(photo (c) murraylibrary)
Book Review: Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Summary: Creelisel Carlbrun is a penniless orphan with a level head, a caring heart, a brave soul, and a gift for sewing and embroidery. The book begins when her extended family can no longer afford to feed all of the children, and they then decide to give Creel to the local small-town dragon that nobody’s seen for a hundred years. Creel’s aunt thinks that if Creel plays the part of the damsel in distress, a rich young knight will come save her, he will share his wealth with Creel and her family, and they will all live happily ever after. But she just isn’t the damsel in distress type, and bargains with the dragon for her freedom and a pair of unusual slippers from his horde. Creel then sets out on her own with only a little bit of thread and a pair of very beautiful shoes that make her feet itch mysteriously. When she reaches her destination, her country’s capital city, she is drawn into royal intrigue and a conflict that could push her kingdom towards war and change the way her people think of dragons forever.
TL;DR Summary: In this middle grade fantasy novel, a strong heroine saves her kingdom, befriends the race of dragons, finds her place in to world, and stitches her way into your heart.
Review: I initially looked this book up because it was a Kindle Daily Deal for the ebook— only $1.99. I bought it because the majority of the reviews on Amazon were almost ridiculously positive. 55 five star reviews, 13 four star reviews, and 2 three star reviews. I thought that with that kind of result on the site, it must be a good book. And I’m glad I checked them, because I absolutely adored it! This book is flawless. Yes, it’s middle-grade and meant for people much younger than me but, as C. S. Lewis put it, “a children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” And I thoroughly enjoyed this one! I love Creel, she’s a wonderful female character—- motivated, smart, and stands up for what she believes in. The relationships and character interactions are great, the pacing is flawless, and the world-building is much better than your average middle grade fantasy. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel!
Bottom Line: Fantastic story written for middle graders, but easily enjoyable for all. Highly recommended. Four out of four stars.
Spoiler Free Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth
Summary: Beatrice Prior lives in a dystopian-future-Chicago. She was raised in the faction of Abnegation, which is devoted to cultivating selflessness. There are four other factions: Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). After your sixteenth birthday, you take a test that places you into one of these factions, and there is a ceremony. At this function, you announce in which faction you will spend the rest of your life. Beatrice’s test results baffle and frighten her, and her decision is a difficult one- all of her family are in Abnegation but she’s never felt like she fit in there. She makes a difficult choice, and the initiation into her faction is grueling. She takes on the physical and mental challenges while trying to keep a secret about herself that could get her killed if anyone knew the truth. But, she discovers that she is not alone, and finds an unexpected connection with a darkly handsome young man. Oh, also there is a really riveting battle near the end ahlaskdjf!!
TL;DR Summary: Dystopian future! Life-changing choices! Secrets! Intrigue! Opressive government! Action and thrills! A really cute guy that goes by Four!
Review: Wow, I loved this one! I read the back and thought meh this sounds like a copy of the Hunger Games, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. I regret not reading it sooner and am impatiently awaiting the sequel. Yes, it is a bit like the Hunger Games, but all dystopian books are going to be somewhat similar- they’re in the same genre, right? It was so good though! There are quiet moments and triumphant moments, heartwrenching moments and parts where you wish you could look away or cover your eyes but you can’t because you’re so invested.
Bottom Line: Read it. Yes, I mean you. 3.5 out of 4 Stars.
Book Review: Jane by April Lindner
Summary: Jane Moore is recent orphan and college dropout. She is ostracized by her close siblings, and since she’s run out of money she’s basically directionless. The book begins with a job interview, where Jane lands a position as the nanny of Maddy, the daughter of world famous rock star Nico Rathburn. Jane isn’t the sort of person that is charmed by wealth and glamour, and yet she finds herself falling for the stubborn, coarse, and confusingly charming father of her charge. And he’s hiding something.
TL;DR Summary: In this modern retelling of Jane Eyre, a young art student falls in love with a rock star.
Review: Just reading that summary, and also the back of the book, make me want to facepalm. It sounds so corny! JANE EYRE FALLS IN LOVE WITH ROCK STAR. What? But, I enjoyed the book a lot while I was reading it. She modernized the storyline fairly well, and it made sense as a story all by itself too. I must admit that my favorite parts were where the author unexpectedly snuck in some of the best lines from Jane Eyre. I’m not saying that this book was incredible, or should even be compared to the original, but it was fun.
Bottom Line: This modernization might make the hardcore classic literature buffs cringe, but if you like Jane Eyre and you’ve got a few extra hours you want to kill, it’s pretty entertaining. 2.5 out of 4 stars.
Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Summary: Colin Singleton was a child prodigy, mostly good with languages and history and anagrams and that sort of thing. His private tutor’s daughter, named Katherine, asked him to be her boyfriend and then dumped him in less than five minutes. Colin swears that this set him up for the rest of his life, and the book begins with a post-highschool Colin who’s dated and been dumped by nineteen girls with the same name. His most recent breakup has hurt the worst, and to pull him out of his depression Colin’s best friend Hassan decides they should go on a road trip. They end up in a small town named Gutshot, following fate (or chance or luck or whatever you believe in) and a long dead Archduke that you might have heard of. In Gutshot, Colin makes a few friends while he tries to deal with his emotional shortcomings and attempts to write a mathematical formula that can predict how any given romantic relationship will turn out; hilarious banter and adventures ensue. In the end, Colin comes to a grand realization about love and the future.
TL;DR Summary: In this bildungsroman, Colin Singleton’s best friend Hassan tries to pull him out of his post-dumping depression by embarking on a road trip with him. They end up in a small town where Colin re-evaluates his past, present, and future. There are also twenty Katherines, one Lindsey, a wild pig hunt, and a relationship success predicting mathematical formula.
Review: As a fan of the Vlogbrothers existence, I felt it necessary to actually read a book written by John Green. I had read half of Looking for Alaska once before, but I must have had to turn it back into the library before I was finished, because I never remember finishing it; I have to get on that. But, I digress. We’re talking about a different book here. I found AAOK quite enjoyable. There were a few bits in the book that I got a bit bored in (not John’s fault, that’s just my short attention span. Thank you, internet!), and I wouldn’t say that I would read it hundreds of times, but it was still very very good. I also found the mention of conjoined twins enjoyable, because it made me remember HEY, John Green wrote this! My absolute favorite parts were those written in just dialogue, complete darkness. JOHN GREEN IF YOU’RE READING THIS, THE SECRET HIDEOUT MOMENTS WERE INCREDIBLE. Also, Colin’s eureka moment is just perfect. The writing itself changes almost into a stream of pure thought and it’s just ARGH I honestly have no words for how right it felt. It was like his thoughts were being projected into my mind. Or something. I reread those pages a few times before I closed the book for good. Also the big hunt scenes were hilarious. AND HASSAN. I loved him. I see what you did there, John, writing a self absorbed main character and then an amazingly awesome best friend. Because if you don’t identify with the one, you will with the other.
Bottom Line: Recommended for nerdfighters and people that aren’t nerdfighters. Basically everyone. 3.5/4 stars.
Book Review: Dragonfly by Julia Golding
Summary: Tashi is a princess from the rather uptight and emotionally restrained people of the Crescent Islands. Ramil is a passionate and bluntly honest prince of Gerfal. War is on the horizon for the two countries from a third, called Holt, which is lead by a bloodthirsty warlord. To cement an alliance between the Crescent Islands and Gerfal, a marriage between the two young royals is arranged. Through a series of unexpected events, they are kidnapped, imprisoned, and caught in the middle of a war. These trials test the young people and help them form an inexplicable bond. Their personalities and cultures are polar opposites, but they learn from each other.
TL;DR Summary: This novel follows two young royals in an imagined land, betrothed for an alliance.
Review: As a big fan of arranged marriage plots in novels, I had high expectations for this one. Maybe a bit too high. It was a good book, though now that I’ve finished I’m finding it a bit forgettable. Doesn’t really provoke any deep thoughts, just a bit of diversion. The romance is cute and fluffy, and all other characters except the main two (and maybe another here and there) are fairly static. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed it, but wouldn’t reread it.
Bottom Line: Recommended only if the premise grabs your interest. If you like Hawksong or Far Traveler or have a weird fascination with politically arranged marriages like me. 2.5 out of 4 stars.