The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell Book 1 [Chris Colfer]       

11607446Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales.
The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.
But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

My thoughts on the book: I discovered the saga by sheer luck one day while browsing a bookshop. It was the French translation “Le Pays des Contes” and I was immediately attracted to the beautiful cover. Unfortunately, when I was home I realized that I had purchased Book number 4!! Imagine my disappointment! I was clearly not about to read that one just yet. But, once past this little hiccup, I was actually overjoyed at the idea that there were more! Not wanting to wait for the first three books to arrive by post, I ordered the ebook version in English, which was great because I really wanted to read the original version anyway. Now, I cannot wait to reach Book 4 to experience the whole adventure in my mother tongue!

So, let’s get to it. What did I think of The Land of Stories? Well, I didn’t like it… I LOVED it! It’s brilliantly written, very funny (especially Conner whose sense of humour and sarcasm made me laugh many times), and riveting (a real page turner). I was taken by the story from the start. It’s fast-paced, deeply entertaining and true to the spirit of fairytales, but with a modern twist on these famous stories we’ve heard of so many times from growing up. I thought the characters of Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood were especially well thought-out and unexpected. And the way the story of the Evil Queen is told was incredibly stunning. It conveys a sobering message about human nature.

Overall, it’s a gripping, moving, enchanting tale that I highly recommend. Honestly, I’m so happy I learned about this book because it offers a real moment of escapism for both adults and children.

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (=A must-read)

Diary of a Single Wedding Planner [Violet Howe]

25765182Wedding planner Tyler Warren left heartbreak behind when she ran away from her small Southern hometown and started a new life in a big city. Years later, she wants to believe in the fairy-tale endings her job promotes, but the clients she meets day after day seem to be more “Crazily Ever After” than “Happily Ever After.”

Meanwhile, her own attempts at romance play out as bizarre comedies rather than love stories, and she’s starting to think Prince Charming either fell off his horse or got eaten by a dragon. When unresolved issues from Tyler’s past complicate things even further, she discovers she may yet have some things to figure out before she can find her own happy ending.

My thoughts on the novel: When I picked up the book, I was attracted to the girly cover and the light subject matter which made me think of countless Hollywood movies about Bridezillas. I thought I would get a funny, witty, entertaining rom-com. In the end, I felt mostly frustrated and bored. Poor Tyler has to deal with brides and grooms who seem to be blatant clichés of the worst-case scenarios for any wedding planners (except for one or two exceptions). On the personal front, Tyler doesn’t fare better with a smothering, borderline hysterical mother who just never seems to stop ranting about how inconsiderate her daughter is. On top of that, Tyler finds herself dealing with her ex-boyfriend/love of her life (Dwayne) who is back in her life completely out of the blue, five years after cowardly dumping her to marry another one — almost right after their breakup, basically. A betrayal of great magnitude. I mean, there were just too many major caricatures to be a credible narrative.

BUT, not all the characters are caricatural. I must admit that Ty’s best-friend Cabe is an interesting protagonist with a credible personality. So, not all was bad.

The book is less than 300 pages and it felt like it took me forever to finish it. I just couldn’t believe what I was reading, especially the way Tyler deals with the pathetic ghost of boyfriend past. It was so frustrating to see her get sucked into a toxic relationship and actually allocate precious time to a guy who broke her heart in one of the cruellest ways. The author tries to sugar-coat in a “I-have-to-get-a-proper-closure” kind of way, but to me, it was just plain clichéd and hard to believe, especially the way Dwayne addresses Tyler: he sounds oh-so-very pathetic almost the entire time. I couldn’t understand why Tyler would put up with that; “for old time’s sake” has its limits.

Maybe the subject of wedding planners and bridezillas has just been receiving too much coverage in books and films, and now it all seems like déjà-vu?! Who knows, maybe. What I know is that I really hoped to have a good time enjoying a light story, but I ended up hating the way Tyler navigated the curveballs fate threw at her. She rarely could catch a break. Even the dates she goes on are mind-boggling (in a negative way).

To be fair, the final chapters were more to my liking. Tyler finally gets to tell Dwayne how she really feels and she gets her happy ending after all. Although it was predictable, it was nice to end on a positive note after everything else.

I’ll conclude by saying that even though the book definitely didn’t appeal to me for a wide variety of reasons, it seems that it gets some very good reviews. So, don’t just take my word for it, by all means.

Like the author mentions at the very end, there is no such thing as bad publicity. 😊

My score: ♥ (= Quite so-so)

The Cosy Christmas Teashop [Caroline Roberts]

From sleigh bells to wedding bells . . .

After a rocky start, Ellie Hall baked her way into everyone’s hearts at Claverham Castle – even the miserly Lord Henry was won over – and the run-down teashop regained its old sparkle.

Now Ellie has upgraded cupcakes for fairytale masterpieces as the proud caterer for an ever-growing list of weddings at the castle. The teashop team love baking to the tune of happy ever afters, but can they pull together when a certain bridezilla pushes them all to boiling point?

Christmas is just around the corner, and a last minute booking threatens to snow the team under. Ellie and her hunky hubby Joe have their own Christmas dreams to chase, but they’re determined to pull through and give this special couple the winter wonderland wedding they deserve.

Will Christmas at the Cosy Teashop be a showstopper to remember?


My thoughts on the novel: Special thanks to HarperImpulse and Netgalley for letting me discover the sweet  world of Ellie’s Castle Teashop! I must admit that I had not read the first installment before delving into this Christmas sequel. But fear not, it’s not a prerequisite to actually understand the characters. Luckily, the author carefully introduced some background info here and there, so you do get to learn about past events occurring in the first book.

I thought the overall story was entertaining and heartwarming. It was great fun to read about the first full-blown royal-like wedding Ellie has to organise for a true unicorn-loving Bridezilla. Things turn emotional with the story of Lucy and Daniel, a young couple due to marry in the summer, but because of a dramatic unforseen event, they are forced to postpone their joyful ceremony.

I liked how the author describes the daily activities taking place in Ellie’s castle and teashop. The secondary characters have strong personalities and contribute to enriching the plot and subplots. Joe and Ellie’s baby struggle is also well written. You really get to see how it’s taking its toll on their relationship.

Overall, I enjoyed this festive, romantic read. The twists and turns are well thought out. And when it comes to food, baking and recipes, everything included in the novel will make your mouth water. I only wish the Christmas part started earlier. Indeed, it all begins in the summer and the plot slowly unfolds months after months until, finally, all the Christmassy actions start taking place, which is halfway through the book.
Score: ♥ ♥ ♥