Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Looking Glass Wars - Book 1

(Picture from Goodreads)
 
Bookworm's Ranking - 3 Worms
 
Storyline - Alyss is the princess of Wonderland until her family is destroyed by her own aunt, Redd, and she escapes into our world. Yet, no one believes her story. Then Alyss meets the one man who seemed to consider it true and then retells her tale incorrect, not even getting her name right. It seems the only way to survive is to forget. But Wonderland is deteriorating under Redd's control and the rebellious force is struggling to survive. When Alyss is finally found, will she have the strength to take back her throne after years of suppressing the memories?

Author - Frank Beddor

Publisher - Scholastic

Age Group - 15 and up

Content - *May Contain Spoilers* Lots of killing and blood spurting. Some characters search for revenge for what Redd has done. Alyss is determined to remember her true home but has trouble believing when everyone doubts her in our world. The characters are determined to save Wonderland and bring back White Imagination; staying faithful to their cause when things get tough.

Personal Opinion - While this book has an interesting take on the Alice in Wonderland story, I'm afraid I found it long and slow. Alyss's story is fun and the changes were creative from the story we know and the story that is presented here. The story is also heartfelt and makes one think what is right and wrong as it presents the White and Black Imagination that becomes a center of the struggle. Yet, I found the author spent a bit of time and description that wasn't needed and then on instances where I would have liked to see the events happen they were summarized. This made it long. The reader too was irritating sometimes so I can't tell if my dislike for the story was because it was read to me or the story itself. Anyone who really likes the original tale might enjoy this book the most.

Buy - Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Publisher,

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Breadcrumbs

"Once Upon a Time"
 
 
Bookworm's Ranking - 3 Worms
 
Storyline - Through her imagination and her best friend Jack who she has lived next door to most her life, Hazel survives the demands of school, the dislike of her peers, and her mother's pleas to grow up. But when Jack is suddenly no longer her friend, ignoring and insulting her, her world begins to fall apart. When Jack disappears, should she believe the reasonable answers given to her and remain in the real world or believe in a magical winter witch who took him to an enchanted world that is more dangerous than what she has read in her books?

Author - Anne Ursu

Publisher - Waldon Pond Press; an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

Age Group - 13 and up

Content - *May Contain Spoilers* A creepy woman cuts Hazel's cheek. Hazel throws a pencil case at someone. Parental figures have no idea what is going on. Hazel makes sacrifices to help others even when it might hurt her. She loves her mom and wants to please her. She stands by her best friend even when he has turned his back on her. Hazel doesn't give up even when the journey becomes difficult.

Personal Opinion - Breadcrumbs retells the fairy tale The Snow Queen while mixing real life with fantasy and the struggles of growing up. Being let into Hazel's life, her family struggles, the loss of a friend, and being expected to grow up, was done perfectly and beautifully to reveal the change that overcomes someone when it seems they are leaving a part of themselves behind. Mixing the fairy tale elements to mirror this struggle, made it that much more insightful. The determination of standing by her friend when he was in trouble and facing the difficult journey is a positive one for others to learn to keep going and learn and discover what they should do even when things go wrong. While Hazel wasn't perfect, she tried to do the right thing and do what she thought was she should, even if it meant stop being herself. One thing that was interesting was, in the real world, she turned to fantasy to thrive; but, in the enchanted world, she turned to the real world to strengthen herself.

The ending was a bit confusing. I couldn't tell if she found a boundary between being her imaginative self and living in reality or if one won out over the other. Besides that, there were a few things I personally felt uncomfortable with. Some of the people Hazel meets on her journey are just creepy and she wasn't always respectful of authority figures but it is hard to be respectful when someone wants you to fit into a mold. While this novel is mostly based off The Snow Queen fairy tale, a couple other Hans Christian Anderson tales where also mixed in. This was interesting but almost had too much happening, especially when so much already happens in the main fairy tale. The last thing that made me uncomfortable, and this is purely personal, was the reference to The Golden Compass only because I have an issue with that book.

All and all, this story beautifully wove reality and fantasy together to reveal the struggles of growing up and being yourself as well as helping your friends and making sacrifices.

Buy - Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Publisher,

Awards - Publishers Weekly Best Book
               School Library Journal Best Book
              Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
              Chicago Public Library Best of the Best
              NPR Backseat Book Club Selection
             
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