Month: March 2014

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale

18053786305 pages
Published October 8th, 2013 by Little, Brown and Company
Source: Library

Synopsis: At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens…whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.

As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen’s destiny is to follow in her mother’s wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven’s style. She’s starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future.

What if Raven doesn’t sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both.

Review: I spied this book on my library’s e-book website and decided to take the plunge and check it out and read it. I love fairy tale adaptations and saw that Shannon Hale had written it. I haven’t read anything by her before, but I’ve always read good things about her. Little did I know that this book was actually written to tie in with a line of dolls in the spirits of Monster High dolls. Of course, they are called Ever After High dolls. I almost wished I hadn’t found out about this fact until after I had finished reading the book, because it made me feel a little sick to realize I was reading such a blatant marketing ploy, but I had to plow through and finish it anyway.

Overall, the story isn’t awful, considering it is a marketing tool. It’s one of the fluffiest books I think I’ve ever read in my life and oh yeah, very cutesy too. There are cute nicknames for everything to the point that I found it very distracting. An example is “hexciting” instead of “exciting” and “fairy” to replace “very.” Pretty over the top, but I can see that maybe appealing to the girls that would want to read this book. I am definitely not the audience for it.

I did like the general plot, Raven Queen wants to rebel and find her own path in life, and she is not the only fairy tale being that does. I think it can send a good messages to girls reading this, but at the same time, the focus on fashion, with a description of each character’s outfit is so blatant that it makes it hard to read. I noticed the clothing descriptions before I realized they were dolls and found it a little odd. The plot was a little slow, however, and nothing really seemed to be accomplished and the book ended on a cliffhanger, of course! To get people to buy the next book and not just the next book, the dolls too!

I will admit, if I was in the right age range for these dolls, I would have loved the dolls. But I would have realized that the book was a total marketing sham. It was cute and fluffy, but I think most girls will see right through it and not read the book, but play with the dolls.

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Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

17910570240 pages
Published January 28th 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: Library

Synopsis: Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia’s help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy’s own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

Review: I love any books that are based on fairy tales, so of course I was drawn to this book as it is based on the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. However, I am not a big fan of Andersen’s fairy tales, so I was curious what Foxlee would do with this tale, though granted, it’s not one of the worst by Andersen. I liked the modern update to a city where it always snows and a cold museum.

The book was beautifully written and that was the main draw of the book for me. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. The passages and the trials Ophelia has to endure were all beautifully written and I felt myself holding her breath many times, as I was feeling the same tension Ophelia felt. Ophelia was a smart and quirky protagonist and of course she was the most interesting. However, I also was intrigued by her father and mother, who were both revealed to be deeply complex and quirky people as well. The Marvelous Boy, who doesn’t even have a name, while not the most complex character, he is the driving force for Ophelia to conquer her fears and save the world.

It seemed to me that there was a connection between going to this cold city and museum and the death of Ophelia’s mother. Alice, Ophelia’s sister, becomes emotionally cold and her father becomes distracted while Ophelia is seemingly involved in a deep fantasy. Obviously, the Snow Queen had a part to play, but it also showed how grief has come down on this family and how each family member deals with her death. I also liked how Ophelia’s mother is a character without being alive. She “talks” to Ophelia and encourages her when Alice and her father don’t believe her story.

Again, it was a beautifully written book, and I read it quickly, so it wasn’t a slow moving book, but it felt like it dragged a little bit, with the Marvelous Boy relaying his story and Ophelia having to jump through many hoops before finding the courage and will to destroy the Snow Queen.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

Published May 10, 2011 by Knopf Publishing Group

Source: Library

This book is part of the Harry Hole series by Nesbø, who is a mystery writer in Norway. The series follows Harry Hole, a detective, as he solves cases. I had heard about the book before and my mind also associated it with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, another famous mystery to come out of Scandinavia. I’m not usually a mystery reader, but I was intrigued by the plot of this book, a serial killer in Norway who leaves behind a snowman at the scene, but unfortunately, I was not able to finish the book.

I found the book difficult to follow and very confusing. I couldn’t keep the characters straight, except for Hole and had to keep flipping back and forth (or in my case, doing a search on my e-reader) to figure out who the characters were and what had already happened. I also thought the writing was not good. I’m not sure if this is because it is just a badly written book or whether it’s because the book was translated from Norwegian to English and something was “lost in translation.” I had the same problem with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, where the writing left something to be desired, but I was able to finish that book. This book, despite the intriguing plot and the fact that I really, really wanted to know who the serial killer was, well, I had to tell myself to put it down, because I was not enjoying reading the book. Too bad, because although I said I’m not a big mystery reader, I do like to read mysteries every now and then.