Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sisters Red

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.
Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?
I do love the idea of fairy tale re-tellings.  There's this element of nostalgia attached to them + the anticipation of finding something new and exciting in an old, oft-heard tale.
Sisters Red is, you guessed it, Red Riding Hood retold. With kickass heroines and a lot of originality.
      “I am confident, I am capable, and I will not wait to be rescued by a woodsman or a hunter.” 

The Sisters. Scarlett and Rosie's gruesome ordeal with a werewolf in their childhood shaped their futures. Hardened by their past, they thrive on killing werewolves, eliminating their evil from the world. They fight alongside and find comfort in it. In that, they share one heart. But Jackson Pearce tells their story in dual PoVs. And with that she lays down two individuals, so similar, yet so utterly different from each other. Scarlett, 18, scarred and so tough, who won't rest until the world is rid of every single Fenris. Rosie, 16, who adores her sister and would follow her till the end of the world, but secretly wishes for a life beyond the continuous hunts. Pearce skillfully digs into the nuances of this sibling bond, while exploring their very different personalities and the underlying insecurities beyond the tough exterior. Oh, the sisters  March are characters to be loved and remembered. I liked reading from both their perspectives. While Scarlett's held most of the action sequences, Rosie's were interspersed with romantic musings about their woodcutter friend who is all hot-and-hunky now, of seeing more of life. I loved the juxtaposition of these two perspectives. I think it provided the perfect blend.

The Woodcutter. Silas. Their childhood friend and fellow Fenris fighter. Who had disappeared from the scene to live a different life for two years, and then arrives suddenly, setting off all kinds of thoughts in Rosie (and me). Silas is swoonworthy. Not the body-baring, brawn-flexing, sexual-innuendo-quipping kinda swoonworthy. Silas is hot, yes, but he's also so very sweet. And grounded. And real. And a woodcutter. Which means he can do things with his hands. All kinds of things. Add to the fact, that he is also able to hold intelligent conversations with his love interest. Yes, swoonworthy.

The Werewolves. They are called Fenris. And they are EVIL. Very, very evil. And yes, some of them are perfectly angelic looking, but the girls don't go oh-i-don't-care-how-bad-you-are-you-are-hot-i-love-you. Nah, they aren't that easily deceived. They have common sense enough to know that behind the face-and-the-flex lie the fangs and the lust and the desire to kill. So they kick ass. And they kick so hard they could give Buffy a run for her money. 

The Magic. I may be tired of the regular paranormal romance, but I love myself a good urban fantasy. I love magic. I love stories with magic. And for me, the paranormal element here, didn't feel very paranormal-ish. It felt magical. Now, magic can be the good, the bad, the ugly, or perhaps, the gray. Scarlett and Rosie's world, prowling with Fenris felt somewhat like a magical world, one that is deeply rooted in ours. And it is exactly that what makes this so worthy of being called a 'fairy tale retelling', because fairy tales above all, are magical.

The Epilogue. Wow. That is one of the classiest epilogues I've ever read. Just the right punch of bittersweet.

When you look at it, it really is a classic good vs evil story - dirty bad guys vs swashbuckling heroines. But what also sets Sisters Red apart is Jackson Pearce's willingness to create heroines that break the stereotypical mold. Scarlett is scarred and has only one eye. Which is possibly an anomaly in YA fiction scattered with shy-heroines-not-aware-of-their-extraordinary-beauty-till-a-boy-tells-them. But it's an anomaly that's required. Because it tests how much readers can accept a main character who is physically repulsive. And Rosie? Yeah, pretty girl she is and one tough chica, too. That quote way up there? That's hers.

I absolutely ADORED this book. It suited my mood perfectly. Kickass, fun, and like I said, magical. I have read Jackson Pearce's As You Wish, and while I liked it, I didn't particularly love it. But with Sister Red, you can put a stamp across me as a Jackson Pearce Fan. I'm sold. I cannot wait to read her other Fairy Tale Retellings. She has what it takes to write one with punch.

What's a fairy tale you want to see retold?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This is what you shall be seeing soon

It's been a bit quiet around here and that's mostly cos it's October, the Festival Season of Awesome. So we had a string of festivals, like Durga Puja and Laxmi Puja and then yesterday it was Diwali a.k.a. the Mega Festival of Lights. And even though, it's most often than not a one-day fest, celebrations begin the day before and stretch on  to the day after and till Bhai Phota, which is on Friday, which kinda brings the curtains down on the festivities.

Basically that means that all throughout this month I've been running around town with my friends, although the roads have been choc-a-bloc like this

Of course, we weren't merely running around, just for the sake of doing so. We were pandal-hopping, setting off firecrackers (and every possible firecrackers we could get our hands on), hogging on the festival-special platters...and going deliriously bonkers doing it all!

Did I tell you that the Diwali night sky is a most magnificent sight?
And, you know, this is a satellite image of India on Diwali night:

So, anyway. This month has been perfectly perfectly amazing, even though I also managed to set my laptop on fire in the process. Yeah, don't even ask me about that. And while it recuperates in the service centre I have to make do with the Ancient Family PC From The Jurassic Age, which I am not much friendly with at the moment.

HOWEVER, there are things coming up here (how exciting is that? :P)
Like, The String Bridge Book And Music Blog Tour on November 3rd.
Where I shall be talking about this author and this book,

And this trailer where the author, who is a musician herself, sang the absolutely beautiful song.

And starting November 2nd, there's the Dark YA Blogfest. If you love dark YA, you know that's where you're expected :)

Meanwhile, I suppose no one's forgotten NaNoWriMo. So who's taking the plunge this year? :)
I have something in mind, something very different from the kind of thing I write. I don't know how far that'll go, but if you're hanging around the forum, add me.
My username: Bidisha
Maybe we can peep into each other's works and be jealous. Haha. I'm such a naturally slow writer, I've never had a successful NaNoWriMo. The no-quality-all-quantity policy kinda doesn't work for me, but every year I do join in. With hope.

And while all that will be going on, I have lots of reviews coming up as well. And some of them might even be non-YAs if you're up for that.

So. Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Carrie Diaries

Before Carrie Bradshaw hit the big time in the City, she was a regular girl growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut. How did she turn into one of the most-read social observers of our generation?

The Carrie Diaries opens up in Carrie's senior year of high school. She and her best friends -- Walt, Lali, Maggie, and the Mouse -- are inseparable, amid the sea of Jens, Jocks and Jets. And then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture. Sebastian is a bad boy-older, intriguing, and unpredictable. Carrie falls into the relationship that she was always supposed to have in high school-until a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. With her high school days coming to a close, Carrie will realize it's finally time to go after everything she ever wanted.

Rabid fans of Sex and the City will love seeing Carrie Bradshaw evolve from a regular girl into a sharp, insightful writer. They'll learn about her family background -- how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. We'll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where the next Carrie Diaries book will take place.

I haven't read the Sex And The City books.
I didn't watch the Sex And The City TV series because I was too young back then. I caught some episodes but I don't remember much of them.
But I did watch the SATC movies and I liked them. A lot.

So when Carrie appeared in a YA version of herself, I had a good mind to read it. It did take a while, but I did read it. The Carrie Diaries does not show the Manolo-Blahnik-totting, Prada-wearing fashionista/writer trotting down New York City. This is Carrie Bradshaw, before the glamour, before New York, fledgling writer, navigating the waters of high school in the 80s. This is Marlboro-smoking, beer-drinking Carrie in her last year at high school. 

The book doesn't have one life-changing event around which everything revolves, it has lots of episodes in this girl's life that changes her dynamics with the people around her, changes the way she sees the world, gradually. Truth be told, I was rolling my eyes when the book began with Carrie and her friend starting senior year and worrying about not having boyfriends and I was like same old, same old story. The first couple of chapters didn't do much for me. I only read along because, well, I wanted to read a Carrie Bradshaw book *shrugs*

But I'm glad I did. Because things got deeper and so much of the book is introspective. I didn't like many of the characters. There wasn't much to like, plus they seemed rather one-dimensional. The Mouse and Walt were the only characters who held my interest among the secondary characters, but there wasn't really much about them either. All that kept me going with this book was Carrie. Carrie, charmed by a boy she doesn't know what to make of. Carrie, worrying about her future and secretly grieving but carrying around her rejection letter from her dream writing school. Carrie, harbouring big dreams, dreams of a bigger life. Carrie, Carrie, Carrie. 

Yes, there were times when I wanted to shake her for being boy-blind, scream at her for not realising how traitorous her friend could get (when I guessed so much earlier!) but..oh, well, it happens to the best of us.

There are some inconsistencies between the book and the tv series/movies. For instance, in the show it's her father who had left them, but in here it's the mother who has died. But if you get past that and stop trying to relate the two together, it's quite enjoyable.

I liked the juxtaposition of the trifle and the profound and the equal seriousness with which almost both are handled at times. I think therein lies the very realism of the book. Although, somewhere along the line, I also think Carrie got very, very lucky with something that set her up for the rest of her life.

Oh, the ending? That's one helluva ending. The last line's a killer. If you're familiar with atleast the characters of Sex And The City, you'd know why. And it sets up the tone perfectly for the sequel, which I'm definitely reading.

Smart one liners, wry humour, the 80s generation, a coming-of-age story that deals with everything from grief to sexuality, ambition and betrayal - you'd want to read this Candace Bushnell offering :)

See, even Tom Felton thinks so ;)

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Candace Bushnell

Have you read/watched Sex And The City?
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