08. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick, read by Courtney, on 08/23/2013

Becky Randle has not lived the most exciting life. She lives in a single-wide trailer with her 400lb mother. She works as a cashier in a failing supermarket. She has exactly one friend in the tiny Missouri town they live in. Becky doesn’t really ask for much, though she dreams of more.
When her mother dies, Becky discovers a name and a phone number hidden in her mother’s things. The name is Tom Kelly, one of the most prestigious fashion designers in the world. Against her better judgement, Becky gets in touch and is whisked away to New York where she is told by Tom and his handlers that, if she wears three dresses designed by him, she will become the most beautiful woman in the world. Becky is highly dubious, believing herself to be set up for some sort of embarrassing reality show or something of that ilk. When she looks at herself in the mirror, she sees bad skin, limp hair and a body she’s less than happy with. How can she possibly become the Most Beautiful Woman in the World (hereafter “MBWitW”)?
The first dress is red and Becky quickly discovers that it does indeed make her the MBWitW, but only when she’s with other people. When she’s alone, she looks like an overdressed version of herself. She eventually begins to get used to the adulation and creates a persona to match, dubbing herself “Rebecca” and reserving “Becky” for her non-MBWitW-self. Only after she realizes that Tom Kelly’s talents are indeed exceptional, she is presented with the other half of the bargain: she has one year to meet someone, fall in love and get married. If not, she’ll go back to being Becky forever. If she can make it happen, she’ll continue to be the MBWitW for the rest of her life. Her rise to super-stardom (because extreme beauty evidently becomes famous on its own) puts her in a position to meet plenty of potential princes to enable her “happily ever after”. Imagine her surprise, however, when a very real prince takes an interest. Is a year long enough to fall in love and get married? Can Becky really fall in love when she’s living her life as Rebecca? Who is the prince really in love with: Becky or Rebecca?
It’s an interesting enough premise, but it kind of felt like a mess to me. I get the message that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, etc., and that’s a good one to send to a teen audience. I just felt like everything was a bit of a stretch. Tom Kelly as a character is more than a bit perplexing. I’m not even entirely sure what he is, though he’s clearly modeled after Calvin Klein. Most of the characters have some sort of real-life counterpart, which points to satire, but doesn’t quite pull it off. While the twists in the book were surprising, I felt like they ultimately dragged it out even more. This really should have been a novella or a short story to maintain maximum effect, but at novel-length, it lagged in places for me. I had heard that this book was supposed to be really funny, but I wound up finding it a bit over-the-top, particularly when it came to Becky’s rabidly protective BFF. This one probably works for some folks, but I don’t think it was the book for me. Not bad, just not what I was hoping for.

08. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books · Tags:

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal, read by Courtney, on 09/03/2013

Welcome to the town of Never Better. It’s the home of young Jeremy Johnson Johnson, a teen with the unusual ability to hear ghosts. He is presently accompanied by a rather famous ghost: Jacob Grimm (of the Grimm Brothers). Jacob has been “haunting” (yes, I’m using the term very loosely) Jeremy for quite some time, protecting him from the Keeper of Occasions (an entity only Jacob seems familiar with). Jeremy, for his part, is quite content to be constantly accompanied by this ghost. Life has been rather lonely for him. His father became a shut-in after his mother ran off years ago. Jeremy has been doing his best to keep the tiny family afloat, which is rather difficult as their sole source of income is the family bookstore, The Two-Book Bookstore. The bookstore really does have only two books, volumes one and two of his grandfather’s autobiography. Needless to say, business is not good and foreclosure is imminent.
When redheaded, gregarious Ginger takes an interest in Jeremy, the two set off a series of events that will lead them into a deadly situation that only Jacob Grimm can help undo.
Narrated entirely by the ghost of Jacob Grimm, this book is one of the most original and intriguing fairy-tale-related stories I’ve come across. It takes a moment to get used to Jacob’s manner of speaking, which is appropriately didactic and peppered with German phrases, but the narration does wonders to set up the atmosphere of the book. The town of Never Better has a slightly menacing and dreamlike quality to it. For instance, there’s a Santa-like baker in town whose bakery makes a rare type of cake with superstition on the side. Whenever the green smoke rises from the chimney of the bakery, the town then knows that delicious Prince Cakes will be on the menu the next day. There’s also the matter of the town’s runaway problem. Young folks leave and never come back, yet the townspeople are largely unconcerned. All the mysteries eventually tie in together to create a truly unique and timeless world where it seems anything might happen, particularly if you have the ghost of one of the Grimm brothers on your side.

29. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Towering by Alex Flinn, read by Leslie, on 08/09/2013

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“A contemporary retelling of Rapunzel told from the alternating perspectives of three teens whose fates unknowingly bind them together to destroy a greater evil”

While I really like the twisted fairy tales, this one left me feeling like the book was reaching but not quite hitting the mark.  It didn’t flow well, although I like the premise of it.

29. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, read by Leslie, on 08/02/2013

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Scarlet Benoit and Wolf, a street fighter who may have information about her missing grandmother, join forces with Cinder as they try to stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana in this story inspired by Little Red Riding Hood.

I so enjoy fairy tales retold.  I like the way the author weaves the old tale into a new setting.  I also love science fiction and this blends very well.

26. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: , ,

The Dark Mirror. by Juliet Marillier, read by Kira, on 08/25/2013

the-dark-mirror  Bridei, is taken from his family at age 4 to live with the Pictish druid Briochan, a strict taskmaster.  His education starts at dawn, and ends late into the evening; what he is being educated to be he does Not know, and doesn’t get an answer when he asks.  A fairy infant is left on their doorstep one auspicious night when Briochan is away on travels.bridei__tuala_the_dark_mirror

Bridei names the infant Tuala, and they become close friends.  When Briochan returns, against his better judgement he lets Tuala stay, but makes it clear to her that any mistep, will result in her banishment.

 

This was a very engaging story – {though the first chapter was a little slow}.  I very much enjoyed the tale, and can’t wait to read the next title in the series.

18. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Cloaked by Alex Flinn, read by Angie, on 07/15/2013

Johnny works for his family shoe repair business in a swanky hotel in South Beach. One day Princess Victorianna comes to stay. She is rich and beautiful and Johnny is enchanted. Turns out so is her brother; Prince Philipe has been turned into a frog by a witch and Victorianna needs Johnny’s help to rescue him. Of course, she promises to marry him if he succeeds. So Johnny sets of on his quest to find the frog prince; to help him along the way he has a magical cloak that will transport him anywhere, magic earbuds to speak to animals who were once people, and lots of talking animals who were once people. His best friend Meg turns up just when he is captured by the evil witch and together they continue the quest. Of course, once the curse is broken (by Meg) Prince Phillipe promises to marry her and Johnny realizes he is in love with Meg not Victorianna.

This book combines a lot of obscure fairy tales that readers may nto be aware of, like the six swans or the golden bird and the fox. They tie together nicely in this story. It is a fun, fantastical romp that will keep readers interested throughout. My problem with it was that it seemed to be written by a man and aimed at young males. Everyone is “hot” and the story is very much a teen fantasy: Poor boy meets princess who promises him love and riches. I didn’t think it was the best written even though the story itself was ok

01. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Cinder by Marissa Meyer, read by Leslie, on 06/30/2013

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people, Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story.

A great new telling of the old classic, Cinderella.  This book was thoroughly enjoyable, It was hard to put down at night.  At one point, you even have to wonder if Cinder is really the missing princess, such is the way you get hooked to it.  I can’t wait to read the others in the series, a definite recommend!

10. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

Story's End by Marissa Burt , read by Angie, on 06/09/2013

Story’s End takes place after the events of Storybound. Una, Peter and Indy have survived the return of the Enemy Fidelus and are out to stop his evil plots. Snow and her mother have been captured by the Duessa and must find a way to escape. Duessa and Fidelus are out to rewrite Story so that only their supporters survive and everyone worships them as the King and Queen of Story. The characters must unite to fight against them and pray for the return of the true king.

This is such a fun series. I love how creative Burt was in the creation of Story with its different districts of characters (Enchanted Forest, Westerns, Internationals, etc.). I also really enjoy the tale of the muses and how they created the Tales until they were imprisoned in an enchanted sleep. Una and her band of resistance fighters are all interesting and complex characters. The ending was completely satisfying and exactly what I hoped for. I am going to keep Marissa Burt on a to-read list.

06. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Short Stories, Tammy · Tags:

Shen of the Sea: Chinese Stories for Children by Arthur Bowie Chrisman, read by Tammy, on 05/29/2013

This collection of Chinese folktales made for a fun read. You can almost hear the voice of the storyteller telling the stories around a campfire or more appropriately a father or mother telling their children’s these fables and tales at bedtime that their own parent told them. The stories cover a wide range of characters from peasants to princesses and kings. There are some morality tales as well with the man character being someone who is not too bright or who is lazy or stubborn. Some of the tales are similar to the fairytales including some dragons making an appearance.

Winner of the Newbery Award Winner 1926.shen

24. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, read by Kira, on 05/23/2013

percy-jackson-and-the-lightning-thief-1-19-10     Fast paced, enjoyed the concept of the 12 camp cabins each one for a different member of the Greek pantheon.  I would like to see the camp.  Alexandra_Daddario_in_Percy_Jackson_and_the_Olympians__The_Lightning_Thief_Wallpaper_2_1280It lightning_thief_hd_wallpaper_thumbwas really obvious which god’s son he was, but enjoyable to watch him and his mates discover his heritage. I really liked the book, until somewhere right towards the end, after Percy battles Ares, somehow things didn’t really fit.  I thought for sure I’d want to start right in on the next book in the series, but afpercy-jackson-and-the-olympians-the-lightning-thief-920160ter I finished I changed my mind.  Maybe it was the author’s attempt at bridging to the next book, lightning_thief_ukthat percywas weak.

Fairy Tale Comics takes several old tales and translates them into graphic format. The tales include Puss in Boots, 12 Dancing Princesses, Baba Yaga and many many more. I like the graphic format and think it works really well for fairy tales. However, I feel like some of these tales have been shortened or abridged or just plain changed. It kind of seems like that takes away some of the magic of the tales. I think the illustrations are outstanding though. They are diverse and really fit each of the tales. I wish the narrative was as good as the pictures, but this is a fun quick read and a good introduction to fairy tales.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers on Netgalley.com.

30. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce, read by Kira, on 04/26/2013

Cover-of-Some-Kind-of-Fairy-Tale The protagonist Tara Martin disappeared 20 years ago.  When she returns she claims she spent 6 months in Faery.  Her family and boyfriend have been devastated by her disappearance and respond in various ways to her tale.  I’m Not sure this really belongs in SciFi, since the focus is more on the internal psychological bluebells clyne meadow 2007world than the magical aspects.

 

So I liked a lot of the book, but unlike many other reviewers could see the ending from a mile away (well not the epilogue part).  Perhaps, it reminded me of the book “Giants of the Frost” by Kim Wilkins.

30. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Graphic Novel

Fables: The Deluxe Edition Vol. 6 by Bill Willingham, read by Courtney, on 04/28/2013

In this volume:
The battle with the Adversary heats up (literally). Bigby is tracked by Mowgli and begged to return to Snow and the kids. The kids are growing fast and trying to control their shape-shifting abilities, otherwise they’ll never be allowed to leave the farm. Finally, a compromise is reached wherein Bigby may be able to live with his family after all.
This volume does feel really short compared to previous deluxe editions, but it’s a fantastic installment just the same.

30. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Poetry

Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge, read by Courtney, on 04/10/2013

Here’s one that’s a must-read for more mature fans of fairy tales. Koertge takes well-known stories from the fairy tale cannon and turns them completely on their heads. In poetry form. Which is totally awesome. Many authors have difficulty getting their point across in 400 pages. Ron Koertge can tell a complete story in a single poem. And this book has tons of them! I loved these post-modern renditions; they feel simultaneously both truer to their original forms than many other modern adaptations and feel more contemporary than ever before. A fun, thought-provoking and fast read.

17. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Romance

Gift of Magic by Lynn Kurland, read by Kira, on 04/01/2013

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In the conclusion, the third book in this 2nd trilogy of the Nine Kingdoms, Sarah and Ruith battle their way past an astounding number of evil-doers.  Sarah always retains this mousy-ness about her.  Ruith thinks she’s oh so courageous, but she’s always hesitant, but insistent.  I wonder if the author knew what she was going to do with all the various characters, some of the key players were introduced for the very first time in the second book of the trilogy. I much preferred the charismatic Morgan woman-warrior.  Well I hope the 2nd book the the 3rd trilogy is as good as the 1st title in the 3rd trilogy, whenever it comes out.

14. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Poetry, Teen Books

Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge, read by Angie, on 04/13/2013

Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses is a satirical look at fairy tales with a modern twist (and a gruesome one). Ron Koertge does a brilliant job showing the darker side of these tales. I also enjoyed the modern updates. This was a fun quick read.

09. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Graphic Novel

Fables Deluxe Edition Vol 5 by Bill Willingham, read by Courtney, on 03/31/2013

In this edition: Witness Jack’s rise to fame as he moves to Hollywood to produce an epic trilogy: his own story. Mowgli makes his return to Fabletown. Boy Blue confronts the Adversary in the Homelands and proves himself to be quite the fighter. The Eastern Fables’ land is invaded and envoys are sent to Fabletown, making for a rather interesting cultural clash.

09. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Graphic Novel

Fables Deluxe Edition Vol. 4 by Bill Willingham, read by Courtney, on 03/31/2013

In this volume:  Elections are held.  King Cole is out of office and Prince Charming is the new mayor of Fabletown.  Snow and Bigby briefly revel in the birth of their litter before Snow is forced to take her kids to the farm.  Being banned from the farm, Bigby wanders off on his own.  Beast takes Bigby’s place as the new sheriff, with Beauty taking on Snow’s former role as the mayor’s assistant.  Growing pains are inevitable.  It doesn’t help that Charming has made promises that are impossible to keep.
In the meantime, Boy Blue has left Fabletown with several important magical items.  His journey is one of revenge against the Adversary.

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Teen Books, Women's Fiction (chick lit)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer, read by Courtney, on 03/03/2013

Cinder is a cyborg living in New Beijing in the distant future. The man who paid for her surgeries and brought her back to China is long-dead and Cinder has been living with his wife, Adri, and his daughters, Pearl and Peony. Cinder, being a cyborg, has no rights as a human being and is considered (and treated as) property by Adri. Cinder’s only friends are an android named Iko and the youngest of her “stepsisters”, Peony. One day, Cinder is surprised to find Prince Kai visiting her little mechanic shop to repair one of the royal androids. Cinder does have, after all, the reputation for being one of the best mechanics in the country. Nonetheless, she is completely stupefied that the Prince would even deign talk to her. In the meantime, the city is being faced with an outbreak of a deadly plague. Even the king cannot escape its clutches. After Peony falls ill with the dreaded disease, Adri sells Cinder off to the royal lab for plague research (which no “volunteer” has yet been able to survive). When Cinder fails to contract the disease, it is realized that she may be more valuable than anyone, especially Cinder, thought possible. There are, however, a few more surprises in store for Cinder when the Lunar Queen comes down to earth to attempt a marriage treaty with Prince Kai.
Overall, I enjoyed this adaptation of Cinderella. It was not as direct an adaptation as many I’ve read, but the main characters and plot points all seem to be in place. I did find parts of the world-building either lacking or problematic, which I can only hope will be addressed in the rest of this series. It’s fast-paced and engaging, with some unusual twists. The main reveal, however, is very predictable – I had it figured out within a few chapters and spent the rest of the book testing my theories. Sometimes it’s fun to be correct; sometimes it’s a bit disappointing. In this case, it fell more on the disappointing side since it was simply too easy to guess at the biggest plot point. Still, an entertaining read with plenty to discuss thematically.

25. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross, read by Angie, on 03/24/2013

Mira has spent all of her fifteen years sheltered by her two godmothers. They have raised her since her parents died in a fire when she was a baby. On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Mira decides to run away to her hometown of Beau Rivage to find out more about her parents and to find their graves. She concocts and elaborate scheme to run away with decoy emails and bribed classmates, but once she gets to Beau Rivage her plans fall apart. She has no idea how to begin her search so she camps out in a casino. There she is discovered by two brothers (separately). Blue, seventeen and surly, warns her away and tries to get her out of the casino. Felix, twenty-two and runs the casino, immediately offers her a room and anything she wants. Of course she falls for Felix, but she becomes friends with Blue and his friends. Turns out the town of Beau Rivage is full of fairy tale characters under curses from actual fairies. At some point in your childhood you will get a mark that identifies what type of character you are and what role you will play. Mira’s mark makes her Sleeping Beauty. She also meets Snow White, the Huntsman, Prince Charming and many others. But it is Blue and Felix’s curse that is the most mysterious. No one will tell her about it other than to warn her to stay away. But of course that doesn’t work mainly because Mira is pretty stupid.

I found this book fairly ridiculous. I love the concept of it. A town with fairy tale characters and curses and more along the lines of the Grimm tales not Disney. I think Once Upon a Time does this much better but it is still a fun concept. But then you get to the characters. Mira is so smart in making her plans to run away, but then once she gets to Beau Rivage it is like she took a stupid pill. She falls in love with Felix after a DAY! And all because he is nice to her and comps a room. No one mentions the fact that she is 15 and he is 22…hello illegal and creepy! Everyone tries to warn her about him (all very vaguely of course), which doesn’t work and only makes her more determined to be with her true love even though she is strangely attracted to Blue too. I will admit that I found Blue and Mira’s weird, mean courtship entertaining, but I still don’t get Mira. Almost all of the side characters were more interesting than her and a whole lot smarter. I can’t emphasize enough how irritatingly dumb she is. Even after Felix tries to kill her she is still starry-eyed and she has pretty much given up on her quest to find her parents. Whatever! I am not even going to mention the stupid ending and how unlikely that was. There are much better fairy tale books out there. Don’t bother with this one.