Fairy Tale Friday: Cress

Cress is written by Marissa Meyer. It was published in 2013 by Feiwel and Friends. It is the sequel to Scarlet.

Summary/Blurb:

Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

What I Liked:

I absolutely loved Meyer’s adaptation of Rapunzel, especially the changing of Rapunzel’s tears to eyedrops. Speaking of Rapunzel, Cress is exactly the sort of character I love and she’s paired with exactly the sort of character I love characters like Cress being paired with, the loveable, capable rogue. So cute. I loved Cress’s timidity and overall shyness, yet deep inner ferocity that allows her to be incredibly collected when she does things she knows how to do, such as hacking. And I love it, did I mention that?

I mentioned in my review of Scarlet that Cinder did a few things that annoyed me. She does a few annoying things, here, too, and then Dr. Erland basically says, “Wow, that’s the stupidest plan I’ve ever heard” and then Cinder suddenly gets awesome and accomplishes things. Also, Dr. Erland + Cinder = a wonderful, wonderful snarkfest.

I loved the glimpse of the fairytale character (Snow White, but not named that) that we’ll be meeting in the final book and will presumably be joining forces with Cinder & Co. We also met her love interest, whose Plot Reveal actually surprised me, but made so much sense after the fact. I’m just sad that I have to wait almost a year until the final book comes out…

I found it hard to put the book down towards the end, when all the different plot points were about to converge and Cinder & Co. were planning, Mission: Impossible-style, their infiltration of the palace.

Rating: 5/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: Violence, death.

Genre: Science Fiction, Fairy Tale, Young Adult

Passages/Quotes:

This time, she took in an extra deep breath and shut her eyes and grappled for a daydream, any daydream…

“I am an explorer,” she whispered, “setting courageously off into the wild unknown.” It was not a daydream she’d ever had before, but she felt the familiar comfort of her imagination wrapping around her. She was an archaeologist, a scientist, a treasure hunter. She was a master of land and sea. “My life is an adventure,” she said, growing confident as she opened her eyes again. “I will not be shackled to this satellite anymore.”

Thorne tilted his head to one side. He waited for three heartbeats before sliding one hand down into hers. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said. “But we’ll go with it.”

~Meyer 140

Overall Review:

Cress is my favorite book in the Lunar Chronicles so far, since it has my favorite character type, my favorite romantic pairing being adorably cute, Cinder accomplishing things while snarking about it, and actual progress being made by the heroes. I am continuing to love Meyer’s science-fiction and fairy-tale mash-up, and am super excited for Winter next year (and I guess the side story about Levana, Fairest, coming in January).

You can buy this here: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles)

Mind Games: Enjoyable If You Don’t Mind A Shaky Premise

Mind Games is written by Kiersten White. It was published in 2013 by Harper.

Summary/Blurb:

Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

Thoughts:

I had two main problems with this book. The first is that, while the book is engaging, there’s a lack of worldbuilding that is really noticeable. Why are there people like Annie and Fia at all? If Fia is the only person that Keane has encountered with perfect instincts, why are he and his cohorts expertly able to manipulate her as if they’ve done it before? How did Fia manage to do half of the things they first told her to do (such as slipping something into someone’s purse) with just perfect instincts (perfect instincts doesn’t mean perfect sleight-of-hand, perfect reflexes, etc. For that matter, instincts aren’t really tied with right and wrong, either, since right and wrong is morality, unless we’re talking about simply the “feel” of the situation, but even then conscience has a say in that as well as instincts)? How did Keane get that powerful? Adding to my confusion was the emptiness of the world: even when the characters are supposed to be around lots of people (in school, in a city, in a club, etc.), it feels like there’s no one around except for them, like they’re the only people there.

My second problem was that I felt that the punch of the end was ruined by having Annie have a vision of it beforehand. Yes, even with the additional twist that White throws in, the whole ambience was ruined. Also, Fia’s thought of “this will always be wrong, but it’s the right sort of wrong” and “we’ll do wrong to make things right” was just…ugh. You should have stayed with Adam, Fia. (Also, if the endgame is James/Fia, I will scream).

What I did really like about the book was Fia’s overall “broken bird” personality, especially the breakdown in her language as the book progresses. In the flashbacks, it’s especially noticeable how fragmented her thoughts get over time. I thought that in particular was really well done on the part of White.

Rating: 2/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: Sexual situations, kissing, violence.

Genre: Supernatural, Realistic, Young Adult

Passages/Quotes:

Before I say anything, John/Daniel speaks. “You feel sick about this? Can you describe the feeling?”

“No, I can’t describe the feeling,” she snaps. “All I know is that this is a bad idea and you’re a liar and I should keep Annie far, far away from you and your stupid school.”

~White 27

Overall Review:

I did enjoy Mind Games, although I felt the worldbuilding was not developed enough and left too many questions. I actually got really mad when Annie had her vision that spoiled the ending plot twist (although not really, but close enough that the overall punch was still ruined), and overall I thought the book would have been better if it had been a little more developed and a little more polished. I did like the look into Fia’s state of mind through the fragmentation of her thoughts on the page, though.

You can buy this here: Mind Games

Airborn: One Of My Favorite Steampunk Alternate History Books

Airborn is written by Kenneth Oppel. It was published in 2004 by Eos. It is the first book in a trilogy.

Summary/Blurb:

Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt’s always wanted; convinced he’s lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist’s granddaughter that he realizes that the man’s ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.

Thoughts:

This book is what I wish The Lost Kingdom had been like. I adore Airborn, and not just because it’s steampunk or takes place in the 1800s. It’s charming, hilarious at times, and is filled with lots of action and adventure, especially towards the end. There’s something so fulfilling about two fifteen-year-olds taking back a ship captured by pirates singlehandedly, using nothing but their brains and their knowledge of the aircraft.

There’s also the archaeological/discovery Quest angle that just puts the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake. The cloud cats are well-invented and add just a touch more of delicious wonder to an already wonder-filled book. One of my favorite things about Oppel’s Airborn trilogy is precisely this sort of Quest that is present in each one, not to mention the fact that Matt and Kate are adorable.

Speaking of Matt and Kate, it’s hard not to notice the similarities between this story and the Titanic, except in this case there’s a lot less death. Oppel is very good at keeping the struggle of class present, especially in Matt’s thoughts, but also going beyond that to show that these two characters simply fit well together, making you want to root for them all the way through.

Oppel is very good with details and descriptions, but at times it feels like it goes on slightly too long. Also, while the themes of “airborn” and “airborne” are nice, they are laid on slightly too thick.

Finally, let me point out this absolute gem of a conversation:

“You two were in a cave together?” said Miss Simpkins in horror.

“Yes,” said Kate, “and it was very, very dark.”

“Ladies, a pleasure, as always,” said Captain Walken.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: Gun and animal violence (as in violence of an animal), death.

Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk

Passages/Quotes:

It was not just a skull, but an entire skeleton, hunched down against the branch like something about to pounce. I wondered how long it had been here. Insects hummed and trilled and danced in the heat. Light slanted through the vines. The bones gleamed. Its claws were locked deep into the bark in its final death grip. Its flesh had been picked clean, but its bones were still miraculously attached, bound together by sun-cured sinew and leathery bits of muscle. It was easily seven feet from head to tail. It had died on this very branch. It had been here forever, just waiting to be discovered.

~Oppel 145

Overall Review:

Airborn is a gem, one of those books that will sweep you up and carry you off on a marvelous adventure. There’s airships and pirates and romance, oh my! There’s room for improvement, but that makes the hook for the next book all that more tantalizing.

You can buy this here: Airborn

Fairy Tale Friday: The Bravest Princess

The Bravest Princess is written by E. D. Baker. It was published in 2014 by Bloomsbury. It is the sequel to Unlocking the Spell.

Summary/Blurb:

“Sleeping Beauty’s younger sister, Annie, still can’t catch a break!

First, Annie helped Sleeping Beauty wake up from a hundred-year curse by finding her one true love, Prince Beldegard. Then, with her amazing ability to fend off magic, Annie helped remove the spell that turned that prince into a bear. But now, trouble in the kingdom threatens her good friend: the one and only Snow White.

Annie receives a message that Snow White’s stepmother has disappeared and that her father wants her married right away. But with so many suitors, which of all those hopeful princes is the best choice? And why, exactly, is Annie being followed around by such horrible crows? Could there be an evil witch behind all this trouble? One thing’s for sure: it’s going to take a brave princess to set everything straight again.”

Thoughts:

The Bravest Princess is quite a different book than the first two, I thought. The first two were a great conglomeration of fairy tales with situational and often dry humor that made them really funny. This one had less of both. It had a few nods to some fairy tales, but most of it was using the fairy tale characters that had already been introduced in the first two books. That’s fine, but the book felt lacking because of it. The humor felt forced in places (especially Liam’s responses to the princes during Snow White’s trials) and I wasn’t as engaged in the plot. The final revelation of the villains felt a little abrupt, too.

I will say, though, that the crows were scary. When they attacked Annie in her room, I got shivers. Ugh. It was really downplayed because of the audience, but let’s face it, getting attacked The Birds-style is terrifying.

Despite the relative weakness of the plot, the characters were still endearing, and Annie especially got a lot of development due to the fact that she couldn’t rely on her magic-repelling skills to help her out. I’m sad that we didn’t get to see more of Gwendolyn and her interaction with Annie, and there wasn’t much resolution in regards to Annie’s standing with the magically-blessed people around her, but there is at least a hint that things will get better.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

A shadow flashed by. Nervous, Annie tried to peer out the window. She was afraid of the crows, but she was even more afraid of what their presence there meant. The most Annie could do was negate the magic while she was touching something that had a spell cast on it, like the crow that had brushed against her when she was being lowered from the tower. If only she could see the witch face-to-face!

Overall Review:

The Bravest Princess was a little disappointing to me. I didn’t find it nearly as fun as the first two books and the humor and plot felt forced in places. I did like Annie’s development, though, even though she didn’t get much in regards to her outcast-like status, and she and Liam are cute. Also, the crows were scary.

You can buy this here: The Bravest Princess

The Pushcart War: Peanut Butter Is Progress

The Pushcart War was written by Jean Merrill. It was published in 1964 by Harper & Row.

Summary/Blurb:

The pushcarts have declared war! New York City’s streets are clogged with huge, rude trucks that park where they want, hold up traffic, and bulldoze into anything that is in their way, and the pushcart peddlers are determined to get rid of them. But the trucks are just as determined to get rid of the pushcarts, and chaos results in the city.

The pushcarts have come up with a brilliant strategy that will surely let the hot air out of their enemies. The secret weapon–a peashooter armed with a pin; the target–the vulnerable truck tires. Once the source of the flat tires is discovered, the children of the city joyfully join in with their own pin peashooters. The pushcarts have won one battle, but can they win the war against a corrupt mayor who taxes the pins and prohibits the sale of dried peas?

Thoughts:

The best part of this book is the absolute seriousness that Merrill takes as he writes about the Pushcart War. The matter-of-fact tone just makes the events all that more hilarious. It’s written so seriously that, when I read it when I was younger, I had to clarify with my mother that this book was, in fact, fiction. Now that I’m older, I just chortle with every page.

The Peanut Butter speech, Frank the Flower’s confession, the awesomeness of Maxie Hammerman, the tax on peas…it’s just pure fun throughout. It’s also a sly wink at pollution and traffic, among other things.

I’m not sure how many people are aware of this book, but it really is great fun, and even though there’s not much character development and the plot is very expositional since it’s written as a historical summary, it’s still a childhood book that I remember fondly (and I probably enjoyed it even more now than I did back then).

Rating: 5/5

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Warnings: Some guns and talk about shooting people.

Genre: Realistic, Children’s

Passages/Quotes:

“The Tacks Tax, as all students of American history know, was the most unpopular tax in the history of New York City. It caused revolution in the city schools and almost brought England into the war.

The citizens of New York protested at once that the tax was undemocratic. They said it discriminated unfairly against the users of tacks as opposed to the users of screws, nails, bolts, and pins.”

~Merrill 117

Overall Review:

The Pushcart War is a book that I wish more people were aware of, because it is so funny and so memorable. It’s about pushcarts taking down trucks with peapins! And a mayor who equates peanut butter with progress! And people dumping sacks of peas on people’s heads! And a truck conspiracy to take over the world!

You can buy this here: The Pushcart War

Panic: What Is This Nonsense?

Panic is written by Lauren Oliver. It was published in 2014 by Harper.

Summary/Blurb:

“Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.”

What I Liked:

There were two things I disliked about this book. The first was that I found the premise to be completely unbelievable. Panic is some sort of secret, Hunger Games-type danger game that made absolutely no sense. At least Oliver doesn’t glorify the absolutely idiotic things the kids did (like Russian Roulette. Do these people have no brains at all?) I find it hard to believe that a game like that went on for so long. I also found the lack of adults in the book to be unrealistic, but maybe Carp is supposed to be this town where only dysfunctional families live, which moves me to my next point.

The second thing I disliked about the book was the dysfunction of every single person. Yes, I get it, the appeal right now in YA is to those readers from dysfunctional or unstable families who have terrible things happen to them. But every single person in the book, except possibly Bishop but even that’s stretching it, had some trauma or dysfunction attached to them. Even Natalie, who could have been the stable one, had OCD. Yes, I get it, it’s empowering to have hopeful endings for people who suffer these situations or whatever the current argument states for why every single protagonist needs to suffer in some form. But it’s also horribly depressing to read about. Can we please have some stability to balance out the instability, please?

I also found the tigers to be a ridiculously cheesy addition. Okay, it certainly sounds cool to have the main protagonist walk up to a tiger and put her hand on its head and be all victorious, but in all honesty, that tiger should have realistically torn her hand on off. There’s no way a scared predator like that would not attack.

I mentioned in my reviews of Oliver’s previous books that I really liked her writing, but sadly I didn’t notice it this time. I’m not sure whether or not it was because I disliked the premise so much from the start.

Rating: 1/5

Recommended Age Range: 16+

Warnings: Swearing, kissing, sexual situations, and young adults purposefully putting their life in danger.

Genre: Realistic, Young Adult

Passages/Quotes:

Heather forced herself away from the tank and inched forward onto the wooden plank, which had been barely secured to the ledge by means of several twisted screws. She had a sudden image of wood snapping under her weight, a wild hurtle through space. But the wood held.

She raised her arms unconsciously for balance, no longer thinking of Matt or Delaney or Bishop staring up at her, or anything other than all that thin air, the horrible prickling in her feet and legs, an itch to jump.

~Oliver 41

Overall Review:

I couldn’t get into Panic from the start, due to what I found to be an incredibly hard to swallow premise and incredibly stupid stunts done by teenagers who apparently were not thinking at all through the entire book. I also found everyone’s dysfunction depressing and the tiger thing was unrealistic.

You can buy this here: Panic

Fairy Tale Friday: Scarlet

Scarlet is written by Marissa Meyer. It was published in 2013 by Feiwel and Friends. It is the sequel to Cinder.

Summary/Blurb:

“Cinder, the cyborg mechanic…is trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information about her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

What I Liked:

Once again, Meyer melds science fiction and fairytale wonderfully together. I loved the little nods to the original fairytale, like the fact that Scarlet wears a red hoodie. I especially loved the “My, what big teeth you have” moment and the fact that Wolf, despite being called Wolf, is actually the Woodsman of the fairytale (although, yeah, he’s also the wolf).

I said about Cinder that I thought it would have been better as a stand-alone, but I don’t see that about Scarlet. It needed that larger plot that was started in Cinder to make sense as a whole. I did enjoy how Meyer tied the two stories (or the two characters, really) together. Having fairytale characters join forces is always fun.

Part of this book was in Cinder’s POV, and I must say, I was a little irritated with her choices. I thought Scarlet was spot-on when she blamed Cinder. The moment Cinder decided to go off and do her own thing rather than focus on doing her duty and try to stop Levana was aggravating, but at least she comes around in the end. Too bad that it took mass murder for her to realize it, though.

While I think Wolf and Scarlet as a couple are cute, I didn’t particularly like their romance plot in the book. It was too generic. I did, however, love the twist with Wolf and his “gang” and the fact that he wasn’t such a perfect guy at first, after all. I also liked how Scarlet is actually a bit of a weak character. Everything that should scare her, does. Everything that should make her weak, does. She’s not helpless, by any means, but she’s also not particularly awesome. And that’s fine with me.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: Violence, death.

Genre: Science Fiction, Fairy Tale, Young Adult

Passages/Quotes:

“L…S…” He shook his head. “I can’t remember. There was more.”

Her mouth ran dry, hatred overtaking the dizziness. She knew that tattoo.

He’d pretended to be kind. Pretended he only needed honest work.

When—days? hours?—before, he’d tortured her father. Kept her grandmother prisoner.

And she’d almost trusted him. The tomato, the carrots…she’d thought she was helping him. Stars above, she’d flirted with him, and all the while, he knew. She recalled those moments of peculiar amusement, the glint in his eyes, and her stomach twisted. He’d been laughing at her.

~Meyer 48

Thorne dismissed the news channel. “Did you know that Michelle Benoit has a teenage granddaughter?”

“No,” said Cinder, bored.

“Well, she does. Miss Scarlet Benoit. Supposedly she just turned eighteen, but—brace yourself—she doesn’t have any hospital records. Get it? Holy spades, I’m a genius.”

Cinder scowled. “I don’t get it.”

Tilting back, Thorne peered at her upside down. “She doesn’t have any hospital records.”

~Meyer 256

Overall Review:

Scarlet continues that wonderful science fiction/fairytale mash-up that I loved in Cinder, with some more clever adaptations to fit the setting done by Meyer. I did like Cinder a little bit more, but only because Cinder was annoying in this one, and Scarlet and Wolf’s romance was a bit too cliché to be enjoyable. But coming up next is Rapunzel and I am excited.

You can buy this here: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, Book 2)

Inside Out & Back Again: Novel In Verse

Inside Out & Back Again is written by Thanhha Lai. It was published in 2011 by Harper.

Summary/Blurb:

“For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by…and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.

But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape…and the strength of her very own family.”

What I Liked:

This is a novel in verse and it is very well done. My only problem with the book is that I wish there had been more of it. It felt far too short, in my opinion. Hà’s struggles seemed to be resolved far too quickly, but maybe I am too used to YA books that drag the main conflict on and on. I did like how the story was bookended by Tết and by the absence of Hà’s father. The symbolism, too, was very well done and conveyed very well through verse as it wouldn’t be through prose. I’m not overly fond of novels in verse, but this one was done very well and the verse was used to great effect for the most part.

The book is very good at remembering its audience, being lighthearted and humorous as well as sad and serious. Hà’s thoughts about English are hilarious, and despite the struggles she and her family have, there are some fun moments in as well (such as when she and her mother are at the butcher’s).

This book also covers an issue that is not very well covered in children’s through YA lit, which is the Vietnam War from the perspective of the Vietnamese who traveled to America. I actually had no idea that American families sponsored Vietnamese ones. I can easily see this book being used as a supplement to a history unit on the Vietnam War.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Warnings: Displacement and separation of families due to war, death.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

The pilot

appears below deck,

wet and shaking.

He salutes the commander

and shouts,

At noon today the Communists

crashed their tanks

through the gates

of the presidential palace

and planted on the roof

a flag with one huge star.

Then he adds

what no one wants to hear:

It’s over;

Saigon is gone.

Overall Review:

Inside Out & Back Again has some beautiful symbolism and Lai does a great job with the poetry, using it to great effect at different parts of the book. Hà’s first few months in America were well-balanced, with humor mixed in with the distress and displacement. I thought it should have been longer, but the symbolism of the book-ending is well done.

You can buy this here: Inside Out and Back Again

The Lost Kingdom: Fun Steampunk, But Strange Ending

The Lost Kingdom is written by Matthew J. Kirby. It was published in 2013 by Scholastic.

Summary/Blurb:

“At last Billy Bartram has received the invitation he’s waited for all his life: His father has asked Billy to join him on one of his expeditions into the vast American wilderness. Traveling in a massive flying aeroship, Billy and a secret society of philosophers and scientists venture west in search of the lost kingdom of the Welsh prince Madoc, to seek aid in the coming war with the French. But the wilds of colonial America hide a host of secret dangers—from a terrifying bear-wolf that haunts their every move, to a part of French soldiers hot on their trial, to a spy and traitor in their midst.

Billy will face hazards greater than he has ever imagined as, together with his father, he gets caught up in the fight for the biggest prize of all: America.”

Thoughts:

I don’t know if it was the summary or the expectation of steampunk, but I was expecting a story more along the lines of Leviathan or even Thirteenth Child than what it actually was. The Lost Kingdom was more concerned with historical tensions of the time and of Billy’s “coming of age” then anything else, which is fine, just not what I expected. The ship was very cool, and the inclusion of historical characters (historical characters as main characters, even) was a great addition to the ambience. I liked Billy’s struggle with understanding his father and getting past the fact that they thought different things.

That being said, since it was so historically based, the end of the book felt really strange and disconnected. Up to the last few chapters, The Lost Kingdom was historical fiction with steampunk influences. Then, all of a sudden, it turned into straight-up fantasy. To me, that made it feel really out of place and made the whole book seem disjointed.

I would recommend this book to those who want books with male protagonists, but it wasn’t interesting enough beyond that to make me immediately go, “Wow! This is a book people need to read!” The tension between father and son was well done and suspenseful, but beyond that, it wasn’t anything special.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

 Warnings: Some small amounts of violence/fighting.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Steampunk, Fantasy, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

“The de Terzi is a vessel of philosophy,” my father said. “It is not a ship of war. We have no weapons on board.”

Washington turned to my father. “And what would you do with it, then?”

“We are searching for allies,” Mr. Colden said.

“What allies?” Washington asked. “Indians?”

“No,” Mr. Colden said. “The Welsh.”

Washington cocked his head for a moment. “Madoc?”

Mr. Colden nodded.

Overall Review:

The Lost Kingdom had some cool steampunk features, as well as a fantasy twist at the end that unfortunately made the story as a whole a little disjointed. The tension between Billy and his father was well done, but as a whole The Lost Kingdom was nothing spectacular.

You can buy this here:

Coming Up Next: The Lost Kingdom

Fairy Tale Friday: The Hero’s Guide To Saving Your Kingdom

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is written by Christopher Healy. It was published in 2012 by Walden Pond Press.

Summary/Blurb:

“Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change. Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.”

What I Liked:

This is a fun, and funny, twist to the “Famous Four Fairytales” (I totally just made that title up). All of the princesses are very capable, in their own way, of taking care of themselves, and it is the princes who stumble into trouble again and again. I love the development as this band of misfits—sorry, League of Princes—learns to work together and exercise each other’s strengths.

Full cover to show off the great art and all the characters

I liked how each prince had a different story and a different personality. Each princess was different, too, and it seems as if it’s shaping up that the princesses will go with the princes that better match their personalities (Ella with Liam instead of Frederic, Rapunzel with Frederic instead of Gustav. That’s if Healy even decides to marry off all his characters). Snow and Duncan, of course, are married already, and I liked that subversion of the “rejected prince” theme.

Let’s face it, a “League of Princes” is amazing and should be why everyone reads this book, no exaggeration.

The illustrations were great, as well.

However…I have nothing against princesses who can hold their own, but I don’t like princes/men displayed as bumbling fools. And all the princes were bumbling fools (with the exception of Liam), at least in the beginning. Healy does a good job of getting enough into their background that this bumbling is explained, but darn it, I like my princes competent (that being said, Duncan and Frederick, the most bumbling out of all of them, were my favorite, so…).

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

“You know, the troll was about to leave when you jumped on him,” Rosilda said. “Everything was fine. And now look—you’ve wrecked our garden.”

Gustav surveyed the yard. There were broken fences, smashed barrels, squashed beets, and row after row of flattened plants. “You care about a few vegetables? The monster ate your children?” he shouted.

“It did no such thing,” the woman scoffed.

“It had blood on its mouth.”

“Beet juice.”

“Are you sure?” Gustav asked, looking around at the giddy, dancing children. “It must have eaten at least one kid. Have you counted them?”

~Healy 43-44

“I think we actually look scary,” Frederic whispered excitedly to Gustav.

I look scary,” Gustav said.

“Toodle-oo,” Ripsnard said, waving them off. “You and your league of princes will always be welcome at the Stumpy Boarhound.”

“League of Princes,” Frederic echoed. “I like the sound of that.”

“Ooh, how about the League of Princes Charming?” proposed Duncan.

“No,” Liam and Gustav said in unison.

“League of Princes,” Liam said. “Just League of Princes.”

“It makes us sound like we should be bowling,” Gustav complained.

~Healy 288

Overall Review:

The Hero’s Guide to Saving the Kingdom is super fun, and has a decent cast of male protagonists. I found their incompetence a little annoying, but the fun of the adventure dulls it a little. The humor is great, and I’m looking forward to reading the next books and seeing if Healy pairs Sleeping Beauty with Gustav. Yes, that’s the only reason (not really).

You can buy this here: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 223 other followers

%d bloggers like this: