Monday, 16 May 2016

Book Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger



Hi readers,

Today, I'm kicking off a review of a series of books called The Parasol Protectorate subtitled; An Alexia Tarabotti Novel, with the first book; Soulless. I have reviewed series of books before on this blog, namely the Black Dagger Brotherhood, which is still ongoing and actually I'm not sure I've reviewed them all come to think of it!

But it's been awhile since I last read a series all in one go. I think this is because I have this habit of wanting to have all the books and being able to read them one after another. I think my brain finds it easier and I don't have to keep the memory of character, settings and plot details in my head for months or years as I wait for the next book/s to be published. Does anyone else do this too?

Anyway, I'm not sure how I found out about this novel, but I did read it close to the time it was published or within two years. I did enjoy it the first time I read it then upon finding out it was a series I had to collect the others. However, I just never got a round to reading them afterwards. Well, the time has come and I've started now and hopefully, got something of a time table to read them all in and review them!

The Parasol Protectorate novels are set in an alternative Victorian history where the supernatural has come to the surface and been mostly accepted. Alongside, this is is a bit of Steampunk and I say this because it features mostly in the background and in Soulless appears very little. Which is why if you are someone who's into the supernatural genre and wants to get into Steampunk then this series would be a good start. Or if you find Steampunk a little hard to get into for whatever reason and/or you are looking for a new Steampunk book to read then it's really worth a go.

The narrative is in third person and follows the heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, who is described as a half Italian spinster who has no soul, on a mission to find out where the lone vampires and werewolves have disappeared to. I really like Alexia, she is a great female character who doesn't seem to let the Victorian suppression of women get to her. She stands out above the rest and is seemingly happy with the fact she's been 'shelved' and won't ever marry. This gives her liberties which she wouldn't have otherwise, but it also leads into the situation she ends up in at the start of the novel.

Having sneaked off from a ball to have tea in the library, she is attacked by a vampire and accidentally kills him. She is saved by a werewolf, Lord Maccon, who then helps to cover the situation up. It turns out her mother, step-sisters and step-dad don't know she is soulless. In fact not even her best friend, Ivy, who has a very poor but funny choice in hats knows about it. Alexia then ends up helping to investigate why she was attacked as Lord Maccon is part of a BUR - Bureau of Unnatural Registry and it's part of his job. This all leads to the discover of a group of scientists who are experimenting on the supernatural.

There is a second plot line sees Alexia and Lord Maccon falling in love. I was a little worried that this would draw too much away from the main story, but it actually works well. They have a kinda cliched friendship were they don't seem to get on, but they actually enjoy annoying each other. Their interested and love for each other slowly comes though and I loved the scandalized (well, it would have been in the 1800's) scene were they are caught kissing by Alexia's family and have an argument about getting married. Which of course then does happen!    

The plot is really well written, funny in many places and serious in others. I love the revealing of the mystery behind what is going on and it just keeps you reading on. The setting works really well too. It does feel like Victorian London and the description of all the places just lets you imagine this alternative history highly. The description of character and clothes is very well done too. I love all the dresses Alexia wears and every time Ivy shows up in a new hat which is often so ugly the other characters' reactions are just priceless.

Speaking of, the other characters are really good. They all seem to be written as if they were the main character and their dialogues work well. Lord Maccon is Scottish though he tries to sound more London, but I love how it comes through in small doses. His background is kinda kept in the dark, but I think this might appear in one of the other novels. The other characters also seem set up for more, but their development is good anyway.

The ending actually makes Soulless feel like a stand alone book. I was thinking there'd be a cliffhanger or lead into book two, but the ending is kind of closed. I actually like that as it makes me feel more satisfied about finishing it.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I'd so recommend it to everyone, even if you are not big or the supernatural, or steampunk or history or romance as there feels to be something for everyone in this novel and even if you dislike all those genres the characters and plot are just really good.

Thanks for reading and next week I'll review book 2!          


Image from: http://www.gailcarriger.com/books/parasol-protectorate-series

Monday, 9 May 2016

Book Review: Heaven by Christoph Marzi



Hi Readers,

I finished this book the night before I went to London, so about two weeks ago now. I brought at the same time as Angelfall and it was another recommended by my best friend when we saw it in the book shop. I wanted to read it because it seemed an interesting fast read. However, I didn't like it as much as Angelfall. 

So this novel is about two teenagers who meet on the roof tops of London and the girl, called Heaven, which is actually her nickname, has had her heart stolen, but somehow she has survived and been able to run away. David, the young man, decides to help her find her heart and the person who stole it. I really liked this idea and at first I thought it was like a modern and different retelling of Snow White. You know, like what had happened if the hunters man had cut out Snow White's heart and she had lived? No. Turns out this story is based around a 'lost' fairy tale; The Fallen Fairy's Heart which the plot states the Earl of Rochester wrote.

Which in itself is pretty interesting and a good plot device, but it didn't help me like this story any better. Anyway, the two main characters do cross paths with the 'murderers' and find out that they are stealing hearts to give to someone. I won't spoil the ending, but it wasn't what I wanted and it felt very weak compared to the rest of the book, even though the ending is happy enough.

The characters get to visit my favorite and still most wanted place to go Highgate Cemetery. The description of the place was well done and also the horror feelings came through. That was my favorite part of the book really.

I'm not going to say that my problems and the overall problems with the book are because it's a young adult novel as that's unfair. I just think the writing style and some of the plot is to blame. I got really into this book and even after I found out the story was based on this 'lost' fairy tale and the idea that fairies are a part of the sky, but then soon after that it just got a bit dull for me, even with the twist about Heaven's parents and other people being murdered, I'm just not sure what is was, but maybe it dragged a little too much. Also, it doesn't help there's a very unrealistic scene at the end of the book. I get the author was going for the dramatic final, but a fight on the London Eye -that's the big Ferris wheel in London, if you didn't know- just didn't do it for me.  

The development of Heaven and David was very good and their falling in love was done nicely in the background. They both grew on me and I liked learning more about them. The villain characters interested me enough with their mystery, but the actual villain, we never got to spend enough time with and even though we learned his story and why he was after Heaven's heart, I thought more could have been done with him. I liked the ghost character who appears as well, Heaven's butler and the owner of the bookshop. In fact, it did seem like the background characters had been given enough attention to make them feel like they were more then just there support the main characters.

The narrative style started to bug me after awhile because a lot of places and street names are brought up. I guess that's useful in a way if you have been to London because you know where these places are. If you haven't been either you are aware of them or you have to guess. I just felt like being told where the characters were all the time bogged down the story. I loved the descriptions of London from the rooftops, though I did find myself humming the chimney sweep song from Mary Poppins  a few times! Doesn't help there's a quote from the song on the dedication page either. But it's very fitting.

The pace was a mix of fast and slow really, but that didn't give me too much trouble because it seemed to be well balanced. There some okay twists in the story too and you do get a mystery feel from the narrative. There is a lot of reference to other books and stories, mainly Dickens. I get this because he was well known for writing about London and the parts people didn't want to see. I think though the author has just assumed you have read Dickens' novels and there for you'll be able to picture/understand the use of Dickens' characters' names and references. The narrative is told in third person, so that we can get a switch between characters at important moments, though I do wonder if it had been better in first person from the point of view of David.

The dialogue of the characters felt real enough, but I think there might have been too much swearing for me. Which is odd to say in a young adult book and coming from me as well, but sometimes it just felt over used and I dislike that. Other then that though, there was nothing special about it.  So, no needed to fear not being able to understand a London cockney accent!

Overall, I want to say I did like this book. I liked the ideas behind it and the mystery too. The problems was, it just didn't grip me all the way through like it should have done. I didn't get the wanting to put it down urge, I just wanted to finish it, but that seemed to take a lot longer then it should have done. I'd recommended this book to teenagers interested in this kind of thing, but if you wanted a fantasy style story set in London I'd say go read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, to this day that story is still with me. (And I just found out I never did a review of it, that needs changing!)

Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week for a new book review.

Ps. if you've got the time please check out my other blog;  https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/

Image from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12735319-heaven

Monday, 2 May 2016

Life Update: Adventures In London!



Hi readers,

I survived London! It was super busy everywhere, but I didn't get lost, which for me is a big bonus. I was so scared that I was going to get lost, because it was the first time I was alone during the day. My mum had invited me to join her for a four day break away, but she was actually working, so during the day I was alone and off on my own adventures. I think it helped that I planned all the places I wanted to go and printed out maps. Also, I went on a tour bus for two days!

So from the beginning, We got an evening train from Manchester to London which was just over two hours. We then took the underground to Black Friars and walked to the first Premiere Inn hotel. The room was small but nice. In the morning, after breakfast, packing and going to my mum's teaching venue. Then I went to the nearest tour bus stop which was next to St. Paul's. I then went around the center of London for three hours. I did take some photos, but they didn't turn out that great. Anyway here are some;

I saw some of the tower of London, which I did want to visit, but it was expensive to get in! 



I went over the London bridge and the river Thames. 



I saw the London Eye which I went on last time.



And I also saw Big Ben again. 

I then went to St Paul's Cathedral. I really wish you could take photos inside, because it's just amazing. I love the crypt too. I also wish I could've spent more time there too. I did go to the top and I took some photos of the London city view, but then I caught in a snow storm and a thunder storm! I was cold and wet by the time I got back inside. I had a cup of tea in the crypt and feeling better and with he weather sunny again, I walked up and down Fleet Street window shopping. 


St Paul's

And a view from the top.

   
I had to meet my mum at 4pm, because we were staying in a different hotel for the rest of the stay. It was still a Premiere Inn, but it was in Holborn, which was really nice. We had a walk around then went for tea in the hotel which was good then we went to bed because my mum had an early start in the morning and I was very tried. 

In the morning, I found out I could get the same tour bus company from Holborn. However it did a different route and because I'd planned to do some museums, it didn't go where I wanted to. I did wait almost an hour for it though! The traffic in London is really bad and you spend most of your time not moving in it. Over an hour later, I made it to the St Paul's bus stop again and switched bus routes on to the one from yesterday because it went past the National History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.  

It took me over three hours to reach the stop. It was all down to traffic and the tour bus driver having to have a break and switch out with another driver. Also, my last bus home was at 4pm -4:30pm and I would need two again! At was already around 12pm too. I did the V&A museum first because I knew I'd want more time in the National History. It was a huge place with lots of different things to see, but it just didn't keep my interested up. Maybe it's because I knew there was something better next door! 

Animals and dinos are much more my thing and really enjoy the National History museum. It was super packed though and my feet were killing me. I wish I could've spent more time here too. I got some okay photos, but most of the time people were in the way or the glass just caused issues.


 A really cute bat

My favorite dino


I decided not to get the buses back but to try the Underground. It worried me that I was going to get lost and I'm a nervous of escalators, plus it was the first time I'd been on one alone. However and even though it was the start of rush hour, it wasn't too bad. I was able to figure out where I needed to go and usefully, the train only went one way from the station I was at and it went to the Holborn station. Also, it took only like twenty minutes for me to get back! So, I decided in the future to use the Underground next time I go.


This is the Underground outside the Tower of London. It's not the one I gotten on, but the only photo I had. 

The next day, I went to the British Museum. This was my third visit, but they had lots of new stuff and other stuff I don't remember. I had lots of fun, even though it was busy. I did mean to go to two more which where on the London Uni campus, but I was feeling too tried and my feet hurt too much. Instead, I went to a small park and chilled out till it was time to met up with my mum and catch the train home. It felt like a shorter trip, but I was super tried when I got home. I went to bed almost straight away. 

Here are the photos from the British Museum; 





Overall, London was really good. I enjoyed it and the tour bus was very useful. Though, the Underground - once you get use to it- is better. The museums are very good, but do take a lot of time! Plus, there's lots of people everywhere all the time. I was surprised at all the green areas though and there are so many little parks you can go to, though it's still hard to escape the noise of the city. I'd love to go back and explore some of the more different areas. 

Monday, 25 April 2016

Book Review: Bioshock Rapture by John Shirley


Hi readers, 

Today, I'm finally bring you my review of the Bioshock novel. Those of you that have read my life up date posts will have noticed I've been playing games one and two for a little while now. I did pick up this book before and I read a little of it then put it down. That was because it wasn't set in the 'Rapture' the games where and I really wanted it to be. I really love the abandoned, dystopia feeling you get from the Rapture in the games and it feels so real to me. I often imagine what it must have actually looked like and the novel does help with that. 

I picked this book up again halfway through playing the first one, just because I felt like giving it another shot and I knew it'd have some interesting background information. It's a very well written and true to the games story. It includes all the main characters from both games and you get to learn a lot about their backgrounds. I know in the games, you learn too, but this goes into more depth. There's also a nice tie in with the use of the voice records and some lines are quoted from the games, which just brings you to thinking about that moment in the game. 

For those of you who haven't heard of Bioshock, you might find this book a bit hard to get into and understand. Even though all the right information and the description of characters and settings are really good, it really is aimed at the players. And whilst, I think most of the players will like it, there are a few that maybe won't, just because if you've played the games well enough and a few times, there's not a lot new to be learnt about the main characters or the creation of Rapture from this novel.

The novel starts with a prologue set in 1945 New York City with Andrew Ryan, a millionaire business man, deciding to began his dream of building an underwater city. The idea behind it is to escape the control of the government but also to provide safety from the growing threat of nuclear war. Ryan wanted the best people from Earth to live in Rapture and able to develop scientifically and creatively with no rules to stop them. Ryan comes across as an interesting character in the novel with a scarred background which drives him. 

The actual main protagonist of the novel isn't actually Ryan, it's his chief engineer Bill McDonagh as the novel focus on his life and development a lot. By chance Bill meets Ryan when he comes to do some plumping and Ryan takes an interested in him. Slowly, Bill is let onto the secret building of Rapture out in the Atlantic Ocean. He then gets to work and live in Rapture and becomes Ryan's left hand man. (On the right is the chief of security).

The rest of the plot reveals how Frank Fontaine got into Rapture and his work with the scientists, Tenenbaum and Suchong to discover and develop ADAM -found in sea slugs-and EVE-which they make. Thus, meaning people could change their DNA and gain super human powers. However, there is an addiction to it and also some side effects so the splicers were born. When the ADAM starts running out, it's discovered that little girls with the implanted slugs can find and gather ADAM. They become Little Sisters, but even though they become immortal due to the slugs, they still need protecting and so the Big Daddies where created. 

Then there's the fall of Rapture and how that all came about. The ending was interesting with Bill trying to escape with his family and not being able to as no one is allowed to leave Rapture. I did find it sad because I'd got attached to Bill! 

I did find this novel a bit hard going due to the science fiction genre and my dyslexic brain. Though in the end, I'm glad I got through it. I'm sure though if I hadn't played through Bioshock and didn't love it then I won't have bothered with the book. But that's just me. I think that people who like science fiction with a utopia and dystopia theme will enjoy it. 

Overall, this novel is really aimed at fans and players of the Bioshock games. I like the writing and the characters, I liked learning more about the different character's backgrounds and the creation of Rapture. But though, I still feel that the games are better! 

Thanks for reading and I'd loved to hear your thoughts. 
I'm off to London tonight, so next week will be kicking off a new month with a life update about that. Till then.      
   

  

Images from: 
Amazon.com
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioShock

Monday, 18 April 2016

April Life Update: Being Ill Is Not Much Fun.


Hi readers,

Sorry, I've not posted in two week, but I was ill and so was my mum. In fact, I still am as this cold doesn't seem to want to go. Sometimes I can think of nothing worse then a bad cough that just won't quit! I guess it doesn't help that I've had hardly anytime to rest up. I've had a busy time at work, covering other peoples' shifts and volunteering on reception. Plus, I had an interview for working with the seniors, but I didn't get the job. Didn't get my PhD interview either, which was a shock.

Also, I can't let go of my ex-boyfriend no matter what I tell myself and it's become a complicated issues of us not being together and agreeing we really are not getting back together, but acting as if we are a couple again! So yeah, I'm feeling really low about stuff. And though I hate to admit, I'm wondering if I'm getting depressed again. Though, it's more like my run of bad luck and feeling ill that's giving me those thoughts. But if it does get worse, I'll be going to talk to someone.

I've not been up to anything crafty or arty outside of work. I've still got my felt steggie dinosaur to make and my mum is busy knitting me a werewolf, so maybe next month to show off them? Though got my trip to London first! So, excited about that.

Firstly, I'm currently taking part in the A-Z Challenge on my other blog. Every day, but for Sundays, the post has to be titled and be about a word starting with the next letter of the alphabet. So last week as an example I wrote stories about Anxiety, Bedazzled, Cacti, Dog. I'm finding it lots of fun and a great way to meet other bloggers. Of course, it's also to get you writing and blogging more, but I all ready do that!  

A2Z-BADGE 2016-smaller_zpslstazvib


Secondly, I wanted to write about my reading goals for this year, which I had put on my Goodreads page, but forgot. I choice to try and read 30 books this year and so far I've read only 10. Feels more then that though! Last year, I did a reading challenge from Popstar, I think it was and there was around 30 books on that last too. I didn't get to read all of them though. Hopefully, having to do a book review 3-4 times a month will help as I'll need to start reading faster again.

I've got lots of books that I keep meaning to start, like the True Blood ones as I've finished watching all the seasons now. Also, the Vampire Diaries, Anne Rice's wolf books, though I'd love to read Interview with A Vampire again. Then I've got some steampunk ones and some YP ones and just, yeah far far too many! I'm sure I'll get around to them all though.

Here's the link to my Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7400715-hayley-hardman

The only upside to being ill has been that I've spent a lot of time playing Bioshock. This is like my third time playing through it now. I'm way out of practice and found the medium setting a bit hard. I've never been good at shooting games, nor any other game really, but I do still like playing them. I think Bioshock grabs me because of the dystopia setting and the story line. It feels like a different experience to other games and I remember watching my dad playing and getting hooked. I feel like I did a review of it once on here...anyway....

I've finished it again, but I'm going back for some of the achievements I've missed and then I've got to play through it again for two or three more as well. I've moved on to Bioshock 2 now, which is my favorite. I love playing as a Big Daddy and learning more about Rapture! I don't know why I find the second easier to do, maybe its the add strength of being stronger or because I've played it that many times I just know it. My favorite level is Siren Alley. I'm not sure why, but it really sticks with me.

In fact, I started reading the novel that is set before the first game and I'm going to review it next week now.

Love, Heart, Broken, Sad, Unhappy, Cry, Crying

So on Thursday of last week, I was feeling so fed up with everything that I decided to take the plunge I was planing to do at the end of this month or maybe later. I joined two dating websites. Well, it turned out that okcupid still had my profile...don't know why, but it seems I forget to delete it. I also joined plenty of fish, which I was on ages ago, but got rid of after meeting my second ex-boyfriend.  

Writing and talking about all the thoughts and feels I had when I'd set up the accounts and glanced at some photos of possible dates is just impossible. I have the urge to try though, but I guess it'll be hard for people who've not been in this situation to understand. I just felt so guilty and sad and like it was wrong. I was betraying and being unfaithful too. But of course I'm single now, so why would I feel like all that?! I guess the idea of moving on is just too painful still and thinking that I'll never find anyone who's better then him. I just felt worse about everything.

Then the messages started...it's weird I was thinking I'd have to wait hours, days maybe before guys saw my profile, but nope. I'm not playing 'the I'm desperate game' or 'I'm super lonely' ect, I'm just being me, though a lot less flirty then I remember being before. I still don't know if it's what I want, but I know I won't be meeting up with anyone anytime soon. Jumping into another relationship isn't going to help, but seeing that there are other men interest in me will make me feel a bit better. And I never know who'll meet, so I'm going to try and have some fun...though not to much, can't get carried away! 

So, next week I'm going to review the Bioshock book and then hopefully, fit another review in the Monday after and before I go to London. Still really excited about that!

Till next time!  


Images from:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/7670/
https://pixabay.com/en/love-heart-broken-sad-unhappy-cry-1281655/

Monday, 28 March 2016

Book Review: The Mammoth Book Of Haunted Houses Stories

The Mammoth Book of Haunted House Stories

Hi readers, 

Today I'm reviewing an anthology of short stories that I have half previously read but never finished and once again, I probably won't finish because as much as I love and have raved about The Mammoth Books before, I just enjoy dipping in and out of them instead of reading them cover to cover. This is because I use them as something to read in between novels or when going on trips/holidays (I'm weird and don't actually like reading on holidays, guess because I'd rather be off exploring!) or like this time around, I couldn't make my mind up about what to read next, so I just decided I needed some inspiration for the short novella I've been writing over on my other blog. Thus I choice a collection about haunted houses!  

To make life easy, I've decided to focus on the stories I've read, but first let me say something about this collection as a whole. I have the expanded edition which has the added stories picked by famous horror movie actors as the last section. Unfortunately, I've not read any of those yet! This anthology is divided into different sections so that stories on the similar themes are group together. I've read Haunted Places; Fact or Fiction, Avenging Spirits and Little Terrors. I like the idea of doing this because you can just read a section that takes your fancy and avoid ones that you might find scary. 

Speaking of, I haven't been scared by the stories I've read so far, but that's mostly because they are mega old dating from 1800's and early 1900's. These stories don't really appeal to me due to their old fashioned style and language. Though there's nothing overall wrong with the writing and characters. Each story opens with this 'fact file' of information about the haunted house in question and a bio of the writer. I found these interested and a good introduction to the stories. There's a mixture of British, American and other places setting, which is nice and keeps the interested up. There's also a range of authors, but they all have one thing in common and that's they are well known for writing supernatural stories. Authors included are; Stephan King, James Herbert, Bram Stoker, Ruth Rendell, M. R. James, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Virginia Woolf.

The first story, The Haunted And The Hunters, has the main character and narrator investigating an an haunted house which is based on a true story. The narrator claims the house has been sent up to keep people away and he is proven true. I did like this one because of the twist at the end and that it reflects the tricks the Victorians used to get people to believe in ghosts. 

The next one, Authentic Narrative of a Haunted House, sees a family moved to the coast and stay in a very haunted house. The two daughters see ghostly figures and the father believes them to be burglars. Though it turns out that the remains of a old woman are buried in the back garden and she has been haunting the house. I found this one okay and the descriptions of the ghosts are good.  

A Case of Eavesdropping is set in a New York boardinghouse. A young man gets a room on the top floor and starts hearing a German son and father arguing over marriage and money. He complains about the noise, but nights later he over hears the killing of the son and thus learns that it happened years ago and he's been overhearing these events. I really liked this one because of the tension and the fact that you don't find out the truth till the end. 

Moving on, The Old House in Vauxhall Walk, is the story of a young man who's had an argument with his father and has left home. Luckily he meets an old friend/servant who invites him to stay the night in the house he and has family have just moved out of. There the young man is haunted by a old woman, who turns out hide all her riches and can't rest because of her selfish behavior. I liked the set up to this one and the ending too. 

My favorite has to be No. 252 Rue M. Le Price, which has a group of men stay in a haunted house were dark magic has taken place and the house is now haunted. I liked the creepy feeling to this story and it has a traditional ghost tale about it. It gripped me, though the opening is long, because I really wanted to know what was going to happen!  

The Southwest Chamber is another story set in an America boardinghouse. A teacher comes to stay in a boardinghouse run by two sisters and is put in the room where their aunt died. It turns out she wasn't a good person and there's this whole family saga along side the ghost aunt moving stuff and changing the bedroom around. I liked this story because of the interesting use of the mirror and the ghost making things not as they appear. 

Feet Foremost was one of the last stories I've read. A group of people gather in a house where a young bride was murdered. Her ghost has to be invited into the house and then she kills the person who invited her in. I found this one enjoyable, but the twist at the end just felt it was there as plot device to save the main character's boyfriend.

I've read a few more, but I didn't want to write about them all. I was hoping to have it close to finishing, but I've been busy doing other stuff and like I said at the start I do tend just to dip in and out. I did enjoy reading these, but I do find the age to some of the stories puts me off a bit. I would also say that it wasn't one of my favorite Mammoth collections and I do enjoy the vampire ones more!

Overall, this is a good anthology of short stories with a range of authors and different ghost stories. I'd so recommend this if you are in ghost/haunted house stories. 

Next Monday it's a life update! So, please come from that and also check out my other blog where you can get a story a day. Thanks for reading. 
     

Image from: 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/580933.The_Mammoth_Book_of_Haunted_House_Stories

Monday, 21 March 2016

Book Review: The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

The Reflections of Queen Snow White


Hi readers, 

As some of you might remember from my last post, I was gifted this e-book in exchange for a review. Let me first say it's not what I normally read, but I did find the idea behind it interesting. Though I guess it appealed to the writer side of me more then the reader side! I think this is because, and I've noticed this small issue with reading stories on my kindle before, I'm more aware of mistakes and analyzing the work then just purely reading it for pleasure. Perhaps, the long hours spent sitting at a screen proof-reading and editing mine and other people's works is to blame? Still though, I thought I'd give this go as who says no to a free book? 

That aside, of course everyone knows the story of Snow White. The most famous being Disney's version as a lot of fairy tales are known by and with the cliched ending of  'lived happily ever after.' It seems to me there's been a spur in the re-telling of famous fairy tales, what with a lot of movies focusing on upgrading the stories for adult audiences and I guess authors have been doing the same for years. In this case, Meredith has questioned the 'happily ever after' ending and done away with it to write about what did happen to Snow White and Princes Charming.   

I was a little unsure when I first looked at this e-book. The cover image is really nice, but at no point does Snow White sit at a pond, it merely reflects as -ironic as that sounds!- Snow White looking at her past selfs and reflecting upon many life stages. The story opens with Snow White listening to plans of her daughter's coming wedding, but she seems far too distant and lost in her own thoughts. She deeply misses Charming who has died - he was a lot older then her- and she can't get over how lonely she feels. Also, the fact he use to do everything and was always there for her. 

This deep sense of loss comes over really well and I did feel sad for Snow White because she does get so lost in her grieve that she can't escape from it. However, I thought her having a daughter would give her a greater purpose and something to re-focus on, but Snow White seems to have lost interested in her too. I guess because the daughter is getting married and about to also become 'lost' ? (in a sense). I know the story is about Snow White, but for me the daughter takes too much of a back seat and isn't a good supporting character. Though at the end things do get turned around and Snow White does become a mother figure.  

The plot then goes; desperate to have some peace in her busy castle, Snow White goes to the rooms of her wicked step-mother and discovers the magic mirror. There the mirror shows Snow White moments of her past she has buried and how they prove she is a strong woman. We get a re-telling in parts of the original fairy tale by the Grimm brothers, which is far more horror like then the pretty, flowery Disney version! In this context it works very well though and Meredith goes into detail about the abuse and neglected that the child Snow White faced. 

The other moment that stuck with me was the wedding night sex scene. I accidentally, whilst seeing what other people thought briefly about the e-book, read someone's thoughts on this scene and they described it as being rape. That for whatever reason struck me when I reached that part. I didn't see it that way, but I understand why some women might do. It becomes clear that Snow White knows nothing about sex because no one has ever told her anything. Charming, who clearly does know, doesn't take the time to tell her much and just gets on with it. Though, Snow White does seem to enjoy it. There's not much graphic detail of the sex and what I got out of it was the tradition of it and the fact that a heir was needed. 

After having seen and reflected on these hidden events of her past, Snow White sees that she was wrong about herself and she's not an incapable, weak woman. The abuse and lost she suffered has made her stronger and she was able to move on from them before. This allows her to move on from the death of Charming and grew as a queen. Thus, having a happier old age. 

The plot itself does work well and lots of themes do get explored, including death, loss, depression and love. There was enough interest for me to keep reading and I did want to find out about Snow White's time with Prince Charming. However, it is short. When I first started reading, my Kindle told me it was going to take just over two hours and half to read. For most people, that wouldn't be a bother, but for the writer in me I could see areas that could have been expanded upon. Also and as I've said before, I like my stories to have a linear flow and not be so choppy and jumping to flashbacks. I think having a better and more subtle movements into the flashbacks of the past would have improved the narrative structure. 

My second major issue, and this I know is personal to me more then anything else, is the language that Meredith uses. I get he was really trying to capture the settings and time, which came across to me is medieval style and German (true to the original Snow White), but every few words my dyslexic brain would stumble and I'd be like okay I've no idea what that word means, skip it! And it made it hard going for me. Don't get me wrong though, it is nicely written and there is something poetic and old fashioned romantic about the language, but it might take a few pages to get into. 

I think that many readers will easily be able to connect with the character of Snow White and the themes. Haven't we all lost someone and been in love? She is grieving and doubting herself because of that, though at the end she comes out okay. It does feel realistic to life despite the time setting.  

One of the main things I'm taking away from reading this e-book is that you don't actually need a magic mirror to reflect on your past. Though that'd be very useful! You just need some space and time. For me, reflecting has always come easily, I guess years of writing diaries and sub-consciously thinking in my story writing, then my four uni years of having to review my own work and writing book reviews. I always written when I need to reflect on something, often before I talk to someone about it and that just gives me the chance to gather my thoughts and feelings together. This story just reminded me how important it is to reflect back, because no matter how dark your past there is always some good, even if it's only small. Also, don't let your past hold you back!      

Overall, I did enjoy reading this e-book even though I had a few problems with it, but I think that's more personal to me then actual 'issues' with plot, character and language. I'd recommend this to adults who wonder what happened after 'the happily ever after' because it does give a whole new aspect to the Snow White story which makes her more interesting.  

You can find it here on Amazon;  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Reflections-Queen-Snow-White-ebook/dp/B00FLF4JAG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458591579&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Reflections+of+Queen+Snow+White

Thanks for reading and next week I'm returning to a book that past me did read, but present me has no memory of. I wonder what future me is going to think about it? See you next Monday for that. 
            
My other blog and links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thestoryfiles 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ironmaidenfan9
Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/user?u=327832
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=208056472&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile
Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/hails9/
Blogger: http://hailscrazyblog.blogspot.co.uk/
Wordpress: http://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7400715-hayley-hardman
Google + : https://plus.google.com/u/0/+HayleyHardman

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/thestoryfilesblog


Image from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18780192-the-reflections-of-queen-snow-white