Chris Colfer

The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning (Book 3) [Chris Colfer]

22588392Conner Bailey thinks his fairy-tale adventures are behind him–until he discovers a mysterious clue left by the famous Brothers Grimm. With help from his classmate Bree and the outlandish Mother Goose, Conner sets off on a mission across Europe to crack a two-hundred-year-old code.

Meanwhile, Alex Bailey is training to become the next Fairy Godmother…but her attempts at granting wishes never go as planned. Will she ever be truly ready to lead the Fairy Council?

When all signs point to disaster for the Land of Stories, Conner and Alex must join forces with their friends and enemies to save the day. But nothing can prepare them for the coming battle…or for the secret that will change the twins’ lives forever.

My thoughts on the book: As with the previous two books, I had a lovely time following the Bailey twins’ magical adventures. For once, they aren’t embarking on a quest to gather a list of artefacts, but they have new challenges to overcome. I particularly enjoyed reading about Conner’s trip across London with a new female sidekick whom he feels drawn to. Just like Conner, Alex is also experiencing a budding romance with a farm boy in the fairyland. It’s great to see the main protagonists grow up and face new issues.
Overall, the intrigue is compelling and the whole cast riveting. I quite liked the new villain, the Masked Man whose past is infused with creativity, as always in the Land of Stories saga.
I also thought it was fun to see some German and French sentences here and there due to 2 facts: the Grande Armée that is willing to invade and conquer the fairy world, and the part in Germany where age-old tales by the Brothers Grimm are unveiled. I just have one complaint; a Google Translate faux-pas located in Chapter 28 where the sentence “Les graver sur” doesn’t mean anything in French. The syntax is very English-like.
According to the machine translation, the author meant “Burn them on” in English, which would make sense given the context the royal heads of state are being threatened.

I thought it was a bit disappointing that a French reviser didn’t check all the way to the end of the book, because up until that moment, the French sections were perfect, which was noteworthy and appreciated. The publishing house should know that English books aren’t read by English natives only, but also foreigners.
Apart from that, this third book is very entertaining and great fun. I look forward to reading book 4! Highly recommended!
My score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (=I loved it)

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Chris Colfer

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)

Chris Colfer

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)

Sarah Addington

The Boy Who Lived in Pudding Lane [Sarah Addington]

The Boy Who Lived In Pudding Lane – -Being a true account, if only you believe it, of the life and ways of Santa, oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Claus- first appeared in the American magazine, Ladies Home Journal, for Christmas in 1921 and was published as a hardcover the following year. Author Sarah Addington’s charming story of the boyhood life of dear Santa Claus became an instant classic, and is lovingly reproduced in a facsimile edition for the first time here, including the original size, page format, and layout.

The story follows Santa as he grows up in Pudding Lane, eventually to become the famed gift-giver who flies around the world – and would spawn a line of books about the Lane and it cast of characters released by Addington and Kay throughout the 1920s.

My thoughts on the book: Fancy reading a Christmas story in May? At first, the lovely Christmassy cover really caught my eye. Then, I found out that it was a classic tale first published in 1922. I was quite keen on reading more.

Overall, it is a lovely Christmas story about Santa Claus’s childhood and how he became this much-loved high-profile red-cladded figure.

It is very interesting that the author introduced so many references to other classical tales or nursery rhymes (Old King Cole, Jack and Jill, Little Bo Beep, among many others).

Although I thought it was a nice story, I wasn’t really that moved by the book. I thought it lacked some magic. Maybe, if I try reading it once again during the Christmas season I’ll have a different perspective?!

My score: ♥ ♥ (= I liked it)

Cecelia Ahern

If You Could See Me Now [Cecelia Ahern]

1150655Elizabeth Egan’s life runs on order: Both her home and her emotions are arranged just so, with little room for spontaneity. It’s how she counteracts the chaos of her family — an alcoholic mother who left when she was young, an emotionally distant father, and a free-spirited sister, who seems to be following in their mother’s footsteps, leaving her own six-year-old son, Luke, in Elizabeth’s care. When Ivan, Luke’s mysterious new grown-up friend, enters the picture, Elizabeth doesn’t know quite what to make of him. With his penchant for adventure and colorful take on things large and small, Ivan opens Elizabeth’s eyes to a whole new way of living. But is it for real? Is Ivan for real?

My thoughts on the novel: For many years, I have been a huge fan of Cecelia Ahern’s books. They’re always full of hope and love, all wrapped up with some magical pixie dust. In this regard, the novel “If you could see me now” is in keeping with the author’s signature writing style.

However, I must admit that it took me a long while to really take to this story. There were some lengthy passages that made it difficult to remain focused and interested.

I thought it took a bit too long to set out the context, the characters and their personalities.

To be fair, the core plot/storyline is quite interesting. It’s about the role of imaginary friends in the life of children… and adults! Out of the blue, Ivan becomes visible to an adult Elizabeth whose life is rather deprived of magic and enchantment. She’s been through quite a family ordeal from a mother walking out on her, her troubled sister who keeps storming in and out of their lives, and her complex father.

It was witty to introduce a character like Ivan into Elizabeth’s life to help her put her move on and strive for real happiness.

I thought the style was true to Ahern’s most famous books. I actually really enjoyed the final chapters that I found poetic and lovely.

Although this novel isn’t one of my favourite from Ahern, it’s still worth reading it because of the message it conveys about hope, friendship and happiness.

My Score : ♥ ♥ (= I liked it)

 

Mallory Reaves

Disney Beauty and the Beast Volume 2 [Mallory Reaves]

In Disney’s live-action film « Beauty and the Beast, » Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince inside.

This manga explores the Beast’s struggle as he tries to move on from his past and learn what it is to love.

My thoughts on the book: Contrary to the first volume which was very difficult to read due to the odd disposition of the pages in the PDF version, I must admit that this volume 2 was far easier and more pleasant to read because it was displayed one page at a time. It made the reading experience less frustrating.

Overall, the illustrations are as good as the first book — very elaborate and neat. However, I didn’t find the Beast very convincing. I think the face looks too human. Anyway, that’s quite minor flaw in the bigger picture of this manga. Speaking of which, I’m not really a manga reader (not at all actually), but given the theme, I was really looking forward to discovering this version of the classic tale.

Based on the Beast’s perspective, this second volume offers a different, interesting angle. The drawings and sketches are expressive and vibrant. I do prefer the first volume because it’s more girly, but this one is worth having a look as well even though it’s more masculine and rough around the edges since you have direct access to the tortured soul and stream of thought of the Beast.

My Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ (= I liked it a lot)

 

Mallory Reaves

Disney Beauty and the Beast Volume 1 [Mallory Reaves]

In Disney’s live-action film « Beauty and the Beast, » Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince inside. This manga explores Belle’s innermost thoughts as she learns that true beauty comes from within.

My thoughts on the book: In this manga art concept, you’ll discover a beautifully rendered version of the story of Beauty and the Beast. It closely follows the script from the live-action film. If you have already seen it, you won’t have any trouble recognising all the fabulous scenes. The illustrations are very nice and sleek. It really matches the magic of the film.

The only downside of reading a manga in a PDF version is the fact that it’s a real hassle to read from bottom to top (yeah, manga must be read the opposite way). It was really a nuisance to read in that format. But as it is a free copy from NetGalley, it was a necessary evil. I can only recommend you to get the paper-based manga. It really does justice to the film.

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥ (= I liked it a lot)