Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier tells the story of Sorcha and her six older brothers. See, Sorcha should have been the seventh son of a sev...moreDaughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier tells the story of Sorcha and her six older brothers. See, Sorcha should have been the seventh son of a seventh son – but she ended up being a girl instead. Fate is funny that way (turns out not so much ha-ha funny as cruelly ironic). What follows is the story of how Sorcha will do almost anything to keep her family together.
To say that Juliet Marillier starts off Daughter of the Forest a little slow is like saying it might get slightly boring to watch paint dry. Seriously – I first read Daughter of the Forest a few years ago and if it wasn’t for all the recommendations I’d gotten I would have been more than willing to give up on it. But – BUT – when things finally get going, you’ll forget all about the slow beginning. The pay-off is more than worth it. Trust me. I have now reread it more than once.
The story, for the most part, is so subtle and slow-moving even past the beginning. But there is urgency and strength underlying each and every word – I am always awed by the power of the story. The quiet pace only makes the important things reverberate that much more.
There is also a beautiful plot thread (well, more than one really) about how stories can make us get through pain. No one knows that better than tireless readers like us, right?
The magic of the story is all about balance – how evil and good have to weigh themselves against each other. Sorcha spends the majority of the book trying to counteract a curse. If life was fair, it would have been easy, but of course things don’t work that way.
Also: faithful dog alert. Linn is one loyal animal, and he made my heart hurt more than once. Sigh.
As for the romance – it is very satisfying. Daughter of the Forest is one of those sweet and innocent love stories that gives you the warm fuzzies. Y’all, I love Red. He ends up giving up a lot for Sorcha!
This is definitely a book worth reading. When you’re in the mood to watch a wonderfully written slow-paced story weave itself together, Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier is the book you should pick up.(less)
Maybe I would have liked this more when I was a kid, but...I was bored. Very bored. I got to page 80 and couldn't stand it anymore, I read the last co...moreMaybe I would have liked this more when I was a kid, but...I was bored. Very bored. I got to page 80 and couldn't stand it anymore, I read the last couple of chapters and called it quits.(less)
I don't know if I would even give it 3 stars...there is nothing really wrong with it but it was definitely meant for a younger crowd. The writing is v...moreI don't know if I would even give it 3 stars...there is nothing really wrong with it but it was definitely meant for a younger crowd. The writing is very simple and juvenile, and I've been so spoiled with well written YA lately that this just fell very short.
Its a shame too, I was looking forward to reading it because I love the story of Mulan.(less)
William Shakespeare might have given his young lovers all sorts of sophisticated things to say, but in this version, my crazy version, they were just...moreWilliam Shakespeare might have given his young lovers all sorts of sophisticated things to say, but in this version, my crazy version, they were just a couple of kids.
This book was actually a lot more than I expected it to be. I assumed that once Troy and Mimi went back in time, it would be a huge cheesy mess. I was wrong. The story created in 16th century Verona was actually very captivating. Juliet's character, especially, resonated with me. I'll probably think of this Juliet from now on when the original R&J is referenced. I loved the layers this version added to the character we all know from the play. Romeo was a loser, but let's be real - Shakespeare's Romeo is a loser too.
So, if you've noticed this book at the bookstore but assumed it would be a disaster - go back and pick it up! It probably won't be a lasting favorite, but I bet you'll start thinking about Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in a way you never did before. (less)
This is a very intense and passionate novel. Which makes sense, as it is a retelling of the opera Carmen. Even though it might spoil some of the plotl...moreThis is a very intense and passionate novel. Which makes sense, as it is a retelling of the opera Carmen. Even though it might spoil some of the plotline in the book, I think it is a good idea to read up on a general outline of the opera before reading - to help you appreciate the spirit of the retelling.
A lot of books and movies attempt to explain the intensity and drive of serious dancers. Our MC, Soledad, is a very determined and talented dancer. She ends up taking a part dancing for a competing marching band. I loved that twist - because dancers aren't the only intensely focused group out there. Marching band is hardcore...which Soledad finds out very quickly.
Anyways, the point I'm making is that the very nature of the activities the characters are involved in adds just another level of passion and focus to the story. As if the characters don't bring all those things to the table as it is.
I'm not even going to breathe a hint of a spoiler here, the boys are introduced in the summary - and that is all you need to know. Meet them, decide for yourself what you think about them, and dive headfirst into this novel. It is sexy, it is intense, and will be one that sticks with you for a long time. (less)
When I saw the rave review at The Book Smugglers of A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan, I knew I had to pick it up. Those girls are just never wrong!...moreWhen I saw the rave review at The Book Smugglers of A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan, I knew I had to pick it up. Those girls are just never wrong! A Long, Long Sleep was absolutely as brilliant as I was expecting.
A sci-fi/dystopian retelling of Sleeping Beauty. How amazing does that sound? I felt like Anna Sheehan took on a lot with this concept. Luckily, she was more than up to the challenge. The characters, plot and setting all came to life in a way that had me flying through A Long, Long Sleep in one sitting!
Rosalinda has been accidentally asleep (in a form of stasis) for sixty-two years when the book begins. She wakes up in a completely different world. She slept through what everyone calls the Dark Times. Millions of people were wiped out – including Rose’s family. This makes things a little complicated since it means Rose is heir to a huge interplanetary empire. She has to process a lot of things very quickly – and figure out who she can trust.
Also troubling is what Rose begins to learn about her parents. Why did they stick her in stasis so often? She remembers constantly having to leave her childhood friend behind. He ended up being much older than her because of all the time she spent in limbo.
You guys – the world Rose wakes up to is very cool. I am a huge dystopian fan, and I also love sci-fi settings. The history she learns while playing catch-up is equally fascinating.
The characters, however, make A Long, Long Sleep the amazing read that it is. Rose, and all the people she meets as well as the ones she remembers make such a fascinating and intriguing web. There is Bren – the boy who found her and the boy Rose finds herself constantly drawn to. Otto, the robotic humanish boy that becomes a friend she can rely on. Xavier, old childhood friend (and eventual boyfriend) that Rose can’t bring herself to forget. You guys – Anna Sheehan brings these people to life.
A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan is a must-read, y’all. I mean it. The setting will intrigue you and the plot will suck you in. Rose and the family she makes for herself will stick with you. You’ll be begging for more.(less)
I have tried reading a couple of other books by Eloisa James, but was never able to finish them. I had heard so many wonderful things about When Beaut...moreI have tried reading a couple of other books by Eloisa James, but was never able to finish them. I had heard so many wonderful things about When Beauty Tamed the Beast that I knew I had to try again. Luckily – this time was different! I absolutely loved When Beauty Tamed the Beast. The characterization was absolutely out of the park. Now that I can see what Eloisa James can do I definitely intend to go back and try the other books again!
Obviously When Beauty Tamed the Beast is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Well, I am here to tell you that Piers Yelverton makes an awesome Beast. Not only does he have the personality and appearance issues that you would expect – but there is an added bonus. Y’all, Eloisa James knows what she is doing. I can almost see her sitting in her lair thinking “hmm, what well known love-to-hate-him-jerk can I base Piers on? Who can I choose so that people will have to love him despite all his issues?”
Who do you think she chose?
One word: House. DR. HOUSE YOU GUYS! Have you ever heard of anything more brilliant than that? A character that fuses together the Beast and Gregory House? I absolutely love this guy. He is a smart ass. He is difficult to be around. But yet…if you have seen the TV show, than you know. No matter what House does there is always something about him that makes you love him anyway. Well, Piers Yelverton has that something.
Okay, so now that I’ve rhapsodized forever about him, I’ll keep it short and sweet on the female MC. Linnet Thrynne is awesome too. She craves knowledge and freedom. She doesn’t take crap from anyone: least of all Piers. She manages to get herself into female trouble at the beginning of the book and is therefore banished to be Piers’ fiancee in his castle at Wales with all his sick patients.
She takes to her new life pretty well, considering. I love how she stands up for herself! I also adore the way she and Piers interacted. Some of the best situations and dialogue ever. I love how Eloisa James plays on the plot point that Piers is wounded and unable to er…perform (if you know what I mean. wink wink nudge nudge). Anyway, the way that whole situation worked out absolutely cracked me up.
Clearly, I absolutely loved When Beauty Tamed the Beast. I highly recommend reading to everyone who loves historical romance. Even if you aren’t a big fan of the genre, When Beauty Tamed the Beast might be a good book to change your mind! Put your faith in Eloisa James, y’all.(less)
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen is the newest Robin Hood retelling. Y’all, I love the story of Robin Hood and I was extremely excited to pick this book up. I...moreScarlet by A.C. Gaughen is the newest Robin Hood retelling. Y’all, I love the story of Robin Hood and I was extremely excited to pick this book up. I am happy to tell you that Scarlet more than lived up to my expectations! It has a comfortable spot on the list of best fantasy books I’ve ever read.
In Scarlet, the main character is a well known Robin Hood character re-imagined as a girl. She is fierce and loyal – such a fantastic character. But she definitely has some skeletons in her closet that are about to come back and bite her – and her friends – big time. When the sheriff hires someone to come in and catch the folks behind all the stealing going on – things get complicated fast. What will Scarlet, Robin Hood and the rest of their gang do?
Scarlet is prickly, grouchy and extremely touchy. She doesn’t trust easily and has a hair trigger temper. She lies as easily as she breathes. I love the fact that she isn’t a run of the mill heroine. She will not be what you expect, and it is a wonderful surprise to discover all the ins and outs of her personality. Oh man do I love her!
I also love how she and Robin interact – the romance here is a slow burn. Extremely satisfying when it comes to a head. You will not be disappointed – promise.
Basically everything is well written – from the plot intricacies to the characterization of everyone involved. A.C. Gaughen definitely impressed me you guys! None of the characters are perfect (including Robin) and nothing is as easy as it seems. The plot twists have plot twists and some of them are difficult to read – you’ll be wanting to cover your eyes before the story is done!
I seriously cannot recommend Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen enough. I will definitely be getting a copy to add to my shelves when it is released in February!(less)
The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell retells the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses from a different point of view – an onlooker. A young herbalis...moreThe Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell retells the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses from a different point of view – an onlooker. A young herbalist apprentice named Reveka. Her devotion to herb lore makes her certain that there is something she can do to help end the curse, so she throws herself into the task with no concern for herself. What follows brings the best of fairy tale lore alive with fantasy and determination. I absolutely couldn’t get enough of the story!
This is one stand-alone I would give anything to see made into a series. Reveka is such a strong heroine – she is incredibly brave and plenty smart…but is also not without her faults. Part of it is that she is so young. But, in fact – one of the best things about the book is her age. We get to focus on the world and the story instead of getting tangled up with a bunch of romance and teenage angst. That right there is the best part about reading middle grade!
Of course, that isn’t to say that the story doesn’t contain a few men, y’all. What would be the fun in that? But the simple fact that Reveka is too young to prioritize romance keeps anything from really developing. However, she does come to imagine a future with someone, so we do get a glimpse into what her happily ever after might be! I’d hate to have left the book without a look into how Reveka’s life might turn out.
We don’t get to know most of the princesses on any level at all – this is definitely not (directly) their story. The consequences of their actions and the lengths they go to in order to keep others free of the curse definitely make for some intrigue though. I really appreciate the fact that the story has so many layers.
I always love reading about court politics – since Reveka is a part of it all as a herbalist, we get looks into several different interesting areas. From the gossipy servant in charge of bathing to her fellow herbalists to the princesses themselves, Reveka is constantly observing and obtaining as much information as she can! The things she ends up learning definitely cause her to make some crazy decisions…
I’m always up to read anything in the fantasy genre, especially when it comes complete with a worthy heroine and a complex world to discover…if you’re anything like me, this is definitely a book worth picking up!(less)
So why are all the versions of the stories you’ve heard so mind-numbingly boring? You know how it is with stories. Someone tells a story. Then somebod...moreSo why are all the versions of the stories you’ve heard so mind-numbingly boring? You know how it is with stories. Someone tells a story. Then somebody repeats it and it changes. Someone else repeats it, and it changes again. Then someone’s telling it to their kid and taking out all the . . . well, the awesome parts…and the next thing you know the story’s about an adorable little girl in a red cap, skipping through the forest to take cookies to her granny. And you’re so bored you’ve passed out on the floor.
The real Grimm stories are not like that.
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz has got to be one of the most disturbingly charming books in existence. I was in love from the first page – I’m glad the book is fairly short because once I started I couldn’t stop.
This is a children’s book. Sorta. It captures the true spirit of the original Grimm fairy tales – decapitations, mutilations and all. There are also incredibly witty asides at every turn, conversing with older readers and cautioning the younger ones to stop reading. Very entertaining, I couldn’t get enough of any of it.
Oh, and while I’m thinking about it, you should go ahead and rehire that babysitter that came by for the previous story. Make her take the little ones out to a movie this time. A G-rated movie. Or an R-rated movie, for that matter. Whatever it is, it probably won’t be as bad as what you’re about to read. I know, you don’t believe me. “How much worse could things get?” you ask. Believe me. Much worse.
I don’t want you to take my word – or the brief quotes I’m giving you – for it though. You can read the first chapter of A Tale Dark and Grimm online, and I demand you do so at once! It will charm the pants off you, I promise.
I was in awe of the way the book managed to be incredibly creepy and disturbing and still be charming and witty as well. Adam Gidwitz manages to keep a lot of balls successfully juggling in the air, and I was suitably impressed.
I don’t know what else to say without going into more detail – which I absolutely refuse to do! This is a book meant to entertain, the less you know before starting the better.
Pick it up and fall into a fantastically original world! Whether you’re an adult that wants to be entertained or a child that wants to be frightened – this is definitely a book for everyone.(less)
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller gives us the story of the Trojan War from a different perspective. We are used to thinking about Achilles the...moreThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller gives us the story of the Trojan War from a different perspective. We are used to thinking about Achilles the warrior, Achilles the brave, Achilles-the-man-with-no-weakness. Well, how about tempering that with Achilles the thoughtful, Achilles the true, Achilles the lover?
Not that Madeline Miller doesn’t still give us plenty of wartime and fighting: because she does. The second half of the book is set during the Trojan War. But the first half – oh the first half. It is something completely different.
I picked up The Song of Achilles after reading a rave review at The Book Smugglers. No way could I pass it up after seeing that. I was immediately intrigued at the thought of a love story between Achilles and Patroclus. (If you’ve read The Iliad, you know how much sense it would make if they really had been together.) And then, once I started reading, I was thrilled to see that it was even better than I expected.
After an accident, Patroclus is exiled from his home (where he was constantly bullied by his father for being perceived as weak) and goes to stay at the court of Achilles’ father. Achilles unexpectedly sort of adopts him as a best friend, and from then on they do everything together. Since we’re talking about two growing, hormonal boys – everything eventually grows to include romantic and sexual explorations.
The character development in The Song of Achilles is out of this world. I bow down to Madeline Miller. She did a phenomenal job at getting us from Patroclus and Achilles’ initial meeting, to how they became friends and then how they grew into so much more. Patroclus makes an excellent narrator.
Seeing Achilles through his eyes is seeing him in a way you never have before. He isn’t just the warrior-God we’ve all heard stories about. He can be sensitive, kind, thoughtful and extremely loving. Seeing him this way makes him a so much more well-rounded person than I’ve considered him in the past. I couldn’t have enjoyed reading The Song of Achilles more if I tried.
If you’re interested in mythology, war or just a great love story – pick this up and prepare to be amazed. Madeline Miller came up with a brilliant concept and executed the heck out of it. It is not to be missed.(less)