mini-review · Overdue Reads · Readathon · stuff I read · YA all the way

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1)

Summary from Goodreads:
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

Catherynne Valente’s new middle-grade series had me at the book name – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making – and reading it paid off beautifully.  A fabulous concept that is well thought-out and doesn’t dumb things down simply because the intended audience is around middle school-age.  A fairy-tale series for the 21st century.

Also: WYVERNS!!  That is all.

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mini-review · Readathon · stuff I read · YA all the way

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (The League of Princes #1)

Summary from Goodreads:
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.

Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, the princes stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

Christopher Healy’s Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a completely original take on the world of fairy tales, the truth about what happens after “happily ever after.” It’s a must-have for middle grade readers who enjoy their fantasy adventures mixed with the humor of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Witty black-and-white drawings by Todd Harris add to the fun.

Amidst all the worry that fairy tales are reductive and don’t necessarily show strong women, there is the interesting point that most of the time the hero is just called Prince Charming.  The tale itself is known by the heroine’s name, but the hero gets nary a name-check.  So Christopher Healy has imagined what it must be like for those teen-aged Prince Charmings.  Awkward, miscast, and occasionally mis-matched with their Princesses simply by twist of fate, they all find themselves on the road in an effort to untangle an evil plot and prove to their Princesses (and possibly, trade?) that they aren’t any old flashes-in-the-pan.

I chowed this down during the readathon and loved it.  Definitely going to be a go-to book for kids and parents looking for recommendations.  Looking forward to the rest of the series.

Dear FTC: I won a prize pack of books during a previous readathon.  This ARC was one of them.

mini-review · Readathon · stuff I read

Ten White Geese

Summary from Goodreads:
The eagerly anticipated, internationally bestselling new novel by the winner of the world’s richest literary prize for a single work of fiction
A woman rents a remote farm in rural Wales. She says her name is Emilie. An Emily Dickinson scholar, she has fled Amsterdam, having just confessed to an affair. On the farm she finds ten geese. One by one they disappear. Who is this woman? Will her husband manage to find her? The young man who stays the night: why won’t he leave? And the vanishing geese?

Set against a stark and pristine landscape, and with a seductive blend of solace and menace, this novel of stealth intrigue summons from a woman’s silent longing fugitive moments of profound beauty and compassion.

Penguin Paperbacks had been promoting Ten White Geese heavily on their Twitter feed so of course I had to read it.  And then follow the author on there, too.

This review is going to be a total cop-out because there is so little of this book that I can talk about without blowing some of the plot.  And I’d really prefer not to spoil it for you because this is such an amazingly well-constructed novel (and well-translated, since it reads so well in English).  Such a beautiful meditation on isolation, despair, and what happens when everything just goes off the rails.

Read it.  Read it.  Read it.