Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C Hines

This was a great read. It reminded me a bit of playing Zelda or another quest like game. Beautiful women, action and adventure, and some romance. Mr. Hines took my by surprise and I enjoyed the book much more than I thought I would.

Based on the cover, I figured Cinderella and her stepsisters would team up together against some plot or evil doer. This plucky book introduces you to Danielle, or as we know her Cinderella. Yet, Mr. Hines is quick to inform you that the public opinion of Cinderella is not how the story goes. Much like the paparazzi get the story wrong or blow certain aspects out of porportion, Cinderella's true story is nothing like the folk lore. Danielle is eventually introduced to Talia, or Sleeping Beauty. Talia is a fighting expert, her fairy blessings lending themselves as much to dancing as to the graceful movement of the martial arts. Talia, in turn, introduces Danielle to Snow. Snow is indeed Snow White and she is a sorceress. It was her own mother, and not a stepmother, that attempted to murder her. These three young women embark on a rescue adventure that has uncertain outcomes. This was a fun read and I'm looking forward to his next two books. Especially the Red Riding Hood one, since it was alleged that she turned into an assassin.

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

I loved Princess of the Midnight Ball and was eagerly awaiting this new book. Cinderella is one of my favorite stories and I have liked all of the cookie cutter versions I have come across. I was expecting the same basic format, young woman of privilege finds herself without resources and burdened with an aquired family that treats her like a servant, finds help from a benevolent fairy, meet the prince, marries the prince and lives happily ever after. You can imagine my confusion when I began to read Princess of Glass and discover that it is actually Poppy from her previous story about the 12 dancing princesses. Okay, I thought to myself, Poppy is just a tie in and will be an observer somehow. However, what ensued on the pages was the most divergent of the Cinderella versions I have ever come across. And, I still liked it. It made me want to read the original fairy tell of the 12 dancing princesses to see how much she diverged from that tale, as well.

Cinderella is not the good little girl that she is made out to be, there are no step sisters, and the fairy godmother isn't everything she appears to be. I, again, thoroughly enjoyed this tale and look forward to Ms. George's creativity. A definite must read for anyone who loves a good fairy tale.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Aurelia by Anne Osterlund

Poisoned! The first pages tell of a poisoning and threat to the princess. The threats continue and the kingdom reaches out to a former spy for help. In lieu of the spy, his son returns to the palace to help sort out the danger that faces the royal family and Aurelia. Compounding the difficulty of his duties, he is forbidden from telling Aurelia the danger that she has been in and which continues. She continues to take risks that place her in further danger and makes Robert's job almost impossible. As the story unfolds it becomes clear to Robert that the culprit must be someone who has easy access to the princess, which only leaves the most powerful people and the most dangerous to rule out. A wonderful tale that led me looking for more stories from Ms. Osterlund!
(Did I mention that she is also a fellow Oregonian and a teacher?)
(Seriously, read her book Ms. Plumb!)

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

Wow! Shout out for Anne Osterlund, a fellow Oregonian. I really enjoyed Academy 7. I never would have read it if it hadn't been for Aurelia. This book brought back all the joy of watching Star Trek with my dad, minus the random weird alien life forms. This is also a detour from my Princess stories, sort of.

The story starts out with Aerin flying in a spaceship that is rapidly failing. She sends out a distress call that launches her into a world she never could have imagined. A world she never even knew about. She eventually crosses pathes with Dane, a young man who looks like a spoiled rich kid, but has a life almost as difficult as her own. Too much more and I might jeopardize the integrity of the author's layered story. This was every bit as fanciful as my favorite princess stories, the horse were just exchanged for spaceships and the evil sorceress, dragon, etc for slavery and an over ambitious government. I sincerely hope that there will be a sequel. ( I read this whole book in less than 24 hours, it was that good)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr

Fragile Eternity is the third book in Ms. Marr's Faery series. This book opens with a return to Aislinn's story. The Summer Queen is adjusting to her change from mortal to fairy. She has to be increasingly careful of Seth, his mortality makes him very fragile in the face of her fairy abilities. Aislinn is also plagued by attention from the Summer King, Keenan. Both "men" are vying for her attention while trying to remain civil for her sake. Seth is increasingly frustrated by Keenan's pull on Aislinn. He feels that each day draws her further and further away from him. His solution is to try and find a way to become part of the fairy world, permanently. His journey begins as Aislinn is trying to find her proper place in the summer court. She is fond of Keenan and feels a pull toward him, but she does not love him. She tries to remain true to her feelings and yet fulfill her purpose for the summer court. She experiences many trials due to her infant knowledge of fairy dealings.

Ms. Marr's first two books dealt mainly in the struggle of human versus fairy. While this book also has an element of this, it is much more focused on the fairy world in this story. It will be interesting to see if she returns to the human versus fairy pattern for her next book.

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

This is Ms. Marr's second book in the series. I already mentioned that this was my introductory book to the series.

Ink Exchange breaks away from the story of Aislinn, who is still present but not as central in this story. We follow her friend Leslie. Leslie has been abandoned by her mother and father. Her mother is gone and her father uses substances to avoid reality. She is left to the mercy of her brother, a user who uses her as payment to settle his debts with his dealers. Leslie is broken because of the rape, abuse and abandonment. She is estranged from her friends because she feels like she cannot share what has happened to her.

As a sign of independence and liberation, Leslie decides that she needs to get a tattoo. It is a symbol for her that her body is her own. She takes a long time deciding what tattoo to get and finally settles on one that is created by her friend the tattoo artist. It is a unique design and Rabbit will not tattoo it on more than one person. Leslie is unaware of the link it will cause between her and the fairy realm. She must face another battle to liberate her body and escape the dark fairies that persue her.

I enjoyed this story. Because I read this story before reading the Wicked Lovely, there were times that I felt like I was missing some of the story. Another darkly good read.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

This was the second book of Ms. Marr's that I read. The first was the sequel to this book. Although, I would have preferred to read them in order, I was able to follow the story line without too much difficulty. I did feel like I was missing some information as I read Ink Exchange, but it didn't affect my enjoyment of the story. Ms. Marr's series definitely leans to a darker side of fairy tales. I tend to gravitate towards Cinderella type stories, so this was a detour for me.

In Wicked Lovely, we meet Aislinn, a teenager who, for her whole life, has hidden her ability to see fairies. Her mother died when she was an infant and so she was raised by her grandmother. Aislinn has a circle of friends at school and is attracted to Seth. Seth lives in an old rail car, which offers protection from fairies. Just as Aislinn and Seth start to explore a relationship, she draws the attention of the Summer King. He is a powerful fairy who is the embodiment of summer. He has been searching for his missing Queen for centuries. He thinks Aislinn might be the one, or she might be the next in a long line of mortals who are sacrificed because of his search. Aislinn soon finds herself drawn to both Seth and the Summer King. She is forced to navigate her feelings for both "men" and her emerging importance to the fairy realm.