Fairy Tale Friday, Book Review: The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

9521508 Fairy Tale Friday, Book Review: The Duke is Mine by Eloisa JamesTitle and Author: The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

Publisher: Avon

Genre: Romance

Publication Date: December 27th 2011

Pages: 367 pages

Source: Purchased ebook

Kid-rating: Not for kids. It’s a romance novel: lots of sexual innuendo and um, actual you-know-what.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

(from GoodReads)
This Duke is Mine

He is a duke in search of a perfect bride.

She is a lady–but a long way from perfect.

Tarquin, the powerful Duke of Sconce, knows perfectly well that the decorous and fashionably slender Georgiana Lytton will make him a proper duchess. So why can’t he stop thinking about her twin sister, the curvy, headstrong, and altogether unconventional Olivia? Not only is Olivia betrothed to another man, but their improper, albeit intoxicating, flirtation makes her unsuitability all the more clear.

Determined to make a perfect match, he methodically cuts Olivia from his thoughts, allowing logic and duty to triumph over passion…Until, in his darkest hour, Quin begins to question whether perfection has anything to do with love.

To win Olivia’s hand he would have to give up all the beliefs he holds most dear, and surrender heart, body and soul…

Unless it’s already too late.

Don’t miss a new version of The Princess & the Pea, asking an age-old question: What is a perfect princess?

My review

The Project Fairy Tale folks were supposed to try to stick to Young Adult books, and I do have some YA Princess and the Pea that I’m going to try to read, but there really isn’t a lot of YA Princess and the Pea stories. Frankly, there aren’t a lot of Princess and the Pea novels at all. As near as I can tell, most retellings are picture books and are mostly just illustrated editions of the original story itself. I’ve seen a few that look to be variations, (a princess and a peanut allergy, or a princess and a packet of frozen peas, that sort of thing…)

This is one of several adult romance novels that I found. I have somewhat gotten away from reading romance novels because so often the sex scenes are so outrageously over the top and stupid I can’t stand it. I thought I’d give this one a try (for research), and I’m glad I did. A lot of why I liked this book is the humor — the whole thing had me laughing out loud. It was a quick read that did not even try to take itself seriously (even in the bedroom), and I had fun the whole time I was reading it.

There was some over the top stuff (especially the ending, the peril at the end was forced and unnecessary), and some of the tension was a little artificially drawn out.

Was it silly? Sure, but sometimes a person needs a silly enjoyable read.

Some of the reviews I read took issue with the way that Olivia, our main character, treated her betrothed, Rupert, who is mentally handicapped. I had actually read these reviews before starting, so I was paying attention, and I have to say that I think these reviewers didn’t give the book enough of a chance. I thought their concerns were dealt with as the book progressed.

As far as the Princess and the Pea elements go:  I though it was pretty cleverly done here. Our heroine’s sister is an aspiring duchess, not a princess, but she is being tested by the Duke’s mother for their suitability as his potential mate. There is a pile of mattresses involved in the story, but no peas, and it wasn’t the duke’s mother that piled them up. This was part of the ending that was a little over the top, and by this point, I could have done without her shoehorning the mattresses in. I’d say that’s a pretty minor quibble on my part, though.

I had never read any books by Eloisa James before, and I will probably read more in the future, I enjoyed her voice and humor. If you like adult romance novels and are looking for something quick and fun, you might give this one a try.

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

12497752 Book Review: Cinder by Marissa MeyerTitle and Author: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Science Fiction

Publication Date: January 3, 2012

Pages: 276 pages

Source: Purchased, iBookstore

Kid-rating:My 13 year old boys would probably find the cyborg parts of this story quite interesting, but wouldn’t appreciate the fairy tale and romance parts of this quite as much as my 13 year old nieces will.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

(from GoodReads)
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

My review

I am such a failure sometimes. I was supposed be reading this 2 chapters at a time, participating in a read-along.

I read it all in like, two days. I meant to stop, but I couldn’t help myself.

I’m also something of a failure, because I waited so long to read this. I’m not sure why. I think it was because this book seemed to be getting an awful lot of hype, and I didn’t figure a Cinderella story about a cyborg mechanic could actually be any good.

It was, in fact, quite a bit of fun. I’m a fan of retellings/reimaginings, and this was a very unique take on the Cinderella story. I loved seeing how Meyer put bits of the story we know and love in to her very unusual tale.

I did enjoy the fact that this was set in a future China, rather than keeping it a purely Euro-centric story.

Yes, it’s Cinderella, so you are thinking you know how it’s going to turn out, but there are some twists and turns, some of which I thought were a little too obvious. So obvious that I thought it was pretty silly that Cinder herself didn’t make the connections once she learned part of the story of who she is. Also, it’s the first in a series, so of course, we don’t get a complete resolution at the end, we are left hanging on some points, as we head in to the sequel, entry, which is thankfully coming out soon.

I am looking forward to the sequel, Scarlet, which comes out in February. The reviews I’ve seen suggest that it is even better.

Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

12558285 Book Review: Splintered by A.G. HowardTitle and Author: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Publisher: Amulet Books

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retalling

Publication Date: January 1, 2013

Pages: 384 Pages

Source: Hardcover, purchased

Kid-rating: In my opinion, some of the situations and conversations steer this towards an older crowd.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

(from GoodReads)
This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

My review

It’s always a little nerve-wracking to start watching or reading something that you have been waiting for with high hopes. And it’s even worse to have said the object of that anticipation start off slowly…but thankfully, Splintered won me over, and we’ll all live happily ever after. For now.

Splintered hit a lot of the high points for me in terms of what I’m looking for in a story that’s a retelling or reimagining of another story. Top of that list is imagination — I like seeing thing I recognize from the original, but the retelling needs to be full of lots of new and interesting ideas, it will hopefully surprise me and keep me guessing, even if, in the end, the story turns out the way the original did — it just gets there using different means.

A.G. Howard is VERY imaginative! The ways in which she took the source material of Lewis Carroll’s story were fantastic (in several senses of the word!) While I was waiting for my copy (I was planning on reading this as an e-book on release day, only to be thwarted: the e-book version doesn’t release until the 15th), I downloaded a free copy of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” I’m not sure I’ve ever actually read it, or if I did, it was many many years ago. A person would not have to have read the book, because so much of Alice’s world is a part of our popular culture, but I think that having the original so fresh definitely enhanced my enjoyment of this book.

There were a couple of places where the writing seemed a little uneven to me, but those were minor. Something that bugged me was the constant reference to Jeb’s labret (a piercing below the lip, above the chin). I didn’t mind that he had it, a piercing like that definitely brings to mind a certain type of guy, but I felt like I was being pummeled over the head with it, and it would take me out of the story for a moment.

All in all, I quite enjoyed this book, the first of my debut author challenge reads and hope that Howard writes more. I would love to see her imagination and creativity at work in future books, and I’m guessing her writing will just get better as time goes on.

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

13538873 199x300 Book Review: Mr. Penumbras 24 Hour BookstoreDetails

Title and Author: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (narrated by Ari Fliakos)

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy

Publication Date: October 9, 2012

Pages: Hardcover is 288 pages, Audio is 7 hours 41 minutes

Source: Purchased at Audible

Kid-rating: Clean. I think my boys would like the geeky parts of this, the book stuff would probably go over their heads right now.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

(from GoodReads)

A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.

My review

I don’t know if I remember where I heard about this one, but when I did, I remember the source recommending the audio version, so…that’s what I got. And I was glad I did. I read really fast, and there are some books that I get more out of when I listen to them (for reference: all of Terry Pratchett, I didn’t care for his work until I listened to a book, and then I was hooked).

Books, bookstores, fonts, Google, history, mystery, secret societies, geeks, programmers…oh my.

I know some of the reviews I’ve read didn’t care for the style and tense of the narration, but it worked for me, especially, I think, because I was listening to it. I don’t know how some of it looked on the page, where it wasn’t clear if Clay was actually saying, or just thinking something, but in audio, especially with the style of the reader, I loved it, it added to the tone of the book, which was I felt was sort of fairy-tale-ish.

Some of the characters were a little one-dimensional, but sometimes fairy tale characters are that way. I was rooting for Clay and his friends all the way, and look forward to reading more from this author!