I want to be more like a tulip. Stretching, growing, leaning toward the light. Even when the world is cold. Bending and moving toward the light.
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The Goose Girl (Books of Bayern) by (the amazing, hilarious, and wonderful) Shannon Hale
Review by Welly-Bell, Age 7
Crown Princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee is princess of Kildenree. She can talk to birds. She is traveling with fifty guards and the key-mistress' daughter, Selia. On the way to Bayern, Selia and most of the guards betray Ani.
They try to kill Ani, but she escapes. After a few days of wandering in the forest, Ani finds a little cottage.
Gilsa and Finn live in the cottage. Ani helps them with the chickens and goats in exchange for a bed and food. Ani goes to the city with Finn.
On market day, Ani goes to see the King. She realizes she is going to have to come back. The King gives her work in the geese pen with Conrad.
Conrad is grumpy most of the time. Enna and Razo and Beier and some others also work there.
Princess Selia tells the King that Kildenree is planning to attack Bayern.
Read the book and find out what happens to Ani. Some of the characters I really like are Enna, Gilsa, and Finn.
***Check out my interview with Shannon Hale here!
Beyond Foo, Book 1: Geth and the Return of the Lithens by Obert Skye
Review by Bubs, Age 9 (who is apparently picking up on Daddy's sales skills.)
A Bedtime for Bear (Bear and Mouse) by Bonny Becker is definitely a favorite around here, as are A Visitor for Bear (Bear and Mouse) and The Sniffles for Bear (Bear and Mouse). Somehow, we have missed A Birthday for Bear (Bear and Mouse), which will quickly be remedied. It's already in my Amazon cart.
My Welly-Girl, who is now 7, is a voracious reader. I'm running out of middle grade and young adult fairy tale romances to pass on to her! If I can't keep up with what my kids are reading, I don't know who can.
This review, which is more of a summary, is about a wonderful picture book...which she likes despite the lack of romance.
Anyway, it was written by her. I'm bribing my kids to write up reviews for the blog, so expect more.
A Bedtime for Bear (Bear and Mouse), written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
Review by Welly-Bell, Age 7.
One evening Bear heard someone knock on his front door...it was Mouse. "I am here to spend the night," he said, so they played chess until it was bedtime.
When it was bedtime, Bear reminded Mouse he had to be absolutely quiet.
Mouse got ready for bed. Bear got ready for bed.
Mouse hummed. "My ears are highly sensitive!" cried Bear.
"Can you hear this?" said Mouse.
"WILL THIS TORMENT NEVER CEASE?" wailed Bear.
When Mouse finally went to sleep, Bear thought he still heard noises. He was scared. He woke up Mouse, who checked the room. Then Bear told Mouse a bedtime story about a scared, little mouse and a big, brave bear.
I like this book because Bear is funny.
As you know, I've been a blog-slacker lately. Who knew that having four kids and a big house would be so time-consuming? Anyway, publishers have been asking me to review various titles, and I've been passing most of them by. Sad, but true.
The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker
I picked this one up on our last trip to the library, and I'm so glad I did. What a fun story! I'm going to add it right away to my list of clean fantasy romances for growing girls.
I don't know how I missed it until now, but the timing is right, because I just saw that a sequel is forthcoming this Fall.
Here's my Book Review: Princess Annabelle, known as Annie, is the younger sister of Gwendolyn (aka Sleeping Beauty). When the beautiful Gwendolyn pricks her finger on a spinning wheel, everyone in the castle falls asleep. Everyone except Annie, that is.
Annie isn't affected by magic. In fact, any magic near her grows increasingly weaker. The other royals despise her because their magical gifts of beauty and grace fade in her presence. Even her parents keep their distance.
Annie sets out on a quest to find Gwendolyn's true love, so she can wake her family. One adventure proceeds another as she travels through fairy tales.
Along the way, the meet a Hansel-and-Gretel-esk witch, an enchanted prince who is in the form of a bear, a swamp prince who used to be a frog, and a prince holding contests to find a bride.
Baker flips many fairy tales on their heads in this creative adventure.
I thought the witch mentioned above was kind of creepy. She was fattening up a couple children to eat them. Of course, Annie outwitted her, saving the children, and creating a pretty funny and entertaining scene.
As you can imagine, there is also quite a bit of talk about kissing. After all, it IS the only way to wake a sleeping princess.
I read this to my 8 and 6 year olds. They both loved it. We finished it a few days ago, and today my 6 year old girl, Welly, said, "I just keep thinking about The Wide-Awake Princess. I can't believe that..." Sorry. I can't tell you the rest. It would spoil the ending. :)
The first time I heard someone compare The False Prince: (Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy) by Jennifer A. Nielson to Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, I admittedly balked a little. I mean really, Harry Potter AND The Hunger Games? But I put the hardcover in my Amazon cart anyway.
The second time I heard the comparison made, I decided to check my library system to see if I could get it sooner. All the copies in the county were checked out. And there were quite a few.
The THIRD time I heard that it was AS. GOOD. AS. HARRY POTTER. AND THE HUNGER GAMES (!), I said, I need this book now...and downloaded it to my Kindle.
So, how did it measure up?
Considering my HIGH expectations, it did well.
I can't say that it was quite the page-turner that The Hunger Games was, but I certainly didn't want to stop reading at any point either.
I enjoyed this book as well as the first few Harry Potters (BLASPHEMY! you say), but whether the series becomes a true classic remains to be seen. I mean, that 7th Harry Potter book was genius. Pure storytelling genius.
Here's a summary:
The royal family is dead but few members of the Kingdom know. One of the princes, however, was lost at sea years ago. A power-hungry regent chooses four orphans who look similar to the missing prince and begins training them. One will become Prince Jaron. The other three, knowing too much of the treacherous plan, will be killed.
Sage, an unruly boy full of spunk, is our narrator. He doesn't want to be a prince, but what choice does he h
Want to know a secret? I'm human. Ok. It's no secret...but recently I've been feeling the depth of my human-ness. Trying to be the best wife and mother to FOUR kids, taking care of a large and beautiful home, and striving to be a devout follower of Jesus the Christ is a lot of work. It's work I wouldn't trade for anything, but it's still work.
Have you heard of the Fabulous Mrs. Stephanie Nielson of Nie Nie Dialogues fame? Of course you have...or if you haven't, it's time to find out about this amazing and lovely woman.
Did you know that she recently released a book? Well, it's every bit as wonderful as you expect it to be.
Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson
Stephanie Aurora Nielson had a fairy-tale life befitting her fairy-tale name and good looks. You know, like "lips to shame the red-red rose" and all that. It was the life she had always dreamed of...the life she imagined through her paper dolls until well past the age when most girls stopped playing paper dolls anymore.
And she was happy. She blogged up her happy life, reveling in the beauty of day-to-day life as a wife and mother.
Mr. Christian Nielson was also following his dreams. He was learning to fly.
But disaster struck. Along with their friend/flight instructor, Doug, they were in a terrible crash. Stephanie came out with burns on 80% of her body, Christian came out a little better off but still badly injured, and Doug didn't come out at all.
Stephanie was in a drug-induced coma for three months. When she awoke, she didn't want to see anyone. At times, she lost all hope and believed she could never be happy again.
But gradually, as she learned to sit up again, and then stand and walk, her personality shone through, and she realized that she still had everything she ever wanted...her family and her faith.
She talks about her life as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aka Mormons, which I also belong to. This book is a very non-threatening way to find out a little bit about that. It's not written in a preachy way. It's just part of her life (as it is mine).
I enjoy Stephanie Nielson's blog and have read it off and on for several years. I LOVED this book, though. It is about hope, love, joy, faith, and the importance of family. Stephanie shows us how, even in the midst of sore trials, we can find joy in the simple things that matter most (even laundry!)
I highly recommend Heaven is Here to adults and young adults. So inspiring.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Let me just say this: Louis Zamperini has had one incredible life! From a childhood where he was always stealing things and running away to training for and competing in the olympics to fighting in WWII to taking up skateboarding in his eighties, this man has done many things in his life that others (like us) only read about.
Louis was gearing up to run in the olympics for the second time when WWII hit the world with full force. He became a bombardier.
The war took Louis on a wild adventure (that most people would rather die than live through). Stranded on a small raft for a month and a half, he came to believe that if he ever stepped back onto land, his troubles would be over. In reality, they were just beginning.
The raft, after drifting some 2000 (!) miles, landed in enemy territory, where Louis found himself in one prison camp after the next. A sadistic Japanese POW camp leader zeroed in on Louis and literally made his life a living hell.
This book was fascinating to me. Depressing at times. Even disturbing at times. But fascinating. If you make it to the end, you'll find sweet redemption and even forgiveness.
If he could forgive the atrocities he lived through, how can we ever hold grudges?
This book is heavy. I recommend it for adults, although there is some talk of sexuality and pornography. It isn't a fluffy book. It's full of facts, not a lot of dialog...and the topic itself is heavy.
For years, I waited for my kids to be old enough to appreciate The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. I would pull it off the shelf now and then and consider it for our next read-aloud, but the right time hadn't arrived.
Until recently. We just finished reading this wonderful book last week.
My patience paid off. Both Bubs (8) and Welly-Bells (6) thoroughly enjoyed it, but Welly was absolutely triumphant as the sweet little romance wrapped up. Giddy even. :) She pranced around a lot and giggled a little...and I thought, Oh Boy! My little girl is growing up.
by Amber Argyle
Brusenna has always lived in hiding, deep in the forest with her mother. The townspeople know they're witches and shun them.
If only the people understood that the witches exist for the good of all...to keep the seasons, oceans, plants and climates under control.
Brusenna knows very little about being a witch. Her mother has kept her in the dark in order to keep her safe.
But long before she is ready, Brusenna finds herself alone, the only witch who has not been captured by Espen, the betrayer.
Brusenna, along with her handsome guardian who she meets along the way, set out to save the world.
Can an untrained witch fight the strongest witch on Earth? If she fails, the world will be destroyed.
I recommend this fun, clean read for teen/adult lovers of fantasy romances.