Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Diving down the wonky rabbit hole again

Today Murphy's Law just seriously took me to the cleaners. What I look forward to for the night is some time with a good book (The Young Dread releases today) and good cuddle with my poodles. So, I'll complete some catharsis and write up a review on a very special book.

The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl by Ishbelle Bee

The second in the Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq. series. If you recall, I could not rave enough about the first novel (review here) this summer. The second in the series did not disappoint. These novels are seriously fantastic in their disturbing glory. I somehow end up at the last sentence wondering about my sanity. Should I really find these novels so good? Am I disturbed? The answers are yes and no. Sometimes you just need a good dark fairytale to shake the doldrums from your day.

This go around John Loveheart falls in love. What do you get when a completely mad man falls in love with a brutalized, desensitized woman? The most wonderful of Mad Hatter level love stories. They are trying to fall in love while a cannibalistic cult is running through the bodies on some crazy munchies bender. These books just keep the creep factor coming.

Boo Boo is a girl who gets adopted by the world's worst foster father with a predilection for butterflies. She has a very interesting imaginary (or not?) friend. There is absolutely no hope for her to come out normal. Perfect for the completely deranged John Loveheart.

We get to work with Detective White and Constable Walnut again. A very special pair of law enforcers to appreciate the Christmas presents of John Loveheart. I was actually surprised how much I appreciated these characters. They are a good balance to the smorgasbord of weird.

The beautiful typography continues in this novel. It actually jumps off from the first page, the only hiccup in the book from me. The crazy seems to start too soon as if there is no transition period to adjust to that level but that sensation didn't last for more than a couple of chapters.

I cannot wait for the next book!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Faery tales of yore

With November comes chilly mornings and nights with plenty of rainy sessions in between. Bad for my motivation to knock things off my to-do list. Great for my to-read pile dwindling.

The Land of the Green Men by Carolyne Larrington

I'll have to give this one 3 stars. The author has clearly done years of research on the vast array of folktales around the British Isles, scouring oral history, preserved documents, and theses about all that history. She even brings modern fantasy big shots who use the very same mythic legends to develop their own tales for the modern reader to the argument table. An attempt to bring the ever changing, developing youth in touch with their rustic roots of wonder and awe.

The part that is lacking for me is the heart, though. The whole essay lacks the essence of the fairy livelihood. It misses out on the actual wonder and awe part. All of it reads like a semi-dry lecture paper that gets buried at the back of the library to collect dust. And this is coming from a huge folktale enthusiast who has read some really dry academic papers on the subject up to the soul embracing exploration of myth with fiction.

I also was not a fan of "filler" pages that recap an entire epic fantasy novel from the 70s. (Granted I'm missing the reference completely as I am neither British nor from that era; however, I don't think I'm totally amiss in my point that an entire recap of the plot line is unnecessary for this dissertation.) The author mentions the trickster nature of the fairy nation, yet somehow misses the feeling in her actual writing.

Pick it up if you are looking for a comprehensive look into the myths of the British Isles. Fairy creatures from brownies to the kings of the fae nation are all present here with the variants particular to region. The whole compilation is very well laid out, if only it had the heart.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fall is in full swing

Like the snazzy new decorations on the blog? I felt that is was time to start getting festive with the theme. I hope everyone had an excellent Halloween. It is such a wonderful holiday. I thought about what review to post that would coincide with the creepy and really just could not choose an exact book to match, there are just too many good ones. Instead, I handed out treats to the little ones at work dressed in full Harry Potter regalia. Sweet nerd moments.

And now we are into November. Crazy!

Arrows of Darkness by B.I. Woolet

Arrows of Darkness CoverThe series continues to be a wonderful fairy tale in the constellations. The story opens pretty painfully but with something that is unfortunately all too prominent these days for young readers. You can tell from the title and opening chapter that this novel is going to deal with the darker side of our hearts. 

While sadness rains down upon his family, Jackson eagerly pushes forward to his dear Arcas where there is no personal pain just hopeful longing for a princess. Boy does he get a handful when he touches down! This novel is action packed from the start.

This go around we get adventure in the vein of a pirate escapade or maybe Indiana Jones, in my opinion, instead of a Greek mythology quest like the first novel. All the players have been laid out and the world developed. Now we get to just appreciate a good run through the wilds--if only life were that simple. Jackson arrives in Arcas to a new overlord who plans on being worse than the first. From his first moment, he must pick up the hero's mantle again. All of the characters are back from the first novel with even more to offer. I really enjoyed the development of Princess Andromeda's parents. And then there are the actual pirates. Classic.

Another fun read with plenty of astronomy and mythology in there as well. We tangle with the darker issues facing children, but in a way that builds constructive conversation. These continue to be great books for the classroom. They are engaging and have so much potential for science lessons right along with the story. I will continue to strongly recommend these books for young readers, parents, and teachers alike.

Here's to the holiday season!