Saturday, 31 December 2016

New Years Resolutions...

I'd say that around this time every year is a good place to begin evaluating things. I started on a bus a few days ago.

1. As always, read more books. I managed 84 this year. Maybe 100 next year! (my to be read list is still, and will probably always be as long as my arm!)
2. Stress less (a challenge for someone who spends their entire life stressing!)
3. Learn to spell definitely.

I find myself a little anxious about 2017. But it's not as if it can be any worse than 2016. I'd like to say I'd learnt a lot; what kind of guys not to date (pretty boys with silver tongues), the types of friends I need to detach myself from (the type that falls in love too easily), and I've learnt that I really like Harry Potter!

I've had some amazing moments this year. I've made some great friends, met my idol again, and read some brilliant books. I passed my first year of university. Sadly, I said goodbye to my nan, she's one of the many wonderful people that we won't be able to take into 2017. I miss her a great deal.

Emotionally, a whirlwind. Financially, yikes! Politically? Just thinking about that warrants a string of curses. I certainly will be the glad to see the back of it. But hey, all in the name of experience I guess! I'm hoping for a little bit of happiness next year, and I suppose that's all we can ever really hope for.
I'm going to leave this post with this:

"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.
So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever."
- Neil Gaiman

Happy New year x

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Books, glorious books!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I spent the holiday at my mothers. If anything, Christmas always highlights to me how strange families are. That aside, I've had a lovely time and I have been completely spoiled by my family. I was given so many books!

A signed copy of Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven, the complete Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas, and the complete Harry Potter book collection. Pop dolls too! Six in total. My sister added to the collection on boxing day, she gave me Voldemort. Additionally, my dad is paying for me to get a new tattoo in the new year. It's going to be small, a quote, and book related. But more about that later on.
I had a wonderful time.

Side note: I ate my weight in mashed potato and have watched one Harry Potter film every day for the past four days on ITV. That's been pretty fun.

I brought Boxing Day to a close watching Love Actually. I will always love that film! Regardless of how many consecutive years I watch it at Christmas! Partly because of my inappropriate crush on Colin Firth (purely because that's how I picture Mr Darcy!) and Hugh Grant's dancing. Mostly, however, because of its sheer beauty. It makes me appreciate my family a little bit more.

Just a short one tonight. I'm procrastinating once more, I actually have an essay to write on fairy tales. But Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on TV is preventing that, alongside the very existence of this blog.

This soppy fool needs her bed!

Good night.

Top ten; the best books I have read in 2016!

I found this idea on Instagram today and it got me thinking about all the wonderful books I have read this year. I ended up with twelve... it was awful trying to cut it down. I have no self control, at least where books are concerned anyway!

1. Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven:

I fell in love with Jennifer Niven and her writing almost immediately. All the Bright Places is one of my all time favourite novels. Holding up the Universe was equally lovely. She is an absolutely wonderful person, with one of the biggest hearts I've ever come across. Libby was such a relatable and loveable character.

2. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas:

The sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses, this time, retold the tale of Hades and Persephone. Sarah J Maas is an author I only discovered this year. Her story telling is something to be forever envious of. Throne of Glass was brilliant and I have even more appreciation for this new, incomplete, series. Additionally... Rhysand. Is it possible to fall in love with fictional characters? If so, I have been in love many times over!

Rhysand, Theodore Finch, Fitzwilliam Darcy, George Knightly....

3. Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them by J K Rowling.

I read this after not having finished the entire Harry Potter series. (I've still yet to read Half Blood Prince and the Deathly Hallows). I loved it! I'll admit that I had reservations based on it being a screenplay. This was something I was able to ignore though, and read past. I loved seeing the Wizarding world from another perspective!

4. Heartless by Marissa Meyer

See review for my pointless ramblings about this book!

5. Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Having read and seen the film P.S I Love You and heard glowing reviews from Love, Rosie, this was surprising from Ahern. Normally I find her books an easy and contenting read. However, nothing spectacular. Flawed was not only her first YA book, but also her first science fiction book. The three concepts blended together perfectly. This novel was thought provoking, emotional, and intellectually thrilling!

6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix- J K Rowling:

Having never read any Harry Potter when I was younger, I've surprised myself by actually enjoying them on this first occasion. I've been watching the films on ITV for the past three days, and have been irritating everyone by pointing out the differences between the films and novels. One of my lecturer's at university doesn't think very highly of Rowling, but credit where credit is due, she has a great talent! Order of the Phoenix took the longest time of all of the books but I enjoyed it the most. I took a great dislike to Umbridge, however her terrifyingly pink and feline filled office amused me to no end! Hermoine will always be my favourite. The film is on ITV tomorrow!

7. The Heart Goes Last- Margaret Atwood

This will be a short one because I honestly do not feel I could accurately describe this book to anybody. A friend of mine recommended it to me and she tried to explain it. Having read it, I understand why her explanation seemed confusing. I enjoyed this book a great deal! Atwood truly does put 'the human heart to the ultimate test'! This book was terrifyingly wonderful.

8. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

I've read almost all of Hoover's books this year. All except November 9th, I think. This was the most recent of her novels, and also one of the last ones that I read. The development I witnessed in her writing was absolutely amazing! Hoover was evidently stronger, and more self assured and that was remarkable to Witness. Hoover's novels are normally light-hearted and I am able to stay on the periphery. Not this time. Not with It Ends With Us. Lily was admirable and I felt attached to her in some way. The phrase that came to mind when reading her was Hemingway: 'the world breaks everyone, and afterward some are strong at the broken places'.  Not once did I pity her, I didn't feel that she needed my pity. Lily's character was beautiful and brave.

9. A Girl is a Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

A Girl is a Half Formed Thing was a book I was subjected to by university. I found it challenging, due to it being written in a stream of consciousness. However, it was something I enjoyed reading because it was challenging. At the time, I rated it only 3 stars on Goodreads. Though upon reflection I can put this down to the fact that I had to write an assignment on it. However, recently I've re-read it. This time, I was able to read it for pleasure. Rather than searching for something in which to write an essay on. It was heartbreaking. Truly beautiful.

By far my favourite line: 'Board my body up. I’m not for loving. Anymore'.

10. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls is my most recent read of this year and is easily one of my favourites (I had difficulty choosing between A Monster Calls and The Rest of Us Just Live Here!). I don't know what to say about it except that it defied all expectations. I expected to be terrified of this monster. Instead, I found myself looking forward to its visits to Connor. Unlike Lily from It Ends With Us, I did feel extreme sympathy for little Connor. I wanted to protect him from the horror that he inevitably will have to face. This book is one of the few that made me cry this year. 44 pages before the end, I could see the ending coming. I had to stop. I put the book down, grabbed some tissues and a drink. I settled back in my spot in bed and resumed my torture. God, I cried. I am not ashamed. Patrick Ness, you are a wonder.

I still have reservations regarding Eligible. We'll see! Hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

Saturday, 24 December 2016


Happy Christmas Eve!

This morning I finished Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls. It was painful, and beautiful. Exactly what I expected it to be. Following this, I started Sittenfeld's Eligible. I'm only about twenty pages in, but the best line I have come across so far is:

'if a sock puppet with a trust fund and a Harvard medical degree moved here, you'd think he was meant to marry one of our girls'.

Additionally, Mr Bennet's name is Fred! Need I say more?! I feel as though this book is going to be interesting. It's pathetically funny.

Back to my critical theory assignment! Have a lovely Christmas guys!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A very bookish christmas

I have spent five long hours on my assignments this evening. My back hurts, and my brain is subsequently incapable of anything. Before deciding to put down the books for the night, I started a search for Bond related memes. That, is how I knew it was time to quit. However, I did find this masterpiece.

Anyway, this year has been a wonderful year for reading and according to Goodreads I've read around 30,000 pages this year. This month has been a good month for buying books too. So far, I've purchased The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Angela Carter's Fairy Tales. I'm most excited to read A Monster Calls! The trailer for the film looks absolutely beautiful. Patrick Ness is a particular favourite of mine and The Rest of Us Just Live Here gives me great hope for A Monster Calls!

In that past couple of days I've had a couple subscription boxes arrive, almost a lot of last minute Christmas shopping. The first box to arrive came from the USA; Owl Crate! It's a tad expensive but it's something I look forward to every month! However, this month I decided to compare Owl Crate with Fairy Loot. Fairy Loot is less expensive because they're based in London. It was wonderful to get two boxes this month!

 First, Owl Crate! The art work in this months box was absolutely wonderful and something I fully intend to start decorating my shelves with. I'm half way through Of Fire and Stars. It's a slow burn so far but the characters are beautifully presented. Denna and Mare especially. If the novel were to progress at the same race as it has, I'd be giving it 3 stars. It's enjoyable, but not something I'd seek out myself.

My favourite thing from this box is the very tiny Hedwig figure! I had a lot of fun taking pictures of this box's contents!

Onto Fairyloot! This was my first box from Fairyloot and I was so excited. The book in this box was Flashfall by Jenny Moyer. This is a highly anticipated YA novel! I'm very excited about this! But I think it'll be something that I'm more likely to get around to in
January. Like Owl Crate, there were so many beautiful pieces of art work, from the Lunar Chronicles and other sci-fi YA novels. My favourite from this box though, were the book marks! There as a beautiful one with a quote from Amie Kaufman. I'm growing a small collection of book marks, and book themed pins!

The comparison between boxes was something I really enjoyed this month! I'd definetly say that Fairy Loot was better value for money. However, next months Owl Crate theme is Classic Remixes. The theme was made for me! Anyone who knows me will be aware of how much I love Classics! Especially if its Austen themed!

Speaking of Classic remixes, I've purchased a couple of the Austen Project reltellings this morning; by Alexander Mcall Smith and Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.

This week has been tough. Although after snooping under the tree yesterday afternoon, I've discovered that my mom has purchased a good number of books for me, for Christmas! Some of which she wrapped in white paper- I spied Sarah J Maas' Throne of Glass series! A little bit excited.

I have no doubt that the severe university work load will drive me to procrastinate through blogging before Christmas. However, if not, have a very happy Christmas guys!

Friday, 16 December 2016

Amanda Lovelace- The Princess Saves Herself in This One

So, yesterday my amazon delivery arrived, containing Amanda Lovelace's The Princess Saves herself in this one. I've been having a flick through since then and I am torn.

I begin with, I loved the dedication and the Harry Potter Reference:

'For the boy who lived.
Thank you for inspiring me to be
the girl who survived.
You have have a lightening bolt
to show for it
but my body is a
lightening storm'.

The collection features chapters entitled The Princess, The damsel, The Queen and You. However, before any of these chapters begin, two pages that introduce the book. Then, 'Once Upon A Time'.

This was absolutely beautiful. It made me wonder about which fairytales I would prefer to be in! It made life sound accidental, and people simply dreamers. There is no malice or angst here. Just peace and accidents.

The author begins with how the persona started life, 'book mad'. Slowly, themes of eating disorders emerge through repeated mentions of 'fat' and 'starved' and 'skin and bone'. We are introduced to a new character, referred to as 'you' throughout quite early on. Lovelace states that:

'you have
been the
of each
& every
one of
my nightmares'.

The Damsel and the Queen continue to use fairytale references in order to explore Lovelace's hurt, and complete anguish. Intertextual references include that of dragons, thorns and the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood.

My favourites I found in The Queen, and You:

This collection was absolutely heart breaking to read. My friend Chelsey and I spent our break between lectures, today, reading through it. We made noises of enjoyment, appreciation and total agony. We described it as 'heart breaking', 'agonising' and 'hard hitting'. We were so touched by Lovelace.

The poems towards the end get more inspiring and empowering. I felt a great sympathy for Lovelace, or the persona. For the sister she had lost, her mother and all of the parts of herself. The advice she offered in the chapter You, was wonderful and left me feeling strong, and capable. It was as if she was writing to me personally. I loved the poem regarding the English degree. I am pretty sure regarding my ideas about my future and my career. However it was nice to be reassured that

a) It was okay to be unsure, or not have a clue.
b) Other people are unsure and don't have a clue.

I compared this collection to I Wrote This For You, one of my all time favourite collections of poetry. It is just as emotional, heart-wrenching and beloved to me. The intertextual references to fairy tales only made me more emotional in my response to it.

Lovelace is releasing an updated edition next year and I cannot wait!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

'There is a mental health youth epidemic...'

Today I came across the comments made by Piers Morgan regarding rape and PTSD. I was absolutely disgusted. I have very strong views regarding the awareness of Mental Health issues. I, for one, think Lady Gaga was very brave for admitting that she still suffers from PTSD after a sexual assault. However, Piers Morgan shot her down, rather rudely. He stated that she used PTSD as a ploy to 'promote herself', supporting this with the argument that he has grown up in a military family and he felt that celebrities, such as Gaga, fail to take PTSD seriously.

It has shocked me that in a society that is so advanced, in so many ways, could be so backward in its thinking regarding mental health. It is still something that is so stigmatised that it is painful. I am a hundred percent grateful for anyone that campaigns for the awareness of mental health. It is hard enough to live with any sort of mental health illness, never mind have to deal with oppression in the form of individuals such as Piers Morgan.

This tweet from Gaga was my favourite. She was completely rational in her responses and I admire her for that. I felt a huge amount of rage just reading his ignorant comments. What I appreciated most of all was her openness about mental health and her acknowledgement of mental health and the struggle of youth. Thank you Gaga!

After reading this exchange I did some brief research. I was interested in varying definitions of PTSD. The first definition that google supplied me with used as an example sentence. 'Military Veterans suffering from PTSD'. Needless to say that we live in a society that is, in many ways, incredibly ignorant. That absolutely sucks, for want of a better word.

I have every intention of publishing a separate post regarding the new poetry book I had delivered today. However, I had to finish this post with one of the poems. Additional thanks to Amanda Lovelace for writing this collection.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

'Feminism has become such a hot potato'.

'There's no better time in history to be a woman'.

Today I watched an interview between Emma Watson and Caitlin Moran. They discussed feminism, culture and ways in which to change the world. Moran opens the interview with a discussion of feminism and refers to it as this 'coat' that now protects women. This idea was comforting to me. That there was safety to be found from the oppression that we still face.

She appreciates those 'twenty women' that went out and changed the world. But why is there no better time in history to be a woman? Apparently because we are not being burnt on the stake anymore. Which is a very valid point. But we are still in a position in which a nation would sooner vote for a misogynistic, racist and sexist male than a woman to be president. Moran and Watson express the opinion that Trump has been voted for on the basis that is he not a politician, and therefore must be talking 'real talk'! Perhaps the less said about that presumption, the better.

Watson points out, that we are in a position to change the world. That like being a women, there is no better time to change the world. However, it is almost the first time that humanity has begun to doubt itself and believe itself incapable of making this change. We simply do not believe in the 'innate goodness' of humanity anymore. Hearing this sentiment actualised broke my heart. It appears to be painfully true. We allow ourselves to be manipulated by the pessimism of social media; media that is very much filtered. I think as a society we have become very ignorant.

“Maybe all you needed in life was the belief you could change things. Somehow. Some way.”
Holly Bourne, What's a Girl Gotta Do?

They continue to comment that our outlook upon the world has changed severely. Watson states that we used to write about utopias and hopes for a better, advanced, society. Now, instead, we are focussed much more upon the apocalypse and dystopias and the end of the world. In fiction alone, I have definetly seen an increase in dystopian and apocalyptic literature. Especially on the young adult front. Moran confirms this. She points out that we now appear to only view the world through the pessimistic lens of social media, that instead change should be fun! It should be exciting and very different from being 'worthy'. She compares the current treatment of change, and revolution and movements such as feminism, and anti-racisim and the trans-movement to the act of eating fibre or taking your vitamins. She suggests that change and revolution has lost its appeal. I agree. Revolution appears to be seen as more of a chore, rather an something that one would look forward to.

Children, she acknowledges, are now more tolerant than adults. Especially those that occupy positions in government! Moran expresses an interest in challenging children to re-invent a religion that is female friendly. Wow. For example, I've seen multiple posts across social media about women allowing their sons to dress up as Disney princesses. Other children have responded by complimenting the young boy. Instead, it has been the adults that have criticised him and his mother. This angers me beyond belief! I cannot believe we have reached a point in a society with so much potential and yet the children of this society are more accepting and tolerant than their parents/grandparents. It seems we haven't moved forward as much as we had thought we had.

Together, Moran and Watson explore, briefly, the history of feminism and the fact that it is possible to overserve when woman's rights were removed and taken away from them. Thus making man superior. This was incredibly interesting. Watson explores themes of hope in Moranifesto, a 'diet of hope' and the need to move away from watching the news every night.

I find Caitlin Moran insightful. How to be A Woman was absolutely brilliant and remains something I reread.  However, young adult literature includes feminist themes and deals with them exceptionally well. For example, the presence of strong heroines from authors such as Sarah J Maas. Holly Bourne's Spinster series features a trio of teenage girls that start a feminist club, called the Spinster Club. They successfully reclaim the negative term in an amusing way.

“When you fight for what you believe in, you come across a lot of obstacles. People who don't agree with you, people who agree with you but only some bits, people who delight in ripping you down, people who are threatened by the strength of your belief".
- Holly Bourne

I've had Moranifesto for a while now, after it was half price in Waterstones upon its release,  and after watching this interview I cannot wait to read it! I'll add it to my to be read list for this month I think.

See you again!


To Be Read: December

The pile of books I have to read is huge. I struggled to pick just a few to read this month. I'm so excited to hand all my assignments in January so I have a couple weeks of reading. Anyway...

 The Muse By Jessie Burton: I read Burton's debut The Miniaturist last year and I absolutely adored it! Burton has a skill for manipulating words. I've had The Muse for a while, I got it on sale in Waterstones a couple of months ago. And the cover is absolutely beautiful.

Replica by Lauren Oliver: Having read a few books by Oliver I'm intrigued to see what she does with this. The book can be started either way, and you simply read into the middle, then start the other side. She tells the story of Lyra and Gemma, in a young adult science fiction tale. I am so excited about this.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: I am almost ashamed to admit it. But here it goes *gulps*. I have never acutally read any Dickens. However, having been forced to read Carol Ann Duffy's Miss Havisham when I was in sixth form, I put the novel on my to be read list and haven't thought of it since. But Great Expectations seems a good a place as any to begin Dickens.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith: I've almost finished this and will post a full review very soon!

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: Another confession. I have actually never read Mansfield Park or Persuasion. So I thought I'd start with Mansfield Park. I'll post a review of this soon.

The Last Beginning by Lauren James: The Next Together was one of the best young adult novels I've read all year. I went to a book signing with her and Jennifer Niven last month and she stated that she'd started the series for the young adult that loves both Doctor Who, and Jane Austen. The description was very endearing and made me appreciate her that little bit more! I'm so excited to read this sequel.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

'Nice Boys Don't Kiss Like That...'

I have returned. A bit sooner than I had planned, but a rather severe case of procrastination has led me here. Despite having chosen some interesting topics for my numerous essays, such as the rebranding and retellings of fairy tales, and the classic exploration of feminism within the James Bond franchise, I have found myself more drawn to this blog.

Recently I wrote an essay on Austen’s popularity, and it’s led me back to classics. I am working my way through some disturbing/fantastic novels based upon Austen’s works. I mentioned in my last post that I had started Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and I am almost finished. But tonight I wanted to discuss the male characters within Austen’s novels. Beware, this will probably be the most shallow post ever and it is probably not worth reading. I am deeply apologetic.

So, Fitzwilliam Darcy and George Knightly are definetly among my all time favourites. Though aside from Austen, I have a slight weakness for the brooding Edward Rochester (though the crazy wife in the attic situation is a tad off putting).

Whether it be Fitzwilliam Darcy, or Mark Darcy, I am a hundred percent on board. Partly because of Colin Firth’s involvement. Partly because I find Darcy’s character amusing. Yes, I accept that he is both irritating and rude and I am very offended on Elizabeth’s part as he refers to her as ‘tolerable’. Then follows this by confessing his love, and yet expressing disgust at the fact he has feelings for her. The character should be intolerable. But regardless, I find him amusing. Particularly within the 2005 adaptation of the novel, starring Keira Knightly. However, I feel that Bridget Jones’ Diary replicated miserable, dry and yet amusing character very well with Mark Darcy!

I love that "In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you” became:

“Wait a minute…nice boys don’t kiss like that”

 “Oh yes they f*cking do!”

But what about George Knightly. Mr Knightly was a character I fell in love with instantly. Throughout Emma I was so very irritated with our protagonist for her total and complete ignorance! Knightly is older than Emma, and appeared to have been introduced as a figure of guidance. I was undeterred by this knowledge, and soon realised that Knightly is Emma’s long time best friend. Nobody, except for Mrs Weston, better understands Emma. Additionally, he is the only person that can recognise her as being flawed. He does not put her on a pedestal, and this makes her character more tolerable. However, he does take an awfully long time in which to confess his feelings for Emma.

Back to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies before bed...

Friday, 9 December 2016

Dear readers,

A temporary note to the people reading this for the first time.

I hope you enjoy this! Honest opinions please but be nice!


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

So this week I started reading Seth- Grahame Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, alongside Jo Baker's Longbourn. I must say that I did not start the novel with high hopes. But I'll admit, that so far it's interesting.

 To begin with I was torn between being offended on the behalf of an Austen, and pronouncing myself a Janite, and appreciating the puns and funny additions. Anyway, my confusion between the two states began with Lydia’s crude confession that despite being the youngest of the Bennet sisters, she is undeniably superior with regard to the temptation of the opposite sex.

However, humour started to creep in with Elizabeth’s reaction to Darcy’s comment that she is barely ‘tolerable’. Her reaction is to reach for the nearest weapon! The comment that had me laughing the most was Darcy’s confession that his balls belonged to Elizabeth! Even more so the description surrounding the way his trousers cling to the ‘most English parts of him’. After reading these, regrettably, amusing lines I concluded that Grahame-Smith had made the novel more accessible to a younger audience. Perhaps I should appreciate this more than criticise it. I regarded it, then, as no different to Bridget Jones’ Diary and its treatment of Austen’s work.

The illustrations were strange and I did try to ignore them; I found them irritating. It was the captions that were funny!

Having not finished the novel yet, I'm not quite ready to confirm my opinions. However, at this point I am as shocked as Mr Collins when he finds out that the Bennet sisters had no ninjas whilst growing up.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

'Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favourite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans'. (Goodreads)

This book was whimsical, confusing and fascinating. Meyer’s intertextual references were intriguing. I found a blend of Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Disney’s somewhat interesting adaptation, and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010). The novel is not a retelling, as I have seen it referred to so frequently, but rather an origin story. It is the origin of the notorious Queen of Hearts, and of the infamous phrase that is ‘off with their heads!’ Additionally we are provided with some eagerly anticipated answers to the familiar question of ‘why is a raven like a writing desk?’

Heartless was possibly one of the most anticipated young adult novels of the year for me. Having of a love of the setting of Wonderland and of Alice’s character, I didn’t think it would be possible for me to form a stronger bond and feel more attached to another Wonderland character other than her. However, Catherine Pinkerton stole my heart. It was her development from an ambitious girl with dreams of opening a bakery with her best friend to the much feared Queen of Hearts that keep me captivated throughout.

However, Meyer's intertextual references were also intriguing and amusing with the Raven quoting lines from Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Raven'. The Raven uses language such as 'nevermore' I found this interesting and a clear example of the fact that Meyer hadn't decided to write Heartless without conducting extensive research first.

The novel opens and allows us entry into a Wonderland that any fan of Alice in Wonderland would be all too familiar with. However, we are introduced to new characters such as the ‘silly’ King of Hearts, our protagonist, and her oppressive parents. It was Catherine’s strained relationship with her parents that pained me the most. Their very characters were a constant source of angst throughout the novel. I very quickly, however, became attached to the heroine that has the ability to dream up fruit trees in the garden and has an extraordinary talent for baking.

However, due to Catherine being our current guide through the world of Wonderland, her development means that the novel begins to take on a sinister tone. As a reader I began to hope that the inevitable future of the Queen of Hearts would not be actualised.

 With regard to other characters in Meyer’s Wonderland, I was very pleased and entertained. I found the Cheshire cat to be very much himself, selfish and unhelpful. He appeared momentarily though-out to offer unnecessary facts to Catherine. However, at the point of the climax in the text, I felt that Cheshire broke character and appeared to be sympathetic toward Catherine’s impossible dream of the bakery. But this lapse in harshness and madness and introduction of sympathy to his character was unwelcome by my imagination.

 However, a character I did not enjoy was Meyer's portrayal of the Hatter. The Hatter is one of the characters I fell in love with after Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland in 2010. I felt a distance, however, from his character in Heartless. I felt that, especially toward the climax and end of the novel, the Hatter was sinister in his madness and riddles. Perhaps this was because I was viewing the Hatter through the eyes of Lady Pinkerton. I found his character irritating unfortunately.

Having said that, the best parts of the Hater that I had originally hoped for were embodied by the Joker for the Court of Hearts, introduced to us as Jest. I think that this made up for it. Jest was much more endearing on the basis of him being Catherine's love interest.

To conclude, I felt Heartless was stimulating. It embodied everything that I'd originally fell I love with regarding Wonderland. Origin stories such as Heartless, and Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars trilogy, enable Wonderland to be so accessible.

“But hoping," he said, "is how the impossible can be possible after all.”
Marissa Meyer, Heartless

My rating: