September is bored at home. Her dad is fighting a far-off war and her mom is working long shifts at the factory. When the Green Wind comes along and oSeptember is bored at home. Her dad is fighting a far-off war and her mom is working long shifts at the factory. When the Green Wind comes along and offers to take her to fairyland, she jumps at the chance. But all is not well in fairyland. Good Queen Mallow has disappeared and The Marquess rules in her place. The Marquess has introduced laws and bureaucracy to the fey. It isn't long before September finds herself on a quest that sets her at odds with The Marquess, and that is never a safe place to be.
What a delight! I was immediately thrown back to my favorite classic children's fantasies--Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz... I'm sure there are more, but those are the big ones. Yet it was wholly its own story when it came to actual plot. There were nods to other books, but the characters and places that September encounters on her journey were unique and fun. There's the loyal wyverary A-through-L (He's a cross between a wyvern and a library. Yes, a library), Lye the soap golem, Calpurnia the velo wrangler, Saturday the marid, Iago the panther of storms, and many, many more. Each will live in my memory for a long time to come. I will think of them fondly and dream of the adventures we might have had if only a wind had offered to take me to fairyland when I was a child.
I really liked September and her loyal friends. September feels like a real little girl. She's heartless sometimes, as the narrator points out, but she's one of the most loyal and true characters you will ever meet. She literally sails to the end of the earth for her friends. She's brave and resourceful and has a strong sense of right and wrong. She's also afraid and tired and gives up hope a time or two, and just does the best she can, which is all that can ever be asked of anyone. A-through-L is a big sweetie. He is fierce in his love of September. He knows everything about anything that starts with a letter in the first bit of the alphabet. Saturday has had a hard life, but he finds it in himself to trust and love. Gleam comes in very late but she even won a place in my heart. Heck, while I'm at it, I have to mention how loyal and tireless the smoking jacket and jeweled key are as well.
I loved the whole feel of the book. It just seemed like I was reading a much older fairy tale, from the very classic wording of the title to the basic shape of September's quest. Because all good quest stories do follow a pattern, as they should. They are conveying basic life truths, and truth always wears the same shape. The fun beginning, the first shadows, the revelation of trouble, the decision to do what one can against it, the darkness and aloneness of despair, and finally coming out the other side a more tried-and-tested and truer version of oneself. The path may be well-worn, but when it is well-told, as it is here, it will always call to us.
Author Catherynne M. Valente reads this herself, and I have to say that I was pretty indifferent to her narration. It could have been better but it could have been much worse. The one advantage the audio had for me was that when the narrator decided to address the audience, it bothered me less in an audiobook than it does in print. That device has started to bug me over the past couple of years but the audio made it easier to swallow.
Read this in either print or audio, and if you have a smallish person around you, read it with them. This deserves a place on every little reader's bookshelf, and they will love you if you are the one who introduces it into their hearts....more
Young Tristran Thorn (who's birth is maybe not as...aboveboard...as Victorian society would like) is desperately in love with Victoria Forester. He scYoung Tristran Thorn (who's birth is maybe not as...aboveboard...as Victorian society would like) is desperately in love with Victoria Forester. He screws up his courage one night to ask her to kiss him or marry him or just--something! He is met with laughter. In desperation, he offers to slay dragons and bring back treasures for her, each adventure more outlandish than the last. Finally, as they see a shooting star, he offers to bring back the fallen star for her.
And so Tristran goes over the Wall for which his village is named and into Fairyland.
Tristran is woefully unprepared for what he finds there, but he's an adaptable boy. Maybe suspiciously adaptable? He finds the star and sets off with her toward home and Victoria. That's right--her. In fairyland, the stars are beautiful young women. Tristran's particular star is named Yvaine, and she is unwilling to help him on his quest for true love. Other, more sinister, people are looking for her as well, and many an adventure and near-miss follow.
I have loved this book since I first read it when it was a new book at my local library. I had to have my own copy, and this has to be at least the third or fourth time I've re-read it.
I love the adventure and the unexpected romance, the ghosts of Stormhold, the desperate witch, the humor, the quirky inhabitants of Fairy, and the way that wishes granted rarely turn out as we expect. Tristran grows so much as a character. He goes from a shallow boy whose head is turned by a beautiful face, to a man who places others' happiness before his own. He follows Gaiman's own Instructions about offering aid or accepting help as the situation dictates and finds that things usually turn out for the best that way.
Part of me wishes that Gaiman would go back and fill in some of Tristran's adventures that are only hinted at in the epilogue. Who can resist a story that is summed up with, "Have been unavoidably detained by the world." Intriguing, right? I want to know where he's been in the world and what he's seen. But the rest of me thinks that this book is just perfect the way it is and I don't want it to become a story that is ruined by later installments.
This was my first time reading the Charles Vess edition. Oh my goodness. It is gorgeous. I personally wouldn't really call it a graphic novel. That, to me, implies panels and dialog bubbles. This was more of an illustrated novel. I adore Vess's artwork. His detailed paintings are a delight to pore over. I was fortunate to meet him at an artist signing when his collection, Drawing Down the Moon, was published. He was very nice and I loved hearing him talk about his work. He talked a little about this book, and pointed out some details that I might have rushed over in my eagerness to read the story. Since I knew to look out for the details, I took my time and enjoyed each illustration as its own piece of art. (Hint: look for Gaiman himself in the first fairy market scene. You can take it from there.)
I love this story, and Vess' illustrations just increased my love for it. I highly recommend it....more
The old woman who lives in a shoe is overwhelmed. Her children are hungry. She decides to pay a visit to Razzlewitch and ask for help. Razzlewitch agrThe old woman who lives in a shoe is overwhelmed. Her children are hungry. She decides to pay a visit to Razzlewitch and ask for help. Razzlewitch agrees to help in exchange for the old woman's oldest daughter, Lisa. If Lisa will come cook and clean for Razzlewitch, the other children will be fed and clothed. Lisa agrees but wonders what she's gotten into when she finds herself in a strange new world.
This was a lovely little fairy tale. It starts with the old woman woman who lived in a shoe, but then it becomes its own story.
Like all good fairy tale heroines, Lisa grows and comes into her own throughout the book. She has surprising talents that she must learn to use. She must also learn to trust herself.
She meets a whole host of magical beings who, for the most part, end up being gentle teachers for her.
There's an element of darkness too. Lisa, and her new neighbors, learn that appearances aren't everything. They must work together to overcome the threat of darkness in their fairy tale land.
There's a very sweet love story at the heart of the book also. I just loved how this played out.
I recommend this for those who are fond of their happily ever afters and who are in search of a gentle, lovely read.
Thanks to the author for sending me a copy for review....more
Adrianne's father died a few years ago, leaving her and her sister, mother and aunt practically destitute. Adrianne blames herself for the family's miAdrianne's father died a few years ago, leaving her and her sister, mother and aunt practically destitute. Adrianne blames herself for the family's misfortune. She works hard and tries her best to take care of everyone. One night, her younger sister runs out of the house and gets caught in a raging storm. Adrianne goes to the shore looking for her and finds her in the arms of a mermaid. The mermaid scratches up Adrianne's wrist but eventually lets Cecily go. This is only the beginning of Adrianne's entanglement with the mermaid.
I really enjoyed this. It has the feel of a fairy tale, and is influenced by a few, but it was still something I truly enjoyed reading. But then, I'm a huge sucker for fairy tales.
Adrianne is a great character. She's trying so hard to provide for her family, but she's only about 14 years old. Mistakes happen. She keeps trying and trying but she can't seem to catch a break. She's hopelessly in love with a boy who only has eyes for the village beauty, something that Adrianne in her dirt and rags will never be. She looks out for her sister, mothers her mom, and is a saint for putting up with her nasty aunt. She's a character that I would like to know. In fact, I wanted the story to go on just a little longer; I wanted to know what her life was going to look like in the future.
I ripped through this book, but about 3/4 of the way through, the story got bogged down in description. If I were an author, I would have a hard time reining in the descriptors in a book like this too, but honestly, the story started to drag for me. I'm pretty good at filling in the scenery. I'd rather have the story move forward a little more quickly.
The other thing that bothered me is that, while I adore this cover, this is not how the mermaid is described. Oh, most of it is right, down to the tiniest details. But her hair is supposed to be light green. It's a small thing, but it's been bugging me. I read an ARC. Maybe it's been changed for the final copy. I don't know.
Anyway, if you like fairy tales, I think you'll be happy with this one. It's on the younger side of YA, but has a bit more depth than I expected....more
Something isn't quite right in the Oakenwyld. The fairies are terrified to go outside, they're losing their creativity, and their numbers are dwindlinSomething isn't quite right in the Oakenwyld. The fairies are terrified to go outside, they're losing their creativity, and their numbers are dwindling. Young Bryony has a chance face-to-face meeting with a human that leaves the other fairies aghast and Bryony remorseful but curious. After Bryony comes of age, Queen Amaryllis appoints her as the Queen's Hunter. Bryony is thrilled. Now she gets to venture out of the tree on legitimate business every day and see a bit of the wider world. She starts to question the way things are, and soon she finds herself torn between not wanting to endanger her friends and trying to find out if she can help them lead a better life.
I enjoyed this. I love fairy tales and I love the idea of fairies. Unfortunately, most of the modern books I pick up about fairies disappoint me. They're so very dark and dangerous. I want to see the cute little flower fairies. (Why, yes, I do think Disney Fairies are the cutest things ever!) This delivered the cute fairies with flowery names while also giving me a mystery that kept my attention. This is probably more of a middle-grade book than a young-adult book, but I still couldn't guess how everything was going to tie together and end up. There's a little darkness, a little twisty-ness, but nothing that went too overboard.
Bryony is such a feisty little thing, I couldn't help but love her. She's practically fearless. Fearless can lead to stupidity in real life, and it happened a little with Bryony too. She would occasionally get over-confident and she'd pay the consequences and learn from her mistakes. She isn't content with hearing, "That's the way things are," she wants to know why things are the way they are and if it doesn't make sense to her, she challenges the status quo.
The next book in the series, Wayfarer, was just released in the US, and I'll be keeping an eye out for it. This was a nice little break for me.
Pick this up if you don't like your fairies quite so dark....more
Deirdre meets Luke at an audition one day. They play some amazing music together, and by the end of the day, Deirdre is more than a little infatuated.Deirdre meets Luke at an audition one day. They play some amazing music together, and by the end of the day, Deirdre is more than a little infatuated. But Luke isn't the only stranger appearing in her life. All kinds of weird people and events start surrounding her, and it's obvious that Luke has something to do with it.
First of all, can I just say that I don't read all that much YA, but I am sick to death of the inevitable love triangle. Sick of it! Lament was a little more low-key than others I've read but it was still there. I remember it being hard enough to get one guy in high school to like me. Now girls have to aim for two or feel like losers?!?! C'mon. Let's do something attainable here.
Aside from that, I enjoyed this. I had a decent idea as to what Luke's story was going to be, and it frustrated me a little that super-smart Deirdre was being so clueless about it. But I did enjoy the give-and-take of Deirdre's relationships with Luke and her best friend James. Sure, they rode to her rescue a few times, but she rescued them too. Deirdre and Luke were pretty good characters, but I loved James! He's such a smartass, but underneath all that he's a very caring, understanding guy. Mostly he just cracked me up though. Deirdre and Luke enjoyed playing old ballads together, and I liked that this book had a similar feel to it. That said, the ending might leave some readers dissatisfied, but it stayed true to that ballad history. It also left room for the sequel, Ballad: The Gathering of Faerie. I have that waiting to be read too, and I have to admit that I'm more than ready to go ahead and read it. I'll hold off a little while though because reading a sequel too soon tends to make me feel like the overall story has gotten repetitive.
This isn't a new favorite by any means, but if you're interested based on the synopsis, go ahead and read it. The problems I had were based more on my taste than on the book itself. ...more
Marigold and Christian are living out their happily ever after, but they aren't perfectly happy. Little spats and hurt feelings have started creepingMarigold and Christian are living out their happily ever after, but they aren't perfectly happy. Little spats and hurt feelings have started creeping in. Could Olympia's evil be influencing their lives? And what about the rumors of a woman who washed up in a village downstream not too long after their wedding? It can't be Olympia. Can it?
This was still cute, it just wasn't quite as cute as the first book. My biggest problem was just letting go and enjoying the story. As an adult, I had a problem with the way Olympia just came home and took charge. Not one person anywhere stood up to her. Really? I just couldn't let go of how soldiers who didn't like Olympia still raced to do her bidding.
Otherwise, I did like that "happily ever after" doesn't mean "perfectly happy ever after." Arguments creep into the best of relationships and you have to remember to appreciate each other. It's a good lesson for starry-eyed little girls.
Ed's mixed-up idioms were still entertaining, and I liked the addition of Sleeping Beauty's cousin, Lazy Susan. She has her own little message to teach. King Swithbert was an example of the consequences of idly standing by and not making a stand. Stan Lucasa on the other hand? I liked him, but his ending came out of nowhere!
Still recommended for fairy tale fans, but adults might not enjoy it as much as the younger set....more
My seven-year-old cousin and fellow lover-of-all-things-fairy, Natalie, convinced me to read this by reciting the cover blurb to me: "Part comedy, parMy seven-year-old cousin and fellow lover-of-all-things-fairy, Natalie, convinced me to read this by reciting the cover blurb to me: "Part comedy, part love story, part everything-but-the-kitchen-sink." What fairy tale fan could resist that? Not this one!
I loved that the defining characteristics of the characters weren't their beauty or lack thereof. Chris is intelligent, kind, and loyal. He's also an inventor. He's the first in the kingdom to use p-mail (pigeon mail). Princess Marigold is a reader, also intelligent and kind, and very concerned with making sure that she becomes a good strong ruler of her kingdom. She even asks commoners' opinions on the qualities that a good ruler should have! Even the minor characters are generally defined by their personalities, good or bad. Looks really didn't come into play at all. I found that a little refreshing.
The story was a little predictable. We first meet Chris when he's a six-year-old runaway living in the woods. As he grows older, he starts to notice Princess Marigold, who he can watch as she reads on her terrace in the castle. He wants to be her friend, and he wants to know why she frequently looks unhappy. You can probably guess the general outline of the story, beginning to end, just from that. But there were still several surprises along the way that kept the story fresh.
Ed the troll might have been my favorite character. Oh, I really liked Chris and Marigold, but Ed made me laugh. He loves to use common sayings, but he can never get them right. Here's one: "But now that you have your act on the ball, you can do better...All you have to do is keep your shoulder to the grindstone and your nose to the wheel." Too funny! And he's working hard to break a certain fairy creature's monopoly. I won't say who, but that whole little subplot was really cute.
I'm not sure exactly what set the villain off at this point in time. That's probably the biggest thing that knocked this down a star. He or she (I won't say who!) has had years to act. Why now?
If you read the epilogue, there's a huge cliffhanger. I'll be picking up the next one. As Natalie would quote at me, "Part comedy, part tragedy, part two!" Again, who could resist?...more
Eddi McCandry is a rocker with a big heart. She attracts the attention of the Seelie Court and her life is turned upside down.
I absolutely loved this.Eddi McCandry is a rocker with a big heart. She attracts the attention of the Seelie Court and her life is turned upside down.
I absolutely loved this. If you know me, and maybe if you don't, you know that Charles de Lint is my favorite author. This is something very much in the same vein as de Lint's best work. I don't mean that it's a knockoff, it's just something that I enjoyed for a lot of the same reasons that I enjoy de Lint.
These characters were awesome. They're people (or not) that I would love to know in real life. Eddi is a talented, creative musician with a true gift. She's not perfect, but she's big enough to apologize when it's necessary. She can take charge when that's necessary too. She gives her all for her friends and refuses to give up even when everyone else is telling her that what she wants to do is impossible. Her friend Carla is much the same way, except possibly even more loyal and more likely to give her friends a figurative kick in the pants when they need it. Willy, oh Willy. What a heart breaker. And that's all I'll say about him. But the star of the show is the Phouka. Can you say book crush? He's funny, sarcastic, dashing, romantic, a rebel, strong, tough, just enough of a bad boy, and he's learning more about what it means to be human. I adored him. I wasn't too sure about him at first, but he grows throughout the book, and we get to know him better, and I was a fan for life by about the halfway point. Love him.
Even aside from the characters, the story was a page-turner. I was supposed to be training a new employee as I read this, and he just would not stop talking. (Okay, I was not slacking. The guy was in his final week of training and he didn't need it. We had absolutely nothing to do. I had listened to his same stories umpteen times already. I wanted to get on with this story.) I managed to be polite and listen to him, but the whole time I was sitting there wondering what was going to happen next, hoping that the trainee would need a bathroom break soon and I could read a little more about what was going on with Eddi, the Phouka, and the Seelie Court. That's probably terrible to admit, but there you go. Read it when you won't be interrupted. :-)
So, this is a new favorite. If you like fantasy and great characters, pick this up. You'll be sorry if you don't....more
This is a collection of short stories that de Lint wrote to accompany dolls that his wife made as gifts for the children they knew. Pictures of the doThis is a collection of short stories that de Lint wrote to accompany dolls that his wife made as gifts for the children they knew. Pictures of the dolls accompany each story. Think Wendy Froud's A Midsummer Night's Faery Tale on a much smaller, humbler scale. de Lint's book is a slim volume, but it's big on whimsy and charm. Each story has a dark moment, as true fairy tales do, but they end on a happy note, with the characters having learned something about the value of friendship or the power of imagination. Dedicated fans of de Lint will be thrilled to see a cameo appearance from one of Newford's own as a child.
The editor residing in my head is making me say that the book could have used some better editing. The reader in my heart thinks the book might have lost some charm if it had been too polished.
Overall, the collection honestly isn't all that original, but it did charm me. This is probably more of a collector's edition for de Lint fans; I don't think he's going to win over any new fans with this little book. But fans will be pleased to add it to their collections....more
Had I reviewed this when I actually read it, I would probably have given it 4 stars, but I've forgotten almost everything about it now. I do rememberHad I reviewed this when I actually read it, I would probably have given it 4 stars, but I've forgotten almost everything about it now. I do remember that I liked Coriander and that she was the heroine of her own story, not a helpless damsel. I also vaguely remembering it being very dark, following in the footsteps of the original Grimm fairy tales. Don't hold me to any of this though. And that's really all I have to say about that....more
Paula is accompanying her father to Constantinople on a trading trip. She might “only” be a seventeen-year-old girl, but she’s an intelligent, able asPaula is accompanying her father to Constantinople on a trading trip. She might “only” be a seventeen-year-old girl, but she’s an intelligent, able assistant. They’re in search of an ancient religious artifact, Cybele’s Gift. Once in Constantinople, Paula starts seeing strange visions, visions that she feels sure are coming from the Other Kingdom, the fairy tale world next to ours. She learns that it’s her turn to go on a quest. Can she accomplish the task set for her?
I am so torn in rating this book. The beginning felt like it was at least a hundred pages too long. I don’t know exactly what could have been cut, I’m just left with the feeling that a lot of it was unnecessary. It was all character development and setup for the quest, but it got a little boring and I was feeling disappointed that this wasn’t as good as Wildwood Dancing. It was interesting to read the descriptions of Constantinople, but there should be a limit to setup. I read 200 pages before I really got into it, but once the story got going, it was a fantastic fairy tale with impossible challenges, riddles, dangerous pursuit, and all the stuff that make us love the old stories. I finished the rest in one sitting, on the edge of my seat, waiting to find out what happened next. Three stars for the first half, five stars for the second half, and we’ll average it out at four.
Paula is a woman ahead of her time. She loves to read and dreams of opening her own book trading business. She sometimes gets a little too lost in her own head though, and needs to be reminded that there is a whole real life to be lived outside of books. She also has a temper that gets her in trouble a few times. It took me a little while to warm up to her, but in the end I liked her almost as much as her sister Jena.
Duarte the pirate is a dashing, charismatic figure, and I was never quite sure what to make of him. There are hidden layers to the man, and it was fun to watch Paula sounding him out. I kept picturing him as Iñigo Montoya.
And then there’s Stoyan. Oh, Stoyan, my love. He almost made me cry. The page got all blurry on me and everything. Do you know how it is killing me to admit that? I absolutely hate to cry, but he got to me. Captain Wentworth’s letter is the last word in romance from an eloquent lover, but Stoyan takes the cake for the blue collar guys. He’s tall and handsome of course, but he’s a wise, old, gentle soul. He can handle himself in a fight, but he ultimately knows what’s important in life and inadvertently reminds Paula of that frequently. He’s loyal, quiet, and willing to do anything for her. As Duarte says to him, "It is blindingly clear to me that you would jump through fire for her." If you’ve ever read I Capture the Castle, Stoyan just might remind you of Stephen.
This is a “companion novel” to Wildwood Dancing. I don’t think it’s necessary to read them in any kind of order, but a small part of the plot from Wildwood will be spoiled if you read Cybele first.
I highly recommend this for fans of fairy tales, but you’ll have to have patience with the beginning. And be prepared to fall in love with Stoyan....more
Abdullah is the son of a carpet merchant in the city of Zanzib. His inheritance wasn't much, but he's getting by pretty well. The rest of his extendedAbdullah is the son of a carpet merchant in the city of Zanzib. His inheritance wasn't much, but he's getting by pretty well. The rest of his extended family picks on him, but it's only once a month and he can take that. One day, a mysterious stranger shows up and sells him a magic carpet. That night, Abdullah falls asleep on the carpet and wakes up in a beautiful garden with a beautiful princess named Flower-in-the-Night. As you would expect, Abdullah and Flower-in-the-Night fall in love over several nighttime visits and plan to run away together. Then an evil djinn kidnaps her. Abdullah swears to rescue her at all costs.
So it's not quite Howl's Moving Castle. It was still a very engaging story with characters that I liked. Abdullah is the plucky protagonist who can only be likened to Aladdin. He's by far the poorest suitor a princess could have, but he's also the most faithful. He's the only man to go in pursuit of the evil djinn. He hits some big snags and faces down danger to save his lady-love.
Flower-in-the-Night was great! She's an intriguing mixture of innocence and wisdom. She's so protected that she's never seen a man except for her father. She's spent a lot of time reading books though, and learning about the world around her. When everything starts to reach its resolution, she's the one with the ideas.
The soldier was completely unexpected. He was a bit of a trickster figure and I could never put my finger on whether he was good, bad, or indifferent. He's a good guy to have on your side in a scrape, but he has a great big soft spot for the kitties.
The story itself was one great big magic carpet ride of a story. Following more in the tradition of Arabian Nights than Grimm's Fairy Tales, it stayed very true to its roots.
Highly recommended for fans of retold fairy tales. It's not a straightforward re-telling, but it definitely has that feel....more
Despereaux was born different. He's super-small and his eyes opened right away. And as he grows older, he's decidedly un-mousy in his behavior. In facDespereaux was born different. He's super-small and his eyes opened right away. And as he grows older, he's decidedly un-mousy in his behavior. In fact, he falls in love with Princess Pea. What will he do for her?
I was drawn into this dreamy fairy tale from the first page. I can't say that I fell in love with any of the characters; that doesn't really seem to happen in true fairy tales. But I did fall in love with the book and all the gently-taught lessons it contained.
There are lessons about individuality vs conformity, courage, honorable defiance, love, forgiveness, loyalty, envy, and judgment. And they're all presented so subtly that kids probably won't realize they're learning anything.
There were several quotes I loved that will show you the heart at the center of this story.
"Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform."
"The sound of the king's music made Despereaux's soul grow large and light inside of him."
"Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light."
"Reader, do you think it is a terrible thing to hope when there is really no reason to hope at all? Or is it (as the soldier said about happiness) something that you might just as well do, since, in the end, it really makes no difference to anyone but you?"
I loved this little fairy tale with a big heart and recommend it. It would be perfect for parents to read aloud with their children....more
Artemis Fowl has just received an email. The email contains a picture of a man who just might possibly be his father, who's been missing for two yearsArtemis Fowl has just received an email. The email contains a picture of a man who just might possibly be his father, who's been missing for two years. Just as Artemis heads off to Russia to find out more information, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon unit hauls him in for questioning in relation to underground smuggling. Of course things get crazy from there.
I think I enjoyed this one even more than the first. These books are just a lot of fun, even to a 30-year-old woman. They would have been some of my favorites if they'd been around when I was a kid. I have to admit to giggling aloud even now. But aside from the wackiness of the story, I like seeing Artemis grow and learn about himself. He tries to be an elitist genius who looks down on everyone, but really he's got a heart of gold underneath. I enjoy watching him learn that, sure, he might be a genius, but that doesn't mean that everyone he meets can't teach him something. What was great about this book was watching him get his hands dirty. I highly recommend these for kids, and for those who can still connect with their inner kid. ...more
This book is the one that Hermione inherited from Dumbledore. It contains the "Tale of the Three Brothers" that was told in Harry Potter and the DeathThis book is the one that Hermione inherited from Dumbledore. It contains the "Tale of the Three Brothers" that was told in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It also contains notes about each story written by Dumbledore and J.K. Rowling.
I'll be honest here. True, morbid, Brothers Grimm fairy tales are just not my thing. I much prefer the fully fleshed out, happily ever after Disney versions. So, this book was just okay for me. Rowling did a good job of staying true to the form of real fairy tales, I have to give her that. It just wasn't for me. They were mostly mildly entertaining. I liked that Rowling points out that the heroines of her stories are not helpless females that things just happen to while big strong men rescue them. Her heroines rescue themselves. Dumbledore's comments did add some insight. Some of Rowling's comments felt unnecessary. This book is aimed at Harry Potter fans. What true Harry Potter fan doesn't know what a Muggle or a Squib is? But then some comments could have been explained further. I would have liked to be told about an Ashwinder instead of being referred to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. That happened several times and felt like an attempt to push up sales of that book.
This doesn't really have anything to do with anything, but I loved the feel of this book. It's such a nice, neat little book and the pages feel so smooth! Call me weird. I know.
I don't regret reading this, but I don't feel like I gained much from it either. I did like that the proceeds from the book are being donated to a children's charity that Rowling co-founded. That's really probably justification enough for me....more
"In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldes"In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes." So begins Howl's Moving Castle. Our protagonist, Sophie Hatter, is well aware of the fate awaiting the oldest child. But circumstances force her to set out to seek her fortune despite the fact that she is the oldest of three daughters.
This is one of those books that reminds you of the magic that made you fall in love with reading in the first place. Just look at that opening paragraph. Who can resist the lure of that? I immediately felt it calling me on to find out what does happen to the eldest.
Overall, this was a charming fairy tale. And like all good fairy tales, everyone comes out a little wiser in the end. But what I really liked about this particular fairy tale is that Sophie was not a helpless maiden in distress. She was saved from quite a few jams, but she did just as much saving with her quick wits. But at the same time, she was a flawed character who made mistakes but ultimately learned from them.
This was one of those books that left me with a satisfied smile at the end. I think it would be fun for both the young and the young-at-heart. I highly recommend it and I'll be looking for the sequel....more
Katya is the Sea King's youngest daughter--and his eyes and ears in trouble spots. Sasha is the seventh son of the King of Led Belarus, which makes hiKatya is the Sea King's youngest daughter--and his eyes and ears in trouble spots. Sasha is the seventh son of the King of Led Belarus, which makes him a Fortunate Fool. But his foolery is only an act to gently steer the Tradition in ways that lead to peace and prosperity for his kingdom. The Tradition is made up of all the tropes that are always found in fairy tales. A seventh son meets an old beggar woman on the road? If he's nice to her, she'll help him with his task. If not, she'll curse him in some way. You get the idea. Anyway, something evil has popped up just outside the border of Led Belarus. The Sea King is worried and sends Katya to investigate. Sasha is worried about Katya and this darkness this close to his happy kingdom's borders. Will they defeat whatever's there with the help of some very unlikely allies?
First of all, this book starts off with a plot that has very little to do with where the novel is actually going. It sets up an element of the overall story, but it still felt like a hundred pages could have been trimmed off by just quickly explaining where Katya got this magic object.
That aside, I did like the book. Sasha and Katya have such big hearts that you can't help but like them and root for them. Katya is very feisty and intelligent, and you know I love those kinds of female characters. Other females in the book might not start off very promising, but even they start to gain some self-confidence by the time everything ends. Sasha is a handsome, unassuming charmer. He loves to tease people, but he's always quietly looking out for everyone's best interest. He's very smart as well. He understands quite a bit about the Tradition that dictates their lives and he's very careful about subtly manipulating it in ways he wants it to go. At the same time, he understands that perfection invites trouble, so he leaves minor darknesses alone, both to placate the Tradition and to keep his people from getting too complacent. How wise is that?
I love this world that Mercedes Lackey has created in her Five Hundred Kingdoms series. It's very much grounded in the best fairy tale traditions and yet everything fits together in a way that makes it unique. I loved reading the descriptions of the Sea King's kingdom, and the way that some old fairy tale favorites are woven into the story.
This is a series, but I don't think you necessarily have to read them in order. There are some recurrent characters, but very little of their backstory is given away, so I think you'd still be safe from most spoilers.
I recommend this for fairy tale fans looking for some light reading. It might not be Literature, but it sure is a lot of fun....more