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review 2018-09-19 20:50
Ten - audiobook
Ten - Gretchen McNeil

 

Minnie's face was deathly pale.

- First sentence

 

This is a YA novel "inspired by Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None" (according to the Amazon page). 

 

Ten teenagers are at a house party on an island full of summer homes in the middle of February. There is a huge storm which of course knocks out power and phone lines. As her friends start dying, Meg tries to figure out the clues left behind, all while protecting her best friend from falling apart, and hiding her secret crush.

 

The characters are mostly underdeveloped (some of them die rather quickly after we meet them) and basically unlikeable.  But the book is fast-paced and kept me guessing until the very end. I had my suspicions, but they were wrong, which is always fun.

 

I borrowed the audio from Hoopla and read this book for the Country House Mystery square (a closed circle murder set during a gathering like a house party):

 

 

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text 2018-09-19 18:57
Reading progress update: I've read 34%.
Hunted - Meagan Spooner

Pretty cool retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Some differences too though. Yeva (our Beauty) has two sisters and a father. Yeva's father loses all of their money and she and her two sisters are forced to move to the outskirts of the town. Eventually Yeva goes looking for her father due to him going missing. She is captured by the Beast. Not much to say about him right now. We are getting his perspective before the chapters go into the third person with Yeva. Right now he is demanding that Yeva tell her about her father. 

 

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text 2018-09-18 21:21
Reading progress update: I've read 6%.
Hunted - Meagan Spooner

I am already at 6 percent and I just opened this book. Ebook percentages are weird. 


Nice ominous start though:

 

"We always know before the change comes. When a storm approaches, we feel it in the thickness of the air, the tension in the earth awaiting the blanket of snow. We feel the moment the wind changes direction. We sense a shift of power when it is coming. Tonight there is hunger in the air. The forest waits for something. We pace, our steps stirring the early snows. Our frustration vents in growls and grunts. Each of us could read the change to come, neither hindered by the other. We could track it, or we could run with it. But we are trapped, and we can do neither. We always know before the change comes—but we never know what the change will bring."

 

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review 2018-09-18 16:59
When Elephants Fly
When Elephants Fly - Nancy Richardson Fischer
Tiger Lilly Decker is hoping to make it through the next twelve years.  Her genetics have predicted her future and it doesn't look good.  Lilly's mom had schizophrenia and attempted to kill Lilly and herself by jumping off the top of a building when Lilly was seven years old.  Now, as a senior in high school, the danger zone for the onset of schizophrenia is approaching.  Lilly follows a strict regiment to ensure that she will not trigger any of the symptoms including reducing stress, getting plenty of sleep and avoiding certain foods.  Lilly's handsome, rich, popular and not yet out of the closet, best friend, Sawyer supports her through.  With Lilly's internship at the local paper, she has been reporting on the birth of an Asian Elephant Calf, Swifty.  After the calf is born however, the mom rejects Swifty and Lilly is triggered to run in front of the charging elephant mother to protect Swifty.  With a strong bond to the calf, Lilly is invited to follow Swifty as she is sent to the circus to be with the father that sired her.  Lilly continues to report on Swifty and the circus conditions and digs until she uncovers the cruelty that happens there.  With Swifty slowly dying, Lilly decides to break all of her rules and the law to get Swifty to safety.
 
When Elephants Fly is a powerful story of one person's journey with schizophrenia. If that weren't enough, the story also focuses on animal rights and sexuality.  Lilly's story is an important one, putting into focus that people with a mental illness are people first and should not be characterized by their illness.  Lilly is careful, guarded, and has an amazing heart.  Her fear of inheriting schizophrenia is understandable, but rules her life.  Lilly's journey to accept that she can not change her genetics is very meaningful especially when it is tied into the story of saving the life of Swifty.  With Swifty's story Lilly learns that there are bigger things in life than herself.  Swifty brings to light the plight that all elephants are facing now in the wild and the role of zoos in animal conservation along with the difficult decisions that people make on the elephant's behalf.  Along with that, Lilly learns that some people aren't what they seem as she uncovers that hidden animal abuse at the zoo.  The writing does a wonderful job of showing the complex emotions that elephants have as well as the complicated nature of a mental illness. As Swifty's life is endangered, Lilly's symptoms also begin to show, although it doesn't seem like anything that Lilly can't deal with.  Inspiring and hopeful, When Elephants Fly beautifully takes difficult subjects and weaves them into an intricate and enjoyable story. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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review 2018-09-18 11:33
‘Dark Descent’ gives Elizabeth Frankenstein a voice, in a retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic, now 200 years old
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein - Kiersten White

It has been two hundred years since an eighteen-year old Mary Shelley gave life to one of the most haunting novels of all time and the first true work of science fiction, so Kiersten White’s retelling of ‘Frankenstein’ couldn’t come at a more perfect time. To think that the original book was written when a young girl accepted the challenge of writing a ‘ghost story’, and she originally didn’t lay claim to her own work.

 

Kiersten White has chosen to write ‘Dark Descent’ as a retelling from Elizabeth Lavenza’s perspective, a feminist retelling if there possibly can be one, set in a time when women were taught to be objects to be acquired.
In Shelley’s story, Elizabeth Lavenza (later to become Frankenstein) is a ‘gift’ given to Victor Frankenstein, a socially awkward child, and she is taken in by the affluent Frankenstein family in Geneva, saving her from her own mother and a life of destitution. Young Elizabeth tries desperately to win the favors of the volatile Victor, and to secure her place in the Frankenstein household, and soon brings in another young girl, Justine, much like herself, saving her from a life similar to her own. Justine Moritz is brought into the home as a governess to the other Frankenstein children, a calling that she is a natural at, and she and Elizabeth become fast friends. Much of this background is given to the reader by way of flashback interludes, as are the times that Elizabeth and Victor spent together back in Geneva before he leaves.

 

‘Dark Descent’ traces Elizabeth’s and Justine’s footsteps as they travel to Ingolstadt to find Victor - and his friend, Henry - which is where he went to continue ‘his studies’, but recently haven’t heard from. Following clues that are found in his letters home, they don’t have much to go on, but Elizabeth fears Victor’s obsessions and fevers have overcome him, and only she knows how to help him.
She also comes to the realization of what his experiments really signify, and wants to protect them from being discovered.

 

Without going further (maybe there are some people out there who don’t know the Frankenstein tale), what I will say is that this is a captivating, dark, and tragic story; times were bleak for many, and even more dismal for women, and this is made painfully clear in this retelling. White has made sure to paint a vivid picture of the ugly prospects that women had in the times of Elizabeth Frankenstein: the choices she mulls over in her head constantly are framed by how society judged women’s place in society and expected them to behave. None of that was science-fiction, and it provides a fascinating historical perspective, and leading questions into feminism. It’s not by coincidence that Shelley herself was the daughter of radical social philosophers, with her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, being a writer of one of the most important founding works on family structure and women’s education in the eighteenth-century.

 

*It’s worth noting too, that the backstory and tumultuous early life of Elizabeth mirrors that of Mary Shelley (brought up by foster parents, suffered a lot of losses in her life). I find this fascinating, and feel that this permeates the writing of the original novel, and White tries to reflect this shadowing of tumultuousness, particularly in the flashbacks.

Initially I found the book slow to get into, but I later likened it to the slow discoveries that Elizabeth was making, and how the travel at the time must have felt, and I realized that this is the type of novel that I didn’t need to rush through after all. That said, at about half way, the pace picked up considerably and I didn’t want to put it down. Once the ‘monster’ comes into the story, everything seems to happen almost too quickly, and I had a lot of overwhelming emotions in the second half of the book that made it a weightier read as it went on, descending further into grief and desperation. The title is incredibly apt in that respect. I also especially love that the tone and prose feel in keeping with the period; Kiersten did an excellent job with this.

 

Few works of fiction can garner the status of crossing so many genres (horror, romance, sci-fi, literary fiction), have affected pop culture and so many types of media, for so many generations, and with one mention of the title, conjure up so vivid images and visceral reactions to its central story. Kiersten White has captured those images and the emotions effectively inside her version, without the cartoonish depiction of the modern monster, returning him to Shelley’s imagining. Upon reading, there is a sense that Elizabeth and the monster have much in common, and the misunderstanding from the world around them is palpable. There is a distinct uneasiness at the end though, and much like the end of the ‘Frankenstein’, and even ‘Dracula’, you’re left with the feeling that things are unfinished, and that the myth will continue. It’s a feeling I relish. If you have a taste for dark, gothic, or classic fiction, give this one a read; it’s also a fabulous pick especially for lovers of classic horror and science-fiction. Thank you, Mary Shelley!

 

*Kudos as always to Regina Flath for her brilliant design of the cover. Stunning.

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/2305950033
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