January 24, 2018

Book Review | Dancing Shoes

0

dancing shoesDancing Shoes is the 9th book in the Shoes series by British author Noel Streatfeild, which follows different English children as they enter the show business world. This particular installment follows Rachel and Hilary, adopted sisters who move into the home of Rachel’s aunt and uncle after losing their mother. Rachel is plain and quiet where Hilary is outgoing and charming. Before the move Hilary, who was the biological daughter of a dancer, was going to attend the Royal Ballet School. However, Rachel’s Aunt Cora runs a dance school where she trains her “Little Wonders,” troupes of girls who do gymnastics and tap, and insists that both girls join the dance school alongside her own daughter, Dulcie. The story centers mostly on Hilary’s blooming career as a dancer and Rachel learning to come out of her shell.

I first read this book in the fifth grade. It was the third Noel Streatfeild story I had read that focused on the dance community of London around World War II. Unlike Ballet Shoes and Theater Shoes, the dancing was focused less on classical training and more on the kind I used to watch my sister do at her recitals, specifically jazz and tap. I really enjoy reading books that are about classical ballet or feature ballet corps, but I loved seeing this new side of the dance world. The Little Wonders sounded really cute and the idea of a school being run inside of the house sounded both chaotic and fun.

This was one of my favorite books growing up and I am glad to say that it holds up even now. I highly recommend all of the Shoe books, but I would start with Ballet Shoes first (like Kathleen Kelly in You’ve Got Mail, “It’s my favorite.”).

Rating: 4.75 out of 5 Stars.

Have you ever read Dancing Shoes or any of the other Shoe books? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

August 15, 2017

Book Review | Anne of Green Gables

0

IMG_7450

Hey there, Literature Lovers! I recently watched the new Anne with an E series on Netflix and it reawakened my love for Anne of Green Gables! I first read Anne the summer before sixth grade for summer reading and really enjoyed it. I ended up continuing the series up until Anne of the Island. I don’t know if I didn’t realize there were more books or if I just forgot to look for them at the bookstore, but I didn’t continue the rest of the series after book three. Now I am wanting to finish it out and read other L.M.Montgomery works as well.

IMG_0021

I just finished rereading Anne of Green Gables and loved it. I actually rotated between the physical book (this gorgeous Puffin in Bloom with illustrations by Anna Bond) and the audiobook read by Rachel McAdams. Avonlea is such a dreamy place to think of. I was a big Little House fan when I was younger so while reading/listening I kept switching the scenery between the Avonlea from the AWAE series and the town from Little House.

If you are unfamiliar with this classic, we follow Anne Shirley, an orphan girl who is brought to Prince Edward Island to assist the elderly Cuthburt siblings, Matthew and Marilla. Her arrival turns out to have been a mistake, as they had wanted to adopt a boy to help Matthew with the farm work. They (especially Matthew) take a shine to Anne, who is very talkative and imaginative, and decide to adopt her. The rest of the story follows Anne as she goes to school for the first time, becomes bosom friends with a kindred spirit name Diana Berry, and all the misadventures her imagination and fiery temper get her into.

This is easily one of my favorite classic books and I am really looking forward to reading the rest of this series!

Have you read any of the Anne books or seen any of the adaptations? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

May 26, 2017

Book Review | Lost in a Book

0

IMG_7441Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly is a new Young Adult novel that ties into the world of the new live-action Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. The story follows Belle after she has already switched places with her father and started to become friendly with the Beast. One day while cleaning and exploring the Beast’s enormous library Belle stumbles upon a magic book called Nevermore that literally pulls her into the story. There she is presented with everything her heart has ever desired: adventure and interesting new people, and she must decide if she should keep her promise to the Beast or stay in this beautiful world that seems to be created just for her.

This is already one of my favorite books of the year. The cover is beautiful, the characters matched the personalities of their on-screen counterparts, and the overall worlds of both Belle’s reality and the world within Nevermore were intriguing. This was one of those books where part of me wanted to fly through the story in an afternoon, while another part wanted to take it slowly so I could live in this story for as long as I could.

I really enjoyed the expansion on Belle and Beast’s relationship. In both the animated movie and the new live-action film we see them become friends almost automatically after the battle with the wolves and the Beast giving Belle the library. While this does happen in the book, we are given more insight into what is going on in both their minds, showing that, although he saved her and gave her a nice gift, Belle is still a little hesitant to truly like Beast, and that the Beast is trying not to lose hope in breaking the curse.

There are a few scenes where the Beast is allowed to show his gentle side. He has a meaningful conversation with Lumiere and plays with Chip in the library. I sort of wish more of that had been incorporated into the movie as well, but I’m glad to have it here.

The world of the Nevermore book itself is quite amazing. I think most book lovers out there would jump at the chance to actually be teleported into their favorite story. As the story progressed Nevermore started to remind me of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Some of the characters, particularly the Duchess, reminded me of the Other Mother and we are slowly shown how a picturesque world can have its own set of dangers.

I give this a 4.5 out 5 stars. If you are a fan of Beauty and the Beast, Disney, or the idea of books that can teleport you to new and magical places, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Lost in a Book.

Thanks for reading!

May 9, 2017

Book Review | Every Heart a Doorway

0

Every Heart a Doorway is the first novel in the new Wayward Children series by fantasy author Seanan McGuire. The series explores what happens when children who have gone down rabbit holes or stumbled through magic wardrobes to fantastical worlds find themselves placed back in their old lives, and how they must adjust to the ‘normal’ world.

everydoorway

I will admit that I am not normally a fantasy reader unless it is a fairy tale retelling, mostly because some fantasy books are so thick and occasionally feel overly descriptive, or there are so many characters that I start to get overwhelmed. I appreciate that this is a shorter fantasy book with a small cast of interesting characters, and that there was a murder mystery weaved into the mix.

Our main character is Nancy, a girl who has been to the Land of the Dead and whose experience there has left her very serious. She is our guide into the wacky setting of Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children.

In contrast to Nancy’s seriousness we are introduced to Jack and Jill, twins who were transported to a scientific world; Suki, Nancy’s peppy and inquistive roommate who went to what I imagined as being a real life Candyland; and Kale, a bookish boy who lived in a society of all female fairies.

One aspect that I enjoyed about this books was that Nancy is asexual. The only other confirmed asexual character that I have ever read was Jughead Jones from the Archie comics, and he has only been canonically asexual in the newest run written by Chip Zdarsky. Unlike Jughead, who is usually pretty indifferent towards people, Nancy actually has an immediate crush on a fellow student. Asexuals always seem to be portrayed as being aromantic as well, so to see an ace character who also has romantic attraction is great representation.

I kept picturing the woman who runs the school, Eleanor West, as a cross between Mrs. Potts and Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. She was quirky, but had a good grasp on each of these realms the students went to and how to properly help them come to terms with the fact that they might not be able to return to those places.

Overall I found this to be a very enjoyable story! It was a unique idea to look at how all these different fantastical worlds would change these young kids and their outlook on life, and I’m looking forward to reading more about the Wayward Children!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Have you read this book? Do you have a favorite fantasy series? Please share in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

March 28, 2017

Book Review | Lady Renegades

0

ladyrenegades

Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins is the third and final book in the Rebel Belle trilogy. This series follows Harper Price, a Southern Belle who acquires ancient powers that make her a Paladin. She is tasked with protecting her rival in school, David Stark, who is revealed to be a male Oracle, which makes his powers and visions more unpredictable and dangerous. After an incident in the second book, David decides it would be best if he left town and runs away.

The story picks up in the summer before senior year of high school. Harper and her best friend Bee are working at the pool and are attacked by another Paladin who says David sent her to kill Harper. Shortly after this attack Harper and Bee decide to go on a road trip to find David and try to save him from himself.

This is unfortunately one of those series where the first book is great, the second book is okay, and the final book falls by the wayside (sort of like Divergent). Nothing really happens in this book apart from Harper whinnying about her powers growing weaker, about missing David and about Blythe, a Mage who has accompanied Bee and Harper on this trip. It’s a paint-by-numbers road trip: they visit one place to get some information about David, go to another place to get info, and so on and so forth until they eventually find him and then the book ends. This very well could have been a novella and certain scenes could have been cut out that would not have made the story drag.

The first book, Rebel Belle, is definitely worth checking out. David and Harper had such a great relationship in that book, and I thought the overall plot was unique to what was on the market at that time. I also really enjoyed Miss Mayhem, but if you have read those and just want to finish the series, save your money and check Lady Renegades out from the library.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 Stars.

Have you read the Rebel Belle series, or any of Rachel Hawkins’s other books? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

March 27, 2017

Book Review | Watchmen

0

Hey there Literature Lovers! Today I’m here with a review of the graphic novel Watchmen.

Watchmen

Watchmen was originally published from 1986 to 1987 by DC Comics. The story was written by Alan Moore with artwork by Dave Gibbons. The twelve-chapter story is set in an alternative version of history that mirrors what really happened in the early 1980s with the inclusion of superheroes and how they would have had a hand in events such as the Cold War and JFK’s assassination.

It begins in 1985 with the death of The Comedian, a former member of the crime-fighting group known as the Minutemen. Rorschach, another member of the team, begins to investigate the murder, believing there is a “mask killer” on the loose and tries to band together his former colleagues, including Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, and Nite Owl. None of them believe his theory that someone trying to kill the now retired vigilantes, mostly because Rorschach has always been a bit of a psychopath and they don’t want to be a part of this potential delusion. However, as more time passes and new threats arise (someone shooting at Ozymandias and Dr. Manhattan being forced into exile), Nite Owl and Silk Spectre decide that Rorschach must be on to something and agree to help him find out who is behind these attacks.

Overall, I did enjoy this story. Normally I don’t go for dark, gritty storylines, but Watchmen introduced me to interesting characters that kept me invested. The ending was a little strange to me, but it’s a superhero comic, things are going to be strange and silly, even in a darker storyline. I’m looking forward to giving the movie a shot soon.

Let me know in the comments below if you have read Watchmen, and what other dark comics and graphic novels you would recommend.

Thank you for reading!

February 22, 2017

Book Review | Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

0

51ku-L9aQbL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a new take on the wacky world of Sabrina Spellman, better known as Sabrina the Teenage Witch. This series focuses on the dark cult aspects of witchcraft.

I loved the first 10 issues of the Afterlife with Archie series and wanted to give this a shot. I vaguely remember seeing reruns of the Sabrina TV show with Melissa Joan Hart as well as the animated series that I believe used to run on Toon Disney, but I had not read a ton of her comics unless she appeared in a Jughead or Archie story so I was excited to dive into this.

I loved the artwork in this series. Where Afterlife used bold orange and reds to illustrate the gravity of the horror setting, this series uses what appears to be colored pencil illustrations, which add an air of both whimsy and mystery, which I think sums up Sabrina pretty well. I loved seeing some familiar faces (Betty and Veronica as witches from Riverdale) as well as experiencing the wild and oftentimes scary world of magic.

Overall this is a great first volume and I can’t wait for Volume 2 to release! I highly recommend!

Rating: 4 out 5 Stars.

Are you a Sabrina fan? Do you have a favorite story of hers? Share with me in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

February 16, 2017

Series Review | Black Canary (New 52)

0

black canary

So I’m going to be honest: I had no clue who Black Canary was until I started watching Arrow on Netflix. Growing up I was a hardcore Marvel fangirl (specifically a Spider-Man and Fantastic Four fangirl) and only read the occasional Superman comic book here and there. The dark gritty DC Universe did not appeal to me at all. But after I got hooked on The Flash TV show I decided it was worth checking out the other big DC show. Black Canary quickly became my favorite character to watch and, even though I personally liked her sister Sara a little more, I enjoyed seeing Dinah “Laurel” Lance in action.

Brendan Fletcher brought Dinah Lance to life in the Black Canary New 52 series. This storyline had a shorter run than most of the others in the New 52 as DC Rebirth had just started up, but it was still an enjoyable story that didn’t feel too rushed.

Dinah Lance is the front-woman for the punk rock band, Black Canary. She must her super sonic voice to help stop crime and get her a record contract.

While both volumes of the trade paperbacks were great, I enjoyed the second volume a little more than the first. Kicking and Screaming kept giving me Josie and the Pussycats vibes for a while, with the one mean girl talking trash with Dinah and her bandmates. New Killer Star had that as well, but it felt like its own thing, with music and mystery and lots of action.

If you like kick butt girl bands and strong female superheroes, then you definitely need to check this out.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Have you read this series? What did you think? Who is your favorite female DC hero? Please share in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

February 9, 2017

Book Review | The Reptile Room

0

rr

The Reptile Room is the second book in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, a thirteen-book series documenting the lives of the Baudelaire orphans. After living with their evil relative Count Olaf the children are sent to live with Dr. Montgomery Montgomery (whom they call Uncle Monty), an energetic herpetologist who is a ray of sunshine in the childrens’ gloomy lives.

This was, and still is, one of my favorite books in the series. After the terrifying experience of living in the villainous Count Olaf’s house, I was relieved that Violet, Klaus and Sunny were able to find an adult who seemed to respect them and wanted what was best for them. Uncle Monty embraced the skills all three children had and was encouraging them to expand these abilities within his Reptile Room. He provided them with a loving and comfortable home and seemed willing to keep them safe from harm. I wish that he could have featured more in later books, but the Baudelaires rarely have anything pleasant like that happen to them.

The Reptile Room features the first appearance of Count Olaf in disguise. Olaf can be a sinister character, but he definitely stepped it up in this book, always being around the children and wielding a sharp knife which he threatens to use on an infant. Stephano in the movie was played up as a more silly character so I’m interested to see how he is presented in this new television show.

My favorite thing about this book was the reptiles. The Incredibly Deadly Viper and all the other creatures were so interesting to learn about. I’m not normally someone who likes snakes, but after reading this I might look into more books featuring or about herpetology.

As I said before, this one of my favorite books in the series and I am looking forward to watching this episode in the new Netflix series. I highly recommend you check this one out if you haven’t already.

What is your favorite book from A Series of Unfortunate Events? Are you going to check out the show? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

February 7, 2017

Book Review | The Bad Beginning

0

bb

The Bad Beginning is the first book in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. This book introduces us to the Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, as they are placed in the care of the cruel and calculating Count Olaf following the demise of their parents. Using their intelligence and unique talents the orphans must find a way to keep their inheritance out of the hands of their evil guardian.

I was introduced to this series by my third grade teacher, who used to read the books to our class. I have read them multiple times throughout the years and still find them entertaining as an adult. I love all the Baudelaires. I dressed up as Violet one year for Halloween, using costume inspiration from the movie that was released in 2004. I used to try and memorize everything I read so I could be like Klaus, who was able to pull out useful facts in even the most stressful of situations. I didn’t really try to imitate Sunny since she was a baby who liked to bite things, but I was impressed with the level of understanding an infant, even a fictional one, seemed to have about these terrible situations she was in.

I had not read this book since high school, so for about five or six years, but since the Netflix show was coming out, I thought it would only right to give the first four books a reread. Despite the large gap of time, this is probably the book I remember most clearly. I think it’s because this was one of the first audiobooks I ever bought. I swear I listened to it so many times I probably could have recited the whole book. Even after all this time, Olaf and his acting troupe terrify me (especially the Hook-Handed Man), I find Mr. Poe frustratingly incompetent, and I still desperately wish that I could give the poor orphans a hug and help them get out of that terrible situation.

One of my favorite scenes in this story (maybe even in the entire series) is Violet making the grappling hook to save Sunny from the top of Count Olaf’s tower. Violet had the incredible ability to make something functional out of limited resources. She only needed three things to make her grappling hook and managed to make it work until she was caught by the Hook-Handed Man.

This is simply one of my favorite series of all time. I highly recommend reading these books, and I hope that the new Netflix series will inspire a new group of people to go out and grab themselves a copy of these books.

What are your thoughts on this series? Did you read them as a kid? And what do you think of the new Netflix series? Leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading!