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review 2018-01-21 01:51
Interesting take on fairy tales
Regal Academy #1: A School for Fairy Tales - Luana Vergari,Bendetta Barone

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

 

                I haven’t seen the series on Nickelodeon, so I am coming to this as a newbie.

 

                The story is a high school for the children or grandchildren of famous fairy tale characters.  We are introduced to Rose who has a thing for shoes and literally falls though the rabbit hole.  She discovers her relationship to Cinderella and is introduced to new friends, including a young woman who likes creepy crawlies but can also turn into a frog.  There is a male Snow White too.

 

                In many ways, the story is a mash up of Harry Potter ideas and a show like Disney’s Descendants.  The fairy tale kids learn how to use magic, including pumpkin magic, and there is even some dragon riding.

 

                While the mean girl and crew trope is used here, the story is largely about friends working together to succeed.  Additionally, while the female characters are stereotypical drawn (in some cases without enough room for a stomach), there is no emphasis on looks.  While Rose’s parents don’t look old enough to be her parents, her grandmother at least has wrinkles.

 

                The stories are engaging, and the female characters do not need saving.  In fact, it’s fun to read stories where female leads are feminine, friends, and not simply guys with boobs.

 

                There are some nice cute nods to other versions – including a wonderful mouse character, Rose’s intense desire for shoes, and Rapunzel’s hair. 

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review 2018-01-20 20:45
Undercover Princess
Undercover Princess (Rosewood Chronicles) - Connie Glynn

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

There were good ideas in there, and I was fairly thrilled at first at the setting and prospects (a boarding school in England, hidden royals that looked like they’d be badass, etc.), but I must say that in the end, even though I read the novel in a rather short time and it didn’t fall from my hands, it was all sort of bland.

The writing itself was clunky, and while it did have good parts (the descriptions of the school, for instance, made the latter easy to picture), it was more telling, not showing most of the time. I’m usually not too regarding on that, I tend to judge first on plot and characters, and then only on style, but here I found it disruptive. For instance, the relationship between Ellie and Lottie has a few moments that border on the ‘what the hell’ quality: I could sense they were supposed to hint at possible romantic involvement (or at an evolution in that direction later), but the way they were described, it felt completely awkward (and not ‘teenage-girls-discovering-love’ cute/awkward).

The characters were mostly, well, bland. I feel it was partly tied to another problem I’ll mention later, namely that things occur too fast, so we had quite a few characters introduced, but not developed. Some of their actions didn’t make sense either, starting with Princess Eleanor Wolfson whose name undercover gets to be... Ellie Wolf? I’m surprised she wasn’t found out from day one, to be honest. Or the head of the house who catches the girls sneaking out at night and punishes them by offering them a cup of tea (there was no particular reason for her to be lenient towards them at the time, and if that was meant to hint at a further plot point, then we never reached that point in the novel).

(On that subject, I did however like the Ellie/Lottie friendship in general. It started in a rocky way, that at first made me wonder how come they went from antipathy to friendship in five minutes; however, considering the first-impression antipathy was mostly based on misunderstanding and a bit of a housework matter, it’s not like it made for great enmity reasons either, so friendship stemming from the misunderstanding didn’t seem so silly in hindsight. For some reason, too, the girls kind of made me think of ‘Utena’—probably because of the setting, and because Ellie is boyish and sometimes described as a prince rather than a princess.)

The story, in my opinion, suffers from both a case of ‘nothing happens’ and ‘too many things happen’. It played with several different plot directions: boarding school life; undercover princess trying to keep her secret while another girl tries to divert all attention on her as the official princess; prince (and potential romantic interest) showing up; mysterious boy (and potential romantic interest in a totally different way) showing up; the girls who may or may not be romantically involved in the future; trying to find out who’s leaving threatening messages; Binah’s little enigma, and the way it ties into the school’s history, and will that ever play a part or not; Anastacia and the others, and who among them leaked the rumour; going to Maradova; the summer ball; the villains and their motivations. *If* more time had been spent on these subplots, with more character development, I believe the whole result would’ve been more exciting. Yet at the same time all this gets crammed into the novel, there’s no real sense of urgency either, except in the last few chapters. That was a weird dichotomy to contend with.

Conclusion: 1.5 stars. I’m honestly not sure if I’ll be interested in reading the second book. I did like the vibes between Lottie and Ellie, though.

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review 2018-01-17 21:49
Pestilence (The Four Horsemen #1) by T.A. Chase
Pestilence - T.A. Chase

There is "not enough" trend in this book, IMHO.

 

Human Bart's not sick enough the way his illness is described.

Pest does not care enough & not emotional enough. He is detached and doesn't spend enough time with Bart.

Pest and Death talk about secrecy but they are not secretive enough. In fact they can't seem to keep their mouths shut.

The whole falling in love process is not convincing enough.

The whole case of pandemic about to explode is not believable either. 

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review 2018-01-17 01:14
Jefferson Blythe, Esquire by Josh Lanyon
Jefferson Blythe, Esquire - Josh Lanyon

A little weak on mystery, I think. George didn't impress me either. 3.75 stars, all courtesy of Jefferson, whom I liked quite a bit.

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review 2018-01-14 19:38
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Barbara Robinson,Judith Gwyn Brown

I know for a fact I read this book in elementary school, but I didn't remember anything about it. It turns out The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is about how the Herdmans, a gang of ill-bred ruffian poor children, hijack the Christmas play at Church because they thought there would be food, and they end up teaching everyone in town the lesson that.....they have feelings? I think that's it. It was marvelous.

The narrative, from the perspective of the daughter of the woman who ends up having to direct the pageant, is deadpan and with the humor mostly being carried by the dialogue between her parents and a lengthy segment where the hard-bitten urchins are disgusted by the treatment Mary and Joseph receive in Bethlehem and the poor quality of gifts offered by the wise men.

The humor is great, but there is a core of genuine sympathy in the book. Robinson cleverly cuts through all of the 'expected' traditions and finds a way to express the, yes I'm going to say it, the true meaning of Christmas. There isn't much resolution, but it does raise many questions, which can be a good thing when one enters into the dicey territory of Christmas fodder. This is a quick read for Christmas day and can be supplemented by the 1983 television special.

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