Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Book Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. 

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them. (From Goodreads.com)

I was drawn to this book by the romance of the publisher’s synopsis and the contrast between the harsh, brutal reality of life on a 1920’s Alaskan homestead and a fairytale child. With its roots in Russian folklore, the story of The Snow Child doesn't disappoint and is both magical and heartbreaking. It has the feel of a real old fashioned myth and is breathtakingly beautiful to read.

The characters of Mabel and Jack are painfully realistic and well developed. From the very beginning you can sense their acute pain and longing. Little moments and glances between the couple drive home the despair they feel at their crumbling marriage and my heart went out to them. Mabel’s isolation in particular was depicted so perfectly I could feel it myself. Considering we meet the couple in middle age, I think the author’s ability to establish such a strong bond and history between the pair was nothing short of remarkable. Despite their difficulties, the tenderness and love they share is beautiful in a very subtle and believable way.

The setting too was also nothing short of breathtaking. Eowyn Ivey manages to get across the beauty and ferocity of the Alaskan wilderness and life for those trying to not only survive but also earn a living and raise a family in their unwelcoming surroundings. The contrast between the fairytalesque Faina and the brutal honesty of this harsh existence is simply stunning. I’m going to say as little as possible about the enigmatic Faina, who is central to this story, for fear of spoiling the book for anyone else. I will say that I loved her and she stole my heart completely.

The Snow Child quite simply blew me away. The writing is beautiful, evocative and atmospheric; it’s difficult to believe that this is Ivey’s debut and is certainly a huge accomplishment. Both heartrendingly sad and eerily, subtly magical, this is an enthralling read from start to finish. This book is perfect for being swept into another world, curled up in front of a blazing fire and allowing hours to pass you by as you find yourself lost in the pages. I loved everything about this book and recommend it highly. 

Published by Headline February 2012...go pre-order it/add it to your wishlist NOW!

My copy was received from the Amazon Vine program

Monday, 9 January 2012

When books get turned into films!!

After a (not so recent) conversation about the difference between my all time favoiurite book and the film adaptation, it got me thinking about other books that have been made into films.

The book/ film that started this whole thing is The Picture of Dorian Gray. As a book, it is my all time favourite and I don't think that is something that will ever change. What I love so much about this book is that it makes you think. A really good imagination is needed to be able to picture everything that happens and the changes that occur. The film version ruins this. Completely. Where the book makes things dark and mysterious, the film lays things out clear as day. There is no guessing or imagination needed and for me, this is what the book was all about.

Other book to film adaptations that bug me are the third and fourth films in The Twilight Saga – Eclipse and Breaking Dawn Part 1. This is more about what was included in both films and what wasn't. A large chunk of Eclipse didn't actually come from that book. A lot of it was taken from The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Now, I get that it was needed to show the situation but what if that book had never been written? With Breaking Dawn, the parts surrounding Jacob, Leah and Seth were severely lacking. I thought that these part added a lot to the book and to not see them be used in the film was disappointing.

With quite a lot of YA books being optioned for/ made into films now, I wonder how well they're going to be done. Personally, I cannot wait for The Hunger Games and The Mortal Instruments but as books that I love, I really hope that the films are amazing. I would especially hate for The Hunger Games to be less brutal in the film than in the book.

With this in mind, we have decided to do something a little different on the blog. I (Lyndsey) am going to be posting some film reviews now, as well as book reviews, for films that were books first. I obviously will also be trying to read the books as well if I have the chance!!

Are there any book to film adaptations that get you really riled up? Are there any that you think were done perfectly? Let us know!! 

Book Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Forgive My Fins is the first book in the Fins series by Tera Lynn Childs. The book was published by Templar on 1st July 2011 and the book is 295 pages long.

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbour Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

What I thought
Having previously read Tempest Rising, I decided mermaids were definitely my thing. I'd had this book sitting around for months without having read it and the book just mentioned is the one that made me decide

The main character, Lily, was one that I loved completely. Being a teenager, she has insecurities and worries like everyone else – mainly asking out Brody, the guy she's been drooling over for ages. She stumbles her words and gets extremely nervous around him and I can remember being exactly like that when I was in school. Even with the help of her best friend, Lily is no closer to getting the boy that she so desperately wants. As well as having normal teenage worries though, Lily has bigger things to think about. She's actually half human, half mermaid and this causes her no end of problems.

Due to her mermaid heritage, Lily comes out with all sorts of wonderful sayings. She uses analogies from the sea and relating to fish and any other water creature you can imagine. Hearing her say these kinds of things really made me giggle throughout the book. The way she speaks and the way she mixes in her mermaid life with her human one was one of the things I loved most about Lily. Being half mermaid comes with some pretty big issues though. When a mermaid kisses someone else, it means that they are bonded for life so she can't go around kissing just anyone. Lily hopes that Brody will be the recipient of this kiss and be with her forever.

Things don't quite work out as she planned though. Instead of kissing Brody, Lily manages to accidentally kiss her neighbour, Quince and become bonded to him instead. Yes, he's hot but she can't stand him! Quince was ass great as Lily though and I thought that they worked really well together. The banter and jokes between them made for funny, light-hearted reading but there were also more serious things going on underneath that. Although Quince begins as a bit of a joker, he does have a lot of charm at the same time. From the beginning you can tell that there is more to him than meets the eye and I couldn't wait to see what he was really like.

The story of Lily and Quince, their bond and what they were planning to do about it was fresh, exciting and refreshing. I haven't read a book quite like this before so it was really nice to read something completely new and original. The way in which Lily and Quince get to know each other, are forced to spend time with each other and experience quite a lot together was written in such a believable way – even though we're talking about mermaids here. Their situation brings about a wonderful underwater world, Thalassinia, and while it did feel a little like The Little Mermaid at times, I didn't care. The different creatures and personalities under the water were diverse and really helped to make the story as good as it was.

Forgive My Fins is a fabulous read and I can't wait for the next in the series, Fins Are Forever!