25. February 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Black Wings by Christina Henry, 295 pages, read by Kira, on 02/24/2015

Madeline Black is an agent of Dblack wingseath, guiding souls to the door of the afterlife.  Shortly after she rents out the lower rooms in her house, to hot-looking Gabriel Angeloscuro, demons wanting to kill her start showing up near her house, including her evil half-brother Antares.  The author does some interesting world-building, building a genealogy of residents of heaven, but mostly hell.  I picked up this title on accidB0351_BlackWings_coverent, thinking it was another by Barb Hendee – both have call # HEN.  Enjoyable enough of a read, but I doubt I’ll continue the series.fantasy-and-gothic-pictures-girl-with-black-wings-and-blue-dress

24. February 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell, 332 pages, read by Angie, on 02/23/2015

Sand has a fight with his father so he runs away and makes an offering at a shrine. The next thing he knows he is waking up in the sundered castle. Thirty years ago something happened at the castle that caused everything from the walls to the last apple to split. The castle was then surrounded by an impenetrable wall of thorns. Sand has no idea how he got in the castle, but once there he decides to use his skills as a blacksmith to start fixing things. He fixes everything from doors to buckets to spoons. He even puts things back to rights in the crypt beneath the chapel. Sand spends weeks alone in the castle working and trying to find enough food to get by. Then a girl appears; she is the same girl he put to rights in the crypt. Seems that Perrotte has been mended as well. She was once the daughter of the castle before she was murdered by her stepmother. Once Perrotte and Sand get past their surprise at the new circumstances, Perrotte helps Sand with the mending of the castle. They notice that the more they mend the lower the wall of thorns becomes. They are determined to find a way out of the castle and back to their lives.

This is a magical fairy tale with a twist. I really enjoyed Sand and Perrotte and how their relationship develops. Perrotte goes from being a snobby lady who looks down on humble Sand, to a warm human being who considers Sand her best friend and protector. I liked the discovery of Sand’s magic and why it came to be. I also enjoyed Perrotte’s tragic story of her past and how she came back to life. The one thing I thought was rushed was the ending though. We spend the majority of the book in the castle with Sand and Perrotte as they are working together and rebuilding the castle. Then in the last few chapters Perrotte’s stepmother comes with her army; then a peace is established; then they leave the castle. It is all very hurried and didn’t seem to fit the pace of the rest of the book. But as this is a fairy tale everyone lives happily ever after and all is well.

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Steam-punk

Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann, Janet K. Lee (Illustrations), 128 pages, read by Angie, on 02/11/2015

Time has stopped in Anorev. Everyone is either a robot or a child; there are no adults. There is no night or bedtime or chores or anything one would expect. Then 312 Dapper Men descend from the sky. They are here to set things right and to restart time. One of the Dapper Men enlists the help of a boy named Ayden and a robot girl named Zoe. They need to do something with the robot angel in the harbor in order to make things they way they should be. I actually wanted more from this story than I got. There isn’t a lot of explanation as to why time stopped, what happened to the adults, who the Dapper Men are, etc. The story itself is pretty sparse. The artwork is gorgeous however. It brings life to the story where the words do not. This is an interesting steampunk fairy tale fantasy but just needed a bit more.

05. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Fairest by Marissa Meyer , 222 pages, read by Angie, on 02/04/2015

Fairest is Queen Levana’s story and what a story it is. While this doesn’t really change my opinion of the evil queen it does explain a bit about how she got to where she is. Basically Luna royalty is messed up. Levana and her sister Channery aren’t even sad when their parents are murdered. Channery becomes queen and just wants to sleep with every guy she is attracted to, doesn’t care about politics and loves tormenting her little sister. The torment began very early when Channery forced Levana into a fire that horribly disfigured her. This caused Levana to become really good at glamour so no one can see what she really looks like. Levana becomes obsessed with one of the royal guards and tricks him into sleeping with her and then marrying her basically by taking on the glamour of his dead wife. Levana is a pretty twisted character and does a lot of things that make you doubt her sanity. But crazy is often exciting to read about. This doesn’t really give a lot of info about the other books in the series but we do get glimpse of Cinder and Winter’s beginnings and of course how Levana became fixated on Earth.

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Graphic Novel

Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Vol. 9 by Bill Willingham, 368 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/04/2015

This is clearly a pivotal point for the characters in Fables. It’s the battle we’ve all been waiting for: the Fables versus the Adversary. It’s every bit as epic as you’d imagine.

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Poetry, Teen Books

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann, 114 pages, read by Angie, on 02/03/2015

Poetry is not something I pick up and read very often. I don’t have anything against poetry I just like prose more. I am always glad to be introduced to interesting poetry however. I heard about Poisoned Apples through School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books and decided to give it a try. I am glad I did. The poems are a mix of contemporary and fairy tale themes. They deal with the things women have had to deal with forever: sex, body image, a male-dominated world, etc. They speak of things that are not always spoken about. These are not happy, light poems but dark and disturbing at times. They are beautiful in both their message and their words.

03. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction

Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked by Jen Calonita, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 02/02/2015

Gilly lives with her family in their shoe. Her father is the shoemaker who invented the glass slipper. But now the princesses have given glass slipper production to the fairies and Gilly’s family isn’t doing so well. She steals things to provide her family with food and the occasional gift. When she is finally caught she is sent to Fairy Tale Reform School (FTRS). FTRS is run by reformed villains like Cinderella’s stepmother, Red Riding Hood’s wolf, Ariel’s sea witch and Snow White’s evil queen. Gilly meets a lot of other fairy tale delinquents at the school and finds that not everything is as reformed as it seems.

I enjoy reading fractured fairy tales and it seems like they are a trend in children’s literature right now. I like the twist of the villains being reformed and trying to reform others in Calonita’s take on the fairy tale world. There were plenty of twists and turns to this story to make it interesting. It is the beginning of a series and opens up a lot of possibilities for future books. The fairy tale world is full of interesting characters and tales and there is no end to the new twists you can come up with.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.

02. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste , 240 pages, read by Angie, on 02/01/2015

Corinne lives on an island with her fisherman father. Her mother died when she was a baby. The island is a special one with a forest filled with Jumbies. Jumbies are creatures that can harm you if you come in contact with them. The villagers stay away from the forest and the jumbies and have lived together for many years. One day Corinne ventures into the forest to retrieve a necklace that belonged to her mother and is followed out by Severine. Severine is the queen of the jumbies and it turns out the sister of Corinne’s mother. Severine wants a family and decides she is going to take Corinne and her father. When that doesn’t work out for her she decides to retake the island from the humans. Corinne teams up with her friends to stop Severine and save their home.

The Jumbies is an interesting fairy tale based off island myths. Baptiste used the stories of jumbies from her childhood to craft a modern fairy tale. The jumbies are just scary enough but not too scary to intrigue young readers. The chapters are nice and short and make you want to keep reading. The characters were well developed and interesting. I liked the Severine’s motivations were actually revealed and she wasn’t just a one-dimensional character like so many villains.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

21. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books · Tags:

Desert Tales: A Wicked Lovely Companion Novel by Melissa Marr, 245 pages, read by Brian, on 01/21/2015

desertThis a companion novel to the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr.  This novel takes place in the Mojave Desert where Rika (human and now fairy) chose to live.  Rika, didn’t really belong with the desert fey.  She basically lives in solitude.  Ritka meets a human who is kind and a romance begins, so maybe, just maybe, fey can come out of hiding from the humans.

 

17. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Teen Books

Grimm Memories by Janna Jennings, 262 pages, read by Angie, on 01/16/2015

Andi, Quinn, Dylan and Frederick are back in the real world after their adventures in Elorium. They starting having nightmares and decide it is time to go back and try to rescue Jack. Quinn’s brother Max gets sucked along for the ride. Elorium is not how they left it though. People are disappearing and others are having nightmares as well. This just makes the gang that much more determined to find Jack and figure out what is going on. There is a lot of adventure and excitement, a couple of people almost die, and there are a few other fairytales added to the mix.

I liked this second book in the Grimm Tales series. The story seemed a bit more cohesive than the first as we didn’t have to introduce characters and their stories all over again. There is plenty of action and intrigue as the group travels across Elorium to find Jack. I enjoyed the developing relationships between the boys and girls and the fact that the girls were awesome. Andi and Quinn pretty much ruled the adventure. They showed that girls can be smart, prepared and kick-butt as well.

Thanks to Netgalley for letting me read this book!

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Graphic Novel

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman, 56 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/08/2015

  How well do you remember the tale of Hansel and Gretel? I thought I recalled it pretty well, but then I read Gaiman’s version and realized how much of it had slipped my memory. I won’t likely forget how the story played out again though, because Gaiman’s take on it is exceedingly memorable. It’s one of the traditional variations on the tale, which are all fairly creepy to begin with, but the addition of Lorenzo Mattatti’s chilling black-and-white painted scenes add an even more ominous tone. Blurbs on the cover describe this as a “definitive” rendition, an assessment I can’t find any fault with. Notes at the end of this slim volume tell readers about the history of this classic tale, as well as some of the variations in the narration.
06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson, 304 pages, read by Lisa, on 12/12/2014

Pennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become tomorrow’s princesses and knights….Come one, come all!

A girl from the forest arrives in a bustling kingdom with no name and no idea why she is there, only to find herself at the center of a world at war.  She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights are trained to battle the two great menaces of the day: witches and dragons. There, given the name “Evie,” she must endure a harsh training regimen under the steel glare of her Fairy Drillsergeant, while also navigating an entirely new world of friends and enemies. As Evie learns what it truly means to be a princess, she realizes surprising things about herself and her family, about human compassion and inhuman cruelty. And with the witch forces moving nearer, she discovers that the war between princesses and witches is much more personal than she could ever have imagined.

Set in Grimm’s fairytale world, M.A. Larson’s Pennyroyal Academymasterfully combines adventure, humor, and magical mischief.

Description from Goodreads.com

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction

Fairy Tale Christmas by Michael McLean, Scott McLean, 176 pages, read by Angie, on 01/05/2015

The fairy tale villains want to change the endings of their stories. They are tired of good always winning. So they concoct a plan to kidnap Santa and force the heroes to give up their endings. They have Rumpelstiltskin as their inside man posing as an elf and an evil queen, a witch and a giant to do the kidnapping. Of course things don’t turn out like they planned at all. This is a fun little Christmas tale. I enjoy fractured fairy tales and this was pretty inventive. It is short and very readable so kids could read it very quickly or it could be read aloud at Christmas time.

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Emma and the Blue Genie. by Cornelia Funke, 90 pages, read by Kira, on 01/01/2015

0385375409 emma-and-the-blue-genie-illustration2-kerstin-meyer-001 emma-und-der-blaue-dschinnI’ve really enjoyed Cornelia Funke’s works, and was delighted to see another of her works translated into English.  This is a short story of a girl having an adventure in elsewhere with some genies.

31. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Becky, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction

Blood Magick by Nora Roberts, 322 pages, read by Becky, on 12/02/2014

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County Mayo is rich in the traditions of Ireland, legends that Branna O’Dwyer fully embraces in her life and in her work as the proprietor of The Dark Witch shop, which carries soaps, lotions, and candles for tourists, made with Branna’s special touch. Branna’s strength and selflessness hold together a close circle of friends and family–along with their horses and hawks and her beloved hound. But there’s a single missing link in the chain of her life: love… She had it once–for a moment–with Finbar Burke, but a shared future is forbidden by history and blood. Which is why Fin has spent his life traveling the world to fill the abyss left in him by Branna, focusing on work rather than passion. Branna and Fin’s relationship offers them both comfort and torment. And though they succumb to the heat between them, there can be no promises for tomorrow. A storm of shadows threatens everything that their circle holds dear. It will be Fin’s power, loyalty, and heart that will make all the difference in an age-old battle between the bonds that hold their friends together and the evil that has haunted their families for centuries

17. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

West of the Moon by Margi Preus, 224 pages, read by Angie, on 12/16/2014

Astri and Greta live with their aunt and uncle on a farm in Norway. Their mother has died and their father has gone to America to find a better life. The aunt sells Astri to a goatman, Mr. Svaalberd, who doesn’t treat her very well. On the goatman’s farm she finds Spinning Girl who doesn’t talk but spins beautiful wool. Astri is determined to run away and find a better life for her and Greta. When she does finally get away, she is pursued by the goatman throughout her journey. Astri, Greta and Spinning Girl make their way to the coast and a ship to America. Turns out the money Astri stole from goatman will not get them all on the ship. Spinning Girl is left behind as Greta and Astri sail for America. Throughout the story Astri recounts tales and legends, mainly East of the Sun West of the Moon, to help her get through her horrible days. This is a time in history when the old ways have not given way to the new Christian beliefs completely. There is talk of trolls and huldrefolk and magic spells and rituals. It is an interesting mix of fantasy and reality in this historical tale. I found a lot of the historical information really interesting, especially how people had to supply themselves for voyages to America. I am not sure how many fans this book will find among the intended age group though. It is a little confusing with the mix of fantasy and reality and is plenty violent. I really wanted to like it more than I did.

I received this book from Netgalley.

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Teen Books

Mortal Gods (Mortal Gods #2) by Kendare Blake, 341 pages, read by Courtney, on 11/21/2014

Mortal Gods is the second book in the Goddess Wars trilogy and, as such, picks up shortly after Antigoddess ends. At this point, the gods are not doing well. It turns out that forces more powerful than Hera and Poseidon are at work and continuing to drive the gods into their painful physical decline. Athena et al. may have won the first battle (barely), but the war is just beginning. Cassandra wants revenge on Aphrodite. Athena wants to find the other human weapon, Achilles, before Ares and Aphrodite do. What Athena and her crew don’t know yet is that Hera isn’t actually dead. In fact, she’s been healing ever since the battle. Which goes to show: never assume a mostly-immortal being is dead, even if it seems like they couldn’t possibly survive whatever befell them. Odds are good they’re still alive and plotting how they’re going to get you once they get their strength back. As the gods feel their bodies giving up on them, the reincarnated versions of Cassandra, Hercules, Odysseus and Achilles seem to be getting stronger and faster.

While I didn’t hate Mortal Gods, I didn’t really love it either. I do enjoy the characterization of the Greek gods, even though it’s really nothing new at the point. Blake’s versions feel much more true to their origins than other incarnations I’ve come across. There’s plenty of fighting and action, but now, easily a year after reading Antigoddess, I’m having trouble remembering what the whole war thing is about in the first place. I spent the first half of the book struggling to remember what happened in the first book and the second half waiting for something exciting to happen. There’s a lot of travel, speculation and training for fights throughout this installment, which is all fine and good, but I guess I felt like I needed more from this series. This is absolutely a “middle book” in the series; I doubt it would work as a stand-alone. Perhaps I’m just tired of series at this point, but it almost always feels like the second book in a series/trilogy/quartet/etc. winds up being somewhat disappointing. Time will tell if I decide to pick up the final book in this series.

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, 208 pages, read by Courtney, on 11/21/2014

>Through the Woodsb kicks off with an introduction that evokes the age-old fear of the dark and things that go bump in the night, which effectively sets the tone for the rest of this illustrated collection. They’re a gorgeously illustrated set of short stories with a distinctly disturbing vibe. Many of them feel like they could be fairy tales, but there are assuredly no happily-ever-afters here. From spiritualism gone wrong to fratricide, the themes of the stories are dark and uncomfortable though the tales are never gory. It’s an ideal collection for dark and stormy night and it’s short enough to actually be read in one sitting (just be sure to leave the light on).

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Teen Books

Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr, 358 pages, read by Courtney, on 11/18/2014

Blackwell, SD is not your average small town. For one, it’s populated almost entirely by descendents of the Norse gods Thor and Loki. Matt Thorsen and his classmates Laurie and Fen Brekke are no exception. As far as Matt is concerned, the Norse myths are really cool, but they’re just stories. No one really believes them, right? Except that Matt’s grandfather does and apparently, so do many of the other town’s elders. When Matt dreams of Ragnarok (the end of the world, according to Norse mythology), he begins to realize that there might actually be some truth to these stories. Then, at a town meeting, everyone is informed that Ragnarok is real and that all the signs have been pointing to it happening soon. Descendents of the gods will be acting as their stand-ins as the battle commences. Unfortunately for Matt, he has been named champion. Now he needs to gather the rest of the godly descendents, starting with Laurie and Fen, distant descendents of Loki. Did I mention that Loki and Thor were enemies at Ragnarok? Yup, things are going to get really interesting for Matt.
Loki’s Wolves is a fun middle grade series opener in the vein of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Parallels abound: a trio of magical kids (two boys and a girl, no less), one of whom is made leader by circumstance (technically against his will) and everything will be devastated if they don’t complete their quest. This is not to say that it’s derivative or anything like that, but it will certainly appeal to readers of both series. I personally had some trouble with the writing and a few plot points, but my middle grade readers loved the book through and through, so I suppose my issues are mere trifles. Overall, an entertaining and fast-paced read.

03. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett, 294 pages, read by Leslie, on 11/06/2014

16225157 For one thing, she has a serious illness that keeps her inside the mysterious Gothel Mansion. And for another, her hair is 15 feet long. Not to mention that she’s also the key to ultimately saving the world from certain destruction. But then she meets a boy named Fane, who changes all she has ever known, and she decides to risk everything familiar to find out who she really is.

In this Rapunzel story, the author approaches it as if there was never a fairy tale, at least from the characters’ view.  Rapunzel has the long hair, she is kept isolated from the world, and she is, unknown to her, a kidnap victim.  Rapunzel is home schooled because of a supposed illness, but she has the Internet to connect herself to the outside world.  She finds herself investigating FaceBook and ends up friending Fane, a boy her own age.  Without any friends, this proves too tempting to her to resist.  As Rapunzel begins to question her loneliness and her life up to this point, she learns more about her mother than she could have ever imagined.  After a while, her luck in keeping her mother in the dark, runs out.

A definite winner for girls to read, it is different enough to keep the reader engrossed.  A good read to recommend.