Fairy tale retellings are some of my favorite things to read, and I'm pretty sure that middle grade versions of these are the best. That being said, The Wishing Spell did not disappoint. Many childhood favorite fairy tales are prominent in the so-called Land of Stories, and the book was a fun way to find out what happened to the main characters of those stories after their happily ever afters.
The basis of The Wishing Spell is Alex and Conner Bailey being trapped in the Land of Stories and they are travelling the land looking for ingredients for the Wishing Spell in order to get back home. They are as different as day and night - Alex is a brainiac loner who is the model child and student, and Conner is a bit of a slacker with a lot of friends - and forced to work together in order to get home. Unfortunately, it's not the easiest task and to make things more difficult, they are not the only ones looking for the necessary items.
The twins were fun to read about, but it was the side characters from the Land of Stories that stole the show. Goldilocks is a wanted criminal who has been on the lam for years since the bear incident. Little Red Riding Hood is a spoiled queen who fawns over and is in love with the one man she cannot have. The Evil Queen (Snow White's stepmother) had a bit more backstory that really kept me on my toes, and there's not much that I like more than a villain with some depth.
At first I was a little leery of Colfer voicing his own novel until I remembered that he's also an actor and singer. (I don't watch Glee, so that wasn't at the forefront of my mind.) I didn't really like his voice at first, but he really was best for the novel because he sounds like a child himself. There is also something special about an author reading his or her own work because they know the nuances of the language and each character best.
The Wishing Spell was a really cute book, and I'll probably continue with the series. There is nothing like cleansing the palate with a middle grade fairy story after all of the dystopia and science fiction novels that I read.
Though I don't review it on the blog very often, I'm a huge fan of the horror genre. Well, in novels because horror movies give me major nightmares. One of the books that made me love reading and realize books were sometimes more than just pretty stories was Watchers by Dean Kootz. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was very excited about having the opportunity to review an adult horror novel. I also love short stories, so this made Oddities & Entities twice as exciting for me.
Oddities & Entities' six tales made for an interesting anthology. I did not like a few of the tales, but the ones were good enough to keep me reading. Boneview is the first story in the collection and my favorite of them all. It is about girl named Allison who has both the terrible ability of being able to see how people are going to die, as well as the visitations of a strange, otherworldly creature each month on the full moon. The Curmudgeon reminded me a bit of Lasher from Anne Rice's The Witching Hour. Because of these two things, Allison is a loner who finds herself working as an artist in a tattoo parlor after high school. Watching her grow from a Goth teen into a mother shows a huge transformation for her as a character, and I felt the story pull at my heart while I cringed.
The other story that stood out to me was My Other Me because it is the type of story I usually avoid. I do not care for a lot of gore or violence, and bodysnatcher/body-switch stories make me very frustrated for whatever reason. However, both of these things worked together well in this instance, and I enjoyed reading the story. My Other Me was very, very dark and creepy, and the rules and world-building was something that I would have enjoyed to explore more deeply.
I do want to touch on Shift/Change enough to say that it was gross. I mean that in only the most respectful way, because sometimes horror is intended to gross the reader out. (I think that was the intent in this case.) It was almost Law & Order meets X-Files? (Okay, Law & Order was the only part of the comparison that I can think of - sue me.) It wasn't my cup of tea, but it definitely had merit.
I think horror fans will enjoy reading the tales in Oddities & Entities, and Roland Allnach is an author worth watching. Though not all the stories in the collection were for me, I did enjoy my time spent reading them. October is the perfect month for horror, yes?
- 2.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more
Never Seduce a Scot is the first book in the Montgomerys & Armstrongs series by New York Times best-selling author Maya Banks. Eveline Armstrong and Graeme Montgomery are forced into marriage by King Alexander II of Scotland in an attempt to end the decades-long blood feud between their two families.
Never Seduce a Scot came as a bit of a surprise to me. The title and cover scream "bodice-ripper", but in reality, it sits solidly in the historical romance genre. I was expecting to skim through quite a few sex scenes, but there were only two, and they were important to the progression of the novel and the character development of Graeme and Eveline. (Yes, there is some steaminess, but it's not the focal point of the novel.) It was very well done and well written.
Never Seduce a Scot is the first novel that I've read by Maya Banks and, again, was nothing like I expected. The writing was gripping, and the characters were easy to connect with. I found myself not only attached to Eveline (who I adored) and Graeme, but also the pool of secondary characters. This sets up nicely for a series because I know that I'll enjoy getting to know each of the characters (though I may not want to imagine them sparking). I will say right now though that Rorie is awesome, and she should remain single. I will be displeased if her happiness depends upon lurve and a man. Back to Eveline - she is probably my favorite heroine that I've read this year. She had an accident three years before the start of the novel that left her deaf, but she pretends to be "daft" in order to escape marriage to the cruel Ian McHugh. Even though she spends years deceiving her family, she felt bad about it and always wanted to come clean. She also works really hard for the acceptance of the Montgomery clan, even though she was faced with meanness, hatred, and disdain at every turn. Graeme Montgomery is written to be a very intelligent man, and it was a bit surprising. He figured out quite a few things in the story that I figured would have me yelling at the characters about for most of the book. They were a good match, and I found myself pulling for them in a way that I have not done in ages.
The one drawback of Never Seduce a Scot is the dialect. I found the over use of "tis", "lass", and other Scottish slang to be very jarring at first. As the novel went on, I paid less attention to it, but there were occasions that the book got the stink eye from me.
All in all, Never Seduce a Scot was a very good book and not one to judge by the cover. There are some very fabulous characters, and it is a novel not to be missed. I look forward to reading and reviewing Highlander Most Wanted later this month.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the book from the publisher in preparation of a TLC Book Tour for the second novel in the series in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
The Writing of Greta and the Goblin King was imaginative and fun to read. It is a mixture of epic fantasy, paranormal romance, and fairy tale that incorporated many elements of each - enough to capture fans of any of the three genres.
The characters in the story were definitely unique. Greta is a teenage girl who found herself in Mylena (which I found myself reading as "Mylanta"), the land of goblins, gnomes, and other fantastic creatures. She not only survived from those who blamed humanity for the problems in that world, but adapted to her new life and, disturbingly, thrived as a ruthless bounty hunter. I asked myself many times if Greta could still be truly human after everything that had happened to her. However, she bored me a bit, for whatever reason that I cannot peg. Isaac, the goblin king, was mysterious and creepy, and I really did not find him to be a good match for Greta. In the name of protecting her, he behaved questionably, and I would have taken out a restraining order against him in the real world. Strangely, I still liked him. You see, he is neither human nor does he think as one, but this damn behavior of scary stalkers in YA books troubles me. (I had a read stalker once upon a time - not sexy.) Then there was Wyatt, who I dubbed Walter in my head because it made sense to me. He was a nice guy, and I always forget about them. He was all noble, and chivalrous, and wonderful... Yeah, I was pulling for the scary stalker goblin king. I feel bad, but I'm grown and I do what I want. :-P
I guess I should mention (because it's important to many of you) that yes, there was the instalove. Personally, I'll ignore it because I was young once and guilty of falling in love at least once a week. These kids were isolated, and hormones do this to a person. Other than that I really don't have any complaints. Greta was mostly badass and made of awesome, Wyatt (Walter) was sweet, and Isaac was fine as long as I pretended that he was David Bowie and not launching dream invasions. 3.5/5 Stars
Imagine the result of a mix of Hansel and Gretel, Peter Pan, and The Lord of the Rings, and that is what you get with Chloe Jacobs' World Weaving in Greta and the Goblin King. Greta is a girl who wandered away from home (in a sense) who meets the Lost Boys in Mordor. Greta is undeniably capable of pushing a witch into an oven, but more likely to run a sword through her during a moon phase. The Lost Boys are parentless and in a strange land, but I an't see them going to battle with Captain Hook or the goblins, As for Agramon, he is just as enormous of a mythological threat to Mylena as Tolkien's antagonist, but hardly nightmare-inducing and not nearly as formidable. While reminiscent, at times, of the classic works, Jacobs made Greta and the Goblin King a creation all her own. 4/5 Stars
The Pace of the book was quick, but I was not really at the edge of my seat. Greta was both badass yet lovable enough that I never felt that she was ever truly in danger. Don't get me wrong - she gets into some situations where shit hits the fan. However, I was still engaged with the story and stayed with it. All in all, Greta and the Goblin King is well-written, and the adventure is fun. It's safe to say that it's a book that you won't want to put down. 4/5 Stars
As the Extra Magic, I'm going to address the elephant standing in the room while I was reading the book.
I grew up watching Labyrinth, so David Bowie and his enviously epic guyliner always lingered at the edge of my thoughts. I'm not a teenager, so I pretended that Isaac was David Bowie's "Jareth". I'm sure many women my age have secretly done the same. When Isaac was Jareth, he was perfection. (Okay, Isaac had very little in common with Jareth, but still!) Oh Goblin King, you DO have power over me. So why am I rating Jacobs on this? Well, making me think of my youth is extra magical, and it was fun to fantasize. 5/5 Stars...more
Zuto: The Adventures of a Computer Virus is the middle-grade debut novel of Udi Aharoni. The story is set inside of a boy named Tom's computer and follows a Zutrog-33 virus named Zuto.
The Writing of Zuto really made reading the book a breeze. The style is definitely aimed at a younger audience with short chapters and cute illustrations every ten pages or so. There is also a "Zutopedia" in the back that defines some of the computer terms that are used in the course of the book. The characters are funny, and Zuto is charming enough to make a virus a sympathetic character. The only drawback that I saw with the novel is that it may be a little too simple for the age group it is aimed at, but this one is not a major concern because most children (like adults) like an occasional easy read, and Zuto sneaks a little educational material into the story. 3.5/5 Stars
Udi Aharoni's World-Weaving in Zuto is fantastic. The entire story takes place in less than a minute (though much longer for the characters), and it turns the inner-workings of a computer into a world that easy to imagine and that makes how a computer works more understandable. There is a "Firewall" that is by the port, that is described as being by the sea much like an actual port. The anti-virus program is similar to a police officer, and he patrols the Mathematical Co-Processor on a motorcycle. I personally am not a computer expert, so reading Zuto gave even me, an adult, a greater insight into the way computers operate. 4.5/5 Stars
The Pace of the novel is very fast and can easily keep a middle-grade reader on board. The events unfold quickly, and a lot happens in this very little book. The chapters are short, but they pack a lot of heat. 4/5 Stars
The Extra Magic of Zuto is the way Aharoni and Troitsa take a subject that many would find boring and present it in a way that is appealing. While computers are an essential part of my life, I've never had much interest in knowing how they work or why they do what they do. As long as I was able to get online and my research was kept safe, I did not need anything more from my computer. However, reading Zuto taught me a few things, but mostly it made concepts that went right over my head before a little more tangible and understandable. 4/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book from literary publicity firm, JKS Communications, in exchange for an honest review as a part of the book tour. This has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
Dystopian fantasy novel, Luminosity by Stephanie Thomas, is the author's young adult debut. The main character, Beatrice, is a Seer who has been receiving visions of an impending invasion by City's mortal enemy, the Dreamcatchers. As tensions mount and the City goes on high alert, Beatrice starts keeping secrets that could be dangerous to everyone.
Initially, I was not a fan of Luminosity. It is written in first person from Beatrice's point of view, and I was a little confused about the way Stephanie Thomas brought us into the story. For one, I thought Gabe was some sort of guard, and we're told the Keeper is supposed to be intimidated by Beatrice, but I never got that vibe. Despite these things, once I got into the novel, it really began to flow, and I was hooked.
I'm usually disappointed in books that have romance as a major part of the novel because it comes at the cost of world-building, plotting, or character development. However, the romance in Luminosity was not overwhelming and watching Beatrice and Gabe was sweet, though very high school-esque. (Yes, I know this is aimed at a young adult audience.) The only thing I didn't really get was the "falling in love with the enemy" from the book's description. I never got any indication that Beatrice had feelings for anyone but Gabe. I mean, Gabe wasn't my favorite character in the book by a long shot, but at least I understood Beatrice's attraction to him.
Luminosity is an average-length YA book, and I think it was perfect for the story told. The pacing of the novel was really good, and it was packed with action that was well-executed. I think teens will really be able to connect with the book and characters, and I told myself several times while reading it that it's written for teens without being dumbed down. Luminosity had a rocky start for me, but I was impressed by the end. I even look forward to rereading it in the future.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of Itching for Books Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review. The advance digital copy was provided to the tour by the publisher, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more