Sixfold, Sevenfold

The Sevenfold Spell by Tia NevittThe Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt
Carina Press, 97 pages

Have you ever wondered what happens to the other people in the fairy tale?

Things look grim for Talia and her mother. By royal proclamation, the constables and those annoying “good” fairies have taken away their livelihood by confiscating their spinning wheel. Something to do with a curse on the princess, they said.

Not every young lady has a fairy godmother rushing to her rescue.

Without the promise of an income from spinning, Talia’s prospects for marriage disappear, and she and her mother face destitution. Past caring about breaking an arbitrary and cruel law, rebellious Talia determines to build a new spinning wheel, the only one in the nation, which plays right into the evil fairy’s diabolical plan. Talia discovers that finding a happy ending requires sacrifice. But is it a sacrifice she’s willing to make?

Out of all the Disney princesses, I find Princess Aurora a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty the prettiest. Maybe I’m biased because I like them blonde, and she seemed like the most poised, most elegant of them all. But that maybe because she slept for a hundred years, and it must be hard to move after lying down for so long. I mean, I find my back and bones stiff after I sleep for more than ten hours, what more hundred years.

Tia Nevitt’s retelling is by far the most unique one I’ve encountered of all retellings I’ve read so far. Instead of focusing on the main character, the author shifts the focus to the people we readers rarely focus on in a story, to some random person in the town. The usual faceless and nameless people in the crowds are put into spotlight in The Sevenfold Spell, putting quite a unique twist in the story of Sleeping Beauty.

This is a quick read, more of a novella than a novel. However, the first part of the book felt long for me. Terribly long, mostly because of all the sex. I wasn’t expecting that, really, but I was surprised to read that Talia would resort to that to cure her of her loneliness. Mind you, she didn’t really become a whore so she could earn money — she did it out of loneliness.

I can’t really question the motivations of the characters, given Talia’s situation. Reading this told me that I am pretty conservative with what I read, and I could only stand to read so much sex in one book before I feel sick of reading it. I’m not saying that they were pointless in the book — I got the point. It had some kind of bearing in the story that made the character grow, which was good. I liked how Talia eventually outgrew her need for physical intimacy, and instead focused on other more important things, like patching things up with her mother (who can’t get any other livelihood besides making thread using their spinning wheel —health care jobs are not so hot in their time). I just didn’t like reading about how Talia did it with Willard and how Talia seduced an old man to do it with her. Just not my thing.

Fortunately, the story picked up by the second half, and there was a surprising twist. The resolution felt a bit too easy, and too clean cut for my taste. I guess that’s where the author really meant to go, to a happily ever after ending. It is a fairy tale, after all.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad book. It’s just not for me, I guess. If I want another retelling, I think I’ll stick with Gail Carson-Levine and similar authors.

The Sevenfold Spell will be out on September 2010. Much thanks to NetGalley for the advanced reading copy ebook!

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 71 out of 100 for 2010

My copy: ebook, Advanced Reading Copy from Netgalley

Cover & Blurb: Goodreads

Karmic Retribution

Take Me There by Susane ColasantiTake Me There by Susane Colasanti
Publisher: Viking
Number of pages:  304
My copy: ebook

Rhiannon is completely devastated after the breakup with her boyfriend. She wants him back.

Nicole’s ex still wants to be with her, but she’s obsessed with someone else.

James is hopelessly in love with Rhiannon, who doesn’t see that their friendship can be so much more.

Will their desire to take a mean girl down a notch bring these three friends what they want . . . and more?

Set during one life-altering week and told in three realistic perspectives, this engaging, witty novel shows the ups and downs of love, friendship, and karma.

* * *

Okay, so how do I begin.

When I read Susane Colasanti’s When It Happens, I wasn’t terribly impressed. The story was cute and the characters were believable somewhat, but I didn’t really like how the story was written. I guess you could say it was too young for me, but then I’ve read other novels set in high school and liked it just fine.

But I wasn’t about to write Susane Colasanti off. I picked up her second book, Take Me There just recently and finally cracked its covers when I looked for a fantasy break. Take Me There tells the story of three friends: Rhiannon, Nicole and James, on the week that supposedly changed their lives forever. Rhiannon just got dumped, Nicole dumped her boyfriend and James is Rhiannon’s best friend and he wanted to be there for her. The first three days were told in Rhiannon’s point of view first, then the three days were recapped in Nicole’s POV and then James and then the next days were repeated in that order again.

I honestly don’t know how to go about this review without sounding too mean, because I felt really torn about this novel. There were cute moments, and there were a lot of things that I liked somewhat, but they were all shadowed by the glaring annoyances I had while reading the book. Let me count the ways:

  • I brought this up in my Teaser Tuesday post: I had a hard time reading this book because of the way it was written. True, it’s in written in a lot of detail, but half the time I found the details irrelevant, or at least they didn’t make too much impact in the story. It’s like I was in a mind of, well, a teen whose attention shifts from one item to another too quickly. ADD, but not quite. Yes, this is a book about teens, but the way it was written didn’t really appeal to me. Maybe that’s how teens speak, but why write it that way?
  • The story didn’t make sense (at least to me) up until about 100 pages into it. I know Rhiannon’s brokenhearted, but I didn’t want to read 50 pages of all that and only that. And it didn’t help that Nicole basically repeated what happened when it was her turn to tell the story, except that she did say something that Rhiannon didn’t know.
  • Rhiannon’s voice and Nicole’s voice sounded too similar for me, and they were both annoying, IMO. James was better, almost normal, but that was it. Rhiannon seemed to go around and around, and Nicole? Is like, absolutely annoying. With the way she talks? Like this. See what I mean?
  • It felt like there were a million characters in the book, because the other characters just kept on pointing out other people around them. Sure, they only pointed to characters that made sense in the story, but their purpose was dragged out up until the end. It may have been an attempt to put more depth in the story, that it’s not only just about Rhiannon’s heartbreak or Nicole’s ex or James’ love for Rhiannon, but it was hard to keep track of all of them, especially when they all sound alike.
  • By the end of the story, everyone was talking about karma, and all I could think of was, “Where did that come from?” Suddenly everyone seemed to sound like hippies, with all the “I feel so good with him and I realize he could take me there” thing. Maybe I just can’t appreciate it?

However, Take Me There‘s story did pick up quite well at the end, and I kind of liked how the last few chapters were written, because it made me want to know what happened next. I do have to give credit to Colasanti for creating a story that sounded real, despite its shortcomings. Maybe I couldn’t appreciate it as much because I’m not the target audience of the book.

Will I read more of Colasanti’s works? Probably, but not too soon. I kind of need a break from it, so maybe next time.

Rating:

Second Life Falls Short

The Short Second Life of Bree TannerThe Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

Fans of The Twilight Saga will be enthralled by this riveting story of Bree Tanner, a character first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire world she inhabits.

In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.

Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily powerful senses, superhuman reflexes and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst for blood… life before she became a vampire.

All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don’t draw attention to yourself and, above all, make it home by sunrise or die. What she doesn’t know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out.

Then Bree finds an unexpected friend in Diego, a newborn just as curious as Bree about their mysterious creator, whom they know only as “her”. As they come to realize that the newborns are pawns in a game larger than anything they could have imagined, Bree and Diego must choose sides and decide whom to trus. But when everything you know about vampires is based on a lie, how do you find the truth?

It was a success story that began with a dream – literally. In 2003, a housewife and law school aspirant who had never written a short story in her entire life woke up from a vivid dream about a vampire who was in love with a human girl, but who also thirsted for her blood. The woman felt compelled to write the dream down, just for herself, until her sister urged her to send the manuscript for publication. Fifteen letters and nine rejections later, Stephenie Meyer found a deal that catapulted her to literary fame (and sometimes infamy) with her Twilight saga.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years: Twilight is the story of an ordinary human girl named Bella Swan and her romance with a 107-year-old vampire Edward Cullen. The saga is composed of four books – Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn – that chronicle their romance and attendant complications (werewolf Jacob Black, and the Volturi, who enforce vampire law). Midnight Sun, the companion novel to the saga that tells the story from Edward’s point of view, was delayed indefinitely after the chapters were leaked online, and Meyer allegedly decided to focus her energy on non-Twilight books.

Or so we thought. Yet now we have Bree Tanner, a new novella in the same universe as the Twilight Saga. Click here to read the rest of the review.

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 38 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 20 out of 20 Fantasy books for 2010

Wonders just ceased

Wonders Never Cease by Tim DownsWonders Never Cease by Tim Downs
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Number of pages:  310
My copy: paperback, review copy from Booksneeze

“It’s true what they say, you know: If you talk to God, you’re religious; but if you hear from God, you’re schizophrenic.”

When a car accident leaves a famous movie star in a coma, nurse Kemp McAvoy thinks he has found his ticket to the life he’s always wanted. As a med school dropout who was on his way to becoming an anesthesiologist, Kemp has the knowledge to carry off the crazy plan he concocts: adjust the star’s medication each night and pretend to be a heavenly visitor giving her messages. He recruits her agent and a down-and-out publisher to make sure the messages will become the next spiritual bestseller and make them all rich.

But his girlfriend’s daughter, Leah, keeps telling people that she is seeing angels, and her mother and her teachers are all afraid that something is wrong.

Before it’s all over, they’ll all learn a few things about angels, love, and hope.

* * *

I invest a lot of emotions when I read a book. I am very particular with characters, and strong characters always make a mark in me, even if the plot is typical. Most of the books I marked as favorite are books that leave me both sad and satisfied at the end, books that I felt that the characters were not only people inside a book, but people who have become my friends.

When I saw Wonders Never Cease up for grabs at Book Sneeze, I grabbed it because I thought this is one of the books where I would find friends. I figure, it’s a book about impersonating an angel, and there’s got to be a lot of hilarious moments here, and redemptive moments as well. The blurb alone sounds like a movie, and it seems like a heartwarming read. Spoiler warning here on out!

Continue Reading →

The Guy I’m Not Dating (Trish Perry)

The Guy I'm Not Dating by Trish Perry

“Yowza!” exclaims Kara Richardson when she sees the handsome proprietor of the new delicatessen in town, Gabe Paolino—who soon expresses mutual interest. This would be the start of a perfect love story, except for one thing—Kara has vowed to stop dating until she feels God’s leading.

But when humorous circumstances send Kara and Gabe on a road trip to Florida, hope springs anew. Even with Kara’s flirtatious coworker Tiffany—“a hyena in heels”—along for the ride, the uncouple begins a lively journey that could change their paths forever.

This memorable, charming story of love’s persistence captures the honor of waiting on God’s timing, and the adventure of finding the perfect guy to not date.

I’m not one to deny myself of chick lit books, especially Christian chick lit. I’ve mentioned it here a couple of times, but not in detail: I love chick lit. I love Christian chick lit, especially, because it’s clean, and it teaches good values that women should have, especially in a media-influenced world. Not that I don’t like secular chick lit — I still do, but I’m picky at what to read. Call me conservative, but I really don’t like reading about how a couple consummates their love, especially if they’re not yet married.

So this book from Trish Perry should just tickle my fancy: it’s chick lit, it’s Christian and it’s about dating and purity. Sounds good, right? Just right up my alley.

It sounds good alright. Kara meets Gabe just some time after she had broken up with her ex-boyfriend Paul, and decided not to date until she feels that it’s God’s will for her. This presents a problem to her since she is very attracted to Gabe, and Gabe admitted that he was attracted to Kara, too. Despite all this, Kara wanted to follow and honor her promise to God so she tells Gabe just that, who respectfully backs down. On the other side of the country, Kara’s parents received a call from their Aunt Addie, requesting a visit. However, things go awry when Kara’s dad breaks his legs, so they had now way to bring drive by Addie and visit Kara. Meanwhile, Gabe’s sister, her boyfriend and her twin brother rides to Virginia to visit Gabe without the permission of their parents so he promises to drive them back to Florida after his deli has set up. Kara, feeling the need to visit her family and pick up Addie on the way, decides to join the trip. Her best friend Ren joins them, as well as Kara’s co-worker and constant pain in the neck, Tiffany. And off they go to Florida, with lots of side trips and the ever increasing attraction between Gabe and Kara.

It’s a cute, wholesome story. If I read this a couple of years ago, I think I may have been enchanted with it and I would have been very thrilled at Kara and Gabe’s love story. But now, I’m not.

I think the main reason why I am quite on the fence with this book is how ideal everything seemed to be in the story. It’s like everyone’s so happy and everything is resolved so quickly. I’m not discounting that God puts everything in place if we follow His will and all, but I am having a very hard time believing the events in the story. It’s fiction, I know, but it just seemed to rosy and cheerful for me. In the sixty chapters of the book, I never found a lasting conflict that made me wonder what was going to happen, one that I’d expect would throw me off course and be surprised and all that. It’s not that I’m expecting so much action here, but I was expecting more complications, to add more depth in the story. For example, in Denise Hildreth‘s Savannah by the Sea, Savannah thinks her romance with Joshua North is a match made in heaven…until she finds out something about his past. In Laura Jensen Walker‘s Dreaming of Black and White, Phoebe had to struggle with her mother and the loss of her dad, even while trying to deny her attraction to her boss, Alex. In Kristin Billerbeck’s Ashley Stockingdale series, Ashley struggles with her family, her job, and even her best friend. I didn’t find enough conflict among the characters in The Guy I’m Not Dating — everyone just seemed to get along just fine, except for the lone villain, Tiffany. I understand that people do grow up in a nice environment — I came from one — but it didn’t feel like much of a book if everyone in the story is so darn happy and gets along well with each other. I bet none of them would ever think of drinking muscle building supplements, especially Kara since she’s a trainer and neither is Gabe, since he seems to be the most perfect guy ever. *rolls eyes*

Another thing that kind of got me thinking a bit too much with this novel is the plot. I have nothing against the concept of the story, which is mostly based on Joshua Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I agree with the idea of not dating, and pursuing friendship first before romance. However, it’s just really hard to believe that everything happened like that. I may be biased because life’s jaded me a bit. Like I said, if I read this book a couple of years ago, I would’ve been smitten with the idea and I would have been dreaming of my own Gabe. It’s not that these things don’t happen, but it just seems too clean cut. This stems back to what I wrote on the previous paragraph — everything and everyone is just so happy, that it gets on my nerves.

It’s not that I don’t believe in God’s perfect timing, or His plans for me and my romantic life. It’s just that if I were a new Christian who’s got her heart broken or is waiting for the one and I read this, I probably would follow this book like a dating bible because it seems like the perfect Christian setting. Which may be the case, but it doesn’t always happen this way. You know how we say that secular media influences our choices a lot, which makes us want to become thinner, more popular or do things that the Bible says is wrong? I kind of feel wary about this novel because to me, it presents another side of the story. We are not always surrounded by Christians. More often than not, we’re with people who do not share the same beliefs as we do, and we have to face it because it’s reality. I fear that reading books like these that present a sort of perfect Christian world and the perfect Christian romance may make women want the exact same thing, and miss out on other things that God has in store for them. I know that I would probably believe this with all my heart if I read this years back, and it would take a lot to rid me of them, especially if I have set my heart to follow that one path of romance.

I’m not saying that this is a bad book. It’s funny, romantic and a good chick lit read, but I think reading this should really involve a lot of discernment. Kara and Gabe’s story is ideal, and it’s something that we women could pray for and hope for, but we must also be open to how God wants to write our love stories.

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 43 out of 100 for 2010

→ Get The Guy I’m Not Dating by Trish Perry from Amazon.com
→ Trish Perry’s website