Breadcrumbs is a delightful novel. I enjoyed the mix of fairytale and reality. Ursu did a really good job of mixing these two genres into a seemless story.
Hazel is an imaginative fifth grader who lives next door to her best friend Jack. They have always played together being superheroes or knights or anything their imagination can come up with. Until one day Jack gets a sliver of glass in his eye and everything changes. Suddenly, Hazel is babyish and Jack doesn’t want to spend any time with her. Then he disappears; supposedly to visit an aunt (who no one knew existed). Hazel doesn’t understand this sudden change and she doesn’t cope with it very well. Jack was her one friend and confidant, the one person she could always count on. Her world without him is not so great. She doesn’t fit in at school, she doesn’t have any friends and everyone things she is Crazy Hazy. Her father has left and doesn’t have time for her and her mother just wants her to grow up and deal with everything maturely. But Hazel knows something is going on with Jack and when Taylor tells her he saw Jack go into the woods with an impossibly tall, thin woman she decides to follow him. What happens next is a quest straight out of fairy tales. Hazel encounters different beings that challenge her on her quest to get to Jack; however, they also help her find herself and her strength to go on. In the end she does rescue Jack and get him back to civilization. But you don’t know if things will ever be the same.
You can’t help but feel for Hazel throughout this book. She is a misfit who lives in a world of imagination. Unfortunately, those around her only deal with reality. It makes it really hard for her to fit in. And then her one rock, her point of salvation, Jack turns on her and she gets no sympathy or help. Her mother constantly pushes her to be more realistic and to make more friends and to basically be someone she is not. She isn’t the most supportive of mothers, not that she is a bad mom, just not really clued in to who her daughter is or what she needs. But Hazel knows and she sets out to get it. She knows that even if she and Jack aren’t best friends anymore they should still be in each others lives. She knows something is wrong with him even when no one else does. Her journey through the woods challenges her in ways she never imagined but each challenge makes her stronger and more determined on her quest.
The story is a great mix of fairytale fantasy and reality. Jack’s plight and the journey through the woods can be seen as a metaphor for childhood friends growing up and apart but it is also a classical fairytale journey. It works on both levels and I think that is the strength of this book. Hazel does have to grow up a bit in this book; she has to accept that things are not always going to be as they were. She does this but not after some personal struggles. This is such a wonderful book and I would highly recommend it.
On one hand I really didn’t like this book. The characters were horrible children and really unlikeable. On the other hand I kind of wanted to find out how everything was going to turn out so I just kept reading the book.
Kendra and Seth get dropped off at their grandparents for a couple of weeks while their parents go on a cruise. Grandpa isn’t really thrilled to have them visit, but he doesn’t really tell them why. Just tells them that they have to stay in the house and the yard; they can’t go in the woods or the barn. Of course, Seth being the inquisitive kid he is doesn’t listen and soon ventures out into the woods to discover all sorts of things. Turns out that Grandpa is the caretaker for Fablehaven, a safe haven/refuge for all kinds of magical creatures. The children are finally let in on the secret, but of course Grandpa still doesn’t explain everything to them. He only tells them that the woods are dangerous and they shouldn’t enter them. Then on the most dangerous night of all Seth disobeys and bad things happen.
Basically this book is about a kid who doesn’t listen and who always does what he is told not to do and who never gets in trouble for it. Seth is not likeable; there are no consequences for his actions and he doesn’t seem to learn any lessons from his errors. Kendra seems like a nonentity for most of the book. She basically does nothing until the last 50 pages. Grandpa could be more open and really explain the rules and the reasons behind them, but he doesn’t and he doesn’t really punish the kids when they break the rules. I am not sure what the point of this book is. It is entertaining in parts, but the lack of really good characters makes it a hard sell. I know it is a popular series but I will not be reading any more of it.
Callie is starting 7th grade at a new school. She is ready for a new start. But she finds out she has to get glasses. As if her red frizzy hair and freckles aren’t enough, now she has to wear big dorky glasses! But these aren’t just any glasses; when she puts them on she sees bubbles over people’s heads that show their thoughts. Her glasses let her read people’s minds! Suddenly she knows what her best friend, her crush, her mom and everyone else thinks. But knowing what others think isn’t always a good thing. Callie must learn to navigate junior high and everything that goes along with it and figure out how to deal with the power of the glasses.
Oh 7th grade, what a terrible time for girls. Your body is changing, your emotions are changing, your friends are changing, suddenly boys become important…Callie does a great job of embodying all I remember about being in 7th grade. Of course, I didn’t have magic glasses to tell me what everyone was thinking. Callie has to deal with her best friend who is suddenly not such a good friend afterall. She starts hanging out with new people and taking advantage of Callie. She has to deal with her parents splitting up and her dad not being around. And she has to deal with her new friend Ana who is definitely hiding something from her.
I really enjoyed Callie’s journey in this book. She starts out as a very self-conscious loner who is afraid of making friends and talking to new people and ends up more self-assured and confident in who she is. She also learns that you can’t always trust your first impressions of people and your true friends are those that act like friends and don’t take advantage of you. And she learns that everyone has secrets and no one says exactly what they are thinking. The magic glasses helped her realize all of this but in the end she realized she didn’t need the glasses anymore. She had grown enough to live without them. Callie is a very special character and one that was a joy to read about. I highly recommend this book.
Calamity Jack is the follow-up to Rapunzel’s Revenge and it is worth the read. Jack was just Punzie’s sidekick in the first book, but now he takes center stage. Jack’s story starts with the beanstalk of course. We learned that as a young lad he got into some trouble with giants. So he stole the golden goose and ran. Then he met Rapunzel and wanted to make things right for his mom. Unfortunately, nothing is right in Shyport. Blunderbore, the giant, has taken over and the town is being attacked by Ant People. It is up to Jack and Punzie to figure out what is going on and fix it.
I loved Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack is just as wonderful. While the story isn’t quite as involved as Rapunzel seemed to be there is a lot going on. You have giants, ant people, Jack’s momma, fairies, a new love interest and all kinds of wonderful adventures. Jack and Rapunzel are a great team and this book explores their relationship a bit further.
The illustrations are also wonderful. They really enhance the story and bring it to live. I think the team of Hale, Hale and Hale is a good one and I hope they keep pushing out the graphic fairy tales.
Hale and Hale and Hale (yes that is a lot of Hales and not all related) take the Rapunzel tale and spin their own yarn or hair. And their take on this story is a good one. They move Rapunzel to an American West like setting with cowboys and lassos and horses, but the basic tale is still the same. Rapunzel was stolen from her parents as a baby by an evil witch and imprisoned in a tower/castle. She eventually gets free of the tower and with the help of a male companion defeats the witch.
In Rapunzel’s Revenge, Rapunzel is raised by Mother Goetel who treats her like her own daughter, and in fact Rapunzel doesn’t know she isn’t her mother until one day when she meets her real mom who is a slave in the mines. She also discovers that Mother Goetel’s magic is draining the land of all its vitality. She stands up to Goetel but is imprisoned in a tower for years. She finally escapes and teams up with Jack (of beanstalk and golden goose fame) to stop Goetel and free her mother. They have lots of adventures and we get to see Rapunzel use her hair in all kinds of unique ways.
I love new takes on old stories and the Hales really do Rapunzel’s story justice. I like the wild west aspect of the story with Rapunzel as a wild cowgirl using her hair as a weapon and a lasso and anything else she can think of. I think this really works as a graphic novel. Hale’s illustrations are great and really tell the story that can’t be told just through words. I think fans of fairy tales and fractured fairy tales will really enjoy this one.
Cinderella: Fables are Forever is another installment of the World’s greatest spy, Cinderella. This time our femme fatale is battling the deadly assassin, Silver Slipper, to regain control of her life. Dorothy, from the Wizard of Oz, is after Cinderella and chase gets deadlier when Dorothy enlists her friends from Russian fables. Unlike a Disney preview, I will not tell you the whole story.
If you have never read the Fables series, give it a try. The characters are from well known fables that are transformed into the modern day world. I like the Cinderella character because she has all the makings of an excellent spy and makes you feel ward and cuddly too.
I enjoyed Franny Billingsley’s book Chime so much, that I decided to check out her earlier fiction aimed at children. The protagonist keeps the “folk” at bay in the houses she serves, if she doesn’t she is the first line of defense and suffers intense pain and the possibility of death. She comes to a new estate where the “folk” are much fiercer than what she is accustomed to. She is hiding the fact that she is a girl, because “folk keepers” are not supposed to be female. She discovers other things about herself as she goes along.
Like Chime, the clues to the mystery are all out on display, easy to decipher, IF you know that there is a mystery to be solved, and if you can figure out which is the most important puzzle to solve.
So, you can see that Billingsley has really polished her writing over the years, but the essentials are present in this story.
Great Read! this was recommended by Angie & Courtney a while back, so glad I finally picked it up. Katsa has a special talent, the talent to kill. Then she meets Po, also “graced” with the ability to fight. Join Katsa as she travels across the 5 lands and learns more about her grace and the world and its possibilities.
Cinderella’s happily ever after didn’t work out so well so she became a spy for Fabletown. In this adventure, she has to find out who is selling magical items on the black market. It leads her to Aladdin and they team up and head to Ultima Thule a land where smiling is enforced at gun point. The villain turns out to be someone from Cinderella’s past.
This was an interesting tale. I like fairy tales turned on their head and this one does a good job of showing us modern day fairy tale characters. Cinderella as a spy was awesome and the pairing of her and Aladdin was fun. I also really enjoyed the villain in this story. It made for a nice twist and and exciting showdown. The flashbacks to Cindy’s past were seemlessly woven into the story and offered glimpses into her history. I also enjoyed the alternate storyline of her shoe store back in Fabletown.
I think my negative about this book was that it got preachy in several places and it really jarred you out of the narrative and didn’t seem to fit into the story. It was like the writer really wanted to make sure he stuck a political point in even if it didn’t fit. I think the story suffered for it. Not everything has to have a message about modern day politics. If it doesn’t fit the story don’t put it in! Other than that it was a fun book and very enjoyable.
Cyborg Cinderella…post-apocalyptic world…Earth and Lunar peoples at odds…strange plague ravaging the planet…handsome prince…evil queen. This is the world of Cinder and it is a fun, fast-paced adventure-filled world.
Cinder is a cyborg mechanic living with her adopted family in New Being after WWIV. As a cyborg she is not considered human but property of her family. Her stepmother hates her because she believes Cinder caused the death of her husband. Cinder meets Prince Kai when he brings her an android to fix. Soon after Cinder’s stepsister Peony falls ill with the plague and her stepmother volunteers Cinder for medical research. At the medical facility Cinder learns things about herself; who she is and where she came from. All of this is set against the political backdrop of Earthen/Lunar politics that Kai is dealing with. The moon is ruled by an evil queen who uses magic (or bioelectricity) to control people. She wants to marry Prince Kai and through that union rule Earth.
First of all I loved the character of Cinder. She is kickass and awesome. Who wouldn’t love a cyborg Cinderella who is also a mechanic. The image of her coming to the ball all wrinkled and stained and in a crashed car just made me smile. I like that she solves her own problems, she doesn’t depend on anyone else, she doesn’t whine about her situation, she just does what needs to be done. I also like some of the other characters like the evil Queen Levana. She is just so nasty and exactly what an evil queen should be like. Prince Kai reminded me of the Disney princes a bit…he was kind of bland and more like a placeholder than a real character. Didn’t leave that much of an impression on me. I didn’t really buy the romance between Kai and Cinder. I didn’t think they actually had time or motivation to develop feelings for each other more than just a simple crush or thinking the other was “hot”.
I thought the Cinderella plot was well done; however, since we knew it was there it is a bit obvious throughout the story. You know who she is and the big revealing twist of her identity is not a surprise at all if you have been paying attention. I liked the modern twists though. The foot falling off at the ball (because it is her cyborg foot), the chariot is her old car she fixed up, the dress is her stepsisters castoff and wrinkled and greasy. I thought these were charming ways to tell the Cinderella part of the story.
I did think the world building was a little generic. The story is supposed to be set in New Beijing but we really don’t get any Asian influences. However, I really did like the Lunar stuff. I liked what Meyer did with a lunar colony…they developed abilities, the way they are ruled through glamour and manipulation, they cause a plague on earth, they want to take over earth, etc.
This is a series that I think has a lot of potential. It sounds like the next book in the series is about Little Red Riding Hood so I am interested to see how Meyer ties it all together. Definitely worth the read.
The Princes Charming from the Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty stories are not having a good time. Their happily ever afters are not turning out how they thought they would. They thought they could rescue the princess, get married and that would be the end of it. But often the princess rescues herself or turns out to be a shrew. So the Princes Frederick (Cinderella), Gustav (Rapunzel), Liam (Sleeping Beauty) and Duncan (Snow White) all set off on their own adventures, eventually meet up and form the League of Princes. They really are the most incompetent group of princes imaginable but their hearts are in the right place. Along the way they face trolls, giants, an evil witch, bandits and a dragon all in their quest to save the day and their kingdoms.
I had really high hopes for this book when I got it from the publisher. I thought the premise sounded awesome and I love fractured fairy tales. And their is a lot to like about the story. The princes are fun characters and very unique and their princesses are interesting in their own way as well. The problem with the story was that it took a lot to get into. The first half of the book really seemed to drag for me. There was a lot of wondering around the forest fumbling into funny situations where the princes made fools of themselves or did or said crazy things and then somehow got themselves out of it. It wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that everything seemed to come together. The ending did leave things very open to more books in this series, but I hope any future books are a little more focused.
The library doesn’t have this book yet, but will soon.
Lucy is the newest book in Kathryn Lasky’s Daughters of the Sea series. The series follows three sisters in turn of the century America who discover that they are mermaids. Raised apart, they find each other and their heritage. Books one and two are about the other sisters; May, raised by a lighthouse keeper and his resentful wife and, Hannah, a servant to a wealthy family. Lucy is adopted by a minister and his social climbing wife. Her mother has high aspirations for Lucy to make an excellent marriage but Lucy meets a shipbuilder who catches her heart. I have enjoyed all the books in the series. Lasky is a very talented writer who captures both the spirit of the girls and the worlds that they inhabit.
Melissa Marr is one of my favorite young adult writers and Fairy Tales and Nightmares did not disappoint. Very good collection of fantasy and paranormal short stories. Two of the stories deal with characters from her Wicked Lovely series of book so someone who hasn’t read the series might not enjoy them as much as some of the other stories. She is a good writer with a deft hand and great character and plot development.
Well you really ought to read this after you finish the last in the Wicked Lovely Series….because it finishes or picks up individual tales/plotlines from the various protagonists in that series, as well as having a couple of other short stories unrelated to the Wicked Lovely series. The first one I read, about Donia & Keenan was a little fluffy with Not much happening, but I did enjoy hearing more about Irial and Niall – though, I am bored to tears with Leslie, please give her a rest. The story The Sleeping Girl was in some ways a redo or Wicked Lovely, but in other ways it was fresh. I didn’t like the vampire story Transition, it was a bit too much negative deja vu (and gross). I liked the Selchie tale, it had an interesting twist.
Poor Jack. He is not having a good day. He failed his princess rescuing training, but who cares because there aren’t a lot of princesses anyway and royalty is a pain. His father has disappeared (Jack of Jack and the beanstalk). And he has to listen to his grandfather go on about all his adventures. Then a princess falls from the sky…a Punk Princess to be exact (it says so on her shirt). May isn’t like a normal princess, but her grandmother has been kidnapped and they must go on a guest to find her. Thus begins a journey into fairy tales (but fairies don’t have tails insists Jack) where we meet the Big Bad Wolf, Red Hood, Snow White, the Wicked Queen, Rapunzel and more.
I love stories that take things we think we know and turn them on their head. This one takes traditional fairy tale characters and tweaks their stories a bit. It puts them all in a world where they coexists and interact and which seems as real as our world…although it does take May a little while to come to grips with it. This is a fast pace adventure novel that throws one fairy tale after another at you. But it works. I think the characters and the plot are all woven together pretty well. I think Jack is a wonderful Hero; he is not the best Hero to be sure but he has courage and spunk even if he can’t pass all his tests. Phillip, the prince they pick up along the way, is your typical prince; he is perfect at everything he does. He gets on Jack’s nerves but it really works for the story and I enjoy his back story and how it intersects with Jack’s. If there is one character I wasn’t as fond of it is probably May. She seems inconsistent. At times she was wonderful and spunky and just the type you wanted in your heroine; at other times she was spoiled and too caught up in princesses/princes.
The ending of this book does not wrap up the storylines. There is another book coming out called Twice Upon a Time which will hopefully take care of at least some of the dangling threads from this one. This is a very creative series and a fun adventurous read. 2012-13 Missouri Mark Twain Award Nominee.
I really liked some of the tales. His Wolf by Lisa Tuttle, was my favorite – what an idyllic life (well sorta). I wasn’t thrilled with Neil Gaiman’s The Thing About Cassandra (but at least it wasn’t another woman being victimized), but I need to remember that he can do horror, not all he writes if purely fantasy. Jim Butcher’s Love Hurts had more of that romance with Harry Dresden and Murphy (should be Susan Gonzalez – argh). Robin Hobbs’ Blue Boots was very nice – quaint, everything ringing true for the setup. I didn’t quite understand “After the Blood” unless it was basically the same “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson (on which Omega Man movie was based). Tanith Lee’s Under/Above the Water seemed to resonate with Asian notions of life and rebirth.
I have really enjoyed, well some of her work, [Lips Touch:Times Three had some depressing endings] Blackbringer & then the sequel Silksinger, were really refreshing great new fantasy worlds FRESH. And Daughter of Smoke and Bone is FRESH as well, but a new world, set partly in Prague (a place I romanticize and would like to visit). Its an entirely new world this Smoke and Bone place or well a couple of worlds. There’s a certain O Henry “Gift of the Magi”esque twist in this book (but it wasn’t as obnoxious as the Gift one). I can’t wait to see where this new series takes us. And it looks like Paramount Pics has bid in the range of $700,000 for this recently released book – hot dog!
One of this year’s Mark Twain nominees Half upon a Time is the story of a girl, May, from our world dropped (literally) into the fairy tale world. Her grandmother was kidnapped, she is being hunted by a creepy guy, and everyone assumes she is a princess, a pretty rough day for May. She is joined on her attempts to rescue her grandmother by a boy named Jack, of beanstalk fame, the Wolf King, and even a real prince. The characters are charming and the story paces well. Fun read.
Internationally acclaimed author Gregory Maguire has written more than just the ever popular Wicked. Mirror Mirror is his adaptation of the story of Snow White. Instead of the traditional story written by the Brothers Grimm or the Disney creation, Maguire brings history into the story looping the imfamous Borgia’s of Italy into the story.The mirror and the dwarves are still very much a part of the story as are many of the traditional and well known elements, but they are slightly altered or have a different backstory.
Having never read anything by Maguire I was surprised. Wicked is so very popular I was expecting something with a little more, something. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, but it ended with a sort of ‘meh’ ending. I would still reccomend it to anyone looking for something a little different than what seems to be the norm in teen lit, but it was not my favorite. I did love the ‘historic’ tie-ins; it was a nice, fun touch.
In this retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Eloisa James gives us a lovely tale of a breathtakingly lovely woman who falls for an injured and “beastly” man (think Dr. House – Eloisa said in the afterward that he was an inspiration for her hero). The story is well told with enough witty dialogue to make those of us who like sarcastic, bordering-on-nasty heros swoon. There is some explicit sex, though the scenes are fairly short and tastefully written. This was a fun read – quick, too! – and well worth the time I spent immersing myself in the story.