Friday, November 20, 2015

Blythewood - Carol Goodman


Blythewood, the first in a series by Carol Goodman, is a Young Adult fantasy novel that everyone will want to pick up and read, stat!  The book takes places at Blythewood Academy, a school for young ladies located in New York's Hudson Valley.  The main character, Avaline Hall, was raised by a single mother and never knew her father.  When Ava's mother dies from a laudanum overdose, Ava is forced to seek employment at Triangle Factory sewing clothes.  Whilst there, she starts seeing a man around town who is familiar to her.  (I'll just leave it at that.)  One day, after seeing him, there is an urgent situation that arises at the factory, and Ava barely gets out alive.  She is rescued by a friend of her grandmothers, and gets accepted to Blythewood academy, where she learns a number of mysterious and magical things. 


I don't want to give away too many things from this novel, so I'll keep the synopsis to what's above, and dive right into what I thought about the book.  I heard about this book a couple weeks ago when I was reading Survive the Night as part of the Penguin Wicked Reads Campaign.  I was curious about the other books that were part of the campaign, and when I stumbled across this one, I knew I had to read it right away.  I checked it out from the library, and from the very first page, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed.  The descriptions of places, the people, the clothes they wear - all wonderful!  There is no lack of wondering how things in the book look - but have no fear: the author still leaves plenty to the readers imagination. 

The characters in the book are all very well done, and each of them stands out with their own distinct personality and flavor.  Never once did I find myself thinking the characters sounded too much alike.  When confronted with adversity or a nasty spirited person, it was great to see how Ava and her friends stood up for each other and defended their friends and fellow students. 

Their is a little love interest in the story, but unlike in some novels, it was not overwhelming, nor was it the primary focus of the novel.  That was nice, as I feel that some books let the love interest control the story. 

Overall, this is a solid 5 star read that people of any age are sure to enjoy!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Girls from SeeSaw Lane - Sandy Taylor


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book through Netgalley.  All thoughts and opinions about this book are my own.
 
 
 
Book: The Girls from SeeSaw Lane
Author: Sandy Taylor
Publisher: Bookotoure
Release Date: December 4, 2015
 
 
The Girls from SeeSaw Lane, by Sandy Taylor, is a look at friendship and heartbreak in 1960's Brighton, England.  The protagonist, Dottie Perks, and her best friend Mary Pickles, have know each other their entire lives.  Mary took Dottie under her wing when they were young, because other people didn't want to hang out with the fat girl.  Mary and Dottie do everything together - they even work together at Woolworths, the local department store. 
 
The primary focus of the book is the relationship that Mary has with Elton, and the one that Dottie has with Ralph.  Mary's relationship with Elton, however, is not much of a real relationship.  He uses her because he knows how she feels about him - so Mary spends most of her time lamenting over him.  Ralph and Dottie, on the other hand, have a wonderful relationship that goes smashingly well until an event happens that changes the entire dynamic between Mary, Dottie, and Ralph.  From there, the novel takes a turn I never would have expected.
 
I enjoyed this book in so many ways.  I think the characters were all really well developed, and it was easy to distinguish between each character.  I like that the book also had diary entries from Mary at the beginning of many of the chapters - it helped give some more insight into what Mary was thinking about things happening in her life.
 
The thing that surprised me the most was what happens to Mary (don't worry, no spoilers.)  I didn't see it happening - and I think this worked well to have it be a surprise.  The twist fit in well with the rest of the book, and made for a sad yet fantastic ending.
 
Overall, this is a book I would recommend to anyone looking for a great read about friendship and love.  You won't be disappointed.
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I am Princess X - Cherie Priest


I am Princess X, by Cherie Priest, is the authors first foray into YA fiction.  The book revolves around two girls - May and Libby.  Libby supposedly gets killed in a car accident with her mom when she is thirteen.  When they first met, May didn't have a lot of friends, and developed a strong friendship with Libby.  They developed a comic together called "I am Princess X."  However, when Libby dies, Princess X dies along with her.  Then, when May is 17, she starts seeing Princess X stickers plastered all over Seattle. 

May is intrigued by these stickers, and goes on a search only to find that there is a huge following for Princess X, a Princess X website, and all manner of other Princess X goodies around.  She doesn't know what to make of this at first, but suspects that either Libby is still alive, or that someone stole there comic stuff.   The rest of the novel leads May into some strange places, puts her in a foot race trying to escape from a crazy driver, and leads her to discover some things about herself. 

I don't want to give too much away, so I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum!  Throughout the novel, May meets several interesting characters including Trick.  Trick is an expert hacker who got kicked out of college because of one of the locations he hacked - but he lets people hire him, and he is instrumental in May's journey.  Trick and May are two of the main characters, so let's talk about them for a minute.  While the plot of the story was interesting, the character development felt low to me.  I felt like there should have been a slight bit more growth, especially in May since she goes through the most things in this book.

There was a decent amount of action in the book.  It was enough to make me want to keep reading.  However, the ending felt predictable.  I knew the "What's going to happen?" from the beginning, but the how do they get there was what kept me reading.  Overall, I'd give this a three star review.  It's a light fluffy mystery, perfect for teens and early 20-somethings.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wicked Reads - Survive the Night: Danielle Vega



 Survive the Night, a novel by author Danielle Vega, is a novel you won't want to miss out on.  It is part of the Wicked Reads Campaign hosted by Penguin Books.   (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher.  All opinions about the book are my own.)

The story opens with  Casey, fresh out of rehab, going to a sleepover at her "parent approved" friends house.  Why only parent approved friends, you ask?  Well, she is a teenager fresh out of rehab - so of course her parents only want her hanging out with good kids.  When Casey gets to the sleepover, she notices how different everyone acts, because they are all a little weirded out by the fact that Casey was in rehab.  

When Casey's friends Shana, Aya, and Julie arrive to take Casey out for the night, she has no idea how wild their night will get.  The Survive the Night rave they attend is just the tip of the iceberg.  During their night, the encounter mayhem, inadvertant druggings, and murder.  

Now, I don't want to give too much away, so that's all you'll get by way of spoilers. I will tell you, however, my thoughts on this book.  I didn't know what to expect when I started reading it.  The plot sounded intriguing, and the description was enough to let me know it would be a little scary.  When I got the book, I ripped open the package and dug in (and I wasn't disappointed.)  The author was raised on horror books by the likes of Stephen King, and her love of scary situations certainly shows in this book.  

I, personally, would say this is a slightly different horror story than Kings, but it's scary nonetheless.  There are situations in the book that made me want to cry out "No, no, dang it, don't do that!"  If you are like me, and you like to read before bed, be prepared: this book may give you case of "did I just see something move outside my window?!"  

I liked Casey and rooted for her the entire book.  I could sense from the beginning that Casey was not that "bad girl" that people thought she was.  She had a personality that seemed so different from Aya, Shana, and Julie's, that it was easy to see why she felt the way she did throughout the book.  Let's just say: she has friends who are much more suited to her personality.  

Overall, if you read this book - you won't be disappointed.  This was definitely a most wicked read!  


I bet you're intrigued by the Wicked Reads! (I know I've already added other books from the Wicked Reads series to my reading list!)  If you're on Twitter, you can get in on a fabulous chat on Friday October 30th at 4 PM.  This fun Twitter chat is being hosted by @mashreads and will feature the following authors:
 
And, in case that wasn't enough, there is also a fun Twitter Ghost story event being held from  October 26th through October 31.  Anyone can participate, and if you're Twitter Ghost Story wins, you have the chance to win a Prize Pack of the featured (wicked) books!  Just type up a spooky story in 140 characters, and include the hashtag  #twitterghoststory!  I'd love to see your ghost stories too: come find me on twitter @magglepie.

Now go on and have some Wicked Fun! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Harry Potter Read-A-Thon

If you follow my blog, or know me in real life, you probably know that I LOVE Harry Potter.  I am a huge Harry Potter Fangirl.  I have always loved the entire series.  So, since it's been a while since I've read my way through the entire series, I thought, "What better way to do that than to do a read-a-thon?"

The Basics:

*The Read-A-Thon will occur from November 1 to December 31.  These are busy months, and doing the event over a two month period gives the participants a chance to take it easy and read at their own pace. 

*You pick the pace.  You can read all the books super quick, or take your time getting through them.  The idea is to just have all seven books finished by the end of December.

*All sign ups must be completed by October 31.  This gives me a chance to create a linkable list of all participants because:

*You are encouraged to go to other participants blogs and cheer them on as they make their way through the books. 

*Check back to this blog regularly, because in addition to writing my thoughts on the books, I will also be having trivia and prizes!  I will also have links to other blogs who are participating in read-a-thon prize giveaways so you can check them regularly as well! 

*Make sure to post updates on your progress on your blog - we may award prizes to people who post regular updates!

Most of all: Just Have Fun!

If you are interested in participating: Fabulous!  You can sign up as a reader using the form below:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/19JtNjULUIA-WOoLy9Txt1UFUeYbJYjloejQuMsxsMa8/viewform?usp=send_form

Be sure to include your name and blog link on the sign up form.


I would like to have prizes as part of the event.  I will be donating a few prizes of my own, which will be posted here on my blog in the coming weeks.  If you are interested in donating a prize, please fill out the form below:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/148tmoi6fWGUFK5S9PGm0X6-bXbfXVqdbC-HrJQHrQvU/viewform?usp=send_form

Monday, September 21, 2015

Drama - Raina Telgmeier


So, it's been a while since I've  read a graphic novel.  Drama seemed like an interesting choice.  It's a shortish graphic novel based off one year in a middle school drama production.  This is going to be a short review.

The drama group is split into people who love to act and audition for every show, and the people who just prefer to be in the background.  Callie, a seventh grader, is a strictly backstage lady.  She loves being involved in set building and lights.  The story follows Callie and her friends as they put together and star in their production for the year.

As you can imagine, the title has a double meaning, since the friends in the novel have their own real life drama.  Their are breakups and make-ups, new discoveries, fights, and all the other stuff that goes along with being in junior high.  The novel covers the span of one school year and is definitely geared towards kids in junior high. 

The characters are well developed and thought out, and all have their own distinct personalities.  The story was quick to read and fun.  If you have a kid who loves the theater or a kid in junior high, have them read this - they are sure to love it.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Testing - Joelle Charbonneau


*SPOILER ALERT*
You know me, inevitably a couple spoilers will make their way into this review.  So, if you don't want any spoilers, wait to read this review.  Otherwise: Enjoy.


The Testing, by author Joelle Charbonneau, takes place in dystopian US, now converted into 14 districts (oops, I mean Colonies.)  Outside of each colony, the land is barren and broken.  The government, based in Tosu City, has developed a system called the Testing, in which they take the smartest candidates from each colony and test them to determine who should go on to receive a University education.  Each candidate is put through a series of written tests, a puzzle test with other candidates, and a test in which they are thrown into an arena - oops, I mean open landscape leading back to Tosu City - where they must fight the remaining candidates in a race for survival.

Cia Vale, a resident of the Five Lakes Colony, has hopes of being part of the Testing.  She succeeds, becoming one of four people from her colony to go on to the testing.  There is no guarantee that her family will see her again.  She and her classmates are carted of to Tosu city to undergo a life altering event that is dotted with mutated animals, hover ships, tracking devices, and murderous classmates.

Does any of this sound familiar?  It should - because this book is basically just a ripoff of Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games.  The only difference is that this book has more "testing" prior to going into the arena - I mean, barren wasteland.
 
In this book, the Five Lakes colony has not had a testing candidate in years (just as District 12 in THG did not have a winner for many years.)  Then Peeta and Katniss - I mean Cia and Tomas - come along, and suddenly Five Lakes Colony has hope.  They have a chance to gain more attention, to send off their students to be tested, to go to university, to help save a failing country.  
 
 Cia and Tomas, as well as two other candidates from their colony, get sent to the testing arena, and put through the first test with the 106 other candidates.  After the first round, there are less than 100 candidates left, and suicide, murder, and more failing grades in the next two rounds leave just over 50 candidates to pass the arena test.  Before going into the final test, each candidate can choose three weapons to bring with them.  They are then launched into the testing area from an underground location (sound familiar?)  They are told to form alliances with at least one other candidate, but are also told not to trust anyone.  

During their almost month in the arena Tomas and Cia fall in love, meet and kill other candidates, get injured, meet mutated animals, and almost die from hunger and dehydration.  They finally make it back to Tosu city and 20 of the 24 remaining candidates get chosen to go on to university.  

This book was well written, but too much of a familiarity with The Hunger games for me to really get into it.  I would have loved the book a lot more had it been more original and unique.  The fighting in the arena, the mutated animals, almost dying from dehydration, the betrayal from others - it was all just too much of a retelling of the Hunger Games, that I can't really give it more than 2 or 3 stars. In addition to the similarities, there was also the paltry love story between Cia and Tomas.  It was flat at best, and seemed to only exist because the author felt like it should be there.  Not all stories have to have a love aspect to them.  

If you like stories that are similar to The Hunger Games, go ahead and give this a shot.  Otherwise, move on to something more original. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss - Max Wirestone

 
***Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.  This is my honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.***
 
 
 
Title: The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
Author: Max Wirestone
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Redhook
 
 
Dahlia Moss has been unemployed for going on two years, and has no prospect.  She lives with her friend Charise, who has very kindly fed and housed Dahlia for two years for free.  Dahlia's luck changes with Jonah, a man she only met once, shows up at her apartment and offers her $2000 to find a sword that was stolen through a MMORPG called Zoth.  Now, I am not a gamer, so I had to look up what MMORPG meant.  It stands for massively multiplayer online role playing game. 
 
Throughout the novel, many things happen that seem utterly and totally outrageous, and in some cases downright unbelievable.  I won't give everything away - let's just say that by the time Dahlia gets shot at and dragged over the edge of a balcony by a crazy lady, I have to wonder how all this stuff could possibly happen to one person in the course of just a few weeks.
 
Anyway, throughout the novel you meet a host of crazy characters.  In addition to Dahlia and Charice, we meet Jonah, who is not around for very long, Kurt, who is generally kind of annoying, and some other people who are mostly referred to by their Zoth names. 
 
If you follow my blog or know me in real life, you may have figured out that I am a not so closet nerd.  So, the nerdy part of this book resonated with me.  However, I am not terribly familiar with online role playing games.  I live in the land of books and movies.  (I mean, Harry Potter and LOTR anyone?!)  But, even though this book was mostly about computer games, it was fun to read none the less. 
 
The story was great - I really loved the idea of melding nerd-dom with mystery.  However, there were some glaring grammatical errors that really pulled me out of the story and made me go "What?"  I appreciated how the characters were each separate from each other, with their own distinct personalities.  The author did a good job of developing the characters throughout the story.  I also appreciated the humor thrown in throughout the book.  Most mystery books don't have the humor aspect, because it doesn't usually fit - but in this book, the humor worked well.
 
Overall - I would give this book a solid three stars.  Five for the story, but one for the grammatical errors. 
 
 
 


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Next Stop: Love - Miranda J. Fox


***DISCLAIMER*** I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts on the book are my own.

Book: Next Stop: Love
Author: Miranda J. Fox
Publisher: Amazon Publishing (Amazon Cross)
Release Date: September 15, 2015

Sophia - a 25 year old recent law school graduate - has been living under the thumb of her controlling mother her entire life.  So she finally leaves and moves to Berlin.  She has an interview on the day of her arrival - and while riding the train, she meets a man who grates on her nerves in more ways than she can count.  Little does Sophia know that this man, Luca Marcs, is about to become her boss.

Sophia attends her interview and begrudgingly accepts that job, if only to prove that she can do it.  In the end, she loves the job, and much more.  Throughout the novel, we meet a host of weird, funny, and in one case, downright nasty characters who make the novel come alive.  There's Aileen, the tattooed 40 year old secretary, Mary, the snide, rude, callous secretary, Mr. Marcs, Luca's overbearing father and the owner of Marcs Entertainment, and Lisa, Sophia's best friend and roommate.

This novella was short and well written - I whipped through it in a day, and enjoyed ever second of it.  Both Luca and Sophia make changes in their lives and work towards being better people throughout the novel.  They come to trust each other in a way I wondered if Sophia ever could.

Even though this book was shortish, I got into it right away, and fell in love with the characters.  I cheered when Luca and Sophia went on their first date.  I was appalled at Mr. Marcs when he attempted to break them up.  I wanted to cry when Sophia believed Mr. Marcs, and tried to end it with Luca.  I laughed out loud when Sophia met Aileen's mom for the first time.  The characters all fit together so well throughout the entire story, and each had their own distinct personalities.

I found the story to be believable and well thought out and structured.  It was funny at the right moments, and I genuinely believed this story could happen.  I would give this book a solid 5 stars.  Get your hands on it as soon as it comes out - you won't be disappointed. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

 
***Spoilers:  If you're one of those people who hasn't read The Maze Runner yet, save this review for later, as there are a few spoilers.  If you don't mind knowing a few things that happen, read on.***
 
 
The Maze Runner, the popular fantasy novel by James Dashner, is certainly worth the read - but make sure you know that it has an open ending and is part of a trilogy.

The book opens with Thomas, our protagonist, being brought to the Glade in an elevator.  He has no memory of anything that has happened to him in the past.  No memory of family, friends, or even his name.  He meets several other people who live in the Glade, including Chuck, Minho, Gally, and Alby, amongst others.  The first day there is eventful and obviously frightening for Chuck.  The next day something even more frightening for the Gladers happens - another person arrives.  However, this person is different - because she's a girl.  She's the first girl the Gladers have ever had, and she's unconscious.  She wakes up briefly to let them know that she's the end.  The last one.  Then she's out again.

I don't want to give too much of this book away, because I really want you to be surprised.  So, as far as the story, I'll tell you this: the very basic premise is that the people in the Glade are trying to get out by solving a maze (which people called Runners go through every day to figure a way out.) 

Throughout the book, people die, survive griever attacks, fight, discover things about themselves, and learn something they never thought they would. 

The characters in the book are fairly well-developed.  The story kept me wondering from beginning to end, just hoping that the next page would be the one where they found a way out.  From the first Wicked beetle to the last griever attack, I couldn't wait to get to the end of the book.  It's dystopian and marvelous - and it's a book that anyone age 14 and older should read! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Misadventures of a Playground Mother - Christie Barlow






***DISCLAIMER*** 
I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Tales of Beedle the Bard


Those of you familiar with the world of Harry Potter have undoubtedly heard of and/or read The Tales of Beedle The Bard.  This cute, fun collection of stories is based in the wizarding world. 

There are five stories in this book:
*The Wizard and the Hopping Pot
*The Fountain of Fair Fortune
*The Warlock's Hairy Heart
*Babbity Rabbity and her Cackling Stump
*The Tale of the three Brothers

The stories are read to wizard kids in the hopes of presenting wizards in a good light, since so many muggle stories tend to make witches and wizards look bad.  The stories fit well with the rest of the Harry Potter books, and give the reader some more insight into what the wizarding world is like.

The Wizard and the Hopping Pot is about a wizard whose father has passed away.  The wizard does not want to help people the way his father did.  He learns, however, through soe magical events with his cauldron, that helping others is really the best thing he can do!

The Fountain of Fair Fortune teaches kids about love and perseverance.  It's a wonderful tale for kids of all ages.

The Warlock's Hairy Heart is a tale about greed and hate, and is best read by more mature readers.

Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump teaches kids about the importance of helping others and teaches that we should not be arrogant about what we can achieve or who we are.

The Tale of the Three Brothers is a story that any Harry Potter fan is familiar with.  It is a great story that teaches that we all pass sometimes and that we should help each other however we can.

These are stories I would recommend to any Harry Potter fan, young or old! 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lizzie & Jane - Katherine Reay


I just finished reading Lizzy & Jane, by Katherine Reay.  I can honestly say this is one of the first books in a long time that I've had to force myself to finish. 

The story is about two sisters and their... stilted relationship with each other.  Jane, older than Lizzie by eight years, left town as soon as she could and stayed away even when their mother was sick with and died from cancer.  Lizzy, one the other hand, was home because she was 17 and still in high school.  She was there through the whole time her mom was sick, and was the only sister/daughter at the funeral.  However, as soon as she graduated, Lizzy, who now goes by Elizabeth, moved to New York.  She went to a culinary institute and now works at a restaurant named Feast.  Jane, on the other hand, has moved back to Seattle with her husband and two kids.  They see Jane's dad on a regular basis, and have grown to love the area. 

Around the time that Jane is diagnosed with cancer, Elizabeth starts having troubles with her restaurant.  Elizabeth finally resigns herself to the fact that she may, in fact, need a vacation.  Her investor and boss, Paul, brings in a guest chef named Trent.  They work together for a few days before Elizabeth makes the decision to go to Seattle for a few weeks.  While in Seattle, Elizabeth learns many things, not only about herself, but about her family.

This had the potential to be a great story, potential being the keyword.  There was minimal plot or character development and the storyline was weak.  Both Jane and Elizabeth are selfish, shallow women who don't care about anyone other than themselves.  That doesn't change by the end of the novel.  The only difference is that now they get to be shallow and selfish in the same city. 

Jane's husband, Peter, isn't much better.  He only thinks about himself and doesn't really seem to care that his wife may die.  Nick, Elizabeths love interest, may just be the only saving grace in the entire book.  He is charming and genuinely seems to care about other people.  If only we could have had more of him, then maybe the book would have been better. 

The thing that irritated me most of all was that when Elizabeth decided to start cooking food for cancer patients, it took her too long to think about them, because all she thought about was what she might want.  She never thought that some foods might not taste good to them, or that each person might have different foods they like. 

I would give this book a solid D-.  Save your time and read something else.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Winner's Crime - Marie Rutkoski

 
****SPOILERS**** I usually have a few spoilers that make their way into my reviews.  So, if this is on your must read list and you want to be totally surprised, save this review for later.  If you don't mind a few spoilers, read on.
 
 
 
 
If you have read The Winner's Curse, you know that the novel ends with Kestrel becoming engaged to the emporer's son. It should come as no surprise that this is purely a political move, one made in an attempt to save the man and the land that she really loves. 
 
We find ourselves, in the beginning of The Winner's Crime. with the emporer making attempts to feel out Kestrel.  They have breakfast together, meet together in his office, talk political strategy.  All of this is simply so that the emporer can determine where Kestrel's allegiance lies.  My opinion: Kestrel is loyal to nobody but herself.  She may love Arin, but when all is said and done, she is who she wants to please.
 
Throughout the novel, many events are held in honor of Kestrel's engagement to Verex, including a ball that lasts through the night.  Arin, claiming he couldn't come, sends another Herrani to the ball, only to show up later and engage in a tryst with Kestrel behind the curtains in her bedroom.  Kestrel hides her tryst well, or so she thinks, but you can imagine that there is some fallout from her behavior.  In addition to this hidden event, Kestrel also manages to offend Jess to such a degree that Jess removes herself from the emporer's home with no goodbye and refuses to speak to Kestrel ever again.
 
The remainder of the novel is mostly political ploys and games designed to keep us guessing as to whom is on whose side, and making us wonder who loves whom.  There are spies created, allies made, and friendships broken, but what would be the point of a shaky revolution without all that?  
 
To be honest, this is a slower moving novel than The Winner's Curse.  There is not as much action.  There is no revolution, not as much meeting of the hidden lovers.  But, there is intrigue.  There is a blackmail feel to the relationship between Kestrel and the emporer that will make you want to keep reading.  I loved this book, and I loved the political intrigue in it.  I loved learning about the new characters and their land - Dacra.  (There are three lands here - Valoria, Herran, and Dacra.)  I think it was brilliant the way that all the characters secrets are revealed slowly (and some not at all.) 
 
Overall, this book is a must-read, so add it to your list!  I give it 4.5 stars all the way!


Monday, August 3, 2015

The Wizard of Oz

             

 
The Wizard of Oz is one of the books on my Classics Club reading list, and let me tell you - if you've never read it, you're in for a surprise.  It's a lot different than the movie, and that's okay!  After all, what book isn't than its movie counterpart?!
 
The book does have the flying monkeys, the tin wood man, the lion, the scarecrow, Glinda, the wicked witch, and the Winkies (munchkins in the movie.)  The lion, as expectedmm has no courage.  The scarecrow is not a very smart scarecrow.  And, as you can imagine, the tin woodman rusts easily. 
 
When Dorothy arrives in Oz, she is understandably scared and confused.  Luckily, she has Toto with her. 
 
Things that are different: The shoes in the book are silver, not red.  Also, the flying monkeys have to do three things for whomever currently controls the golden cap.  When Dorothy gets the cap, she asks the monkeys to bring her and her friends to the Emerald City.
 
There are many other differences throughout the book, but I'll leave them for you as a surprise.  This book is absolutely magical, and I can understand why it has been read over and over by people for years.  I love the characters, the development of the plot, the cuteness.  Everything in this book is fantastic.  If you've never read the book, however, I would caution that some things in the book might not be appropriate for kids under 10. 
 
Overall, though, this is a book that can be enjoyed by anyone.  A+ all the way!
 


Monday, July 27, 2015

Fablehaven - Brandon Mull


***Spoilers***
If you follow my blog, you know the occasional spoiler ends up in each of my book reviews.  So, if you don't like spoilers, save this review for later.  Otherwise, read on.
 
 
I heard about the book Fablehaven when I was looking for another book to read.  I thought it looked interesting, so I checked it out from the library.  Remember when I read The Land of Stories, by Chris Colfer?  And I basically said the book was terrible?  I didn't think I would ever be able to find a children's book as bad as The Land of Stories.  I was wrong.  Fablehaven, the first in a series (help us all!) is just as bad as The Land of Stories.
 
 
The book opens with Kendra and Seth's parents preparing to go on a cruise with their mother's siblings and their spouses.  This was, after all, the dying wish of Seth and Kendra's maternal grandparents.  So, since kids are not allowed on this three week cruise, Seth and Kendra are being shipped off to stay with their dad's parents - whom they've only met a handful of times. 
 
Kendra and Seth get dropped off at Grandpa and Grandma Sorenson's house - where they are met by their grandpa and a couple people who work for him.  They are told that their grandma is "traveling," and are shown to their attic room where they are given a bunch of rules they must follow while at Fablehaven.  After a couple days, they finally figure out the place is magical by drinking a bunch of milk left out for some "butterflies."  Turns out, the butterflies are really faeries, and Fablehaven is home to tons of magical creatures who have nowhere else to go.
 
The story takes a weird turn when Seth pisses off a fairy and gets turned into a walrus by the other faeries.  He gets turned human again by a witch who lives in the woods - the only hitch is: with every wish she grants another knot holding her hostage gets untied.  So, after saving Seth, she has one knot left.  This worries their grandpa, as it should because later Seth and Kendra need her help and free the last knot.
 
A whole bunch of other crazy stuff happens, including Seth and Kendra learning that their grandma was turned into a chicken.  During a midsummer eve festival, their grandpa gets kidnapped, as does Dale and the housekeeper. 
 
Now, I really wanted to like this book.  I mean, magic, faeries, what's not to like?  But I realized not even 10 pages into this book that it was going to be another book I would never, could never, recommend.  The quality of the writing is low, and makes me wonder how the book ever got published in the first place.  Yes, it is true this is a book written for kids, but kids are smart.  They deserve to read books that are well written and have a good story.  This had neither.
 
That brings me to another point: the first half of the book moves so slowly that I started to wonder if their would be ANY action to the book at all.  There was almost nothing of substance that happened until almost halfway through.  That makes not for a good book - especially when writing for kids!  You think adults get bored with plotless stories?  Add in the short attention spans that children have and it's just not going to work.
 
When I got to the point in the story where the author made a racist comment about Chinese people, I knew there was no way I could finish this series or recommend it to others.  Save your time for books that are actually well written - this one gets an F all around.
 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Larklight - Phillip Reeve

 
 
***Spoiler Alert***  While I try to keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible, a few always slip in!  So, if you don't want any spoilers, save this review for later.  If you're feeling brave, read on!
 
 
 Larklight is a fantastical, steampunk novel - the third in a series by Phillip Reeve.  The novel opens with Art, the main character, talking about life on Larklight (and how he would look back on it later after their adventures had begun,) and also discussing his sister - Myrtle - a person he finds to be altogether irritating.  That's natural - after all, he is a ten year old boy. 
 
A few pages into the novel, the family receive a letter indicating they will get a guest.  They think nothing of it, since their father isn't worried.  However, the guest arrives, and all hell breaks loose.  I won't tell you who the guest is, but I will tell you this: his arrival initiates the start of a fantastical, and albeit a bit frightening, space adventure for Myrtle and Art.  Throughout their space adventure, Myrtle and Art spend time on the moon, meet a rather young looking pirate named Jack (and his companions,) visit a shopping city called Far'poo - the on planet of Io, and spend time traveling around in a space ship (literally a ship in space) called the Sarfronia. 
 
Larklight was my first adventure into the world of steampunk, and I loved it so much that I know I'll be reading more!  The adventures the kids engage in are humorous and charming.  The characters are well developed and the writing is excellent.  It's refreshing to read a kids book that is well-written and actually treats kids like they are smart, instead of talking down to them. 
 
I especially enjoyed reading the excerpts from Myrtles diary - she is funny and sassy,  and keeps the other characters on their toes.  It is clear that even though Myrtle is a "young lady," she is intelligent and quick witted.  She has a wonderful ability to think on her toes, and doesn't let the time period dictate her behavior.  She behaves like a lady while still being strong and independent. 
 
Art, our charming protaganist, is one of my favorite characters in this book.  He is a head strong, funny, kind boy who obviously cares about his sister in spite of the fact that he always gives her a hard time.  He seems to have a clear head even in the face of danger, and adds an element of humour to the space travels with Jack and Co. 
 
This is a book that can easily be enjoyed by kids and adults.  Some younger kids might get confused by some of the terminology, but other than some hard words and technological speak, it is age appropriate for kids 7 and up.  Fun, funny, and enjoyable - 5 stars all around!
 
 
 


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Books on the Shelf

Hi everyone!  As you know, I often like to post books that I am currently reading.  So, here's what I'm making my way through right now.








This doesn't include the other books I am still making my way through for my 365 Book-a-day challenge (or my classics club challenge.)  Some of the other books I have on my list: In The First Circle, The Pickwick Papers, The Maze Runner, Dracula, and more.  You can follow even more of my reading exploits on my Facebook page!



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutkoski


 
***Spoilers: I try hard to keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible, but a few always find their way in!  So, if you plan on reading this book, and don't want to read any spoilers, save this review for later.***
 
 
 
If you are looking for a book filled with romance, some surprise, and war, then The Winner's Curse, by Marie Rutkoski, is the book for you.  The book starts off with Kestrel, the main female character, walking through town with her friend Jess.  Technically, as an unmarried woman who has not yet joined the military, Kestrel is not supposed to be out without a male escort.  However, since she has Jess with her, she views this as arbitrary. 
 
Kestrel and Jess stop near the slave trading center, where there is an auction going on.  Kestrel looks down into the pit where the slaves are kept, and finds herself intrigued by the slave currently being sold.  He is an Herrani, a native to the land the Kestrel and many other Valiorians overtook when Kestrel was young.  Cheat, the auction leader, tells the bidders that the slaves name is Smith, because he was trained to be a blacksmith.  We later learn his real name is Arin.
 
When Kestrel is told that Arin is musical, it makes her feel an even deeper draw to the slave, and she buys him at a prices others view as outrageous.  They get home, and Kestrel leaves Arin in the hands of the house servant.  Arin is ordered to make horseshoes, until finally someone tells Kestrel she must pay more attention to him since she bought him.  This leads to her taking him with as her escort whenever she goes out.  Over the course of the novel, they learn many things about each other, not the least of which is that the Herrani are planning a revolution.
 
I won't go into all the details of what happens after the revolution starts, but it should come as no surprise that Arin is one of the ringleaders in orchestrating the revolution.  In fact, it becomes apparent about 50 pages into the book that he is one the people behind what will eventually happen.  That was probably the only thing I didn't like was how transparent it was that 1. there would be a revolution, and 2. Arin would help cause it.
 
Other than that, I really loved this novel. I loved the characters and the tension, the games of bite and sting played between Arin and Kestrel, the descriptions of the homes!  This novel drew me in and captured my attention from page one.  It was interesting to see the different relationships Kestrel had with each of her friends - they are all so well-developed and have their own relationships that stand out from each other.
 
Based off the way that Kestrel interacted with Benix, Jess's brother, I would have expected him to be her final love interest.  I won't say how that turns out, but I was surprised by the ending of the book.  It ended in a manner I would not have expected, but it worked - and I can't wait to read the next book!
 


Monday, June 29, 2015

Vivian Divine is Dead - Lauren Sabel


***SPOILERS*** If you follow my blog, you know I tend to post some spoilers in my book reviews!  I do have some spoilers in this review, so if you want to be surprised, save this review for later.
Vivian Divine is Dead is the debut novel of author Lauren Sabel.  It is a YA mystery novel with plenty of twists to keep you hooked.  The novel opens with Vivian, a teen actress, receiving a DVD in the mail, and finding a note inside that says, "This is how Vivian Divine dies." Vivian tosses the DVD to her manager.  She's not worried at first, until her manager, Mary, tells her what is on the video. 

Mary shows the video to Vivian - and when Vivian sees it, she is shocked and scared (and rightfully so.)  The video shows Vivian being killed (in the same fashion as her mother.)  So, Mary sets up a whole plan to get Vivian to Mexico, where she can hide in a safehouse on an island.  Vivian leaves on a bus right away, using a fake name and a disguise to keep anyone from recognizing her.  While on the bus, Vivian falls asleep, and wakes up later to find the bus has broken down.  She gets up, walking off the bus and leaving her backpack behind, to find out what's happening.  Needless to say, someone steals her backpack from her.

While waiting for the bus to be fixed, Vivian meets Nick, who offers to help her get to her location.  He keeps calling her princess, and she doesn't trust him at first, but she lets him help her.  Throughout the journey, they stay at a church, almost get killed, find a dead FBI agent with two different colored eyes, meet a woman who is searching for her daughter, Paloma, and meets someone who says he is her birth dad.

There were a few moments where I thought to myself, "This book has potential," and a few moments where I thought, "Holy god, what is going on? This is terrible!"  For example, when the FBI Agent shows up at a church the Vivian is hiding at with Nick - it just felt a little too convenient.  Then, when the same FBI Agent shows up dead - also too convenient.  There were a few things that really bothered me about the book.

1. The action starts immediately. There is no real lead up to Vivian having to escape.  She gets the DVD in the mail, and within the first twenty pages, she is already on the run.  When action happens that quick, it is usually because it's occurring in a short story, and the action needs to be quick because their is not as much time to tell the story.  This would have been better had a lot of stuff been cut and made into a short story.

2.  When Nick and Vivian first meet, they hate each other.  He finds Vivian to be a spoiled brat (and he's right,) and she thinks Nick is kind of arrogant and rude. Then, out of nowhere, they are just in love with each other.  After knowing each other for three days.  Love takes time, and three days is not enough time.  Especially considering that a day and a half into their journey, Nick gets "kidnapped" and taken to Rosales ahead of Vivian.  Vivian is simply confused by the fact that Nick is "helping" her, and is making it seem like she's in love with him.

3. The characters were a bit flat - especially Vivian and Nick.  At the beginning of the novel, all each of them cared about was themselves.  At the end of the novel, all either of them cared about was themselves!  There was no character growth in the novel.

4. It really bothered me that Marcos kept referring to himself as Vivian's real dad.  Sure, he is her birth father, but he wasn't there to help raise her, feed her, etc.  Her real dad is the one who was there with her mom, caring for her her entire life.

Overall, I'd give this book 2 stars.  It had potential at the beginning, but fell flat and flopped around.  The plot was predictable, the characters were all selfish and underdeveloped and the story felt rushed through the entire novel.  Read it if you must, but there are surely other novels you could pick instead. 













Monday, June 15, 2015

The School for Good and Evil - Soman Chainani


***Spoilers Ahead*** If you have yet to read this book, and you don't want to know what happens, read this review later.  I try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but a few tend to make their way into my reviews.


I just finished reading Soman Chainani's debut novel The School for Good and Evil.  This is the first book in a trilogy, and I have the second on my bookshelf waiting to be read as I type this!  


The basic plot of this book is that every four years, two kids from the village of Gavaldon are kidnapped and taken to the school for Good and Evil.  The kids are usually between the ages of 12 and 16.  According to legend, one kid is usually beautiful and ends up in the school for good, while the other kid is usually ugly and ends up in the school for evil.  Sophie, one of the main characters in the book, is convinced that she will go to the school for Good, while her "best friend," Agatha, will end up in the school for Evil.  Agatha, on the other hand, is convinced that Sophie is crazy, and that the School for Good and Evil does not really exist.  On the eleventh night of the eleventh month, Sophie is beautifying herself, so as to make herself ready when the school master comes to take her.  (For a 12 year old, she has the most ridiculous beauty routine ever.  It includes a minimum of 9 hours of sleep, rubbing fish eggs on her skin, then rinsing it off and rubbing multiple other things like pumpkin puree and goats milk onto her skin as well.)


As Sophie is getting ready, her father is preparing in his own way - by pounding wood over Sophie's door to prevent her from leaving and to stop anyone else from getting in and taking her.  Sophie finds this infuriating, as she desperately wants to get kidnapped and have her own fairy tale.  Well, Sophie gets away in a different manner.  See, when Agatha sneaks over to steal the cookies Sophie left on the windowsill, Sophie sneaks out, follows Agatha, and they both get kidnapped while climbing a tree.  They get taken by a giant bird to the School for Good and Evil, where, much to the shock and surprise of both girls, Agatha gets sent to the School for Good and Sophie gets sent to the School for Evil.  Anyone who can discern character well will understand that this is actually the appropriate spot for each girl. 

So, now we know where each girl ends up.  Both are convinced they are in the wrong school, and as a result, they both do poorly on their tests for a while.  Then Sophie convinces Agatha to help her, so Agatha becomes a cockroach and assists Sophie, ensuring that Sophie becomes the top student in the School for Evil, and causing Agatha's grades, which had been improving, to slip.  Over the course of the novel, Sophie and Agatha change, both finally realizing that they are in the correct schools after all.  When Agatha realizes she is in the correct school, she also gains confidence in herself and realizes she is beautiful after all.  Sophie, on the other hand, is truly, completely, 100% pure evil.  As a result of this discovery about herself, Sophie turns into a hag and administers attacks on the School for Good in an attempt to get Tedros, the boy she thinks she loves, to be with her instead of Agatha.  The drama between school ensues, reaching a high when Sophie tries to kill Agatha. 

Now, overall, I think this book was very well written.  I think the author does a great job of drawing the reader in and making them fall in love with the story.  The descriptions in the book were wonderful, really giving the reader a great idea of what the school and the characters looked like.  However, I have some worries about content in this book.

Sophie and Agatha, as well as the other students described in this book, are young.  They are 12 years old.  Now, I know that around the age of 12 is when young girls and boys start going through puberty, and experiencing all the feelings that go along with that.  However, I feel that the author sexualizes the characters way too much.  12 year olds should not be sexualized at all, because they are way to young to have sex, or to understand everything that goes along with that.  This was a big issue for me.  Chainani had characters who were talking about being in love with each other and wanting to get married and all that.  At the age they are, these kids should be more worried about learning what it means to develop, and learning about the changes their bodies are going through.  They should not be competing with each other to get the hottest date to the ball, or the best man for a husband.  It is absolutely ridiculous to expect content like that to be included in a novel for young kids. 

Also, I didn't think it was appropriate for Chainani to place such importance on the looks of the kids in this story.  There was heavy emphasis throughout the story that the only way to make a guy really like you is if you were beautiful - which is why Evers could earn the use of the Groom Room.  The Nevers, on the other hand, were taught that they would always be ugly, and that they should focus on evil things, because they would never have happy endings.  Ridiculous. 

While I think this book is well written, I cannot, in good conscience, recommend it for kids under the age of 16.  If you are a reader with a well defined sense of self, and a knowledge that being kind is better than looking beautiful, then I think you will do well reading this book.

I would give this book a C rating for good writing, but questionable content.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Book A Day Continued!

Yesterday started my year long challenge to start (and complete) 365 books!  Can I do it?  I think so.  So, here, on day 2, is where I am:

Books Started: 2
Books Finished: 0 (but it's only the second day!)

Here are the two books I've started so far: 


Hollow City - Ransom Riggs

 
***Spoilers:  If you've read my blog before, you know that I often post a few spoilers in my reviews.  So, if you haven't read Hollow City, and don't want to know anything that happens until you do, wait to read this review.  If you don't mind a few spoilers: read on.***
 
 
 
 
At the end of last year, I read the book Miss Peregrine's home for Peculiar Children.  I fell in love instantly.  It is an absolutely magical book, and I knew right away that I would read the rest of the series!  So, a couple weeks ago, I picked up Hollow City, the second book in the series, at the library. 
 
So, I finished this lovely book, and again, was not disappointed.  The book starts right where the last book left off.  The kids from Miss Peregrine's home have lost their loop, and time has started for them (in 1940!)  What that means for Jacob, of course, is that he is now trapped in 1940 and can't get back to his own time because they lost their loop.  He says he is okay with this, and as of the end of the novel, remains convinced that he is happy with the choice to stay with the peculiar kids. 
 
Now that the kids are in time moving forward, they are trying to find another ymbryne who can help save Miss Peregrine and make her human again.  As you may remember, she was stuck as a peregrine in the last novel by something called a wight.  The wights are chasing the kids now, because the kids are peculiar, and the wights want to either kill or experiment on them.  Through a roundabout journey, the kids end up in an entertainment loop, where they meet Miss Wren, another ymbryne that they are hoping will help them make Miss Peregrine human again. 
 
On their journey, they meet several fun and peculiar characters, including a young girl who can make herself whole after being injured, two boys who are blind and can find their way around via clicking their tongues and listening to the echos, a clown, and a folding man.  They kill several hollows, two unintentionally, meet a talking dog and a telekinetic girl, and travel through a church in London.  Their are so many fabulous things that happen to them on their journey that I can't even mention them all here or you'd be reading forever!
 
There are so many reasons I loved this novel.  I love the way the author continued it right where the last novel left off.  I love that, in the face of adversity, the kids rise to the occasion and prove that their age doesn't mean they aren't capable.  I love how each character grows throughout the story, proving that they are mature and can handle so much more than people give them credit for.  The photos in this story work well to create a novel that is as magical as its predecessor. 
 
I think my favorite part of the novel is that Jacob seems to really come into his own and accept his fate as a hollow killer.  He seems to finally become comfortable with where he is and what he is supposed to do and be for the kids who have become some of his best friends, even in just a short period of time. 
 
If you haven't read this novel yet, get to it!  You won't be disappointed.
 
 
 
 
 
 


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book-A-Day

So, it's no secret that I love books.  I mean - I do have a blog just to talk about books after all!  I recently decided that I wanted to start a book-a-day challenge with the hopes of finishing 365 books in one year.

Right about now you may be thinking to yourself "Why is this woman starting a book a challenge half way through the year?"  Well, the answer is simple: Because I can.  The book a day challenge will also include the other reading challenges I am doing (so it will be like 4 big challenges all wrapped up in one.)  A friend and I are doing the 2015 book challenge list from popsugar.  I am also taking part in the Classics Club challenge and am trying to read 100 classics in 5 years.  Top that off with my annual goal of reading 100 books in 2015, and I've got a lot of reading to do!  

Here are my book a day goals for the next year:

Start Date: June 1, 2015.
End Date: May 31, 2016.
Start one new book every day.
Finish every book started by the end of the challenge.

Note that I am likely not going to finish some books in one day.  (After all, a lot of the books I pick will likely be longer or more challenging than some other books.)  The point is to have fun and, in the end, just have a really big stack of finished books!  So, come back often and see how things are going - and if you are doing any reading challenges yourself, share them with me!  I love to hear about what other people are reading!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns - Chris Colfer




I had said after I read The Wishing Spell that I was not going to finish Chris Colfer’s The Land of Stories series.  Yet, here I am writing a blog post about The Enchantress Returns, the second book in the series.  Perhaps I am a glutton for punishment.  I had no emotional attachment to this novel prior to starting it.  I am not at all emotionally invested in the stories.  So, before I started The Enchantress Returns, I turned on my Kindle, went to the Storefront, found this book and read some of the reviews.  The book had a higher rating than The Wishing Spell, and more 4 and 5 star reviews. So, I figured maybe Colfer had found his voice, improved his writing, and came out with a book that WOULDN’T make me want to bash my head on the table, or bore me to tears.  I was wrong.  Trust me when I tell you that this book is just as poorly written as the first book in the series (and I expect that books 3 and 4 will follow in their predecessors’ footsteps.)

The novel opens with Queen Sleeping Beauty and her husband throwing a party to celebrate the end of another curse that was placed on their kingdom.  Queen Sleeping Beauty has decided that she would like to go to sleep – something she hadn’t done since the sleeping curse on her kingdom had ended.  That’s right – she hasn’t slept in over 10 years.  Shortly after she has fallen asleep, Queen Sleeping Beauty is roused by several of her guards, who proceed to drag her out of the castle, not really giving her much of an explanation as to why, but simply telling her that her life is in danger. 
Queen Sleeping Beauty is brought somewhere safe, where she will stay with the rest of the Happily-Ever-After Council while the trouble is being resolved.  The Council, along with the guards from the differing Land of Stories Kingdoms will be trying to solve the issue of the Enchantress – since she has now returned to the Land of Stories.  Ezmia, the name of the Enchantress, has kidnapped Alex and Connor’s mom in an attempt to bring about a new reign of terror (but she thinks that the twins’ mom is really Alex.) 

Throughout the novel, there are some…. Interesting things that happen.  (If you are familiar with people from the upper Midwest, you know that we often say something is interesting as a way of being polite.  We usually mean we don’t like something, or think it’s dumb.  I’ll leave you to figure out whether or not I am using the Minnesota Interesting.)  So, in the novel, the twins find a way to their grandma’s house and get sucked into The Land of Stories via a painting (AFTER bluntly saying that it worked in the Chronicles of Narnia, so why wouldn’t it work for them.)  Once they get to the LOS, they meet up with Froggy, go to Queen Red Riding Hood’s castle, help build a ship out of old dresses and baskets, hide under Red’s extremely large skirted dress for, like, an hour, and meet Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy Gale, Lucy Pevensie, and Wendy Darling.  Bob, Charlotte’s boyfriend, ends up in the LOS, Charlotte and Bob get married, then Charlotte, Bob and Connor finally get sent back to their world, while Alex stays behind to get trained by her grandma – to become the fairy godmother. 

Now, look, I can certainly imagine a fairy tale land, with talking frogs, fanciful flying machines, queens who are vain, evil villains, etc.  I mean, I’ve read a lot of old fairy tales.  I’ve read the Harry Potter books.  I’ve read Marissa Meyers Lunar Chronicles series.  I am certainly no stranger to wonderful and fanciful fantasy and fairy tale stories and retellings.  However, my trip through the Land of Stories has not been as enjoyable as I would have liked for it to be. 

I was hoping after the first book that Colfer’s writing would have improved a bit.  I was wrong in holding onto this hope.  I found the sentence structure to be weak, and many of the characters to be undeveloped or unchanged.  There was no growth for certain characters from the first novel to this one (even though an entire year has passed.) There were also just a few things that I found confusing in this novel.  For example, Bob decides that he wants to marry Charlotte.  So, he goes to their house, sits down with Alex and Conner, and talks to them about what he wants.  At the beginning of the chapter in which he speaking to them about proposing, the beginning paragraph of the chapter says:

“Alex and Connor hadn’t looked like identical twins since they were four years old.  It was around that age when Charlotte stopped dressing them in the same outfits every day and they had started growing into their own unique features.  But as they sat on the couch both staring daggers at Bob with their arms crossed, it was once again hard to tell them apart.”

Okay: 1. Boy and girl twins are always fraternal.  Always.  Even if they look alike.  This is not a hard thing to figure out.  2. Alex is a girl and Conner is a boy.  In addition to the, Alex has longer hair and Conner has short hair.  Is Bob really so dense that he can’t tell them apart and thinks they look identical even though one is a boy one’s a girl?  3. Why in the name of all that good in this world was their mother dressing them in identical clothing, especially to the age 4?  This needs to be said: They are not the same person, they are not identical twins, they are a BOY and a GIRL, and they should have been dressed in different clothes!!!!!!!!!!

That is certainly not the only sentence/paragraph in the novel that made me scratch my head and say "Huh?"  (Not to mention just weird scenes in general.)

On page 139, Froggy (the Prince who was turned into a Frog) says: "Children, you know I care about you, but-" and Connor rudely interrupts by yelling out "WE'RE NOT CHILDREN.... Everyone keeps calling us that and I'm sick of it!  We shouldn't have to prove ourselves after everything we've been through already.  It's not like we're a couple of irresponsible kids sneaking into a party - we're two young adults trying to save our mother's life."  

Please.  These characters just turned 13.  They are hardly young adults.  Sure, they may be able to problem solve better than, say, a 5 year old or an 8 year old, but they are surely not old enough or mature enough to handle things the way older teenagers or adults can.  They are still developing a lot of the skills that teens even 2 to 3 years older than them already know. 

 In Chapter seven, Mother Goose gets charged with taking care of Alex and Conner, because Xanthous must return to the land of stories.  Around page 108, Mother Goose goes on a drinking binge with  several of the guards.  The guards all get so drunk that they pass out at the kitchen table.  At this point, Alex sneaks into the kitchen, talks to Mother Goose, pours Mother Goose more alcohol and gets her even drunker.  There is literally no valid reason for Mother Goose getting so intoxicated that she can barely see straight while taking care of kids, nor is there any reason that Alex should be pouring more booze for Mother Goose to drink!  That is not at all an appropriate thing to have in a kids book.  

Later, when Alex and Connor are actually in the Land of Stories, the book becomes a bit more adult like, with a few sexual innuendos thrown in.  For example, on page 253, when everyone is getting ready to ride horses out to the woods, Connor gets stuck with a horse named Buckle (named because he keeps bucking people off.)  Goldilocks is riding a horse named Porridge, and when Goldilocks asks Porridge to help contain Buckle, the following paragraph says: 

"Porridge rolled her eyes at Buckle.  Buckle snorted at Porridge almost flirtatiously.  It made the twins a little uncomfortable - obviously there was a history with the horses, a history they weren't interested in learning."

13 year olds are just beginning to go through puberty.  They are just beginning to learn about sexual stuff.  So, it doesn't seem logical, unless Alex and Connor are very advanced and intelligent, that they would know anything about flirting or sexual stuff between two HORSES!  There is also a lot of eye flirting from Red towards Jack, even though Jack is married to Goldilocks. 

 In addition to the poor writing in this book, there is also not a lot of character development.  They characters are all basically the same as they were in the last book, and don't change at all from the beginning of this book to the end.  Alex is still a book worm obsessed with school and doing well, Red is still a spoiled brat who thinks that everyone owes her everything, Trollbella is still the same spoiled, disgusting troll queen as she was in the first novel.  Nobody. Ever. Develops!  

Colfer, from what I've seen around the internets, has written a fourth book in the series, due out in June, and is planning on releasing a bunch of short stories that take place in the world of the Land of Stories.  I can't help but send out a plea to Colfer to just stop writing for a while and do some research on actually well written kids and teen books.  Read some J.K Rowling (Harry Potter, of course), Marissa Meyer (of The Lunar Chronicles), some Soman Chainani (The School for Good and Evil), or some Jenni Nimmo (Charlie Bone).  All of the books written by these authors show excellent fantasy stories that are well written, well constructed, and perfect for kids and teens.  Maybe after reading some of these books, and then writing a lot and getting some serious critiques, maybe Colfer can write a good book actually worthy of being read.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Blog Changes

Hi Everyone!

If you pay attention to my blog, you may have noticed a few things:

1. I've been talking about books a lot more on this blog!

2. I actually changed the name of this blog to The Book Nerd (and have changed another blog I run to Life Out Loud.)

I made a decision that because I have been talking so much about books on this blog, I am going to officially turn it into my book blog.  My other blog, which you can find by clicking here, will be the blog I use to talk about new crafty things, including new items that I post on Etsy, aftcra, and other marketplaces I am selling on.  If you are interested in reading about books, stick around here!  If you'd rather just read about my crafty life, that's okay too - stop on by my other blog!

Either way, I look forward to having you around the blogosphere.  Enjoy your time!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fairest - Marissa Meyer



For those of you who don't know, I have been following Marissa Meyers Lunar Chronicles series since 2012, which is when Cinder (the first book in the series) was published.  I started reading Cinder on the recommendation of a friend and absolutely fell in love!  The series is magical, and amazing, and fun.  There is intrigue, and fear, loathing, and anger.  The series is just so much more amazing than I could ever put down in words (and yet I always put it down in words.  I love writing reviews of these books because they are so good!)

So, Fairest, the fourth book in this series, was just published in February of this year.  It is the story of Queen Levana, the ruler of Luna.  It starts with a dream of Levana's childhood, with a fire.  Fire becomes an all to heavy theme in Levana's story - not just for Levana but for Cinder as well.

Levana and her sister Channary are princesses, and near the beginning of the novel their parents die.  So, Channary, being the oldest, is eventually crowned queen (after the appropriate mourning period.)  Levana knows that this is the proper order for things since Channary is the oldest, but Levana desperately wants to be queen.

Channary is, to put it kindly, friendly with the males.  She gets pregnant from some random guy that she's been with, and has Cinder.  Naturally, that means that after Channary dies, Cinder will be crowned queen.  Well, Channary dies sooner than expected - when Cinder is only a year old.  So, now when Cinder turns 13, she will be crowned queen of Luna.  Until that time, Levana serves as the queen regent.

Some other things of importance throughout the novel:
*People on Luna have the ability to use something called a glamour to make themselves look different or more beautiful.
*Levana is deformed because of a fire her sister pushed her into when they were kids, so she uses her glamour all the time to make herself look beautiful.
*When Channary is still alive, Levana admits that she is attracted to (and even thinks she is in love with) a man named Evret, who is part of the royal guard.  After Evret's wife dies giving birth to Winter, Levana starts making herself look like Solstice (Evret's wife) and manipulating Evret to make him think he is in love with Levana.  Then, she forces Evret to marry her because she is absolutely convinced that he really does love her.
*During her time as queen regent, Levana becomes more and more convinced that she should be the rightful queen of Luna, that she is the best queen they have ever or will ever have.  So she plans for something to happen to Cinder (which is what leads to the first book in the series.)

I don't want to give anything else away in case you decide to read this book, so let me tell you what I thought of it. I think Marissa Meyer is a wonderful author. She does a great job in describing the characters and making them distinct from one another with their own personalities.  The descriptions of locations and places throughout the palace and Luna are wonderful, and it was nice to get a bit more insight into Levana's history.

The only things I wondered about were: Since Levana is Winter's stepmom, I wonder how much of what we learned in Fairest will be talked about in Winter.  (After all, I assume that Winter having been raised by her stepmother will have some bearing on Winters story.)  Also, I wondered if the residents of Luna look like humans in their natural form or if they look like aliens.

Other than those two things, I really loved this book.  I like how the author made it seem so real, and brought out each characters personality so well.  Overall, this was an excellent read that I would wholeheartedly recommend to fans of The Lunar Chronicles!  Five stars all the way.