Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Double Review: Beauty and the Beast Novelization by Elizabeth Rudnick & Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

Release date: January 31st, 2017
Author links: Goodreads - Website
Publisher: Disney Press
Pages: 275

Description (from Goodreads):

Belle has dreamt of adventures like the ones she reads in her books, of traveling the world outside her small town. When Belle's father is captured, she takes his place as a prisoner of a fearsome Beast. But life in the enchanted castle isn't as terrible as Belle imagines, and she ultimately finds friendship and love. Enjoy this tale as old as time about adventure and love, about looking past first appearances, and about the inner Beauty and Beast in all of us in this beautiful novelization of the upcoming star-studded film!

Release date: January 31st, 2017
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Disney Press
Pages: 352

Description (from Goodreads):

An original addition to the beloved Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Lost in a Book follows the lonely, bookish Belle as she finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s library called Nevermore that carries her into a glittering new world. There, Belle is befriended by a mysterious countess who offers her the life she’s always dreamed of.

But Nevermore is not what it seems, and the more time Belle spends there, the harder it is to leave. Good stories take hold of us and never let us go, and once Belle becomes lost in this book, she may never find her way out again.
This deluxe hardcover novel expands upon the beautiful story and world seen in the new Walt Disney Studios' film, Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney movies, so obviously I have been eagerly waiting for the premiere of the new movie. It hit theaters a few weeks ago, but, unfortunately, I haven't had time to see it yet (thesis has been keeping me busy!), but I did have time to read these two Disney releases released as sort of promotion material for the movie.

Elizabeth Rudnick's book is a straight-up novelization of the movie script. I guess one could question why I decided to read it before seeing the movie, but honestly, can you really be spoiled for this movie this the story is so well-known? I don't think so. There are a few things here that are not in the animation, but I imagine they are things that have made it into the new movie.

Obviously something that is missing from the novelization are the songs, but I think including the lyrics to the different musical pieces would have interrupted the flow of the story. This novelization is nothing mindblowing, but I did enjoy reading more about these characters, and the final few chapters managed to make me very emotional! 

Also, after reading this I really cannot wait to see the movie!

The book by Jennifer Donnelly is an original addition to the story of Belle and the Beast and its events take place after the Beast introduces the library to Belle. Lonely and missing home, Belle finds a book called Nevermore and finds herself transported into a kind of world she has only been dreaming about. But as she becomes more familiar with this new fantasy world, she realizes that life at the castle might not be as bad as she imagined it to be. 

I have not read anything by Jennifer Donnelly before, but I know she is quite well known for her historical YA novels. While I wasn't super into this story in general, I did think Donnelly writes well and I definitely would not mind giving one of her earlier novels a change. I think Donnelly excels in giving a voice to characters that are not her own, which makes me excited about the prospect of reading about characters that she has actually created herself. 

If you are a Beauty and the Beast fan, I think these novels could be a beautiful addition to your collection, and as a Beauty and the Beast fan I definitely enjoyed my time with them. Both are quick to read, and whether you are looking to extending the story of Belle and Beast or living through it again in a different format, your wishes will be sorted with these two. 

Rating (for both books):

Friday, April 7, 2017

Shelter by Jung Yun (Review)

Release date: March 15th, 2016
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Picador

Description (from Goodreads):

Why should a man care for his parents when they failed to take care of him as a child?

Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can’t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family’s future.

A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantage—private tutors, expensive hobbies—but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and he’s compelled to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung’s proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child?

As Shelter veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. Shelter is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one's family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.

While Shelter, Jung Yun's debut novel, is not the kind of book I would usually pick up, seeing it mentioned on multiple "best of 2016 reads" list both on the blogsphere and BookTube made me excited about the concept of reading it when a spotted a copy at my local library. 

Much like Yun herself, the main character of Shelter - Kyung - moved from South Korea to North America when he was a child. While the novel focuses mostly on Kyung as an adult, little glimpses of his childhood are provided to the reader, which makes it easier to understand the feelings he has towards his parents. 
"Thirty-six years old, and he's still behaving like a child, trying so hard to please someone whose standards have always been too high."
Shelter is an interesting blend of a mystery story and a family drama. It is also a story about cultural differences and expectations, and about the things we learn from our parents -- often things we might want to forget about, but just can't find a way to do so. The mystery aspect of the story, the process of figuring out what exactly happened to Kyung's parents, is well paced and executed in a way that made me want to keep turning the pages. 

One of the most interesting aspects that I found myself thinking about while reading this novel is how the characters are described and how Yun writes about the things they think about and the things they do. I found almost all of the principal characters of the novel extremely unlikable. Yet, they are written about in a way that makes them seem so damn real that it was difficult for me not to feel something for them. 
"It's hard to be happy when you don't know what it's supposed to look like."
The idea of whether it is possible for us to really ever escape our roots is brought up on Shelter mainly through the relationships Kyung has with his parents. The influence of the Korean culture mixed up with the kind of upbringing he has had within the American society has created certain kind of expectations he has always felt like he hasn't been able to fulfill. Thus, he has always felt like he hasn't been respected by his parents. As his distant relationship between his parents forcibly becomes closer, Kyung is made to question both his upbringing and his current state in life.
"You know what it's like spending your entire life trying to make up for something you can't take back?"
The novel also interestingly touches upon ideas about living behind a facade, whether that is by pretending to have the kind of life you are expected to have, or by living in a way that you cannot really afford in reality. I feel like during this day and age especially the financial aspects introduced in the novel are something a lot of people can relate with, and I find the way Yun discusses such problems well executed.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Shelter and will definitely be looking forward to checking out what Jung Yun writes next.