Fiction Friday Round-Up – April 10th, 2015

Over the past week-and-a-bit, I’ve read a classic, two ARCs, and a second book in a series! Click the links for full reviews!

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll: “This is a book that speaks to the nonsensical part of me, the part that prefers to fantasize my way into a story rather than, you know, do actual work.”
  • Spelled (ARC) – Betsy Schow: “I love fractured/retellings of fairy tales so I was pretty stoked when my request for this was approved.”
  • The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag – Alan Bradley: “Flavia continues to be precocious and clever, and I sort of want to be her. Or I’d at least like to understand chemistry the way she does.”
  • The Rise and Fall of the Gallivanters (ARC) – M.J. Beaufrand: “I liked the fact that they were in a punk band. These are my people (well, these are the people I wish were my people), and I’ve always loved stories where one or more characters are in a band.”


Last week was Good Friday and I only posted one review (but it was SUCH a good book!):

  • The Wondrous and the Wicked – Page Morgan: “I don’t want to spoil anything about this book, but I’m just going to put this out there: it was one of the best endings to a trilogy I’ve read in a long time…”

Until next week, happy reading!

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

24213Weary of her storybook, one “without pictures or conversations,” the young and imaginative Alice follows a hasty hare underground–to come face-to-face with some of the strangest adventures and most fantastic characters in all of literature.
The Ugly Duchess, the Mad Hatter, the weeping Mock Turtle, the diabolical Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat–each more eccentric than the last–could only have come from that master of sublime nonsense, Lewis Carroll.
In penning this brilliant burlesque of children’s literature, Carroll has written a farcical satire of rigid Victorian society, an arresting parody of the fears, anxieties, and complexities of growing up.

There are, of course, many gorgeous editions of Alice in the world (I have the one illustrated by Oleg Lipchenko), but this is the edition I read. Plus this version has the original – classic – illustrations by John Tenniel.

I’ve read Alice once or twice when I was younger, though I was more familiar with the Disney movie (which, oddly enough, I can barely remember now), but it wasn’t until I had to re-read it in my last year of university (for a children’s lit course which I loved for the reading list, but not so much for the professor who stretched Pinocchio out for two weeks instead of the two days we were supposed to discuss it) that I realized how much I loved it.

This is a book that speaks to the nonsensical part of me, the part that prefers to fantasize my way into a story rather than, you know, do actual work.

I find it interesting how a lot of adaptations combine elements from both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. For example, did you know it’s really Humpty Dumpty in Looking Glass who tells Alice about “un-birthdays”? Humpty Dumpty was actually one of my favourite parts of Looking Glass because he’s quite amusing, if a little pompous. The one adaptation I’ve personally seen that remains quite faithful (despite taking some liberties with Alice’s age) is the ballet production.

My least favourite part of Looking Glass, however, is the chapter with the Knight. I can’t even remember if it was a White Knight or a Red Knight, but either way, it was pretty tedious and felt like it lasted longer than necessary.

Wonderland, on the other hand, didn’t really have a “low” moment for me. Maybe it’s because it’s the more familiar story, but it moved quickly and, of course, introduced a lot of the iconic characters: the Mad Hatter and March Hare (and the Dormouse); the Cheshire Cat (with one of my favourite lines: “We’re all mad here”); the Queen, King, and Knave of Hearts, etc.

cheshire cat

I don’t really know what else to say about this book. This is one of those classic pieces of children’s literature that I genuinely love, that I think everyone should read – whether or not you end up enjoying it – if only because it’s a celebration of the power of one’s imagination. It’s quite funny and (obviously) whimsical, but maybe it’s more relatable more if you were an imaginative child (and continue to be an imaginative adult).


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Fiction Friday Round-Up – February 27th, 2015

I’ve done something different this week!

Instead of smooshing together every book I’ve read over the past week and a half into one very long post, I’ve created this master list/round-up.

  • The Bane Chronicles – Cassandra Clare (with Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan): “Basically, it felt like I was reading fanfiction. Mediocre fanfiction that you find on some sketchy site because you miss the characters so much that you’re willing to read anything, as long as they’re doing something again.”
  • Going Rogue – Robin Benway: “…there may have been some plot holes and I was a smidge confused about the mystery at first, plus the characters haven’t changed much since my initial impression of them, but it was a very quick, fun read.”
  • The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “For one, I totally related to The Little Prince: grown-ups are strange.”
  • Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom – Susin Nielsen: “This has a bit of The Parent Trap-feel to it, but it wasn’t the old “get Mom and Dad back together” trope. The fact that Violet thinks GEORGE CLOONEY is the perfect option is hilarious and amazing and I totally believe she met him.”

Thanks for reading! Don’t know how many books I’ll get through this upcoming week, but maybe I’ll make this a regular thing? (Sidenote: apologies to anyone who receives email notifications when I post stuff…I didn’t mean to takeover your inboxes!).

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures.

I don’t know how I’ve managed to not read The Little Prince before. For one, I’ve been learning French since like grade one, plus it was half of my major, so you would think that at some point, one of my teachers/professors would hand me a copy. But no. I had to borrow this one from my brother after I saw the trailer and thought “That’s what I’ve been meaning to read!”

I may have chosen the French trailer. Je m’excuse. 

It’s a short read – some 70-80 pages – but I loved it.

For one, I totally related to The Little Prince: grown-ups are strange. I don’t care that I’m technically an “adult” (and have been for a while), I don’t feel “grown-up”, and I don’t ever want to lose my ability to think (and act) like a child.

On a related note: the ending (here there be spoilers).

The ending was sad. But it was also hopeful.

You know how sometimes people say they’ve left a part of their heart/soul somewhere else? I think that’s what The Little Prince did. When he left his planet – and his flower – he almost immediately regretted it, but carried on exploring because he didn’t want to get stuck doing the same thing every day (haven’t we all felt that way at some point?). He went on his adventure and when he had finally had enough, he wanted to go home, even if it meant leaving his new friends – the fox and the pilot – behind. Part of his soul was on his own asteroid, with his flower, but another part of his soul was left back on Earth, with the pilot and the tamed fox, which is why the narrator encourages us, the readers, to keep an eye out for the Prince’s return.

Or maybe I’m thinking Horcruxes.

On the one hand, it does seem like The Little Prince committed suicide (via snake bite). On the other hand, the snake had previously promised that his bite would take the Prince back to his home planet. The pilot says that no body is left behind so it’s a mystery as to what actually happened.

The ending is a perfect example of the message at the heart of The Little Prince:

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”