoy me in book two were more present and irritating than ever and I found I wasn’t really enjoying reading it as I thought I should.

To get the bad points out the way, I felt like the book just stuck to a specific formula and it started to wear me down. September is in Fairyland again and is going to travel somewhere fantastical to save the world again. That’s all fine: that’s the kind of formula I can deal with and it is what I expect really. But it’s the way the story progresses that grates on me. Each time, September will meet some kind of fantastical creature or object or person, and they will explain something (often in great detail and I’m always a bit intimidated by a speech that’s over a page long…) and that will make a weird kind of sense and be important to the overall story somehow, even if it’s not always immediately obvious. It’s all whimsical and wonderful but it happens in the same way each time.

I just got a little tired of that, and I think it hindered my enjoyment of the book as a whole. Because there’s still so much to like about it. I adore September and would follow her to the end of Fairyland and back, and it was great to see her back with her best friends, Ell and Saturday. It was really interesting to see their perspective on September’s coming and going and comparing it with Saturday’s own unusual situation as a Marid (he ages oddly and will often meet his future of past selves, while September dips into their lives in a similar, back and forth between her world and Fairyland).

While I still love the ideas and characters in these books, I’m being lost by the formula and really hope this gets changed up a little in the next book, or I’m in danger of stopping halfway through the series (which is something I rarely do!) So overall, I love this series as a whole, but the predictability is wearing a bit thin right now.

My Verdict:

I enjoyed – give it a read

Book Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Catherynne M Valente)

Details:Publisher: Much-In-Little
Pages: 344
Release Date: 17th January 2013
 
Blurb (from Goodreads):

In the kingdom of Fairyland-Below, preparation are underway for the annual Revels… but above ground, the creatures of Fairyland are in no mood for a party.
It has been a long time since young September bid farewell to Fairyland, and she is excited to to see it again; but upon her return she is shocked to find that her friends have been losing their shadows, and therefore their magic, to the kingdom of Fairyland-Below… it spells certain disaster and September won’t stand for it. Determined to make amends, she travels down into the underworld where, among creatures of ice and moonlight, she encounters a face she recognizes all too well: Halloween, the Hollow Queen. Only then does September realize what she must do to save Fairyland from slipping into the mundane world forever.
Come and join in the Revels with September and her friends. But be warned: in Fairyland-Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem…

Review:


I’m on a bit of a Fairyland binge this week, so here’s my review of the second Fairyland book (and the first here if you missed it).

The second book is much like the first in its style and charm and that September is our wonderful protagonist once more. The book picks back up with her, returned to normal life and awaiting for the seasons to change so that Fairyland will come for her again.

But all is not well in Fairyland, and while September expects to go back and find her old friends and have a wonderful adventure, she has trials to face first, and they’re ones caused by the consequences of her own actions in her previous adventure.

Someone is stealing the shadows from Fairyland above and draining the magic away, and once again it is up to September to save Fairyland.

While I enjoyed this book a lot still, it wasn’t quite the five star read that the last book was for me. I loved the adventures and the character and creatures September met, and I thought the shadow land story line was brilliant and it was great to see the shadow versions of characters we know and love. The tension of what was happening in September’s home life also added a sense of real danger to proceedings.

But there were just some bits that went on a bit too long to me, and some of the explanations of things felt tedious. I think it’s the formula of the story, but I got a bit bored. September would meet someone and they;d explain something which, while often was charming and whimsical and strangely logical, it did go on a bit.

Still, I think this is a brilliant follow up to the first Fairyland book, and I know I’m looking forward to where September’s adventures take her next.

My Verdict:

Ahaha I love this book, you should totally read it!