Posts filed under 'Fable/Fairy Tale/Fantasy'

A Kiss in Time
by Alex Flinn

Talia is a beautiful royal princess whose minor rebellion against her overprotective parents results in the very thing they fear most. She pricks her finger on a spindle and sends the entire kingdom of Euphrasia into a sleep that can only be broken by true love’s kiss. Jack is a twenty-first-century American slacker who has been sent by his parents to spend the summer in “sucky” Europe. Jack has an idea of what happens when you kiss a sleeping princess, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready for the result in this modern take on the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty.

JLG Review: A funny, irreverent romantic adventure, A Kiss in Time manages to skip between two very different characters’ points of view while still remaining sweet and engrossing. Alex Flinn handles the voices of her main characters (selfish, sulky Jack and spoiled, temperamental Talia)—and their subsequent transformations—with affection and good humor.

NOTE: COHS Titans–The above review is excerpted from the Junior Library Guild. (Meaning that I didn’t write it and don’t want to take credit from something I didn’t do!) We belong to the Junior Library Guild and purchase four books from them each month, so we have access to these reviews. I’m going to start posting excerpts from the reviews in the hope that you will see what great books we get from JLG–and come check them out! If you want to read the whole review, ask your English teacher. I have made copies for him or her to post in the classroom.

April 21, 2009

“The Sorcerer of the North” (Book 5 in “The Ranger’s Apprentice” series) by John Flanagan

I’m sure this book—and the series—is being marketed as a guy’s book—which it is—but I loved it. In fact, I’ve read all five of the books in the series and recommend all of them to anyone interested in adventure or fantasy.

Though books 2-4 follow, chronologically, right on the heels of the last, book 5, “The Sorcerer of the North,” begins with five years having passed. Will is now a true Ranger on his own rather than just Halt’s apprentice.

Will is assigned to the Fief of Seacliffe, a place where there is little action, because he is new to the job and needs some practical experience. However, very soon he is called to a secret assignment. On the kingdom’s northern border, Castle Macindaw appears to be beset by sorcery. Even those who don’t believe in such stuff cannot attribute their problems, such as ghost sightings and possession by evil, to anything else. And Lord Orman, the son of the deathly-ill proprietor of the castle, appears to be involved in practicing dark arts.

Will is to discover what is happening by going in disguise as a roving musician. Alyss, also no longer an apprentice, but a Courier in her own right, is also dispatched when things get rough. She, too, is in disguise—as a dimwitted, self-centered woman of noble caste. She and Will are romantically interested in one another. Even some Skandians with evil intent (the treaty of the last book is in jeopardy) make an appearance.

Although I did miss some of the characters I’ve come to know, especially Princess Cassandra (and Halt until he finally appeared about halfway through the book), I liked seeing Will with more responsibility for his own fate.

January 7, 2009

“Gods of Manhattan” by Scott Mebus

I’m on a crusade to read more ‘fantasy’ books that appeal to guys as well as girls. “Gods of Manhattan” is one. I had seen it recommended to readers who like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series—that would be me! So I read “Gods.” While I found it much choppier than the Percy Jackson books—and sometimes lacking explanation for the hierarchy of the spirit world—it is a fast, fun book.

Thirteen-year-old Rory Hennessy, who doesn’t believe in magic, acts as a ‘volunteer’ for a magician who performs true magic at Rory’s sister’s ninth birthday party. Suddenly, much that appears to be magic comes to light. Rory sees weird stuff—a cockroach riding a rat, a Munsee Indian who appears to have come from an earlier century. How can this be?

Rory discovers that he is a “Light”—someone mortal who can see into the spirit world of Manhattan—known as ‘Mannahatta’ in the novel. Real historical folks from New York are alive in this spirit world as gods of many, often mundane, things. You could impress your teachers with a book report that mentions Peter Stuyvesant, John Jacob Astor, Walt Whitman, Alexander Hamilton, Horace Greeley, Babe Ruth, Zelda Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker.

Basically the spirit world is in trouble and it’s up to Rory to help save Manhattan. There’s a murderer on the loose—one that is killing gods. A second problem is that the Munsee Indian spirits are locked in Central Park and cannot escape the curse that keeps them there. Rory wishes to free them. And he and his sister Bridget (who is a pretty tough little kid) have many cool adventures while trying.

December 1, 2008

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

I recently read “The Alchemist” and thought you might enjoy it when a teacher asks you to read a fable, fantasy or fairy tale. This book, published in Brazil in 1988, is not a traditional fable or fairytale, but it has all the elements your teacher may be looking for.

Although Santiago is a shepherd in Andalusia (in Spain), he is well educated and loves to read. His father had intended that Santiago becomes a priest, but the boy loves to travel; his father helps him purchase a flock so that he can live out this dream. It seems that traveling within Spain would have been enough for the happy young man, but he has a dream of treasure near the pyramids in Egypt. Once the dream takes hold in his life, many fantastic things take place.

Santiago meets ‘the king of Salem,’ who instructs him to follow his dream, sell his flock of sheep and head to Africa. He says, “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation.” This, then, is the theme that propels the characters.

So Santiago decides to follow his “Personal Legend.” Not everything is easy for him. In Tangier, Africa, he is immediately swindled out of the money he earned by selling his flock. He must earn it over by working and through imaginative ways of creating business. Yet there are always omens for Santiago to follow, and the whole universe is conspiring to help him realize his dream. He meets gypsies, a king, an Englishman, a camel driver, desert men and women and finally the alchemist who helps him succeed. Santiago falls in love with a desert girl, Fatima. Because it is a fable, the only thing that really bothered me about the story—I accepted the universe helping Santiago, even to the point of his having to perform a miracle and coming through—was that Fatima’s “Personal Legend” seems to be to wait around for her man. As a girl, I related more to the adventure.

I know this book has been compared to A. Saint-Exupery’s “The Little Prince,” and I think you might like that as well. However, it’s been years since I read it, and when I did, I read it in Spanish (although it was originally published in French), a language I was less than proficient with. Ask your French teacher about “The Little Prince.” The author is much loved.

November 20, 2008


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