Book Review: Alice by Christina Henry

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog. Today’s post is going to be another book review, this time featuring the book Alice by Christina Henry. I stumbled across this book on Goodreads somewhere in the beginning of the year (I believe on the Goodreads Best Books of 2015 list?) and I knew I had to read this. I am a huge lover of the Alice in Wonderland story and universe, and I’ll read or watch any book or movie that has to do with these characters. I really loved this book, so check out my reasons why below!

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Alice by Christina Henry is the first book in a series about an incredibly dark take on the Alice in Wonderland Universe. Before I say anything more, let me make this clear that this book is probably not best for children or those who don’t like horror based on real life trauma. I was pretty shocked by just how dark the story got pretty much from the beginning, but you either learn to deal with the horrors you’re about to read or you should probably just put down this book. The story deals with rape and sexual abuse/assault which can be pretty hard to read if you’re not prepared or expecting it.

The story starts off with our main character, Alice, escaping during a fire from a mental hospital with Hatcher, a man whom she befriended through a mouse hole connecting their rooms. Alice has little to no memory of what happened years ago when she and her friend ventured into the bad part of the city, the only memory she has is a man with rabbit ears at a tea party. Our main characters quest is quickly established; during the fire that destroyed their hospital an ancient evil called the Jabberwock, and only Alice and Hatcher can stop him.

The story makes excellent use of the Alice in Wonderland universe, many of the recognizable characters are portrayed throughout this book, such as Caterpillar, the Walrus, and the Carpenter. My favorite use of the Wonderland characters is probably how Cheshire is written, a crime boss who is incredibly sinister under an amusing surface.

What I think I appreciated the most about this book is it’s portrayal of this world. As many of us know from the news, our real life world is where many bad things happen and people can commit unspeakable horrors against others. This book doesn’t take horror a la jump scares or one single evil presence in a world of good people; instead the horrors in this book are real life horrors, like rape, kidnapping, and the true villains in this book are the everyday citizens of the Old City committing atrocities on one another. While the Jabberwock is our main bad guy, he’s almost barely in the book, who instead chooses to focus on the crime lords controlling this city taking whatever they desire, whether it be goods or even people. The book didn’t venture away from the terror that can happen when bad people are in control and I really appreciated that. In a novel based off a children’s fairy tale, real life was really the true evil.

Overall I chose to give this book 4 stars out of 5. I enjoyed every second of this book, however sometimes I did have to put the book down and take a mental break from it. The only issue I had with the story is that I wasn’t too particularly invested in Hatcher’s character; I appreciated his role in the story but I didn’t really care about his character’s past or fate. The second installment in this series is coming out in July 2016 (I believe) and will be called Red Queen, and I will most definitely be picking it up when it comes out.

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I’m participating in the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge (I’m going for 50 books read in 2016!), so if you’d like to follow along with my progress or just see what I’m reading you can check that out here. I’m also attempting the Popsugar 2016 Reading Challenge, which can be found here. Let me know in the comments any books you’d recommend and what you’re currently reading. See you all next time!

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Book Review: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Hello and welcome back to my blog, today’s post is going to be a book review on the latest book I’ve finished, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman. I discovered this book thanks to the Goodreads Best of 2015 Book List, and after reading its description I thought I might be interested in it. Boy was that an understatement! Check out my more detailed thoughts on this book below!

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Elsa, a spunky seven year old, begins our story arguing with her grandmother who has gotten into trouble with her after sneaking out of the hospital once again. Elsa’s grandmother is sick, although she reassures Elsa she’ll be home soon. Spoiler alert, if you couldn’t make an educated guess from the title of the book, Elsa’s grandmother isn’t coming home. Dealing with the lose of her only friend and confidant, Elsa discovers that her grandmother, a lover of fairy tales and stories, has left her with an adventure of a lifetime, a quest for forgiveness. As Elsa continues on her scavenger hunt, both Elsa and us as the readers learn that her grandmother’s imaginary world is most definitely real, and lives on through Elsa’s family and friends.

The characters in this story are so well rounded and thought out. We start with just an arbitrary glimpse of them and as the story progresses we delve into their personalities, history, and their humanity. The character I related to the most was Elsa’s mother, a woman struggling with having her own, independent career whilst still being a present mother to her child. As a young woman beginning to come into this question of career or family, I could definitely sympathize with her story. Maybe it’s also just be getting older, but who knows anymore.

This book hit me hard, I’m not going to lie. Elsa’s only friend is her Grandmother, and she’s also easily the closest family member she has. Growing up, I’ve always been a grandma’s girl, having lived and basically cared for by my grandmother on my Mom’s side and spending almost every weekend at my Grandma’s house on my dad’s side. My grandma on my dad’s side died my senior year in high school after a long battle with cancer, and just that part of my own history along made this story all the more real to me. By the end of the book I was bawling, because I felt like when Elsa’s grandmother was speaking to her, it was really my grandmother speaking to me. Cheesy, I know, but it was an already rough night when I finished this book and I took the story to heart.

Overall, I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars, a first for me this year! Between the amazing writing, the well rounded and realistic characters, and the personal connections I felt with the story, I couldn’t give this book anything else. I will most likely be reading this book when I’m emotionally ready to pick it up again and I’m honestly glad to make a place for this story on my bookshelf.

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I’m participating in the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge (I’m going for 50 books read in 2016!), so if you’d like to follow along with my progress or just see what I’m reading you can check that out here. I’m also attempting the Popsugar 2016 Reading Challenge, which can be found here. Let me know in the comments any books you’d recommend and what you’re currently reading. See you all next time!

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Book Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Hey everyone and welcome back to my blog! Today’s post is another book review, this time the collection of essays and stories called Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Poehler writes in the introduction not to expect a typical novel structure out of this book, instead opting to combine various comedic essays about her life and things she’s learned and tied loosely together to create pseudo-chapters. Check out my thoughts on this book below!

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20910157-1As I mentioned before, Yes Please is less of a story or a memoir and more a collection of stories and comedic essays, and I must admit it’s pretty damn funny. But then, of course, what made by Amy Poehler isn’t funny?! One thing I noticed outright about the book is that Poehler doesn’t go too in depth into her current personal life or recent struggles. She claims that writing about her divorce from Will Arnett makes her too sad, so she decides to skim over it, referencing it on occasion. She writes a lot about things she’s discovering at her age of 42, which is hard to relate to at my age of 22. Essays about motherhood, giving birth, and just some of the mentions she has to middle aged women stuff is just something I cannot relate to. While I loved her essays on how she got into improve comedy and began her career, I skimmed over essays about divorce book titles. I just wished she delved more into her younger years and giving more life advice to younger women, which primarily seem to be her target audience.

I give this book 3 stars out of 5 because I really did enjoy the read for its humor and occasional bit of life advice. Poehler preaches about working hard in your industry to earn your recognition and not allowing yourself, as a young woman, to be invisible in your industry. It lost some stars for me because of the choppy nature of the book structure, as well as the bits of the book that I just could not relate to due to my age and lack of life experience.

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I’m participating in the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge (I’m going for 50 books read in 2016!), so if you’d like to follow along with my progress or just see what I’m reading you can check that out here. I’m also attempting the Popsugar 2016 Reading Challenge, which can be found here. Let me know in the comments any books you’d recommend and what you’re currently reading. See you all next time!

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Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Hey everyone and welcome back to my blog, today’s post is going to be another book review, this time the book Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I discovered this book looking at the Goodreads Choice 2015 Winners in the beginning of the year, and as a guilty pleasure lover of YA Lit, I knew I had to read this. While I enjoyed this book, check out some of my deep thoughts on the book below!

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The premise of this book is that this dystopian world is split into two factions: the Reds and the Silvers. The Silvers are the rulers of the world and have special abilities (i.e superpowers) which make them more powerful. The Silvers also bleed silver blood, thus separating them from the Reds. The Reds are the common people, and this is where our protagonist, Mare Barrow, comes from. By chance she ends up serving the Silvers as young woman fight to prove themselves worthy to be queen, in some sort of weird tradition for the prince to find his bride. Mare ends up discovering she has one of these abilities and thus must be hidden within the Silver world, masquerading as a lost Silver princess. Not only does the book develop Mare’s powers, but she also must struggle to deal with a rising rebellion by a group of Reds which threaten the Silver regime.

Honestly, I found the plot of the novel to be unoriginal at best. The amount of times I found myself thinking that parts of the story resembled the Hunger Games were too high for me to truly enjoy the storyline. It felt like I had already read this book in any previous YA dystopian series. I wasn’t really surprised by any of the twists or surprises, and it just didn’t speak to me.

The characterization was meh, I particularly didn’t like how vague Mare was described throughout the story. Even after ready all three hundred and something pages, the only description I can thing of Mare’s appearance or personality is that she’s rebellious and has brown hair.

The book wasn’t bad per say, I enjoyed it for the mindless entertaining read but it definitely wasn’t something new to me or inspired me to pick up the other books in the series. I actually returned the book to Target after finishing it at work today because I knew it wasn’t going to be one that I really wanted to reread, plus I used the money to pick up another book. I give Red Queen 2 stars out of 5, because while I did have problems with it, I did at least enjoy the book enough to finish it. I’m not sorry I picked it up, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for something more than an entertaining read that you can’t take too seriously.

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I’m participating in the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge (I’m going for 50 books read in 2016!), so if you’d like to follow along with my progress or just see what I’m reading you can check that out here. I’m also attempting the Popsugar 2016 Reading Challenge, which can be found here. Let me know in the comments any books you’d recommend and what you’re currently reading. See you all next time!

Book Review: Metro 2033

Hey everyone and welcome back to my blog, today’s post is going to be a book review on a book I just finished reading earlier this week, Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky. I’ve been pretty sick this week with a raging cold, so lyaing in bed reading is pretty much the only thing I’ve been able to do, so I thought I’d give you some thoughts on a book I really enjoyed!

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Metro 2033 is a Russian science fiction novel that was later turned into a video game, and it was heavily recommended to me by my boyfriend and given to me by him for Christmas. The story takes place in the year 2033 after the world has been destroyed by a nuclear war. Some of the Russian people were able to survive the fallout of the nuclear blasts by hiding in the subway system, which has now become the home of whats left of humanity. It centers around young Artyom (our protagonist), who must travel throughout the subway system on an epic quest to right what he had wronged many years previously. I loved how Glukhovsky went into incredible detail about how life worked at every metro station and how the history of these people progress over time. I must admit that I am not the most knowledgeable about Russian history or culture, but I definitely enjoyed learning about it  in a real, tangible way throughout this story. One thing that did detract a bit for me was the focus, at times, on philosophy. I’m not the biggest fan of philosophical texts, so I did have trouble at times really wrapping my head around parts of the story, but overall I found that I was really able to grasp the main concepts of the novel.

I’d give this book 4 stars out of 5, detracting one star for the heavy focus on philosophy and the trouble I had at time understanding the Russian history being spoken about. I’d highly recommend this book to sci-fi lovers or anyone interested in Russian Culture.

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I’m participating in the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge (I’m going for 50 books read in 2016!), so if you’d like to follow along with my progress or just see what I’m reading you can check that out here. I’m also attempting the Popsugar 2016 Reading Challenge, which can be found here. Let me know in the comments any books you’d recommend and what you’re currently reading. See you all next time!

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