Got half way. Realized I couldn't pretend to care enough to continue.
No rating will be given, as I have not finished the book and thus cannot...moreGot half way. Realized I couldn't pretend to care enough to continue.
No rating will be given, as I have not finished the book and thus cannot give an adequate review on the entirety of the piece, but anything marked as DNF or a book I gave up on is usually around the 1-2/5 mark.
I thought the obvious allusion to Narnia was kind of cool.
This is awesome. Wonderful backstory, great characterization, and a lovely, lively fantasy that really does bring in the scary, disturbing, and questi...moreThis is awesome. Wonderful backstory, great characterization, and a lovely, lively fantasy that really does bring in the scary, disturbing, and questioning themes I love to read about. Mainly power and corruption.
Yes, I'm a happy bunch.
Not to mention the art. Hellllllo, new favorite author/artist. Consider me puddy in your hands.
The Black Cauldron was one of those. Adorable-seeming fantasy that has deep, dark undertones, the no...moreThere are some things you know you love on sight.
The Black Cauldron was one of those. Adorable-seeming fantasy that has deep, dark undertones, the novel is the perfect example of why childrens' books can be dark and scary and heart-breaking, and also why they need to be. Because childrens' books should not have to be about the happiest of times without repercussions or consequences, or even a measure of reality. They have to be about the real world.
And Alexander gets that perfectly.
Even though it was the second in the series, I felt for these characters, their hardship, and their pain.
And I want to read more about them.
After watching the film version of this so many years ago, I think I'd like to see the rest of this series and figure out what exactly Disney did to mash it up.
Plus who doesn't want more Welsh-inspired adventure fantasy with pig keepers, sassy princesses, and even more hilarious characters?
***Full Disclosure: While I know both of these authors personally, my opinion and review stated below are ENTIRELY my own. No sweet-talking, bri...moreReview
***Full Disclosure: While I know both of these authors personally, my opinion and review stated below are ENTIRELY my own. No sweet-talking, bribery, or random chocolate-filled packages (DAMN!) were utilized to garner my opinion or a good rating.***
Little Leeta is probably one of the most interesting and thought provoking books I've read this year.
As I read a lot of YA, I don't know how much weight can be given to that statement Oh shush. There was some biographies kicking around. And that book on film.
Anyway, I really enjoyed Little Leeta, because of the way in which it played on my expectations. When I first started the story, I expected it to be much like the way most fairytale-like (I saw that Rapunzel reference!) stories go:
Strong Princesses who get their way. Douchebaggery gets dumped. Happily ever after.
Little Leeta is a smart book through its exploitations of our expectations. It doesn't adhere to what we think will or should happen, because Little Leeta is really about subverting those expectations and turning them on their head.
When the book starts, Leeta has been summoned to the King for a reason she doesn't know about, but assumes it must have to do with a letter she wrote concerning the tyrannical control over her people.
10 points if you guessed that's not quite what he wants from her.
No, instead the King is making her into the future bride for his son, the prince, according to a long-held tradition of intermarrying commoners and royals for some symbolic reason of tying land the people together. Did I mention that he wants her to study all the principles of being a princess (with some hilariously large books), all the while KEEPING HER IN A TOWER ALONE AND MISERABLE FOR LIKE 10 YEARS OR SOMETHING?
Yeah, I didn't think so.
And if you guessed that Leeta thinks this is a grand idea and cheerfully spends the rest of her life studying courtesy, you might be just a little off the mark /sarcasm>
I'll refrain from spoiling the rest of the book here, but I think it's clear that Leeta, for all her fears and insecurities, doesn't become just another of the nobles so lovingly portrayed in the book, but instead finds her own path in order to do what she originally wanted to do at the beginning of the book:
Little Leeta in the end, not only defends herself and her people from the King's rule, but also, more importantly, defends her physicality from the ideals and expectations impressed upon her by the nobles and their image of beauty and gender.
And this is what I really got out of Little Leeta. While I enjoyed the story, the commoners vs. tyrannical rulers plotline, the emotion-controlling crops (that part was especially intriguing!), its the message Leeta defends and Little Leeta brings to the forefront that really got through to me and made me think about days after I had long since finished this little novella/picture book.
Because its important I think, in a world where this goes on, that we consider the implications media and society has on the way we dress, feel, and think of our selves. While Little Leeta is a cute book on its own, its importance to the larger discussion is highlighted by its ability to present how silly, demeaning, and completely detrimental body ideals, gender expectations, and definitions of beauty are in a world that's supposably free.
Both the writing and illustrations throughout this book were both wonderfully done, and neatly polished. The writing, especially, was snug, and showed careful proof-reading and editing (something you don't always, sadly, see with other works, self published or not). The illustrations, again, were not only gorgeous ( See for yourself if you don't believe me), but complimented the story wonderfully. The only thing I didn't like about them was the fact they weren't in color, though I'm pretty sure that's due to the capacities (or incapacities) of my ereader.
All in all, Little Leeta is a lovely book, and one suitable for all ages and readers. There's magic, a very strong female heroine, and a message that should be shared, discussed, and thought about by young children just beginning to be influenced by the media and society's own form of control, as well as the adults, grandparents, parents, or godparents, who need to question how those same forms of control have affected their lives and the lives and futures of those who they will leave behind. Thought-provoking, beautiful, and magical, Little Leeta is a wonder to read, and will keep you thinking long after you finish it. 4-4.5/5
There's something to be said, I think, about cute and charming MG titles. The hilarity, the addicting quality, the fast-paced plot, the somewhat predi...moreThere's something to be said, I think, about cute and charming MG titles. The hilarity, the addicting quality, the fast-paced plot, the somewhat predictability, the hero and heroine with flaws, and well the cuteness of it in general.
The Frog Princess is, essentially, a retelling of the "Princess and the Frog" tale, but with added stuff like talking bats, snakes, mice, and spiders, an obnoxious, yet charming prince, and thankful less of the mediocrity the Disney movie concerned itself with.
It also has magic, a good hero-rising-from-the-depth feel to it, and a very role-model worthy female MC.
And yes, I'm still talking about the book here.
I don't think I really need to say more, do I? While slightly predictable and overfilled with fluffy cuteness, The Frog Princess is an adorable addition to your daughter's, niece's or sister's collection. (Provided they're in the right age range...)
Its interesting seeing the variety of comparisons within these fairy tales and our own Western ones. Evil stepmothers? Check. Evil Neighbors? Check. E...moreIts interesting seeing the variety of comparisons within these fairy tales and our own Western ones. Evil stepmothers? Check. Evil Neighbors? Check. Evil Monkeys? Um, er. Stories about how animals came to be/got their names? Check. Underwater palaces? Hmm...
You get the idea.
An intriguing, if kind of odd, collection that was definitely directed towards Western audience. Makes me wonder if there was a few abridgments in there..
A sweet little collection that can be read on on its own as easily as it can be read to kids, Levine's second volume of The Princess Tales provides a...moreA sweet little collection that can be read on on its own as easily as it can be read to kids, Levine's second volume of The Princess Tales provides a nice twist on three easily recognizable fairy tales. From gender swapping in Levine's version of Cinderella to the addition of frog magic in Rapunzel, Levine doesn't hesitate to play around with the traditional stories, while still being true to their core elements.
While not as charming as Ella Enchanted (though to be honest, nothing has ever quite come close to that wonderful novel), The Princess Tales is cute and simple enough to remind you of your younger and more fanciful years. I definitely felt like a kid again reading these!
I was surprised how disappointed I was by this novel. Maybe it's because of what I assumed and thought the novel was about that I was shocked by the l...moreI was surprised how disappointed I was by this novel. Maybe it's because of what I assumed and thought the novel was about that I was shocked by the lack of crazy fantastical fun times I thought novel surely was about.
That's what I get for ignoring the synopsis.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is definitely one of the more interesting ways to write a novel that's I've encounter. Spinning together text, extensively details and beautiful charcoal drawings, and even stills from a variety of films, the novel truly is a lovely mix of genres, and definitely is one of the those books you can place into your 10 year old reluctant hands and watch him/her devour it within a few hours.
And truly, this book will only take you like a hour or two at most. At whopping 600 some pages, the large portion of graphic content enables you to read this lovely piece very quickly. I read it during my shift while it was yet to be mended, and was literally zooming through it.
As a novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is beautifully done, with lovely dialogue and writing that compliments the highly details drawings. The character development was something I think the novel did good as well, though a bit stereotypical at parts. The main character's motivations, in particular, kind of annoyed me since they were so typical of what he would do in that situation. I also liked and disliked the addition of the historical parts to the novel, though I imagine they've gotten more than a few kids interested in french cinema.
Again, I think I was looking for the fantastical.
One thing I have to point out about the plot was the fact that it didn't totally feel developed enough. The plot is easily unraveled, and just as neatly tied up again with a nice enough happily ever after. While I understood the emotional development behind the plot essentially made up for it, I felt it kind of fell flat for what I expected.
Maybe I just wanted more of the world I was introduced to. Or maybe, again, I saw a different direction to where this was all going.
The drawing were, as expected, fantastic in every way, and felt vaguely film-like in the way they were placed and used throughout the novel. I think film-like is definitely something that could define the novel as a whole, which makes it unsurprising that they would make a film out of it....
All in all, I really did like The Invention of Hugo Cabret, but didn't totally love it. There was something missing for me, I think, to fully adore it the way I expected to, even in spite of all the good this huge (and expensive...) novels contains. 3.5/5(less)
It's funny how books can take you back, and make you feel ten or twelve again. And while I've actually never read Princess Academy before, it reminded...moreIt's funny how books can take you back, and make you feel ten or twelve again. And while I've actually never read Princess Academy before, it reminded me so much of Ella Enchanted and The Two Princesses of Bamarre, (in style more so than plot/world), that it felt like I was thirteen again at times.
For those who don't know me, Ella Enchanted is one of my all time favorites. For those who do, you've probably heard me once or twice or maybe fourteen hundred times bash about how much I hate the movie version of EE and how they "ruined the book."
Which they did! But that's beside the point.
The point being is that when I compare something to what I consider one of the best books I've ever read in my life, you can take a gander on it being pretty fantastic. And Princess Academy really was a great read. A wonderful setting, plenty to think about, and human characters. Plus a plot with twists and turns that will keep you on your toes, and even though I did guess a good majority of them, it was more of "yes this actually happens" instead of "uh, predictable."
AND IT ALSO HAS AN EXCELLENT FEMALE ROLE-MODEL WORTHY LEAD!
Which is, as articulated through my use of shouty letters, something I really like in a book. Especially one that little girls in general (I don't have any specific in mind, considering I have no children or sisters) are going to read.
Because then, hopefully, they'll be happier with heroes like Miri over heroines like Bella.
Cuz Bella kind of sucks.
Mmmmm...so that's it really. Wonderfully executed, well written, and a great novel for girls of any age, what more could you ask for?
I first heard of The False Prince when the rights report came out, citing it as 'Game of Thrones for kids.' No offense to The False Prince, but it doe...moreI first heard of The False Prince when the rights report came out, citing it as 'Game of Thrones for kids.' No offense to The False Prince, but it doesn't quite live up to that comparison. Sure it's a novel about the game of thrones (aha, the puns I do), being that the novel is about an evil dude trying to create a 'False Prince' he can put on the throne and essentially rule through, but it lacks the complexity that GofT is known for, and ultimately ends up degrading itself into the easiest plot twist you could think of for this plot.
Oh, come on. You've already thought of it.
Perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh here. The False Prince is complex in some way. There are a good amount of twists and turns, and the suspense Nielsen builds up, while not exactly egging me on like something of Snyder, Martin, or Riodan, was enough to keep me interested to read the novel in two sittings. (I do mean that literally. I read about half last night, and half this morning without moving.) It is, however, a novel that relies on certain conventions, and deliberately does something I hate (which is incidentally the reason why I couldn't stand Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom): the after-explanation.
In other words the novel and Sage's 1st person POV deliberately keeps things from the reader, until the final reveal, where everything that's been going on is explained. i.e. I put this hair here to fool you into thinking I was on to you, but secretly I had a camera hidden in my teddy bear's underwear that watched your every move! MUAHAHAHAHA
And the Death Note references continue
In essence, the novel pulls a Sherlock Holmes, revealing all the steps at the end in how the conclusion came about. Unlike the wonderful Doyle, however, Nielsen operates in just keeping things from us, like Sage's nighttime prowls etc..., in order for Sage to not only have fooled the characters in the novel, but also to fool us, the readers, who, we thought, had been with Sage for the entirety of The False Prince. Its meant to keep the suspense, as well as the larger twist at bay so we can't figure it out, but also makes Sage seem smarter than we and the characters originally assumed. It also, coincidently, ties up a large number of loose ends. It's a good effort, and Nielsen does, for the most part, pull it off, but, unlike with Sherlock Holmes, it kind of makes us feel a bit left-out. We, the readers, don't even get to be in Sage's head for his story. We, like the characters, are left to deal with the lies he surrounds himself with, and are thus isolated from him near the end of the novel. Honestly, I probably would've been okay with this tactic if the novel was told in 3rd person. But with 1st? It just isolates and destroys the trust so crucial between reader and protagonist, and, essentially, between reader and author. If we can't even trust you to tell us the full story, why should we trust you at all?
While I think this is the crag-sized flaw at the heart of The False Prince, the novel is not utter trash or even close to trash. I've already stated that it commanded my attention, a hard thing to pull off for a reader like me who can easily put down a book without a thought, and I think that's some pretty good evidence of its capabilities. Its not a boring book by any means, and it certainly captures the imagination, even if the writing is simple and, sadly, pretty non-descriptive. Readers, especially in the younger generations, will definitely enjoy it, and most likely will gobble it and its sequel up quickly.
One of the things I most enjoyed about The False Prince was its characters. Imogene, especially, aside from her stupidity in trusting someone as quickly as she does (Seriously, if I was in her position, that would not be happening), was compelling, as was Sage. Both of them were nicely done, if a bit too goody to be real, and I liked the fact they remained outside the black and white breakdown most of the characters ended up having through their choosing of one side or the other. The villain was probably the worst of the bunch; for such a supposably smart character, he made the dumbest moves of all, and I expected more manipulation from the plot.
Then again, this is written for children.
All in all, The False Prince is not a great book, but one suited to its audience. It does indulge in more than a few tropes and annoying structural choices, but it'll probably be a favorite with most 8-13 year olds, who will read it quicker than I did, and demand more fantasy and heroes like Sage to engage their time. 3/5(less)
Valente writes like every good author does. With thought and meaning in every sentence and word. But she also writes with clarity in her expressions and metaphors, even while still keeping true to the lighthearted and child-like quality this series is known for.
Valente is one of those authors, like J.K. Rowling, like Frances Hodgson Burnett, and like Philip Pullman who get what's its like being a kid, from the harder stuff in your heart to the easy imagination that flows in your veins. And she gets it without being patronizing, without talking down, and without making it easy. There's an amazing amount of wisdom, ethics, and morals in this novel hiding behind the silly, the crazy, and the plain nonsensical. And its those thoughts that'll keep you coming back to think upon, time and time after time.
Its a shame these books aren't hyped the way they deserve. They're already classics in my mind, and you can bet they'll be on my shelves for a long, long time. 5/5(less)
***A big thank you to Giselle and the author for the giveaway!***
The Magi for me was a mix between the Harry Potter series, with a bit of Narnia throw...more***A big thank you to Giselle and the author for the giveaway!***
The Magi for me was a mix between the Harry Potter series, with a bit of Narnia thrown in for kicks. The story, about a boy named Elijah, kind of follows that typical magical kid adventure as Elijah, orphaned, is sent away to a terrible school until he finds out there is more to him, the school, and the world than it seems. Adventure, powers, and friendship follow in this middle school novel that kids and adults will enjoy.
The Magi was very much a checklist of all the tropes you see in what I'm going to call 'academy/school' fantasy, and even fantasy in general:
-Mentor Figure check! -Surprising and genetic powers check! -Secret Societies check! -Orphanism check! -Friendship is Magic! check! -Magical 'schools' check! -The Classic Four Elements check! -Making friends with outcasts check! -Prophetic foretelling of greatness check! -Evil and Good defined (in general) as black and white characteristics check! [although there were exceptions later, the MAIN baddies/adults were very Evil as were the MAIN goodies/adults, it was only the kids that were really gray. Or at least the ones that weren't strictly good]
And, you know what?, there's nothing wrong with having these tropes, with creating a school-like setting, for having prophecies, for having really EVIL people and really good people. Harry Potter did it, after all. And there's a reason why we like seeing these familiar attributes within this genre: it's comfortable, and while we know what to expect, we still want to jump in and relish the things that made our hearts beat faster the first time around. But, to me, seeing these familiar tropes wasn't like jumping into a worn-in comfortable sweater, but instead was like pulling on a stretched, ratty t-shirt you dug out of your closet. Sure it's still retro, but it's a bit too worn, a bit too old, and a bit too expected. And I think that's really where The Magi didn't live up to the standards I expected of it. I wanted something new, something radically different, but what I got was a slightly different twist on a story I've seen a few too many times.
And the bottom line is that is just didn't work out for me. I couldn't care about the characters, I saw where the story was going, and the writing didn't draw me in.
But that doesn't mean someone else won't like it. Because there were a lot of good things about The Magi. The cast of characters, for instance, were very diverse, and well balance between genders as well as personalities. The story isn't finished, and there is an obvious amount of set-up for further novels. And there is a world that kids and adults will easily identify with. And all in all, The Magi wasn't a bad book, it was just a book that I couldn't like past a 2.5/5.(less)