If you've read Cinder, you know where it leaves off. If not, I won't spoil it for you. So let's just say that Cinder's story arc continues. Meanwhile,...moreIf you've read Cinder, you know where it leaves off. If not, I won't spoil it for you. So let's just say that Cinder's story arc continues. Meanwhile, in France...
Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing and has been for about two weeks. Scarlet is worried sick but doesn't know where to start looking for her. None of the villagers are willing to help because they think eccentric Grandma has just finally gone off the deep end and wandered away. A new street fighter shows up in town and he seems to know something about Grandma's disappearance. But can Scarlet trust him?
I didn't like this quite as much as Cinder but I definitely still enjoyed it. By introducing Scarlet, Marissa Meyer managed to avoid my common complaint that the second book in a series is just filler. Had she stayed exclusively with Cinder's story, I'd probably be complaining. By shifting the focus, she fills in a lot of back story without a big info dump and we learn everything in a way that feels very natural. Hats off for that one! It's apparently a hard thing to do.
My problem was with Scarlet herself. She was angry and yelling for at least 85% of the book. At least it felt that way. If she wasn't yelling, she was thinking about yelling, and very occasionally she was crying. The girl goes through a lot of stress, so to a point it felt authentic. But after that point, I wanted Scarlet to grow emotionally and feel something other than anger or sadness. That's a little unfair but not completely so. I'm not sure if that's how the author wrote her or if that was just the narrator's interpretation. And while I'm picking on that end of things, it irritated me that Scarlet was the only character in the book with an accent. There are other French people who don't have accents. I guess it was a way to remind me that this was Scarlet and not Cinder speaking? I don't know but it bothered me.
I really liked the other new characters though. I liked Wolf, the street fighter, a lot. I thought I had him figured out but I was never entirely sure of where he stood or what was going on with him. Even narcissistic Thorne won me over. He is what he is. I appreciate that kind of self-honesty. There are hints that there are bigger things to be seen from him, but right now, we're good.
As for poor Emperor Kai--I just want to tell him that everything's going to be okay, even though I have no idea at this point if it will be or not. He has no idea what's going on with Cinder. He has no idea if his emotions for her are real or if he's been manipulated. But while he's dealing with his own personal pain and confusion, he's doing his best for his people, even at great personal cost to himself. I really, really like this guy.
Other than Scarlet's...anger issues...I still like Rebecca Soler's narration. Her voice is age-appropriate and she gives the characters life and emotion. I'll keep listening to the series on audio, at least for one more book. I may have to switch to print if Scarlet stays this shrill though.
I highly recommend this one for anyone looking for a very different take on some classic fairy tales. This series gets huge points for originality.(less)
Elisa is a Bearer of the Godstone. Born to the royal family, a bright light engulfed her on her Name Day and left her with a Godstone in her navel. Be...moreElisa is a Bearer of the Godstone. Born to the royal family, a bright light engulfed her on her Name Day and left her with a Godstone in her navel. Bearers are marked to carry out a special act of service and they're only born about every hundred years. Unfortunately, they don't tend to live long enough to complete their service.
Elisa doesn't really fit into her own home. Her sister is the one being groomed to rule. Elisa just likes to study her books and, honestly, eat her sorrows. When she finds herself suddenly married off to a neighboring king, she has no idea what to expect. She sets off to be Queen of a country she's never seen. A mutual enemy is threatening their borders, her new husband doesn't seem to know what to do, and since he's decided to keep their marriage a secret, she has no idea what she's supposed to do here either.
I really liked this. Elisa was by no means a perfect heroine. She struggles with her weight and with her own emotional insecurities. But she's an intelligent woman and she's always willing to try her best. She might not be the most charismatic princess but she has an honesty about her that tends to resonate with people once they stop judging her by her weight. I knew there would have to be more to her than what she appeared to be at first glance but the amount of her growth was astonishing. I was incredibly proud of her as she came into her own.
Her story took many twists and turns that kept surprising me. Just when I thought she would settle into one place/story, everything would suddenly change and I would read along anxiously to see how she would handle this new challenge. Through insecurity, heartbreak, physical trials, and mental challenges, Elisa consistently rose to the occasion and kept me interested in her story.
This book wrapped up pretty nicely but there's plenty of room for sequels. I'm starting to really hate gaping cliffhangers, so that was a huge plus for me! I'll keep reading Elisa's story.(less)
Seraphina is working at the royal court when a prince is murdered. Even though her country has been at peace with the dragons for decades, many people...moreSeraphina is working at the royal court when a prince is murdered. Even though her country has been at peace with the dragons for decades, many people believe a dragon killed the prince. Tensions start rising in the city just as the dragon ruler is due for a state visit to celebrate the signing of the peace treaty. Seraphina starts investigating what happened to the prince and following up on rumors of a rogue dragon in the countryside. But can she hide her own secrets while ferreting out someone else's?
I honestly hadn't heard of this until my husband decided to buy it for me for my birthday last year. He's a brave man; choosing books that I haven't asked for can go terribly wrong but he picked a winner!
I really liked Seraphina. She's trying so hard to do the right thing for everyone and the secrets that she's keeping are some big ones. She feels bad for lying all the time but she doesn't see any way around it. In her shoes, I wouldn't either. She's a smart girl though and she's much braver than she gives herself credit for. She might not decide to be brave on her own behalf but she's a lion when it comes to looking out for the underdog. I love that about her.
Of course there's a love interest. I'll keep his name to myself. But I loved him too. He's also brave and curious and trying to do the right thing. He has some major twists and turns to deal with and I found his reactions to be pitch perfect. Not immediately accepting but not close-minded either. I like him a lot.
I did not see the ending coming at all! I'm so happy nowadays when I can say that! There's enough closure at the end to satisfy most readers but there's definitely room for a sequel. I've gotten sick of cliffhangers recently (mostly thanks to movies) so that was a relief as well. I'll be eagerly awaiting the next in the series.
A group of comrades-in-arms have almost all gone back to live in the rural area where they came from. Some are faring better than others but they all...moreA group of comrades-in-arms have almost all gone back to live in the rural area where they came from. Some are faring better than others but they all seem to be at a loss as to what to do with themselves now that the war is over. Things change when their long-time leader, Kunessin, finally retires from the military and comes back to ask them to form a colony on an island with him, free from all care. They'll hire some indentured servants, find some wives, and they'll all live happily ever after. The company agrees, they set off, new wives and servants in tow, and find that life on the island is not as easy or as simple as they expected it to be.
This author was very highly recommended to me by an old friend from high school. I haven't seen her in years but I've seen enough of her on Facebook to trust her recommendations. I chose this book to start with because I could easily download it from the library website rather than waiting a week or so for a physical copy of another work to transfer in to my local library. I felt a little hesitation on her part when I said I had picked this book but she didn't actively dissuade me from reading it. She just warned me to make a list of the character names.
Good thing because I couldn't even remember who was whom among the five main characters, much less the wives and servants. It was a losing battle from the get-go. To me, that signals a lack of good characterization. I have read books with much longer lists of characters and never even hesitated as to who they were (A Song of Ice and Fire is the immediate example. I may not remember all the minor characters but there are pages of main characters alone.) A well-developed character will jump off the page at me and lodge in my mind. The General was the only one I could consistently remember in this book.
My friend had also warned me that K. J. Parker's books are not all happiness and sunshine. I believe she actually said something about a high body count at the end. Check. But I can live with that as long as I know how I got there. Not really the case here.
And that leads me to the plot. It meandered around and never could settle on a direction it wanted to go. It was just complication after complication and most of them arose out of nowhere. There are Big Secrets in the past that are alluded to again and again but are left maddeningly unexplored until the very end, by which time I had completely given up on everything.
I'll try this author again (my friend really recommended Devices & Desires and The Hammer) but I can't bring myself to recommend this book myself. Being centered around relationships developed in the military, maybe readers who can relate or who enjoy that kind of book will enjoy this more than I did.(less)
I've forgotten a lot of details since I read this. I remember that I enjoyed it pretty well but I didn't think it was something that would stick with...moreI've forgotten a lot of details since I read this. I remember that I enjoyed it pretty well but I didn't think it was something that would stick with me. I was obviously right. I liked the cop and I liked Eilidh (which I kept pronouncing "Eyelid" in my head, driving myself crazy). I don't think I really knew how everything was going to play out. It was an entertaining enough read on the elliptical machine but I won't be continuing with the series.(less)
I saw and loved the short film long before I read this book. I was a little anxious when my husband bought the book for me because I wasn't quite clea...moreI saw and loved the short film long before I read this book. I was a little anxious when my husband bought the book for me because I wasn't quite clear which came first, and would I really like the book as much as the film?
I needn't have worried.
The two are amazingly similar, both being charming and whimsical and just perfect for any reader. I highly recommend this story in any form.(less)
Rosemary Bliss feels incredibly guilty; she lost her family's magical cookbook to her evil Aunt Lily and now everything in their hometown of Calamity...moreRosemary Bliss feels incredibly guilty; she lost her family's magical cookbook to her evil Aunt Lily and now everything in their hometown of Calamity Falls just feels drab. To make matters worse, Aunt Lily is everywhere Rose turns--on the TV, on the radio, and now on the grocery store shelves with Lily's Magic Ingredient. Something has to be done.
Rose and her older brother Ty sneak onto the set of Lily's TV show, where Rose challenges Lily to a bake-off. Basically, whoever wins the prestigious Gala des Gâteaux Grands in Paris gets to keep the magical Bliss Family Cookery Booke. With an assortment of Bliss family members, talking animals, and magic ingredients, Rose flies off to Paris to do her best in the world-class competition.
I still love this series! I hate to cook, but I have a sweet tooth that won't quit, so baking is right up my alley. The Bliss family are all so quirky and endearing that I just have to love them. Earnest Rose who feels more responsibility for everything than she should; charming Ty, trying to win over all the ladies; funny Sage with his microphone hoping to mine his conversations for hstandup comedy gold; and little bewitched Leigh, spouting off Lily's praises at every turn. They're funny and adorable and so loyal to each other. I just love them.
The other characters are great too. Balthazar Bliss, a many-times-great grandfather, is roped in to help and he's cranky and funny. His talking cat, Gus, is delightfully sarcastic but comes through when he's needed. A talking mouse, Jacques, finds himself involved as well and discovers that his bravery is much bigger than his tiny body. They all add to the fun of this magical little book.
The Blisses need magical ingredients if they're to have any hope of beating Aunt Lily, so they set off to search through some of Paris's most well-known landmarks. The Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the catacombs... I enjoyed reading about The City of Light through young Rose's eyes. And meeting another great cast of characters. What is the secret behind Mona Lisa's smile? What do Notre Dame's gargoyle's get up to at midnight? You'll know after reading this.
For all the light-heartedness, I like that there is a message hidden within these pages. Rose learns a lot about self-confidence and the value of family as she competes and I think a lot of girls will learn something right along with her.
This series is funny and magical and I highly recommend it. Middle grade girls should definitely enjoy it, but I think interested boys would find it entertaining as well.
Thanks to the author for sending me a copy for review.(less)
The Bliss family has a secret. A lot of bakeries say that their pastries are like magic but their pastries really are magic. Oldest daughter Rose love...moreThe Bliss family has a secret. A lot of bakeries say that their pastries are like magic but their pastries really are magic. Oldest daughter Rose loves helping out in the kitchen but she hasn't been allowed to do much more than fetch ingredients and she's never been entrusted with any magical recipes. But when both parents are called away for a week to help a neighboring town, they leave Rose with a key to the magic recipe book. Coincidentally, their long-lost "aunt" Lily rolls into town just as the Bliss parents are leaving and she seems awfully curious about the bakery...
What a cute read! I just loved it! Rose is the responsible one in the family and it's starting to wear on her. She's a little tired of watching her brothers have all the fun while she isn't even allowed to do any real baking. Anyone can bake a scone; Rose wants to bake a love muffin.
The misadventures the Bliss children have while their parents are gone just amused me to no end. Their solutions to their problems are more and more creative but they just cause bigger and badder problems.
Aunt Lily is just enough of a suspicious character to keep Rose on alert, but she's smooth enough that Rose is able to forget about her for little bits of time too. It's obvious she's up to something, it's just not entirely obvious how she intends to do it.
The siblings learn lessons about family and listening to their parents and trusting their instincts and each other, but the book does not beat you over the head with them.
This was cute enough that I looked forward to getting on the elliptical machine so I'd have time to read it. Need I say more? I'll be searching out the second book soon.(less)
When The Wish Giver comes to the Coven Tree church social, four townspeople exchange 50 cents each for one wish. They can't even begin to dream how th...moreWhen The Wish Giver comes to the Coven Tree church social, four townspeople exchange 50 cents each for one wish. They can't even begin to dream how their wishes will affect their lives.
I remember loving this book when I was in about fifth grade. I couldn't remember a thing about the story but I remember how much I loved this book.
It held up well! As a young reader, I doubt that I noticed that the story is a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for, I just liked the fanciful way that the wishes turned out. Polly wishes that people would like her and smile when they see her. Rowena wishes that a handsome traveling salesman would put down roots in their town. Adam wishes for water all over his parents' farm. They get what they wish for, all right!
This was a quick, easy read for me and I'm pretty sure I smiled all the way through, reliving the magic I felt as a young reader. The illustrations by Andrew Glass are great too. There's one picture of the traveling salesman in particular that still sends a chill down my spine!
I wholehearted recommend this for younger readers. It's a fun story that would be a delight to read aloud with a child.(less)
All our familiar storybook characters have had to leave their homelands because an evil creature known as the Adversary has destroyed them. They have...moreAll our familiar storybook characters have had to leave their homelands because an evil creature known as the Adversary has destroyed them. They have all converged on New York. In order to fit into mainstream society, there are some pretty stringent rules in effect. Snow White is effectively in control but her right-hand "man" is Bigby, otherwise know as the Big Bad Wolf.
Jack the Giant Killer comes tearing into their headquarters one day with a story of finding Rose Red, his on-again off-again girlfriend and Snow's sister, missing from her apartment, which is covered in blood. Has there been a murder? Who did it?
The first thing that struck me is how very much Snow White in the opening pages of this graphic novel looks like Regina/The Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time. My husband was even struck by it when I showed him. I know that doesn't have much to do with anything, I just found it amusing.
Anyway, I really liked this story and the world that Willingham has built here. I am a fan of Once Upon a Time, so the idea of storybook characters living in our world is familiar to me. Still, this take is slightly different (and first--I just came to them backwards). They aren't cut off from the world in a little out-of-the-way town; most of them are living in the heart of one of the biggest cities in the world. I liked seeing how their personalities allowed them to thrive or not in that setting.
I was surprised by the mystery and had absolutely no idea "whodunnit." I was also amused by the characters gathering at the end for the classic "parlor scene" so familiar to fans of the cozy mystery.
I liked the art a lot as well. I liked the whole book, but what really stood out to me were the--frontispieces?--for each chapter. I spent a long time looking at each one to make sure that I didn't overlook some subtle detail. They were amazing.
I don't have a whole lot else to say. I like the tension between Bigby and Snow White and I'm interested to see where that goes. I felt this was a strong beginning to a series that will probably get better with time.
I recommend this is you're a fan of retold fairy tales. I've already picked up the second book from the library.(less)
A young woman, out wandering the streets after a fight with her boyfriend, stumbles upon The Night Bookmobile. The books inside are strangely familiar...moreA young woman, out wandering the streets after a fight with her boyfriend, stumbles upon The Night Bookmobile. The books inside are strangely familiar. The librarian tells her that the library contains everything she's ever read in her lifetime. All too soon, dawn comes, the librarian escorts her out the door, and the young woman feels bereft. She can't get The Night Bookmobile out of her mind and she starts to look for it everywhere, choosing her books with the idea of rounding out her collection.
I love this premise. Can you imagine seeing all the words you've ever read in one place? They aren't just books. They're cereal boxes and everything. In my library, that reviled copy of Lord of the Flies would be buried somewhere at the back on a bottom shelf while the works of L. M. Montgomery and Charles de Lint would be well-worn but in places of honor at eye-level at the front. How awesome would that be?
But almost from the beginning, Niffenegger rings a faint warning bell and it gets louder throughout this short piece. It's very well done, and while it's a warning that most devoted readers need to hear, that doesn't mean that I liked what it led to. Holy cow. I flipped forward and back a few times, just to make sure I'd really read what I thought I'd read. I had. Man. I love my books, but...man.
And that's all I'll say about that.
Read it for the idea, but don't expect to be charmed at the end.(less)