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review 2015-02-19 23:18
And they lived happily ever after (fingers crossed!!!)
The Grimm Conclusion - Adam Gidwitz,Hugh D'Andrade

I am sad that this series is over, but it ends in such a satisfying way. I do think that this series is required reading for those who like fairy tales and especially clever retellings. Each volume ups the ante on the grim aspect of fairy tales. Each book seems less appropriate for a younger audience. I'm torn on that. Mr. Gidwitz is obviously a teacher, and he understands the young minds he writes for. I mean, he has to in order to teach them. I'm going to trust that he knows what they can handle, but my personal limit would be 12 or older for these books. There is way too much dark violence and subject matter for kiddos younger than twelve, to my thinking. Also, the cruelty of adults against children in this book is highly disturbing.

I also think this is the saddest out of the series. Wow, the things that our young protagonists are faced with really tore at my heart. And how the cruelty and neglect they experienced warped something inside of them. Gidwitz deals with the psychology of abused/neglected children in a poignant way without getting too soapboxy.

There are some great life lessons here. Family, loyalty, honor, integrity, kindness, and making moral decisions. These kids have to raise themselves and that leads to some issues when they are faced with adult moral decisions. Along the way they make mistakes and have to learn from them and 'face the music.'

This book breaks the 4th wall in a way that the other ones in the series did not. At first, I really didn't like that about the book, but then I saw how integral it was to the story. It was also good because Gidwitz doesn't follow the predictable pattern I expected.

Johnny Heller truly is an awesome narrator. If he didn't win an award for narrating this series, then he was cheated. He deserves it. He was all in, and you would have to wonder how he didn't get emotionally affected by this book as he read. Not just in horror or sadness, but in hilarity, because this book involves all those emotions.

I am biased. I love fairy tales a lot. Yet, I think that increases my standards for fairy tale retellings. Gidwitz is a writer who clearly loves fairy tales just as much as I do, if not more. He respects the genre, and it clearly is a huge creative influence on him in crafting these marvelous books that add very much to the cultural relevance of fairy tales.

If you have not checked these out and you like fairy tales, what are you waiting for?

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review 2014-03-13 19:27
Audiobook Review - The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner's Curse (Winner's Trilogy, #1) - Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse was everything that I was hoping it would be. First of all, the audio narration was fantastic! I can always tell almost immediately whether I am going to enjoy a narration by how quickly I am able to connect w/ the characters and be drawn into the story. This was certainly one of those times that it worked. Justine Eyre brought that something extra to the story, it wasn't simply narrated, it was performed. Each character was immediately recognizable by tone and even accent, and the setting & atmosphere were beautifully expressed so that I felt completely immersed in this world.


Of course, Eyre's job was made much easier by Rutkoski's beautiful and expressive writing. From the very beginning, this fascinating world slowly came to life with all of it's political intrigues and society's unwritten rules. It almost felt like historical fiction in the way that the society was structured. It's always fascinating to read about how a conquered people and the conquering people attempt to coexist and the constant struggle for control.


I enjoyed that Kestrel was not a "perfect" heroine but felt genuine which made it that much easier to connect with her. I thought that most of the characters had depth and personality which was even more pronounced with the excellent audio narration. The building friendship between Kestrel and Arin was sometimes obvious but was still believable. I definitely enjoyed the slower pace of their relationship, how they came to understand and respect one another before exploring other emotions.


The slow pacing of The Winner's Curse never once caused me to lose interest, it just pulled me deeper into the story, allowing me to get a better understanding of the world and the people and their motivations. I am never happy with a cliffhanger ending but I have to say, this one didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book as will so often happen. I actually liked the way it ended BUT I am simply dying to read the next!


I would recommend The Winner's Curse to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy or historical fiction since it has elements of both but isn't entirely one or the other. I also very highly recommend this in audiobook format! I always say that when the right story has the right narrator, it is a special kind of magic, this is definitely one of those times.

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