Saturday, 26 March 2016

Fairest of All

Fairest of All: A tale of the Wicked Queen
Author: Serena Valentino
Publisher: Parragon Books
Release Date: 18th January 2016

Blurb (Taken from back of book):
How did the Wicked Queen become so evil?
When the King asks for her hand in marriage, the beautiful daughter of a cruel mirror-maker accepts, hoping her fortunes will change for the better... but will they?
This is the untold tale of love, loss and dark magic behind the classic story of Snow White.

Let's talk about the cover: I won't lie, I originally bought this book on impulse.  If you asked me, I would say that you should never judge a book by it's cover, but unfortunately we are all guilty of it.  The first thing you see about a new book in a book shop is the cover, and I was drawn to this one.  I recognised the Queen on the front of it as the Evil Queen from Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  After reading the back it quickly became mine as I love reading fairy tale adaptions.  The great thing about this cover is that when you turn it over the back opens up as the Wicked Witch; her alter ego.  Therefore the open books gives you both sides of her face put together.  I also know that the original hard back version had the Evil Queen's face on the sleeve, and if removed, showed the Wicked Witch's face.  Very Clever!

Review: We all know the supposed story of the Evil Queen that plagued Snow White's life and planned her death to ensure that her own beauty was superior to others in her kingdom.  This story gives her side of the tale, giving the reader another point of view, and making them doubt the sincerity of her hateful actions towards Snow White.  Fairest of All gives the reader a new look at the Queen and shows us that she wasn't always evil.  Everyone villain has a story, as we are learning from Disney with their new line of movies showing us the background to some of our favourite characters.  In this book we see how the Queen started out as a loving mother to a young Snow White when her husband, Snow's Father is killed in battle.  It is a series of dark events that happen after that, that turn her into the self absorbed and power hungry Queen that we know in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  
The book also provides a new and refreshing look at the Magic Mirror, giving the reader some food for thought with a fascinating relationship between the Queen and the Mirror.  This new idea gives the warped sense of necessity that the Queen seemed to have for needing to be the 'Fairest of them all' a darker and slightly Freudian outlook.  Her need to feel pretty stemmed back to her childhood with her Father, and could therefore only be satisfied by trying to fix the rift in that relationship.
Something that I did notice, was that even though the entire book is about her and her story, almost acting as a prequel to Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, we never learn her name.  Going right back the the Grimm tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Snow White's evil stepmother never had a name.  The Queen in Walt Disney's version did have a name; Queen Grimhilde, though she was rarely referred to as anything other than the Evil Queen, or the Wicked Queen.  So I find it rather bizarre that the book meant to give us an insight into the woman's life, and to help us to understand her better, didn't find it necessary to name her.

Lastly, I found it interesting that the book is copyrighted to Disney, which is the reason the book uses the Disney character on the cover, but also means that the author used direct characters in her book with permission from the originals.  This would suggest that Disney accept Serena Valentino's ideas and approve her storyline.  

Where as I enjoyed the idea of this story, and loved getting to know the Queen in a new way, I found this book quite hard going and was a little disappointed once I found myself at the end.  I think I had expected more from the story and wanted to get to know the Queen more.  It started out reasonably good, but seemed to lose it's way somewhere in the middle.

Rating: 3 Stars
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All opinions are my own and not encouraged by the authors, editors, publishers or any other company involved in the production of the book mentioned in the above post.

Click on the image of the book cover to go to Amazon where you can purchase your own copy of the book and follow the link set on the author's name to head over to their website.

Other books mentioned in this post are The Grimm Tales (The copy I have included is a reasonably expensive, leather bound edition as I believe this book should be something special.  Cheaper copies, and paper back editions are available too)
Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Again this is just one copy - I picked the Ladybird edition purely because it is the version I own; other copies are available)

Saturday, 19 March 2016

The Confessions: An Original Sinners Collection

The Confessions: An Original Sinners Collection
Author: Tiffany Reisz
Publisher: 8th Circle press
Release Date: 15th March 2016

Blurb (Taken from Amazon):

Three Sinners. Three confessions. And all the dirty little secrets you could possibly desire…Father Stuart Ballard has been Marcus Stearns’ confessor since the young Jesuit was only eighteen years old. He thought he’d heard every sin the boy had to confess until Marcus uttered those three fateful words: “I met Eleanor.” So begins “The Confession of Marcus Stearns,” a moving coda to the award-winning Original Sinners series. This collection also includes “The Confession of Eleanor Schreiber,” a companion story written exclusively for this book. And, finally, all secrets are revealed in “The Confession of Tiffany Reisz,” an exclusive, in-depth interview. “I worship at the altar of Tiffany Reisz! Whip smart, sexy as hell — The Original Sinners series knocked me to my knees.” — New York Times bestselling author Lorelei James.

Let's talk about the cover: The novels that make up The Original Sinners all have beautiful covers, as do all the short stories that accompany the series.  However, none of them feature a person, which made this cover a surprise to me.  There is no hint as to who the man on the front of the book is, which leaves it open to reader assumption.  When I first saw it I assumed the man was intended to be Soren; the beautiful blonde male we have all come to love throughout the series.  Yet, when I learned that the two stories in the book were both from the narrative view point of Father Ballad, I changed my opinion and guessed that it was meant to be him instead.  Personally, I hope it is meant to be Father Ballad, as I didn't have a picture of him in my head.  Where as for me, the man on the cover is not Soren.  

Bearing in mind that all of the other covers in the series have been symbolic and created an air of mystery that linked to each of their titles, I am personally a little disappointed that this book cover gave such an intentional image to the readers rather than letting them come to their own conclusions about the man behind the confessions.  

Review:  As with all things Original Sinners, I absolutely loved this book!  The Confessions offers an insight into a character that has seemed so minor when mentioned in the main novels, yet proves to be integral to the way the story has unfolded.  Father Stuart Ballard is mentioned in the Original Sinners by Soren, and is spoken very highly of.  We know that Soren confides in Father Ballad on many occasions, and we learn in Poinsettia (One of the short stories available on Tiffany Reisz's blog) that Soren trusted him with the truth about himself right from the beginning.  

In father Ballad's own words in one of the stories... 
"This is the strangest confession I've ever heard in my life,'
The Confession of Marcus Stearns shows us just how much Soren actually listened to his confessor, and just how much Father Ballad truly had an influence on not only Soren's, but on Nora's life too.  What we didn't know as readers is that Nora also visited Father Ballad to give her confession to a Priest that wasn't her Soren.  We learn in The Confession of Eleanor Schreiber that Nora made a promise to her dying mother that she would confess her sins to a Priest that wasn't Father Stearns.  In going to see Father Ballad, we learn a few little secrets about Nora that we didn't to see in the novels.  
The third part of The Confessions was The Confession of Tiffany Reisz and I won't lie when I say that I loved reading that part!  I love getting an insight into a writer's mind, and that is exactly what Tiffany Reisz offers her readers with her 'Confession.'  The in depth, exclusive interview answers a hoard of questions that readers have wanted the answers to when reading The Original Sinners.  Tiffany gives her readers some details on her characters and why they are the way they are; she explains some of their traits and clears up some terminology that we all become familiar with when reading our way through the Underground!

Overall, The Confessions was a gripping read for me and I genuinely read it cover to cover without putting it down.  (I have also managed that with one or two of the novels and the short stories, for which those of you who know me won't find at all surprising)  Tiffany hints at the possibility of more stories to come from The Original Sinners and I will wait for that day as the world of the Underground is one I find myself reading over and over again.

Rating: 5 Stars
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All opinions are my own and not encouraged by the authors, editors, publishers or any other company involved in the production of the book mentioned in the above post.

Click on the image of the book cover to go to Amazon where you can purchase your own copy of the book and follow the link set on the author's name to head over to their website.

Friday, 18 March 2016

A moment to read...

Welcome readers...

I have finally taken the step and become a book blogger...  this page is now my baby, and I cannot wait to get it off the ground!  There are so many ideas buzzing around in my head that I have had no choice but to start making a list.  

After having the idea to start this blog, I did a little research, and after a couple of forums and a 'how to' website that wasn't actually all that helpful, I started looking for blogs to see what the 'norm' was and to get some ideas.  Whilst browsing, I came across a beautiful blog called Jenny in Neverland!  (You can visit her blog by clicking on her button below) One of her post was mre helpful than anything else I have found... Book blogging tips was what I found and I have used the post, plus some of her others to get ideas for my own blog.  Now here it is... Up and running.

The Plan.

I want to share my passion for both reading and writing here.  The obvious place to start is with book reviews.  I read an inordinate amount of books, so reviewing them seems a logical step, and something to get me started!  
Author interviews are also something I would like to have a go at. I plan on getting in touch with some authors, both well known and unknowns...  I get a lot of my reading material from the sponsored ads on Facebook, and plan to advertise my own book in the same way very soon.  The intention is to try and get in touch with some of those authors and help to get their names out there.  As a self published author I know the struggle for marketing; we're all in the same boat, so I would like to help others like me to get their work known!
There are several ideas for competitions fluttering around that I want to try and develop.  I need a plan and some awesome prizes before I get those under way. 
I have also seen the idea of reading challenges and blog hops which I would love to get involved with when I have established my little blog in the community!  

So, let the adventure begin, obviously my blog is still in it's very early stages, so I ask that you be patient and keep visiting to see it grow into what I hope to be a flourishing part of the book blogger's community.

Take a moment to read...

x Nessie x