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April 16, 2011

Book Review: A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Release Date: May 10th, 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Age: Middle Grade
Mysteries abound, especially in Two Castles.
A handsome cat trainer, black-and-white cats, thieves on four legs and two, suspicious townsfolk, a greedy king, a giddy princess, a shape-shifting ogre, a brilliant dragon. Which is the villainous whited sepulcher?
Elodie journeys to the town of Two Castles to become a mansioner—an actress—but luck is against her. She is saved from starvation by the dragon Meenore, who sends her on a dangerous mission inside the ogre's castle. There, disguised as a kitchen maid at an ogre's feast, she finds herself cast in the role of a lifetime and pitted against a foe intent on murder.
Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine weaves an entrancing tale of a fearsome ogre, a dragon detective, and a remarkable heroine, who finds friendship where she least expects it, learns that there are many ways to mansion, and discovers that goodness and evil come in all shapes and sizes.
A Tale of Two Castles is the classic fairy tale full of fantasy and adventure.

Elodie is a twelve years old girl who is brave and intelligent. She's going to become a mansioner (an actress) at the town of Two Castles, but when she can't do tt, she has to accept a job being the assistant of a dragon.

I liked Elodie. It's obvious she's young and inexpert, acting as she was older, but I liked her attitude. She was strong, always taking the best of every situation and with a good heart. I loved to read her thoughts, she reminded me of my younger self.

Menore, her master, is a dragon. I loved Menore, maybe because I just love dragons, or maybe because IT was amazing. He is funny and is always teaching Elodie about common sense and using her mind. But I also liked the other characters, specially their friend the Ogre, ugly but with a golden heart.

Being a dragon's assistant isn't easy, and one of her missions is to work and the Ogre castle and discover who  wants to murder him with the help of the cats (remember the story of Puss 'N Boots?). It's a mystery that Elodie has to solve with Menore, before it's too late.

Mystery and adventure, A Tale of Two Castles is a story about learning not to judge people based on appearences and growing up. Sometimes the story was slow, but the mystery wasn't so easy to solve so it kept me reading.

Overall, I loved it! It's the first book I read from this author, but not the last one. It was cute and interesting,  and if you like intelligent heroines and fantasy, you will love this book. I hope there is a sequel, I'd love to read about Elodie and her friends next adventure.

More about this book at www.gailcarsonlevine.comGoodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository.

April 13, 2011

Book Review: The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks

The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks
Author: Catherine Jinks
Release Date: April 4th, 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Age: Young Adult
I still hadn't fully absorbed the terrible possibility that I might actually be a werewolf. A werewolf. I kept stumbling over that word; it made no sense to me. How could I be a werewolf? Werewolves didn't exist.
When Tobias Richard Vandevelde wakes up in hospital with no memory of the night before, his horrified mother tells him that he was found by the police. At Featherdale Park. In a dingo pen.
As if that isn't weird enough, suddenly a very menacing looking guy and a priest show up at his door.
As the mystery unfolds, Toby finds himself keeping company with some very strange and sickly looking people - members of a suburban vampire support group. And when he's abducted in broad daylight, he will need all their help to break free ... and to come to terms with his own incredibly rare condition.
I  love the cover and love werewolves, so why not read it?

I'm glad I read it. I love male protagonists, and I think Toby was a great one. He's thirteen years old and apparently a werewolf. He was fun and always had a sarcastic comment that made me laugh. Sometimes he acted like being older, but in the end he was just a boy trying to deal with his "problem".

Not only Toby was a great character, his mother, friends, and the others were excellent. It's difficult to find an author who can write characters as well as this one, I felt as if I knew them.

I also liked the plot. It isn't easy to be original when talking about werewolves, but this author manages to give it an interesting (and realistic) twist. Werewolf's traffic? Fights? Excellent. It was scary and something that can actually happen.

Sometimes the story was a little bit slow, but always full of action which helped me to keep reading.

Overall, I really liked this book. It was funny and easy to read, and I would like to read the companion novel, which was published before this one and it's called The Reformed Vampire Support Group, to learn more about the rest of the group.

April 7, 2011

Book Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Author: Aimee Carter
Series: The Goddess Test #1
Release Date: April 26th, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Age: Young Adult
It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.
I like Greek Mythology so when I heard about The Goddess Test I knew I had to read it!

Kate is young and her mother is dying. She just want to be with her and can't even imagine what would happen when she's gone. But when she meets Henry and he gives her the opportunity to spend more time with her mother before she dies, how can she say no?

Maybe you are familiar with Persephone's story? She was Hades's wife, he kidnapped her. In this book, the author changes a little bit this story and Henry/Hades is alone, looking for a new Queen.

Many girls have tried to pass the seven tests and became a The Queen of the Underworld, but no one was able. Kate is the last girl with the opportunity to become Queen, but she doesn't care about that. She only wants more time with her mother and be able to say goodbye properly.

Kate is 18 years old, but seems to be younger. Maybe because must of her life she has been taking care of her mother. It was really sad, I felt bad for her but I liked her. She was intelligent and not the usual teenager. She was mature. It was interesting to see her accepting her new role and trying to do the best she could at the tests, and even when she fell in love easily with Henry, it wasn't instantly as usual.

Henry wasn't exactly what I had in mind for Hades. He had everything to be the bad-sexy-guy, but he was so...sad. I liked him, but he was always silent and never really a protagonist. I never was sure about his feelings and instead of being a Godl I saw him as a young man.

It's an original story and it grabbed me, but I was expecting more. Maybe it's because I love mythology, but I wanted more about Henry, more about the other Gods...

Overall, I believe this series has great potential, so I'm going to give the next book, Goddess Interrupted, an opportunity and read more about Henry and Kate.

April 6, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday # 45 - He's So Not Worth It

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick:

Ally Ryan, come on down to the Jersey Shore and forget your troubles! 

Have you recently been humiliated in front of your friends and family at your former best friend's birthday party? Was your almost boyfriend partly responsible for that humiliation by withholding some vital information about where your estranged father is? Did you come home to find said estranged father sitting on your stoop?

If so, then it sounds like you could use a vacation! The Jersey Shore is the place to be. Your mother may be living with her boyfriend of only a few months, but at least the stunt Shannen pulled has put some of your friends back in your court. Even so, you're still angry and what better way to get over Jake than to blow off some steam with local guy, Cooper? People will hardly recognize your new attitude, but the old one wasn't getting you anywhere, so who cares!

Jake Graydon, an exciting opportunity is waiting for you in the service industry! 

Are your grades so low your parents have grounded you for the summer? Did you the girl you really like unceremoniously leave you behind? Would you rather eat dirt than see your friends again? Then a job at the local coffee shop is just the ticket! Surprisingly, Ally's father is the new manager so you get to be reminded of her nearly every day. Maybe it's time to start flirting with your best friend's ex or even taking school a bit more seriously. Especially when you finally see Ally and she's hanging around with some loser and it's couldn't be more clear that she is over you.

Have a great summer!

Kieran Scott
June 7th 2011 by Simon & Schuster