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review 2016-05-31 18:20
Baker's Magic
Baker's Magic - Diane Zahler Baker's Magic - Diane Zahler

**An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

Don't bake angry!

Whatever mood Bee is in when she bakes is the same mood whoever eats her baked goods will be in. This magic can be useful, but sometimes pretty rough, especially when Bee bakes in a bad mood, and before they figure out that's the cause of the unusually ill-tempered customers. But Bee also is a pretty rad baker, and soon the royal palace wants Bee's baked good delivered to the palace, where she discovers a rather nasty arranged marriage in the making and dastardly plots ruinous to the country. She befriends the Princess Anika and helps her to escape so they can go inform the Mage Council of the unsavory goings-on in Zeewal. Along the way, they encounter a friendly gang of roving tulip pirates, father figures, and tree spirits. Oh, and Anika has a pet hedgehog, so that's cool.

I was so very pleased that Wil had a sort-of romance with Anika and NOT with Bee. #blessed

Overall, it was okay and there were some elements that I very much enjoyed, but it didn't bridge the gap for older readers as well as some MG books manage to, so that I would probably only recommend it for the intended audience.

I also got my hands on a hard-copy, so props to Capstone for their quality of publishing - the pages were thick and the binding was strong and tight.

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review 2015-11-25 00:00
Baker's Magic
Baker's Magic - Diane Zahler Baker's Magic - Diane Zahler When I saw this book on NetGalley, I didn't have to think twice about requesting it. Baking and magic...I was born to read this!

Bee (short for Beatrix) is an orphan wandering the kingdom of Aradyn. Being on the brink of starvation, she steals a bun from a bakery. Instead of hauling her off to jail, the baker, Master Bouts, offers her a place to stay at his shop, where she can work in order to pay back for the stolen bun.

While learning to bake, she discovers she's a natural at it. She also discovers she has a magical power: she can bake emotions into her cakes!
Imagine you're baking something and getting frustrated because it's not going as smoothly as you hoped it would (I get this a lot). Now if someone were to eat the thing you baked while being so frustrated, he/she will get just as frustrated, for no apparent reason. This seems like minor magic, but imagine what you could do with it! Or just read this book, of course, and you'll find out as well.

When Bee has to deliver some sweet treats to the royal castle, she meets Anika, the 16-year-old princess of Aradyn. Her father, the king, died in a shipwreck twelve years ago. Ever since, Anika has been fostered by her guardian, Master Joris, the Kingdom's mage. He turns out to be pretty evil and cares for nothing but his tulips. When it turns out Aradyn is slowly being destroyed by Master Joris' selfishness, Bee sets out on a quest to save the country.

The characters are all lovely:
- Bee's a tomboy with a brave, strong will (and magical powers!)
- Princess Anika is very princess-like, but also brave and not afraid to stain her dress
- There's Master Bouts, the typical hard working, good natured fatherly type
- Willem, the blacksmith's son/apprentice, who becomes Bee's best friend
- Master Joris, the evil mage, who turned out to be even eviler than I expected!
- Captain Zafira Zay, one bad-ass female captain of a pirate ship


Then there are hedge wizards, more pirates, ancient mages, a pet hedgehog(I LOVE hedgehogs, too bad my dog tends to see them as a late night snack), moss maidens, and TARTS! Need I say more?

hedgehogmuffin

It's a middle-grade novel, so lovely for children ages 8-12, but I think it's also very suitable for children who are a bit older than that (the lower end of the YA spectrum basically). I fall into neither one of those categories and also loved it, so let's just say that if you're into Fantasy and cool children's novels, you're good with this one.

While reading, I soon noticed there were some Dutch names (starting with a town called Zeewal) in the book but had no idea if this was intentional. After reading that Master Bouts' wife was called Janneke and the cat's name is Kaatje, I knew this couldn't be a coincidence anymore. So I googled if Diane Zahler was secretly Dutch as well. Which wasn't the case! She was just inspired by countries she visited while writing her books. Seeing as it wasn't just the names (Aradyn is a tulip country, threatened to be swallowed by the sea if there aren't enough reinforcements to prevent that from happening; Zeewal literally means sea shore in Dutch), I'm pretty sure she was inspired by The Netherlands in this one...

The love for baking truly shines through the entire book: cookies, tarts, custard, cakes, you name it! The King of bakery treats, however, in this book, has to be the Bouts Bun: a special bun recipe made by Master Bouts himself. Everyone who tastes one is completely smitten with it instantly. The stolen bun which started the story also happens to be a Bouts Bun, so you really can't blame Bee for stealing one.

If this review didn't come with a recipe, something would be very wrong here... One of the amazing things about this book is that at the very end, you can find the one and only, original recipe of the Bouts Bun!
After having a bit of parley with Master Bouts and Diane Zahler, I was given permission by both of them to share this recipe with you guys. I had a lot of fun while making them, but even more while tasting them: they are delicious!

post oven

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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review 2015-09-01 11:54
Brief Thoughts: The Thirteenth Princess
The Thirteenth Princess - Diane Zahler,Yvonne Gilbert

The Thirteenth Princess -- Diane Zahler

-- A Retelling Based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses

 

 

I love fairy tale retellings and had been looking forward to reading this book despite the fact that I knew it was targeted more towards Middle Grade or Childrens. I've always had fairly bad luck with Middle Grade and Childrens books, with few exceptions and am always a bit wary when it comes to reading books targeted to those age groups. But being a fairy tale retelling, I had hoped I'd at least enjoy it for that much.

I had a hard time getting into The Thirteenth Princess, however, and while the telling was smooth enough and the progression was standard, the story itself had many elements and a lot of underlying messages and ideals that gave me pause. But mainly, it was the simplistic predictability of the entire story that made this a rather boring, monotonous read.

There were also a lot of moments wherein I didn't quite understand the logic of the characters or even the story's direction:

How is it possible for it to be okay that Zita is known as a princess, but continue living the life of a palace servant? If the king were worried about reputation and dignity, wouldn't it look bad for him to have one of his daughters living the life of the hired help? And what of Zita? I get that she's young and she yearns for her father's love and all, but how is she content to be treated like dirt by her own father, whether or not he's a king? And how is it that she still yearns for his love and makes excuses for the way he treats her?

But all of that doesn't really matter as the book was quite short and easy to read. Even some of my frustrations brought about by king's continued irrational behavior towards all of his daughters and Zita doesn't mean anything.

As far as the rating suggests, it's not like this book was terrible or anything. It was really just Okay and while it isn't something I'd recommend for anyone who likes retellings and it isn't the best retelling I've ever read, it also wasn't a bad book either. Just frustratingly tame, juvenile, and fairly boring.


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text 2015-08-27 03:10
Starting: The Thirteenth Princess
The Thirteenth Princess - Diane Zahler,Yvonne Gilbert

It's like I can't NOT read multiple books simultaneously or something.  Every time I glance at my 'Currently Reading' shelf, I see Elantris sitting all by its lonesome and I think, "Maybe I need to start a new book," even though I know I need to buckle down and finish Elantris before the end of the month for my Reading Assignment Challenge.

 

But don't get me wrong, Elantris has been an excellent book so far.  It's just so long and so intricate.  And again, I find myself needing to have at least two 'Currently Reading' books on my shelf.

 

Logic is not my friend sometimes.

 

So then I stared at my newly refilled book draw jar and decided to give it a whirl.  Of course, my means of using the book draw jar happened to be grabbing a handful of all the e-books I have access to at the moment (color-coded in green folded-over sticky notes), and then going through that handful until I found three that I liked.  THEN I let fate make my choice for me and got The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler.

 

The other two books I'd whittled down my "book draw" selections to had been Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock and Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  (See a theme going on here?  Apparently I'm trying to get in touch with my princess fairy tale retelling inner middle grade soul or something.)

 

My reading mood, you know--it dictates, I hop to it.

 

Anyway...

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