Although there were things I wish had been different with the first volume (more Jain, less Bearded Nun) I really quite liked it. I was really enjoyin...moreAlthough there were things I wish had been different with the first volume (more Jain, less Bearded Nun) I really quite liked it. I was really enjoying this one also, (although again, wishing to see more about Jain) but it seemed to have lost a little something and then it just. Ended. Abrupt, out of nowhere, just done. It was frustrating, because there nothing is answered. I looked online after finishing and saw that there are apparently more parts published online, but I sort of doubt that I will ever read them, unless they get published for real, because I have my own personal weirdness and won't pay money for an ebook (they don't feel real to me). So, it's quite disappointing. Far and away my favorites to read about are Jain and Henry and I did like that we got a LITTLE more about Henry this time, and more Jain backstory, but it definitely wasn't enough, and I wish that this one had been heavier on the actual fairy tales also. I felt like there were far fewer fairy tale references in this volume. (less)
Not gonna lie- This is actually way better than I thought it was going to be. I expected to like it, but !!! :D Totally love! :)
I saw more than a little of the twists & reveals coming, but I am VERY forgiving of predictability in my fairy tale retellings and the book itself was just so awesome and enjoyable and full of YAY that I'm just totally happy! :)
Am totally anxious for the next book though. Seriously. I NEED TO KNOW.(less)
Dude- I read a book! Been a while since I've done that :P
But- This was just such the most perfect book for me right now. I love me some fairy tales &...moreDude- I read a book! Been a while since I've done that :P
But- This was just such the most perfect book for me right now. I love me some fairy tales & this one was just absolutely delightful. Not perfect, but delightfully fun.
AND. Seriously. There was SO much fairy tale AWESOME packed into one book! I mean, really. From the very first chapter you stumble into so many different allusions and hints and blatant discussions of all the different fairy tales, some well known, some not so well know that it fair to made my heart sing.
I'll try and form a more cohesive thought in a few hours, but right now, the word that comes to mind most and describes this book best is delightful. (less)
Tuesdays at the Castle reaffirms why I simply love Jessica Day George. Like, seriously folks. This book was just so much the cuteness and I want to hug it. (Don't worry Misty from The Book Rat... I refrained from displays of affection with your book, but only just.)
Castle Glower likes to change. When it gets bored, it adds rooms, removes them, moves things around or just plain messes with your head. It's pretty clear about who it likes and who it doesn't, and the Castle chooses its own King.
Celie is 11 and she loves the Castle. She's decided to do what no one has previously done, and draw an atlas of it. She spends hours and hours exploring, making sure to note any changes, not matter how small and she treats the Castle like a person. Which, ends up being a really awesome benefit when her parents are missing, presumed dead (in an ambush) and nefarious things start happening, led by the people in the Castle. The three royal children at home- Celie, the youngest, Rolf, the 2nd son and heir to the throne (so decrees the Castle) and Lilah, the elder sister- are left to try and protect the Castle, preserve their family and save the kingdom. It's an awful lot to put on the shoulders of children, but they are extraordinary and rise to the challenge.
One of things that I loved about this book was the characters. All of them. They are just so, realistic. Celie is 11, but because of their situation, she has to do a lot of things that are much more grown up. But guess what guys- She still acts like a kid! She is as strong and mature as is possible for her to be, but she still wants to stick her tongue out at the bad guys, stomp her feet and say really witty and cutting stuff like- You are a poopoo face. And she also does stuff like stay up late setting up pranks on the bad folks and then being beyond exhausted and falling asleep pretty much mid-sentence.
Rolf has the most pressure of any of the other characters placed on him. As heir to the throne, when the King goes missing, the running of the country is left to him. But he is only 14, and as you can imagine- the aforementioned nefariots try to use this to their advantage and force him to do their bidding. He's a strong enough person, even at 14, that he recognizes this and does all he can to put a stop to it, but there really is only so much a 14 year old can do against a large group of adults, especially when you aren't completely certain they aren't going to try and kill you. Lilah is also under a lot of pressure, because she feels responsible for the well-being of her siblings, especially young Celie. There is a lot going on and Lilah knows she can't really protect her siblings, but she wants to and she does all she can to help them.
But, perhaps the best and most complex character in all the novel is the Castle itself. (Notice how I keep capitalizing Castle? Ya... That's intentional. I don't want it turn my room into a pigsty or something... :P) The Castle is able to know and to sense things. It knows who will make a great King, who wishes the King, Castle or country ill, and who is an ally. And it makes it obvious. If it likes you, the Castle will give you beautiful and comfortable rooms, but if it doesn't, you are lucky if your bed is big enough to hold your body. You might find it impossible to find your way through corridors, or suddenly in a room without a door. Or, the Castle finds good favor with you, things that you need might suddenly appear, or you find a new corridor that makes it quick and easy to get to the other side of the Castle. I loved watching Celie learn about the Castle and explore. And I loved that when the kids suddenly needed a lot of help, but didn't know who they could turn to, the Castle was there, totally prepared and ready to offer assistance to the children.
The only complaint that I had with this story is that the ending felt super rushed. I'm not horribly disappointed in it, because this seems to be the nature of a lot of MG books (and a lot of YA too) where the story is in the set up and the journey there and once you actually get there, it's just a real quick resolution to finish things off. But honestly, this resolution was so fast as to almost be a- You blink and you've missed it- type thing. In a 232 page book, the resolution to the main problem should take more than 8 pages and a few paragraphs of explanation.
Regardless, this is one of those books that will be read and absolutely loved by kids. What kid doesn't love the idea of being able to completely outsmart all the grown ups?! I know that 10 year old Ashley would have fervently believed in this book. And what better magical element could you possibly wish for than a Castle that is never the same twice, especially when you happen to be the Castle's especial favorite. But the book isn't only for kids, and I have a hard time believing that there will be anyone who isn't just swept away by the delightful cuteness of this book. I mean, seriously.(less)
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu is a book I have book looking forward to for months. It's a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. It's one of my very favorites and I don't think it gets enough love among retellings. So when I started seeing this one pop up I started to get a little giddy. (Awesome books do that to you to, be honest here...) I posted a sneak peek on Tuesday and other bloggers have also had excerpts and illustrations going up. (Including Misty at The Book Rat!)
Breadcrumbs is a retelling of The Snow Queen, but there is so much more to it that that. Ursu incorporates snippets, parts and pieces from many different stories and it made the book lover inside me jump up and dance. Our main character, Hazel has a vivid imagination and together with her best friend, Jack, they act out and live out their imaginings frequently. Hazel is told, over and over that she needs to tone down the imagination and return to reality but she is so caught up in magic and wonderings that she can't really be bothered by reality. Anything is possible in your imagination and in stories, the good guys always win, pain is temporary and it doesn't matter that your dad left your family, or his mom can't seem to find her way up and out of her sad.
Jack is who Hazel can always count on and no matter what else is wrong in her life, Hazel has a place to belong with Jack. And things have certainly started to change. Hazel's dad walked away from the family, which means that her mom no longer has the money to send her to the (very unstructured, 'liberal') private school she was attending, and now she must attend public school. It's hard for her because everything is different. What was celebrated before as creativity and a unique way of looking at the world is viewed as disobedience, defiance and distractedness. She also has a hard time making new friends, but she doesn't mind too much, because Jack is there. Yes, Jack's other friends are rude to Hazel and he has to split his time between both of them, but it's what makes life bearable.
Until it all changes. After an accident at recess, Jack no longer has time for Hazel, is rude to her and brushes her off until he disappears altogether. And Hazel sets out to find him.
She walks into the woods where Jack disappeared with the white witch and enters a magical forest where fairy tales are real, where they are happening and where nothing is as it seems. Normal rules do not apply in the forest and Hazel must learn the rules of the wood if she is going to save Jack. She learns a lot about herself on the way and she spends a lot of time worrying about what is going to happen with Jack but she presses on, refuses to give up and with the fierce loyalty and determination that marks her character she pushes through the forest.
The time Hazel spends in the forest is my favorite part of the book. I've been a fan of fairy tales since I was very young and I'm familiar with a lot of the original tales. I read both Grimm's and Anderson's complete fairy tales when I was around 12 and I've revisited the books several times since then. Seeing some of these characters come to life was so exciting to me. And, knowing the stories as I do gave me an advantage. Hazel knows many of the stories too, but it takes her a little longer to really grasp what is happening in her world. She's lonely, scared, tired and afraid and overwhelmed by everything that is happening. But she's strong, she learns and adapts and no matter what happens, she keeps moving, knowing that she must save Jack.
I do wish that we had been given more from the characters. It's my only complaint with the book. We are told many times that Jack is going through a tough time at home because of his mom's depression and we are told that Hazel's life is also rough because of her dad and the changes it's made in other areas of her life, like the new school. And, we see it sometimes, there are moments when it's definitely there, but I didn't feel like it was enough. I was never really sure I believed that these two were hurting as much as I was supposed to, never really sure I believed that what Jack was going through was enough to make him give up everything to the ice. It felt too... disconnected for that. It felt like the characters spent so much time not talking or thinking about the issues that were weighing down on them that they never felt that big. I knew they were that big, knew they were really hurting these two kids, but I never really felt it, not the way I think I was supposed to.
But that one thing aside, this was a completely lovely book. I loved Hazel's character, really felt for her throughout most of the story and really wanted her to do well. Jack was also such a great kid! He does his best to make sure that there is balance in his life between his friends, making time for Hazel and the boys he hung out with before (until the enchantment and all that kicks in) and he struggles to accept, understand and deal with the problems with his mom. He tries so hard and when the Snow Queen offers him a chance to leave it all, offers him an out, you can just feel his relief that he isn't going to have to struggle or suffer anymore. Not feeling anything is better than feeling everything too much.
The forest in this story hold an insane amount of potential. As she is in the woods, Hazel meets a boy a few years older than her named Ben. He helps her and offers her some advice on how to best navigate the woods. And one of the things he tells her is that the woods do funny things to people. Once in the woods, people change and the woods lead them to do things they wouldn't normally do. There is so much potential here, such an unlimited amount of story to be told and I for one am hoping that Ursu returns to these forests in the future. It doesn't have to be Hazel or Jack's story anymore but there is so much story waiting in those woods that I would love to be a part of. And I loved the way Ursu used that subtle magic to show us that there is more to stories than just words on a page. Stories are so much more than that, they go so much deeper. No, you aren't going to walk into a fairy land if you step into the woods near your home, but the truth that stories run far deeper than the page they are written on is a good one to learn.
I also loved the illustrations in the book, but sadly most of them were missing. You just see the big white section telling you the art is yet to come. :( But there are a few images in the ARC and I've also seen several by following the sneak peeks that bloggers are posting. This is definitely a book I intend to buy after it's release, both because I loved the story and really want to have a finished copy to return to, but also so I can stare at all the pretty pictures. :)
This is a beautiful story. Although I do still love them, I often find that I have a harder time getting pulled into the magical feeling in a modern fairy tale. The modern setting makes it much harder for me to pull out that feeling of a fairy tale. But the way that Ursu crafted this story, especially once Hazel gets into the woods (see, those woods again. I'm telling you, I'm hooked!!) brought out the best of both worlds. I enjoyed the modern setting but I was also able to pull out the feeling you have when you read a fairy tale retelling that just gets it. I'm telling you folks, this is a book to read. I think it's one that will appeal to younger kids looking for something a little longer than most MG (the MCs are in 5th grade) but it will also attract YA readers as well as anyone who loves fairy tales. It's one I already can't wait to read again.(less)
I didn't love this one as much as I had hoped I would, but I think that's because I was rather distracted while reading. There is a lot to this story...moreI didn't love this one as much as I had hoped I would, but I think that's because I was rather distracted while reading. There is a lot to this story and I think it has much to add to the fairy tale market. I want to read this one again when I can focus more of my attention on it and really appreciate the nuances and depth that I know is there.
But I still highly recommend this one and it's one I definitely plan to read again (probably more than once) and definitely one I'd like to own. (less)
After finishing this book, I'm reminded again just how much I absolutely love fairy tale retellings. This is such a hidden gem of a book and I genuine...moreAfter finishing this book, I'm reminded again just how much I absolutely love fairy tale retellings. This is such a hidden gem of a book and I genuinely and truly liked it. (less)
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore is a story that, although not a direct retelling, definitely has a fairy tale-esque feel to it throughout the whole novel. Nimira is our main character. She is young and lovely but a bit of an oddity. Originally from a different country, her skin is dark and dusky where everyone else is pale. She moved to the new country with the intention of making a name and a fortune for herself as a dancer. Years ago, her mother had been a dancer, back when it was considered classy and profitable. But now, as Nimira tries to make a name for herself, it has fallen out of favor with the upper crust and become sort of, well... trashy. Referred to as a Trouser Girl, Nimira lives and travels with her troupe, because it is the only way to survive.
But then, a mysterious sorcerer watches her dance one night, and asks if she will come to live with him, to dance and sing next to his piano playing automaton. Knowing that this is one of the few chances a girl in her circumstances will have to better her situation, she accepts (although not without some trepidation). She travels with the sorcerer, Hollin, to his home and meets the automaton and this is where the story really picks up. This is where the magic happens.
Given the nature of the book, and this style of book in general, you have a pretty strong feeling that all is not as it seems with the automaton, even before you truly meet him. It's definitely not a secret. But watching Nimira discover just what was going on with this automaton was enthralling. She was also incredibly calm and practical about it, much more so that I imagine I would have been, if this mechanical man started trying to talk to me. After devising a method of fairly reliable, albeit slow communication with the automaton, she begins to learn of the dark happenings that trapped him within this mechanical body. What she learns horrifies her and she desperately wants to save him, but she doesn't know how. Erris, the automaton, is adamant that she trust no one other, seeking assistance only from the name Erris was told to trust by someone years ago who is now dead.
Erris was my favorite character in the novel. He was fascinating! And he came alive for me long before I think Nimira understood all there was too him. I loved watching them get to know each other, even with the limitations of his current form.
Hollin was a hard character for me. I could never decide if I liked him or not, but he gave me weird vibes. I spent a large part of the book just waiting for him to show his true creep colors, while also thinking that he was probably a decent guy. I was conflicted about him the whole time. I never really liked him, but by the end of the story, I think I understood him a little better, which is really what ends up being important.
There were a lot of predictable elements to the story. From the beginning, you have a basic idea of where things are going to go, and there are going to be quite a few 'revelations' that shock Nimira that won't surprise you. But, the story is told with such freshness and talent that I found myself not minding at all.
The biggest complaint I had with the story was the ending. I felt that the resolution was too rushed, and far too easy, especially where the main villain of the piece is concerned. I also felt that there were too many unanswered questions, too many details left unexplained. But, there is a sequel planned, so I'm willing to overlook the hanging questions, and hope that the sequel will answer them.
Overall, this is a great read. Dolamore's writing is quite lovely and she is able to create phenomenal characters. Anyone who can make my heart flutter a bit over a collection of metal parts and pieces has my vote. I cannot wait to read the sequel! I'm also incredibly excited for her upcoming novel, Between the Sea and Sky!(less)
I'm rounding up. I think I'd actually give this one closer to 3.5 stars. There were parts of it that I REALLY liked, parts that I LOVED and parts that...moreI'm rounding up. I think I'd actually give this one closer to 3.5 stars. There were parts of it that I REALLY liked, parts that I LOVED and parts that just made me a happy face and all giggly and whatnot. But, then there were parts that seemed to really drag. My favorite characters are Jain and Henry, and I wanted to see a LOT more of them than I did. I thought that the back story for the Bearded Nuns dragged on FOREVER and I wish we had more focus to different fairy tale characters and more about Jain. Overall though, I did really like it. I love all things fairy tale, so I loved the little bits here and there, like the 3 little pigs waving Jain away, and the silliness that is a kiss ending a curse, and the distinct personalities of everyone involved in the story. (less)
The Mermaid's Mirror by L. K. Madigan is the story of Lena, a 16 year old who feels the call of the sea. She been through a lot of changes in the last year or so, changes that come from growing up. Her best friend, Kai, has grown into something more, and she's trying to navigate the boyfriend-girlfriend thing without alienating their other best friend, Pem. She's also desperate to begin surfing, but because of a horrific accident when Lena was young, her father refuses not only to return to the water himself, but also refuses to let Lena learn to surf. But the sea is calling to Lena, stronger than ever and she finds herself unable to resist its call.
And then she sees the mermaid. After that, nothing will ever be the same.
Although not a direct retelling of The Little Mermaid, The Mermaid's Mirror definitely contains elements that feel very like a fairy tale and the story moves in much the same rhythm and pattern as a retelling. There are mysteries to uncover, secrets to keep, and unbelievable challenges to face.
Lena is fairly close to her family. Her mother died when she was young and her father remarried when she was nine. This is the mother she remembers and they have a relationship that is closer than many biological families share. She doesn't always understand her father or the decisions he makes, but she loves him and they too are close, although that relationship gets a little strained as she realizes just how many secrets are really being kept. But it is with her half-brother, Cole, that Lena has the strongest relationship. About ten years younger than Lena, he worships her in that special way reserved only for young children. And she is a wonderful older sister, doing what she can to make sure Cole always feels loved and welcome by her.
Her relationship with her friends was also handled very well. Lena is still a little unsure about what it really means to be Kai's girlfriend and you can tell that he is more into her and their relationship than she is. She cares about him, but you can kind of tell that something is missing. But the three of them, Lena, Kai and Pem are close and it is obvious that they all truly care about one another.
As Lena searches for truths about the mermaid in the water and the mother she never really knew, she begins to unravel the secrets that her father was not ready for her to learn. When she finally gets the full story, she is left with an unimaginably tough choice. She is taken, by the mermaid in the waves, to live beneath the surface, in the village of the merfolk. Wrapped in the enchanted seal cloak, she is able to breath the water and survive in the water. Below the surface, she learns about different kinds of love and her whole world is opened up to new possibilities. Her thoughts of her previous life are murky and seem to drift away almost as soon as she has them. It is eventually that strong connection to her family, specifically Cole that will eventually force her to make a choice between the world she has always known, or the world she is just discovering.
I think that the real strength of Madigan's writing with this story is her characters. They are so complex, so developed and so real that I cannot help but feel drawn to them. I feel Lena's pain and her confusion. The anguish of her father is palpable when he realizes his daughter is lost to him. Although the story was delightful and the writing well crafted and beautiful, it was the characters that truly made this story. They are what carry it, what the story rests its weight upon.
I was thrilled with how much I enjoyed this book. Madigan does not take the easy way out here. She does not give you a pretty package to wrap your story in and make the world perfect. But she does give you a real story, one that is beautifully told and one that will linger with me for a while. I imagine that this is a tale that will make sudden appearances in my mind, reminding me of the enchanting world beneath the waves and the bittersweet relationships all tied together by Lena. It was much different than I had expected, but it is, nonetheless, a story that I truly enjoyed and one I imagine I will be reading again in the future.(less)