NetGalley

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School) by Jen Calonita

21996359Flunked by Jen Calonita is a middle grade book full of creativity and surprises. Anyone who is a fan of fairy tales and wants to see some of the main villains reimagined is in for some fun. The Big Bad Wolf, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, the evil sea witch, and the evil queen are now newly reformed professors at Fairy Tale Reform School (FTRS). Flora, Cinderella’s reformed wicked stepmother founded and now runs FTRS, where the motto and mission is to turn wicked delinquents and former villains into future heroes. They all live in the kingdom of Enchantasia where Cinderella, Snow White, Rose (Sleeping Beauty) and Rapunzel reign.

It is here where we meet our main character, 12-year-old Gillian Cobbler, who after three repeated offenses involving petty theft must be taken to FTRS. She is the shoemaker’s oldest daughter, and only steals to help feed her family after the fairy godmother started stealing business from her father. How can she possibly be an upstanding citizen when she feels her only way to get by is by being criminally mischievous?

After meeting Kayla and Jax on her first day at school she discovers that her 3 month stint can’t be so bad when you have friends and are receiving lessons on etiquette, fencing, snake charming, and other various activities. Until she can figure out her next move it seems that she will try to endure her time there. Of course nothing is as trivial as it seems, as something strange is happening at Fairy Tale Reform School and Gillian and her friends are determined to figure it out.

I thought everything about this book was cute including the cover. There were some pleasant surprises and creative retellings throughout the story and it was fun to run into familiar characters and see them put in situations where they had to teach a bunch of middle school delinquents. I think that most middle school children will like this book and it was a joy to read.

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Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

SNEAK PEEK of The Archived by Victoria Schwab

I really enjoyed Victoria Schwab’s The Near Witch last year so I was so excited when I was able to read a sneak peek of The Archived, only the first 100 pages, but oh so good. It makes me want to wear a key around my neck and carry chalk in my pocket.

Details Please (Publisher’s description)
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

So What?
Like I said before I just read the first couple of chapters and was just barely scratching the surface of the story, but I can tell this will be a book to look out for. I really liked the whole premise about Mackenzie sending back the Histories that escape through the cracks in the Archive. Mackenzie has a start as a Keeper at a relatively young age and on top of that she is dealing with deaths in the family, and the lack of closure there. There is also Roland a really cool librarian who catalogs the dead, and hasn’t aged a day, and the mysterious Wesley with scars of his own. Also there are a whole lot of doors and shadows just waiting to be explored.

As a side note, have any of you seen the Japanese film Be with You, base off Takuji Ichikawa’s novel? When I started reading this that movie came to mind because in the film the mother dies and goes to a planet named Archive. I had always wondered why they named the planet Archive and now after reading this I understand. Two totally different things but I had such a eureka moment. Lol.

I’d like to imagine that Mio from Be With You escaped from the Archives in Victoria Schwab’s world and came back in the rainy season in Takuji Ichikawa novel.

Anyway,I believe that everyone is approved for the Sneak Peek on NetGalley so you guys should go seek it out. Then we can all patiently wait for January 22nd to come. So. Far. Away. 😦

I can’t wait to read the whole story.

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

I’d been hearing a lot of buzz about The Near Witch, and was glad I was approved for a galley. The Near Witch is a hybrid of folklore and fairy tales. There is a slight semblance to The Pied Piper, and yet Miss Schwab manages to make the story all her own. It is certainly worth the hype. What an awesome debut novel.

Details Please
It is said witches and hunters live on the edge of the village of Near. Lexi Harris being a child of the latter lives in such a spot, having the advantage of seeing the comings and goings of town. The thing is, there are no strangers in Near, so when one catches her eye in the window she is curious about him. He seems to melt into the darkness. The town where everybody knows everybody wants to know who this stranger is, but before anyone can meet him the children of Near start vanishing. Lexi’s sister Wren hears children outside asking her to come play; a melody that adults do not hear. Who is responsible for luring the children out of bed and can Lexie convince the town from repeating history?

So What?
The Near Witch gave off a nostalgic feeling and it flowed so well. It was well paced and it had just enough romance. It’s lyrical, full of pretty prose and not in a confusing way. One thing I wasn’t expecting was to genuinely be scared. What started as sort of mysterious grew into a genuinely chilling book. One scene in particular really freaked me out and I had trouble sleeping that night. It had me wanting to double check my windows. It’s funny because although some parts scared me, I felt the book was lovely (such a strange dichotomy, but it worked.) I felt for the characters, and I felt outraged at the villagers. I wanted to be best friends with Lexi, and I wanted a sister like Wren. I love when I actually care for the characters I’m reading about.

Overall
I love this book. It has everything, it’s a ghost story with magic and witches. What’s not to love? It kept me repeatedly guessing, and I also learned a lot about how fear can blind us. You know what else is awesome? It’s a standalone! 

P.S. Has anyone seen Sigur Ros’s Glósóli video? It sort of reminded me of The Near Witch, with the same kind of eerie, magical, fairy tale feeling.

I received this ARC from publishers via NetGalley. 

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

I love Greek myths, and even more than that I was always fascinated with the story of Persephone. So you can imagine how excited I was to find this book.The Goddess Test is a modern-day retelling of the myth but also a sequel to the tale.

Kate Winters has spent the last four years of her life caring for her terminally ill mother.Not only is she dealing with her mother’s illness she just moved from New York to Eden, Michigan the place where her mother wants to die.

She befriends James a boy who suspiciously looks like Draco Malfoy except he carries a huge bottle of Ketchup in his backpack, and makes frenemies with Ava. When a prank goes horribly wrong she meets Henry who freakishly brings someone back from the dead and gives her cryptic messages about the autumn equinox.

He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive till she can handle saying goodbye.

The first half of the book felt a little bumpy, and things happened that I didn’t deduce from the conversations. Like Kate told Henry she’d read up on the myth of Persephone and then James says something along the lines of, “doesn’t change the fact you agreed to marry a complete stranger…” …wait…what? When did that happen? She just said she’d read the myth. Little things like that.

The second half of the book, once we get all the characters settled is much better. It focuses more on Kate and Henry’s relationship and the seven tests she has to pass, while dealing with sabotage as well. Kate is pretty selfless as a protagonist; all she cares about is saving her mother and even her enemies. She faces her greatest fears, and is determined to prevail.Oh, and of course there’s a love triangle.

Basically you can hear The Animals singing, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” throughout the book. I like how we get both sides, Ava and James bouncing conflicting ideas of Hades around. History takes Persephone’s side, of course, but we get to hear Hades, a.k.a. Henry’s version of events. I’ve always felt sympathetic to his plight. Dude is just lonely, and someone has to rule the dead. Is it wrong that he wants to love someone?

So if you like mythology, misunderstood characters and a Draco Malfoy look- alike then give it a try before Goddess Interrupted comes out next February.

Dude, and how gorgeous is the cover?