Enchanted August certainly lives up to its 'modern retelling' angle - there are entire conversations quoted verbatim here that were from The EnchantedEnchanted August certainly lives up to its 'modern retelling' angle - there are entire conversations quoted verbatim here that were from The Enchanted April! There were a few moments when I felt a little iffy about that, obviously there would be similarities, but here the original story was lifted in its entirety and transplanted to present day Maine. Instead of a castle, it's a giant cottage. Instead of a carriage bringing them to their destination, it's a ferry. Rather than send letters home to their families, they shoot off texts and e-mails when the spotty wi-fi cooperates. While I wasn't entirely comfortable with such minor tweaking, I ultimately enjoyed this one and it makes for a perfect beach read. There's enough substance to sink your teeth into without being overwhelmed - Enchanted August is equally as enchanting as its predecessor with a fun, modern twist and a delightful surprise I didn't see coming!
While I enjoyed Ana of California, I'm not sure I enjoyed it as a retelling and, truth to told, I don't believe I would have read it had Anne not beenWhile I enjoyed Ana of California, I'm not sure I enjoyed it as a retelling and, truth to told, I don't believe I would have read it had Anne not been attached. As a separate entity, it works just fine - though I'm not entirely sure how I would classify this. I instinctively want to label it Adult (and the fact that it doesn't come from a Young Adult imprint and features a Readers Guide furthers that instinct) but it clearly has a YA feel that could make this one an excellent crossover hit. Fans of the original honestly could go either way - personally I liked this book a lot, but not as a retelling. It's fully capable of standing on its own and readers unfamiliar with Anne will have no trouble diving in.
If you want a fairy tale retelling done right, look no further than Bitter Greens. Forsyth is a master at what she does. This novel was released earlyIf you want a fairy tale retelling done right, look no further than Bitter Greens. Forsyth is a master at what she does. This novel was released early last year in the UK and Australia, but the wait has been SO worth it. If you’re looking for unforgettable characters, settings that are every bit as fascinating as its inhabitants, and some good old-fashioned magic, Bitter Greens is the novel for you.
After the recent loss of her mother, Ophelia travels with her sister and father to a museum where her fatherthis review will go live on the blog01/30
After the recent loss of her mother, Ophelia travels with her sister and father to a museum where her father is working on a sword exhibit. While exploring the various floors one afternoon, Ophelia discovers a mysterious boy who's locked behind a door. He tells her his name was taken from him three hundred years ago by a group of wizards and that he had been sent to defeat the Snow Queen. Being a child whose beliefs lie in science rather than tales, Ophelia initially shrugs him off - this boy doesn't look a day older than she does yet he insists he's 300? As she hears more of his stories, however, she comes to realize there might be something to them after all. Unfortunately time is running out and the pair only have three days to beat the evil Snow Queen before the world ends.
As much as I wanted to love this one, I just couldn't get into it. I should know better than to automatically leap at comparisons, yet the first mention of Roald Dahl had me hooked. While the similarities were abundant and clear, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy would have needed something more for it to work.
Throughout the book, Boy's own story is told and these chapters were my favorite. There was definitely a fairy tale-like quality to them that I loved and the giant owls, the wizards, the King - they were all so vivid and full of character. Back in the present, however, I couldn't connect with Ophelia's story. Numerous times her mother talks to her and even after reading I'm still unsure as to whether that was real or if it was all in Ophelia's head (with this story both options are entirely plausible).
Toward the end I was skimming more than reading and the big fight scene was over in such a rush it felt completely pointless. I had high expectations for Ophelia and the Real Boy and, sadly, they fell flat. Despite my lackluster feelings, I do think this book will find its fans and I'm disappointed I was not one of them....more
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club had so much going for it and seemed perfectly suited to my tastes, but couldn't pull off the task of creating strongThe Girls at the Kingfisher Club had so much going for it and seemed perfectly suited to my tastes, but couldn't pull off the task of creating strong characters. While it's a joy to have a book entertaining enough to read in a sitting, there's a lot to be said when you can't tell any of the characters apart from one another.
Everyone knows the evil Captain Hook, the villain of Neverland. What Alias Hook delivers is the tale of Jamie Benjamin Hookbridge, the eleven-year-old boy obsessed with ships. James Hookbridge, the charming young man who enjoyed women and drink and was in no hurry to settle down. The curse that cast him a devil, the boy who haunts him day and night, and his only chance at a way out.
I'm a big fan of retellings. A big fan. When I first heard about a retelling that focused on Captain Hook, the story that told his side, I couldn't contain myself. This was a story for me. Unfortunately, after an extremely strong start, I quickly found myself losing focus; Alias Hook lost its steam hardly a quarter of the way into the story.
Hook's childhood was fascinating and I loved these early alternating chapters between his life in London in the late 1600s and his hellish existence in Neverland in (what turns out to be) 1950. I'm a total sucker for a good backstory and I think it's crucial to a successful retelling. Hook's time spent with his father, his passion for the sea, even his early adulthood when he was often found in a saloon with his uppercrust pals or entertaining ladies in a seedy brothel. These windows into just who this man was made the story for me. I'll take some good old-fashioned character exploration over action scenes any day of the week.
Unfortunately, once his backstory was established and there were no longer any of those lovely looks into his previous life - his mortal life - I found it was a struggle to continue. There was a woman Hook loved, though he secretly wasn't looking forward to a life at home with a wife and children. He took to the seas and never returned. A dark curse was placed upon him, sending him to a boy's fantasy world where he would forever be tormented and challenged. Two centuries later - two centuries worth of shipmates, Lost Boys, Wendys, and Pan's antics - Hook discovers something new to Neverland: a woman.
Stella Parrish was a nurse who aided wounded soldiers in the Second World War. When that world became too unbearable, she sought the refuge of her childhood dreams and soon found herself in a place she immediately recognized from her storybooks. Naturally she doesn't believe Hook is really the Captain Hook, nor does she take Pan's word as truth; he's just a silly boy, a child. What power could he possibly wield? It's not until she witnessed firsthand just how deadly Pan's games are that she comes to realize this isn't silly, this isn't a game. For centuries Pan has acted out his heroic fantasies while Hook is predestined to lose every single time. While he is never fatally harmed (despite his longing for release from this dreadful place), his men, mere mortals, die for Lost Boys grow up to become men and Pan would never allow grown-ups to plague his world.
Stella's arrival is met with confusion - if Pan's in charge and he adamantly refuses to allow adults, just how did a grown woman appear? Hook takes her aboard his ship in an attempt to protect her and possibly gain the upper hand on Pan for once (Hook reasons that Stella made her way to Neverland without Pan's knowledge and he won't pass up any advantage he could have over the boy). Over time the two become close and, yeah, I wasn't at all surprised by the romance - anyone reading this book should not be surprised. The only woman in Neverland and the first woman Hook has seen in over two hundred years? Yeah.
There's lovely homage paid to J. M. Barrie. Although he'd long since passed by Stella's arrival, Hook remembers him as Pan's Scotch Boy. Barrie was one of the Lost Boys and when he returned to our world and grew up, a part of him retained those childhood memories. In his recollections, however, Barrie viewed Peter as a great leader, as all Lost Boys do, thus making Peter Pan beloved and renowned while Hook was demonized.
While I felt the story began to drag once James became Hook, I was never not interested. I certainly wasn't nearly as invested in the story as I had been in the beginning, leading to it taking nearly two weeks to read when I typically get through a book in two or three days. By the halfway mark I found myself skimming over the longer passages, usually those scenes where Hook was lamenting Stella's absence or discussing matters with his men. A large part of the book was slow-going and as much as I love a story that takes its time, Alias Hook didn't have enough to keep me turning the pages. Many nights I only got through a chapter - two if they were short. Although I wasn't as in love with Alias Hook as I had hoped, I like the idea behind it and I loved the look into Captain Hook's life before Neverland. His quest for redemption, for death, captivated me and the ending is open to a variety of interpretations. And, really, the cover is seriously spectacular in person. The colors are astoundingly vivid!...more
How awesome does this sound: the Prince Charming we all know and love isn't one man, but an entire family. Tthis review will go live on the blog10/11
How awesome does this sound: the Prince Charming we all know and love isn't one man, but an entire family. The Charming title is passed down from generation to generation - and these men aren't your everyday Prince. They're highly trained assassins, capable of taking down the toughest dragon and nastiest witch.
While pregnant, John Charming's mother was bit by a werewolf. John came into this world as the one thing his family was trained to hunt: a monster. As a child John showed no signs of being anything other than human. Perhaps it was a fluke; John might just be safe after all. Unfortunately, puberty struck. If you think it's hard on humans, well, you can imagine what it was like for John. While he doesn't sprout fur or fangs, he does have a heightened sense of smell and strong urges to kill. So far he's managed to keep a low profile, working at a bar and leading a rather ordinary life. That is until the day a vampire walked into the pub.
I wanted to be head-over-heels for Charming. This book sounds like it would be the ultimate Leah Novel; it has all the makings of a story perfectly suited for me. Sadly that wasn't the case. I'd like to think I'm fairly lenient to the start of new series. I understand there's a certain amount of world-building that needs to be done, especially for sci-fi/fantasy. That said, Charming was nothing but one massive info-dump - usually right in the middle of a big action scene.
I made it roughly halfway through this one before setting it aside. Charming was by no means a bad book - in fact I quite enjoyed it! I plan on revisiting it one day when I have more time (and patience) to devote to Charming's world....more
Dead flesh and sharpened scalpels didn't bother me. I was my father's daughter, after all. My nightmares were made of darker things.
After a fairly lackluster start, I'm thrilled to say that 2013's books are picking up very nicely. I've said it before and I'll say it again (and again and again): I love retellings. I don't know what it is about them, but I can't get enough. Luckily for me, it seems the rest of the reading world feels the same way; retellings aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
The Madman's Daughter is a new take on The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells. The original brought the subject of vivisection - dissection on a living animal - to the attention of the public, and this new tale expands on it flawlessly.
An older gentleman came by once a week like clockwork, and Mother would send me out for chocolate biscuits in the cafe downstairs. He wore strong cologne that masked a pungent, stale smell, but Mother never said anything about it. That's how I knew he must be rich - no one ever says the rich stink.
Juliet Moreau is sixteen and one scolding away from living on the streets. Her childhood had been a lavish one: her father was the best surgeon in all of England until the scandal struck. Once Dr. Moreau left his family, Juliet's mother sold everything she could - including her body - in order to keep up with their lifestyle.
Once death took Mrs. Moreau, Juliet had nowhere to go. Thankfully there was still one of her father's friends who hadn't turned his back on the family and found Juliet a job at the university. Scrubbing bloodstains was far from the life Juliet knew, but it was far better than the alternative.
It is a nighttime dare that changes Juliet's life and spreads whispers through her mind that maybe, just maybe, her father might still be alive. England has nothing left for her, and with Montgomery - the former servant of the family - and Balthasar - a sweet, but horribly disfigured man - Juliet leaves the continent and sails to Australia in search of the truth.
Memories of my father flooded me. As a surgeon, blood had been his medium like ink to a writer. Our fortune had been built on blood, the acrid odor infused into the very bricks of our house, the clothes that we wore.
To me, blood smelled like home.
The Madman's Daughter was everything I hoped and then some. It's creepy and horrifying. Countless passages were so expertly written that I read them multiple times. There was one downfall to the story however: the love triangle.
I've been reading YA for quite some time, so love triangles aren't new to me. That said, I'm still not a fan of the romance taking over the story. I wanted more monsters, not moments behind waterfalls!
The two love interests were like night and day. Montgomery grew up with Juliet and was the family's servant. When Dr. Moreau disappeared, so did Montgomery. Now he's back and Juliet's childhood crush is back in full-force. Edward Prince is clearly of high society. He's found stranded at sea and from the moment the two meet there's a strange (yet undeniable) attraction.
Juliet bounces between the two and can't figure out her feelings. One paragraph she's thinking of one boy and in the next the other boy takes hold of her thoughts. Personally, I could have done without the romance.
The horrors that await Juliet on the island are unimaginable. Dr. Moreau had been experimenting with animals in an attempt to develop a creature that could walk, talk, and think like a human. Balthasar, one of the doctor's creatures, was easily my favorite and toward the end I truly felt for him and his fate. Ajax is Balthasar's polar opposite: while Balthasar is sweet and shy, Ajax is cold and calculating. He was the doctor's greatest success. Until the day Ajax became too smart. Now that blood has been shed, the islanders' animal senses are being awakened.
Maybe we weren't wicked, but there was something stained, something torn, in the fabric of our beings.
The Madman's Daughter is truly unforgettable. There was a twist at the end that I wasn't expecting at all and I'm definitely excited to see how it'll play out in the next book! This is one you definitely do not want to miss!...more
I wanted monsters. Instead I got an 18 year-old sex god and a deer with a limp.
Broken was hailed as a fresh, new retelling of Frankenstein. That alone was enough to command my attention. I'm a huge sucker for retellings and they're certainly in abundance these days. That there was a Frankenstein retelling... I couldn't pass it up.
Unfortunately Broken is a classic example of an intriguing idea with a horrible execution (something I've dubbed the Matthew Pearl effect). Broken is a typical YA romance - awful poetics (and the fastest case of insta-love I've ever seen) included.
A few short months ago Emma Gentry lost her boyfriend Daniel in a horrific accident. Since then she's retreated into herself, sleeping in his hoodie every. single. night. and hanging out at the local cemetery where she feels his presence. Emma's haunted by his memory and when she closes her eyes all she can see is Daniel's broken, bloody body.
All of that changes when a new boy, Alex Franks, shows up at school. There's something familiar about him and his mannerisms that Emma can't quite shake. Why does he remind her so much of Daniel? Why does he call her by the nickname Daniel gave her?
Ugh. Really, that's all I have to say. Broken was one steaming pile of meh. Emma stubbornly refuses to let go of Daniel until Alex shows up. Naturally he's got a jawline to die for and amazing cheekbones. And don't forget that brooding, mysterious aura! I wonder if the author has ever read Frankenstein. But of course she has! Alex has scars all over his body, guys. See how wretched and horrifying he is?? Not at all. In fact, Emma muses - multiple times - over those scars and how hot they are.
Emma is a typical girl who sits at the Theater Nerds lunch table. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why she was the sole piece of gossip. She wasn't a popular cheerleader, but she also wasn't a part of the out crowd. Somehow there's a new rumor about her everyday and I just didn't get it.
The fact that Alex's last name is FRANKS, his father is a crazed doctor, and the high school is SHELLEY HIGH never raised an eyebrow. For an English project, Emma has to read Dracula and other classic gothic novels. If those books exist in this world, wouldn't Frankenstein exist as well?
I could go on and on with my list of grievances: Emma only loves Alex because Daniel is a part of him, certain elements are introduced (Alex's ex-girlfriend, for instance) only to never be discussed again, etc etc.
I'll admit that at the very end I was interested. All the talk about memory fusion in tissue was great. Sadly, by that point, I was reading Broken just to finish. I don't think I could have handled one more page detailing Emma's school day - including a play-by-play of each class - or her on-going text conversations.
When all is said and done, Broken is 250 pages of overly dramatic high school days (and don't forget the coffee shop!) with a few chapters that were relatively interesting. If you're looking for a creepy monster tale, look elsewhere....more
I finished Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm last night and I've been chewing over this review since then. The summary isn't exactly correct: Pullman collected his favorites, but apart from a few tiny details, he left the stories intact. Being a Pullman newbie (Matt's determined to get me to read His Dark Materials and I swear I will!), this wasn't the best way to get a feel for his writing.
I've struggled in the past with reviews, but this one takes the cake. I'm seriously at a loss here, guys.
Pullman shares the tale and at the end lists the ATU class, similar tales, the source (more often than not, a family friend of the Grimms told the tale), and then gives his thoughts. This I enjoyed immensely! The reader is provided a little peek into Pullman's mind as he discusses the moral of the story or, in some cases, why he wholeheartedly disagreed with the judgement passed (be it punishment or reward). Also, for the few stories he expanded on, Pullman explains his addition and what it brought to the story.
Admittedly, many of these fairy tales were completely new to me. I obviously was familiar with the well-known tales (Snow White, Rapunzel, Rumplestiltskin), but there were countless others I had the pleasure of reading for the first time (The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers, The Singing Bone).
While reading, I quickly came to the conclusion that this is not a book to be read in a sitting. It needs to be chipped away at a little at a time and over the course of far more than a weekend. By the halfway mark I was getting a little bored with the repetition: unequivocally good farmer/miller/soldier is sent away from his home, meets up with a witch/giant/the Devil, passes multiples tests of bravery and strength, and is rewarded with the hand of a princess.
And guys, if insta-love is not your thing, stay away. Seriously.
That said, the fairy tales in this book were the absolute perfect length. I think only one or two were longer than ten pages, with the majority being around 5. This made reading on my lunchbreak/during commercials very easy and led to me finishing the book much sooner than I had expected.
Fans of the recent surge in popularity of shows like Grimm & Once Upon a Time will be sure to enjoy this book as well as fairy tale newbies (is there such a thing??) Pullman's collection features an excellent variety of stories and there's something in it for everyone. Tales of revenge, love, murder, hope. Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm is a book that's sure to be cherished and revisited for years to come....more
I am a HUGE fan of retellings and, lucky for me, there's no shortage of them these days. Fairy tale retellings are a dime a dozen, but I haven't come across a Mexican retelling of the Odyssey before and couldn't wait to dive right in.
Summer of the Mariposas (butterflies in Spanish, and that's just the first of dozens of words sprinkled throughout the book) tells the tale of the five Garza girls, cinco hermanitas: Odilia is the oldest and the narrator of the story; Juanita, the second oldest and the most headstrong; Velia and Delia are the twins, connected by their own bond, yet just as close to their other sisters; and Pita, the baby of the family.
Due to their Papa running out on the family, the girls' beloved Mama has been struggling to make ends meet and, as a result, the girls are more often than not left to their own devices. One day while they're swimming in their favorite spot, they spot a body drifting along in the current. Unsure of what to do, the girls decide to bring the body back to his family. With a little help from ancient Aztec goddesses and Llorona, the five sisters leave Texas and journey into Mexico.
While Summer of the Mariposas deals with highly fantastic elements (the girls battle witches, chupacabras, and trickster demons, to name a few), this is ultimately a story about family and bonds that can never be broken.
I absolutely adored this book. Everything about it, from the sisters and magic to that GORGEOUS COVER (!!), Summer of the Mariposas was a complete homerun. The imagery was beautiful, the wording was remarkable, the characters were fleshed out so well I felt as though I knew them.
Definitely keep an eye out for this book. You won't be disappointed....more
Tell me a book is comparable to Neil Gaiman and I'm all over it. Tell me a story flows just like a Neil Stephenson novel and I'll drop everything I'm doing. Tell me the writer is similar to Philip Pullman and I'll race to the closest bookstore to grab a copy of their book.
Unfortunately, Alif the Unseen didn't enchant me nearly as much as it did other readers. It certainly wasn't a bad book - not in the least! However, it definitely started out a bit slow for me before things really took off. To me, rather than comparing the novel to Gaiman or Stephenson, I see it as more of a Dan Brown novel set in the Middle East with a little magic thrown in. Now, granted, others might balk at the Dan Brown comparison, but I don't see it as anything negative. His novels are all extremely fast-paced and entertaining and I can't recall a moment in Alif the Unseen where I felt the story dragged.
Alif is a 23-year old hacker working for whoever asks: feminists, communists, Islamists. Because the Hand keeps a close watch on all Internet activity, Alif goes to great lengths to protect both himself and his clients. Unfortunately, he has a momentary lapse in judgment (naturally brought on by a girl) and creates a computer program that leads to disastrous results. Alif quickly finds himself deemed a terrorists and wanted by the government.
Along with his childhood friend Dina, Alif discovers himself on the doorstep of a jinn: Vikram the Vampire. As a good-bye, the girl Alif loves gave him a book, Alf Yeom (or, The Thousand and One Days), a book recounting the jinn's history and tales. After teaming up with an American woman (who Vikram may or may not be in love with), it's revealed the book is the long-lost original. 700 years old. What's more, the book is true. Jinn are real as Vikram's existence proves.
Interspersed throughout the book were snippets of tales from The Thousand and One Days and those were an absolute joy to read. I'm a huge fan of age-old fairy tales and fables and these were great.
The Big Battle toward the end felt a bit rushed to me and it seemed like a lot of the technical ~coding~ explanations were simply glossed over and told as a matter-of-fact (Alif typed so-and-so and this happened).
Despite not falling madly in love with Alif the Unseen, I enjoyed it very much! Once I got into the swing of things, I devoured the book in just a few days....more
Princess Alyrra hails from a tiny little kingdom filled with lovely forests. Despite her royal status, Alyrra doesn’t exactly have the life of a princess. Her mother, the Queen, couldn’t care less about her daughter, and Alyrra’s brother is physically abusive. The only friends she has are the servants and her horse, Fleet Wind.
One day, the king from a neighboring kingdom shows up and Alyrra learns she is to wed Prince Kestrin, a man she has never met, and move to a land she has never seen (and learn an entirely new language). Naturally, she isn’t happy with this plan, but her troubles have only just started.
Along her journey to meet Kestrin, Alyrra ventures off into the woods with her companion, Valka (daughter of a lord and a girl who detests Alyrra and wants to seek revenge for something that happened when they were children). As they stop to get some water a rather nasty witch makes good on her pact with Valka. Suddenly Valka and Alyrra have switched bodies and now it is Valka (in Alyrra’s body) who will marry a prince while using her new-found status to cast Alyrra off as nothing more than a goose girl.
Thorn is less than 200 pages, yet there is so much that happens! Alyrra – who adopts the name Thorn – was an extremely likeable heroine, something I’ve unfortunately found lacking in most YA. Regardless of the punishments doled out to her, she doesn’t complain and works through her troubles. She decides to make the most of her new position in life and actually looks forward to getting a fresh start.
The secondary characters were all marvelous. Laurel, Violet, Falada, Red Hawk, there were tons and I adored every single one. What was such a joy to see what that they all had their own individual personality. At not point did I feel as though I was reading about some stock, cardboard character.
My only qualm with Thorn is that there are many questions I have left unanswered. There were people who showed up for a few scenes and then were never mentioned again. Certain magical elements left me a little confused. I would have liked to see a few things better explained or at least wrapped up nicely.
Shockingly enough, my other issue lies with the romance! This is NOT a case of insta-love, so that definitely received a thumbs up from me. However, after all Kestrin and Alyrra go through together – particularly that last battle! – it’s disappointing that there’s only a hug and one moment of hand-holding.
When all is said and done, Thorn is a very quick read and extremely entertaining!...more
2012 is the year of retellings and until now, I can't think of any other retelling of Hansel and Gretel. The moment I heard about this book, I desperately needed to read it. Luckily I was provided with an ARC (thank you, thank you, thank you!!!) and were it not for work - and, trust me, I was seriously tempted to call off - I would have finished The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy in one sitting.
Lorelei Robinson is an eleven year old girl harboring a terrible secret. Since the death of her mother a year earlier, she's felt alone and ignored by her older brother and father. And her new stepmother Molly is an absolute terror.
When her school burns down, there's talk of where to send the now-schooless children. Over the weekend a new school suddenly is built and the only one who seems to notice just how quickly it appeared is Lorelei. Despite the costs of a private school, Lorelei's father agrees to check it out (much to the dismay of Molly; she'd much rather spend that money on herself).
Splendid Academy is unlike any other school. Not only does it have a pretty fantastic playground, but there are hardly any rules and it's nearly impossible to get in trouble. Students are free to wander the halls or leave their classroom if a particular lesson doesn't interest them. There are bowls of candy on every desk. Multiple recesses a day. Feel like playing with your phone instead of learning math? Go right ahead!
Even with these unbelievable perks, Splendid Academy's claim to fame is the food. Oh, that food. Students are encouraged to eat as much as they'd like and upon touring the school, they were asked about their favorite foods. In many cases, students eat better at school than they do at home.
The only one who seems to suspect something strange is going on is Andrew, a boy in Lorelei's class. Andrew is overweight and over the summer his mother had sent him off to camp. It was there he learned about controlling his eating and how to avoid cravings. While all the other students are stuffing their faces with plate after plate of food, Andrew is able to fight the temptation - and winds up dealing with the repercussions of going against the plans the school has for him.
Without giving too much away - although, given this book is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, what do you think will happen? - The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is a dark, delightful tale. I tore through this book, not just because of the quick pace, but because it was seriously that good. This book is described as Hansel and Gretel meets Coraline and that alone should send readers running to preorder it.
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is the reason I love Middle Grade. :)...more
Prince Charming has no idea how to use a sword; Prince Charming has no patience for dwarfs; Prince Charming has an irrational hatred of capes.
Every once in a while you'll come across a book so magical, so wonderful that you think about it long after you've reached the end. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is that book. Part of me wants to end the review here and now and force all of you to go out and buy a copy. It was that good.
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom tells the real story of the Princes Charming - yes, the Prince Charming we all know and love wasn't one guy. In fact, it turns out there were four. And their names definitely weren't Charming. Nope. Frederic, Duncan, Liam, and Gustav saved the day and got the girl only to have their identities forgotten.
Cinderella's Charming, Prince Frederic, isn't your typical hero. He would much rather have a nice picnic or look at art than face down hoards of monsters (it would ruin his clothes!). Prince Liam plays the hero to a fault. Unfortunately, his kingdom only praises him because his parents arranged a marriage with Sleeping Beauty and her kingdom is beyond rich. Snow White grew a little tired of Prince Duncan's...quirks. Any animal he sees he decides to name (dwarfs included - Flik, Frak, and Frank - and dubbed his horse Papa Scoots) and is convinced he has magical powers. Lastly, Prince Gustav. He set out to rescue Rapunzel from her tower only to meet a particularly nasty witch and his sixteen older brothers have yet to let him live it down.
"Oh, give me a break," Liam yelled, and stomped his foot in anger. "Why is there a dragon here? Nobody mentioned a dragon!"
When word gets out that the kingdoms' bards have been kidnapped, the princes decide that now is their chance to prove they really are heroes (and, you know, the bards will be so overjoyed they'll write new songs that make the princes look MUCH better). If only it were that simple. Along the way they have to face goblins, trolls, the Bandit King (who is actually only 10, so oh so very terrible), a very well-spoken giant, and even a dragon.
I could seriously go on and on about this book. At 430+ pages, it's definitely a meaty book - especially for MG! - but it could have been 1,000 pages and I would have loved every second. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom had absolutely everything I wanted in a book - including pictures and a map! Christopher Healy is now on my autobuy list. Do yourself a favor and pick this book up. You'll be happy you did....more
Fairy tales & retellings seem to be in right now. There’s been an influx in the number of books, movies, and television shows dealing with fairy tale characters and I fully support this movement. I think it’s awesome and I’m really loving retellings with new takes on familiar stories.
I first came across this book at work a few months ago and it immediately caught my eye. Admittedly, I’m usually not one for an all-female cast of characters, but the artwork was decent enough and I was intrigued by the plot.
Earlier this week I finally sat down and read it. I had read some disappointing reviews and I completely see where the readers were coming from. The entire book could have greatly benefited from some major editing. Entire chapters read more like fanfiction than an actual, published work.
One thing I wasn’t too fond of were the names. Cinderella’s real name is Danielle, Sleeping Beauty is Talia, and Snow White is Ermilina (although she prefers Snow). I did enjoy, however, the world building and the creatures that inhabit it.
Despite being a relatively short book, it took me nearly a week to finish due to the writing. I’m debating whether or not to continue the series – they certainly seem interesting enough, but I’ve learned in the past that a good plot isn’t enough for me if the writing is horrible....more
Everything about this book was perfect. Love, love, love. Easily one of my top reads of the year. & to think it's been on my to read list for ages! I'm so glad I finally hunkered down and gave it a shot.
Once upon a time - for that is how all stories should begin - there was a boy who lost his mother.
The Book of Lost Things takes place in war-torn England. German planes have destroyed a large portion of cities, but the threat of bombs means little to David: his mother is dying. She gets progressively sicker and sicker until one day when David is excused from class for the day. He immediately knew the reason for his early dismissal and blames himself for not being able to save his mother.
Life continues for David and his father and a few months later David is introduced to Rose, his father's new girlfriend (ultimately, wife). They move to the country - the country is safer than the city his father claims - into a large old house that Rose's family owns.
Rose's presence in David's life only serves to remind him of the realization that his mother is gone and he hates her for it. The arrival of David's half-brother Georgie only solidifies that hatred and he turns to his books for comfort.
Stories wanted to be read, David's mother would whisper. They needed it. It was the reason they forced themselves from their world into ours. They wanted us to give them life.
I loved that this book didn't take long at all to get right to the story. One of my biggest peeves is when a book is unbelievably slow, only to finally get to the action two chapters from the end of the book.
The Book of Lost Things wasn't like that one bit. As much as I enjoyed reading about David's homelife - particularly his interactions with his stepmother, Rose - I couldn't contain my excitement when the story delved into the "fairy tale" world. A few times I've talked about how fairy tales and retellings are very much in vogue right now and I loooove that. Matt & I are huge fans of Once Upon a Time and in the show, Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin is a main character. He's by far our favorite in the show and we always go into fangirl mode during his scenes. This book was no different.
And the Crooked Man heard her dreams, because that was where he wandered. His place was the land of the imagination, the world where stories began. The stories were always looking for a way to be told, to be brought to life through books and reading. That was how they crossed over from their world into ours. But with them came the Crooked Man, prowling between his world and ours, looking for stories of his own to create, hunting for children who dreamed bad dreams, who were jealous and angry and proud. And he made kings and queens of them, cursing them with a kind of power, even if the real power lay always in his hands. And in return they betrayed the objects of their jealousy to him, and he took them into his lair deep beneath the castle...
♥ Oh, Rumpelstiltskin. I eagerly anticipated any scene the Crooked Man was in. So, so fantastic. A bit of a confession: during his scenes, I always pictured the Rumpelstiltskin from Once Upon a Time. Robert Carlyle does an incredible job with that role and imagining him as the Crooked Man only made the story that much more creepy and fantastic.
David touched his fingers to the wood, pressing and knocking hoping to find some way of reopening the portal back to his old life, but nothing happened. He almost cried, but he knew that if he began crying, all would be lost. He would just be a small boy, powerless and afraid, far from home.
After a German bomber crashes into his yard, David discovers himself in another world. There are a number of magical and mythical beasts he encounters along the way (trolls, harpies, the seven dwarves), the worst of which were the Loups: human/wolf hybrids. The pack is out to gain control of the kingdom and sees this strange little boy as both a threat and food.
The Woodsman was one of my favorite characters. :) He was such a lovely man and aided David on his quest to the castle after telling him that the king has a book that could potentially help David return to England.
"You mean...they killed her?" asked David. "They ate her," said Brother Number One. "With porridge. That's what 'ran away and was never seen again' means in these parts. It means 'eaten.'" "Um, and what about 'happily ever after?'" asked David, a little uncertainly. "What does that mean?" "Eaten quickly," said Brother Number One.
You won't find a Doc or Dopey here. Instead, the dwarves are numbered and for the brief scene they're in, they definitely made quite an impression. It turns out Snow White is a horrid, horrid girl and the dwarves felt oppressed. It's only natural they would seek revenge... :)
They walked like prisoners who had just been told that the executioner had a little extra time on his hands and could fit in a few more beheadings before he went home for his tea.
The Book of Lost Things had the whole package: great characters, wonderful storytelling, and absolutely beautiful language. The imagery was remarkable and there were so many passages that were simply a pleasure to read.
"I have walked through your dreams," he said. "I know everything that you think, everything that you feel, everything that you fear."
Apart from being an awesome villain, the Crooked Man is downright intriguing. He did and said things that made me think one way, then on the next page he did something that made me feel completely the opposite. I could read an entire book solely about him and would love every minute of it.
It wasn't like this in the stories. Soldiers and knights slew dragons and monsters. They weren't afraid, and they didn't run away from the threat of death.
I loved watching David grow throughout the story. In the beginning he was a lost little boy mourning the loss of his mother, and by the end of the book he's a young man. I've read books where the growing up seems forced and winds up being unbelievable, but that wasn't the case here.
There were so many wonderful things about this book. The twist-that-wasn't-really-a-twist, the supporting characters, the setting, everything about The Book of Lost Things was fantastic. Definitely one of my favorite books I've read this year!...more