Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bits of Books: Callie is a Godsend and Lends Me Stuff

It's definitely not the first time I've mentioned Callie - my onetime Student Calling Center manager and current favorite book lending person I know - and it's certainly not going to be the last: Out of the eleven books I've read so far this summer, three of them are the result of a very generous book swap, courtesy of her! 

Subsequent to giggling our way through the newest Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship last month, we swung by her house, and after a very cute room tour, she loaded me up with three titles I'd not yet read, and sent me on my merry way. Being that we're trying to get together for coffee on Friday morning, I figured that it was a good enough time to finally upload all my impressions of those books she lent: Court of Mist and Fury, East, and Rebel Belle

a court of mist and fury, sj maas

The sequel to Maas' A Court of Thorns and Roses, the story follows Feyre adapting to her new life as a member of the High Fae. Unable to cope with what had befallen her Under the Mountain, nor feeling as connected to the Spring Court as she once had, Feyre begins to discover the truth about her newfound powers, though it may require Rhysand, High Lord of Night Court, to help her really harness them. 

Callie originally proposed this read to me in our English class this past Spring Quarter, with the tagline, "It's so much better than the first one!" She and I had both read the original, and found it to be severely lacking on a pretty spectacular scale, so the fact that she braved it and committed to reading the second one was really enough for me to do the same. And, of course, she was right. 

Almost all of the problems I had with the original were remediated and resolved in the sequel... originally fractional world-building got a massive expansion as Feyre visited some of the other Courts, underdeveloped characters got the in-depth treatment with more involved relationships and backstories, and an uninspiring cast got an exciting update via some of the newest perspectives on the Night Court. It's impossible to list all of the reasons this book was such a dramatic improvement without spoiling the whole thing, but damn. Thank goodness for Callie's stubborn need to follow through with a series.

east, edith pattou

Despite her superstitious mother's attempts to conceal the truth of her birth, Rose has always been the adventurous and troublesome type. However, even she couldn't predict the sudden trouble  of a giant white bear showing up on their doorstep, promising to save her sister and recover the family from ruin, only if Rose should come with him. What she finds through her journeys shows her there's more to the world than what's covered on her father's maps, and magic is more than possible.

Basically, it's a like a Norwegian variation on the Beauty and the Beast story, utilizing aspects of that particular country's fairy tales, while also exploring various aspects of other parts of Europe. For Callie, this book was one of her middle grade favorites - enough to still keep it on her collegiate bookshelves - and fed into a deep love of fairy tales from all over the world. Being that the latter is one of the many things we have in common, I was excited to explore this read.

The book is truly based off the tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," a Norwegian fairy tale that does bear great resemblance to both the Cupid and Psyche mythology and the best Disney animated movie of my youth. In terms of adaptations of classic stories that still manage to differentiate themselves from the original mythology, this is an incredibly effective variation on the  narrative, with unique cultural differences providing for new opportunities to build out the story even further. While retellings can often be a miss for me - I still feel like I'm one of the only book bloggers who really doesn't like Tiger Lily - this was incredibly unique to the genre, and I think that has a lot to do with its heritage. 

rebel belle, rachel hawkins

After high school wunderkind - head cheerleader, ASB president, Homecoming Queen, debutante, and more - Harper Price encounters a strange fight between two teachers in the school bathroom, she finds herself wielding more power than just what the high school social strata would normally allow. Able to perform martial arts and exert a strength she's never had before, she finds herself taking on the additional role of "paladin" beyond her extensive after-school schedule... tasked with protecting the "oracle:" her high school nemesis, David Stark.

I typically scoff at contemporaries, and Callie knows as much, but it didn't stop her from attempting to get me to read this book. While I initially demurred, and left it to the end of the list for my planned reads, I eventually gave in, knowing that it would only be an afternoon's work to finish and would help bump up my Goodreads Challenge tally.

I was right: it was an enjoyable afternoon's read, one that had me laughing at the right moments and left me engrossed in the action when I needed to be. While some parts were a little cringe-y - I would pay YA contemporary authors not to try and describe fashion - they were easy to ignore once you'd figured out that the entire novel is basically a variation on some kind of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode. Not that bad... though Callie has warned me against continuing farther in the series, being that the sequel's not that good, either. All in all, it was exactly what I had expected it to be.

So there you have it! Thank you to Callie for letting me borrow her books; I took care of them just like I said. Maybe I'll have to do another post once she finishes up the novels I'm lending to her on Friday: John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things, Steve Augarde's The Various, and Naomi Novik's Uprooted!

Do you have a book lending habit? Have you read any of the books mentioned? Let me know, in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. I still have ACOTAR to read but it is good to know the sequel is better! Rebel Belle always catches my eye with that cover but I had no idea what it was about. Glad you enjoyed it even if the rest of the series isn't as good. Great reviews!!