Mini Reviews: Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda, The Kite Runner

More minis! I went back to reading graphic novels, so you’ll probably see a few reviews regarding graphic novels and whatnot. That being said, it’s not all about the illustrations, because I’ve also been busy with audiobooks and good ole’ text.

I wasn’t such a big fan of the last coming-out book I’d read (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe), and I wasn’t really interested in reading Call Me by Your Name, but I actually super-loved this book.

I also super-loved this book as a graphic novel. I haven’t read the original novel, though not for lack of trying. I’m pretty sure I have a copy of it somewhere…though after going through the grueling images in the graphic novel, I might want to avoid The Kite Runner unless I want a really good cry.

Have you read either books? What did you think?


Mini Reviews: The Princess Diarist, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

I’m slowly getting out of my book slump, but it’s still pretty difficult, considering there’s really only been a handful of books I’ve rated 5 out of 5 this year. Anyway, here’s another mixed set of books. Both were listened to as audiobooks.

Have you read either book? What did you think?

Peter Peter and Sky Eater || Tiger Lily Review

Initial Thoughts: 

For a retelling based off a children’s adventure story, this was kind of a snorefest. Kudos for the transgender Tik Tok at least?


by Jodi Lynn Anderson
HarperCollins, July 2012
YA fantasy, retelling, romance
Rated: 2 / 5 cookies

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Okay, so I admit I expected to be writing a very squee-ful review of A Conjuring of Light by now, but my commitment issues got in the way and I’ve been refusing to read the last two hundred pages of Schwab’s book because I DO NOT WANT IT TO END. So I picked up this book that I’d stopped reading in the middle of February for various reasons, and I finally finished it in one sitting.

Unfortunately, the feeling I had for the entire book was really just…meh?

(I’ve tried real hard not to turn this into a rant, but I swear my fingers have a mind of their own…)

So Tiger Lily is a retelling of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, a story about a flying boy who never grows up. In the original source, Peter takes the Darling siblings on a grand adventure in Neverland, only to find themselves in trouble with Captain Hook and his band of pirates. There’s a lot of shenanigans happening, and in the end, the story takes a cyclical turn, staying true to Peter’s everlasting boyish persona: that everything goes round and round, and will always stay the same where Neverland is concerned.

One of the secondary characters that show up in Barrie’s work happens to be Tiger Lily, the daughter of a tribal chief in Neverland. She is often pitted as the foil to Wendy, because she, too, loves Peter, and has eyes for no one else. Now, the Barrie original has an image of Tiger Lily walking onto Captain Hook’s ship with a knife in her mouth. And honestly, that image alone made this girl the most interesting character in Neverland to date. That’s saying much, considering there are mermaids and pirates and fairies to contend with!

I won’t get into an argument about the depiction of the Piccaninny tribe in the Disney movie, but honestly, I do remember loving what glimpse I had of this feisty little girl!

A lot of the book blurb hinted at some fast-paced, love-at-first-sight adventure romance. I mean, it’s a retelling of Peter Pan, and what wouldn’t be a retelling of Peter Pan if it didn’t have a magical Neverland brimming with mermaids and dangerous pirates and its indigenous, non-colonized people? The entire selling point was that the focus would be on Tiger Lily, one of the most interesting characters in the stories.

Here’s the problem with the blurb, though: it’s another unfortunate, inaccurate write-up. The most accurate it could have gotten was that the focus is on Tiger Lily. However, insta-love doesn’t happen (thank goodness). Tiger Lily is her own character for a majority of the book, and she does fall in love with Peter Pan, but her realization doesn’t even come about until halfway through the book.

Here’s the other problem: there wasn’t much “risk” involved on Tiger Lily’s part. Not once did I feel the need to worry about how the Sky Eaters would react to Tiger Lily’s involvement with the Lost Boys. There was clear and present danger, yes, but nothing immediate, and when dealing with a story where most people already know the ending (heck, the friggin’ fairy already prefaced the story as something that would not end happily for the two lovebirds), it was already predictable that Tiger Lily and Peter would come out unscathed. Probably heartbroken, but largely whole.

And to top it off, meeting Wendy Darling was pretty much the last fifty pages of the book. Honestly, I was half-hoping the entire scene had gone the pirates’ way in the end, because at least that would have been a trifle more exciting. Also, I didn’t think Wendy could get even more boring than the usual persona she is often depicted as, but she did. She got even less interesting in this book, and frankly, even Tinker Bell had developed more personality within the last fifty pages than Wendy did (and that’s saying something, because I swear Tink didn’t have an opinion in her little fairy body either).

It’s gotta be said, Wendy.

My biggest gripe of the story was probably the narration itself. It was hard trying to sympathize with any of the characters when the storyteller kept changing tenses and perspectives on me. The whole book is seen in the eyes of Tinker Bell, a mute fairy whose sole purpose in the book was really just to watch and observe things unravel before her. While I do not mind plot-driven books, the addition of Tink as the unreliable narrator made the storytelling clunky. There were too many POV changes in one scene, and it was sometimes difficult to determine whether or not it was Tink thinking some things or if it was Tiger Lily or another character whose mind Tink can view.

And honestly, Tinker Bell’s limited, single-minded view pretty much distorted the story to revolve around what she wanted to see. Everything else was white noise for her, and unless it dealt with the well-being of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan, Tink pretty much just glazed over things. This in itself is irritating when there were darker, grimmer issues surrounding the story that had nothing to do with Tiger Lily and Peter’s doomed romance. At one point, a rape took place, and Tink’s narration of it lasted a couple paragraphs, like it was just some sort of pitiable thing she happened to have come across. Instead of feeling any sorts of disgusted or worried, she doesn’t even bring this shit up to Tiger Lily. Oh, but Tink has time to prank Wendy Darling, though!

(In Tink’s defense, I doubt she would have been able to say much to Tiger Lily, who was also unfortunately too wrapped up in her own miseries to be paying attention to what was happening to her own damn friends. Ugh, shame on you, Tiger Lily!)

That said, it could have been worse. Tink could have had a voice…

That all said, there were a few things I liked about Tiger Lily.

The writing had its moments, for sure. I thought the prologue and the first few chapters were the best parts to read, because it had a poetic feel to them, and it was easy to forget that Tinker Bell was narrating the story for the most part. The letter at the end was probably one of my favorite bits, too, it was bittersweet and a bit sad. If I sympathized with the relationship more, I might have cared more, but Peter was kind of a jerk for the most part, and only the letter really indicated how much he changed when he got older.

Tik Tok, Pine Sap, and Moon Eye. Honestly, there were some really good characters written into the story. I thought Smee was characterized rather well, though I found this an interesting take on Hook’s most notorious lackey. Pine Sap and Moon Eye were great secondary characters, though I will say that Tik Tok was my absolute favorite. Honestly, Tik Tok’s and Moon Eye’s storylines were the most compelling for me in Tiger Lily, both of which dealt with darker issues. Hell, I was sad for Tik Tok. I was not sad that Peter chose the other woman.

2 out of 5 cookies! It got one extra cookie for Tik Tok and the conclusive situation with Giant. Yeah.

This counts as #6 of my Flights of Fantasy Challenge.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Shameless self-confession: When I bought this book, every intention was to give this away for my TBTBSanta. I wasn’t going to read it or anything, since I had planned on reading Rowell’s Fangirl first. And if I’d liked that book, then I’d go ahead and read Carry On. All the same, at the first look of the cover, I’d narrowed my eyes (it’s a rather lovely cover, btw), then read the book jacket summary.

And almost said out loud–in the open, in The Frelling Strand–“WAIT. IS THIS ABOUT GAY WIZARDS. LIKE HARRY POTTER AND DRACO MALFOY FANFICTION?!”

By that point, I was foaming at the mouth and bought the book with EVERY INTENTION OF READING IT. Before I send it away to my TBTBSanta, of course.


by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2015
YA fantasy, romance
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookierating / 5 cookies

carryonSimon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here–it’s their last year at Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story–but far, far more monsters.

Gifly Thoughts

This is my first Rainbow Rowell story. People probably know this author because of how big Eleanor and Park got. Or maybe even from Fangirl. I’ve seen both books get pretty good reviews on the blogosphere (and my best friend loved EaP), and Fangirl is certainly on my TBR list, just because, honestly, how could I NOT have it on my TBR list?

What ultimately made me decide to start on a Rainbow Rowell journey, first and foremost, is that Carry On is her first fantasy. And frankly, fantasy is what I’m comfortable with.

So this book.

This. Book.



I think I fell in love with Baz even before he finally showed himself–quite ostentatiously–in the second part of the book. I think I fell in love with this story even knowing that it began like every wizarding school trope out there (with a focus on the Harry Potter character dynamic). Then it started teetering in the ridiculously dramatic, and all my expectations got turned around by the characters going out of their typical trope-embodiments.

The Chosen One has no idea what he’s doing. His best friend and sidekick is female and has no interest in snogging him whatsoever. His girlfriend’s completely a dud (IMO, easily my least favorite character ever), but that’s okay, because it turns out he’s kind of gay for his roommate. His roommate’s not altogether evil, but Dumbledore totally is.

That’s the kind of shit that can go down hard. Real fast. Real epically.

And lawdy. So. Much. DRAMA.

This is honestly my image of Simon Snow. I can’t. I CAN’T.

I loved every single bit of it. Especially the snogging. (Page 343, I’m talking to you!)

But let’s pretend I’m being objective about this book. Let’s pretend I’m being overly critical. Overly-critical!Mari would probably say that the plot–what there is of one–is absolutely convoluted and a mess. She would even say there wasn’t much of a plot at all. There was conflict and resolution, yes. But it was a downright mess, almost as much as the relationships were by the middle of the book.

On the other hand, hot damn. Rainbow Rowell can write. I didn’t even CARE that the plot was hard to follow, because I didn’t CARE about any of the plot (as far as the overall one, anyway). I just wanted to live along with Simon and Baz and Penelope on their final year at Watford. I wanted to be there when Baz talked down a dragon with a fucking nursery rhyme (and Simon’s help), wanted to be there when Natasha Grimm-Pitch went all “NOT MY SON YOU BITCH” on the vampires (okay, so that was when Baz was five, but whatever). There was a charm to this book, and most of it was because Rowell’s characters were so very much alive for me.

Seriously every time I think about this book. All about that plot, ’bout that plot, no treble 😉

So yeah, the book was imperfect. I could have done without certain character POVs (which made the story even more messy). I could have done with less complication on the plot. I could have done with more Simon and Baz interaction (and MORE SNOGGING, DAMMIT).

But I loved it the way it was.

5 out of 5 cookies! I almost want to keep this copy of the book and send my TBTBSanta something else completely…