Charming Academy 4 – Review

Jessica L. Elliot’s fourth Charming Academy book is Becoming Prince Charming, centering around Kaelan’s journey to escaping the beast he has become. Kaelan has an awful lot going on in his tale, so, to go over a little of what we know about him:

Kaelan:

  • Has been prideful and stubborn.
  • His parents are a little bit excessively snotty.
  • His princess was Esmé, beautiful, spoiled and pretentious (a lot like him).
  • Bullied all his classmates in his first year of Charming Academy.
  • Was punished by the witches a few times.
  • Became close friends with Lucian, Adrian, George and Jacobi when Adrian reached out. He changed a lot through this friendship over the years.
  • Looked at the witches during the ‘Change’, resulting in his transformation into a beast.
  • Maeve (one of the witches), informed him that he still had a quest, though he only has seven years to complete it.
  • Esmé and his parents abandoned him cruelly.
  • Unbeknownst to Kaelan,  a ‘family friend’, his uncle, is the one who offered him his manor for after school if his parents would not care for him.
  • Got bit by a shark and had a shark tooth stuck in his leg (sorry, I just think that is pretty cool).
  • Maintained a secret relationship with his sister, Anna, though his parents forbade them from communicating.
  • Anna smuggled his special ring from his grandfather to him before his mother found it.
  • Had lots of etiquette classes and a random ‘portrait painting’ class that he despised, due to his being blindfolded while he was supposed to be painting his true love; whom he doesn’t know.
  • His mother found out he was still at the school and talking to Anna, and he was forced to leave.
  • His father stood up to his mother for once, asked him to come back eventually.
  • Left with Gelesia to Uncle Maxmillion’s estate to begin his quest.

From the previous books, some of the princes have had encounters with Kaelan after his quest began and while they were at school without him. Some timeline elements and important references to Kaelan include:

  • Esmé was expelled; Lucian was told by Allegra and Moira about her curse (to be as ugly on the outside as she is on the inside, forever).
  • Lucian, George, and Jacobi getting a letter from Gelesia asking for them to write; saying that Kaelan’s transformation was difficult and painful.
  • Jacobi running into Kaelan and getting attacked.
  • Lucian is on his way (for some reason) to find Kaelan and hears Jacobi’s account.
  • Adrian and Allegra have finished their quest, Clarissa and Jacobi have as well.
  • No word on George yet.

Now Kaelan needs to find a way to find his princess without succumbing to the beast that is trying to overtake him, and is pretty much isolated for a while. His stubborn personality has caused him grief in the past, with classmates, witches, dragons, and teachers, and so this is a continuing theme. We also don’t know who his princess is.

This book is one of the most critical ones to the series in my opinion. This one has so much going into it and so much within it furthers the plot that Becoming Prince Charming is essential to the series. Kaelan has been a constant character throughout the tale who has provided examples, comic relief, and wonderful proof of how much kindness can change someone. I found this book to be entertaining and very interesting overall to read as we see many aspects of the previous books pulled together that I personally had forgotten about, while creating more questions and thematic plot lines for the following books to answer.

Unfortunately, I do need to comment on the fact that there was again a few grammatical errors and typos in general. However, my writing is just as littered with errors, if not worse, so I am not one to judge.

Prince Charming’s Search (Charming Academy #3) – Review

Prince Charming’s Search is the third book in the Charming Academy Series, by Jessica L. Elliot. This book centers on Jacobi and Clarissa’s quest. I’ll go over some of the things we know about the two based off the first book.

Clarissa:

  • Very sweet, but is not as large of a character in the first book.
  • not very good at dancing
  • Was in the year younger than her prince, like Allegra was.
  • Struggled along with Allegra to help Leticia after Eleanor’s death.
  • In the second book, we learned from her interactions with Allegra at the beginning of their last year of schooling that she was in lots of servitude classes. Huh, Cinderella?

Jacobi:

  • Was good friends with George, Kaelan, Adrian and Lucian.
  • Was also (very) not good at dancing,
  • Okay, to be honest, we really know the least about Jacobi and Clarissa from earlier books. That is probably why I felt like the beginning of this book dragged a little, because Elliot had to try and establish both the plot for this story and simply who the characters were.
  • Oh yeah, Jacobi was funny. He often tried to lighten the mood, though less comically than Adrian would. He was just good. He wanted everyone else to also be happy.

*Spoilers*

I enjoyed this book because it was a very creative retelling of Cinderella. I feel like the Cinderella story is a classic, and it, as with many other fairytales, (I’m not ignoring them, I just particularly enjoy Cinderella), can be retold so many cool ways. I also particularly loved how just good Clarissa and Jacobi are, they are sweet and loving and they try. Some may interpret Clarissa based on her words during servitude that she was spoiled, but it was the exact opposite of everything she had grown up in and she did want to change things not only for her, but for all servants in general who were treated as horribly as she and Angel were.

Which leads me to Angel. Oh, how I loved her. I thought that having Angel work along side Clarissa was a fantastic way to bring in the Fairy Godmother character. She was so kind and I really liked the background story she made, though it was false, and her constant care for Clarissa.

There were some other really interesting characters in this book. The ghost people and queen that Jacobi met were interesting, and how Jacobi got himself a new pet after he so selflessly gave Patches to Jezzie. The baker who was in that scene was also entertaining and a very practical addition.

The family that Clarissa is serving had some very interesting dynamics as well. The Master and Mistress were definitely not kind, and Cynthia is ridiculous. Jezebel tried so hard to please. Toby was just mean, but I really appreciated the character development surrounding him and those around him that occurred later.

I think it is really interesting how all of the books have lines that cross over from the other books that blend the quests together. Many of the mysteries resurface in other books and I find it really cool how Elliot brings the information together. This book did drag a little at the beginning but became an intriguing read where the questions continue, some the reader knows may not be answered even in later books. The twist on Cinderella was very well done and creative.

Charming Academy 2 – Review

Finding Prince Charming cover image. A horse standing on a path in the woods. The path is covered in red and orange leaves.

Finding Prince Charming, by Jessica L. Elliot.

This book is the second in the Charming Academy Series, and is about Princess Allegra and her quest to find Adrian, who disappeared during their fourth year at school. Allegra is more than a little worried about being the one going questing, but she will do anything to find Adrian.

(*Spoilers for the first book are included, and foreshadowing for this and following books are included, sorry.*)

Some things that we know about Allegra, just to give some perspective on where we are:

  • Allegra is Lucian’s sister.
  • She is stubborn and determined and fiercely loyal but lets her doubts rule sometimes.
  • Has a close relationship with her parents, grandparents, friends from school, and her brother especially.
  • Was the year behind her prince’s year, and so her last year of schooling is just her and Clarissa at school because her older friends are already on their quests.
  • Has a special necklace from Adrian the night he disappeared.
  • Flew into a rage and didn’t forgive people for a long time after Adrian’s disappearance, she loved him and needed to blame something.
  • Gets some lovely classes to help prepare her to do the searching for Adrian on her quest.
  • Loves Adrian lots and vowed to do anything to find him again.
  • Is deathly terrified of frogs.

Some basic knowledge of Adrian:

  • Is Lucian’s best friend.
  • Has a rocky family relationship that is resolved before he disappears.
  • Never broke any rules, was cursed for sticking out his tongue at friends by Lucretia, one of the school witches.
  • Doesn’t like swimming.
  • Is incredibly loyal and kind.
  • Starts to shrink, loose hair, go into hibernation in cold weather, and so forth as he turns into a frog slowly.
  • Goes and makes a deal with the witches the night before the winter meeting with the princesses in his fourth year so that he can look normal.
  • Gave Allegra her special necklace to remember him by.
  • His last words to Allegra an instant before he disappeared were that he loves her.
  • Is transported to Lucian and Allegra’s family’s castle by the sea as a frog to wait for Allegra to come find him.
  • Is heartbroken when Allegra sees him and runs away because he is a frog.
  • Gets to wait around as a frog, of all things, for Allegra to come save him.

In this book, Allegra gets to go questing for Adrian, the opposite of what she’d always believed would happen. She takes new classes her last two years of school to prepare her for the dangers of searching, along with learning the finer points of becoming a lady. Adrian gets to face the dangers of life as a frog, which can become incredibly difficult, especially in a fairytale quest where someone may be out to ruin said frog’s happily ever after.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It addressed the fact that the girls can do the questing and face just as many trials while waiting, which Adrian showed well. This was a fun and lighthearted twist on the Princess and the Frog that was action packed and serious enough to make it a good read for middle school kids. I also enjoyed the number of outside forces that affect this couple’s fairytale, but no dragons. This was kind of nice, to show that there are more dangers in the world than those that are just the biggest and most threatening at a glance.

Charming Academy Series (book 1) – Review

 

 

The Charming Academy Series is written by Jessica L. Elliott, and consists of six books, including Charming Academy, Finding Prince Charming, Prince Charming’s Search, Becoming Prince Charming, The Ultimate Prince Charming, and Prince Charming’s Quest. Yes, that is a lot of Prince Charmings. I know.

The first book, Charming Academy, is the beginning. As the title suggests, this is at an academy for young princes who are on their path to become a Prince Charming. In this fairy tale reproduction, the name “Prince Charming” is more than a name, it is an honorary title that the young men receive after completing their quest. Yes, that is not very detailed, but you can’t expect me to give everything away right now, can you?

Our main character is a young prince named Lucian. He is mainly the character followed throughout the first book, and the following books are centered around each other main character’s quest after schooling. Now to the actual book.

A little organizational information that you will learn in the book, but I can’t very well explain without describing a little (Don’t worry, I won’t give away anything super important): Prince Charming Academy for Boys is a school that works in association with Fair Damsels Academy for Young Ladies. Lucian is enrolled at the boys’ school to begin his schooling and preparation for his quest which will take place at the end of his sixth year.

Within his education, he learns about all the things a prince must do on a typical quest. He learns to fight dragons and about spell breaking, the ins and outs of hunting and survival, languages of dragons and mermaids along with his normal math, science, and language arts classes. He and his friends must overcome the challenges of being teenage boys, learning to get along with their princesses, schoolwork, and staying on the right side of the witches in charge of punishment at the school. With magic surrounding them, they must prepare as best they can to make a wonderful fairy tale out of their quest.

The Charming Academy Series is a retelling of some of our most well-known and loved fairy tales, including Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, the Princess and the Frog, and many others. I greatly enjoyed the series, as I love fantasy. The books show both the prince and princess’ views of a fairytale, with plenty of humor, challenges, and romance to keep the story rolling. I think it is a very good series for middle school kids, because of the interesting tale, the age of the characters, and length. The series shows all of the adventure that is sometimes skipped in retelling. This is so much more than the common “a beautiful princess was locked in a tower and waited and waited for a long time till her Prince Charming rode in on a majestic horse and saved her with true love’s kiss the end.” It includes everything needed to be sweet and adventurous at the same time, with lots of entertainment as the characters and their growth as individuals as well.

I do have to admit that while this series is one of my favorite reading pastime series, it does get a little boring sometimes. The plot will drag or get repetitive sometimes, which is understandable, and I also think that the copies I have at least are her rougher versions. I don’t know if the author has had more edits and publication recently, but my copies of the series do have some grammatical and spelling errors, and the detail is sometimes far too much or little given in some sections, in my opinion of course. As frustrated as I get by these errors sometimes, I also appreciate them greatly, because I think it shows that the author did not necessarily write the series to be pretty and perfect and sell for lots all over the world, but really so that she could share the basics of the fairy tales she so loved as a child that she worked to make “cool enough” for her brother (this is how the series was first created, her brother told her that fairy tales were for girls and she set out to change that). It shows that she really just wanted to share her stories. To be completely honest, the books are rather unpolished. But they are lots of fun to read as the normal fairy tales we all know take a new perspective.

Fablehaven 5 – Review

 

Fablehaven – Keys to the Demon Prison, by Brandon Mull, is the fifth and final book in the Fablehaven series

This is it, folks, the last book in the Fablehaven series, tied for first on my favorites in the series. I’ll be honest, this and the third are my first place winners, then the fourth is my second favorite, and the first and second are my third, but not necessarily my least favorites. Even though that is technically what the not top favorites means. Oh well. You all know what I mean. Hopefully.

*For the last time this series, SPOILERS MAY DWELL WITHIN. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Dun dun dun.*

Alright, the end is coming. As Kendra and Seth prepare for what they hope will not mean the end of the world, they realize that they really are among the only ones who can save this. After facing heartbreaking betrayals and emotional trauma, and time after time again escaped certain death, these two incredible kids are up against what they hoped they wouldn’t have to face. But the Sphinx has the artifacts, the power, the minions, and, as if that wasn’t enough, their parents. The Zzyzx’s opening seems eminent and the only way that they can seem to save the world now is to prepare to keep the demons in, even if it means war. Racing around the world, Kendra and Seth try to intercept the artifacts and gather allies, bargaining for knowledge and searching for weapons. They have their fairykind and shadowcharmer abilities, but fighting the Sphinx never has been and never will be easy, so all they can do is prepare as well they can and hope that all will end well.

This was the last book in the Fablehaven series and I was pretty sad, wanting to know more and have more adventures with Kendra and Seth, though I knew they deserved a break from the constant near death experiences. But, I am so happy, because Brandon Mull has started a second series about them, its called Dragonwatch and I will write reviews on those books too. I recommend both of these series all the way, for fantasy lovers who love action and build up and magical creatures.

I would give this book a 4.9 / 5, I love it, it is a great end to the series while still allowing Mull a way to add to it indirectly, and is a very good blend of action and sentiment and humor and romance and teasing all the way through.

Fablehaven 4 – Review

 

Fablehaven – Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, by Brandon Mull

This is the fourth book in the Fablehaven series, and probably my second favorite. There is lots of dramatic action and danger, all happening to require Seth and Kendra’s help (wink).

*Spoilers! again. As I’ve said in the other reviews, there may be spoilers for the other books, as hard as I try to avoid them. You have been warned! … many many times … oh well.*

*Also, slight hints at what happens in this book. But it’s pretty safe to read anyway,  the back cover of the book exposes about the same amount that I do. You’ll be fine.*

Seth and Kendra have been through a lot, and then what happens in this book shows just how unfair life can be, and how awful fighting can mess up people’s lives. The emotional trauma that these two have gone through and continue to face is just incredible when you think about it, and that made me wary to keep reading each book before I started each one, because, yes, it’s really cool and all the adventures and friendships and all the incredible things they get to do, but all the awful things that these two have faced is really traumatizing when you stop to think about it. It’s amazing that they keep going. So there’s a slight foreboding hint for you.

So this book has them after another hidden artifact to get before the Society of the Evening Star does, to try and stop further mass destruction by the Society, as per usual. This time they are off to another preserve, but this is one of the seven dragon sanctuaries, Wyrmroost.  Facing danger at every turn, and constantly being painfully aware that they are just kids in a big world, Kendra and Seth set out to prove that they can handle saving the world, as daunting as the task may be.

I really enjoyed this book. It is definitely right up there in my favorite re-reads of this series, which I realize I’ve probably told you lots of times. Hey, I’m just trying to get my point across. I would probably give this a 4.7 / 5, I love the plot and adventures. I just have favorites, so I am a little biased. Oh well, I hope you are enjoying the series too if you’re reading it and/or already have.

Fablehaven 3 – Review

 

Fablehaven – Grip of the Shadow Plague, by Brandon Mull, is the third book in the Fablehaven series. This book is one of my all time favorite books to read ever, again and again.

*Again, spoiler alerts for the previous two books*

Kendra and Seth are at Fablehaven for the summer still, and the magic of the world never ceases to amaze them. When a strange plague of darkness begins to go around, turning creatures of light to darkness, Seth is able to see the problem differently.  But it is obvious that the Sorensons need help, But can they trust their usual go-to adviser? With Kendra off with other Knights of the Dawn to look for another artifact, and Seth trying to figure things out at Fablehaven, the kids are having the adventures of a lifetime, not necessarily good ones.

The plague turns the creatures from light to dark, and no one knows what to do about it. Seth has interesting abilities though, as a result from pulling the nail from the revenant in the last book, much like Kendra’s being fairykind. With Seth’s ability to trace certain aspects of the plague, he may be Fablehaven’s only hope for survival.

Kendra’s abilities as fairykind make her imperative for the Knights of the Dawn’s mission. She goes off to another magical preserve to try and get another artifact before the Society of the Evening Star does. With that daunting adventure checked off the list, she returns to Fablehaven to help out with stopping the plague. But Kendra and Seth need help, and you never know where two resourceful kids may get that from.

This is one of my favorite books in the series, because Kendra and Seth have so many adventures and so much happens throughout the book. It is action-packed and there is all sorts of drama coursing throughout, and yes, even some romance. Mull pulls together incredible ideas in this book, creating a fast-paced plot line and an intriguing base for the rest of the series. I would give this book a 4.8 / 5, it is one of my favorites, and the thickening plot that is leading up to the grand finale, I think this is tied for my favorite book in the series.