The Star-Touched Queen
Young Adult / March 22, 2017

Author: Roshani Chokshi. Summary: Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen? Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire… But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: While normally romance isn’t my thing, The Star-Touched Queen felt more like a…

The Snow Child
Adult / March 21, 2017

Author: Eowyn Ivey. Summary: Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them. (Goodreads Summary) My Thoughts: Think fantasy x Jack London. I loved it. The description and the characters’ perception both bring out the harsh beauty of the wilderness, but that beauty morphs here and there…

Young Adult / January 13, 2017

Mechanica #1. Author: Betsy Cornwell. Summary: Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home. But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: So. Steampunk-Cinderella. Apparently a bunch of people had problems with slow pacing, but I don’t have problems with that usually, so it was fine. I loved Mechanica: her independence, her determination, her strength. I loved (parts of) the ending, and its message. Cinderella taking care of herself, and choosing her own fate? Oh, yes. But… it did fall a little flat. We have so much interesting build-up with the fae, and the possible war,…

Young Adult / November 22, 2016

Author: Marissa Meyer. Summary: Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen. Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Set in a Victorian Wonderland, with a delightful mix of history, whimsy, and just the right amount of references to Carroll’s books, Heartless is the story of the girl who would become the Queen of Hearts. I delighted in it. To be sure, the romance was fast-paced (Flirting at their first meeting? Come on.) and the final chapters were rushed (how do…

The Two Princesses of Bamarre
Middle Grade / Juvenile / November 1, 2016

Author: Gail Carson Levine. Summary: The two princesses of Bamarre couldn’t be more different. Princess Addie is fearful and shy. Her deepest wish is for safety. Princess Meryl is bold and brave. Her deepest wish is to save the kingdom of Bamarre. They are sisters, and they mean the world to each other. Then disaster strikes, and Addie – terrified and unprepared – sets out on a perilous quest. In her path are the monsters of Bamarre: ogres, specters, gryphons, and dragons. Addie must battle them, but time is running out, and the sisters’ lives – and Bamarre’s fate – hang in the balance. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: A girl is attacked by an ogre, rams him into a tower to escape, and ends up with a dislocated shoulder. She is subsequently attacked by griffins, who gorge themselves to death, then by a dragon who carries her off. There is a battle scene in which a dragon dies, as well as various and sundry griffins, specters, and ogres. Other issues: A human girl marries a hundred-year old sorcerer, who will live to 500. Due to the heavily fairy-tale feel the contrast is not jolting or problematic…

Young Adult / October 8, 2016

(Prequel) Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story.  Author: Marissa Meyer. Summary: This is the fairytale of a princess. She wanted beauty, she wanted true love and children of her won, she wanted to rule her kingdom with justice and wisdom. She was scarred by her sister, her love fixed on a man who could never return it, and she was raised in a court of debauchery, where monogamy was forgotten and opulence enthroned. The princess fought to do what was right, to marry the man of her dreams, to hold the throne with fairness, to become the woman her country needed. But she had no example, no way to tell what was right, and in the end – broken, twisted, and slightly mad – she still knew that she’d been wrong. She knew she’d failed with every manipulation, every kiss, every step of the way. This is the tale of Queen Levana, ruler of Luna. This is the story of the princess who stumbled into the shadows and could not find her way out to the right side of the fairytale. This is the tragedy of the tyrant who died on her throne without ever knowing what love truly is. My Thoughts:…

Dragon’s Bait
Young Adult / September 19, 2016

Author: Vivian Vande Velde. Summary: If Alys really was a witch, as she has been accused of, she would cast a spell on her accusers to save herself as they leave her tied to a stake for a dragon. But she isn’t, so there’s nothing she can do but wait for her doom. It comes in the form of a golden-maned dragon, but instead of carrying her off he lands in front of her and transforms into a man. Alys may have a second chance at life… but will she spend it on revenge, or seek escape from the old life? My Thoughts: The characters felt a little flat. None of them were quite three-dimensional, except perhaps the protagonist. The message at the end also felt a little forced – I’d been expecting it from the beginning, but in a rather different format, not a straight statement from the protagonist. Despite this, I did enjoy Dragon’s Bait. It was a fun little story, the (slightly forced) thesis was at least a good one, and I frankly enjoyed the dragon. Content Review: Sexual content: Some low-level flirting. Male dragon takes human form to speak to a girl – unfortunately, this leaves…

Book of Enchantments
Young Adult / August 15, 2016

Author: Patricia C. Wrede. Sumary: This short-story collection is composed of ten fantasy short stories, ranging from humorous to bitter-sweet. Unicorns, magic swords, curses, chipmunks and more populate the pages of these tales. My Thoughts: As always with short story collections, the tone and quality of individual stories fluctuates a bit. As a whole I found the book lighthearted, fun, and leaning towards the younger side of the audience. All the stories are set in a classic medieval fairy-tale setting, with the exception of two modern-day stories. Patricia has a wonderful sense of humor, keeping even the silliest stories interesting enough to hold the attention; but she is quite capable of writing a more serious fairytale, as shown in The Lorelei and The Earthwitch as well as others. My single favorite story was Stronger Than Time, a bittersweet retelling. Content Review: Sexual content: A man tries to marry his daughter off without her consent. Language: 2 d*** Violence: One rabbit is killed and eaten by werewolves. An invading army is killed wholesale, but very little description. A man cuts off his own hand.  

Ella Enchanted
Middle Grade / Juvenile / August 4, 2016

Author: Gail Carson Levine. Summary: Ella is a strong-willed, contrary girl – but if you give her an order, she’ll obey every time. She has to. Her fairy godmother gifted her with obedience at birth, and while Ella has learned to stretch the limits, in the end she must live with it. But this isn’t going to stop her from running away, taming ogres, meeting elves, and chasing down fairies to try and break the spell. And even maybe, just maybe, falling in love. My Thoughts: One of the funnest fairy tale retellings I’ve ever read. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Some girls at boarding school are mean to her, ordering her around. Some ogres tie her up and threaten to eat her. Her stepmother makes her work as a servant.  

Young Adult / July 29, 2016

Author: Alex Flinn. Summary: I am a beast. A beast! Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright. I am a monster. You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll,stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell. Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: This retelling of the Beauty and the Beast is set in the present and narrated from the point of view of the Beast, but beyond that is quite faithful to the story. This is rather creepy, because while a daughter in exchange for a man’s life is a turning point in a fairy tale, it’s a lot weirder in modern times. The main…