Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Brief Reviews Summer 2015 part 2

Among Others“There are some awful things in the world, it's true, but there are also some great books.” This book is part memoir and part fantasy and all wonderful. I was completely absorbed by the setting and characters. I felt a strong kinship to the main character's love of literature. I was equally fascinated by the historical aspects of life in Wales and at an English Boarding school in the 70s and by the fairies and their magic that the narrator describes. I absolutely adored this book and I cannot recommend it enough-especially for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider and sought comfort in the pages of a book.Among Others by Jo Walton: buy it or check it out today!

The Song of Achilles I read this book while I was travelling in Italy and I was so absorbed by it that I found it difficult to put it down even with the temptations of Venice awaiting me. I've always been a fan of retellings of well-known stories but this one really goes above and beyond. The characters were so fully realized that I found myself worrying about them when I put the book down even though, of course, I already knew how their stories would end.  When that inevitable ending did arrive I was completely shattered. Whether you've read a dozen versions of the Trojan Wars or you've never heard of the face that launched a thousand ships, this book is sure to pull you in. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: buy it or check it out today!

Cousin KateThis book is a cross between the fun, light romance that Georgette Heyer is known for and a Gothic Tale. There's a spunky but penniless heroine, first impressions that turn out to be wrong, and of course true love triumphs in the end. The Gothic aspect was uncomfortable from a modern perspective. It largely revolved around a mental illness that was portrayed in a way that shows a clear lack of understanding. I'd stick to Heyer's more traditional romantic fare. Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer: buy it or check it out today!

The Amaranth EnchantmentThis is a fun, light, fairy tale read but not in any way memorable. I remember enjoying reading it on the train, but a week after I finished it I couldn't tell you what it was about. I'm pretty behind in my reviews so at this point I would have forgotten that I read it entirely if it wasn't for Goodreads. I really should have written down my impressions sooner but the fact that I have so completely forgotten it says something in and of itself. The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry: buy it or check it out today!

The Shiralee This book is considered a classic of Australian literature and I can see why. The prose is gorgeous and it evokes a time and place so well that the outback is practically a character in the novel. The plot revolves around a tough man and his 4 year old daughter whom he takes custody of just to spite her mother. Watching him be affected by this child that he at first sees as no more than a burden is genuinely moving and there's plenty of humor provided by the juxtaposition of this spunky child with a hard man. The book had me crying more than once as it portrayed the hard life endured by these people. The only caveat I'd give is that the book is a product of its times and there's plenty of sexism and racism, especially against indigenous peoples. Still, it's unfortunately an accurate representation of the period and the main character isn't always supposed to be sympathetic. It's a moving novel and it captures its setting beautifully. The Shiralee by D'Arcy Niland: buy it or check it out today!

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (The League of Princes, #1)

Book talk: You may think you know the stories of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel but don't believe everything a bard tells you. And what about those nameless Princes Charming? Read this book to get the low-down: the pampered, sheltered life was not enough for Cinderella. Rapunzel saved herself and her prince never lived it down. Sleeping Beauty is a spoiled brat. Snow White's prince can't be left unsupervised. Somehow this unlikely band finds themselves thrown together on a quest to save each other, defeat an evil witch, and show the world that they're more than their stories.

Rave: This book is a hilarious take on classic fairy tales. Having the various Princes Charming meet and lament over their plight at being looked over for their princesses adds a fun twist. Each have very distinct personalities and watching them interact and learn to get along is both entertaining and touching. It contains a lot of great lessons ranging from how to be a good friend to how to be true to your self. I particularly appreciate that there's male characters who are hopeless with swords and fierce female fighters and vice versa. I read this out loud to my 3rd graders and they loved it! The illustrations throughout only add to the already ample humor and had my kids cracking up all on their own.

Rant: There are a lot of characters and this can bog down the plot a bit. It takes a while just to introduce everyone and even then my kids needed clarification sometimes to keep everyone straight.

Every Book its Reader: I'd give this to students 3rd grade and up looking for a funny fractured fairy tale.

Topics and Trends: fairy tales, humorous stories,


The author's website has a lot of great extras including a fan art gallery:

There's a pretty funny book trailer that should peak students' interest:

Source: kobo ebook

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy: buy it or check it out today!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Shadow and Bone review

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)

Book talk: Alina has always hidden her magic. She knew that her powers would set her apart. They'd take her away from her best friend, Mal, and the closest thing to family she had left. So she pretended to be normal, and she had everyone fooled. Until the day Mal got injured and only she could save him. Suddenly she's thrust into a world of magic and politics for which she was never prepared. With her country's fate in the balance, Alina needs to decide where her loyalties lie: with Mal and the other common soldiers, or with her fellow magic-wielders led by the mysterious Darkling.

Rave: Alina is a compelling protagonist and the choices she faces are complex and thrilling. The characters make mistakes and change and grow and people aren't always what they seem to be. The world is a fantasy one, but rooted in Russian mythology which makes for a refreshing change of pace. There's many different factions at play which make for a complicated political situation as alliances are formed and broken and corruption is discovered in various guises. So many characters want Alina to advance their own causes and watching her defy all of them to fight for herself and what she believes to be right is inspiring. An excellent series from start to finish!

Every book its reader: I'd give this to fantasy fans grades 6 and up.

Topics and Trends: Magic, Russian Mythology, Political Intrigue

Extras: You can find lots of extras over at

Source: kobo ebook

Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo: buy it or check it out today!