Spindle’s End

Wow, has it really been almost a year since I wrote on here? My most sincere apologies! But perhaps you would like me to get on with the book?

Before I begin, I would just like to make it clear that I’m going to give away a lot of stuff in this post. So if you haven’t read Spindle’s End yet, don’t read this. But if you have read it, and want to know what a fellow reader has to say about it, or if you haven’t read and don’t mind if all the surprises are spoiled, by all means, continue.

Spindle’s End is about a fairy who can talk to animals and her adopted niece who has the same gift, but isn’t a fairy. She’s the princess that a wicked fairy cursed on her names day. On her twenty-first birthday, or anytime until then, she will prick her finger on a spindle, fall into a poisoned sleep, and die. To prevent this, or at least delay it as long as possible, the queen’s right hand fairy sends her away with a small town fairy named Katriona to be raised as a village girl so that Pernicia, the evil fairy, will not be able to find her. The princess is named Rosie by Katriona, and as she grows up she befriends Peony, the beautiful wainwright’s niece, and Narl, the reclusive blacksmith, happily oblivious to the fact that she is the cursed princess she feels so sorry for. But as her twenty-first birthday draws nearer, she is made aware of her lineage and a plan is thought up of how she might escape her doom. But the plan, as all plans seem to do, goes very wrong, and it is up to Rosie and Narl to rescue Peony who, after masquerading as the princess and pricked her finger on the spindle, was stolen away by Pernicia.

Now that was quite a lengthy summary, but I’m not very good at summarizing. This book, as a whole, is not one of my favorite books. It was simply too long. It felt to me that certain things were in need of abridging, and other things could have been left out all together. I was also confused during a quite a few scenes because the writing, though written in the style of Elizabeth Gaskell, wasn’t very clear in its presentation. I also didn’t like a few other smaller things. For one, I had trouble growing close to any of the characters. I had the most trouble with Narl because he isn’t rally introduced as someone who actually has anything to do with the main plot until the last hundred pages. Rowland, Narl’s apprentice, could have been left out and the book would have been absolutely fine (and shorter), in my opinion. He only served as a love interest for Peony, and she was a strong enough character to not need him to influence her decisions. And the romance between Rosie and Narl was also something the book would have been better without. As I said before, you don’t really get to know Narl until the end, even though Rosie finds out her feelings about him about half way through the book, and not to mention he’s I don’t know how much older than her. I think, actually Peony was the character I liked the best, aside from the animals. The animals were my favorite in this story. Even though they talked to Rosie, they weren’t very human like. Each animal had its own personality, however, that fit in with the animals type. Flinxe was decidedly catlike in his speech and mannerisms but was also uniquely Flinxe.

Perhaps I judge too harshly, and I did enjoy reading the book. Despite my problems with it, I could not put it down. It isn’t exactly a book I will be coming back to in the near future, but I think I might reread it eventually. However, I thought McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown was a better book.

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Ella Enchanted

Well whaddya know, another princess book! Ugh. I promise that my next post will not be about or have anything to do with princesses or princes. In fact, it couldn’t, considering which book I just finished. Anyways….

Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine, is a spin off Cinderella. Believe me, I much prefer this version. The story is of Ella of Frell’s younger years as she deals with the curse that was set upon her when she was born. No matter how hard she tries, she has to obey every order anyone gives her, even if it is unintentional. Ella is determined to find Lucinda, the fairy who gave her her “gift,” and make Lucinda take it back after Ella’s father, who just became a widower, marries a truly horrible woman with two truly horrible daughters.

This was my first introduction to Levine, and, as I’m sure is obvious from my other posts, I really love her books! When I was rereading (this was my second time through) this, I noticed that Aza in Fairest is actually Ella’s best friend’s adopted sister! Don’t know why I didn’t notice that while I was ready Fairest (even more surprising, considering Ella was mentioned at the end as Arieda’s close friend)…. If any of my readers has seen the movie, but not read the book, I will tell you now, the movie is nothing like the book. Believe me, the movie was loosely based off the bare bones of the back cover of the book. That’s about it. I personally preferred the book over the movie, but I always do, even if the book wasn’t all that great in the first place. Take Eragon, for example, but don’t get me started on that because I probably won’t stop. The movie was good in it’s own ways (like I thought Anne Hathaway was a great Ella) and bad in others. But, as my brother says often, “Don’t judge a book by it’s movie.” That holds true for this. Now what can I say about this book that I haven’t said in previous posts? Nothing comes to mind.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre

I think I’m on a princess streak or something…. Or a Gail Carson Levine streak…. Or both…. Anyways!

The Two Princesses of Bamarre, by Gail Carson Levine, is about two sisters who couldn’t be more unalike. Where Meryl is courageous and out going, Addie is cowardly and shy, but they couldn’t love each other more, even if they were alike. Meryl is determined to find the cure of a deadly disease called the Grey Death, but her worried and loving sister doesn’t want her to go, so she promises that only after Addie is happily married and taken care of will she go on her quest. But when Meryl is put in extreme danger, Addie has no choice but to go on a journey of her own to save her.

I think Levine is one of my favorite authors. All of her books are humorous and refreshing, especially if I just read something rather intense like one of the Shannara books. I related to Addie in some respects in this story, especially in her fear of spiders, and also to Meryl in others, like her love for adventure stories and mythology. But one of the things that really threw me off in this story was that there is a male character named Rhys. In another book that I have read, there was a female character named Rhis. That tripped me up to no end. But about half way through the book, I got a little used to it. Now if I read A Posse of Princesses (what is up with me and all the princess stories? I mean really!)again, I would get confused all over again, and have to get used to Rhis being a girl!

Fairest

Fairest, by Gail Carson Levine, is a kind of spin off of Snow White, except the heroine, instead of being the fairest, is not at all pretty in a kingdom where beauty is almost prized as much as a beautiful singing voice. Fortunately, though, Aza does have an unusual talent with her voice, but she doesn’t really appreciate it because of her deep-set desires of becoming becoming. Aza lives with her adopted family at an inn, where she learns exactly how unusual her voice is. Then, by some twist of fate, she finds herself on her way to the castle at the country’s capital for the king’s wedding where her adventures finally begin.

Gail Carson Levine is an amazing author. I don’t know how she can get old fairy tales and turn them into something so spellbinding –ah ha– and original. I was first introduced to her by Ella Enchanted, her rendition of Cinderella, which I absolutely loved. All of her books have healthy doses of adventure, mystery, ogres,  gnomes, princesses and romance.  I really liked this book because it follows the same basic story line of Snow White, but it’s different enough that it isn’t completely predictable. And there is a certain bit of irony in this book, like Aza not being fair, and her dislike of apples, which I found humorous.

Princess Academy

Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale, is about a Miri, a girl who lives in the on a mountain and whose only dream is to work in a mine with the rest of her village. But for an unknown reason, her father won’t let her. Then news arrives at the village that the new princess will be found on the mountain and that all the girls from twelve to seventeen must go to a kind of school to learn how to become a princess for the upcoming ball where the prince will choose one of the girls to become the next princess.

I loved this book! I probably like it a lot more than I would have if I hadn’t read After a few hours before I read this. I really like stories with a kind of medieval school setting, like Hogwarts and the school in the Protector of the Small series, and this one was kind of like those, minus the moving stairs and secret passageways like the ones in Hogwarts. One of the great things about this book is that it’s funny. I love books with at least a little humor in them. I really liked how Miri reacted to different situations (like finding  a rat trying to nest in her hair), and went through the different choices put to her. She felt like a real girl growing up and having very real feelings.