The 2017 Then & Again Reading Challenge

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Welcome to the Then & Again Reading Challenge!
(thank you, Prags and Steph for coming up with the name)

Have those stories you know the plot for, but never actually read them? Seen or read a retelling of a famous book but never bothered to read the original? Well, this challenge is exactly that! For the Then & Again challenge, we will read one book and its retelling every month, and see how stories transform when rewritten.


Guidelines

  • Every month, I will select an ‘original book’ and you can read that (or reread it) and follow it with a retelling of your choice.
  • This retelling can be a book, a movie, a web series, etc. and you can buddy/group read it.
  • Fairytales  don’t count for the original (too many variations in the story origin plus there are a LOT of retellings of them out there). Same for straight adaptations.
  • There will be an optional Twitter chat in the last week of every month (I’ll put those details up later) for those who want to get together, discuss author’s twists on these stories and basically have a good time.
  • Optional Twitter group also will be created for those who want to keep up and discuss.

For example, if the book of the month is ‘Macbeth’, you can read The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove or the recent As I Descended. Or maybe you could see ‘Clueless’ in an ‘Emma’ book month! Or in a ‘Wizard of Oz’ month, you could read Dorothy Must Die.

Alternative prompt – for those who want to take it a step further, you can even write up a post comparing the original and the retelling you read, and talk about what appealed to you and what you liked best!


Sign Ups

No official sign-ups! You can drop me a comment below or look me up on Twitter to join. Or just tweet with #TAARC17


Spread the word

Grab the button for your site, and help spread  the word!

Then & Again Reading Challenge
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Review: Truthwitch

TruthwitchTruthwitch by Susan Dennard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

If, like me, you have read her Strange series, you know Dennard has skill in building up a universe, amazing characters and an adventure-filled plot. (That the series had a sad ending is another matter altogether) Her new series takes us to the Witchlands, where there are witches that can control elements and lots of kingdoms fighting for power. The world of Witchlands incorporates elemental magic, mostly, but there are other new kinds of magic, like Isuelt’s Threadwitchery, Safi’s Truthwitchery and Aeduan’s Bloodwitchery. The magic is fed by Origin pools – wells that contain the source of magic but which have run out in the past few centuries. Which of the pools feeds the Threadwitchery and Truthwitchery is not made clear, however, and I wish the build would have been more clear about that.

As the novel switches back and forth between Safi, Isuelt and Merik, we get a view of how magic is seen across their lands. For Safi, her Truthwitchery is something to be hidden as it would start a bid for her power (whether that is really useful is to be seen, though). Merik’s Tidewitchery helps him be a great sailor, but he is a prince first and is in a rivalry with his elder sister for power. Isuelt, meanwhile, left her nomadic clan as she couldn’t keep up with their rules and finds a family in Safi. Her magic (to see the life force and bonds in the universe) is revered but she is not – people draw away from her when they see her ethnicity. Safi’s power is a driving force of the conflict in the book – each of the empires are yearning to have her under their control, while she wants to be free of them. However, she grows to be selfless and gives up her freedom for the greater good.

A big positive of this novel was the strong bond Safi and Isuelt share – they are Threadsisters. Thread families are a different kind of concept, as in they are bonds made of compatibility and choice rather than blood, which definitely adds a layer of complexity when it comes to loyalty. So far, it seems Thread families are considered higher than blood ones, but where it leads is to be seen in future books. Aeduan makes a nice villain (at least one of them) as a witch-hunter who is utterly focused on the hunt. His loyalty is a fickle thing, though, and I am interested in how it plays out in consequent books. Merik is a matyr-hero kind of character, but he has a sense of responsibility to his people. In fact, most characters in this book are shades of grey, with their motives ranging anywhere from protection of family to protection of empire – notable exception is the Cartorran emperor; he can burn in hell for all I care, trying to marry a girl three times younger than him!

Overall, a strong series starter – I have high hopes for this one. The world and its canon just needs to be more defined and not all over the place.

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Review: Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined

Life and Death: Twilight ReimaginedLife and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight! This special double-feature book includes the classic novel, Twilight, and a bold and surprising reimagining, Life and Death, by Stephenie Meyer.

Look, the Twilight series will always have a special place in my heart for introducing me to young-adult literature (Harry Potter started as an MG, okay?) and when I heard that it was getting a retelling, in a way, I was excited. A lot of people think Bella was a doormat heroine but dude, she was a teen – cut her some slack. In this genderbent version of the story, Meyer wanted to show how her character being usually unliked was because she was female, not because of how she was (or something like that, as is mentioned in the preface) and so we have Beaufort – like Bella, but not. Edward becomes Edythe, and the rest – well, you catch the drift.

Because this was only a single book, the ending was also changed (to be honest, the whole of Breaking Dawn becomes moot when you have a vampire groom, rather than a bride so I see why it would be much simpler to just alter one crucial aspect of the story). In a way, this was a better ending, since New Moon thankfully gets out of the picture (that is my least favorite in the series). At the end of the day, though, it is basically just the same story repackaged with gender changes – like besides the ending, there are no major changes. So, and let me be very blunt here – why am I paying twice the amount for a story that is basically the same I just read? This was an anniversary edition – a chance to celebrate with fans, but I feel oddly cheated that we are getting a copy that is the same story copied all over again? I feel it doesn’t justify this whole edition being released specifically.

Now, if it was Midnight Sun, I could have felt like it would be worth it – a story from a different perspective becomes a different story. But we earlier had Bella and then we have Beaufort, who are nearly the same people (this is deliberate as part of her ‘experiment’) and so the story is mostly the same. Even as a loyal fan, I honestly cannot abide with this edition being like this – perhaps those who like to collect books and different editions might like to get this one, but I, for one, felt I should have waited for the single story edition than this exorbitant double-copy version.

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ARC Review: The Secrets We Keep

The Secrets We KeepThe Secrets We Keep by Deb Loughead
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Release date: March 7, 2017

When Kit disappeared at a party and was found drowned in the quarry the next day, Clem knew who to point the finger at: herself. She was the last person to see him alive, the last person who could have helped. If she had just kept a closer eye on him instead of her crush, Jake, maybe Kit would still be here. She knows she made a mistake, and wishes she could just forget about it but Clem’s friend Ellie says she’ll expose Clem s secret if she doesn’t play along with Ellie’s lies.

Jake seems to have his own difficult secrets, and when he and Clem start to talk, they make a plan to help themselves move on. But when an unexpected discovery at the quarry makes everyone question what they?thought?they knew, Clem and Jake decide it’s up to them to uncover the truth.

When I had started this book, I expected it to be a mystery or you know, a thriller regarding secrets being kept and there being some weight to it, some consequences attached. What I got was a letdown on many fronts. First, we have a narrator who sounds sometimes like a 10 year old and then like a middle aged writer trying to sound like a 10 year old. She comes off as bratty in one scene and preachy in the next. That whole ‘let’s not use technology’ seemed like an odd plot device to place – almost as if the author wants you to leave your phone and ‘live your life’, as they say. Listen, buddy – people have been ignoring people since way before cell phones were invented; earlier there were newspapers, radio and books to keep busy. So, all that attitude can be best left for a think-piece on how millenials are ‘not connecting’.

Then comes the protag’s equally bratty friend and her POS boyfriend who she should have dropped like a hot potato long ago. Long story short, there are secrets – she is being threatened but there is no threat threat. Like, they are worried the police will think they are responsible for the death of their autistic classmate. So, when all that worrying eventually amounts to nothing in the way of secrets and nothing in the way of consequences, you are left wondering what exactly was supposed to be keeping you invested in the novel. It was more of a healing-wounds story than a mystery one, as was being projected, and even on that front, it was too easy of a resolution. By the second half I was waiting for the ordeal to be over and me to be liberated from this book. Overall, I would not recommend if you came for the mystery.

Received a free galley from Dundurn, via Netgalley.

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Book Blogger Hop: January 20-26


Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer

This week’s question is:

What was the one time you thought the movie was better than the book?

Answer:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6f/Stardust_promo_poster.jpgI liked the Stardust novel by Neil Gaiman, no doubt, but it didn’t really stand out for me. The movie, however, does, and I have seen it several times. It is pretty good, even with the changes they have made in the movie.

 

Review: Scum’s Wish: Volume 1

Scum's Wish: Volume 1Scum’s Wish: Volume 1 by Mengo Yokoyari
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

17-year-old Awaya Mugi and Yasuraoka Hanabi appear to be the ideal couple. They are both pretty popular, and they seem to suit each other well. However, outsiders don’t know of the secret they share. Both Mugi and Hanabi have hopeless crushes on someone else, and they are only dating each other to soothe their loneliness. Mugi is in love with Minagawa Akane, a young teacher who used to be his home tutor. Hanabi is also in love with a teacher, a young man who has been a family friend since she was little. In each other, they find a place where they can grieve for the ones they cannot have, and they share a loneliness-driven physical intimacy. Will things stay like this for them forever?

Friends with benefits is not really a novel concept but to see it being done in a shoujo-esque setting feels very different. Granted, it is categorized as seinen, but I don’t believe in there being girl books and boy books, so there. All I will categorize it as is young adult, and it is intense for that. Reader discretion seriously advised – as this story is a little messed up. Mugi and Hanabi both love other people but since both those people are out of their reach, they form a pact to find a surrogate in each other. It’s a consensual deal, so who am I to judge, right? But there are other secondary characters that are in love with them, and them being obsessed by their respective unrequited loves and the twisted deal they make with each other sort of closes them off from the possibility of having a normal love life.

The characters are both human, in that you might not like them, but also can’t help rooting for them. I mostly started this because the anime just released, so I am a bit anxious as to how this story might proceed. It doesn’t look like it is going to be an easy path for them both, because they have to break out of this hold, but I am sort of rooting for Hanabi to notice Ecchan? I don’t know, Mugi and Hanabi also seem great but their shared history might always cast a shadow over any future happiness. The artwork is good, and the color pages shine with translucent-like paint styles, but it is really not that extraordinary; it does not particularly stand out for me. I would probably pick up future translated issues after seeing the anime and judging how it goes.

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