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review 2018-03-14 19:27
The Hazel Wood
The Hazel Wood - Melissa Albert

[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]

Kind of a darker retelling of “Alice in Wonderland”, down to the character’s name, but more hinged on fairy tales (the ones with not so happy endings, that is). Alice Crewe has spent her whole life going from one place to the other with her mother Ella, never meeting her famous grandmother, Althea, an author whose book is also impossible to find. When Althea dies, Ella and Alice startto believe they can finally have a normal life, but of course this isn’t meant to be, as things keep changing for the worst.

I liked this book, although I didn’t love it, possibly because I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I had mixed feelings about the time devoted to them, to be honest: on the one hand, I wanted the Hinterland part of the story to start much sooner, on the other hand, I felt that I also needed more time to get to know Alice and Finch better. Mostly they were all ‘on the surface’, and apart from Alice’s pent-up anger, I didn’t feel like there was much personality underneath. (I did like them, just in a sort of… indifferent way?)

The fairy tales / nonsensical parts of the book appealed to me more, in spite of similes that made me go ‘huh?’ more than a few times. I do have a soft spot for that kind of whimsical atmosphere, I guess. And what we see of the Hinterland tales Althea wrote made me think that I’d like to read *that* book, and know how its tales actually end.

The plot had its good sides and its downsides. I liked how its Hinterland part dealt with the power of stories, their straps, and the sort of twisted logic that one can find in them; however, I felt like it was a little lacklustre, and dealt with too fast (compared to the part devoted to the ‘real world’). There were a few loose threads, too—for instance, the red-haired man showing up at the café, then disappearing again. (Why did he go away at that specific moment? It was never really explained.)

All in all, it was an enjoyable novel, for one who likes this specific brand of atmosphere. It jusn’t wasn’t exceptional for me.

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review 2018-03-12 14:28
Dunbar / Edward St. Aubyn
Dunbar - Edward St. Aubyn

‘I really did have an empire, you know,’ said Dunbar. ‘Have I ever told you the story of how it was stolen from me?

Henry Dunbar, the once all-powerful head of a global corporation, is not having a good day. In his dotage he handed over care of the family firm to his two eldest daughters, Abby and Megan. But relations quickly soured, leaving him doubting the wisdom of past decisions...

Now imprisoned in a care home in the Lake District with only a demented alcoholic comedian as company, Dunbar starts planning his escape. As he flees into the hills, his family is hot on his heels. But who will find him first, his beloved youngest daughter, Florence, or the tigresses Abby and Megan, so keen to divest him of his estate?


This is the Hogath Shakespeare’s version of King Lear, a play that I have seen performed at least twice in the last couple of years. It’s a powerful story and I would imagine that it would be a daunting piece to take on in a retelling such as this one, but Edward St. Aubyn was certainly up to the task!

I picked it up Sunday morning, meaning to just get a start on it. After all, I already knew the inevitable ending—everybody dies, right? But St. Aubyn’s creation grabbed me and would not let go! He made it fresh with Henry Dunbar, the media mogul, whose hubris has brought him low. I read the entire thing before lunch!

I was impressed by both performances of Lear that I’ve seen, but they both played up Lear as suffering from dementia, as that’s one of the concerns of modern society. But St. Aubyn returned to Shakespeare’s original intention, I think, that Dunbar is brought low by his desire to have privilege without responsibility. Like Lear in the play, Dunbar regains his wits just long enough to realize all that he has lost, a truly tragic ending.

I really loved the drunken comedian, Peter Walker, in his role as the fool. That was an inspired bit of casting on the author’s part.

How have I not read any of St. Aubyn’s work before? That mistake must be corrected!

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text 2018-03-04 14:04
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Beastly - Alex Flinn

I actually enjoyed that. Very cute and it calls back some elements from the fairy take story as well as the Disney cartoon. I did like Kyle just didn't automatically stop being a jerk and unkind. 

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text 2018-03-04 12:48
Reading progress update: I've read 54%.
Beastly - Alex Flinn

Enter Lindy (or Belle). Flinn kept her as a big reader though her father is awful.


The segues into the Chris Anderson chat rooms are pretty funny. So far The Little Mermaid, The Frog Prince and a few others are running around. 

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text 2018-03-04 12:31
Reading progress update: I've read 37%.
Beastly - Alex Flinn

References to Myspace age this book.


Kyle is still awful, though now he has a live in tutor (Will) and help (Magda). 


Flinn does a good job incorporating the fairy tale aspects though. Kyle has a magic mirror and his rose petals. 

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