Monday, December 30, 2013

A Tinfoil Sky by Cyndi Sand-Everland

A Tinfoil Sky by Cyndi Sand-Everland was sent to me as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer book several months ago. In the New Year, I will resolve to do a better job with reviewing books in a timely manner, but for now, publishers will have to accept my apologies. Better late than never, right?

Twelve-year-old Mel and her mother Cecily have bounced around from one place to another since Mel was very young, and the place they've been living for the past two months is the worst Mel remembers. So, when Cecily wakes her up at 3:39 in the morning, shoves a pile of clothes and bedding into Mel's arms, and hustles her out to the car, Mel is glad to leave. Cecily announces that they are going home, back to the town where Cecily grew up and where Cecily's mother Gladys still lives. Mel envisions a warm and welcoming grandma who will bake cookies and wrap her in a loving embrace, but the reality is much different. When Mel and Cecily arrive at Gladys' apartment, Gladys refuses to open the door. Cecily and Mel live for a while in their broken-down car, parked near the river off the side of the highway, and Mel stands on the corner and sings to earn a little spare cash. But one day, Cecily doesn't return to the campsite. What will become of Mel on her own?

This was a fairly good book, though I had a few issues with some plot points. While the characterization was strong, I did find Mel a little too good to be true at times. Also, while I can't help but like the fact that Mel retreats to the library for peace and safety because she loves to read, I had a hard time buying the idea that they would hire her, even for just a few hours a week, particularly to do preschool story time. Researching Canadian minimum age laws (I believe the story is set in Canada, though that's never overtly stated), I see that it is legal in some provinces to hire 12-year-olds, but it's such a strange thing to do that it just threw me out of the story. Those plot quibbles weren't enough to keep me from enjoying the book and finishing it off in one evening, though. If you enjoy stories about plucky children overcoming bleak circumstances like poverty and homelessness, this book is for you.

(Reviewed from a finished copy, courtesy of the publisher, via the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.)

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff is a rather dark juvenile fantasy.

Jemma grew up as part of the Agromond family, but just hours before her thirteenth birthday, she discovers that she was raised by them for a dark and deadly purpose. Jemma has magical powers, more than she ever realized, and the Agromonds intend to steal them in order to help bolster their own strength, which they use to cloak the land in mist and exert their influence over all of the land's inhabitants. Unless Jemma wants to be part of their dark sorcery, she must flee the castle and seek out her true family. Of course, the Agromonds will not let her go so easily. Can Jemma escape the castle, find her family, and awaken her powers in time to save the kingdom?

I wanted this to be a better story than it was. The cover is eye-catching and the premise is sound, but the writing and characterization don't live up to the book's potential. Jemma makes her way through the story mostly by chance, overhearing key conversations and being rescued multiple times by the few people and creatures in the land who oppose the Agromonds' rule. And she has a magical book that will give her any information she might need, though she is oddly hesitant to use it. The author also over-used anagrams as a puzzle element, in my opinion. Jemma's adventures are unrelentingly dark and gristly; I was exhausted (and often repulsed) just reading about them, but despite the constant adventure and danger, the book dragged along for me. There are probably readers out there who will enjoy this mixture of fantasy and horror, but I don't particularly recommend it unless you are willing to overlook the mediocre writing.

(Reviewed from a finished copy, courtesy of the publisher.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson

The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson is a posthumously-published work, probably the last from one of my favorite authors.

When Lady Agatha Farlingham is kidnapped by a fearsome creature in the Himalayas, she expects the worst . . . but soon discovers that the yeti family who abducted her are in fact extremely sweet and kind (and strict vegetarians), and just need someone to care for the babies because the mother yeti has died. For nearly a century, Lady Agatha cares for the yetis, teaching them English and proper etiquette. But when resort hotels and ski lodges start encroaching on the secluded valley that the yetis call home, Lady Agatha requests the help of a young boy named Con to remove the yetis to her ancestral home in England. On the overland journey through Asia and Europe, the Abominables have many adventures -- but the one that awaits them in England will be their most challenging yet. . . .

This is a cute and whimsical story, like much of Ibbotson's juvenile fantasy. I prefer her historical romances, but I was glad to read this last story, and can see myself recommending it to children who are looking for a light and funny fantasy.

(Reviewed from an advance copy passed along to me by a friend.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Eruption! by Elizabeth Rusch

Eruption! by Elizabeth Rusch is a high-quality juvenile nonfiction book about volcanoes and the scientists who monitor them.

This book tells the story of the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, an agency formed by the United States Geological Survey and the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. In 1985, the Nevado del Ruiz eruption in Columbia devastated a large area and killed thousands in the nearby town of Armero. While nobody can prevent a volcano from erupting, scientists devoted their efforts to monitoring volcanoes and predicting eruptions, in the hope of minimizing loss of life in the future. This book looks at two eruptions to which the VDAP responded: the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, and the 2006 eruption of Mt. Merapi in Indonesia. The book focuses on the collaborative work of the scientists as they coordinate with local scientists and government officials in each region. The VDAP also offers training and support for volcanologists around the globe.

Whenever I read a book from the Scientists in the Field series, I am always favorably impressed at the writing and research in each book. Rusch does a great job of creating tension and narrative flow in an informational text, without compromising the facts contained therein. I learned a lot about volcanoes from this book, and I am sure that readers fascinated by this topic will be completely enthralled.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes is a pleasant book about a second-grade boy.

Billy Miller is not sure if he is ready for second grade. What if he doesn't like his teacher? What if she doesn't like him? What if the bump he got on his head on a family vacation makes it so he can't learn the things he needs to know? Billy has other worries, too: will his artist father ever get his "breakthrough?" Will his little sister always be so annoying? And he has big plans, like the one to say up all night long, and the one to memorize the poem he has to say for Family Day at school. Don't worry, Billy Miller -- you're going to have a great school year!

Kevin Henkes' real strength as a writer lies in creating child characters that are entirely believable and sympathetic. Every time I read one of his books, I think, "Here is a man who remembers exactly what it's like to be a kid." Billy's worries and feelings and plans are so authentic to kids of his age that I'm sure readers will enjoy his story, even though there are no big, exciting events in the plot -- just a string of normal school-year adventures. In that regard, this book reminded me of Beverly Cleary's Ramona books, so readers who enjoy that sort of story will probably like this one, as well.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Nights at the Improv by Jan Siebold

My Nights at the Improv by Jan Siebold is a simple story about an observer of an improv group.

Eighth-grader Lizzie and her mother have recently moved to a new town, and Lizzie is having a little trouble settling in. While her mother teaches a community education class, Lizzie is allowed to wait in the projector room overlooking the auditorium and do her homework. As she waits, she overhears an improv class, part of the same community education program, rehearsing. She is drawn to the activities of the small group, despite the fact that a mean girl from school is part of the improv class. Each week, Lizzie looks forward to seeing what the class will learn . . . and she is able to take those lessons and apply them to her own life.

This was a nice enough story, but a little pat. Lizzie was always able to immediately apply the things she learned in her eavesdropping sessions, and she neither got caught nor decided to ask to join the class. I picked it up at a library book sale because I like reading about theatre and improv, but I found this book just all right, and will probably pass my copy along now that I have read it.

(Reviewed from my personally purchased secondhand copy.)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan

The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan is a short but deep book about a boy, his dog, and his grandmother.

While Robert's musician parents are on tour, Robert is pleased to stay with Maddy, his eccentric grandmother. Robert's parents are impatient with Maddy's stories, and even her friend and doctor Henry is skeptical, but Robert believes wholeheartedly in Maddy's tales of her adventures with the animals that live in the forest next to her house. Robert has many anxieties, though: will his dog Ellie be good with the animals? Will he ever feel as close to his parents as he does to Maddy? Does his mother love her violin more than she loves Robert?

As with all of MacLachlan's books, this is a quick read written in simple language. The author does an excellent job of providing, with just a few descriptive phrases, reams of information about the characters and the setting, so that readers can easily picture Maddy's cottage and garden, Ellie's hound-dog soulfulness, the campsite in the woods where Robert meets Maddy's wild friends. I know fans of this author will be looking for this book, and it might earn her some new fans, as well.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Just One Year by Gayle Forman is the companion book to her earlier novel, Just One Day, which I reviewed earlier this year.

Willem spent one day in Paris with a girl, and it's messing with his head. Willem has spent a lot of time with a lot of girls, but this one girl, Lulu, is the one he can't forget. The problem is that he went out to get breakfast after their one night together, and got beaten up and hospitalized and just generally delayed, and he lost her. He doesn't know where she went, or even who she is -- "Lulu" is just a nickname he gave her. Over the course of a year, Willem spends a lot of time alternately trying to find Lulu and trying to forget her. Along the way he reconnects with the family he's tried to put behind him and the friends who have supported him all along, rediscovers a passion for acting, and starts to find his way in life. But will he ever reconnect with his Lulu?

As with the last book, I found this one just okay. In the last book, I couldn't get a real sense of Willem's character, so I had a hard time understanding Allyson's fixation on him. Now that I have read this book, I actively dislike him, so it makes it even more difficult for me to root for him to get back together with Lulu/Allyson, a character that I actually did like. Because, let's face it: Willem is kind of a jerk where women are concerned. A charming and apparently handsome one, but a jerk, nonetheless. On the other hand, stepping back from my opinion of the character, this does mean that the writing in this book is good enough to make me care about the characters, and I did find it a quick and fairly engaging read. Fans of realistic YA fiction will probably enjoy these two books, and readers who liked the first book will want to read this one in order to get the other side of the story.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable

The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable is a wintery fantasy with the ethereal melancholy of a Russian fairy tale.

Sophie Smith is an orphan, a charity student at a dismal boarding school. Sandwiched between her roommates, the fashionable Delphine and intellectual Marianne, Sophie is almost invisible -- until the day she catches the eye of a visiting Russian woman. Sophie has an inexplicable longing for Russia, and hopes to go there for the school's spring trip, but she knows her absentee guardian will never approve such an expense. When circumstances conspire to allow Sophie and her friends to make the trip, she is pleased (even though the others would rather go someplace warmer than Saint Petersburg). In Russia, Sophie, Delphine, and Marianne are whisked away, not to stay with a host family as expected, but on a train ride through a blizzard to an exquisite but neglected palace deep in the Russian countryside. There, they meet a princess and learn of the tragic past of the Volkonsky family who used to live in the palace. The princess claims to be delighted to have company, and fetes the girls with picnics and skating parties and sleigh rides in the snow, despite the legendary white wolves that haunt the area around the palace. But why have Sophie and her friends been brought there? Is is by chance, or the whim of the princess . . . or is there some darker reason?

I'm a sucker for anything with a Russian feel, so this fantasy is right up my alley. It's not a perfect book -- the characterization is a little flat, and seasoned readers will find the plot twists fairly predictable -- but it does really well with describing the setting and creating atmosphere, well enough in my mind to make up for its other defects. If you're a fan of juvenile fantasy and are looking for a lovely winter read, you should certainly consider this modern fairy tale.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt

Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt is the story of a young mouse's unexpected journey.

Fredle is a kitchen mouse. He lives in the nest behind the wall with his extended family, and together they forage in the kitchen and pantry for food every night. The mice live by rules and routines, and any mouse too old or too sick to forage is pushed out of the nest. Fredle expects to live his entire life in the nest, and so he would have, had it not been for an unfortunate encounter with a peppermint patty. The candy is the best thing Fredle has ever tasted, but the chocolate makes him sick -- not sick enough to die, but sick enough that the other mice push him out of the nest onto the pantry floor, where the lady of the house discovers him. Too tenderhearted to just put the cat in to deal with him, she puts Fredle outside -- and thus begins an adventure with field mice and raccoons, snakes and hawks, dogs and chickens, as Fredle tries to get back inside to his home and family. The journey is an eye-opening one for Fredle as he learns about different ways of living and discovers that some of the things he has always been taught are not true at all. Will Fredle find a way home again . . . or will he choose to make a new home for himself?

In reading (or rather, listening to) this story, I was struck by how Fredle's voyage resembles Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey in many ways. Though he doesn't precisely choose to leave the nest, Fredle does choose to follow the enticing scent of the candy that causes his eventual expulsion, and from there he does meet helpers and face challenges as he attempts to return home. The writing in the story is fairly strong, and Fredle's character, with its defining trait of curiosity, is well-developed. Many of the secondary characters are also strong and interesting in their own right. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Wendy Carter, who does a very nice job of voicing the wide variety of characters Fredle meets.

I'm always bemused at the number of juvenile chapter books that feature mice, but this is a worthy addition to their ranks, one that I will recommend to fans of Beverly Cleary's Ralph and Avi's Poppy.

(Reviewed from an audiobook borrowed through my library system.)

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger is the second book in the Finishing School series, and just as much fun as the first!

In this book, Sophronia continues to learn the fine points of etiquette and espionage at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, but many exciting things are afoot. The airship housing the school is traveling to London, and a select group of boys from Bunsen's, their brother school, has come aboard as well. All of the girls are eager for a trip to town (and a chance to flirt with some boys along the way), but Sophronia believes that there is more going on than meets the eye, and she is determined to use her skills to discover exactly what's going on. . . .

This series continues to be highly enjoyable, with steampunk goodness, vampires, werewolves, and espionage. Certainly start with Etiquette & Espionage if you are unfamiliar with the series, but readers who have already read and enjoyed that first book will find this one just as engaging.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh is a fascinating work of historical fiction.

Jepp, a boy with dwarfism, has always been secure in his mother's love. Though he meets a wide variety of travelers who pass through his mother's tavern, he has always been cherished and protected. That changes one day in Jepp's fifteenth year, when a stranger named Don Diego arrives at the tavern. He offers to introduce Jepp to the court of the Spanish Infanta at Brussels, where there are others like Jepp who live a life of luxury. Jepp is torn between the comfort of life at the tavern, and the excitement of life at court, but in the end he decides to travel to the court. Life there is both good and bad -- the Infanta has caused a special wing of the palace to be built for the "court dwarfs," with specially proportioned furniture and fittings. However, the dwarfs are expected to perform to the Infanta and her court in ways that are often humiliating -- for instance, Jepp's first appearance involves jumping out of a pie. Jepp soon makes friends with the other dwarfs, particularly Lia, a lovely young woman near his own age. But Jepp is naive in many ways, and life at court is full of intrigue and danger for those without the power to protect themselves. Jepp will have many adventures over the course of the story, and will often wonder if the course of his life is determined by the stars, or whether he can have a hand in creating his own fate.

I found this story completely absorbing as I listened to the audiobook over the course of a long car trip. It's not a fast-paced read, but instead draws the reader into the richly detailed and carefully researched world of the Spanish Netherlands, circa 1590. I was favorably impressed with the audio production, and I'm sure I'd be mispronouncing the main character's name if I had only read the print version (the "J" is pronounced as "Y," English speakers)! Jepp is a faceted and realistic character, very believable as a teenage boy going from a small, familiar place to a complicated court in a large city, and he definitely matures over the course of the book as he faces a variety of experiences and finds his place in the world. There are all sorts of interesting tidbits about life in the Renaissance as well. If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this book!

(Reviewed from an e-audiobook, borrowed through my library system.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Better to Wish by Ann M. Martin

Better to Wish by Ann M. Martin is the first book in a new middle grade series by Ann M. Martin.

Abby's family lives in a small town on the Maine coast. They don't have a lot of money, but they're better off than many during the Great Depression. Abby's father works hard and is determined to provide a better lifestyle for his family. Unfortunately, this quest brings out hardness and cruelty in his character. Abby's growing-up years are full of both joys and sorrows, and as an adult she reflects that sometimes it's better to wish than to know what lies ahead.

I had high hopes for this series, but they have not been realized in this first book. I found the pacing a little jerky -- the story jumps from one episode in Abby's life to another, sometimes with as much as a year between events. The characters felt more like sketches than actual people to me, and I think a little more time filling things in would have helped make them more real. I also found the ending of the story abrupt and completely unsatisfying. Perhaps this is intended as a cliffhanger, to encourage readers to pick up the next book, but my understanding was that each book would follow a different generation, which means that my questions would only be answered obliquely in the next volume, if at all. This is one I don't see myself recommending, though some readers who like this sort of quiet historical fiction may find the series more enjoyable than I did.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle is a lighthearted story about one crazy day in New York City.

For Nate, life in the Pittsburg suburbs is sheer misery -- he's a theatre-loving thirteen-year-old in a sports-obsessed area. He's fortunate enough to have Libby, a best friend, who loves musicals as much as he does. When she hears about open auditions for an upcoming Broadway show, she hatches a plan to get Nate to New York City for a day so he can try out. Of course, the plan is complicated and relies on several factors over which Nate and Libby have no control, so something is bound to go wrong . . . not to mention that Nate has no real stage experience, or any idea what to expect at a Broadway audition. The big city is a real eye-opener for a kid who thinks that Applebees is the height of haute cuisine. As Nate wanders haplessly through New York City, readers will be on the edge of their seats: Will Nate make it to the audition and live to tell the tale?

This is a really fun light read, recommended for fans of broadway musicals. It touches on some deeper issues in Nate's life, but in a lighthearted and humorous way, and none of the really terrible things that could happen to a kid on his own in a big city actually happen. I'd recommend this, especially if you love Broadway and/or NYC.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Diamonds and Deceit by Leila Rasheed

Diamonds & Deceit by Leila Rasheed is the second book in the At Somerton series. I had some issues with the first book in the series and didn't intend to read on, but I was given an e-galley by the publisher, so I figured I'd see if the series could redeem itself. I'm going to have to include spoilers for Cinders & Sapphires in the following review . . . you've been warned.

In this book, Rose is caught between two worlds: she is not made welcome in polite society despite her new status, but neither is she allowed to return to her comfort zone below stairs. When she meets and enigmatic, artistic peer, she finds him unconventional and attractive, but so far above her that there's no question of a romance between them. Can they at least be friends, despite a few initial blunders? Meanwhile, Lady Ada has determined to accept a socially acceptable (and lucrative) proposal, putting her love for the Indian student Ravi behind her in order to save her family from further disgrace. But can she really deny her heart?

I'm a little mollified by the events of this book -- there was some fallout from the stuff that bothered me in the first book, which made it a little more realistic than the happy-sappy ending of Cinders & Sapphires promised. However, there's still nothing that elevates the writing above the common run of period romances, and the plot is fairly predictable.  Readers looking for Downton Abbey readalikes may want to consider this series, but don't expect it to transcend its genre.

(Reviewed from an e-galley, courtesy of the publisher.)

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal is assigned reading for a seminar I'm attending in January. I can already tell that I'm going to have a hard time discussing it critically . . . because I loved it so much!

Jacob Grimm may have died in 1863, but his spirit is doomed to wander until he figures out what it is he has left undone. After some years of roaming, he finds a boy in a small town who is one of the few in the world who can hear the voices of ghosts. Jacob knows that there is also in Jeremy's small town a Finder of Occasions, who will do Jeremy harm if left unchecked. If Jacob can protect Jeremy and encourage him to excel in school and go away to college, Jacob reasons, he can perhaps move on himself, to whatever comes next. Of course, it won't be that easy. . . .

I'm over-simplifying the plot with that summary, and certainly not doing it justice. This book has magic, humor, suspense, and romance. The characters are excellent, the writing is brilliant, and I didn't figure out who the Finder of Occasions was until fairly late in the story, though perhaps a savvier reader would have caught on sooner, since there are some nice fairy-tale related clues dropped with gentle precision at key points. There are some dark parts to the story, as well -- I wouldn't recommend it to kids, necessarily, but readers from middle school up who love magical realism and fairy-tale references should definitely read this book!

This is one of my rare five-star reads, and will definitely be among my favorites for the year.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White is a fun, snarky read featuring Egyptian mythology in a modern setting.

Isadora is the mortal daughter of Egyptian gods, and she's kind of bitter about it. After all, what's the use of one mortal lifetime in comparison with her family's eternal years? In dealing with her moody teenage daughter while preparing for the birth of another child, Isis sends Isadora from Egypt to America to spend time with Sirus, Isadora's older (but also mortal) brother. But to keep her still involved with family concerns, Isis arranges for Isadora to volunteer at a museum that will be hosting an exhibit of art and sculpture belonging to Isadora's family. While working at the museum, Isadora makes friends with Tyler, a cheerful girl who is also volunteering there. She also meets handsome, brooding Ry -- but Isadora is determined not to fall in love, so she can just be friends with him, right? Life in California is not all parties on the beach and romantic tension, however: unexpected dangers await Isadora, and disturbing dreams point to trouble for her mother back in Egypt. Isadora is irritated at her mother, true, but she doesn't want any real harm to come to her . . . but who could harm a goddess?

This is a light, fluffy read, but it does a lot of things well. I'm no Egyptian mythology buff, but Isadora's brief explanations of life with her crazy family made the complex myths interesting and comprehensible to even a casual reader. The romance aspect of the plot was predictable but probably still enjoyable for most readers, and the mystery not too terribly obvious. Characters are well-written and likeable -- I was particularly fond of Sirus and Tyler. The dialogue and Isadora's snarky inner voice are the real stars of the book. If you like light reads with romance and mythology, and don't mind just a little teen angst, give this book a try.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper is an historical fantasy set in colonial America in the years leading up to King Philip's War.

When Little Hawk leaves his village for a winter in the wilderness, a rite of passage that every Wampanoag boy must face. When he returns, however, it is to find that nearly the whole village has succumbed to a fever spread from the white traders who have recently come to the region. As Little Hawk and the few survivors are incorporated into another village which has also seen losses from the fever, by chance he meets John Wakely, a boy a few years younger than himself. Little Hawk will meet John Wakely once again in his lifetime, and that meeting will change both boys' lives in profound and startling ways.

This is a gripping read that deals with an historical period that may be unfamiliar to some readers. Life in Little Hawk's Wampanoag village is respectfully described, and the conflicts between the settlers over issues of church and state are shown in dramatic and interesting ways. While the book has its flaws -- for instance, I thought a character that appears toward the end of the book was too obviously a stand-in for the author -- I found it an enjoyable read overall, and would recommend it to readers who enjoy similar types of stories.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

Hero by Alethea Kontis

Hero by Alethea Kontis is the second book about the Woodcutter sisters. This book focuses on Saturday, the second-youngest.

When Saturday Woodcutter accidentally calls an ocean into being where her front yard used to be, she finds herself on the adventure she's always dreamed of. With her enchanted sword in hand, she faces pirates and sea monsters and a sly and irritable mountain witch who takes her captive, mistaking Saturday for Jack Woodcutter, the brother Saturday thought was long dead. Also held captive by the witch is a young man named Peregrine, whom the witch thinks is her dutiful daughter (the witch has lost her eyes, leading to all of these cases of mistaken identity). Can Saturday and Peregrine escape the witch's clutches without waking the dragon that slumbers beneath the mountain? And does romance have to be part of the adventure?

I'm really enjoying this series, which takes storylines from various fairy tales and legends and combines them into the lives of one large family. Saturday's story is more of a typical fantasy adventure and less of a fairy-tale mashup than Sunday's story (Enchanted) was, but it's still a fun read with intriguing bits and pieces of fairy tales tossed in, no doubt to be expanded upon in future volumes. And I, for one, can hardly wait to read them!

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)