Book Review: Heartless (Marissa Meyer)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Pages: 464

Release Date: February 9th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Review:

I’ve mentioned this a few times on my blog before, but I’m a big Alice in Wonderland fan. I’ll read anything remotely to do with it, so when I saw this on NetGalley, I couldn’t pass it up. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Heartless tells the story of Cath, the future Queen of Hearts, although it’s hard to see that at the start. I liked Cath, and that kept me reading as I wondered what the hell could have happened to her to turn her into the Queen of Hearts that we all know. She leads the book perfectly: she’s not interested in marrying the King for power, as her mother is.  No, she wants to open a bakery with Mary Ann, her servant and close friend. This is another thing that I’d never thought of before but makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t she want to bake, it’s in the rhyme, right? The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, all on a summer’s day. There loads of these kind of things woven into the book and it shows that Meyer really did her research and it just makes the book.

Cath didn’t want to marry the King, and I can see why, but I have a weird soft spot for him. He’s just so childlike and silly, it made him great to read. No, I wouldn’t want to marry him if I was in her shoes, but to read he was fab. Instead, Cath falls for the Jest, the new Joker; he’s funny and charming and has a mysterious past, all the things you want in a love interest. He shows Cath things in Wonderland she doesn’t get to see as the daughter of a Marquess, including – of course – a tea party with Hatta (who’s not yet mad).

Wonderland is brought to life beautifully, with a lot of characters that you know and love from the original story. My favourite was the turtle: I guessed early on that he’d end up as a mock turtle somehow, but I’ve always wondered how that happened. I also loved the story with Peter Peter. I came across that rhyme in a book with Little Moore recently but somehow didn’t twig he was going to be the Peter from the rhyme. I loved that the little girls who live in the treacle well played an interesting part in the book: it’s another tiny part of Wonderland that Meyer has fleshed out and made her own.

I seriously enjoyed this book and I know I’ll be recommending it to everyone., Wonderland fan or not. There’s enough of the original in here for fans to enjoy but what really makes the book is her own inventions and twists that bring Wonderland to life.

4

Book Review: The Castle of Inside Out (David Henry Wilson)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Alma Books

Pages: 150

Release Date: July 21st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lorina, a young schoolgirl, is led by a black rabbit through a wood to a magical land. There she finds a race of green people, who are all overworked, starving and suffering from the toxic fumes billowing out of a nearby castle. She decides to gain access to the castle for the poor green people, and within its walls she meets the “insiders”, selfish creatures who hoard all the resources and treat the outsiders as slaves. Her quest leads her to encounter the bureaurat, the superviper, the farmadillo and, eventually, the awful Piggident himself.Will she be able to save the green people from the cruelty of these “insiders”?

Review:

When I saw this described as Alice in Wonderland meets Animal Farm I knew I had to read it. Regular readers will know I’m pretty Alice obsessed, and though I haven’t read Animal Farm in ages, I do remember enjoying it (this has made me want to read it again soon). I felt like Lorina’s name, and her sister Edith, were a little nod to the original Alice, whose sisters had the same name. Perhaps Lorina in the story is related to the Alice of the Wonderland story…

The book was everything I hoped for and I adored it. The beginning threw me a little at first as it leaps straight into the story without much introduction, but I soon got into it, and as this is explained at the end as well, I think I’ll like it better next time round (I know this is a book I’ll be re-reading!)

Lorina starts a quest to get food for the starving green people who live outside the castle, and to stop the toxic fumes that are killing them. But inside the castle she meets nothing but obstacles, as an array of creatures reason with her as to why they can’t help the green people.

The word play and puns reminded me of all the best bits of Alice in Wonderland – very clever and funny. This helped to keep the story light enough for children while tackling some dark themes: environmentalism, equality and humanity. The corrupt nature of the insiders perfectly captures and parodies government attitudes and actions in a simple way that children can understand, even if they don’t quite get the comparison. It means the book is fun for adults as well!

A highlight of this book was Chris Riddell’s illustrations, which really bring to life the strange creatures that Lorina meets. I loved the secretary bird the most, but they were all beautifully complex and detailed illustrations.

While a children’s book, this is definitely one that can be enjoyed by adults too, and I look forward to reading this one to the Little Moore when he’s a bit older.

Copy of an art exhibit

Book Review: The Complete Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, Leah Moore, John Reppion)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Diamond Book Distributors

Pages: 184

Release Date: April 19th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Join Alice on her whimsical journey down the rabbit hole! For the first time ever, Lewis Carroll’s beloved masterpiece is faithfully adapted and illustrated in its entirety, including the long-lost chapter, “The Wasp in a Wig!” From her initial meeting with the White Rabbit in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” to her final dinner party with the entire (and outrageous) “Through the Looking Glass” cast, every moment of Alice’s adventures in that astonishing landscape is captured in gorgeous detail. With old favorites like the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter joined now by a long-forgotten Carroll creation, The Wasp, in one of the book’s latter chapters, children and adults alike can rediscover the complete “Alice” tale and fall in love with Wonderland all over again!

Review:

I am a huge Alice in Wonderland nerd – I love the original story, I have a beautiful copy of the complete works of Lewis Carroll, and I love any kind of adaptation too. So obviously I jumped at the chance to review a graphic novel version.

While I enjoyed reading this, I wasn’t wowed by it. It adapts both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. The art style felt kind of old fashioned, in a good way: it reminded me of drawings in the Alice books I read as a child. I liked that in this medium the poetry and rhymes Alice recites were brought to life. I felt they missed a trick with the Mouse’s tale, which could have been drawn/written more creatively, as it is in the original story.

I’ve read Alice in Wonderland a lot and am very familiar with the story, and felt I enjoyed this part of the graphic novel more. I’ve only read Through the Looking Glass a couple of times, and not recently, and I struggled through the latter part of the book. Sometimes it was hard to follow the action and I wasn’t quite sure what was going on.

While I enjoyed reading this, I didn’t feel it added anything to the story: it’s a very straightforward adaptation, with all of the dialogue appearing exactly as it does in the books. Don’t go in expecting something new: if you’re looking for a faithful graphic novel adaptation of the original story then this is for you.

3

Top Five… Alice in Wonderland Quotes

One of my favourite ever stories turns 150 years old this year, and to celebrate, I am sharing my Top Five favourite quotes from the book (any excuse to give it another read!) alongside some pictures from one of my (many) copies of the book.

5.


It was all very well to say “Drink me,” but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. “No, I’ll look first,” she said, “and see whether it’s marked ‘poison‘ or not.”

– Alice 

4.

(The quote is also the picture. This is one of my favourite poems.)

3.

“I can’t explain myself, I am afraid, sir, because I’m not myself, you see.”

– Alice 

2.

“No wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise” […] “why, if a fish came to me, and told me he was going on a journey, I should say, ‘With what porpoise?'”

– The Mock Turtle  




1.

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” 

– King of Hearts
I hope people are still reading this book in another 150 years.


Top Five… Books I've Received as Gifts

My birthday is coming up this week (hooray for getting another bit older) and it’s got me thinking about books I’ve received before as gifts, so here they are for my Top Five this week.

5.

Simon Cheshire
I got this book just last week as an early birthday present from my partner. I’d had a really awful day and he gave it to me as a cheering up present. It certainly made me happier (and also creeped out as well).
4.

The 100: Homecoming (Kass Morgan)
Only Ever Yours (Louise O’Neill)

Sneaking two in here. I wanted to read both of these books but was being good and not letting myself buy anything. My partner (him again!) bought them without telling and sneakily put them in my TBR pile and didn’t tell me (I didn’t notice til a day later) Surprise books!

3.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
J. K. Rowling
I got this on the day it came out from my step-grandmother. I think it was a New Year’s present, which is probably a bit weird because that’s her birthday and I got the present…But I glued it to my hand and finished it that day and enjoyed every second of it. And it’s obviously had lots of re-reads.
2.

The Hobbit
J. R. R. Tolkien
I did a post about this near the beginning of the year, when I first started blogging. What made it special was the thought put behind it and the lovely message from my partner inside, and the fact that I’d never owned my own copy before.
And the winner is…


1.



The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll

I found my beautiful copy lurking on one of the lower shelves in the mess that is my bedroom. The picture doesn’t even do it justice; it’s a seriously beautiful book. I love Alice and it’s a pleasure to dip into Wonderland in this gorgeous book.
I wish you all wonderful book gifts for the rest of your lives!

Top Five… Book Covers

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ but we’ve all definitely done it at some point (I’m sure that phrase is really for people and not for books). So here I list my Top 5 favourite book covers.
5.
I know this is a relatively simple one, but something about this book cover really grabbed me when I saw it on the table in Waterstones. I like the bright colours and the way the trees crowd the writing and how it feels in my hands.
4.
This is a classic one for me, and I’m referring to the whole series of books rather than just this one in particular (although it is one of my favourites). I know they could probably do it loads better with digital technology these days but I love the way the morphing looks and the idea of turning into animals always appealed to me massively.
3.

 

This is another that is pretty simple and that’s what made me want it. This popped up when I was buying a different book on Amazon and I knew from the cover that I wanted to read it (and I was right, it’s such a beautiful story).
2.

 

I’ve mentioned this book quite a lot lately and knew it would make it in my Top 5 somewhere. This is the first in an amazing trilogy and I think it just captures the story beautifully. I love things to do with the sea, and the Merlee on the front and the waves of blue hair were an instant winner for me.
And the winner is….

 

 

1.
I am a sucker for anything Alice in Wonderland related, and this trilogy is no exception. Although I like the other two covers, this, from the second book, is by far my favourite. It captures the menace of Redd and the Cat quite perfectly and I want to read it all over again just looking at it!
Anyone else have any books that they picked just for the covers alone? I’d love to hear/see your recommendations!