17. December 2014 · Write a comment · 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.

28. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal, Teen Books · Tags:

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan, 320 pages, read by Kira, on 11/16/2014

51LMS-eZloL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_This selkie tale (tail) is told from a couple of perspectives.  The intro shows the young boys gathering clams (or something like clams) for the dinner table and introduces us to the scary witch  on the beach Misskaella, who is the main character.  Then perspective shifts back to the young girl Misskaella as she grows up and is treated poorly by her family and the island’s populace because she is different, because she has a gift with the seals.  She takes her revenge by creating selkie brides for the male populace.  She becomes the richest most powerful person in town.  She can transform male seals into human lovers (for a time).  We feel sorry for Misskaella and then angry that she could be so cruel.  This was a very engaging read, something of a downer, though the island returns to normal at the tales end.
Seal pups
  il_570xN.213624629  13743730642752EpiSelkie9web-214x300db44_84943t0zm1

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Vol. 8 by Bill Willingham, 232 pages, read by Courtney, on 10/17/2014

Flycatcher is drawn into the spotlight as he discovers the startling truth about his own past as the Frog Prince. At the same time, he learns that the Adversary plans to destroy his foes once and for all. How can the meek Flycatcher stop this deadly foe?

This deluxe edition collects Fables issues #60-63, 65-69

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale by Charles de Lint, Charles Vess (Illustrator), 272 pages, read by Angie, on 11/07/2014

Sarah Jane is the middle child of seven red-haired sisters. She has become friends with Aunt Lillian who lives in the mountains above her family’s farm. Aunt Lillian tells Sarah Jane stories about the Apple Tree Man and the King of the Cats and the fairies. Sarah Jane is drawn to Aunt Lillian’s simpler way of life. One day when she is collecting ‘sang (ginseng) she discovers a sangman badly injured. Not wanting to get involved in a fairy conflict but not wanting to let the little man die. She brings the man back to Lillian’s but doesn’t realize the chain of events she has started. She has interfered in a war between the bee fairies and the sang fairies. Soon all six of her sisters has been pulled in and Sarah Jane must figure out how to return the injured sangman and save her sisters.

This is the first Charles de Lint book I have read, but I have heard a lot of good things about his books. I enjoyed Sarah Jane’s story a lot and thought she was very well thought out. However, I kept getting her sisters confused and was never as sure about them as I was about Sarah Jane. I also wished there was more to the fairy story. I know this is a companion to The Cats of Tanglewood Forest which tells Lillian’s story and I kind of wish I had read that one first. I think it would have filled in some of the details I was missing in this one.

08. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction

Life of Zarf: The Trouble with Weasels by Rob Harrell, 288 pages, read by Angie, on 11/07/2014

Zarf is just your average troll. He is trying to survive middle school and everything that goes along with it. Zarf lives in a fairy tale world where Goldilocks is his favorite lunch lady, ogres are near the top of the social ladder and the biggest bully of all is Prince Roquefort. Zarf’s friends are Kevin Littlepig and Chester the Jester. Kevin is afraid of everything and Chester’s jokes all fall flat. Zarf has trouble controlling his troll blood anger and it really gets him in trouble one day when he is tormented by Roquefort. When good King Cheznott goes missing while hunting the terrible snuffweasels things go from bad to worse. Cheznott is a benevolent king who supported troll rights, but his son is entirely different. Roquefort is a bully and his first act is to imprison Zarf and deny rights to trolls. Zarf breaks out of the dungeon with the help of his friends and Goldilocks and frees John Knoble the Knight as well. Together they head off to rescue the king and restore order to the kingdom of Cotswin.

This was a fun take on the world of fairy tales. I love how everything you love about fairy tales was incorporated along with a lot of humor and zaniness. Zarf is a great character that will surely appeal to a lot of readers. The book has a lot of illustrations and popout texts that make it a dynamic read. This is a good book for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and those types of books.

04. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Paula

The Little Prince by De Saint-Exupery, Antoine, 91 pages, read by Paula, on 10/31/2014

hw7.pl

“In the exquisite imagery of this fairy tale, the poet-writer shares with children something of the mystic’s vision and wisdom of life”.–New York Public Library.

A beautiful tale of friendship, love and loneliness.  Sad but heartwarming.

03. November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson, 304 pages, read by Angie, on 11/01/2014

A girl runs through the forest covered only in spiderwebs. She has no name but is running towards something. Her path is blocked by a cabin which turns out to be the home of a witch. She rescues a boy captured by the witch and together they set off to their destination. They are headed to Pennyroyal Academy. The girl is going to join the princess corps and the boy, Remington, plans to train as a knight. At Pennyroyal, the girl is given the name Cadet Eleven but shortens it to Evie. Evie becomes friends with a few of the other princess hopefuls in the Ironbone Corps. The girls are training to be princesses so they can go out into the world and fight the evil witches. They are walking in the footsteps of the great princesses like Pennyroyal and Snow White and Cinderella. Princesses are the only hope in stopping the evil witches and their plans to take over the world. The boys are training as knights so that they can fight the dragons.

If Evie had known what being a princess was all about she might not have come to Pennyroyal. Turns out Evie is under a memory curse and can’t recall what her life was like. All she remembers is the last few years with her family: her mother, father and sister. She tried to fly like her sister and almost killed her father and that is when she realized just how different she was from the rest of her family. She ran away because she isn’t a dragon and doesn’t want to cause her dragon family anymore pain. At Pennyroyal Evie does learn more about her background and her curse. Everything comes to a head during one of the training exercises when the truth behind her real family is revealed.

I loved this book a lot more than I thought I would. It is one book that when I finished reading it I immediately wanted another book in the series. I loved the different take on fairy tales; princesses are not born they are trained to become who they are. I really enjoyed the fact that Larson was able to so successful intertwine actual fairy tale stories with this tale. Evie is a fantastic character. She makes mistakes and isn’t the most knowledgeable but she has what every good princess is supposed to have: courage, compassion, kindness and discipline. I can’t wait to see where the next book will go and if it will answer some of the other questions that arose during this book.

25. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Noelle

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff, 264 pages, read by Noelle, on 10/07/2014

AWESOMELY FUN CHILDREN’S BOOK!
In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone’s joke.nbsp;But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship–and a cheeky sense of humor–he just might triumph in the end.

16. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 10/15/2014

Poor Rump. His mother died before giving him his full name. He has always been stuck with half a name and no destiny. He lives with his grandma in The Village on the Mountain. The villagers look for gold in the mines to send to the King (King Barf!). All of their rations come through the fat, greedy miller Oswald. This is a land where names have power, magic exists and pixies and gnomes are everywhere. Rump discovers his mother’s old spinning wheel and discovers he can spin straw into gold. The magic comes at a price and soon he finds himself in the power of the miller. When the king comes looking for the new gold, the miller claims his daughter spun it knowing that Rump would help her. Rump goes to the Kingdom and does help Opal, but at a huge cost. Because of the magic Rump can not give the gold away, he has to receive something for it. He is unable to bargain, he must accept any trade offered to him. When Opal offers her first born child Rump despairs, but he has to accept. He runs away to Yonder to find his mother’s family and to hopefully break the bargain. Alas, it is not to be. Rump has to find his true name in order to overcome the magical curse and be free.

I love fractured fairy tales. There is just something so enchanting about taking a story we all know and turning it on its head. The tales of Rumpelstiltskin are really not that detailed in explaining why things happen. Liesl Shurtliff simply fills in Rump’s backstory for us. She explains his actions and those of the other characters in the story. The miller becomes the true villain in this tale and Rump is simply a boy who has to find his destiny. I loved all the fantastical characters like the pixies, who are attracted to gold, the gnomes, who are messengers, and the trolls who don’t eat people! I thought this was a thoroughly creative and imaginative story and I loved it.

03. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

The Fairy-Tale Matchmaker by E.D. Baker, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 10/02/2014

Cory hates being a tooth fairy. She isn’t very good at it and doesn’t enjoy it, but her mom is a tooth fairy and convinced her it was the career for her. When she quits her mom is furious as is the Tooth Fairy Guild. Cory just wants to help people and wants to find a career that will let her do that. She starts taking odd jobs like babysitting (for Humpty Dumpty and the old lady who lived in a shoe), mowing yards (for the three little pigs of course) and doing inventory (for the lady selling seashells on the seashore). She also starts setting up her friends on dates trying to find them the perfect match. The Tooth Fairy Guild does not take quitters lightly and starts a campaign of harassment that follows Cory wherever she goes. They send rain and gnats and crabs and the big bad wolf. None of it convinces Cory that she should go back to being a tooth fairy. As the harassment escalates so does her determination to find something truly helpful to do.

I had high hopes for this book as I really enjoy fractured fairy tales, but this book was a bit of a disappointment. I liked the fact that we got to see such a nice mixture of fairy tale characters, but I wanted more of a story. The story itself seems very disjointed with Cory moving from one odd job with a fairy tale character to another. The only truly cohesive thing seems to be the harassment by the TFG, but even that seems a bit extreme. I liked the ending and how Cory’s matchmaking desires finally makes sense but I also thought it was a bit rushed. There was a lot of story about Cory babysitting and such but very little about what happens when she finds her true calling.

29. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Eric, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman, 80 pages, read by Eric, on 09/02/2014

A powerful, poetic, and haunting myth set in Scotland, and spun by a master storyteller. A small man tells the tale of an earlier journey, during which he hired a guide to lead him to a treasure-filled cave. Being a Neil Gaiman story, however, the trek is much more than a search for riches. The tale slowly twists as truths about the past are revealed. Highly recommended.

24. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Science Fiction, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Cress by Marissa Meyer, 552 pages, read by Tammy, on 08/07/2014

cressThe continuing story of the cyborg Cinder and her ragamuffin group of friends trying to save the people of the Earth and Luna (the moon) from the evil queen of Luna, Levana. Cinder, Captain Thorne, Scarlet and Wolf discover a girl imprisoned on a satellite. Believing she has information and skills that can help them overthrow Levana they set out to rescue Cress.

When the daring rescue goes awry the group ends up separated. Meanwhile Queen Levana moves along the wedding plans to Emperor Kai. Can Cinder rescue her friends before it’s too late. What will Cinder decide about her own future. Can she give up her freedom to save all the rest of inhabitants of Earth?

 

19. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books

Wings by Aprilynne Pike, 294 pages, read by Kira, on 08/07/2014

Protagonist Laurel discovers that she isn’t human, but rather a plant belonging to the fairy kingdom.  Her family has recently moved into town, in part so that Laurel attend a school (instead of being homeschooled), and in part so her father can open and run his dream business a bookstore.  At school she meets David, a calm, smart, good-looking guy.  Then she starts growing a flower from her back.

This was a nice book, a bit predictable, in the plot line, and David and Laurel modeled near-perfect interpersonal interactions, a nice change, if a little unrealistic.  I will Not be reading further into this series, and only “picked up” this book, because choices in downloadable books are limited.wings  XMix7p6N50lraY1LfPibuO3H1Os wings-aprilynne-pike-5966588-348-500th

gaimanThe Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains: A Tale of Travel and Darkness with Pictures of All Kinds is a short story written by Neil Gaiman.  The tale is about two men who travel to find their treasure in a cave.  This cave is protected by the Otherworld and has damaging results for those who enter.  Gaiman also is reading his work and he does a wonderful job.

 

 

08. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains: a Tale of Travel and Darkness with Pictures of all Kinds by Neil Gaiman and Eddie Campbell., 80 pages, read by Kira, on 08/03/2014

The_Truth_is_a_Cave_in_the_Black_Mountains_by_Neil_Gaiman_200_254  imagesimages3  This is a dark tale of a man’s quest into the Black Mountains for the truth.  There is a mystery to be solved.  The narrator is a small man, a dwarf, whom we meet as he is about to hire a guide, Calum MacInnes, to take him to a cave on the Misty Isle reputed to be filled with gold.  I liked the story, it had a haunting quality to it.  It wasn’t entirely fair though.02images2

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

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire, 496 pages, read by Angie, on 08/06/2014

Elena is a poor girl from the Russian countryside. Her dad is dead, her mom is sick and her brothers have left. One day a train stops in her poor village and she meets Ekaterina (Cat). Cat is a privileged girl heading to St. Petersburg to meet the tsar’s godson. The train is stalled while a bridge is repaired. Cat is showing Elena the gift for the tsar (a Faberge egg) when the train starts up again. Cat and the egg are thrown from the train and Elena is left on it. The girls have suddenly switched places and have to make a go of it. Cat sets off to try and get to St. Petersberg and runs into Baba Yaga. Elena tries to hide until she is found out and then pretends to be Cat. She also finds a firebird’s egg in the forest and tries to use it as a replacement for the Faberge egg. Baby Yaga agrees to take Cat to the tsar after Cat gives her the egg. Turns out the firebird’s egg was supposed to hatch and since it hasn’t magic is all out of whack. After the group is reunited and Anton the tsar’s godson joins them, they head north to figure out what is wrong with magic. 

There is a lot of craziness in this story. There is the ibza of Baba Yaga (her chicken house who forgets where she puts things), the matryoshka dolls who unnest themselves and marry the tooth soldiers of the ice dragon, there is the monk narrator who witnesses everything through the eyes of birds, and of course there is Baba Yaga herself. She is perhaps the best thing about this book. She is completely insane but hilarious. She has knowledge of the future and the past and brings it all up with the knowledge of the present.

This is a very complicated story. I am not quite sure who the intended audience is. It is a little long for a middle grade book and the story tends to wander a bit. There is a lot going on in the story and I think younger readers might be a bit confused by it all. It was an enjoyable story but I will admit that I couldn’t read it for long at a time. I kept putting it down and going to something else. It is kind of a convoluted plot. It all ties together at the end, but it took a lot of effort to get there. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.