Brigitta and her younger sister, Himalette, are the only two faeries in their entire village of White Forest that have not been affected by a mysterioBrigitta and her younger sister, Himalette, are the only two faeries in their entire village of White Forest that have not been affected by a mysterious curse. During the preparations for the annual festival, every living being in the White Forest is turned to stone. Brigitta suddenly finds herself faced with a great challenge. She doesn’t know how to reverse the curse—or where to go for help—but she knows she must do something before the magical protection around her village is destroyed. With a great responsibility weighing on them, Brigitta and Himalette start their journey to Dead Mountain, where they hope to find help from the banished faerie, Hrathgar.
Along the way to Dead Mountain, Briggita and her sister encounter many dangers and make new friends. Together, Brigitta, Himalette, and Minq (a character that seems to resemble Jar Jar Binx from StarWars) head off to Dead Mountain. When they get there, they meet Hrathgar. Brigitta and Himalette are mesmerized by her kindness and can’t seem to understand why she has always been described as evil in the stories of faerie lore. Minq is not so easily impressed by Hrathgar’s innocent appearance. Through several twists and turns of events, the young faeries quickly learn that everything is not what it appears to be. Hrathgar is actually two separate people! Hrathgar Good (the faerie they first meet) and Hrathgar Evil (the faerie from the stories) are split personalities that share the curse from ancient times. Brigitta and her friends find themselves faced with an even more difficult challenge: they have to end the curse on their village and defeat Hrathgar Evil. But they aren’t sure if they are capable of destroying such a powerful faerie all by themselves.
I must start off saying that this book was great! Overall, it’s a great story about discovering your destiny and courage. Brigitta is brave, even though she doesn’t realize it. She’s determined to make things right in her village, so she sets off on what seems to be an impossible task. After everything is resolved, she is shocked to find that her destiny markings have finally revealed themselves. While she’s trying to understand the great change that she will face, she has a pretty deep conversation with Ondelle, the High Priestess of the faeries, about destiny. Ondelle shares some words of wisdom with Brigitta when she tells her “to allow all destinies to unfold as they should.” Brigitta tries to let this set in, but it’s still a hard concept for such a young faerie.
If you look at the book from a literary stand point--which I would be inclined to do with my students-- you can see several similarities to the classic struggles of good against evil in literature. There are evil villains with dubious plots and young heroes that have to discover their inner strengths and final destinies. Young Brigitta begins the story as a faerie that doesn’t fit in or understand her place in the faerie society. By the end of the book, she has an idea of what her future holds, even though she doesn’t think she can fulfill the high expectations. I couldn’t help but think of The Lord of the Rings as I read through this book, which isn’t a bad thing, considering I liked those books as well.
The plot is fast paced and starts quickly. You are sucked in to the story within the first two chapters. I was very thankful that it did not take long to develop the plot, and that the plot moved quickly throughout the book. The names were highly original, but I also found them a mouth full. If I had to read this book aloud, I might have some difficulty pronouncing all the names and places. Of course, that is a minor detail that doesn’t interfere with the story at all. My favorite aspect of the entire book is the great detail that went into describing the setting and characters. The touchy relationship between Brigitta and Himalette was very believable. I could picture the looks of irritation on Brigitta’s face as her younger sister sang her invented nonsense songs. The characters were very well developed and enjoyable, and I enjoyed them all.
I would say that this book is intended for the younger readers (10-12 year olds) that enjoy E.D. Baker’s books. It might seem a bit childish for the traditional YA reader. Brigitta is just reaching the point of “The Change,” so she isn’t as mature (in some aspects) as some of the more well known characters in YA literature. Brigitta of the White Forest is a clean, fast paced adventure that I would certainly recommend to any reader that enjoys stories about faeries and a good light-hearted read. ...more
What I think about this book in one word: Hilarious. Two words: Absolutely brilliant. As a whole: one of THE best fractured fairytales ever. Seriously What I think about this book in one word: Hilarious. Two words: Absolutely brilliant. As a whole: one of THE best fractured fairytales ever. Seriously. Let’s start with the plot. Bumbling heroes, an evil witch, a diplomatic giant, vegetarian trolls, and princesses that don’t need rescuing—a perfect combination for a fast-paced plot full of hijinks and adventure. I fell in love with this story on the first page. The opening line says, “Prince Charming is afraid of old ladies. Didn’t know that did you?” The light-hearted tone from the opening line runs throughout this book. I literally laughed out loud in places. If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, you will love this book. I guarantee it. There are so many twists to the original tales that this book becomes its own version of a fairy-tale. How great is it to make Snow White slightly off her rocker and Cinderella like a ninja? The characters are extremely enjoyable too. The Princes Charming (there was a grammar lesson attached to this name in the book) are pretty ticked off that they go nameless in all the tales. They want people to know who the “Prince Charming” in the story really is. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. But when Cinderella goes “missing,” a true hero senses the opportunity for a rescue. And so this team of misfit heroes is formed (in a rather entertaining way). Gustav is one of my favorite characters in the book. Nicknamed “Angry Man” by a troll, he undergoes the greatest transformation throughout the story. Short tempered and often irrational, he is more of a liability than an asset. But he does learn a few lessons along the way. His slowly developing friendship with Frederick—the OCD Prince Charming belonging to Cinderella—is rather endearing. Of course, Frederick is hilarious in his own right. He’s the smooth talker in the group, which is a good thing because he can’t do anything else. Then there are the princes Liam and Duncan. Liam seems to have things together, except that he thinks he’s unstoppable. But Duncan is the life of the party. There is something “off” about Snow White’s beau. The man names animals that randomly appear in the forest! That’s not normal. I would be wrong to discuss characters and not mention the leading ladies in this story. They were independent, strong-minded, and better heroes than the men. Not your stereotyped princesses by any means. Cinderella could be a super ninja. I enjoyed the side stories that told of her adventures sans the Princes Charming. When the stories finally merge, it forms a great team of heroes that I can’t wait to read more about. (And I do hope they will be recruiting more princesses into the team.) I’m happy to say that this book is the beginning of a series. I am anticipating this book becoming a favorite. It should be read aloud so everyone can appreciate the witty humor and antics in the story. Otherwise, people nearby will wonder what’s wrong with you as you laugh out loud with every turn of the page. ...more
The synopsis from the back cover does NOTHING for this book. It sounds good, but it doesn't even begin to hint on all of the complex and completely awThe synopsis from the back cover does NOTHING for this book. It sounds good, but it doesn't even begin to hint on all of the complex and completely awesome elements found in The Door to Canellin.
To begin with, there were multiple plots intricately woven together. It was amazing to read the same story told from several characters points of view AND still be able to find the depth in each individual character. All of the plots eventually merged into the same story, which heightened the climax of the story.
Most books that I have read lately have followed a traditional plot line. Rising action, climax, falling action and resolution-- just like the books in your high school literature class. All of the elements were in this book (obviously), but it was a constant up and down, which kept me turning the pages. Just when I thought that some major catastrophic event was about to occur, the story would switch to a new character--or take a completely unexpected turn-- and start to build the tension anew. It was knuckle-biting suspense all the way through.
I'm a huge fantasy fan; I can't even pretend like I'm not. With that being said, it's no surprise that I was drawn to the magical/fantasy elements in this book. What fantasy fan can resist a maniacal dragon, wizards, and double crossing dragon warriors? Not to mention our Black Knight worthy of Arthurian legend (definitely some similarities there) and the lovable and honorable thief, Elarie. Oh, and there is Jiane-- a completely rockin' swordsWOMAN that can best the top blademasters.
As I said, I liked how everything tied together. The complex story was well thought out and orchestrated. The details certainly make this story! The ending is complete, but also sets the stage for future novels. Plus, the underlying theme of father and son relationship building was great. It didn't seem over the top or forced. It was believable, and a great coming of age story. ...more
This cover perfectly captures the eeriness of The Ghost of Graylock. The suspense I felt on some pages was intense. My heart raced and my throat feltThis cover perfectly captures the eeriness of The Ghost of Graylock. The suspense I felt on some pages was intense. My heart raced and my throat felt tight. It was great! I really did not think a middle grades novel could deliver that much suspense.
Obviously, the majority of the book centers around a ghost story. That story is pretty crazy. The threads slowly unraveled throughout the book. It was a nice, steady unraveling. I didn't figure out the outcome until a few pages before the characters (big perk). A+ for plot line and creepiness.
But what I really liked about this book is the emotional haunting Neil faces that flickers just below the surface. There were many issues with his family that he has to come to terms with, and it's not an easy thing to do. He faces many emotions that children from divorced families face, and he handles those emotions with such believability. I was highly impressed. I read another book on the Sunshine State Reader list for this year that boasted a ghost story/coming of age tale. I did not like that book too much. It felt way too busy for my tastes. However, I think The Ghost of Graylock really hit the mark. ...more
Do not let the cover of this book fool you! It is not an overly cutesy middle-grades novel.(I was wrong!)
This was actually a solid mystery with severDo not let the cover of this book fool you! It is not an overly cutesy middle-grades novel.(I was wrong!)
This was actually a solid mystery with several sub plots. The main plot centers around trying to figure out who is attacking the selkies and why. But of course, that would be too easy if that was the only thing to discover in a small fishing town. Enter mysterious new boy, Jamie. The instant connection between Aileen and Jamie starts of a romance that carries throughout the novel. Oh, but that's not all! Aileen's family has secrets of their own to resolve, and the family store (and Aileen's way of life) is teetering on a ledge. All of these story lines meet at the end with a very suspenseful climax! I thought it was really well developed, and I enjoyed it alot.
The characters were pretty good as well. They worked for the story, but I didn't really connect with them. I did notice, though, how well Aileen's character depicted a teenager desperate for more freedom and responsibility. She has some pretty clever one-liners and insights that made me smile. The author did a nice job of giving Aileen a belieavable voice.
I am a huge fan of mermaid books, but selkies kind of gross me out. I think it's the idea of peeling off skin and leaving it in a heap that makes my stomach churn. Luckily, though, Legasea didn't spend a lot of time focusing on the selkie qualities. Instead, it told a good story-- placing it high up on my list of merbooks. So, if you are like me and you enjoy mermaid/selkie stories, give Legasea a try! ...more
I have been looking for this book for so long. Imagine my surprise when I literally walked by it on a shelf at my library (the same library that saidI have been looking for this book for so long. Imagine my surprise when I literally walked by it on a shelf at my library (the same library that said they did not have a copy). I was thrilled! I snatched Into the Wild up so quickly that people looked at me like I was crazy. I also looked for Out of the Wild, but I didn't see it. Small victories, I suppose. I love this book!
Into the Wild was the debut novel of Sarah Beth Durst, which is rather surprising because I found it to be absolute perfection. It was a super fun read. I enjoyed recognizing fairy tales in the book (some were lesser known tales). You could tell that the author spent a lot of time researching to be able to weave the tells seamlessly.
The idea behind Into the Wild was highly original. Because "the Wild" is a sort of fairy tale prison (my interpretation, probably not the best way to describe it), it took a lot to fully develop the concept of a living entity being able to craft stories and capture fairy tale characters. But don't worry, it was done well. The experiences that the various characters faced gave depth to this concept.
The narrator, Julie, was full of wit and charm. She is a great narrator for middle grades readers. She faces the same struggles of feeling like she doesn't belong and longing for a whole family that many readers will be able to relate to her voice.
Simply put, this is another hit by Sarah Beth Durst that I highly recommend. Geared more for younger readers, it will widely accepted by younger readers that enjoy a good adventure or fairy tale. ...more
Synopsis from back cover: It’s the summer before seventh grade, and twelve-year-old Raine O’Rourke’s mother suddenly takes a job hours from home at mySynopsis from back cover: It’s the summer before seventh grade, and twelve-year-old Raine O’Rourke’s mother suddenly takes a job hours from home at mysterious Sparrow Road—a creepy, dilapidated mansion that houses an eccentric group of artists. While Raine’s mother works as the cook and housekeeper, Raine explores the sprawling estate, trying to solve its secrets in the hopes she’ll discover why she and her mother have really come to Sparrow Road, but it’s an unexpected secret from Raine’s own life that changes her forever.
Review: Upon her arrival at Sparrow Road, Raine is greeted by Viktor, the elderly recluse and owner of the sprawling estate. She is also met by his rules for living at Sparrow Road: Do not disturb the artists and no talking until dinner every day of the week, except for Sundays. For a twelve-year-old girl that has been mysteriously pulled from her home in Milwaukee, these rules are hard to accept. Luckily for Raine, Sparrow Road is full of very colorful characters to keep her company. Josie is eccentric and full of energy; an instant favorite of Raine. Lillian is an elderly woman full of kindness and love that helps Raine overcome her homesickness. Then there is Diego. Raine imagines Diego as the father that she never had. His laugh can fill an entire room, and his warm, gentle spirit can calm the roughest of seas.
When Raine finds a drawing of Sparrow Road in the winter time, hidden in the attic of the old house, she is instantly drawn to the mystery that surrounds her summer home. Diego encourages her to find and write the story behind the picture from the attic signed by twelve-year-old Lyman, an orphan living in the house many years ago. By asking “what was or what could be,” Raine begins to write Lyman’s story. What she doesn’t realize is that she is also writing her own in the process.
The characters in Sparrow Road are fantastic. You can picture Josie with her “rainbow colored hair” and patchwork dresses. Lillian’s frailty and age becomes evident through the description of her skin feeling “like a well worn bed sheet.” The physical descriptions of the characters match the personality that is penned for each within the pages of the novel. The author, Sheila O’Conner, does a brilliant job of mixing lively characters with beautiful descriptive language. I fell in love with each and every character, especially Raine. She was wise beyond her twelve years and the bond that brought her family together.
The stories that entwine at Sparrow Road are not always pleasant stories. There is a considerable degree of sadness that marks the lives of the characters in the story. However, there is a constant reminder of hope—like the charm Raine wears around her neck—that lingers in their lives as well. Sparrow Road is a layered tale of friendship, forgiveness, and what it means to be a family.
Amazing. Simply amazing. Another hit for Sarah Beth Durst. Ice was one of a kind and exceeded all expectations.
This has to be one of the best settingAmazing. Simply amazing. Another hit for Sarah Beth Durst. Ice was one of a kind and exceeded all expectations.
This has to be one of the best settings for a story that I have read in a long time. It was highly original. You would think that a story that takes place in the Artic tundra would be lacking in descriptive details and originality, but you would be wrong. The descriptions were amazing, and the setting was phenomenal. I have to admit that I was drawn to this book partly based on the location since I visited Alaska this summer. I was able to identify some of the elements mentioned in the story because I saw them with my own eyes. If the author has never traveled to this area, I am highly impressed with her ability to capture its essence. A+ in this department.
The characters were very uniques as well. Cassie is your typical strong-willed teenager, but she is different. She's the granddaughter of the North Wind and the future wife of the Polar Bear King. Yeah, you read that correctly. I will admit, as far as depth goes, there wasn't much. Cassie does grow and develop throughout the story, but that's the extent of things. I didn't really connect with her, but that's ok. The story line was so good that I didn't need to feel that personal connection. Ice read like a myth, which had me engrossed until the very end.
Sarah Beth Durst is known for her original stories. It never ceases to amaze me how she can write books that are so different from one another. Ice is not like any of her other books that I have read thus far. In fact, I would challenge someone to find a book similar to Ice.
If you are a fan of mythology, get ready! You will love all the subtle (and not so subtle) references to mythology hiding among these pages. On the surface, this is a highly original tale of Cupid and Psyche. Complete with the West Wind (in this case the North, South, and East winds) wisking Cassie (Psyche) off to a secluded location. The invisible servants in the original myth are very uniquely described trolls in Ice. There is also Inuit mythology scattered all over the place. You see mentionings of Sedna and Inuit soul keepers.
Simply put, read this. That's all I can say. It's amazing, and it will knock your socks off. ...more
Summary from Amazon: Gaylen, the King’s messenger, a skinny boy of twelve, is off to poll the kingdom, traveling from town to farmstead to town on hisSummary from Amazon: Gaylen, the King’s messenger, a skinny boy of twelve, is off to poll the kingdom, traveling from town to farmstead to town on his horse, Marrow. At first it is merely a question of disagreement at the royal castle over which food should stand for Delicious in the new dictionary. But soon it seems that the search for Delicious had better succeed if civil war is to be avoided. Gaylen’s quest leads him to the woldweller, a wise, 900-year-old creature who lives alone at the precise center of the forest; to Canto, the minstrel who sings him an old song about a mermaid child and who gives him a peculiar good-luck charm; to the underground domain of the dwarfs; and finally to Ardis who might save the kingdom from havoc.
My Review: I love this book! It is such a fun, easy, and enjoyable read. It’s an adventure story with a few surprises and fantasy elements added in. Young Gaylen is on a quest to poll the kingdom’s response for the royal dictionary’s choice for something “delicious.” Unfortunately, no one can agree on a response. At first Gaylen thinks it’s all a difficult coincidence that no two votes are alike, but then he realizes that someone is sabotaging his mission. After all, what would an adventure story be without a little subterfuge? As it turns out, the King’s brother is out to start a civil war within the kingdom. He wants to overthrow the king and take the throne. Gaylen realizes this and tries his best to stop the evil uncle, but his plan is interrupted. Just when it seems that the king’s brother will win, a mystical creature (Ardis the mermaid) comes and saves the day!
This book is suitable for young readers, while older readers (teens) may find it a little boring or “childish.” As an adult, I found it delightful. I loved the humor and word play. The puns and subtle nuances added to my enjoyment even more. (The word play ranks high on my list…on the level of The Magic Tollbooth.) There isn’t a lot of deep character development in the book, but it doesn’t take away from the read. You get a sense of the scatterbrained king, Gaylen’s loyalty, and the diabolical nature of the king’s uncle. While it is clear which role everyone is intended to play, there isn’t much insight into the motivations… at least on a deeper level. It seems that the purpose behind the book is simply to tell a good story. It’s a simple story that a younger reader would enjoy.
There isn’t a whole lot I can say about the book. It wasn’t overly thought provoking, although I did find humor in all the differing definitions of “delicious.” Maybe the moral of the story is trying to teach us that we take some things for granted—things as simple as a cool glass of water—and we need to be more appreciative of what we have. That may be a little deep for a 7 year old, but it’s still a good lesson to discuss. Overall, I enjoyed it. It was witty and well written. ...more
This was such a cute book. I think E.D. Baker always does a fabulous job with her fairy tale retellings. The Wide-Awake Princess did not disappoint meThis was such a cute book. I think E.D. Baker always does a fabulous job with her fairy tale retellings. The Wide-Awake Princess did not disappoint me at all. It had a voice all its own. I loved Princess Annie. I thought it was such a nice touch that the heroine of the fairy tale had no magical powers at all. In fact, at her Christening, her "gift" was the gift of no magic. How appropriate, right?
As you would expect from E.D. Baker, the humor was timely and well played. Annie was a sassy and independent thing--which I loved. I get so tired of princesses being portrayed as dependent and helpless. Annie was strong-willed and resourceful. She didn't need anyone's help. In fact, she saved most of characters in the story--herself included.
The other thing that I loved about this book was the subtle (and sometimes more obvious) mentioning of other fairy tales. There was Hansel and Gretel (very original take on this story) who were dining with a witch suffering from dementia. The witch had to leave reminders for herself on conversation hearts plastered to the walls of her cottage. (She also had a large pet rat named "Fluffy" that she thought was a dog.) There was the story of Rapunzel which was pretty ironic. If you think about a girl trapped in a tower with a prince that visits everyday, but never rescues her, you can't help but wonder what the draw is. Then another prince shows up on Thursday. You start to get an idea of what kind of girl Rapunzel really is with her weekly visitors. There was also a mentioning of The Princess and the Pea and a few other lesser known tales, all of which were uniquely incorporated into the story. I loved it.
I'm a huge fan of E.D. Baker after reading her The Princess Frog series. It doesn't come as much surprise that I highly recommend this one. It's perfect for middle grade readers. It was quick and witty, but it didn't offer many twists and turns. Honestly, though, the complicated plot twists aren't needed. They story reads perfectly well being straight forward and predictable. I do hope that this will become a series. I would love to find out what happens between Annie and Liam (love them). Plus, there were a few other "items" that could develop into another book or two. You'll have to read the book to discover those, however. ...more