In the Bookcase

2.29.2016

Book Review: Cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (5 star review)



Cinder
(The Lunar Chronicles #1)

written by Marissa Meyer

390 pages // published in 2012 // young adult // science fiction




My Review...

5 Star Rating


After spending about 4 years "avoiding" this book, thinking I wasn't interested in a fairy-tale retelling, I finally gave in -- to the start of an amazing series, I believe.

This is no mere Cinderella story. To begin with, it has more science-fiction than anything, and is set in the very distant future in New Beijing -- instantly more interesting that a regular Cinderella-type story. To sketch in a few more details, our heroine Cinder is, in fact, human, but with machine parts -- a cyborg girl (something she tries to keep hidden as best as possible). Her best friend is an android named Iko. And the final kicker? There's no scenes of Cinderella scrubbing the floors and dressing in rags (exactly); instead, Cinder is a highly-skilled... mechanic.

Is this story fascinating enough to keep one interested with all the fresh story elements? YES.

Does the reader see how the story will end up unfolding as a fairy-tale? NO WAY.

There's only just enough resemblances to the original Cinderella story that the reader will acknowledge it's the same story, but Cinder is a book completely different than the original -- a story so captivating that I didn't expect it myself. There were definitely some plot twists that I never could have come up with on my own, and it created a truly one-of-a-kind story.

Usually, I don't care to read young adult fiction, which can easily filter in unwanted mature situations and bad language -- However, I didn't find that this is the case at all in Cinder (another reason why I like the book so much!

Overall? Cinder has action, a smidgen of the fairy-tale sweetness it derives from, and some romantic interest -- it is Prince Charming himself, after all (just under a different name). Together this creates a fascinating read, and... now I simply can't wait to find out the story behind Book 2 in the Lunar Chronicles. Recommended best for teens and adults.




Cinder is available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, audio, and e-book format.




P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any Amazon.com purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


2.26.2016

Book Review: Quest for a Beast

Quest for the Beast by Sarah Holman (5 star review)



Quest for a Beast: A Beauty and the Beast Story

written by Sarah Holman

41 pages // published in 2015 // middle-grade fiction // fairy tale




My Review...

5 Star Rating


"We are going to capture one of the most wanted thieves in the state; they call him The Beast...."

A fantastic modern re-envisioning of The Beauty and the Beast.

Reasons I liked it:

• The story is taken completely out of a fairytale context and given a modern-day setting. I like it that way! I'd rather read a fairytale retelling that has a few small resemblances to the original, while not allowing you to figure out what will happen in advance.

• I also like it because the spiritual/Christian angle is IMPACTING. I think redemption and other good character qualities truly shine in Sarah's story.

• The characters are real and relatable in this one. For a short book, it's important that the reader connects well with the characters and Sarah pulled this off well. She allows you insight into each character's strengths, weaknesses, and how they can change -- being human.

"Had she become so obsessed with her books that she hadn't been there for her brother? Had her treasure become the fairy stories instead of God and the people he had placed in her life?"


Quest for the Beast is a good, solid story. Recommended especially for kids and young teens.




Quest for a Beast is available on Amazon in e-book format.




P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any Amazon.com purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


2.22.2016

Book Review: The Magician's Nephew

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis (5 star review)



The Magician's Nephew

written by C.S. Lewis

202 pages // published in 1955 // fiction // Christian fantasy




My Review...

5 Star Rating


Easily a new favorite book of mine!

The reader gets to experience Narnia for the very first time -- from the exact moment that Aslan breathed Narnia into existence! What a wonderful moment. So similar to the God's own creation of our world, although no description could ever fully share the extent of His creation.

Polly and Digory step into Narnia, and with them seeps in someone from another world called Charn -- someone evil. A beautiful setup for 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe'. To get to Narnia, they go through a middle landing place, named "Wood between the Worlds"... and I do so wonder how many other worlds that these two charming kids could discover together.

This book provides so much back-story for Narnian fans. Why is there a lamp post in the middle of the snowy woods? Why is the White Witch embody evilness? How do animals get picked to have the talking ability?

I ADORE THIS BOOK. It's beautiful.




The Magician's Nephew is available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, audio, or e-book format.




P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any Amazon.com purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


2.18.2016

Book Review: On the Way Home

On the Way Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder & Rose Wilder Lane (5 star review)



On the Way Home
The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894

written by Laura Ingalls Wilder & Rose Wilder Lane

120 pages // published in 1962 // historical non-fiction




My Review...

5 Star Rating


What many people may not realize is that after you finish reading all 9 of Laura Ingalls Wilder's 'Little House' books, her story still continues. 'On the Way Home' was published posthumously, with help from Laura's daughter, Rose. It was originally written in 1894 on the trail, published decades later in 1962.

Laura kept this diary when she and Almanzo decided to move from South Dakota to Missouri, where they started an apple tree farm. So much good information and background is brought to light. I liked learning the fine details of their life at the time -- for example, Laura would always write down certain bits, like the time they started out each morning, and often a daily temperature. (I thought it was neat that they had a thermometer on their wagon!) They picked up a dog along the way and named it Fido. (I did have higher hopes that Laura's writer-imagination could have prompted another name, but anyways...) Plus, there's the rather interesting story of the $100 bill tucked away in the desk -- but you can find out all about that when you read it.

About half of 'On the Way Home' is Laura's diary notes -- the rest is written by Rose with supplementary information. Included are many photographs taken around the same time as the Wilder's drive to Missouri; I loved all the photographs as it really helped to "set the scene".

'On the Way Home' isn't written in the same style as the beloved 'Little House' books, but that is not to say it shouldn't be cherished too. This is an actual diary, not written in a children's story format. Overall, it is an enjoyable read, and doesn't take too long to get through either. Anyone can enjoy it, from age 9 to adult.




On the Way Home is available on Amazon in paperback format.




P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any Amazon.com purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


2.16.2016

Book Review: Waltz into the Waves (A Cinderella Story)

Waltz into the Waves by Sarah Holman (5 star review)



Waltz into the Waves: A Cinderella Story

written by Sarah Holman

28 pages // published in 2015 // middle-grade fiction // fairy tale




My Review...

5 Star Rating


This is a charming fairy tale story from Sarah Holman.

It's a super sweet retelling of the familiar Cinderella fairy tale we know already. It slightly differs from the traditional story, but only "just enough" so that you still see the original fairy tale shining through.

Amelia Ella is our heroine, and her heart goes out to the boy she spent all her childhood playtime with -- Alex -- but she feels their love isn't meant to be. Her happy life changed drastically with the death of her father; her step-mother takes control over her new daughter, with a wicked scheme to oust Amelia from the family heritage.

I love what Sarah Holman did with the story -- how she added plenty of sweetness, love, and integrity. It's the perfect afternoon read.

Simply delightful.




Waltz into the Waves is available on Amazon in e-book format.




P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any Amazon.com purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


2.12.2016

Book Review: The Princess and Curdie

The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald (4 star review)



The Princess and Curdie

written by George MacDonald

256 pages // published in 1883 // children's fiction // fairy tale




My Review...

4 Star Rating


Son of a miner, Curdie, who we met back in the first story ("The Princess and the Goblin") returns for another fantastic adventure from Scottish writer George MacDonald.

There are many types of symbolism that MacDonald has used to illustrate the walk in a Christian lifestyle. For example, Curdie is given the ability to determine whether a person is truly a man or has beast qualities (good vs. evil). This shows that one's judgement of humankind should never be based on outward assumptions -- but one must always look to the heart to find the true intentions of another person. The main theme of the tale illustrates how to have faith in the midst of your battles, even when blind to what may be happening in the big picture -- still, always keeping the faith (and trusting God's power).

"The Princess and Curdie" is considered a children's fairy tale -- but a rather dark one at that, with some battling and minor violence.

Overall? It contains some hard truths, that for our modern age of readers, it may be hard to digest spiritually. But it is good, definitely good, to hear these things that MacDonald has to tell us.




The Princess and Curdie is available on Amazon as hardcover, paperback, audio and e-book.




P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any Amazon.com purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


2.10.2016

Fantasy Love February -- {Art!}




Fantasy Love February: Mini-Challenge Two


For this Mini-Challenge, I was supposed to create some "fantastic" art about a fantasy book I'm reading this month. It sounded like fun to me!

As a graphic artist, my favorite medium to work with is digital art. So, I put together a piece of blog art, depicting my favorite illustration in The Magician's Nephew, coupled with my favorite passage.

To me, this piece opens up wonderment to a curious imagination. Had Digory and Polly not ventured further, Narnia would never have been discovered!

So, here's my submission in the Mini-Challenge. Enjoy, and you're welcome to re-share it elsewhere if you like it.

Make your choice, adventurous Stranger, Strike the bell and bide the danger, Or wonder, till it drives you mad, What would have followed if you had.


2.08.2016

Book Review: Princess Academy

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (3 star review)



Princess Academy

written by Shannon Hale

314 pages // published in 2005 // children's fiction // fairytale




My Review...

3 Star Rating


Miri is a young girl who lives in a mountain village, where, for generations, her people have mined in the quarry for their precious stone.

When the king's ministers visit Mount Eskel to say that the prince will choose one of their girls as his bride, shock ripples through the village. Why would they choose such a small place to choose such an important person from -- especially from girls who know nothing about becoming a princess? Thus, an academy is set up on the mountain, and all girls of age must attend for a year to learn EVERYTHING -- from grammar to history to etiquette.

Brought into the story is a telepathic element -- the people of Mount Eskel can mentally send phrases to each other when in the mine surrounded by the special type of stone they excavate. This element didn't seem out of place in a fairytale sort of story, and it showed how well these people worked together in a close-knit community.

It's a very simple sort of story -- fairytale sweet. It's charming enough, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would have. I did like how Miri persevered in her challenges and attempted to learn about and conquer a "wall" in her life. She tries to help her village the best she can, even though she thinks little of her capabilities.




Princess Academy is available on Amazon as hardcover, paperback and e-book.




P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Any Amazon.com purchase made through the links in this post support this humble blogger with a small commission. Thank you!


2.02.2016

Joining the Fantasy Love February reading challenge!

My bloggy friend Grace (who blogs over at Fictionally) is hosting a reading challenge this month -- it's called Fantasy Love February!


Fantasy books, or anything related to fairy tales qualifies as part of the reading challenge. I have a few books in mind that I've had on my TBR list -- and this is the perfect time for me to read them!



Fantasy Love February: Mini-Challenge One


Today I'm sharing a list of the books I plan to read for Grace's fantasy challenge this month!

Perhaps you'll find something to read for the challenge too?


The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald


The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis


Quest for the Beast: A Beauty and the Beast story by Sarah Holman


Waltz into the Waves: A Cinderella Story by Sarah Holman


Princess Academy by Shannon Hale