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text 2016-07-13 15:34
Princess Novels (Kid edition)
The Hero and the Crown - Robin McKinley
Sleeping Ugly - Jane Yolen,Diane Stanley
A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales - Terri Windling,Ellen Datlow

Yesterday, I posted a list of books in honor of Disney's new princess Elena.  My cousins (okay, really, technically, my cousin and his wife, but writing cousin-in-law is just strange.  They are both cousins) liked it, and I realized that I didn't really include any kids books,  mostly because I don't have kids.  But my cousin does.  So, here is a kid version.  Most of the books would be classified as children's as opposed to YA.  This version is just princesses.

 

1. The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley  - Technically YA, but McKinely's books always feature strong woman/girls.  This one is about a princess who kills dragons.

 

2. Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolen - an unusual princess story to say the least.

 

3. Everafter High (series) by Shannon Hale - I had various reactions to the freebie character introductions for the series.  But Cinderella character, Ashlynn, is well done, and the idea is interesting.

 

4. Princess Evangeline and Fiery Fiasco by Kristen Thomas - I picked this up free for kindle, and while there could be more showing and not telling, it is about a princess with spunk.

 

5. Greek Princess Stories (series) by Kim Charity.  While not strictly following the Greek myths, this series gives characters, such as Helen, more to do than look pretty.

 

6. A Wolf at the Door ed. by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.  This is Datlow/Windling first collection of fairy tale retellings for children, and there are two others in the series.  All are wonderful.  This has one of my favorite retellings of Cinderella, "Cinder Elephant".

 

7. Ordinary Princess  by M. M. Kaye - she is that way because she was dropped as a baby.  Lovely story.

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review 2015-05-19 04:30
You Won't Sleep Through This
Sleeping Handsome and the Princess Engin... Sleeping Handsome and the Princess Engineer (Fairy Tales Today) - Kay Woodward,Jo de Ruiter
Sleeping Ugly - Jane Yolen,Diane Stanley

Sleeping Handsome and the Princess Engineer is a cute picture book for the K-2 set that tries to hit all the requisite modern points. Prince Handsome is quickly dispatched into slumber by the curse set by a jealous wizard, and so Princess Engineer comes to the rescue. About the only engineering required is that the princess brings along a digging machine, and this is a disappointment. It would have been fun to have someone with a name like Princess Engineer make some fancy machines to try to get Prince Handsome out of his predicament, but instead, the more predictable ending occurs. Gender role conscious parents will probably like this one, but developing the engineer theme (and the prince’s appreciation for his rescuer’s smarts) would have made this book a bigger hit with me. Readers who enjoy this would also like Jane Yolen's Sleeping Ugly, another twist on the same tale.

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review 2015-01-08 01:30
Childish and annoying
The Chosen Prince - Diane Stanley

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Now that some of my rage has cooled off, I can say with certainty that this is by far one of the most disappointing books I’ve read this year. When I first saw it on Edelweiss, I was so excited! Greek Myth combined with Fantasy sounded like a dream and I was excited to dive in. I was let down on so many accounts, it’s not even funny. Although I imagine that if anyone had been watching me while I was reading the book, they might disagree.

For starters, this book has almost no elements of fantasy. It reads like historical fiction that’s set in a time when people still believed in the greek gods. That was slightly disappointing but I loved greek myth enough to  let that one pass.

The POV this book was written in made it a lot harder for me to stick with the book. It’s written in 3rd person present tense which is just awkward. I kept on thinking it would change at some point but it didn’t and it just kept on throwing me off. At first, I felt like I wasn't being open enough to the idea of another POV and that it would become easier to read once I got used to it but I never did. I continued to look for things about this book that would make it stick out or would be even a shadow of what had been promised by the blurb.

The main character Alexos was actually pretty decent. I liked how he seemed to continue to push through in spite of all the misfortunes that befell him and while he was brave, smart, kind and giving, he also knew when he had to be a leader. Of course, sometimes I wish he would be a little bit more child-like considering he was just 13. Except when he wasn't. About half way through the book, there was a 7 year fast forward.

That really got me. What more was that the story wasn’t even being told from his POV anymore after that 7 year skip even though he was supposed to be the main character. A 20/21 year old main character for a middle grade book is a little awkward. What more was that this book some very predictable turns and there was a VERY AWKWARD romance thrown in that pissed me off so much. It’s not that the two characters weren’t compatible, it’s just that they don’t actually know each other. They meet and then BAM. Okay. I need to calm down a little because the romance still bothers me, as you can see quite clearly.

This book was lacking in the world building department as well. We are provided with the bare minimum which is basically some details on the gods that have any influence on the outcome of the story. We are thrown into a world with no other details which is why I said it read more like a historical book than fantasy. As someone who LOVES world building, I was heartbroken! Here we have such great potential yet it’s wasted. It’s barely brushed. I can only imagine the rich world that could have otherwise been created had the potential been utilized.

However, the worst thing about this book was the way in which the conflict was resolved. That broke my heart into pieces. It’s the kind of resolution you expect from picture books, not a novel. Not a novel where there is so much build up and the character goes through so much as a result of his ‘destiny’.  We have a build up for nothing because when it comes down to the actual resolution, nothing happens. It’s like when you light a firecracker that you expect to explode but all you get is a tiny crackle.

Throughout the first 60%, I kept making excuses for the book because I expected to get better, I wanted it to get better. I wanted it to blow my mind. I wanted it to be everything it had promised. The last 40% opened my eyes and by the last couple of pages I was craughing and really just wanted the book to end. So much disappointment is not good for the soul.

One might attribute the simplicity of the book to the fact that it’s middle grade. I am obviously not the intended audience but if I had read this book in middle school, I would have been heartbroken because it would have made me realize that not all books are great (I never really read a bad book as a kid… yes I am boasting. A little bit. COME ON. My bubble has already been burst.). Plus, as a kid (and almost adult))who loved adventures , it would have bothered me that something that promised to be a fabulous adventure wasn’t one.

My childish aspirations aside, it's clear that I wasn't the intended audience but I don’t know who this book is aimed towards. I suggest that if you’re thinking about reading this one yourself, you may want to skip it unless childish is exactly what you’re looking for after being fed up of everything else.

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review 2013-09-13 00:00
The Silver Bowl
The Silver Bowl - Diane Stanley The Silver Bowl delivers a mix of fantasy and action-adventure, where our hero/servant/slave-girl Molly, learns to use her powers to fight against an evil curse that is placed upon a royal family.

Being one who likes a lot of action in a story, I found this to be slow at the beginning, though it picked up the pace about a third the way through. Then the story grew in suspense and tension to where it was hard to put down. The book is well written and edited, the plot is solid, and I found myself rooting for the character, especially as she committed herself to help the royal family, no matter the cost to her. The minor characters played out well, and the mystery surrounding the curse was well-hidden until the reveal.

I found the main character's words at odds with her station and age, especially at the beginning, to the point where the story stopped for me. At seven years of age, a child won't talk like an adult. At seven years of age and non-schooled, and "ignorant" as she referred to herself, a child definitely won't talk like an adult. But here she did.

The foreshadowing portrayed in the book--at least that was how I interpreted it, made me to believe that one thing would happen, when it reality it did not. This disturbed me as a reader--why say one person was going to live for years and then shortly thereafter he would be killed? Better not to say anything and let the reader guess as to what might be.

However, besides the above, it was a good and decent read, and well-suited for readers young and old.
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review 2013-03-06 00:00
The Silver Bowl
The Silver Bowl - Diane Stanley In case you didn't know, I read a LOT of juvenile fiction. Love it! This book was no exception. Stanley wrote a fascinating story that I had no trouble getting through.Molly is the daughter of a drunken tailor, sent to work at the royal castle when she is just seven years old. Slowly, she works her way up to silver polisher and that is where the real fun begins. Because Molly, you see, has a gift... she can see things in the bowl, visions. And there is a voice that also speaks to her.I really liked this story overall for a few reasons. First of all, the style reminded me a LOT of Diana Wynne Jones, which I loved. Second, I was so glad to read a fairy tale type story with a main heroine who is NOT a princess or a Cinderella type character. In other words, there is no marriage to a prince at the the end of this.And for once, I want to commend a publisher for taking a chance on a story with an atypical storyline, because after reading this book, I have to think that there are many who wouldn't take a chance like that. So Kudos, Harper.If you have a daughter and you want her to read JF with a strong female character, who is smart and resourceful, I recommend this book! It was great.
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