The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns Book 2 [Chris Colfer]

17722973After decades of hiding, the evil Enchantress who cursed Sleeping Beauty is back with a vengeance.

Alex and Conner Bailey have not been back to the magical Land of Stories since their adventures in The Wishing Spell ended. But one night, they learn the famed Enchantress has kidnapped their mother! Against the will of their grandmother, the twins must find their own way into the Land of Stories to rescue their mother and save the fairy tale world from the greatest threat it’s ever faced.

My thoughts on the novel: I had been utterly bewitched by the first installment, so I was eager to dive into the second book of Alex’s and Connor’s magical adventures. The author once again revisited the story of some famous fairytale characters, offering a fascinating new narrative.

The book focuses on a high-profile villain better known as Maleficient in our regular versions of the Sleeping Beauty tale. The background story the author has concocted for the Enchantress is riveting and compelling. Once more, the reader is given some valid life lessons about love, friendship and compassion. For children and adults alike, the Land of Stories series is a beautifully written storyline that you won’t be able to put down until you reach the end.

The Enchantress Returns is a gripping, captivating and touching fairytale. Highly recommended!

Bring on Book 3!!

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (=a must-read)

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)

Petticoat Spy [Carol Warbuton]

Colonial Massachusetts, 1775
Abigail Stowell is a rarity for her time. The comely young woman is educated, outspoken, and attuned to the charged political climate around her. She is a staunch Patriot. In short, she is a rebel. So when Gideon Whitlock, an avowed Tory, rides into her village, Abby is not only put off by his politics and arrogance but is also annoyed by her undeniable attraction to him.

When she observes a clandestine meeting between her Patriot father and Gideon, Abby soon realizes that in a world divided by loyalties, not everything is as it seems. Soon she is drawn deeper into political intrigue than she ever dreamed possible. And just as feelings begin to heat up between Abby and Gideon, the shot heard round the world ignites the beginning of war between the colonists and the British redcoats. There is no time for hesitation, and Abby finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue, treachery, and terror. Lives hang in the balance, and Abby will stop at nothing to support the Patriot movement—but will her allegiance to the cause mean losing the man she loves?

My thoughts on the novel: Petticoat Spy had all the enticing ingredients to become a book I would utterly love — strong female character, historical tale, some spying, much family drama and a promising love interest… Even the sleek cover instantly caught my eye! I was supposed to adore it! So understand my frustration when I started to realise that I couldn’t relate to the story. Why on earth couldn’t I fully enjoy it and “get into” the book?

To be fair, I did find some scenes captivating, especially those where Abigail finds herself in danger. She has to be extra cautious, witty and inconspicuous. Given the context and the social climate, it was quite fascinating to watch her navigate her mission — an extraordinary destiny of hers. But I never really connected with the characters. I thought the intrigue began to gain intensity in the last half of the book with the whole drama surrounding her aunt Caroline and uncle Joseph. I thought it was quite well narrated.

I think it might have been a better idea to have Abigail begin her full-on infiltration mission in Boston much earlier in the plot. Maybe it lacked intensity in the first half. That could explain why I never really delved into the intrigue. Maybe it’s just the style that didn’t speak to me!?

Overall, I thought the book had great potential and I actually quite liked the ending which was satisfying and well-paced. I just wished I had connected with the overall intrigue on a much deeper, emotional level. I remain slightly disappointed but I believe it deserves 2 hearts which means “I liked the book” (which I did) according to my scoring sheet. If only I liked it more…

Finally, the author added some historical facts at the end of the book. A very good idea!

My Score: ♥ ♥