#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 18 January, 2017

It’s time for WWW Wednesday, hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

 

What have you recently finished reading?

rebirthofrapunzelcoverI finished The Rebirth of Rapunzel: A Mythic Biography of the Maiden in the Tower by Kate Forsyth. I found her research quite interesting, though the articles in the third section got a bit repetitive. More info in my review.

badbeginningcoverOn Monday night, I read The Bad Beginning, the first in the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. When I read the first half of this series back at age twelve or so, I did not realise just how dark the book is! Proper, full-blown child abuse by page 30 or so! But it’s written in such a black comedy, deadpan kind of way that he gets away with it. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t like it as an adult, but that fear was not necessary! I actually gave it five stars at first, but one I’d had a bit of time to consider, changed my rating to four.

Incidentally, the reason I’m finally reading this series again is because of the Netflix series, which so far I am really enjoying (I’ve only watched te first two episodes so far), though it is something that risks getting repetitive quickly.

My review for The Mother of Dreams edited by Majoto Ueda also finally got posted.

What are you currently reading?

creepingshadowcoverCurrently mostly invested in The Creeping Shadow, which is book 4 in the Lockwood and Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. So far it is not disappointing me. Stroud rarely does.

Aheartofbrasscoverlso technically reading Heart of Brass by Felicity Hall. I attended the book launch during the Canberra Writers’ Festival last year and it was a lot of fun, so I was hoping I would enjoy the book, too, but it’s taking me a while to get into at the moment.

darkunwindingcoverLast but not least is The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, which I found on audio this morning, and then discovered I actually already had on my TBR. It sells itself as steampunk, but the reviews say that it’s more like straight historical fiction. Since I have a love-hate relationship with steampunk, that actually suits me just fine. I’m about an hour and a half into it at the moment, and will hopefully get a chunk listened to tomorrow on my day off.

What do you think you’ll read next?

For the third week running, I’m answering this question with The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias. I probably will actually get to it this time! Though a colleague did just today bring entire Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carringer for me so…

What are you reading this week? 🙂

wednesdaybannerThe other blog hop for this week is WIPpet Wednesday. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us in this one by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up.

I haven’t written much over the past week, as first I was preparing for my mother to visit, then she was here, then I found myself feeling stuck once she left, so I got around the stuckness by brainstorming and subsequently planning the contemporary Wizard of Oz plot bunny I mentioned last week. Maybe next week I’ll be sharing something from that with you.  With that in mind, I just have a single paragraph for you. This is from Max’s POV, and you’ll hopefully be able to work out the context.

“Clara?” he called out. The path ahead looked deserted, but he was sure she had come this way. The music from the carols service was still quite loud, so  he kept moving, keeping an eye out for any movement up ahead. He started feeling nervous. As he continued to walk, the music faded, until the nighttime surroundings took on an eerie quality. He jumped as a bush rustled, only for a stray cat to fly out from the foliage and streak past him.

That’s it from me this week. I have the day off work tomorrow so I’ll be catching your posts first thing. See you then!

~ Emily

#AWW2017 “I was the midwife at Rapunzel’s rebirth, and my own.” // Review of “The Rebirth of Rapunzel” by Kate Forsyth

Title: The Rebirth of Rapunzel: a Mythic Biography of the Maiden in the Tower
Author: Kate Forsyth
Genre:
non-fiction/academic
Date Read: 09/01/2017 – 11/01/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review: 

Ever since reading Kate Forsyth’s Rapunzel retelling, Bitter Greens, back in 2015, I had been interested in reading more about her doctoral research into Rapunzel. However, I only recently discovered that her exegesis was published last year and that I would be able to get my hands on a copy.

The book is divided into three sections. The first is Forsyth’s “mythic biography” where she describes her research and creative process for writing Bitter Greens. The second section is a translation of Charlotte-Rose de la Force’s Rapunzel fairytale. And the third is a series of articles written by Forsyth for various publications.

The first section was the one I found the most interesting. Forsyth delves into the origin of the “maiden in the tower” motif and looks at different iterations of the story throughout history, from Greek mythology right through to Disney’s Tangled. I did enjoy also hearing about Forsyth’s personal connection to the fairytale and how she eventually came up with the framework for her novel.

The second section was good for context, though the articles in the third section were all somewhat similar and I found myself starting to skim as similar stories got repeated (this wouldn’t have been an issue when they appeared in different publications, but all grouped together like that, the similarities were obvious). It did feel a little bit like these were included to add some extra length to the book.

Having said all that, I  would still definitely recommend this for those interested in fairytale re-tellings, as I haven’t come across too many publications on the history of these stories such as this, and this is written in nice accessible language that isn’t too academic and dry.


This review forms part of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge for 2017. Click here for more information.

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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 11 January, 2017

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished reading The Nnaturalwayofthingscoveratural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood, and I liked it, but it was a bit too open-ended for me to really love it. My review is here.

I then finished The Diary of a Young Girl (the Definitive Edition) by Anne Frank. It’s funny, you see all the really profound quotes everywhere that it annefrankcovertook me by surprise at first to realise she really was just like any other teenager in a lot of ways. This edition was printed in such a way that her final entry finished on the last line of a page, and when I turned it, all that was written on the next page was “Anne’s diary ends here”. I knew I was close to finishing, but that felt like a bit of a punch in the gut.

I also posted my review of Stars Above by Marissa Meyer this week. You can find it here.

What are you currently reading?

rebirthofrapunzelcoverCurrently reading The Rebirth of Rapunzel: A Mythic Biography of the Maiden in the Tower by Kate Forsyth. This is the academic component of Forsyth’s doctoral research; her novel Bitter Greens, which I reviewed a bit over a year ago, was the fiction component. I had known about this research, but didn’t realise until now that it had been published in full last year. I’ve now got a couple of other Rapunzel retellings on my TBR that I really want to read!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I probably should read The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias, since I received a copy of it from NetGalley. I think I will actually enjoy it once I start it, but I’m really enjoying reading physical books at the moment, and don’t really feel like an ebook?

What are you reading this week? 🙂

wednesdaybanner
The
other blog hop for this week is WIPpet Wednesday. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us in this one by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up.

This scene takes place not long after last week’s. Clara ended up losing her job over the incident where it seemed she had thrown a box of Christmas lights at a customer, so she has gone home early, forgetting that she was supposed to meet Max after work. He’s now home and asking her what happened today. They’ve been discussing her developing powers and she’s starting to put two and two together about him and his aunt. 17 lines for 2017.

“I hurt someone today. He upset me and I hit him in the head with a box of Christmas lights.” She smiled weakly. “It sounds so stupid. But he thought I threw them at him, and he could sue the shop if he wanted to. Max?”

Max had been listening while watching the water in the kettle start to boil, but when Clara turned her attention on him so fully, he looked up and returned the favour.

“Yes?”

“What’s wrong with me?”

“Nothing’s wrong with you.”

Clara scoffed. “No one else I know is able to move objects with her mind, or make the lights come on and off, or hear the thoughts of everyone around them. You seem to know what’s going on.” She held up a finger as he started to object. “You’ve been way too calm about all these things I can do, and you never seem surprised when I talk about it. It’s like you knew this stuff was all going to happen. Is this why you and Aunt Jana invited me to live with you?”

Indeed it is, Clara. Sort of. It’s kind of complicated. You’ve kind of always lived with them, there was never an invitation but you don’t remember that.

So this thing keeps happening where every now and then I’ll write a moment between Max and Clara that’s totally adorable and I’ll think, “Yep, totally shipping these two”. Except a lot of the time they come across more as friends than anything romantic and I JUST WISH THEY’D DECIDE. I mean, I can work with “Long lost Princess falls for protector while unaware that she’s a Princess and then its awkward later” but I NEED TO KNOW.

Ahem. 

In other news, I found a really awesome plot prompt on the NaNoWriMo forums. It’s a contemporary Wizard of Oz retelling and I really want to write it, but I’m nervous about it. Throw me random encouragement!

I should probably leave this here! I’ll catch you all soon! 🙂

~ Emily

Book Review: The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth

Title: The Beast’s Garden
Author: Kate Forsyth
Genre: historical fiction/fairytale retelling
Date Read: 16/11/2015 – 26/11/2015
Rating: ★★★

Review:

beastsgardencoverKate Forsyth’s newest novel is a retelling of the Grimm Brothers’ story, The Singing, Springing Lark, a variation on the Beauty and the Beast story. It is set in Berlin, during the years 1938- 1945. It’s a thoroughly researched novel and well put together, and I read it quite quickly, though I never found myself getting really invested in it.

It’s 1938 and Ava Falkenhorst finds herself drawn to Nazi officer, Leo von Lowenstein, despite the events of the Night of Broken Glass and the protestations of her family and close Jewish friends. As Germany prepares for war, those close to Ava are no longer safe, and she eventually marries Leo in exchange for him keeping her father safe. She feels she needs to do something to help the movement against Hitler’s regime and joins an underground resistance, unaware for the most part that Leo is part of an inside scheme to assassinate Hitler.

Ava and Leo were both solid characters, but I never felt particularly invested in them. Even when things start going very wrong, I kept reading, but never felt particularly worried or bothered by what was going on. And awful things were happening! People were being shipped off to concentration camps, or simply being killed on the streets. Leo also bothered me a) because despite being a spy, he would still make derogatory comments about Jewish people, even when they were standing in the room with him, and b) early on, he made some rather unpleasant remarks about Ava being “his”. In fact, the whole romance felt rather insta-lovey, though at least Leo was self-aware enough the term “in lust” at first, rather than “in love”.

As someone who doesn’t actually know that much about the Second World War, other than the basics, I wish I had read the afterword first, as it revealed just how many of the side characters in this novel were actual historical figures. I really wish I had known this before I read it, as it would have added some depth to the Resistance. As it was, I just found that all the various resistance groups were getting confused in my head, and I had trouble following. This might have been a problem regardless of how much I knew, but I still wish I had known.

The other thing that threw me a bit with this book was the time jumps. The book is divided into several parts, and sometimes there is a leap of up to a year or so between them. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing this, it did make me feel like I was missing something of the characters’ lives, even though I’m sure they were just surviving day-to-day in these in-between sections.

All in all, I feel like this is a solid piece of historical fiction, but not quite as good as my introduction to Kate Forsyth’s work, Bitter Greens. I’ve still got some of Kate’s other works on my TBR, which I plan on getting to this year, so we’ll see how they hold up, too.

#WIPpet Wednesday and #WWW Wednesday – 18 November, 2015

So I’m pretty sure I fixed the WIPpet Wednesday linky so it’ll all be all right. The advantage of living where I do is that I’ll probably be the first one to try using it, so I should know if anything goes wrong.

I officially declared the first draft of Operation: Sugarplum completed on Monday. It’s actually not entirely finished, but I was getting sick of trying to join up the bits of the ending that I had written, so I’m going to fix it later. I’m still going to use it for the next couple of WIPpets though, as I’m actually… planning my next WIP. I know, I know. Calm yourselves. I started out using the Snowflake Method, though I’m only up to Step 4 and have already broken some of the rules. It’s fine, though. It’s more planning than I’ve ever done before. Which is good. You have actually read a couple of bits from it under this category, but those two bits don’t actually exist anymore.

wednesdaybannerAnyway. You’ll hear more of that in coming weeks. For WIPpet Wednesday this week, I have added the 1 and the 8 of the 18th together and have 9 paragraphs. This is not long after last week’s excerpt; Max is persuading Clara she needs to go back to her house. The house that is full of Creelans. For extra context, Creela and Max’s country, Thelidon, have been at war for years, and Max, as the magical heir to the throne, is expected to deal with them .

“They’re not going to go away of their own free will. I’m going to have to deal with them somehow.” He looked over at Clara. “I could use your help.”

Clara shrugged. “Okay, fine.”

Max turned into a side street and used someone’s driveway to turn around. He started heading back towards Clara’s house. Clara felt her stomach knotting up the closer they got. Max parked the car around the corner from the house, and then turned to Clara again.

“Don’t do anything crazy. Try to keep the King distracted, at least, while I get inside.”

“Once you start killing off his minions, he’s not going to listen to me for much longer.”

“I know. But we’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”

“I love a man with a plan,” said Clara sarcastically.

“You’ll be fine. Just be careful.” Max leaned over and gave her a quick kiss. “Okay, go. I’ll follow in a few minutes.”

Clara sighed, and got out of the car. She gave Max a small wave and then turned to walk towards her street. A few minutes later, she found herself approaching her house with a growing sense of dread for the second time that night.

To join in on WIPpet Wednesday, simply post an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date, and then join up with us via the linky at the top-right of my blog.

Next up is WWW Wednesday, which is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words. You can join in over there by leaving a link to your own WWW Wednesday on today’s post. All you need to do is answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

  • What are you currently reading?

The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth. This is historical fiction, set in Nazi Germany, but also a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast variation, The Singing Springing Lark. I’m only a few chapters in, but I have high hopes.

I’m also listening to Looking for Alibrandi, which is a classic Australian YA that I never read as a teenager. It’s very 90s, but I’m not minding that. I am enjoying that the narrator ends half her sentences with an upper inflection. It makes her sound like such an Australian teen. (Adam Hills has an amusing routine about how we go up at the ends of our sentences).

  • What did you recently finish reading?

I finished Winter and the damn book made me cry. I loved seeing the final journey for these characters, though it always hard to let a series go when you’ve been enjoying it. I would really like for Marissa Meyer to write a new series that is about Cress and Thorne having galactic adventures, and Thorne forgetting he’s gone straight half the time, and Cress reminding him. I guess I’ll have to make do with whatever fanfiction exists. (I am blaming this book for the fact that the new story I’m planning went from “and the Princess confronts her father about his treatment of her and the people” to “and the Princess leads the people in a revolution” during early plotting stages).

And then I followed this up with another book that made me cry, A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. This was a very beautiful book, and I listened to the audio, which was read by Jason Isaacs (if you don’t know him from anywhere else, he played Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies). His voice was perfection.

Also, two reviews went up in the past week, for Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth and  A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I also have The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth from the library, so that will be next, followed by some books I picked up at a St Vincent de Paul warehouse sale recently.

That’s it from me. I have my final astronomy class tonight, so I’ve got to head out for that soon. I’ll see you on your blogs later!

~ Emily

Book Review: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth #AWW2015

Title: Bitter Greens
Author: Kate Forsyth
Genre: Historical fantasy
Date Read: 05/10/2015 – 16/10/2015
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

bittergreensFirst of all, a note on the hashtag in this post’s title. I recently learned about the Australian Women Writers challenge, a challenge which aims to highlight quality books written by Australian women. While I feel I’ve come in a bit late to join in on the challenge properly for this year, I thought I might as well jump on the bandwagon where I can. And now on to the review!

This book was recommended to me by a colleague, who allegedly got drunk with Kate Forsyth on one occasion. That’s not why he recommended it to me, though; that has more to do with the fact that I had been talking about Grounded: the Adventures of Rapunzel, and how I was interested in tracking down other Rapunzel adaptations.

Bitter Greens weaves together the stories of Rapunzel (here called Margherita, or Petrosinella) and the witch who holds her captive with that of Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force, the French novelist who wrote the fairytale we now know as Rapunzel. Unlike many (most?) of the fairytale retellings I’ve read this year, this one is actually adult fiction, in a historical fantasy style, so it was quite different to what I’m used to. I still enjoyed it a lot, though.

The majority of the book is focused on Charlotte-Rose, and alternates between her time imprisoned in an abbey by order of the King (this is where she hears the Rapunzel story) and earlier times in her life. Forsyth’s descriptions of Versailles and life at court are opulent and sensual, made more so I think by the fact that these sections are in first person.

The story of Selena Leonelli, the witch, are also in first person, but only take up a few chapters of the book. It doesn’t defend her actions, but it does explain why she does what she does. Margherita’s story is in third person, and to be honest, it was the one I had the most investment in (I was there for the Rapunzel story after all). Seeing Margherita’s struggle to not go mad as she is shut up in that tower was exactly the kind of thing I had been looking for when I asked for Rapunzel recommendations on GoodReads some months back.

As I said, this story did have elements of fantasy in it, but I would also consider it my first foray into historical fiction. It’s definitely got me interested enough in Kate Forsyth’s writing to look up some more of her works, particularly The Wild Girl, which is the love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild (does that not sound perfect?) and The Beast’s Garden, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set in the Second World War. I think she is definitely an author worth plenty of time.

#WWW Wednesday – October 21, 2015

Happy Back to the Future Day, everyone! Here is a celebratory picture of me: bttfday

This may be the first time my glasses have ever showed up on this blog, despite the fact that I am wearing them more often than not.

Anyway, that’s not actually what we’re here for. We’re here for WWW Wednesday, a bookish meme that is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words and you can join in over there by leaving a link to your own WWW Wednesday on today’s post.

  • What are you currently reading?

I’ve just started The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker. The only chance I had to read today was while I was waiting to pick up my partner from work, and that wasn’t very long. But this promises to be a really good book, I think.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

I finished Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth and gave it four stars. There was less Rapunzel than I hoped for, but it was still an interesting read.

I listened to Silhouette, which is another Doctor Who novel. It was set in Victorian London and featured the Paternostra Gang as well. It was narrated by Dan Starkey, who was able to do a very good Peter Capaldi impression. In fact, most of his male character voices were great, though the female ones were a bit annoying.

And I finally read Fangirl! It’s due back to the library on Friday or Saturday, so I just got there in time. It got 2.5-3 stars from me. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, but there were enough parts that fell flat for me to not rate it higher. I think perhaps if I was still as much of a fangirl as Cath is (and trust me, I was once), I might have enjoyed it more. I also wondered if the Simon Snow “excerpts” were just made up by Rainbow Rowell to pad her NaNoWriMo word count. They weren’t especially relevant, except for maybe giving us a glimpse of the world Cath is so invested in.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I also have We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and the first two volumes of Return to Labyrinth from the library, so they’ll be up next. I will get through the graphic novels very quickly.

It’s getting quite late now, so I’m going to head off. See you soon!

~ Emily

#WWW Wednesday – October 14, 2015

wwwwednesdayI decided to go on a WIPpet Wednesday hiatus until after I hand in my last piece of uni work for the year on November 6. It’s not that I’m not writing anything, but it takes time to properly engage with others’ posts, and I feel bad about posting but not visiting others. WWW is a bit easier in that regard, so I’m still here for that. This meme is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words and you can join in over there by leaving a link to your own WWW Wednesday on today’s post.

  • What are you currently reading?

Still reading Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth. I’ve never read much historical fiction, but this is really good! Especially if you also like Rapunzel. Which I do.

I got a bit worn out of the audio version of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and purchased it on my Kindle. It’s sort of on hold until I finish everything I’ve got out from the library, though. There is part of me that Netflixed the movie the other night and thinks maybe that will do me, though. It is quite a young book, and while I’m not above reading middle-grade fiction, this one feels very young.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

I dropped The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway because I finally decided disappointing the colleague who loaned it to me by not finishing it was a better option that struggling through a book I was only enjoying now and then. I also dropped Evensong by Krista Walsh because it just wasn’t doing it for me.

I did finish The Amazing Book Is Not on Fire by Dan Howell and Phil Lester (aka danisnotonfire and TheAmazingPhil on YouTube) this afternoon. They are so proud of this book and I can see why, but in a way, it kind of felt like reading transcripts of their videos… and I’d prefer to just watch their videos…

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

LOL, as I have said for at least the last two Wednesdays,  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I promise I really am going to read it and I’m not just continually say so. And The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker. They’re the two that will be due back to the library the soonest.

That’s it from me this week! Drop by Sam’s blog to see more WWW posts!

~ Emily