• Reading

    Princess of Glass Review

    I am reviewing this novel as a part of the Cinderella Week. Today is the last day.

    Princess of Glass follows Princess of the Midnight Ball, a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Poppy, one of the middle princesses of Westfalin, is the protagonist in this twist on Cinderella, although of course, as a princess, she is not Cinderella herself. I will offer a warning, if magic bothers you, stay away from this trilogy. All the books deal with dark enchantments more in the style of the original fairytales. Despite the darker themes, the tone and style of these novels are light and fun, and the Princess of Glass tells a unique version of the Cinderella story.

    Princess Poppy, while on a simultaneously diplomatic and family visit in another country, discovers her cousin’s bratty maid, Ellen, once the noble Lady Eleanora, is enchanted. Ellen, selfishly bent on her own schemes, refuses aid until her enchantment begins harming herself. Even after asking for help, she still clings to the wish to marry Poppy’s Prince Christian, despite the faithfulness of her own true love, Roger.

    Several aspects of the plot mirror the Cinderella story exactly while others give a distorted reflection. Poppy and her cousin Marianne can be seen as two nice stepsisters while Ellen-Ella-Eleanora is an ungrateful, rude, selfish Cinderella. Ella has a relationship with a prince, Prince Christian. But that relationship is the result of enchantment, and Christian’s true love is Poppy while Eleanora’s is Roger. The story includes a fairy godmother and magic, but both are cruel. The glass slippers, part of the enchantment, are torturous and turn Ella’s feet into glass themselves.

    The mirror similarities include Ellen-Ella-Eleanora’s transformation from servant back to a fine lady again. She meets her future love, a childhood friend named Roger, from whom she has been separated during her poverty, and who is a wealthy man. After finding, or rather being found by him, she causes another separation by opportunistically chasing Prince Christian. True love triumphs after Christian claims Poppy, and Eleanora then turns to the long-suffering Roger. The iconic glass slipper moment occurs when Poppy is playing Lady Ella in an attempt to stop the enchantment, and Prince Christian finds her shoe.

    Although much of the story seems dark, the light writing style, fast-paced plot, and fun characters cause the story to flow pleasantly. There is light in the story itself too. Poppy always does what is right in the face of Ella’s unpleasantness because she sees something sinister is occurring. And of course, everything turns out happily in the end.


    Here Are Heidi’s Cinderella Guidelines As Stated Here:

    1. The relationship between the Prince and Cinderella has to be central to the story
    2. They have to come from different “worlds,” so to speak
    3. Over the course of the story they meet each other, lose each other, and are reunited
    4. There needs to be a ball scene involving some sort of iconic moment (i.e. her coming down a staircase and/or her lost slipper, etc.)

    And on another note, I love the author’s descriptions of clothes both in this book and in her Dragon’s Slippers trilogy. I always love when books describe elegant and unique clothing.
  • Reading

    The Penderwicks

    The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall was published recently. The girls in our family adore the series. I cannot wait for the next one to be published. I think by then I will be due for a reread of all of them.

    SPOILERS

    There is a new addition to the family.

    “Lydia loved everyone she’d encountered in her short life—never had Penderwick been so pleased with the human race—but she loved Ben most of all. This was a burden no boy should bear.”

    “And now, eighteight was a lot, especially when the eighth one was Lydia.”

    ” ‘Did Nick scare her?’
    ‘Of course not. She fell in love with him immediately.’ “

    Ben is quite a his own little man with his own way of relating to the world. And he is rather perplexed in being the boy stuck in with all the girly-sister angst.

    ” ‘Okay. I Lima-Oscar-Victor-Echo you, Sky.’
    ‘Lima-Oscar-Victor-Echo you, too, buddy.’ “

    “Which meant she might cry, and Ben didn’t think he should have to deal with crying when this was clearly Skye’s problem.”

    “Ben absolutely did not want to get caught in another discussion of love.”

    “Ben had no intention of undergoing another official meeting, with its swearing and secrecy. . .
    ‘I can’t handle any more secrets.’ “

    Batty has a secret talent . . . and a secret burden.

    “And then it happenedher sprite tried to sing. Batty clapped her hand over her mouth and hoped Ben hadn’t noticed.”

    ” ‘In exchange for our dead mother, we got another sister, just what we didn’t need. We got Batty.’
    Batty’s world turned black and void of sound.”

    The way kids think.

    “Five dollars was a lot, but this was dishonorable money.
    In the end, they snuck upstairs to the bathroom, where they ripped up the five-dollar bill and flushed the pieces down the toilet. . .”

    Nick is now Lieutenant Geiger and his arrival home is greatly anticipated. Once home, he joins back into the neighborhood life with gusto, sometimes being a civilian hero.

    “Batty saw that Ben was weeping, tears dripping down his face.
    ‘He’s been worried about Nick,’ she said.”

    “Lydia brought nick a fat handful of dandelions.
    ‘Lydia loves Nick,’ she said.”

    “And here came Nick, sopping wet Nick, climbing into the bus . . .
    ‘Batty, I can’t let you go on, you know that right?’ “

    And the romance. Tommy and Rosalind are in, shall we say, a difficult place. Jeffrey, Laurie-like, is becoming too romantic for Skye who Jo-like is not ready for it. And let me here and now state that if they Laurie and Jo-like do not end up together, I will be beyond devastated and the books will forevermore be ruined. Jane, being Janeish, gather tons of boys around her for, she says the purposes of story-writing. Even Ben has his love troubles.

    ” ‘So you’re not going to make him disappear like Rosalind did with Tommy?’ “

    ” ‘Any woman who’s loved a Geiger has been spoiled for other men.’ “

    ” ‘Notice, please, too that this calculator watch has a sky-blue wristband to match your sky-blue eyes. But not in a romantic way, just aesthetically, you understand.’
    ‘It had better be just aesthetically, because you promised not romance.’ “

    “Nick whistled. ‘Maybe the twins like you.’ . . .
    ‘Repeat after me: ‘I’m sure you’re nice people, but I’m not interested in developing a relationship with you.’ “

    There are plenty of happy endings.

    “With that, the secret was released from its box, dissipated, confessed, its power stripped away.”

    ” ‘But maybe later you and I could talk?’
    ‘Maybe,’ said Rosalind, desperately trying to control her blush . . . His irresistible Geiger grin broke out.”

    ” ‘Jeffrey,’ said Batty. ‘I’m ready now. . .To sing.’ “

  • Reading

    Thirteen Treasures Trilogy

    I found this trilogy via one of the blogs I follow and introduced it to my sisters. I loved it. I love fairy lore woven into modern times. Do not expect the brilliance of R.J. Anderson’s books, but do expect fun and magic. These books are QUITE dark for juvenile fiction, but this fits with the violence in fairy lore (ancient Celtic/Irish/English/Welsh/Scottish/Cornish, etc. mythology and on which Tolkien’s world is based). I think these covers are all different from the library books I borrowed, but all are interesting.

     

  • Reading

    Girly Stories: Fairies

    I love faeries and fairy tales (and don’t you just die over the spelling of faery and faeries-swoon). I have read plenty of fairy tale re-tellings (the original stories can be reaaalllly creepy…to put it mildly), but I have not actually read many stories of actual fairies.

    I have looked through Gale Carson Levine’s fairy stories (these are related-I am not sure which came first, but I am guessing her stories-to the Disney Fairies movie series). They are cute enough but definitely for a very young audience.

    One of my acquaintances at church led me to another set of series, and they are thrillingly bewitching. I literally was under a spell reading them. I cannot express how good they are; I have no words for such literary and creative genius. There is one full trilogy and then a (connected) series with only one book so far.

    At my public library system they only have the first two of the trilogy. The trilogy is entitled “Faery Rebels.” The books in this series are Knife (Spellhunter in the U.S.), Rebel (Wayfarer in the U.S.), and Arrow.

    The U.K. names are waaaay better aren’t they? Although Knife isn’t the best choice (not that I would know what was…). The U.K. covers (those shown) are the best as well-the U.S covers make the books seem just your silly, average teen fiction-trust me they are not-this is pure literary perfection here peoples, I am serious-read them.

    The fourth book which is related but part of a new series is Swift, and it might kinda be my favorite (you cannot really have favorites since these books are connected in interesting ways). Swift has the best cover.

    The second book in this series is Nomad and is supposed to come out in 2014. These covers should make you want to read them-the covers are shimmering, mysterious, elegant, and enchanting-GO READ THESE BOOKS!

  • Reading

    Girly Stories: Fairy tales Retold

    The genre or sub-genre of retold fairy tales is one of my favorite. When Miss Charity of Austinitis wrote about reading  Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, I knew I needed to list the fairy tales that I have read.

    Arabian Nights: 

    (the original plot not the stories the heroine told)
    The Storyteller’s Daughter by Cameron Dokey. It was okay-not good enough to reread; I am looking forward to reading Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher which I heard about on the Austinitis blog.
    Beauty and the Beast:

    Beauty by Robin McKinley-this is one of the best re-telling of any fairy tale that I have come across.

    Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George (this is also based on East of the Sun, West of the Moon which is a Nordic tale)-I did not care for the later half too much, but the author is one of my favorites so I definitely would recommend it unless you are younger as some parts were…uncomfortable.

    Beastly by Alex Flinn-I am being generous by putting this under fairy tales retold-it doesn’t have quite the romance and allure that the others do. I do not at recommend it for young readers as it is at the least very sensual in some parts. I liked it well enough though.

    Cinderella:

    Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine-this is light and oh, so sweet.
    Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Nothing special but still pretty cute except the ending felt rather flat.

    Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George-this is the second in a trilogy (the third book may not yet be out).

    Little Mermaid: 

    Midnight Pearls by Debbie Viguie. I started this but did not finish I don’t think. I really did not like how it turned out. The writing wasn’t very good, common to its type.


    Rapunzel-I don’t think I have read any, but I welcome suggestions!

    Rumpelstiltskin:

    A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce. I liked it-it is not of the higher order, but its better than many (most?) of the fantasy/fairy tale genre.

    Sleeping Beauty-I welcome suggestions!

    Snow White-I welcome suggestions!

    Swan Princess-I welcome suggestions!

    The Twelve Dancing Princesses:

    Entwined by Heather Dixon. This was lovely.

                                                       
    Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. I think that this fairy tale is one of my favorites if not my favorite-there is something so mysterious and alluring and terrifying about it.

    Wildwood Dancing (loosely based and with elements of other stories such as the Princess and the Frog)-I love the mystique of this novel. It does have some scary and dark elements, so it is not for young girls.

                                                                Stunning fantasy cover

    Spoofs: Gail Carson Levine’s Princess tales. These are light, short stories that are perfectly hilarious.

  • Reading

    100 Cupboards Trilogy

    I finished the last book of this series, The Chestnut King, a couple weeks ago. I absolutely adore this trilogy. I was obsessed with them, and I did not quite know what to do with myself when they were finished. (I have problem with obsessing instead of merely enjoying; I am currently obsessed with Pysch-I got over the first episode yuck)

    They are entirely juvenile fiction, so do not expect the sophistication that comes with adult literature or the angst that comes with teen novels. They are also not epic novels, so do not expect the grandeur of the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter or the melodrama of the Hunger Games and the Twilight Saga. I know I sound really negative, but I adore these so much I could not stand for someone to dislike them because they were expecting something else (actually don’t desecrate the books by reading them if there is the slightest possibility that you would not like them), and that is why I want to make perfectly clear what these novels are; so that no one would read them and be disappointed. So if you are expecting any of the above descriptions do not read the books. Okay, I am done with that little warning/explanation/ defense/rant 😀

    I enjoyed N. D. Wilson’s Dragon’s Tooth (the first novel in his newest series, Ashtown Burials) and the stand alone Leepike Ridge, but this particular trilogy stands in its own very special place. I truly believe it is considerably better imagined and written than either of the other novels (although I am certainly happy that the second book of the Ashtown Burials is out now, and I plan to read it).

    I do not want to write too much because I don’t want to giveaway anything at all. If you start the books you MUST read all three; do not give up after the first one because I will admit that unless you are careful you might think that there are no more hidden special secrets.

    I just love the writing style. There is a little suspense and the answers to the suspense perfectly fit in; these books do not feel like they are being stretched out or rung for one more drop of drama. I could almost not believe how seamless the plot in this trilogy was. I am not good at describing all the arts and forms of writing, but I believe these books are supremely well written pieces of juvenile literature. Suffice it to say that if you are a juvenile fiction fantasy nut you MUST read these.