“The melody conjured the taste of caramel sugar; laughter on a spring day; ice skates scraping on a frozen pond.” // Review of “The Enchanted Sonata” by Heather Dixon Wallwork

Title: The Enchanted Sonata
Author: Heather Dixon Walllwork
Genre:
Fantasy
Intended audience: Middle-grade/lower YA
Date Read: 14/12/2018 – 28/12/2018
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

This is the kind of book I may not have loved as much as I did if I had read it in another time and place. However, I was reading it around Christmas, and I got swept up in the descriptions of gingerbread and snow and music and it was lovely.

This is a retelling of The Nutcracker, with a bit of  The Pied Piper and The Phantom of the Opera thrown in. The writing has  a fairy-tale feel about it. Even when the stakes are high, there’s a feeling of whimsy to it and the language is beautifully crafted. Music is the form of magic used in this story and you feel a bit like you’re listening to music as you read.

It took me a little while to get interested in the romance between Clara and the Nutcracker because… well, it’s a bit weird because he’s a nutcracker the whole time she knows him, and also they’ve known each other for a day or maybe two, but their banter was sweet, and by the end I was totally squeeing over them.  Also the Nutcracker (aka Prince Nikolai) is super-awkward and insecure but also really comes into his own and proves himself when given a chance and I like that in a leading man. Also, there’s no toxic masculinity to be seen.

Clara’s character growth took a bit longer. For a long time she was in denial about any feelings for Nutcracker, or her growing fondness for the kingdom or the other friends she is making there. However, once she got the proverbial knock on the upside of the head and realised a few things about herself, I was able to get behind her a bit more.

I mentioned Phantom of the Opera earlier and I want to talk about that because it seems I was the only one who noticed this? The villian a musical genius called Erik who has a tragic backstory and lives at least part of his life underneath the city’s enormous music hall. People hear him playing and don’t know where the music is coming from and assume he’s a ghost. If that’s not Phantom of the Opera, I don’t know what is!

Definitely recommend this one if you are in the mood for a whimsical, magical fairytale. It will make you smile.


Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – October 07, 2015

Wednesday has somehow already rolled around again, and I have to apologise for visiting very few of your blogs last week. First up this week, I’m doing WWW Wednesday, a weekly book meme in which we answer three questions starting with W. This meme is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words and you can join in by leaving a link to your own post on today’s post.
wwwwednesday

  • What are you currently reading?

I’m still going on The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway. I’m nearly at page 100! Of 531! It’s a very slow read, this one, but I do like it. It’s a lot denser than anything I usually read, though.

No movement on Evensong by Krista Walsh so far this week.

I started Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth. It’s a historical adaptation of Rapunzel, and was recommended to me by a colleague. I’m only about 20 pages in so far. It was one of the two picked for me on the Pick for Me community on LiveJournal (a community where you are paired up with a buddy who chooses two books from your TBR for you to read during the month).

I’ve also started listening to the audio of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. The audio is quite long, though; I’m wondering if it might be quicker to grab a copy of the physical book.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

I listened to the audio of Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay, which is a bit of an Australian classic. I thought it was interesting, and it definitely had some beautiful descriptions of the Australian landscape, but overall, I wasn’t that fussed. Probably partially because I’m not really the type who enjoys things labelled “classic”.

I also finished to The Crawling Terror, a Doctor Who novel read by Neve McIntosh, who plays Madame Vastra in the show. It may have had the 12th Doctor and Clara, but it felt like a Third Doctor adventure. Giant insects from outer space and top secret Nazi technology. Fun stuff.

And then there was another Doctor Who story, The Day of the Cockroach, which was read by Arthur Darvill, who played Rory. He had Amy and the 11th Doctor’s voices down perfectly. It was awesome. Also, it had nuclear bombs and giant cockroaches. Also awesome. Other cool thing about Doctor Who audios is that they put sound effects and stuff through them as well. When the Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver, you get the sound effect underneath the narration. Ditto the TARDIS. There was a scene in this one where they were all banging on the walls with pots and pans and those sounds were used, too.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I still haven’t started Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and I also picked up The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker up from the library (it’s the second of the two Pick for Me books), so probably one of those.

Lol, this post has already taken up a whole page in the Word document I’m typing it in. Sorry guys. I do go on sometimes.

wednesdaybannerNext up is WIPpet Wednesday, in which writers share exerpts from their WIP that somehow relate to the date. You can join in on this one, too; our linky is over here. Many thanks to K. L. Schwengel for being an awesome host.

Scrivener is currently downloading updates, so I can’t access my typed up Operation Sugarplum file. In the meantime, I give you ten lines from my notebook for the 10th of the month. It’s handwritten, so it is quite short. Clara has been taken hostage in her own house by the Creelan King and his minions.

“Max will come for me. And he will beat you.” Clara was pleased to note she sounded far more confident than she felt.

“We expect him to come, Clara. That’s the entire point.” The other creatures sniggered. The King continued, “In the meantime, you will do everything I say, to the letter, or I will kill you on the spot and let him come to us with revenge in mind instead. Is that understood?”

For once I have managed to get my Wednesday blog post out of the way well before my evening sport match (soccer tonight, bleergh), so I really feel like I should also go and write my book review for this week before I have to leave. On that note, I will leave you, and see you on your own blogs soon!

~ Emily

 

 

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 16 September, 2015

wednesdaybannerSo… potentially exciting news for anyone who has been following this blog for a good couple of years. Remember Operation: Sugarplum, that modern-day version of The Nutcracker that I was working on for a while, and then suddenly never mentioned again (February 2014 appears to be my final post about it). The reason it faded into obscurity is because I got stuck. But! I was thinking about it in the shower last night (that best of all thinking places), and I’ve decided to return to it. I think the reason I got stuck was I was overthinking the amount of detail that I needed. This is only a short piece. I don’t need to explain the entire geo-political situation between Max’s kingdom and its neighbour. I can just say “there’s a war going on”.

I do need some suggestions, though. In the original story, the Mouse King threatens that he will bite the Nutcracker to pieces if Marie/Clara doesn’t give him her sweets and her dolls. But my Clara is in her early twenties, so I’m trying to think what to translate that to. Blood seems a bit too drastic and dark for the tone of the story (it’s pretty light-hearted) and money makes no sense since the insurgents are from a different world. Any thoughts on what my Clara can trade in exchange for Max’s safety?

In the meantime, here is a WIPpet from it. I’ve added the 1 and the 6 from today’s date and have 7 paragraphs. Clara’s been attacked by enemies of Max’s kingdom and learned that he is in fact a prince all in a very short space of time.

Clara thought about this, and then decided to focus on the small things rather than the huge. “Is he really your uncle?”

“No, but I’ve been calling him that all my life so it’s sort of second nature now. Really, that’s the question you have at this point?”

“Fine, why do you have to save the Kingdom, then?”

Max finished bandaging up Clara’s arm, and sat back. “Because only the firstborn child of the reigning monarch is ever born with magic, and without it, we’re pretty useless.”

“Well, what about your parents, then? Doesn’t one of them have magic?”

“That’s the problem… my father had an older brother who died young. There was nothing anyone could do, but it left the Kingdom virtually defenceless. Thelidon’s small; there’s barely even an army. It relies on the monarch for protection.”

“Wow. That must suck for your dad, then.”

To join in on WIPpet Wednesday, simply post an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date, and link up with us here. Many thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting.

wwwwednesdayOnto WWW Wednesday, which is a bookish blog hop run by Sam. Join in by leaving a comment on today’s post on her blog!

  • What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud, which is the third in the Lockwood & Co. series. It’s still fun, though the Lucy/Lockwood potential romance is a bit more heavy-handed in this than in the previous two books, and so far Lucy (the narrator) has spent an awful lot of time being passive-aggressively bitchy about a new team member. As the series is going to be at least four, possibly five books, maybe this is the equivalent of middle book syndrome for trilogies.

  • What have you recently finished reading?

Lots of things! It’s amazing what a weekend away can do!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab – loved this one! I didn’t really want to leave Kell and Lila. The next book isn’t out until February, though, so I guess I’ll have to be patient.

The Amazing Adventures of Acacia Carlisle by fellow ROW80 participant and blogger, Cate Morgan. This was a short but sweet steampunkish story that made me smile.

The Bright Court and The Twilight Kingdom, books 2 and 3 in the Feyland series by Anthea Sharp. I read the first book about nine months ago and finally got around to these two. This is a really fun YA series that blends sci-fi with fey mythology.

I also rage-quit Insanity by Cameron Jace. After I disliked Splintered so much, I was hoping for an Alice in Wonderland adaptation that I would actually like. This was not it. You can read my ranty remarks about the first 17% of the book here.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I still need to start The Gone-Away World, which I have on loan from a colleague so I should probably get onto that. I also ended up not listening to any audio books while I was travelling, so I’ve still got several of those to get through.

I’m going to head off now and read a bit more of Lockwood before bed! See you all soon!

~ Emily

 

#ROW80 Check-in #8: Request for beta readers

I had grand plans of finishing my WIP today. But then I got distracted by various things, and ended up only getting a couple of hundred words written today. That’s okay, though, another couple of days and it’ll be there. In light of that, I would like to put out a request for beta readers for a romance novella of about 21000 words, involving a prince who is a bit of a prat and the outspoken townsgirl who refuses to like him until he starts being less of a prat. It’s set in a quasi-Victorian era, and there is a war going on between the characters’ country and the neighbouring one, against which the romance is set.

If it sounds like your cup of tea and you would be willing to give it a look over, fling me an email at fuzzyagent999[@]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au. I’ll probably have it ready to send out before the end of next week. At the moment, I will just be looking for general feedback, like whether the characters are likeable, whether the plot is interesting,whether there are plot threads that I began and then forgot (I’m aware of one of these, but as far as I know, there might be others)… that sort of thing. Also any suggestions for titles might be good, as I currently have nothing. My working title is “A More Complicated Fairytale” but I don’t actually like that at all. And I am terrible at titling.

In other writing news, I finally reread my NaNoWriMo story from last year. I had convinced myself that it was really, really awful but then I started rereading the ending (the most “awful” part) and realised it was nowhere near that bad. I mean, you know, it’s of a NaNoWriMo standard, but it can definitely still be used. I’m actually thinking of making it a shorter work, like the one in the above paragraph. I think I work better within that word length frame than longer.

And in other other writing news, I was listening to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker suite on repeat the other day, and was inspired to start nutting out a modern-day retelling of the story. Mostly because whenever I listen to the pas de deux from the ballet, all I can think is, “This is the most romantic piece of music ever, I cannot reconcile this with the fact that the characters are supposed to be about twelve (or younger).” So, after discovering there is nothing online that can help me with this, I decided to write my own. So far I only have a few vaguely connected ideas, but I’m working on it.

Anyway, so specific goals progress this week:

row80Write for an hour on Wednesdays and Fridays, or until 500 – 1000 words (minimum) is reached in each session.
Well, I haven’t really been timing, but I wrote Wednesday, Friday, yesterday and a bit today, for a total of 3807 words for the week. So not a bad effort. I didn’t quite reach the 10000 words for February mark, but if you allow for the fact that February is a short month, and therefore allow me a couple more days, I did reach 10000 words within the length of any other month. So I’m counting it. 😛

Spend Saturdays at the National Library working on uni stuff.
Ahem. Well, my semester doesn’t technically start until tomorrow, but I was going to be good and studious and go to the library yesterday to get a bit of a head start. The universe was conspiring against me, however, as first, my phone was turned off overnight (my fault entirely, I admit; I had changed some settings and turned it off to reboot it) and so my alarm didn’t go off, resulting in me sleeping in until 9am. Then about an hour later, my sister called me to say they were in town for her partner’s niece’s 21st birthday, and would I like to catch up. I don’t get to see them very often, so I said yes, and ended up spending a good portion of the afternoon with them. Then despite good intentions to study at home later in the afternoon, I ended up being completely distracted by the House DVDs that my housemate put on, despite having never really watched the show much and only having a passing interest in it. Amazing what catches your attention when you’re procrastinating.

I think I might try to spend a couple of evenings at the library this week, since next weekend is a long weekend and my mum is coming down to visit. I’m sure she’d be cool with me spending a morning or two studying, but I would rather be spending the time with her. Wish me luck with that.

Attend choir on Thursday nights.
Check. I was looking forward to a Thursday off this week, but received an email today saying there had been a change of plan and we would be having a rehearsal after all. That was a bit disappointing, since I had been hoping to make it to the Italian conversation classes this week. Those classes are one reason I am going to take a break from choir after our concert in May, as well as the fact that my writing group meets every second Thursday and I only see them on the irregular weekend events at the moment.

Write a ROW80 check-ine very Sunday.
This is it. 🙂

That’s about it from me. Once again, if you are able to beta, that would be fabulous and you would have my eternal love and affection. And gratitude. I will see you on your own blogs, and next Sunday here! 🙂

~ Emily