Mini Reviews

Today's selection of mini reviews is a motley crew (when are they ever not?), and presented in order of "age" ... from middle grades to women's fiction. It's an interesting ride.

Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle
Christopher Healy
Walden Pond, 2013

I am a little in love with this series. Or maybe it's the Princes Charming. Or the fact that Healy is taking such well-known fairy tales and turning them on their head in ways so topsy-turvy (and perhaps a little insane) you can't help but laugh to yourself. I'm still a fan of Liam. I think he's such a wonderful fairy tale hero, even in this mishmash version, and he grows as a character. After all the ups and downs and twists and turns and absolutely ridiculous things that have happened to the League, I maintain a secret hope that future installments will find the correct Prince-Princess pairings ... because there are definitely better pairings than the original tales dictate, among this posse anyway.

Book provided by my local library.

Sweetest Spell
Suzanne Selfors
Walker, 2012

Emmeline is a dirt-scratcher who escapes death. Twice. Some would consider that a blessing, but the people in Emmeline's village have always viewed her as a curse of sorts: with her deformed foot and the strange way cows follow her around. After a flood ravages her home and sends Emmeline downriver, she finds refuge in the home of a local dairyman's family. The Oaks take Emmeline in, despite her dirt-scratcher heritage, and with surprising compassion help her blossom and grow. And discover the sweetest of all surprises: Emmeline can make the mythical chocolate that once made Anglund famous. With the uncovering of this gift comes a journey that will tax every ounce of Emmeline's new-found strength and courage, rooted in the surprising foundation of Owen Oak's love.

A twisting, turning, surprising story that blends magic and love and chocolate and subterfuge and history and legend in such a complex tapestry. Emmeline is a worthy heroine, and Owen grows to become a true hero in his own right. And that cover, you've got to appreciate that cover.

Book provided by my local library.

Rainbow Rowell
St Martin's Griffin, 2013

As a late-twenties professional, I am coming to terms with the fact that I am a fangirl. Geek I've been okay with for more than a decade. Fangirl has taken some getting used to. Which is one reason I enjoyed this read so very much. Because Rainbow has presented the whole enchilada of fangirling: the good, the tough, the iffy, the mesmerizing. Cath is a college freshman -- and twin to Wren, who is the pretty, spunky, popular, outgoing one. As if one of those labels wasn't hard enough, compound the two; then add a dose of fangirl social anxiety, and Cath is a character you immediately want to give a mug of cocoa and tell her everything will be okay. She grows a lot, in what I think is not only a pretty good tale about life as a fangirl, but also a true take on the freshman experience. It's a hard year, where a lot of growing happens. Or it was for me anyway, and definitely was for Cath.

And then there's Levi! Oh, Levi. I want to pick him up and tuck him in my pocket for keeps, precious. We wants him.

Book provided by my local library.

Cassandra King
Maiden Lane Press, 2013

Ever since I met her at a scholarship luncheon, I'm always eager to pick up Cassandra's latest novel. Of course, there's usually a wait between reads, but that's okay. Writing about Southern women, in the heart of The South, her novels are normally ones that make me think. They're not fluffy, and Moonrise was actually a little intense. It has its dark shadows, its mysteries, its very real real-world-issues. The intricacies of long-standing relationships muddled and marred when one member dies and another marries in -- further complicated by the secluded realm of the Southern Elite. It was a little bit of an odd read for me, in that the characters were so much older than myself, but it's set in Highlands! Highlands!! I love that area, and I've always enjoyed reading about the people who Summer in mountain retreats I can only dream of. Not my favorite King novel, but not a complete disaster either.

Book provided by my local library.

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