Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke (Book Review)

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Page Count
: 320

It seems that I am making a habit of not reading book-to-movie adaptations, but rather the other way round, where books were specifically written AFTER their other-media-format successor became popular. Admittedly, it has been a long time since I watched the Pan’s Labyrinth movie, but to me, it makes sense to want to expand on the story a little bit.

To start with, let’s show you the trailer and then I will also talk about the plot a little bit. Usually, I don’t add my own summary in my review, because mostly Goodreads takes care of that and then I just use it in my graphic, but this time I found it too ambiguous. So, here is the trailer for the movie for starters (from a time when trailers still had overly dramatic voice-overs):

As stated in the brief summary above, the book follows the tale of the film, which is about a young girl by the name of Ofelia, whose mother remarried a cruel officer after the father died during the war. They move to a cold and cursed abandoned mill in the Spanish mountains, where rebels are trying to fight for their cause. Things get truly interesting when Ofelia, a girl who is mainly interested in books and still grieving her father, finds a fairy that leads her on dangerous adventures with the promise of becoming the Princess of the Underground world. This truly follows the film quite faithfully, sometimes word for word in terms of dialogue, but it also adds immensely to the world building by including short stories about objects and past events that happened at the very place the people are now.

Ofelia didn’t remind her mother that for her, there was nothing better than a book. Her mother wouldn’t understand. She didn’t make books her shelter or allow them to take her to another world. She could only see this world, and then, Ofelia thought, only sometimes. It was part of her mother’s sadness to be earthbound. Books could have told her so much about this world and about places far away, about animals and plants, about the stars! They could be the windows and doors, paper wings to help her fly away. Maybe her mother had just forgotten how to fly. Ir maybe she’d never learned.

Ofelia’s mother didn’t know it, but she also believed in a fairy tale. Carmen Cardoso believed the most dangerous tale of all: the one of the prince who would save her.

When I was younger, I gobbled up Cornelia Funke’s books like they were magic itself and could take me to foreign places. The Inkworld trilogy and the Thief Lord are still among my all time favourite books, however, I had never read her stories in English before. So, I don’t know how much of it all was Guillermo del Toro and how much of it was her. Either way, they managed to recreate the darkness and fantastic visuals from the movie with simple language and added background story and thoughts.

He abruptly dropped his hand, summoning the mask of confidence that had become his second face, merciless, determined. Death is a lover to be feared and there was only one way to overcome that fear – by being her executioner.

Death sighed. She was used to men begging for another few years or months, sometimes even hours. There was always something unfinished, something undone, unlived. Mortals don’t understand life is not a book you close only after you read the last page. There is no last page in the Book of Life, for thelast one is always the first page of another story.

One thing I am not sure about is the claim that this book is made for readers of all ages. The first chapter/the prologue is literally about a young girl dying by stepping into the world and forgetting who she was before. As I’ve also mentioned a couple times now, it’s quite a dark story and the happy end is debatable (as is tradition with old folklore, if you ask me). So, I could see a child who is dealing with matters such as death and grief themselves to maybe find solace in this book, but I wouldn’t give it to someone who was never exposed to it or gets easily frightened. Just like I definitely wouldn’t show the movie to a kid.

A groan echoed through the floor, the moaning of a hungry bloodstained mouth, and when she stepped back, she felt the Pale Man pushing against the floorboards. The worst fears are always underneath us, hidden, shaking the ground we wish to be firm and safe.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! I really enjoyed this, although I am not sure if it will stay with me forever.

Have you read Pan’s Labyrinth? Have you watched the movie? Let’s chat!

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum (Book Review + The Legend of the Golden Raven Novella)

Publisher: Imprint
Page Count
: 305

CW: hallucinations, unhealthy co-dependency, negligent treatment of children, harmful behaviour and self-endangerment 

I’ve wanted to pick up The Wicker King ever since I saw a finished hardcover copy of it in a store in Canada almost 1.5 years ago. If you are a sucker for beautiful covers and extravagant design inside and outside of books, you will have a hard time resisting this one. Although I try to get better at not just buying books because of their beauty, the Wicker King definitely paid off.

All the superficial details aside, I honestly am glad I finally read the book. It’s not an easy read for sure, but it has lovely characters and such an important story to tell. I don’t want to spoil anything, but you don’t necessarily wonder as much about what is fantasy and what is reality as it might seem at first glance. I’ve had my fair share of books that mastered the art of completely bending your mind with the possibility of what might be happening, but there were very few doubts about the going ons in the Wicker King for me, which is probably why it was almost scary to read sometimes.

August and Jack are wonderful characters and I often just wanted to jump into the story and mother them, hug them and protect them. I did not agree with all the choices they made nor the behaviour they sometimes showed, but those boys did the best they could and deserved so much better. It’s not that I believe their parents didn’t love them, but they did a terrible job at it. Circumstances can make life hard and people crumble and break at times, but if you have kids, you really have to power through regardless. I know it’s easier said than done from where I am comfortably sitting childless behind a computer screen, but wow, did I wish that I could somehow help them and care for them, because their parents sure didn’t. In the end, it was good that they took care of each other, even if they could have done with a guardian in their lives.

There are a couple reasons I didn’t fully adore this book though and I think those are just very me reasons. While I love myself some short chapters, I was confused about the POV in the beginning (which is August’s by the way) and then felt like they hindered me from really connecting in some moments. I also didn’t love the continued hook ups, but my main sore point of the book was the relationship between August and Jack somehow. I liked that it was ambiguous in the beginning, because I am not the kind of person who just puts a romantic label on things just because I can. However, the longer I read on, the more I got afraid for them. They were so important for one another, so entangled in each other’s lives. The presence of August was like a necessity to Jack and vice versa. I understand that it’s one of the main points of the book, but it almost seemed unhealthy to me and therefore I couldn’t 100% root for them to be together. As I said though, this is a very me thing and maybe that worked perfectly fine for other people.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! Definitely worth a read even if I didn’t click with every part of it.

If you know me, you also know that I am not much of a novella person, but The Legend of the Golden Raven was free for Kindle, I got it and really enjoyed it.

In only 40 pages, The Legend of the Golden Raven shows Jack’s condensed view of the events of The Wicker King. I thought that was a really neat addition to the main book and was happy to see a whole lot more magical/fantastical elements included. Obviously, the author couldn’t go into detail with it, but it still fills some gaps and rounds up the tale nicely.

It’s most likely not a must-read, but if you enjoyed the Wicker King, then I would recommend this as well.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! 

 

Have you read The Wicker King and it’s companion novella? Do you want to? Let’s talk about it!

TTT: Most Anticipated (Early) 2017 Releases

top-ten-tuesday

I haven’t done this in a while, but it is Top Ten Tuesday, which is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Today is all about the releases for 2017 we are most excited about. I am just going to let my list speak for itself! Here you go:

2017

And because my brain like a piece of Swiss cheese and I forget the most basic things, here are two more I am excited about (let’s face it, Our Dark Duet will probably be my most anticipated book for all of 2017):

2017_2

What are you most excited for in 2017? Tell me all about it in the comments!

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Book Review)

RB

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Page Count
: 408

I’ve wanted to pick up this series in what feels like forever, so when I FINALLY got all the books at once, I suddenly became scared. I have never read anything by Maggie Stiefvater before, but you know how you sometimes hype something so much for yourself that there is absolutely no way it can possibly hold up? Well, I hyped this book A LOT! But as soon as I actually started reading, I realised that I had no clue what the book was really about. Heck, I even thought Blue was a boy (which she’s not. She’s a cool and eccentric girl). It’s pretty difficult to be disappointed about something when you didn’t even have a picture in your mind as to what exactly to expect. So, long story short, I loved it and am SO happy about that!

When we jump into the story it actually starts off kind of sinister but even though there are a ton of creepy vibes, I never felt scared. Which is a good thing, because I don’t like to be scared and also don’t think that the story is supposed to do that. In fact, I laughed a lot, while also being completely pulled into this world. It was way more magical than I expected, while at the same time I thought “yes, that is totally how I would have loved to spend my time during High School”.

Which brings me to my favourite part of the book – the characters. They are always such an essential part of any book really and this one is no exception. Blue and the boys don’t meet on the best of turns and it’s simply hilarious to read, because you know their fates are intertwined. There is bantering and friendship and love (platonical, familiar and a tinsy bit the romantic kind). They are immediately the kind of people you’d identify as squad goals! However, I didn’t love everyone from the beginning. In fact, I thought some of them were just plain weird or mean, but in the end they definitely grow on you. They aren’t just one-dimensional, they do have problems, and not just the magical kind, but real-life-relatable-problems.

There really isn’t much more I can say without spoiling people who haven’t read it (*keeping my fingers crossed I am not the last person in the universe who hasn’t*), but there were some great twists. You knew that something was up, but I honestly doubt that I would ever have made the connection myself. Twists are great, I really love them, but I would have freaked out if I had read the book without a possibility to continue with the series. It’s such a small statement, yet it changes everything. I am so looking forward to binge-read the rest!

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! I want more, more, more! (Good thing I have all the books right here on my shelf!)

5stars

Have you read the Raven Cycle? Which book was your favourite (without spoiling me please)? Is it only going to get better?

The Siren by Kiera Cass (Book Review)

thesirenA girl with a secret. The boy of her dreams. An ocean between them.
Throughout the ages, the Ocean has occasionally rescued young women from drowning. To repay their debt, these young women must serve for 100 years as Sirens, remaining young and beautiful and using their deadly voices to lure strangers into watery graves. To keep their true nature secret, Sirens must never speak to humans, and must be careful never to stay in the same place for too long. But once her century of service is over, each Siren gets a chance to start over – a chance to live the mortal life that was almost stolen from her.
Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny… and Kahlen doesn’t want to.

Publisher: Harper Collins
Page Count:
 327

I don’t know why, but I had all the wrong ideas about this novel. First, I thought it would take place in any other time than the present tense and second I thought it was part of a series – oh, how wrong I’ve been! The Siren is a lovely modern day, mythological standalone romance and so far my favourite Kiera Cass book.

The life of a Siren is isolated with nothing but her Sisters to talk to – and I mean that. Sirens really cannot talk to anyone else or they would kill them. The Ocean is their mother, employer, friend and provider all at the same time. I loved how big of a part She was of the story and how beautiful, yet also cruel and almost godly She seemed, without me ever being able to fully understand everything that encompassed Her. She is definitely not human and it shows sometimes. The Sirens live to serve Her, but 100 years are a lot and everyone takes to the burdens differently. Yet, them having to share this duty, lead to them creating this very deep bond with each other. There are not many books with female friendships that are prominent and work, but here the individuals all had their part to play in forming their lovely little sisterhood. And they were truly all their own person, with different interests and characteristics, yet all strong in their own way.

I liked Khalen. Her style, her old-fashioned way of thinking – it just worked for me. I truly felt like she was the one who took her “job” serious, but who simultaneously was weighed down by it the most. She felt responsible for everyone and I could see how that dragged the others down but also made her necessary for the group. However, I am a little torn about the love. It wasn’t exactly insta-love, but she did fall for Akinli incredibly fast! I tried to justify it with her not being able to connect with other humans in forever, but it still was a rather otherworldly bond they had. Then again, that is exactly what made it so great, because sometimes it’s just nice to see people clicking with each other like that. My heart tore for Khalen, especially because I could see her pain so clearly in front of me.

One thing I kept wondering about was the language the Sirens spoke in. Was it English? Because how could that be possible with all of them coming from different parts of the world. There were little holes in that and also in the mythology itself, but I was willing to overlook it. The only thing that really bothered me was something I can’t say or you’ll be spoiled, but it had to do with a new Siren.

I feel like there is still a lot to say about this book, but I want you to experience it yourself. In the end, I really enjoyed the melancholy, the sadness as well as the cheesiness of it all. It is weird to think that it was Kiera Cass‘ first story and no one wanted to publish it back in the day and only the persistence of the fans made it possible. This is clearly a love story, but somehow it was also about guilt, duty, friendship, family and motherhood, sometimes even more so than romance. I am both sad and glad about the fact that this is only a standalone, because the ending was perfect. If it ever got turned into a movie, I think it would be very The Age of Adaline-ish and I’d love that, too.

Fazit: 4.2/5 stars! Despite minor flaws, this was a perfectly melancholic tale about love and the Ocean.

4stars

What’s your take on the story? Would you pick it up? If you’ve read it already, do you like it better than the Selection series as well? 

Bitten Season 2 Premiere

Last weekend the 2nd Season of Bitten started and that means I need to talk about it. Spoilers ahead! (For the first episode as well as what’s to come!)

So, as the promos for the new season already suggested, Bitten has gotten a lot darker and bloodier, but not actually a lot has happened in the first episode so far. Let me recap the main points:

  • (pregnant) Rachel is still missing after being kidnapped last season finale, which has Logan in fits.
  • Elena, while being with Clay (finally!), is of course worked up over the beheading of her ex-lover.
  • Jeremy gets threatened by the other alphas that they’ll take over his territory if he doesn’t kill his father within a week. Unfortunately, as long as they don’t have Rachel, they can’t do that.
  • A lot of people with strange signs “tattooed” on them want to kill Malcolm Danvers as well.
  • And last but not least, it’s always a feast to watch Nick Sorrentino at “work”.

That’s really it! I wish there was more to say about the first episode, but I just don’t know what, because that’s pretty much all that happened. So, instead, let’s talk about what’s to come this season. First of all, we have witches in the universe of Bitten now. That’s not really a strange thing to have, considering that we are talking about a fantasy/horror/supernatural TV show, but it’s still a nice addition. It was already teased that, just like Elena is the only female werewolf, the witches have only one male member and that he is likely to connect with Elena because of that. Yet, it seems the coven isn’t the only new enemy the pack will have to face. According to some sources, the television show creators want to stick to the storyline of the second book “Stolen” (which I haven’t read yet, but click here to read my comparison of the first book to the show), which would mean that there is a sort of military facility that captures and studies supernatural creatures. Those rumours aren’t confirmed, as far as I know, but from what we saw, there was a person dissecting a werewolf and the episode’s start hinted at that as well.

That all sounds very intriguing and I am happy to have the show back! What are your thoughts?

Bitten Book vs. TV Show

Bitten is a TV show produced by the Canadian channel Space (shown on Syfy in the US), but it’s originally based on the “Women of the Otherworld“-series by Kelley Armstrong. The show started airing earlier this year and I just finished reading the first book of the 13-part-series by Armstrong two days ago, so I thought it would be fitting to compare the two by the end of this year. There will be a spoiler-free and a spoiler-y section, so beware as you read on!

First, let me start by saying that I love both, the show and the book. I like supernatural stuff and this series just really hit the right tone with me. I always thought that I wasn’t a big fan of werewolves, but since I watch Teen Wolf, True Blood (rooting for Alcide all along) and Bitten, there is really no use in denying that they are sort of cool. I think the problem I have with the visualisation of werewolves is that the CGI and visual effects are mostly terrible and unfortunately I can’t say that they are very good in Bitten either. But that is totally besides the point, because I still very much enjoyed the show. Let me try to sum it up for you:

Elena Michaels is the only female werewolf on the planet, but she never wanted to be turned. All Elena wants is to be normal, so she tries to live as normal a life as possible given the circumstances with her unknowing boyfriend in Toronto. She thought she’s finally gotten rid of her past, when her Pack Alpha, Jeremy Danvers, summons her back for a Meet. Not being able to ignore his call, she has to go back to her former home, Stonehaven. There she has to deal with her ex, her true nature and murderers of a different kind.

The story is mainly focused on Elena and how she has to deal with her two lives. Especially while reading the book, I thought that Armstrong was great at conveying Elena’s thoughts and feelings in a way that we could entirely understand her even though this is such a surrealistic topic. Bitten is fast-paced, thrilling, exciting, dark, violent, funny and lovely at the same time –  I can only recommend it!

I guess this is all I can say for the non-spoiler section, because from now on everything I say gives something away. In short: Spoilers ahead!

When I actually read the book, I was surprised at how faithful they stayed with the storyline throughout the show. Of course there are differences in appearances of the characters and the likes, but they totally managed to capture the gist of it. The various actors and actresses portray their characters so well, I can’t say anything other than that I’m really happy (especially because Steve Lund plays my favourite Nick Sorrentino just perfect!). The changes they did make, don’t actually bother me that much. Remember though, that I’ve only come as far as to read the first book. I don’t know what happens in the rest of the series (not yet!). Having said that, here are the most obvious things I noticed that differ between the book to the TV show:

  • In both, the book and the show, two major Pack members die. While it’s Logan and Peter in the book, Peter and Antonio are the ones to die in the TV show. I don’t know which combination I prefer, because I was truly sad in both cases. Since Nick is somewhat of my favourite, I was sad to see him having to deal with his father’s death, but it couldn’t have been easy for Elena to loose her best friend either. And Peter was just a really nice guy.
  • Speaking of Logan surviving, that of course opened up a whole new storyline (him getting his girlfriend pregnant and not wanting to give her up, etc.) in the show that will be important during the second Season as well. Also, Logan did keep in contact with Elena in both cases, but they didn’t actually both live in Toronto in the book. I guess while reading the book, I connected a lot more with Logan because I saw the show first though. Just wanted to add that.
  • Elena’s life in Toronto is a lot more detailed in the TV show than it is in the book. Because of that, Philip and his family play a far more important role as well. They are slightly different than they are in the book, even though the general constellation of Philip having two sisters stayed the same. Additionally, Elena has a different job. She’s a photographer in the show and a journalist in the book.
  • While Elena’s backstory wasn’t changed that much. The child molester turned mutt wasn’t her abuser in the book though, only in the TV show. But I think we got that she had a rough childhood nonetheless.

I love it when TV shows just add to the story instead of changing it entirely. I can’t wait for the next season, coming February 2015, and reading the rest of the books from the “Women of the Otherworld“-series. Let’s discuss in the comments! Did I miss something crucial?