30 Aug 2015

Review - Chivalrous by Dina L. Sleiman


Title: Chivalrous (Valiant Hearts #2)

Author: Dina L. Sleiman 

Publication date: Sept 8, 2015

Rating: 2/5 stars

Synopsis:

Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers. However, that is not an option for her, not even in the Arthurian-inspired Eden where she dwells. Her parents view her only as a marriage pawn, and her domineering father is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit.

When handsome, good-hearted Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, Gwendolyn spies in him the sort of fellow she could imagine marrying. Yet fate seems determined to keep them apart. Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

I received a free ebook copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My thoughts:

Chivalrous by Dina L. Sleiman was the first Christian fiction novel I read and I won’t want to start another one in the foreseeable future. I was raised a Roman Catholic and  – although I have a complicated relationship with God – I do believe in Him. I pray every day and I often see His work where others see coincidences. BUT I do not have the mindset that was represented in this novel, I couldn’t and, frankly, didn’t want to make it mine.

It’s okay if someone feels God’s presence and it brings him/her peace. It’s okay if a person silently recognizes that He leads him and he often thinks of Him. But to have God involved in every single thought of yours and not voice a sentence without His name... it’s called obsession in my dictionary. Even for a medieval setting the religious reasoning was too much. And I was surprised when suddenly, out of nowhere, it hit me because the story didn’t start out badly.

I enjoyed the beginning, right until the point Allen became a member of the council. This is how it went: on one page he was a religious, but reasonable guy, on the next he was a bigoted fellow who found fault after fault in the girl he fell in love with, a fellow who kept on worrying that God might not like that he desires a lady of ’ill behaviour’.

Examples for the ’faults’:

„If she was capable of fighting in a tournament as a man, what other troublesome deception might this enticing woman be prone to?”

or

„But perhaps this was God’s way of saving him from a woman who did not share his devotion.”

In other words: wanting to be yourself and not being blindly religious were unacceptable traits (or lack of traits) for our knight in shining armour.

In Gwen’s place I would have wanted to be saved from Sir Allen and his strange way of thinking… Fortunately by the end Sir Allen began to understand and accept Gwen the way she was (the fact that she started to feel closer to God helped a bit), but I still would have hooked up with Randel…

So all in all God was pushed onto the reader especially through Allen’s character and it resulted in serious eye-rolling from my part from time to time, it basically ruined the book for me.

I gave Chivalrous two stars only because it would have been a decent, entertaining tale without putting that much emphasis on religion. 

 

26 Aug 2015

"Waiting on" Wednesday #2


"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by breakingthespine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

 This week's choice o' mine is a YA gothic novel that seems to be just my cup of tea.

Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

Date of publication: Sept 19, 2015

Synopsis:

After the untimely death of her aunt Laura, Cecilia Cross is forced to return to Sanctuary, a rambling, old French-Gothic mansion that crowns a remote island off the coast of Maine. Cecilia is both drawn to and repulsed by Sanctuary. The scent of the ocean intoxicates her, but she's also haunted by the ghosts of her past--of her father who died at Sanctuary five years ago, and of her mother who was committed soon after. The memories leave Cecilia feeling shaken, desperate to run away and forget her terrible family history.

But then a mysterious guest arrives at Sanctuary: Eli Bauer, a professor sent to examine Sanctuary's library. Cecilia is intrigued by this strange young man who seems so interested in her -- even more interested in her than in the books he is meant to be studying. Who is he and what does he want? Can Cecilia possibly trust her growing feelings for him? And can he help her make peace with her haunted, tragic past?

23 Aug 2015

Review - Simon by Michael Mullin


Title: Simon

Author: Michael Mullin

Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

His father is dead. His mother has remarried. His uncle is . . . his new stepfather? When the ghost of Simon Elsinore's father returns and claims he was murdered by his own brother, the nineteen-year-old film student must determine what is true and exact the revenge his father demands.

I received an ebook copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My thoughts:

To tell the truth I have my issues with modernized Shakespeare, but from time to time I pick up a book or watch a film adaptation that sets one of the Bard’s story in modern times just to see if I can take anything away from it. Very often I don’t like the whole setting, the whole atmosphere of these works, simply because I adore the mood that Shakespeare originally created so much, it’s hard for me to stop expecting it to be there.

Now what is extremely interesting in the case of Michael Mullin’s Simon is that my favourite thing about it was the alienation I experienced when reading it. I kept pushing the story away to a safe distance where I could look at it with an analytical eye without having to be a part of it.

When I became conscious of my withdrawing from the happenings in Simon I started thinking of its reason – you see, I never felt the need to ’keep away’ from Shakespeare’s Hamlet this way, I was always eager to brood over matters of life and death together with the Prince never feeling the weight of it… and ay, there’s the rub… Simon, being set in today’s America, in our time, made Hamlet’s story REAL.

Simon begins with the end: from the news we get to know a massacre happened in the suburbia of an American town. Isn’t it something we hear in the telly every day? Murders, massacres, mayhem. It is too familiar and too tangible. In Simon the safety that the distance in time provides in the case of Hamlet disappeared and it made me feel uneasy. It may sound a bit contradictory, but the need to distance myself from the events of Simon brought me closer to Hamlet and made me see it from a different light. I think if a retelling opens new, interesting, windows on the original work it is well worth reading.

The story is well known, but of course you can’t rewrite it in the 21th century without making certain changes. I think Mr. Mullin did a good job with the little bits that eventually made this old tale adjust to the present. I especially enjoyed the usage of media and technology. I felt the book wanted to put an emphasis on the shift in communication that took place between then and now (Hamlet’s time and today).

I liked how the film as medium was represented in the book. Inserting the grave-digging ’scene’ was a phenomenal idea. Speaking of grave digging… the metaphors and symbols were very strong in Simon, sharp even, which I loved. The depiction of the wedding/funeral got me hooked in the very beginning.

The reason why I didn’t give 5 stars to this novel was Simon. He didn’t strike me as a Hamlet figure despite him being the title character. For me there was too much doing and too little reflecting when it came to him. Maybe I missed something, but he didn’t seem deep enough for me.

All in all, the stars and – I hope – this review tells everything. Happy reading, Shakespeare geeks! 



12 Aug 2015

"Waiting on" Wednesday #1



"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by breakingthespine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

I'm a big fan of the podcast called Welcome to Night Vale, therefore this week's spotlight falls on the book that its creators will publish this fall under the same name. I requested a copy on NetGalley, I would be over the moon if I got approved.

Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

Date of publication: Oct 20, 2015

Synopsis:
 
Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked "KING CITY" by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can't seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels.

Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton's son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane's started to see her son's father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.

Diane's search to reconnect with her son and Jackie's search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: "KING CITY". It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures...if they can ever find it.

11 Aug 2015

Teaser Tuesday #11

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.
The rules:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser is from a YA Hamlet retelling Simon by Michael Mullin:


Synopsis: 

His father is dead. His mother has remarried. His uncle is . . . his new stepfather? When the ghost of Simon Elsinore's father returns and claims he was murdered by his own brother, the nineteen-year-old film student must determine what is true and exact the revenge his father demands. 

 My Teaser: 

'He [Simon] is compelled, not by others, but by some force within, to sit in the front and watch the two ceremonies funeral and wedding occur simultaneously. Not intertwined, but one atop the other, grotesquely and unnaturally occupying the same space, connected in sight alone, like a rapist and his victim.'

What do you think of this teaser? Can I read yours? Leave a link to your TT post in a comment below!
 

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