Format: Hardcover

Firelight by Sophie Jordan | Book Review

Posted September 21, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 7 Comments

Firelight by Sophie Jordan | Book ReviewFirelight by Sophie Jordan
Series: Firelight #1
Published by HarperTEEN on September 7, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 323
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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4 Stars

A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki, a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away;if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

The story of Jacinda and Will grabbed me from page one and had me reading long into a night I should have spent sleeping instead of reading. I’ve often wondered if my bookishness is detrimental to my health and personal well-being, but I digress! Back to the subject at hand… I’m having a hard time reviewing this book, and I’m not sure why. I’ve written a review probably 5 times already, and I’m still not happy with it. Maybe it’s because the story has a lot in common with other YA Paranormal romances out there. I’m not saying it’s not worth the read, I’m just not sure what I can say about it that’s new, other than the fact that we’re dealing with dragons. I’ll try!

Jacinda’s glowing orange skin and intricate wings are not all she has going for her. All Draki have a special talent. Some can breathe underwater, some can control human minds, and some can fly extremely fast. Jacinda breathes fire—a talent that was thought to have died out long ago before she was discovered. Thus, she is extremely valuable to pride. Things were planned out and set in motion for her to marry the Draki prince, Cassian, and create a ton of little fire-breathers just like herself. This unappealing future, mixed with her rebellious nature, mixed with the fact that she barely came home alive after being tracked and shot by a group of hunters prompted her mother to sneak Jacinda and her non-draki twin sister, Tamra, out of the pride and move to Arizona. Her mother chose Arizona because drakis can’t survive in such dry and barren conditions. Jacinda’s draki would eventually die off just like her mother’s, and they could live normal, safe lives as humans. Jacinda was not ok with this and did everything she could to keep her withering draki alive. Then, she saw Will—one of the hunters she encountered the night her mother forced them to flee. He was the one who stared into her draki eyes that night and let her go, leading his family of hunters away from her. They lock eyes in the hall at school, and an instant connection is made. He ignites the draki within her, and she captivates him for a reason he can’t quite figure out. Even though he’s the one who keeps her draki alive, she has to constantly fight her attraction to him (and resist his to her) and keep her distance. She can never let him know what she is without risking the lives of all those she holds dear. The hunters can never find out their best-kept secret—that draki can take on human form.

I really enjoyed this book! First off, how refreshing is it to finally have the girl be the paranormal one? Yes, there are a few mythical heroines out there, but we all know it’s usually the guy. It was fun to read how a girl deals with being different. Jacinda is SO driven by her emotions. She goes through highs and lows, and she’s always freaking out about everything. She’s not calm, cool, and collected like our mainstream paranormal heroes in other novels. I’m not saying she’s spastic and annoying. She certainly handled things better than I would have. I just enjoyed reading about her inner struggle rather than a guy’s, like I usually do.

This book moved really quickly! The tension built up fast, and I found myself trying to read faster than my brain could handle. There was no lollygagging in this book, and I really enjoyed that about it. I never got bored.

The romance between Will and Jacinda was believable, but maybe not for their age group. I never thought of them as high school juniors. They have a very mature relationship, which I was happy about, as I have a hard time enjoying the whiny teenage romances. Even though the romance did not seem realistic for their ages, the high school life was pretty real to me. I remember when I moved to a new high school, I struggled with fitting in. I was picked on. Jacinda went through the same motions I did, and I felt for her and could relate to how she was feeling. She was a total fish out of water, with only one friend who wasn’t even really a friend—more like a person to sit with and talk to. High school’s really hard, and Jacinda dealt with it.

Unfortunately, there were not a lot of characters to like in this book. There was an overabundance of villains: the alpha of her pride (who wanted her for selfish reasons), her mom (who lied to her frequently, and tried to kill off an important part of Jacinda), her sister (who should have tried to be more supportive of Jacinda’s situation), Will’s family (who were complete and total jerks to Will, and almost perverts towards Jacinda), the school bullies (who tried to make her life a living hell, and even attacked her). I’m not used to only liking the two main people. I guess the author chose to do this in order to emphasize the odds against Will and Jacinda, but I really wanted to like more people!

I loved that Jacinda was so true to herself, against all these odds. She didn’t just sit back and let her mother get what she wanted (a draki-free Jacinda). They argued and fought all the time. Her mom kept so many secrets from her, and then when she finally told Jacinda the truth, she wasn’t even nice about it. This woman is just not a good mother figure—and I found her character to be a bit hard to believe sometimes. I know she was trying to protect Jacinda, but she rarely ever showed any compassion, empathy, or even love.

For the most part, I enjoyed the writing style. Several reviewers have mentioned that the book was laced consistently with sentence fragments, which got rather annoying. I totally agree. This is definitely not a book for people looking for pristine literary writing. I had to re-read and re-think some of the passages, just because my mind was not following the choppy writing style. It helped to add to the suspense, but it detracted a bit from everything else. Other than that, the action scenes were done very well and the author’s descriptions left little to be desired. She gave me enough information to be able to picture everything in my mind, but not so much that my mind couldn’t take a few liberties and allow my creative juices to fill in the gaps.

Regardless of a few complaints, I loved the premise, the story, the character development of both Jacinda and Will, the fact that Jacinda is such a likeable heroine, the descriptive passages that painted pictures in my mind, the fast-paced storyline that kept my eyes glued to the pages into the wee hours of the morning, and the fact that now I think dragons are sexy.

This review was originally posted on February 22, 2012, and was re-posted for some extra love.

4 Stars

Illusions by Aprilynne Pike | Book Review

Posted September 3, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 2 Comments

Illusions by Aprilynne Pike | Book ReviewIllusions by Aprilynne Pike
Series: Wings #3
Published by HarperTEEN on May 3, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 375
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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5 Stars

"I don't do patrols, I don't go hunting, I just stick close to you. You live your life. I'll keep you safe," Tamani said, sweeping a lock of hair from her face. "Or die trying."

Laurel hasn't seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice.

But just as life is returning to normal, Laurel discovers that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.

Illusions is  my favorite of the Wings series so far. It was magical, romantic, adventurous, and I got through it in 24 hours!

For the most part, I really like the characters. There’s Laurel, her boyfriend David, her sentry/guardian Tamani, her best friend Chelsea, and Chelsea’s boyfriend Ryan. There’s also a troll-hunter, Klea who I don’t like, and Klea’s foster child from Japan, Yuki. They are all different, they have personality, and they are all people I could see myself being friends with. These people are not annoying, whiny little teenagers. I forget they are in high school. Thank you, Aprilynne.  It’s so nice to read a book where the high schoolers don’t act like stereotypical high schoolers.

So, these characters are off attending high school, keeping the secrets of Faerie a secret, going to school dances heavily guarded by more sentries, protecting themselves and their human families, and avoiding the trolls that are out to discover the secret gates to Avalon, home of the faeries. Laurel spends most of her free time with David, Tamani, and/or practicing her faerie skills in her bedroom. This brings in a whole new cast of characters: the other faeries who live in Avalon and train Laurel on being a faerie during her summer breaks. She has one friend there, Katya, who I really like. She’s adorable. I also like Laurel’s teachers and mentors. The descriptions of Avalon are amazing. It sounds gorgeous, from the scenery, to the description of an out-of-this-world new year’s festival, to the architecture, even the clothing and accessories the faeries wear. I would LOVE to go to Avalon!

And then we have the characters in between: the sentries, faeries who keep a watchful eye on everyone else,  and Laurel’s parents, who are extremely understanding. SO many characters to keep track of, but it doesn’t seem like it while you’re reading. It just sounds like a lot when I type them all out in a list like this.

Obviously there’s a love triangle, just like there is in any other YA romance. I like both the guys, David and Tamani, involved in this love triangle! I find myself rooting for one, and then the other. Usually I have one favorite and I root for him throughout the entire book/series. I’m confused on who Laurel should end up with, though. I can only imagine how confused SHE is, since she’s the one actually living it. She has a very sweet bond with both the boys. In this book, though, she takes the time to focus on the guy who she’s spent most of her time brushing off, and it was adorable! This guy loves her so much, and he is so willing to wait for her to decide. I swear, I wish I had one of these guys going after me. Laurel gets both. It’s not fair. Or maybe it is. I think I’d really get stressed out loving two different men.

There’s tense moments, romantic moments, tender moments, beautiful writing, amazing settings, fun characters, and magic, magic, magic! The end had a twist I wasn’t expecting, and dropped to quite a cliffhanger! I really feel like giving away any more details would spoil everything, so I need to just stop and let you read them for yourself! I hate writing such a vague review, but it must be done! If you have read these, I’d love to hear what you thought! If you haven’t read them, hopefully my review pushed you towards giving them a try. I hope I didn’t spoil anything for anyone, and at the same time I hope I did the book justice.

5 Stars

Save the Date by Morgan Matson | Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Posted June 13, 2018 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult Fiction / 7 Comments

Save the Date by Morgan Matson | Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)Save the Date by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on June 5, 2018
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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5 Stars

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

I’m so happy to be on this blog tour for Morgan Matson’s Save the Date, hosted by the Fantastic Flying Book Club! I’ve always heard wonderful things about Morgan’s books, and actually own a few of them. I even met her at ALA a few years ago and she signed a copy of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour for me, so I’m really surprised and slightly ashamed to admit that Save the Date is my very first Matson read! If all of her other books are just as delightful and funny and full of heart like this one is, then I think I’ve found a new author to love! As always, my main points are bolded.

1. The Grant family is officially my favorite fictional family. I would love to be a member of this family! J.J. is an absolute hoot. Everything he says or does makes me laugh. He actually says “scoff” when he’s miffed. Linnie is such a fun big sister, and I love her relationship with Charlie. Danny is the sweet big brother type. I even like troublemaker Mike! They are all so close, and their life growing up together is full of memories of capture the flag games, movie nights, sleepovers, family trips, bumming around the house, and so much love. I love that they love each other and have the cutest sibling bonds with one another. The parents are great, too. It’s a house full of chaos and shenanigans, and I loved being a fly on the wall.

2. Speaking of shenanigans, everything that could possibly go wrong for this wedding pretty much does! It’s hilarious, if not a little unbelievable how unlucky this family is. lol. There’s a suit mix-up, electrical problems, gardening problems, and more. There’s so much going on at once that I found myself tearing through the pages to figure out how each issue was resolved. Honestly, this book would make such an amazingly fun movie.

3. Bill, the assistant wedding coordinator, is the sweetest character. He and his… uncle? Dad? Why can’t I remember this!?! Oh well, not important. He and the guy he is somehow related to run this wedding business together, and he’s riding the waves of shenanigans with the best attitude. He’s got a great sense of humor and is always so happy. He’s also pretty quirky, slightly nerdy, and just warms my heart.

4. We’ve got a loaner beagle named Waffles and an alarm that won’t be silenced unless it wants to be that are both pretty amazing characters all on their own. Waffles has so much personality in his little body, complete with big floppy ears. And the alarm just had me giggling, which doesn’t even make sense unless you’ve read this book.

5. I really connected with Charlie. I understand what it’s like to have everyone needed things from you all the time. She’s kind of the glue that keeps the group together and sane. She’s the peacemaker, and I understand the kind of pressure that comes with that job. I sympathized with her as she faced having to move from her childhood home. I also saw a lot of growth from her as the book continued on. She just seemed really real to me. All the characters did.

6. Charlie’s mom has written a comic strip based on the Grant family, Grant Central Station, for the last 20+ years all about the kids and family growing up together. Snippets of these comics are featured throughout the book, and I really liked those. I’d love a book of more of them so I can get more of the backstory on some of these characters!

7. I just LOVE weddings. This book reminded me so much of Father of the Bride, which is one of my favorite movies ever.

8. Swoons. Wedding swoons, crush swoons, love swoons… They were all there.

All in all, I’m SO glad I finally jumped on the Morgan Matson train! I can’t wait to read her other books now! I hope her others are just as wonderful for me as this one was. I loved the family dynamics, the wedding craziness, and all heart and feeling that swirled around it all. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA with a side of giggles and feelings.


About Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson was born in New York City and grew up there and in Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College inLos Angeles, but halfway through a theater degree, she started working in the children’s department of Vroman’s Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.

Following college graduation (and the proud bearer of an incredibly useful theater/English degree) she received her M.F.A. in Writing for Children from The New school and worked as an editor for YA novels. She received a second M.F.A. (for reasons that made sense at the time) in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.

Her novels have been translated into dozens of languages, and published all over the world.

Morgan’s first novel, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, was inspired by her love of road trips, snacks, and the quest for the perfect playlist. It was named an ALA Top Ten Best Book, a Publisher’s Weekly Flying Start book, and was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Book Prize.

Her second novel, Second Chance Summer, was inspired by her experiences spending summers in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. It was the winner of the California Book Award (YA category) and was named to the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults List, selected for the Oklahoma Sequoya List, and selected as a School Library Journal Best Book.

Her third novel, Since You’ve Been Gone, was published in2014,and was a Publisher’s Weekly and international bestseller. It was named to the YALSA Teens Top Ten list, and the Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award List.

Morgan’s fourth novel, The Unexpected Everything, was published May 3rd, 2016. She currently lives inLos Angeles with her dog, Murphy.

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5 Stars

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak | Book Review

Posted February 16, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 8 Comments

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak | Book ReviewThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers on March 14, 2006
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 552
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (ALA)
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5 Stars

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery ...

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

I read this book over the course of almost two years in the hopes that I would not get attached and that I would not cry. I was unsuccessful on both accounts. There’s not much to say, really. It’s a beautiful story that is beautifully told.

The Book Thief, narrated by Death himself, tells the story of Liesel who discovers her very first book at her younger brother’s graveside after being put into foster care by a mother who could no longer take care of her. Her foster father teaches her to read, and she discovers her love of books as the Nazis run rampant through her country, reeking havoc on those just like the Jewish man hiding in her basement. She learns about love, life, and loss.

This book is probably the best book I’ve ever read in terms of writing, message, creativity, and thought. The writing style is immaculate in a way I can’t even explain. Emotions and feelings jump off of the page and into your soul. The story is true and heart wrenching, yet I smiled so many times. Death’s voice is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. He is cynical and caring at the same time, and is more grandfather than Grim Reaper. The characters are perfectly flawed and hopeful.

I think the most wonderful thing about this book is that it has teen appeal as well as adult appeal. We get to watch Liesel grow up, and even though she is younger than most readers, her maturity shines through because of her experiences. She could be 10, 17, 25, or 80 and each reader could identify with her and appreciate her voice. The themes of death, the importance of literature, friendship, family, love, and loss are so beautifully conveyed. It’s such a unique take on the Holocaust, and one that really spoke to me. I can see The Book Thief becoming a classic that is read for generations and generations because it is timeless and beautiful. Even though it is a very heart-wrenching and difficult book to read, I would recommend it to any and every reader. It’s so important that this event in history never be forgotten.

5 Stars

Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard | Mini Book Review

Posted November 13, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 1 Comment

Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard | Mini Book ReviewDangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard
Published by Razorbill on September 4, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Retelling
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift
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2.5 Stars

A modern-day retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a chilling twist

Harper has never been worried about falling in love, something she is skeptical even exists. But everything changes when Logan moves to town, and to Harper's shock, the two tumble into an intense romance. It's everything she never thought she wanted.

Then she meets Logan's twin brother, Caleb, who was expelled from his last school. True, he's a bad boy, but Harper can't shake the feeling that there's something deeply sinister about him--something dangerous. When Logan starts pulling away, Harper is convinced that Caleb's shadowy past is the wedge being driven between them. But by the time she uncovers the truth, it may be too late.

The author of Prada & Prejudice, You Wish, and Ripple delivers a modern-day retelling of a famously gothic tale, full of suspense, lies, and romance.

This review is incredibly tiny because I don’t have much to say. I was very disappointed in what could have been an amazing book. Mandy’s writing was great, and her storytelling was wonderful. But the publisher did readers a huge disservice by telling us that this is a Jekyll and Hyde retelling. That’s a major spoiler, and it made me far less intrigued and curious. I knew what was going to happen before I even opened the book, and I was right on the money. This could have been very exciting and suspenseful, but all I could do was roll my eyes at the dumb decisions Harper made.

2.5 Stars

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

Posted September 27, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 0 Comments

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | Book ReviewA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on May 3, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 626
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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5 Stars

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

So… I have been struggling and struggling with how to review A Court of Mist and Fury since I read it almost a year ago. I almost considered not reviewing it at all because it seemed so overwhelming to me. It’s a huge book, filled with so many things that I loved so much that writing down all my feelings and thoughts seems impossible. BUT… I want to be able to look back and remember how I felt, so this “review” is really just for me. It’s an unorganized list of feelings and impressions and fangirliness. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Everything that happened in ACOTAR that I thought I loved so much was replaced and/or outdone by everything that happened in this book. For example, I was totally on team Tamlin… until I wasn’t. The book starts out with a very emotionally destroyed, almost traumatized Feyre, and Tamlin sucked so bad. I literally hated him within the first few pages. How the crap did this even happen? I LOVED him! But Rhysand… *swoon* He made me fall in love with him even more, even though I hated his villainous ways in ACOTAR. He’s still his normal mischievous, cunning, slippery self, but he’s also passionate and tender and so caring and protective of those he holds dear. I was sold. My loyalties were flipped on a dime. I had no idea I was capable of loving Rhys, but now I can’t imagine feeling any differently. That’s what this book did to me!!

2. The reason Feyre and Rhys fall in love is super sweet and magical, at least in my opinion. I thought Tamlin and Feyre were meant to be, but these two are on a completely different level.

3. The romance… I just can’t. It was everything I hoped for and more. I love so many romantic passages and quotes, but here are some of my favorites:

“I am broken and healing, but every piece of my heart belong to you.”

“I heard every word between you. I knew you could take care of yourself, and yet … ” He went back to his pie, swallowing a bite before continuing. “And yet I found myself deciding that if you took his hand, I would find a way to live with it. It would be your choice.”
I sipped from my wine. “And if he had grabbed me?”
There was nothing but uncompromising will in his eyes. “Then I would have torn apart the world to get you back.”

“I was his and he was mine, and we were the beginning and middle and end. We were a song that had been sung from the very first ember of light in the world.”

4. There is so much emotion in A Court of Mist and Fury. There’s so many feelings, and I felt them right along with the characters. Feyre has been through a lot, if you’ll remember the end of ACOTAR and the whole Amarantha debacle. She’s very delicate and is having to recover from the trauma and abuse she went through. I related to her a lot, and found it refreshing that she didn’t just jump right back into her hardened, brave, strong self. I liked seeing the impact those prior events had on her. Even strong people have to process the bad in life. The author could have had them all recover during the break between books and then come back and show us strong characters. Tamlin is struggling, Rhys is struggling, others are struggling. Life is hard for these characters and I liked being able to witness it instead of hear about it after the fact.

5. I LOVED The Night Court and the secret, beautiful city of Velaris. The setting was just so pretty and magical. I also loved the people there, and all the new characters I got to meet.

6. The writing was wonderful. I love all the details and the feelings that Maas put into words.

7. This is the first time I have felt that the second book was better than the first. I never thought I’d see the day!

Basically… read it. Read. It. A Court of Mist and Fury was my hands down my favorite book of 2016, and I’m actually considering a re-read which I rarely ever do. Do yourself a favor and et invested in this series.

5 Stars

The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story by Judy Sierra | Children’s Book Review

Posted September 18, 2017 by Jana in Children's Book Review / 0 Comments

The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story by Judy Sierra | Children’s Book ReviewThe Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story by Judy Sierra
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 1, 2000
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover
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5 Stars

In the Spice Islands, where clove and nutmeg trees grow,
a girl named Damura lived long ago.


Damura is a beautiful girl, as kind and lovely as the little green parrot that perches on the nutmeg tree. But Damura's stepmother and stepsister mistreat her. They force her to rise before dawn, carry out all the chores, and sleep on the floor. One day, while down by the river, Damura calls out to the creatures of the wild for help. Rising from the waters, an ancient crocodile answers the call. This unusual fairy godmother, aptly named Grandmother Crocodile, outfits Damura in a sarong of gold, with slippers to match, and sends her to the palace to dance for the prince. Once he sees her, the prince knows that she will be his bride.

But the fairy tale isn't quite over. Damura's wicked stepmother and stepsister are so jealous that they push Damura into the river, where she is swallowed by a crocodile. Too bad they didn't know about Grandmother Crocodile....

The Gift of the Crocodile, a tale from the Spice Islands in Indonesia, offers a colorful and dramatic twist on the universally adored Cinderella story.

*spoilers, because I’m basically telling you the entire story because I love it so much!*

This version of Cinderella takes place in the Spice Islands in Indonesia. Cinderella’s name is Damura in this tale, the fairy godmother is actually an ancient crocodile named Grandmother Crocodile, and Damura talks to her animal friends like the little green parrot who sits on the branches of the nutmeg trees. In this tale, a widow gives Damura a doll with the stipulation that she talk her father into marrying the widow. She is successful. Her life becomes miserable, though, as she begins to realize she traded her happiness for a doll. She becomes a servant and is very badly mistreated. One day when she is washing her family’s clothes in the river she loses her sarong and calls upon the wild animals to help her. Grandmother Crocodile surfaces and agrees to get her the lost sarong if she agrees to watch her baby crocodile.

Grandmother Crocodile comes back with an even more beautiful sarong because Damura deserves that one and not the old, ragged one. She returns home with her new sarong, but her stepmother takes it away and demands to know how she got it. The stepsister decides to try and get her own and goes down to the river to summon Grandmother. She is rude and mistreats the baby crocodile while Grandmother goes to find her sarong. The crocodile returns with a sarong filled with leeches, which sends the stepsister running home in tears.

When the prince invites all the young women to dance for him, Damura is forbidden to go. But… with the help of Grandmother Crocodile, she goes clothed in a beautiful gold sarong and riding in a horse and carriage. She was to return these things to Grandmother before she went home. She danced beautifully, but then had to rush out when the rooster crowed. The prince tries to follow her, but is left only with one of her slippers. A messenger comes to try the slipper on the young ladies, and it flew right onto Damura’s foot. Even though she is shabby and poor, the prince selects her to be his bride. The next day her stepmother and stepsister, both very jealous, offer to reconcile with Damura over a boat ride on the river. They are not sincere, though, and push her overboard in to the mouth of a crocodile. They run back to the palace and shout that Damura has been eaten, in the hopes that the prince would marry the stepsister. The prince runs to the river to summon Grandmother Crocodile. He tells her what happened, and she scolds her crocodiles, insisting that the guilty party spit Damura out. Grandmother licks Damura’s face and brings her back to life. She tells all the other crocodiles to never touch Damura, the prince, or their children, but instructs them to eat the stepmother or stepsister if they ever see them. The two flee into the forest, never to be seen again. Damura and her husband lived happily ever after.

 

The Indonesian style illustrations are very pretty, and there is an author’s note about the origins of this tale at the back of the book, as well as the history of the island it takes place on. This adds credibility to the story, and makes it of high quality. I love this blend of Cinderella and a traditional Indonesian folk tale. It’s a very unique, entertaining, and culturally educational story that would make a wonderful addition to anyone’s fairytale library.

5 Stars

Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter by Diane Stanley | Children’s Book Review

Posted September 15, 2017 by Jana in Children's Book Review, Inner Child / 0 Comments

Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter by Diane Stanley | Children’s Book ReviewRumpelstiltskin's Daughter by Diane Stanley
Published by HarperCollins on May 28, 2002
Genres: Fairy Tale, Retelling
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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4 Stars

Once upon a time a miller's daughter was given an impossible task by a cruel and greedy king. She had to spin straw into gold. And who should show up to help her but an odd little man named Rumpelstiltskin.

According to tradition, the gold-bedazzled king and the miller's daughter are wed. But wait just a minute! This king is definitely not husband material, and there's someone else who is -- a hardworking guy who's supportive and nice looking, and who really comes through in a pinch.

Why not marry Rumpelstiltskin?

In Diane Stanley's merry rethinking of the traditional tale, Rumpelstiltskin and the miller's daughter are wed...and then sixteen years later their only daughter is stuck in the same dilemma: She's been locked in a room full of straw to spin for a greedy king! She could call for help from her father, but this fairy-tale heroine has some canny plans of her own.

How Rumpelstiltskin's daughter sets things to rights in the troubled kingdom, while achieving a unique place for herself, makes for a wise and witty tale of kindness and cleverness rewarded. Diane Stanley's wickedly funny text and zesty illustrations put a delightful new spin on a classic fairy tale.

Rumpelstiltskin's daughter may not be able to spin straw into gold, but she is more than a match for a monarch whose greed has blighted an entire kingdom.

We learn that Rumpelstiltskin’s daughter’s name is Hope, which is such a fitting name for her because of what she does for the kingdom. She brings them hope in the form of golden coins so that they can make their own living. When Hope is kidnapped by the king and forced to turn straw into gold in her mother’s old tower, she decides to be smart instead. She knows the kingdom is poor and struggling, so she tricks the king into hiring the townspeople to “grow” or “knit” gold for him. The fields fill up with wheat and the townspeople end up bundled up in golden clothing. These people end up loving the king so much that he discovers that is better than gold. He tears down the protective wall around the castle and builds houses for the poor. All of a sudden, the kingdom is prospering. The king is so happy that he decides to make Hope his wife. She suggests the alternative of becoming Prime Minister instead, so that she can keep an eye on everyone. A feminist fairytale, indeed.

The illustrations are very fun, and sometimes even funny. I really enjoyed read this story, and love the unique spin that was placed on it. I’ve never been much of a fan of the traditional tale of Rumpelstiltskin, but I did find this fractured version to be fresh and fun, with teachable moments and good messages. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fresh spin on an old classic.

4 Stars

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale | Graphic Novel Review

Posted September 13, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Graphic Novel / 0 Comments

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale | Graphic Novel ReviewRapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on August 5, 2008
Genres: Retelling
Pages: 144
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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3 Stars

Once upon a time, in a land you only think you know, lived a little girl and her mother . . . or the woman she thought was her mother.

Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall.

And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond.

Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale teams up with husband Dean Hale and brilliant artist Nathan Hale (no relation) to bring readers a swashbuckling and hilarious twist on the classic story as you've never seen it before. Watch as Rapunzel and her amazing hair team up with Jack (of beanstalk fame) to gallop around the wild and western landscape, changing lives, righting wrongs, and bringing joy to every soul they encounter.

Here we have a wild western retelling of the classic Rapunzel. Rapunzel lives in a walled-up city with her mother, Gothel, before climbing the wall and realizing how horrible things are on the outside. She also discovers that Gothel is not her real mother and goes on an adventure with a man named Jack to try and free the people of Gothel’s evil magic.

This story has a lot of elements that are the same as the original Rapunzel. Rapunzel was taken from her parents because the stole Gothel’s lettuce, Rapunzel has very long hair that she uses to her benefit, there is a handsome man along for the ride, and she is thrown into an isolated tower. In this version, though, her mother his been imprisoned, and the story takes place in the Wild West. Rapunzel is very feisty and brave, whereas most renditions depict her as a helpless, naïve girl who can’t take care of herself and does not understand the concept of evil. She goes up against gun carrying vigilantes, thieves, monsters, and scary situations. This time the man sits in the back seat and has to be saved. I loved seeing a fairytale heroine with a brain, who can hold her own and get things done. The illustrations are very well done and are infused with color, perspective, and a ton of detail. Children who enjoyed the original story of Rapunzel or Disney’s Tangled will enjoy this fractured version of the tale.

3 Stars

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer | Mini Book Review

Posted August 24, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Graphic Novel, Young Adult Fiction / 0 Comments

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer | Mini Book ReviewWires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer
Series: Wires and Nerve #1
Published by Feiwel and Friends on January 31, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 238
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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3 Stars

When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the series.

I’m a major lover of The Lunar Chronicles and was pretty sad when it was all over. So OF COURSE I was over the moon when I learned about the graphic novels. Anything to get me back in that world!

I kind of knew this would happen, but the story was much simpler that the full length novels. Not as much happened, but I was ok with it because I was back with my favorite characters! I was just so happy to see them, and see them I finally did. Truth be told, I don’t enjoy seeing illustrations of beloved characters because they never look like they do in my head. In this case, though, Iko looked exactly as I pictured, so that was fun! Wolf was a little over the top wolfy for my taste (I never pictured him as such a big hulking, scruffy wolf), but I recognized everyone! It was a pleasant surprise. And I really loved the artwork! I’ve never been much of a fan of the comic book style illustrations, but I like Holgate’s work a lot.

There were lots of cute moments with all our characters, set against Iko’s wolf-hybrid soldier hunting storyline. Cress gets a cold and Thorne has to take care of her. Scarlet and Wolf are on their farm in France, so I we don’t get to see as much of them as I would have liked. Winter is the ambassador to Earth, and it was fun to see her in such a powerful position since we met her when she was pretty useless and imprisoned by her mind. I loved seeing her strength in this graphic novel. Cinder and Kai have never been my favorite couple in this series (they’re actually my least favorite, which is nuts), but it was fun to see what Cinder is up to now that she’s ruling things. Iko’s got a little thing going on with Kinney, Cinder’s royal guard, which I love. I hope she finds love, too!

All in all, this was so much fun an exactly what I needed after still being so hungover after Winter. I love this world and these characters, and I loved being there with them again. A must-have for fans of the series. I can’t wait for the next volume!

3 Stars