Fantasy, Reviews, Romance

Review: Child of the Prophecy

Child of the Prophecy (Sevenwaters, #3)Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

The third novel of Marillier’s Sevenwaters series is, in my opinion, closer in quality and story to the magnificent first book, Daughter of the Forest than the second book, Son of the Shadows was, though this one too lacked some of the romance of that first book, instead focusing on the magic and lore of their world. Like its predecessors, Child of the Prophecy centers on a strong, independent female protagonist who is tested beyond her limits. I related much more with Fainne than I did with either Sorcha or Liadan though I loved them both as characters.
The best thing about Child of the Prophecy aside from the rollercoaster ride of emotion and tension that fills most of the final 100 pages or so of the book is the return of so many of the beloved (and not so beloved!) characters from the first two novels and the resolution of many of their stories. Even if it slow at times, it is worth it, in the end, to see where Sorcha’s story from the first book has led and the importance of each choice that is made.

If you enjoy  Child of the Prophecy or Irish folklore, fairy stories, or romantic fantasy, I highly recommend you read the Sevenwaters series from the beginning.  

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Children's Literature, Fantasy

Review: Ella Enchanted

Ella EnchantedElla Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed watching – but did not love – the film adaptation of Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted but I cannot resist a good fairytale retelling. And that’s what Ella Enchanted is. This retelling of the Cinderella story stands out from the pack for a couple of reasons: Ella, in this story, is under a curse which explains how a spunky young woman would allow herself to be treated so cruelly by her step-family; most of the story encompasses Ella’s pre-Cinders life, and the story is filled with unique and fun characters. Ella Enchanted’s greatest strength, however, is Ella herself with her fun, sassy narrative voice and her honest emotions.

If you enjoyed Ella Enchanted but you are looking for something a bit more mature, then I highly recommend William Goldman’s The Princess Bride or Kathryn Wesley’s The 10th Kingdom and then (if you haven’t already) watch the hilariously classic The Princess Bride movie and the lesser-known but totally fun miniseries of The 10th Kingdom.

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Is it just me…

Sometimes when I read a book and don’t really enjoy it, I wonder if I missed something or if the book simply isn’t what I wanted to be reading at the time or if I’m right and the book really isn’t that great.  Recently I’ve read a string of books that I’ve struggled to get into or I haven’t enjoyed as much as I had expected to.  I do believe in my right as the reader to not finish a book I’m not enjoying but as these recent books were advanced reader copies I received through, I felt obligated to finish.  Even if it took me a month to get through a 300-page novel.  I worry, however, that my poor reception of the book is influenced more by what’s going on in my life or my own view of things than the actual quality of the writing and the story.  So I hesitate to write my review, yet I, again, feel obligated to write something.

Review:  Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

2.5 stars

HiddenseeI received Gregory Maguire’s latest novel, Hiddensee through First Reads without any real idea what to expect. The book, which explores the formative years of the mysterious Drosselmeier from The Nutcracker, begins promisingly as it evokes the mood of a classic fairy tale or folk tale. It doesn’t take long, however, for the story to spiral into a tedious muddle of obscure ideas. In what I believe to be a demonstration of the fact that all stories throughout the history of storytelling are connected – a few plots repeated and altered to fit the time, the same characters appearing throughout history, elements seen over and over from mythology to folklore to modern novels – Maguire attempts to fit some Greek myths into his fairytale but without any real success since the beginning of the novel never really meshes with the middle and end.
The only part of the novel I truly enjoyed was the final part where the connection to The Nutcracker, that we know so well is finally made. Here Maguire ties some of his earlier elements and Dirk’s experiences into the toys he makes and the stories he tells. He even manages to make the fantastic elements of the story fit with the realistic scenario he’s created. In this part alone, there is true magic.
As a whole, Hiddensee seemed a bit self-serving. It felt as if Maguire wanted to write one book – the one relating to Greek mythology? Dirk’s emotional journey? – then attempted unsuccessfully to tie it in with one of his trademark fairytales.

Review:  The Last Hunt (The Law Wranglers #3) by Ron Schwab 

3 Stars

Last HuntWhen I signed up for Ron Schwab’s The Last Hunt, I didn’t realize it was the third book in a series. When I started reading it, I felt a little lost – if the first two books had been available at our library, I would’ve borrowed them to catch up – but eventually I pretty much caught up with the characters and the story.
Judging by the other reviews I’ve seen, perhaps reading the first two still would’ve helped me connect to the story because everyone else who’s reviewed The Last Hunt gushes about the book, the author, and the series. However, I found it sort of boring and quite predictable. For a novel centered around the final days of Native American freedom, an underexplored and crucial period of U.S. history, the writing was rather simplistic and lacked, I felt, emotion. In short, the story was good but the writing didn’t do it justice.

Fantasy, Reviews

Review: The Godmother

The Godmother
The Godmother by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The fantasy genre has always dealt with moral issues. The fight between Good and Evil has been a major theme of the genre since the beginning. But I’ve never been slapped in the face so forcefully with the specific moral preaching that I found in The Godmother. It was a bit off-putting from the start. I felt like I was being told how to feel rather than allowed to form my own view of the desperate situations of the characters and the city.
The idea of paralleling modern trials with well-known fairy tales – Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Puss in Boots, and The Magic Flute (I think?) – was fantastic. The execution, however, was wanting. I feel like the author wanted to tell this horror story of political corruption and poverty but slapped in some magic just to make it seem fun. It wasn’t fun. The Hansel and Gretel story of Hank and Gigi was particularly disturbing (as it should be!) but just didn’t jive with the little bit of magic performed.
I understand what Scarborough was doing – showing how Fairy Tales do apply to real life and how humans have dealt with the same trials throughout history. My problem is with the way it was written. I don’t like having things forced down my throat or being told how to think or feel.

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