This book was a fun combination of fantasy and finishing school. Sophronia is growing up in a Victorian-ish era. The ‘ish’ is there because it’s also a world of vampires, werewolves and flywaymen. That threw me off for a bit, but once I figured that out, the rest was smooth sailing aboard the floating Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Except for the flywaymen attacks and the espionage. It was a quick, fast-paced read and I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!
Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category
Posted by hollybookscoops on September 16, 2013
Posted by hollybookscoops on May 12, 2012
I just read Matthew J. Kirby’s debut novel, and I’m about to start devouring his next book, Icefall, which just won the Edgar Award in the juvenile ficiton category. I am looking forward to it. Unfortunately, we are putting in some landscaping- flower beds and such, and so I am going to have to work hard to sneak in some reading in between gardening. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll work it in somehow.
But… back to The Clockwork Three… I had a great time reading this novel and seeing how the lives of Frederick, Guiseppe and Hannah worked together like the intricate gears of a clock. Frederick is an orphan clockmaker’s apprentice, Hannah is a maid and the sole provider for her poverty stricken family, while Guiseppe is a busker and slave to his Padrone (a really mean man that is basically a child-extortionist and slave-master). I love the name Guiseppe- it’s so Italian, and the Italian aspect of his heritage was a small part of what endeared Guiseppe to my heart.
I’ve heard great things about Kirby’s next book and I can hardly wait to get started. I also am looking forward to meeting Matthew J. Kirby in person this summer at the WIFYR conference and having him sign a copy for me. That’s one of the great perks about this conference. Not only do they have a First Line Contest (open to everyone) going on right now, but they usually have a first line contest at the conference and they have author/illustrator signings. It’s like a celebrity meet and great for the literary world. I can hardly wait to see all my favorite people @WIFYR!
Posted by caribookscoops on May 7, 2012
I read this book about 2 months ago and absolutely loved it! I first heard of Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains when Laurel Synder (she has epilepsy) participated in our Purple Day challenge for epilepsy a few years back. Some books take a while to start enjoying, but Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains was enjoyable from the start.
Lucy is a milkmaid whose best friend happens to be the crown prince named Wynston. Unfortunately, as she and the crown prince are getting older, protocol gets in the way. Apparently a milkmaid could never marry the prince no matter how much they liked each other. Frustrated with the sudden absence of her best-friend she sets off on a zany and wild adventure to find her mother.
Not much more to say than that without ruining anything, but it was a fun read. I laughed and cried and then laughed some more.
Laurel Synder’s Website
Posted by hollybookscoops on March 17, 2012
For those of you who like to celebrate holidays with a good book- here’s a great one for St. Patrick’s Day! We all know that Irish folklore is filled with tales of faeries and supernatural beings. So, although the specific country is not spelled out in Princess of the Wild Swans, it seems an ideal fit for the setting to be in an Irish country. Especially with the fact that the villagers in the book dance Ceili dances together. Cari and I grew up with Ceili dancing as part of our family’s involvement in Irish step dancing. There’s a great site with a thorough history on this form of dance that you can check out at Ceili Dancing. However, there is no mention of kilts in the book, so if you imagination takes you to another land of faeries, kudos for you.
I enjoyed Diane Zahler’s third princess book- although A True Princess is still my favorite out of her three. Many of us avid readers know the basic story of the Princess and the Swans, but for those who need a refresher, here’s a summary: Like so many classic fairytales, this one begins with a princess who’s mother has died, and her father remarries a wicked woman who is a witch. She is determined to get rid of the king’s 11 sons and 1 daughter. Zahler’s book only has 5 sons and the faerie’s in her story are evil, rather than good, but it’s a great re-telling. Zahler clearly knows her folklore and fairytales well. You can check out wikipedia for fuller details if you care to compare the similarities and differences between the two.
Now, here’s a quick review of some of the highlights and things that I loved. The stepmother was one of my favorite characters. Why? Because she was so evil. You can’t have a really good fairytale without some opposition between good and evil. It was interesting to see just how persuasive she could be with her enchantments and silver tongue. My other favorite, of course, was Princess Meriel. It was especially gratifying to see how much she changed from being a spoiled little brat who thought she was entitled to everything, to a much more self-sufficient, thoughtful person. I think this part was so gratifying to me because I work with girls of this age on a regular basis in our religious community and Meriel’s character was spot-on to things I see consistently among this age group. Often my girls can’t see the point of learning a certain skill. Let’s say, for example’s sake, sewing. And so they pout, and roll their eyes, and sigh and sometimes sit there regally refusing to learn. They can’t imagine ever having a need to use such an archaic skill. Heaven forbid they should ever need it. Luckily for them they do not live in the land of faeries and witches and spells! Otherwise, they might find themselves in dire need of this basic skill like Meriel. Hopefully someday, they’ll be grateful for all those things I torture them with- just like Meriel becomes friends with her governess, who was another of my favorite characters.
If you’ve read the book, who is your favorite character? How about your favorite of the three princess books, and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Posted by hollybookscoops on July 20, 2011
It’s been a very busy summer, as I’m sure you all agree. Cari and I spent our first full week of summer vacation at the WIFYR 2011 Writer’s conference (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers). Boy did we come home changed! Cari took the YA novel class by Emily Wing Smith and I (Holly) took the Picture Book class by Kristyn Crow. I think my inner creator grew three sizes. At least! So, due to opportunities to submit manuscripts and all the entailing writing and revising, things here at Bookscoops have slowed down. I know, you thought they were already slow. It’s probably a little more honest to say they practically came to a standstill. Sorry about that!
I thought that I would make a quick list of some of the books that I have read and enjoyed this summer. I know, I know. How can I have time for reading, if I have no time for blogging? The key to reading even when you’re busy is having a book every place you might have a moment to read. Even with four kids, there is always a moment to read. Like, that 3 minute time slot when everyone is taking forever to buckle their seatbelt… don’t get mad, read! They’ll get the point eventually, and even if they don’t, you’ll get more reading time :) So, without further ado, here is the list:
Hitch by Jeanette Ingold: I actually re-read this book on accident. Apparently, I had no memory of the original first two chapters. Or the cover. But I did, all of a sudden, have one of those Ah Hah! moments, and it all came rushing back. Despite my questionable memory, I did love this book the first time, and the second time. So, since it was worth the re-read to me, it’s definitely worth a look for you. Did you know that during the Great Depression there was a government funded program that paid young men to work? Most of these young men worked on National Parks and agricultural projects. It was amazing. What a concept- provide jobs, and improve our country, all at the same time. I’m a little curious to know why no one has thought of this during our current recession. I have read multiple times in the news about how difficult it is for young people to get jobs these days. Perhaps we are not yet desperate enough to do this kind of back breaking labor.
Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller: How many of you have ever thought of the Helen Keller story from the teacher’s perspective? I loved this peak into the life of Annie Sullivan. Amazing, and profound. I can’t believe what she rose above to become Helen Keller’s key to life. Annie and her brother spent time sleeping in the corpse room at a sanatorium after their mother dies and their drunk father abandons them to relative who can’t handle their handicaps or Annie’s spunky attitudes. Defnitely a must-read.
Dark Fire and Fire World by Chris D’Lacey: Books 5&6 in his Dragon series. My soon-to-be 5th grader and I have been fighting over these all summer. I steal the book from him after he goes to sleep and he steals it from me in the morning. All the time in between is a free-for-all. When his friends are over or he’s at swimming lessons, it’s my turn. I just finished Fire World last night. Anyone interested in dragons and who likes fantasy will find these books a fun escape from reality. If you are, or have, a voracious reader that needs something new to read, this series will keep you busy for a good amount of time as each one is three inches thick. Fire World was quite different than I expected, there definitely will be at least one more book to come. It’s been fun tag-teaming the series with my son, I look forward to the next one- actually, we both do!
The Three Little Gators by Helen Ketteman, illustrated by Will Terry: This is a fun remake of the three little pigs, with gators and a big bottom boar. The author and illustrator are the same as the fun fractured tale of the Little Red Hen: Armadilly Chili (loved this one too!)
Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy by David Soman and Jacky Davis: a husband and wife team. I was tipped off to this book by a friend I met at the WIFYR conference (Thanks Christy!). It’s a fun book about compromise and friendship- the text is honestly a little long for my taste, but the pictures are adorable.
Mudkin by Stephen Gammell: A rolicking tale of fun in the mud, imagination… you get the drift. Perfect for my kids who turned our backyard dirt pile into a mud slide. What’s amazing about this is that there are only around 55 words! The rest is all illustration. Sometimes I wish I had more experience with illustration. I would love to be like Stephen Gammell and be able to tell stories through my art as well as my words. Maybe someday…
My Cat, The Silliest Cat in the World by Gilles Bachelet: Take a look at the cover. No, that is not an elephant, it’s a cat. Really. I’m not kidding. Neither is Gilles Bachelet. We loved this book, over and over and over. There’s just something inherently hilarious about a cat that’s an elephant. The twist at the end, was very satisfying. Your kids will love this book!
Fuddles by Frans Vischer: Fuddles is a spoiled, fat house-cat. Fuddles dreams of adventure, but when he experiences the real thing, he’s not so sure he dreamed the right dream anymore.
Blue Chameleon by Emily Gravett: Physical comedy in a picture book! An adorable chameleon changes color and shape as he tries to match the things he encounters. What he really wants is a friend- someone like him. This is another author-illustrator project, with few words, and lots of laughs.
Owls Backyard Animals by Nick Winnick: A fun non-fiction picture book full of fun information about these varied creatures of the night sky.
These aren’t all the books I’ve read- just some of them. I do read adult books too, which I don’t review here- anywhere, actually. Plus lots of books that are still in the que for special features, coming soon. I went to a few great book signings and I’ve gotten some fun review books in the mail. Stay tuned for more fun reads!
Posted by hollybookscoops on October 19, 2010
I wasn’t sure what to expect in this story about where dreams come from. I liked what I found. A quick, easy read but with two stories intertwined. One about the dream makers who gather bits and pieces of memories from the objects in our home and then bestow them upon us to give us the dreams we have. Littlest one is one of the dream makers in training and her touch is like gossamer. She defies rules and exceeds expectations to bestow dreams that offer hope and peace in the face of the Horde (the bestowers of nightmares).
A quick note of awareness for parents and teachers: the boy in the story is in foster care and is dealing with the affects of an alcoholic, physically abusive father, and co-dependant mother, which will definitely offer great points of discussion for those who read the story. I personally think Gossamer would give my fourth grader nightmares, but that it would be a great discussion book for junior high age kids. So, although some age recommendations go as low as 4th grade, I would rate it higher for content, and if you want to read it before your kids, it’s definitely captivating for adults as well.
Posted by hollybookscoops on December 3, 2009
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did I found it rather interesting. The Folk Keepers protect villagers from the scary, creepy cave-folk. Corinna has disguised herself as a boy so that she can become a Folk Keeper, a position reserved for males. When Corinna is recruited as the new Folk Keeper for Mablehaugh Park, Corinna learns a lot about herself and her power to hurt or help others. I was intrigued by the last few chapters of the book, and wished for more detail, but found it a bit elusive where I wanted it and more prolific in areas I wasn’t expecting.
This one didn’t hit the top of my list and I almost stopped reading a few times- I’m not sure really why, boredom factor or if I just wasn’t getting the whole folk keeper thing at first. It isn’t really until the end of the book that you get a handle on what the ‘folk’ really are, but then I guess that was supposed to be part of the whole mystery/intrigue part. I hate to sound like this is a negative review, because it really isn’t, it’s just not my favorite book, although I feel that it’s a better way to pass the time than watching tv.
Posted by caribookscoops on April 22, 2009
I almost quit reading Fablehaven because I couldn’t stand it. I hated… I mean hated the character Seth. Really I have never been so mad at a character in my life, not even Voldemort could rile me that much. I wanted to reach in the book, grab him and ground him for the rest of his life!!!! And that my friends is why I kept reading, because I was intrigued that Brandon Mull could get me so emotional involved in a character I didn’t even like. Seth is just dumb, I mean he seems like a nice enough kid and really he is only 11 so why do I feel so strongly about him. Well, he makes some major poor decisions that almost cost him his life (probably should have killed him except that this is a series and it doesn’t work to well to kill off a main character in the first book) not to mention the other people involved in the story.
Overall I really like the series and I did warm up to Seth, eventually . . . reluctantly . . . kicking the whole way, and part way through the second book I started to like him. Kendra also bugged me at first as well, but my annoyance at her was slight compared to Seth. The basic story line is this Kendra and Seth are brother and sister sent away to stay with their Grandpa Sorenson who they hardly know while their parents are on a cruise. While at Fablehaven, their grandpa (grandma is mysteriously absent) gives them rules to follow, a journal and six keys to explore with. The journal and keys are clues to unlocking the truth about Fablehaven, which is a preserve to protect magical creatures such as fairies, satyrs, trolls, witches, etc.
The Fablehaven series has really grown on me and to date I have finished books two and three and I can hardly wait to read book 4. I am hooked and am a big Fablehaven fan and I happen to like both characters now. I did like the illustrations in the book as well, but to be honest the book cover did not appeal to me and that is why I had not picked it up. My grandmother gave me the books and so I decided to give them a go and wow I am now a Fablehaven junkie!
I think this book would appeal to kids (and adults) who like Harry Potter. Great read and lots of fodder for discussion on following rules and when it might just be okay to break them.
Posted by hollybookscoops on March 17, 2009
I enjoyed this modern-day version of Alice in Wonderland. Swap Alice for Gregor and substitute creepy rats, spiders and bats for the mad hatter, cheshire cat and queen of hearts. Gregor gets to the Underland by falling through a laundry grate with his sister Boots, only to find that he has long been expected. He arrives on the cusp of a war, and when he’s asked to step up to a role foretold by ancient prophecy, Gregor takes his little sister, Boots, and flees- but his destiny turns out to be rather inescapable.
Completely different than I expected, I can’t wait to read the next book in the series! (okay, by now I’ve read it, but I can’t wait to post about it). I was rather grossed out by some of the creatures and the ways they live, fight and behave, which made the tale even more intriguing. I think that any adventure loving boy or girl will find that this is a series they can love and look forward, with anticipation, to the sequels.
Here’s what other people are saying: The Mysterious Stranger at Boys Rule Boys Read (a blog about books that boys like to read and recommend) said “Out of all the Book Series I have read, the “Gregor the Overlander Series” by Susan Collins is one of my all time favorites.” I would have to agree. I passed this recommendation on to a Mom with 4 boys. Her oldest devoured the series within 2 weeks (if I remember right) and then went back and re-read the last one to make sure he didn’t miss anything. I think my oldest will be ready for this series in a year or two, and I’m sure they will be a hit with him as well.
Just in case you think these books are just for boys, beware: there is a great female character named Luxa, not to mention Boots, who both play great roles in the books and girls are loving them just as much as boys. Book Dweeb’s review says, “Collins creates a fast-paced, detailed fantasy world sure to keep young readers coming back for more.” And by the comments she’s gotten on her review, she’s not kidding.
Check out Suzanne Collins website for more information and to read about Hunger Games, her most recent book.