Saturday, March 23, 2019

Pea-Sized Reviews: Enchantee -&- The Wren Hunt

by Gita Trelease

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 459
Publisher: Flatiron/Macmillan
Publication date: February 5, 2019
Suggested tags: young adult, historical fantasy, 18th century, France

First in the Enchantée series. From Goodreads:
"Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians...

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she's playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…

YA historical fantasy? About Revolutionary France? With magic? OH YES. Dang, I loved this. It hit all the right notes for me - *just* enough drama, *just* enough magic, *just* enough romance. Reading about Camille living her double life, swinging between poor peasant girl and magical card-playing baroness, while also flirting with her hot-air-balooning beau, was amazing. I never learned French in school unfortunately (quel dommage!), but I've picked up just enough along the way that all the simple French phrases that were thrown in to Enchantée kind of added to the immersive feeling for me - and this book did a pretty fantastic job of drawing me in and making me feel like I was really there in this magical version of Revolutionary France. The only drawback I found was that I could kind of see how it was going to end up as the final chapters were playing out, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it and being a bit stressed out frankly over the high stakes of it all... Ah, it was so good. They're saying this is a series which, *shrug* I don't know, I felt like the first one wrapped it up pretty well? But if there's another, I will certainement be reading it!

Final verdict: I loved it! I thought this book was great! I might buy it for myself and I would definitely recommend it to others.

The Wren Hunt
by Mary Watson

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 432
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication date: November 6, 2018
Suggested tags: young adult, fantasy, romance

From Goodreads:
"Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family's enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.

I feel like this synopsis doesn't really explain all that the book is about... but then I feel like *I* can't really explain it either. It's really unusual, but in a really good way. The magic is so interesting - it feels natural, and ancient, and logical, and... I don't know, but I loved it. Definitely my favorite aspect of the book. I also liked Wren's "dangerous undercover assignment" plotline - I felt like that was exciting and nerve-wracking and pretty well done. I gotta be honest though, I didn't really understand the meaning or purpose of Wren being chased through the town on Christmas? I missed something there. Probably something deep and symbolic that went over my head. The romance was *ok* for me, but I didn't really come for the romance, since it's not really mentioned in the synopsis at all. Overall, I thought the set-up for the story was great - a really creative and unique magic system, and a tense infiltration into the Judges' lair - but for me, it felt like it fell just a little short of what I had expected.

Final verdict: I liked it! I thought this book was good! I enjoyed reading it and I would probably recommend it to others.

{ Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with review copies.
My reviews are honest and my opinions are my own; 
your reading experience may vary, so give it a read and see what you think. :) }

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Pea-Sized Reviews: Spencer and Vincent, the Jellyfish Brothers -&- How Do I Love Thee?

Long time no see, fellow readers! I've had some exciting things going on and have unfortunately let my blog gather some dust... but I'm dedicating myself to posting regularly again! Starting with some new picture books I had the joy of reading recently...

Spencer and Vincent, the Jellyfish Brothers
by Tony Johnston; illustrated by Emily Dove

Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 40
Publisher: Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date: February 5, 2019
Suggested tags: picture book, sea creatures, siblings

From Goodreads:
"When two jellyfish brothers are separated at sea it takes all of the ocean’s creatures to help them reunite in this heartwarming tale of brotherly love.

Spencer and Vincent are jellyfish brothers who live together in the sea, their wet and shining home. They invented a little song which went like this:

My brother, my brother,
he’s sweet, not smelly.
I love him from down in my jelly belly.

One day a wave of superior magnitude separates them! The brothers know they have to do whatever it takes to find each other again. And they’ll need some help along the way…

Sometimes friends can really make a the difference.
Spencer and Vincent is a story of adventures and the bond of family."

Really adorable tale of two jellyfish brothers who feel their love for each other down in their little jelly bellies and use the strength of their sibling connection (and the help of some ocean friends) to reunite after they are separated by "a wave of superior magnitude." Lots of great vocab in here that is repeated, and the illustrations are just too cute. I want to go swimming with these little floating blobs of love. And I can't say that any other book has ever made me want to go swimming with a jellyfish...

Final verdict: I loved it! I thought this book was great! I might buy it for myself and I would definitely recommend it to others.

How Do I Love Thee?
by Jennifer Adams; illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Available as: hardcover
Pages: 32
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: December 18, 2018
Suggested tags: picture book, poetry, retellings, love

From Goodreads:
"A gorgeous reinvention of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous "Sonnet 43" from the bestselling author of the BabyLit board books and the acclaimed illustrator of Over and Under the Snow.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Whether in soft sunlight or rain-drizzled night or winter's frost-etched breath, three children share the love and joy of friendship while exploring the wonders of nature.

Bestselling author Jennifer Adams has reimagined Elizabeth Barrett Browning's beloved "Sonnet 43," best known by its opening lines, creating a lyrical, evocative ode to the love of family and friends. Christopher Silas Neal brings the poetry to life with his beautiful, imaginative, and whimsical illustrations.

A sweet and beautifully illustrated modern retelling of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's classic poem. The simple, lyrical words show the beauty in everyday moments, and the whimsical illustrations depict kids playing in nature through the seasons and finally being welcomed home lovingly by their parents. The original poem is included at the back of the book too, to introduce to young readers who are ready for their next literary adventure. I think this is a lovely way to share a classic work of poetry with young readers, making it understandable and relatable for even the youngest listeners through the beauty of both the words and pictures.

Final verdict: I loved it! I thought this book was great! I might buy it for myself and I would definitely recommend it to others.

{ My reviews are honest and my opinions are my own; 
your reading experience may vary, so give it a read and see what you think. :) }