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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Historical Fiction, Reviews, Woman's Fiction

Review: In the Unlikely Event

3.5 Stars

When I learned that Judy Blume – my absolute favorite during my late childhood/ teen years – had released another novel, I tried not to get too excited. While I adore her young adult fiction – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Tiger Eyes, and Just as Long as We’re Together just to name a few – I hadn’t quite taken to her adult fiction. With its multiple viewpoints and by centering the story on Miri and her friends and family, In the Unlikely Event as it turns out reads much like the young adult works I loved so much while tackling adult themes. In the Unlikely Event
Initially, I was turned off by the ever-increasing number of characters. It was difficult to keep track of all of the names and storylines. The wide range of viewpoints, however, demonstrates the far-reaching effects of tragedy. Everyone – old and young – were deeply changed by the three real-life plane disasters around which Blume’s story is centered whether anyone they knew and loved was onboard or affected by the crashes. The novel also shows that life does indeed go on. Big changes come to the lives of the characters that may be caused indirectly by the accidents or have nothing to do with them at all but how the characters react to these changes is greatly affected by this horrific experience.
Along with having written another extraordinary novel full of truths about human nature and how people, especially young people, react to tragedy, the great Judy Blume has also written a wonderful historical novel. Though she did experience the plane crashes herself as a young teen, it must have required plenty of research and the effort shows in the delightful details. For that reason, I recommend the book to anyone who grew up in the 1950s. I’m sure it will have a nostalgiac effect on them.

If you enjoy Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event, I recommend Kristin Hannah’s Firefly Lane for its exploration of the evolution of friendship that the relationship between Miri and Natalie reminded me of.  Or, if it is Blume’s unique look at history you like, I would recommend Starring Sally J. Freeman As Herself about the effects of World War II on a young girl living in America.

Fantasy, Reviews

Review: The Changelings (War of the Fae #1)

2 Stars

Have you ever read a book that made you ask yourself “why am I still reading this?” Elle Casey’s The Changelings, the first book in her War of the Fae series was like that for me. Each time I picked it up to read I didn’t really want to but once I’d begun I had to find out what was going on.

Reading this YA fantasy was like eating some snack food that you don’t really like but it’s in front of you so you just keep popping it in your mouth until you’re sick of it. The plot was OK but the dialogue was crap – and I don’t just mean the vulgar language, which was overused and over the top. The main character is terrible and has no real growth throughout the course of the novel. And it doesn’t end.

I knew going in that it was part of a series but unlike most first books in a series that I’ve read, it doesn’t wrap anything up. The final scene not only brings more questions but it leaves plenty unanswered. I felt like the author is holding the reader hostage. Luckily I don’t care enough to pay the ransom of reading another one of these books.  This review makes it sound like I hated this book.  I didn’t hate it; it annoyed me and I wish I hadn’t wasted reading time on it.

If you like The Changelings and not-that-great YA fantasy like it, you may also like The Dark Realm (Feyland #1) by Anthea Sharp