Once Upon a Time: Red’s Untold Tale by Wendy Toliver (Book Review)

redRed is 16 and lives with Granny in a cottage in the village, where boarding up the house and hiding during Wolfstime is a means of survival. Red help’s Granny with Granny’s baked good business, catering as well as door-to-door sales.
Red has a constant internal battle between her wild side and her strict, overprotective upbringing, and the issue of “control” as she discovers she has a hot temper when the “mean girls” push her too far. (“When we learn to control it, we needn’t fear it,” Rumpelstiltskin says in the series.) She has flashbacks to her 13th year when she received her cloak and the nickname “Red.” She is plagued by nightmares that she doesn’t understand, but the Once Upon a Time fans will recognize them as her wolf side coming out.
Red balances the difficult times with Granny at home and the girls at school with an emerging and satisfying romance with Peter.

Publisher: Kingswell Teen
Page Count: 416

When I first layed eyes upon the cover, I was instantly smitten and simply had to have the book. I am a regular viewer of Once Upon a Time and Red/Ruby was one of my favourite characters on it, so in the end there was no getting around me reading that story. Unfortunately, it was a little bit of a disappointment.

The book is dedicated to the fans of the TV show and I can see the appeal of finding out more about the backstory of secondary characters. However, fact is that even though it is called “Red’s Untold Tale”, you really don’t find out all that much new stuff about her. I am struggling to put this all into words, so as always when this happens, I am trying to come up with a list to clear my mind!

What I Liked

  • However odd the relationship between Granny and Red may be, it was nice to see them in a day-to-day setting. But I have to admit that good ol’ Granny isn’t at her most likable in this story.
  • Peter and Red were absolutely adorable, in a having-been-friends-forever-but-now-we-have-feelings-for-each-other-and-don’t-want-to-admit-it-even-though-it’s-clear-as-daylight-to-everyone-else kind of way. The book was written very teen-oriented, so I think the slow building romance and the torturing longing was appropriate.
  • I cannot stand mean girls! Violet and her gang were some of the most terrible human beings ever, but they sure worked as villains and gladly only made Red stronger in the end.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Nothing really happened. And I am not exaggerating! There is a little romance, there is bullying from other girls at school, fear of wolves and Red fighting with Granny, but in the end there was no story arc. You got glimpses of how Red became who she became, but sometimes it was more like reading a diary than reading a thoroughly plotted story. A lot of things were mentioned, but nothing was followed through and it ended completely open.
  • When I think of Red/Ruby, I think of a really badass woman, who won’t be held back by anyone and who can stand up for herself and that was just not the case in this book. I really didn’t even recognise the girl in the book to be the same person and I am not sure that’s a good thing. I do understand that this is a younger and probably also more carefree and naive Red, but still.
  • Even though the live in the Enchanted Forrest, people are really reluctant to believe in magic and fairy tales. Also, they referred to Snow White and Cinderella as a storybook princesses, even though they live in the same realm. Does that just seem weird to me or is this legitimately confusing?

I guess I could have gone into a bit more detail, but in case you still want to read it, I want it to have at least a few surprises in store for you! I am afraid I expected a little more from it – more depth, more story, more Red (the way I know her) and wolves. I think I can best explain it by saying that it felt more like a teaser for Red’s story, rather than her actual tale.

ruby

Fazit: 2.8/5 stars! A fluffy, teen romance with not much substance and probably mostly appeal to hardcore OUAT fans.

3stars

iZombie Season 2 Premiere

I never thought that I’d b into a zombie story as much as I am into iZombie. They ended with quite a bang last season and now Liv has to deal with the aftermath. Spoilers for the Season 2 Premiere ahead!

As a little reminder, here is what happened last time we saw iZombie: Liv used up the entire cure Ravi found on Blaine and Major. Since she therefore is still a zombie, she couldn’t donate blood for her injured brother – her family didn’t take that well. Also, Peyton left (Ravi broken hearted).

Now that we continue with Season 2, I’ll break it down into all the characters as always:

  • Liv’s brother really didn’t take it well that she didn’t help him. Her mother neither, but the thing is, why couldn’t she just lie to them? Tell them she had some sort of blood disease? No one said she had to go with the zombie-thing. Either way, I get why they are pissed at her and she’ll need to do a lot of fixing on that front.
  • They are not the only ones who are not talking to her though – Major is avoiding her as well. Clive thinks he has something to do with what happened at the meat shop, which he obviously did, but Liv is protecting him.
  • Blaine is far from having gone legit after being turned human, but at least he is now providing brains from already dead people for his zombie clients. I will never forgive him for what he did to Lowell, but I do like him as a character so very much. I think it’s going to be fun to see him being human again and kind of having to team up with Liv. They just really remind me of Buffy and Spike sometimes – anyone else get that vibe?
  • Ravi is a little frustrated with Liv, because he can’t replicate the cure again. They don’t know how long it will last and if it is a permanent cure at all. However, apparently the ex-zombies can now feel other zombies when they are around – they have an actual physical response to their presence.
  • The villain of the season is someone we actually know: the people at Max Rager, who were responsible for the zombie outbreak in the first place. They are truly evil – they forced Major to become a zombie killer. Yeah, I know that he actually wanted to do that last season, but he had reasons to dislike those particular zombies. I feel so sorry for him, especially because they want him to kill Liv. I wonder how long he can put it off.
    And then the shocker that they’ve already infiltrated Liv’s life in form of her new roommate is so creepy! They must have bugged the entire place and her phone and who knows what else …

Now, I hope Peyton comes back soon and I hope she’s on team zombie/Liv! Also, I wouldn’t mind if it were somehow possible that Lowell came back, but I guess there are some things even a zombie can’t recover from … What were your thoughts on the iZombie Season 2 Premiere?

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Book Review)

I feel like I am the last person in the entirety of the blog community who has read Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. But hey, I did read other books by her, this just wasn’t the first one.

epTWO MISFITS. ONE EXTRAORDINARY LOVE.

It’s 1986 and two star-crossed teens are smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love–and just how hard it pulled you under.

 A cross between the iconic ’80s movie Sixteen Candles and the classic coming-of-age novel Looking for Alaska, Eleanor & Park is a brilliantly written young adult novel.

(source: Goodreads)

Where to begin? Eleanor & Park was equally heartwarming and heartbreaking. Extremely adorable and tragic at the same time. Never did I expect that it would take such a dark turn towards the end, but somehow it all makes sense.

That’s what I really liked about the book – everything made sense. Okay, maybe sometimes I was a little annoyed with Eleanor’s behaviour and her being so closed off, but other than that those people were just human. They acted like people – they were jealous, embarrassed, proud, defiant, mean, kind and everything in between. Every character felt like they had proper motives for their actions (except for Richie).

I also liked that parents played a role in the book. Often in YA fiction I have the feeling that those children just don’t have parents, or if they do they don’t give a damn about their kids. Granted, Eleanor’s parents were far from being role models, but Park’s were great! Sometimes there are issues and topics that cause tension in a family and I was just so happy to see that in the end, they were supportive of whatever he wanted to do.

When I started reading the book, I had no idea where it was going. There were awesome pop culture references along the way and I liked to see Eleanor and Park’s relationship blossom, but I still had no idea how it would end. That was the real surprise. I didn’t expect it to be sort of cliffhanger-y, but it suits the story. No one knows how exactly their story will end, but I do know that they had something real.

I am really looking forward to the movie to this. I can’t imagine it yet at all, but maybe that’s a good thing. And maybe we’ll get to see a little more in the end.

Fazit: 4.3/5 stars. As expected not my favourite Rowell book, but majorly fantastic nonetheless.

We All Looked Up Book Review

There’ve been so many great books released this year and We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach is definitely among my favourites! There won’t be any major Spoilers unless noted otherwise!

 

We All Looked Up is a story told from the point of view of four teenagers interconnected with each other, who have to deal with the very real possibility of an asteroid hitting earth and destroying it. With that knowledge, how do you still know what’s important? Does anything matter at all or is everything that you do even more significant now that it could be the last time?

First, let me start by saying that I love the cover. It was one of the things that instantly drew me towards the book, because it was just so simple yet beautiful. But even more importantly, the short description on the back of the book really hit home with me. It’s very Breakfast-Club-esque and I loved that. Stories about putting down labels are always great and it having that unique twist with the asteroid made it even better. I don’t know exactly what genre it is though, maybe pre-apocalyptic? Is that a thing?

Anyway, the four characters played off each other very well, although it sometimes felt very obvious who they were “destined” to be with. Nonetheless, they all had that authentic touch and each had their very own voice. I loved the questions they were confronted with as society began to panic and disintegrate. Everything in this book resonated with me very much and to quote it right there:

“The best books, they don’t talk about things you never thought about before. They talk about things you’d always thought about, but that you didn’t think anyone else had thought about. You read them, and suddenly you’re a little bit less alone in the world. You’re part of this cosmic community of people who’ve thought about this thing, whatever it happens to be.”

And that’s just exactly how it felt! Everything was connected and even if you didn’t agree with the decisions characters made, you still could empathise with them and that’s the most important thing anyway.

SPOILER AHEAD!!

During the course of the book some people died … actually quite a lot and a main character among them. While I did feel a little sad, I thought there was never actual time to grieve. I am aware that they were all under a lot of pressure and short on time with the asteroid on the way, but those moments always felt so … rushed and unimportant, which I think is a pity.

Also, a lot of people have debated over the ending and of course I have something to say about it as well. I’m a little torn to be honest. On the one hand, it was perfect! It probably couldn’t have ended any other way and by keeping all the possibilities open, it gave the readers even more to think about than the book has already done thus far. Yet, on the other hand, it was also extremely mean. You’ve spent so much time building a relationship with these characters and then you are denied to know their fate. But I know that it wasn’t really possible to tell the story any further. It would’ve ruined the flow.

Fazit: A very engaging read that will give you a lot to think about!

If you’ve read the book as well or have any questions, let’s discuss in the comments! For more details on the book, either go and visit Tommy Wallach‘s website or click on the picture above to get re-directed to goodreads.

 

My Heart and Other Black Holes Book Review

I still struggle a bit for words when it comes to Jasmine Warga‘s My Heart and Other Black Holes. Before buying the book, I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and I was worried I might not like it because of the hype that surrounds the book. Man, am I glad that was not the case! This review includes minor Spoilers!

my-heart

My Heart and Other Black Holes revolves around 16-year-old physics nerd Aysel, who wants nothing more than to die. Yet, Aysel is afraid she won’t be able to do it on her own, so she searches the interwebs for a suicide partner. Coincidentally, a sporty and popular boy from a neighboring town, very much the opposite of her, is in a similar situation. Together they decide to help each other die, but in truth their relationship could change everything.

I guess my summary isn’t as perfect as the one on goodreads, but it’s succinct just the way I like it. So, where do I begin now? It’s such a smart, special, weird, insightful, sad but hopeful read. I went through it all rather quickly, even though the story had me close to tears several times. Never did I expect a book about potential suicide to harbour so much hope! It’s rare to find a person who truly and completely gets you and not just the good parts, but genuinely everything – Aysel and Roman seem to have had real luck in that department.

Depression is a serious topic and should not be treated lightly. Jasmine Warga manages this all extremely well in her debut novel. I cared and understood the characters from beginning ’til end and I like that she had such an easy style of writing. It was very much like people think and talk. Aysel had such an odd mix of a vivid, heartbreaking and at times hilarious voice and that made the heavy topic more relatable and bearable. Also, I really enjoyed her inclusion of poetry (such as John Milton‘s Paradise Lost) as well as Einstein‘s Theory of Relativity. It gave those sources new meaning as well.

If I had to complain about something, and this is seriously a minor “issue”, I think that I would have liked it a bit better if Aysel and Roman hadn’t fallen in love but rather just stayed friends. It’s not really bothering me and it definitely doesn’t hurt the story, but I just feel like it’s important to know that you can get out of a depression like that with the help of friends and not just finding true love.

Fazit: very authentic and heartbreaking story with a happy ending!

I’d love to read some more of Jasmine Warga in the future. I can imagine great things coming from her!

 

 

iZombie Series Premiere

So, I am not a huge fan of the whole zombie trend and I don’t usually go out of my way to watch zombie movies or read zombie books, but I simply couldn’t resist checking out iZombie when I heard that Rob Thomas was involved! Prepare for Spoilers ahead for the iZombie Series Premiere!

iZombie is based on a comic book series by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred which now got adapted by the CW with the help of Rob Thomas, the genius creator of Veronica Mars. I honestly couldn’t be more psyched since I never really got over the cancellation of Veronica Mars and while it may not look that way, the shows are very similar.

Olivia (Rose McIver) or, as she’s often called, Liv is an overachiever, very focused and determined to get what she wants in her life. Everything goes according to plan until she goes to a boat party with an inexplicable zombie outbreak. She survives, but in the process she got scratched by a zombie and is now one herself. After that she turns her life upside down: She doesn’t pursue a career as a heart surgeon any longer and changes to a position at the morgue instead. Also, she breaks up with her loving fiance (Robert Buckley) because she doesn’t want to burden him with her zombie fate. So, just like Veronica, she’s a strong female character with a bit of an identity crisis, but the similarities don’t stop there. You are what you eat was never more true than for Liv, because whenever she eats a brain (which she has to do in order to not turn full on zombie) she gets the memories and sometimes even skills and characteristics of that person. Working in a morgue, her “patients” haven’t all died of natural causes and eventually she finds her purpose in afterlife by helping out the local detective (Malcolm Goodwin) as his psychic sidekick. So, basically she’s a zombie Veronica Mars kind of detective and I love it!

The show is hilarious and weird, which is just the way I like my television program to be. But here are some other things I really love about iZombie:

  • Rose McIver looks great as a zombie. She’s not the brain-dead version, but a sarcastic and bad-ass kind instead. Also props to the make-up department, they did an amazing job!
  • Rahul Kohli as Liv’s confidant is just hilarious! His comments crack me up every time, I love his accent and I am so happy that she has someone to talk to who’s so cool and nonchalant about the whole thing. Also, he tries to cure her, so she really couldn’t have hoped for someone better to find out about her secret.
  • At the end of the pilot episode, we find out that Liv isn’t the only zombie, but that there is another (male) one out there, played by David Anders. I love David Anders! Just knowing that he was in it, made me want to check it out and I can’t wait to see what his part in the show he will be. I have a feeling he is not as controlled as Liv.
  • Apparently Bradley James is set to appear in the show as well! Again, cannot wait!
  • Last but not least, it takes place in Seattle and I just really, really like that city!

I kind of feel like I want to check out the comics to see what to expect from the show as it goes along, but I’m not sure I have any time (or money for the matter) to do so any time soon. Have any of you read the comics and want to share your thoughts? I’d love to hear from everyone if they are as psyched as I am to have another Rob Thomas show on TV again.

The DUFF: Book vs. Trailer

In my Taylor Swift Book Tag I mentioned how much I was looking forward to reading the DUFF (=Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger and now I finally got around to it. As you may or may not know, I buy a lot of the books I read after watching the trailer for their movie adaptation and this one was no exception. All throughout the comments on YouTube people complained about how different the movie looked from the book. I thought this was just the usual annoyance that came with movie adaptations barely ever being faithful to their underlying material, but now I can tell you that the two are really nothing alike. I don’t know what the studio was thinking when they produced this film, but it has nothing to do with the story the book tried to tell.

So, basically the movie looks like a typical generic teenage RomCom – nothing wrong with that. Themes like the one from “She’s All That” and “Mean Gilrs” have been copied a million times for a simple reason: they work. I’m not one to judge them for that and quite honestly I would watch it for the simple reason that it has Robbie Amell in it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not the book.

Warning: from here on there will be Spoilers for the book (and possibly the movie)!

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger is about Bianca Piper, a cynic girl who deals with her problems by entering into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with the person she hates the most: Wesley Rush. She starts avoiding her friends and bottles up her emotions which inevitably leads to a lot of chaos. Despite what the trailer suggests, the story is a lot deeper and deals with multiple issues that not only teens are confronted with. Here are some of the major differences I’ve spotted:

  • Bianca doesn’t come to Wesley for help. She despises him and solely uses him as a means of escape, well until it turns into something else. It’s different than in the movie though. She doesn’t want to change her appearance, or herself in general, to make anyone like her and he doesn’t fall for her just because she’s slowly changing for the better, but because they have a genuine connection. Bianca knows that for the people who really care about her, she doesn’t have to pretend.
  • I have no idea who Bella Thorne is supposed to be. There is no mean girl in the story. Of course there are the obligatory bitchy cheerleaders, but not a particular mean girl who rules the school. Was that really necessary to add?
  • There is some hope in me that they will deal with the family issues of the characters in the movie, even though it doesn’t look like it from what I could tell from the trailer. But I thought it was important to have Bianca’s father’s alcoholism and her mother being away all the time as well as Wesley’s judgmental grandmother, his sweet little sister and so on in the book. The cast list doesn’t really reassure me though … we’ll see.
  • The movie makes it look like the goal of it all is to make Bianca datable for prom – she doesn’t even go to prom! Neither does she go to the Homecoming or any other school dance, because they just aren’t her thing. There better not be some big showdown at prom …
  • The Nest just doesn’t exist. Seems sad to me, since I really wanted to see Joe.
  • I suppose there will be a lot less sex in the movie. Just an educated guess.
  • I suppose the only thing that will be the same in the movie and the book is moral of the story, which means that Bianca soon discovers that everyone who has friends feels like the Duff at some point.

I hope it came across that I really don’t think the stories have anything in common. I mean not even the set up is the same. Have you read the book? Let’s talk about it!