I’m beginning to think my love of fairy tale retellings may be merging into an obsession at this point, but that’s fine. This Cinderella story was such an interesting take on the classic Disney version (and since I’m currently writing a Cinderella retelling, I can count this as research, right?). In this version, the ball is only the beginning, and there is so much more to Cinderella’s story, as well as her as a character. Cinderella doesn’t even have a chance to prove she is the missing princess in this story, but sets out on her own anyway, determined to carve out a new life for herself as a seamstress in the palace. However, she soon finds herself entangled in a complicated plot to manipulate the king and remove the prince from power. As if that wasn’t enough, she discovers that the kingdom also holds a longstanding and dangerous grudge against all fairies (and seeing as Cinderella has a lovely fairy godmother, that is kind of an issue). Intrigue, romance, and some really great characters are all woven together into a story that is just so fascinating. I really liked that the main antagonist wasn’t who it traditionally is, but I won’t say anything more about that. My favorite part of this book by far, though, is the depth of Cinderella’s character. This whole story, including the character of Cinderella, is brimming with those feel-good Disney fairy tale feelings, but underneath that is strength and groundedness that you don’t always get in a Cinderella story. So if that’s something you’re looking for, I would definitely suggest picking up this take on the classic Cinderella story.
This book (and the entire series, really) is one of my favorite examples of excellent storytelling and adventure. The Rangers are an elusive and mysterious group of men. Will, now 15 years old, has been at least somewhat afraid of them his whole life… except he’s just been apprenticed to one. Will is about to learn that being a Ranger isn’t just about lurking mysteriously in the shadows, though. The Rangers are an elite group of fighters and scouts charged with protecting the kingdom. And now, more than ever, the kingdom is in need of the Rangers’ protection. Lord Morgarath, previously exiled to the Mountains of Rain and Night, is preparing for a massive account. Will soon finds himself plunged into a dangerous, high stakes adventure. Not only does his own life depend on mastering the skills of a Ranger, but the fate of the kingdom lies in the balance as well.
I decided to reread some of my old favorites recently as a way to unwind from the long school year. Naturally, I had to start with this one because I was obsessed with Percy Jackson for years around middle school. Honestly, it’s still great. I read the entire series in a week. Rick Riordan reimagines Greek mythology and brings it to life in the modern-day United States. The story follows Percy Jackson, a twelve-year-old demigod, and his two companions, a satyr and a demigod daughter of Athena. Together, they must embark on a quest to find and return Zeus’ master bolt before a war breaks out among the gods. Their quest is filled with danger and excitement, along with many characters and creatures from the Ancient Greek myths. Throughout the story, Rick Riordan provides a healthy dose of humor and many moments that make his story and characters unforgettable. Looking back after reading it more recently, it’s the sarcasm that really gets me. I’m a sucker for a slightly unreliable, sarcastic narrator… and Percy Jackson fits that bill perfectly. It’s a fun adventure, and definitely a great way to relax and escape into a book.
Let me start off by saying that, while this is supposedly geared towards middle schoolers, there is enough complexity in this story to satisfy pretty much anyone. I can’t get over the world building in this book. It takes place in our world, after the “Great Disruption,” a mysterious event that shattered the world into fragments of times past, present, and future. In this new reality, explorers and mapmakers are increasingly important, since they chronicle not just places, but times. Enter our main character- a curious and intelligent 13 year old girl who just wants to find her parents, but then finds herself chasing after her uncle and deeply embedded in a plan to change time itself. There’s just so many things in this story that are absolutely brilliant- from the settings, to the world building, to the characters and their heartwarming relationships. It was an adventure all the way through, even though this was a longer book that I typically enjoy. It may have helped that there were pirates involved. Seriously, though, this story was so immersive and creative that it kept pulling me in. And it’s only the start to a trilogy! There’s so much potential in this world that the author has crafted, and I very much enjoyed this first book.
There was something about this book that was just so enchanting! It’s hard to put into words, but this story made me feel as if I wasn’t just a reader. I was invited to come along on the adventure. And what an adventure! This is your classic story of good versus evil, of the triumph of love and purity, of the strength of friendship. Sure, there were some fantasy cliches, but honestly, when did that become a bad thing? Things like the power of friendship and love or being chosen for a quest show up in so many stories because they’re strong ways to tell a story and they speak to us as readers. In this story, Estouj and his Wanderer friends have to face challenge after challenge in their quest to find the one thing that can stop a terrible evil. One of the things I liked about this story was that there wasn’t just one big challenge. The book was a journey through a series of smaller quests and fights, which kept me engaged and wanting to read more. And throughout all of it, there were these beautiful relationships between the characters. The authors don’t shy away from emotions and inner turmoil, and I think that’s really a strength to the story. Overall, this book was an adventure, and I can’t wait until the next one! (Also, as a side note, it’s written as a joint effort by three siblings, which is honestly so impressive to me. So just add that to the list of great qualities this book has.)
At this point, I kind of just accept that when I read a book by Kaitlyn, it’s going to be good. Two More Lives continues Neela’s struggle through the tournament (and life in general because she’s had it pretty rough). This book also introduces some lovable new characters, as well as some complexity with Neela’s past. New secrets and connections are being revealed, which makes for a very interesting read.
There were some points where I felt the book dragged just a little, but my personal preference is fast-paced, shorter books without many “filler” scenes. Even with that, though, this book was excellent! Kaitlyn’s characters and relationships are amazing as usual, and I really enjoyed the added complexity and some extra supernatural elements that came to the surface in this book. And of course, the ending packs a punch that leaves you very ready for the next book!
Another creative take on fairy tales! And how could I resist a book called Frogkisser? I believe this was the first book I’ve read from Garth Nix, but I will have to find many more to read because this was brilliant. The story follow the adventures of Princess Anya, who sets out on a quest to change a frog back into a prince for her sister, but gets much more than she bargained for. Along the way, she meets a host of unforgettable characters- each with a valuable lesson to pass on. Princess Anya’s wit, determination, and courage make her an instantly likable character. Throughout her journey, she encounters characters and objects from classic fairy tales, but of course, they are far from the traditional versions. With memorable characters, plenty of twists and turns, and a delightfully unique plot, Frogkisser was a wonderful adventure from start to finish.
This book is a classic… and one of my absolute favorites! Narnia is a world that you will want to disappear into. The story follows four adventurous children as they step through a wardrobe and into a magical land that needs their help. Narnia has been trapped in never-ending winter by the White Witch, but the arrival of the children marks a change for the better. As the children fight to free Narnia, they meet many magical and lovable creatures. The most wondrous of these is the Great Lion, Aslan- a character too wonderful to describe. You’ll just have to meet him yourself. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is actually the second book in the Narnia series, but the first book isn’t needed to enjoy this story. However, while this book is a beautiful story in and of itself, you would be missing out if you didn’t read the rest of the books in the series. So I would encourage you to dive in and experience the magic of Narnia!
I know I've already written about Lord of the Rings as a book of the month, and talked about it more than I probably should, and it's not like very many people have never heard of it before. But! My mom bought me a beautiful, illustrated three book set for Christmas, so naturally I had to reread them, and after finishing The Fellowship of the Ring I'm reminded why I'm so in love with this story. I have never read any other story where the world is as immersive as this one. Middle Earth, along with the characters and their adventure, is so real. It's beautiful and engaging and heartwarming and even funny at times. I could go on and on... honestly I just think that Tolkien was a genius. The characters are warm and inspiring (Samwise is a treasure, and I will not let him be underappreciated), and it's so cool to see how the relationships grow and develop. Their quest is noble, and there's plenty of action and adventure to hold your interest. Not to mention that the amount of motivational and touching quotes that you'll come across when reading is insane. Okay, rant over. I just love this story.
Okay… so this book is about mice and other woodland creatures, but bear with me here. Redwall was one of my favorite books (and series) when I was younger. My mom would read it out loud to me and my brother before bed, and our dad would usually have to come in and tell us to go to bed because we could always push just one more chapter. And it has the best vocabulary! The descriptions and words used are so perfect and immersive. So yes, it’s about mice, but boy is it a good story. The inhabitants of Redwall Abbey must find a way to fortify themselves against Cluny the Scourge’s army of rats. Although the abbey-dwellers have always been peaceful, they can’t risk the forest being taken over by such a battle-seasoned, bloodthirsty group. With the sword of the legendary Martin the Warrior, they might have a chance, but the weapon hasn’t been seen in ages. But not everyone has given up on finding the sword, especially not the clumsy apprentice Matthias. This quest to save Redwall Abbey is filled with lovable characters, incredible adventures, and wonderful riddles. Let yourself get swept away by Redwall’s fantastic atmosphere!
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about this book at first. Although I love almost all kinds of fairy tale retellings, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about a futuristic setting. Also, the cover had a robotic foot on it, and honestly that was kind of freaking me out. But once I started reading it, I was hooked. The plot is significantly more complex than your typical Cinderella story, but still with enough references to the original story to please any fairy tale lovers. The characters are the kind you can’t help but root for- strong, smart, sassy, and delightfully human. Cinder is a renowned cyborg mechanic, although the cyborg part is something she prefers to not talk about. She’s so renowned, in fact, that Prince Kai comes to her to fix his royal android. But there seems to be more to the situation than the prince is telling her. Little does she know, the prince’s visit is the first step in a perilous adventure that will plunge Cinder into a deadly dance between Earth and the mysterious and cold Lunar race watching them. Mystery, deception, a deadly illness, and the threat of war swirl around Cinder. Now she has to figure out why she matters in all of it… and who she really is.
This book is a great find for anyone who loves a good fractured fairy tale. E.D. Baker adds a whole new level to the classic fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty by introducing the sleeping princess’s younger sister. Princess Annie is not affected by magic of any kind, so when the castle falls under the sleeping curse, she is the only one still awake. Knowing that true love’s kiss is the only way to wake her sister, Annie sets out to find the right man for her sister. Along the way, she is joined by Liam, a handsome guard who was not in the castle when the curse hit. Together they meet a wide array of fascinating characters, some friendly and others very much not. Their adventure is a fun, lighthearted, and special story to read.
This book plunges the reader straight into a complicated and immersive world of ancient mythology, high-stakes schemes, and complex politics. It also introduces the clever, cunning, charismatic, and utterly enchanting Eugenides, the queen’s thief. Fair warning, though, reading this book will very likely invest you in the remaining five books of the series because you’ll want to know every bit of Eugenides’ incredible adventures. It all begins when his boasting in his thieving talent lands him in prison, where he is unable to refuse the offer by the king’s magus to help steal a legendary artifact. However, nothing is quite as it seems with Eugenides, and he has plans of his own. This book, along with the rest of the series, is absolutely brilliant. I was hooked by the genius of Eugenides and the depth and detail of every character encountered in the story. But what kept me turning the pages was the unpredictability of the story. This series is one of my favorites because I was, and still am, so in awe of the plot twists. It’s a perfect choice for anyone looking to plunge headfirst into a story full of intrigue, mystery, and unexpected twists, all carried by amazing characters.