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.

Advertisements

Divergent by Veronica Roth

image of book cover of Divergent

The book series called Divergent is an interesting one. It is the first book in a three-part series (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant). This was a book recommended by a friend who has a similar taste in books. Overall, I enjoyed this book, though some parts were questionable.
Divergent is about a future Chicago where everybody is split into factions. There are 5 factions with different attributes associated with it. There is Abnegation (Selflessness), Amity (Peaceful), Candor (Truthful), Dauntless (Brave), and Erudite (Smart). When you turn 16 you go through a test in which you are given a faction that is mostly likely one that you would be placed in based on what you pick in the test. There is then a ceremony where you must pick where you live, work, and do everything for the rest of your life. There are tests to get into the faction and if you don’t pass you could become factionless. However, there are people called the Divergent. These people can do things like manipulate the tests and be aware that they are in a simulation (whereas normal people can’t).
Beatrice Prior (Now known as Tris) was born and raised in Abnegation where everything they do has to be selfless, whether it means eating the simplest food or letting other people get on the bus before you. When she takes her aptitude test to see which faction she is fit for, the person administering it stops and says she is Divergent. She says this is dangerous, not to tell anyone, and then manually logs the data saying Tris is Abnegation. When the ceremony comes around Tris must make a hard decision. She picks Dauntless, where they are all about being brave. She has a large amount of experiences, losses, and rivalry along the way. She also meets a person named Four (Tobias Eaton). They start to have a romantic relationship but must keep it a secret. They then discover a plot against the Abnegation, started by the Erudite who want power, and powered by the Dauntless because they have skills in combat. They are being controlled by a serum that had been injected unknowingly. Since Tris is Divergent she is not affected. She needs to save her friends and stop the Erudite from killing all the Abnegation.
I overall enjoyed this book a lot. The only parts I didn’t like were when she was talking with Four. The way that it was described and, the way that they communicated seemed inappropriate for 16-year-olds. Besides that, and the fact that some parts are sad. It was a very good book and I would recommend it, especially if you are into books such as The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, or Harry Potter.
I would rate this book a 9/10.

 

Review of “The Unwanteds” series, by Lisa McMann

two children fleeing from a winged giant cat

 

“The Unwanteds” was a very entertaining series, and I had a fun time reading the books.

Alex lives in Quill, a land that hates and fears creativity of any kind. On a specific day every year, Quillens celebrate the Purge. The Purge is a holiday that separates out the thirteen-year olds of their country, picking out the Wanteds (the people designated to be the future leaders of Quill and who have some life in them), the Necessaries (the people to keep the population of Quill alive and are drab and lifeless), and the Unwanteds (the creative people who will be sent to their death. I know, morbid, right?).

Alex, unfortunately, is deemed Unwanted, whereas his identical twin brother, Aaron, is a Wanted. Alex is sent away to be killed, to the place where they end the Unwanteds, the Death Farm, but miraculously, he doesn’t die! He is sent to a magical world called Artimé by the Death Farmer, a mage named Marcus Today.

Alex befriends other Unwanteds named Lani, Samheed, and Meghan, and together they make dicoveries, learn magic, and go on adventures.

Rating: 4/5 stars. The issues I found with this series were that 1) it was too romantic (at least for me, but if you like romance you’d love it), 2) the battle scenes (especially the one in the last book) were way too long, and 3) I found that the plot line got a little bit repetitive in the final books. Other than that, it was good. This series was great, but I’m hard to please when it comes to books.

Ages: 12-15

The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black

See the source image

The Cruel Prince, written by Holly Black, is a modern fantasy and a first book in the duology. The second book, The Wicked King, was recently released. It follows Jude, who along with her twin sister Taryn and her half-sister Vivienne, was taken to the fairy world by Vivienne’s true father.

This book was very highly anticipated, and people either loved it or hated it. I personally liked it. My favorite element was the school that Jude attended with the other fey her age; it gave a unique twist on a fantasy story that made it different from the others. Jude as a character was aggressive and impulsive, but I didn’t mind. I found myself thrilled when she kept fighting the bullying of Prince Cardan and his trio.

A problem many people seem to bring up is the romance between Jude and a certain character. In my opinion, there wasn’t a romance at all. At the end of the book the character confesses how he can’t stop thinking about her and then they kiss but for no reason? There wasn’t any reason for them to and they didn’t seem to enjoy it nor did they talk about it again so that was very strange. From what my friends and I can tell, there is no relationship between them because Jude doesn’t like him still and she betrayed him at the end, losing his trust and likely any romance they might have had.

I liked how the story brought out my emotions. I felt exhilarated while Jude argued with Cardan, sad when Jude complained about being mortal, and angry when betrayals occur. I loved how the mortal world was mixed in and how they would travel between realms, which added to the uniqueness of the novel. I did not like how the fey are as they are in every book: so incredibly perfect and beautiful that mortals can’t begin to compare. I don’t understand why this matters so much when writing about the fey, but it needs to end. This book would have been so much better if the world were expanded. How big is the realm? Is it only as small as the map in the beginning? If so, the author should have no trouble going in depth into all the places. I feel as though this depth would have made the story leave a more lasting effect on me. The writing style was very nice and easy to read, and the imagery was wonderful.

I would rate The Cruel Prince 8/10 dragons, for the unique twist on fey stories and the emotions it brought from me.

Tower of Dawn, by Sarah J. Maas

See the source image

Tower of Dawn, by Sarah J. Maas, is the sixth book in the seven-book series (not including the novella) Throne of Glass. I would suggest not reading this review if you plan on reading the series because it may give away important details. The book strays from our protagonist, Aelin Galathynius and instead focuses on Chaol Westfall, who in the previous book suffered a paralyzing injury that sent him off to Antica, in the Southern Continent. Once there, Chaol works with healer Yrene Towers to heal his injuries and recruit the Antica military in aiding the war effort against Maeve.

Most everyone was weary heading into this book. Chaol is one of the supporting characters who has been in the series since its inception, although certain events led to Aelin distancing herself from him, thus making the reader not care about him as much as they used to. I was surprised by Maas’ choice of making the novel from Chaol’s point of view, but as it was the seventh book, and I had to read it. It started off extremely slow because the reader was trying to understand Chaol again and find reasons to care about him. Around a hundred pages in, the book starts to pick up and became impossible to put down. Maas made a wonderful decision by making Chaol the protagonist because he was the one character that I felt I didn’t have a strong connection to, and by making this novel, Maas was able to make the readers like him again. It also gave important background to crucial characters such as Yrene and why the Antica kingdom decided to help the war effort.

Most people don’t read the Novella, The Assassin’s Blade, because they think they don’t need to, but I would highly suggest reading it before Tower of Dawn because you will get further background on Yrene and her interactions with Aelin and it’s a very fun book overall. Yrene is an incredibly lovable character, and her relationship with Chaol started off rough but evolved interestingly. I don’t quite understand what was going on between Nesryn and Chaol because I couldn’t remember from the last book, but they had a very strange relationship. The chapters from Nesryn’s point of view only got interesting in the last couple hundred pages, unfortunately. She’s a wonderful character but in the first 400 pages, she didn’t do much.

There was a lot of representation in race and sexuality in this book, which I know a lot of people have been waiting for. The whole Southern Continent is full of darker skinned characters and one of the princess’ is in a relationship with a woman. In her other books, there tends to be a lot of graphic scenes, but this one didn’t have many. There is little representation in body type, which is extremely annoying considering even the strong women who train vigorously every day still have no visible muscles and curvy waists, which doesn’t anatomically make sense considering how strong they are.
What I didn’t like was how Chaol’s personality changed. When I look way back to Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, I remembered him not so much the whiny, tough, and brooding man he is here. Unless I remember him wrong, his personality upset me a bit and just reminded me of a more watered-down Rowan Whitethorn. You might think this was because of character development, but the character felt almost foreign to me, which isn’t a good thing.

I feel as though, as usual, Maas could have cut down a hundred pages, because there were so many parts that seemed unnecessary. I feel as though she could have spent more time developing the world. I’m not sure if we will get to see the Southern Continent again, but the kingdom and the whole southern part of the continent have been left unexplored.

I would rate Tower of Dawn 7/10 dragons simply for my love of the series and the new developments. Negative dragons for the slow first 150 pages.

Review of “The Keeper of the Lost Cities” series, by Shannon Messenger

Book cover for "Keeper of the Lost Cities." A young woman and a young man are clinging onto either side of the top of a metal tower, which is topped by a lit lamp.

“The Keeper of the Lost Cities” is not a super well known series, at least among the people at my school, but I found all of the seven books (so far) to be very enjoyable.

Sophie has a big secret. She can read minds. Starting when she was five, she could hear everyone’s thoughts.

Also, she is an unusually smart girl. She is in college and sticks out like a sore thumb among her classmates. She also feels like she doesn’t fit in among her family, being a skinny, blonde-haired, brown-eyed girl in a family of overweight, brown-haired, green-eyed people.

In an instant, Sophie is ripped away from the life she knew when a mysterious, handsome elf named Fitz finds her and tells her that she is not a human but an elf, like him. Sophie is forced to leave behind her family and join the world of elves.

(Just so you know, elves in this series are not North Pole elves or “Lord of the Rings” elves. They are pretty much humans, but they can live for thousands of years, and they stop aging at twenty.)

Once Sophie has joined the community of elves, she notices that something strange is going on. One day, she accidentally finds out about something called Project Moonlark, but nobody will tell her what it is.

What is Project Moonlark? Will Sophie ever belong in the elven or human worlds? Find out by reading “The Keeper of the Lost Cities” series.

Rating: 5/5 stars! It is one of the best series I’ve read.

Ages: 11-15

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.