Andie M. Hayes

Author | Artist

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If you love love, this book is for you!

I speak of the type of love that brings sight to the blind. Of a love stronger than fear. I speak of a love that breathes meaning into life, that defies the natural laws of deterioration, that causes us to flourish, that knows no bounds. I speak of the triumph of the human spirit over selfishness and death.” –The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

So I'll just be honest, I'm a bit of a hopeless romantic. I love to see people in love and I hope for that for myself too. That true love thing, not the superficial stuff. So kind of needless to say, I love a good "romance" book. But not that stereotypical, I know what's gonna happen before it happens type book. The kind of book that screams purity, devotion, and the type of love that changes lives. You know, that real stuff that is unending and long suffering. The kind of book that makes you tear up and leaves you questioning every moment of your life not spent with that kinds of passion in your life. That's the kind of book I like. 

When I first picked up The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, I was pretty sure I'd be getting some of that, but I didn't know how much. The story picks up with a girl in search of her father. One day he picked up and moved to Burma. No explanations, no apologies, no nothing. One day he was just gone. Just like that.  And so she does what any kid would do and begins the search for her father and the woman she thinks he left their family for. 

 What unfolds is a love story between two human beings that has stood solid for over 40 years. A love that didn't waver despite decades of total silence, years of wondering and, (what for me would be no less than total insanity), what ended up being the purest, truest love around. BRUH.

But, I digress. Basically Tin Win (daddy that is) was forced away from his home, eventually got married, had a family, a career, an entire life without his true love and yet somehow his love for her, his first love, never diminished. Everyday of his life was one day closer to seeing her again and everyday he made the moves (in secret) to get back to her. SOB.

I can’t tell too much more without spilling the goods, but let’s just say the writing is beautiful. I felt ALL. THE. FEELS. I absolutely loved this book. Can you tell?

Go pick up a copy of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker you’ll love it. Promise.

-A

 

What's up with Alice?

When I was a little girl, I absolutely loved Disney movies. (I mean can anyone name a kid who doesn't?) And if we're being honest, I still do. They're timeless and in a world as crazy as today's, they're refreshing. They suspend reality long enough to give you that warm fuzzy feeling before you have to get back to adulting. And I believe we all need a little of that from time to time. 

So, needless to say, I love books that play with the "original" storylines of the movies I hold dear. (pro fact: Walt changed virtually everything about every story he came in contact with, so we're not gonna call Disney movies the real thing 'cause honestly, they're not. Have you read the real Little Mermaid?!) Gregory Maguire's books, for example, are some of my faves. He's a master at creating an alternate universe for characters we already have connections to. I mean I actually feel bad for the Wicked Witch of the West after reading Wicked over and over, don't you?

But anyway, we're not talking about Elphaba today. Today's post is about the little girl that fell down the rabbit hole.

When I came across Christina Henry's Alice I was pretty pumped. I love seeing how authors take something old and give it a new life. And Alice in Wonderland is one of my absolute favorite Disney movies, though if you ask me why I'm pretty sure I won't have a legitimate answer. But! I've read other takes on Alice and Wonderland before so I figured why not give this one a try. 

But, even though I hate to say it, I'm disappointed. 

I'm not sure what I was expecting from Alice, but I'm pretty sure it isn't what I got. And I have to admit that I'm also not sure if Alice is supposed to be a YA book or not, but that sure would explain a few things. 

Just to be clear: Henry isn't trying to retell Carroll's story. Her spin on his classic is much, much darker. Sinister even. And that's not the disappointing part. That's actually what kept me reading. And I suppose that should answer my questions about this book being for young adult readers, but somehow it doesn't. 

When we meet Alice, she's in an asylum. She barely escaped being the next hot item in the city's sex trade and her "next cell neighbor" is an axe-murderer named Hatcher. Dark, right?

And so (without telling too much I hope ) within the first few chapters Alice and Hatch (as she calls him) escape from the asylum and start off on the journey of all journeys. Kind of like Frodo and Sam (but I'm telling you now, Frodo and Sam are definitely a more iconic duo than Alice and Hatch). 

Throughout their trek they have run-ins with several different personifications of Carroll's classic characters-the Cheshire Cat, the Blue Caterpillar, the Walrus, and the Jabberwocky- each of whom is involved in his own shady dealings. Each of whom is also only a stepping stone on the trail to the man Alice dreads seeing- the White Rabbit. 

The story itself is good and you definitely find yourself eager to know what happens next, but I also found myself rooting for the axe-murderer instead of the book's namesake heroine. 

Alice aggravated me to no end. Like: Girl, this is a QUEST! Ain't no cryin' in saving the world! 

I don't know if pain in the butt cry baby was what Henry was going for when she did her character sketch of Alice, but that's totally what she got from my POV. 

And, unfortunately, Henry's writing is just...okay. I kept reading solely to find out what happened to Alice and Hatch, not because Henry's way with words beckoned my soul. You might be thinking that the two are one in the same, but they're not. Trust me. They're not. 

Alice is a part of a 2 book series and a month after finishing installment one, I still haven't found the desire to read book two. And honestly, that makes me a little sad. I really And maybe it'll all be different for you. Give it a gander and see!

Thanks for stopping by,

-A