Tag Archives: heroine

The Adventurers Guild (Zack Loran Clark & Nick Eliopulos)

5 Dec

The next great adventure is upon us, Squinks.  Even if you don’t initially choose to be part of the Adventurers Guild, you will find yourself hooked and wanting more.  Clark and Eliopulos’ story  is one you must get your hands on right away.

 

Adventurers Guild Squinklethoughts

1.  One of the first things I look for in an adventure story is whether the main character has someone he or she can count on.  I don’t like stories where there’s only one main character traversing lands and discovering things on his or her own because there’s no one for that character to talk to, bounce ideas off, or just generally depend on.  I was in luck with The Adventurers Guild, for there are TWO main characters at the beginning of the story, with a handful more of important secondary characters that join by the end.

2.  Zed (the city’s only half-elf) and Brock (his handsome, long-time best friend) each hope to be chosen for the Mages and Merchants Guilds, respectively.  But just when they think they’re about to start new chapters in the lives as members of their guilds, Alabasel Frond, the Guildmistress of the Adventurers Guild chooses Zed.  How could Brock not follow his best friend, even though this guild is known for losing its members to fates worse than death?  Brock’s decision to volunteer for the Adventurers Guild because Zed is chosen may not have been entirely altruistic, but all throughout the story, over and over again, there is evidence of how much Brock truly cares for his best friend.  And Zed feels the same about Brock.  If I cared not at all for the story, that fact might have been enough to keep me reading.  Their friendship is one for the ages, and you just wish you could be friends with both of them.  These two characters are funny and fun to be around.  I’m really glad the authors decided to alternate the focus of the chapters between the two of them.  The story is still told from third-person perspective, but readers get a slight bias towards one of the boys in each chapter, which adds depth to each character in turn.

3.  I love the Guildculling and the energy and anticipation that surrounds it.  I’ve always enjoyed doing surveys or quizzes that sort me into a particular group, so I liked learning about the different guilds in Freestone and how each is responsible for the safety of its citizens.  I’m very eager to learn more about the different characters in each guild, especially those in some of the lower guilds that didn’t get much screen time.

 

Adventurers Guild 2  

4.  I also love Liza’s character.  She can hold her own both in wit and with weapons.  She puts up a tough façade, but she slowly reveals bits and pieces about her to the boys, and it turns out that she can make Brock blush.  She’s by no means perfect, but she’s definitely interesting.  I love the way her storyline is going, and I can’t wait to see how she develops as an Adventurer.

5.  Alabasel Frond is a wonderful character.  Most of the time, I think she’s unfeeling, but she’s fierce and unabashedly loyal to her apprentices and Freestone.  Of all the characters in the story, she’s the one that has so much more to give, and I really want to know more.  Like Brock, I don’t know that I’d want to be friends with her, but …

6.  What makes this story great is that it is both a plot- and character-driven one.  The kids have a mission to save the world, and there are tons of great twists and turns and Dangers along the way.  You never know who to trust!  But what makes this story a must-read is the cast of characters that Clark and Eliopulos have created.  They jive together in a way that is at once recognizable and unique.  Even the annoying Micah has his moments that make you feel something beyond your initial loathing for him.

 

Adventurers Guild 3  

7.  Teachers/parents, The Adventurers Guild is a story you must have on your shelves.  If your kids haven’t read Zed and Brock’s adventures yet, buy or borrow a copy of this book, and give them an early Christmas present.  They’ll never forget it.  Of course, that means that you’ll be on the hook for the next titles in this awesome series, but you’ll get there when you get there.  The co-authors’ writing is funny and fresh, which make for an utterly compelling story.  (There’s a line on page 80 where Zed laughs out loud in response to something that Jett says, and I laughed out loud even before I read that the character laughs out loud.  Oh, and my eyes got misty in a few places.)  There’s so much to love about this one.  I can’t wait for what’s next.

8.  Which Guild would take you in?  Find out here.

 

5 Squinkles

 

Zack Loran Clark’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Chapters/Indigo

Nick Eliopulos’ Online Corners
Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters/Indigo

 

Thank you, Disney-Hyperion, for sending me a copy of The Adventurers Guild in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

Advertisements

Bookcation 2016 #8: Star Darlings: The Adventures of Sage, Libby, and Scarlet

17 Mar

Okay, well you know how much I love Disney characters, so it’s no stretch to think that I love Disney books, too. Percy Jackson and The Zodiac Legacy are two of our all-time favourite series, both of which are published by Disney Publishing Worldwide. Now, I’ve got another great series for you to fall in love with: The Star Darlings.

 

Star Darlings - Sage 

I’ve only read the first three books of what will be, I think (though I wish for more), a 12-book series, but I’m hooked. Think about it: not everyone is let in, so it is a rather big deal to be accepted to Starling Academy, a prestigious school for those wishing to become Star Darlings – wish granters – to people on Wishworld (aka Earth). Each Star Darling has her own unique personality, strengths, and even colour (just look at the book covers !). The cover art of each of the books alone is enough to get you hooked. The images and colour combinations are simply gorgeous and utterly mesmerizing.

 

Star Darlings - Wisher's Guide to Starland 

The first book, Sage and the Journey to Wishworld, introduces us to Star Academy and the Star Darlings. It’s everything you’d enjoy in a series starter: backstory, introductions, and lots of adventure. Sage is a great character who is flawed enough to be realistic but still quite likable. You’ll really enjoy discovering all about Ahmet Zappa and Shana Muldoon Zappa’s imaginative world full of Holo-Books and Star Transmitters (among other things). The follow-up, Libby and the Class Election, is just as sweet and charming as the first. Libby loves to say “yes” to people, but she needs to learn to think more of her own needs and stand up for herself, too. Nowhere does she learn this lesson more than down on Wishworld during her mission. In Scarlet Discovers True Strength, you’ll meet another Star Darling who is very unlike Sage and Libby. Scarlet is manipulative and often seeks revenge on those who displease her. Through her journey to Wishworld, she learns a valuable lesson on how to best help others.

 

Star Darlings - Group 

All three titles are in our library now, and I’m waiting to get my hands on the next three (Leona’s Unlucky Mission, Vega and the Fashion Designer, and Cassie Comes Through), which were published earlier this year. While we’re waiting, let me point you to the direction of Disney’s official Star Darlings site, Facebook page, and Instagram account. I’m sure you’ll find lots of images, news bits, and videos to keep you busy throughout the March Break. Let me know who your favourite Star Darlings are!

Bookcation 2016 #2: The Girl in the Well is Me

14 Mar

For a more serious turn, I highly recommend you pick up The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers.

 

Girl in the Well is Me

 

As I mentioned in class, I really, really loved the latest Disney movie, Zootopia. I know, I teased you with it because I was lucky enough to have seen it a few weeks before it officially released. But now that most of you have gotten a chance to enjoy it as well, you’ll remember the scene where Nick Wilde recalls some particularly painful memories – the ones where he was super excited to join the boy scouts, but ended up being severely disappointed by the other scouts’ malevolence. Similar heartwrenching moments that colour a person’s entire life are also explored in Rivers’ novel.

The Girl in the Well is Me is about Kammie Summers whose family has just moved into town. She’s excited to join a club by partaking in a (fake) initiation put on by the current members. But hours pass with nary a word from anyone. She grows cold, claustrophobic, and a little despondent, recalling all the good stuff and bad stuff that have happened in her life that have brought her to this very unfortunate situation.

Kammie is a unique narrator who will make you laugh out loud and cry a little (or a lot). Come find me when you’ve finished her story, for I’m sure you’ll have lots to say.

The book pubs tomorrow, so you don’t have to wait very long to get your hands on it. Can’t wait to start reading? Check out this online excerpt right here.

Mechanica (Betsy Cornwell)

28 Jan

Happy 2016, Squinks! I can’t wait to hear about all the lovely books you read over the past month. Let me get you started with Betsy Cornwell’s Mechanica

 

Mechanica 

I need a second book! This story was just not enough … I want to know more! Mechanica will appeal to many readers, especially fairy-tale lovers like me. Now, hang on. I know some of you are not into retellings, which may be why you will pass up this book, but let me tell you why this version of “Cinderella” works.

Squinklethoughts1.  I like happy endings. I like dénouements that tie loose ends tightly to lead into satisfying conclusions. I like knowing that Murdoch, Sherlock, and Sherlock are (usually) going to solve their cases by the time the episode is over and that a happily-ever-after ending awaits me. I feel free. I can enjoy unfettered catharsis until I get to the end of the ride, knowing that everything will be okay. I knew that unless this “Cinderella” was faithful to the Perrault or Grimm publications, I would find a happy resolution, so I had no hesitation filling up my coffee mug and picking up Mechanica.

2.  I love strong female characters, and Nicolette Lampton is just that. But she’s not as unrealistic as some of her contemporaries – though she is just as unique and unlikely as they are. Instead of wielding swords and other weaponry, she uses her skills at inventing and innovating to improve not only her life but those of people around her. She is kind and empathetic, worrying about how her words affect others, and despite her disdain for doing the biddings of the Steps, she does her job with sincerity anyway. I think what I really loved most about Nicolette is her loyalty to Mr. Candery, her family’s erstwhile servant and friend. Her devastation at being separated from him shows me the very best of both her character and the human condition.

3.  You’ll enjoy the banter between Caro and Fin. You’ll love, even more, the air of mystery that surrounds their characters, especially considering they take to Nicolette quite quickly. The word “soupçon” came to mind while I was reading their first few meetings.

4.  My favourite character in the entire book is Jules, the loyal mechanical horse built by Nicolette’s mother and treasured by Nicolette herself. He ranks up there for me, along with the likes of other noble animals in literature like Charlotte, Stuart Little, and Hedwig.

5.  Okay, one thing I’m still not quite sure of, in terms of how I feel, is the ending. Remember when I said I like happy endings? Well, there is a happy ending here, but it didn’t quite sweep me off my feet. I guess it’s because I had assumed this would be the only book, so I really wanted lilies to fall from the sky. However, the ending is so different and unexpected that I have to applaud Cornwell for completely shocking me with it. It’s a bold choice, and I know many will agree with it, even if it’s not my jolt of java.

6.  If there were no sequel to Mechanica, I’d still be okay with the novel, and I do highly recommend it. The story is intriguing, the prose is beautiful, and the characters are endearing (well, except for the Steps).  Find a rather short, but delightful, excerpt to read online here to get you started on the adventure.

7.  But I really, really hope there is a follow-up because Cornwell’s reimagined world is a place I’d love to visit again.

8.  ** Update AFTER I had typed up the original review: Click here for some awesome Mechanica news! **

* Teachers/parents, if you’d like a copy of the chapter-by-chapter reading questions that I give to my students, please feel free to email me!

 

4.5 Squinkles

 

Betsy Cornwell’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Goodreads | Chapters

Thank you, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for sending me a copy of Mechanica in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

Hamster Princess #1: Harriet the Invincible (Ursula Vernon)

5 Oct

Now that we’ve got September under our belts, let’s talk about more books! In particular, I want to share with you a fantastic series opener that boasts a fun, feisty, and fierce heroine named Harriet, whose adventures I can’t wait to read more about.

 

Hamster Princess - Harriet the Invincible

 

In this twist to Sleeping Beauty, Harriet finds herself growing up overly protected in a castle for 10 years … until she’s finally told the story of the curse set upon her at her christening by a wicked fairy godmouse. Rather than feeling depressed at the news that she is doomed to fall into a deep sleep when she’s 12, Harriet rejoices in the fact that she has TWO WHOLE YEARS to do whatever she wants because, after all, she has to stay alive until she’s 12 for the curse to work. And so she begins the best years of her life (so far), travelling up and down the countryside with her loyal quail, Mumfrey. Meanwhile, her evil fairy godmouse has vanished mysteriously …

Squinklethoughts

1. Princess Harriet Hamsterbone is easily one of my favourite rodents in all of literature. She’s got wit and humour in spades, and she’s not afraid to show it. She’s also quite logical for a hamster, which is, you know, pretty cool. She knows her shortcomings, and she can work with them to do what needs to get done, including finding an elusive prince and fighting Ogrecats. Plus, Mumfrey’s pretty loyal to her, and that says a lot to me about what kind of friend she is.

Hamster Princess - Princessly Quote

2. Adults and children alike will enjoy Vernon’s wit, allusions, and general writing style. I found myself bursting out laughing at many of Harriet’s expressions. I love how she communicates with Mumfrey with just looks and qwerks. It’s not hard at all to read this book because Vernon’s writing is smooth and natural. You’ll forget that this is about rodents and other furry animals retelling Sleeping Beauty. You’ll like it just for what it is – a great, funny tale with an awesome heroine.

3. I’m all for varied narrative formats, and Harriet the Invincible is a great mixture of traditional narrative and graphic novel features. I love pictures, and people who think this book is “too young” for them on account of these pictures will miss out on something seriously great. Never mind that the drawings themselves are cute … Who wouldn’t want visual representations of the various facets of Harriet’s crazy personality? And Mumfrey’s expressions are just the greatest.  Click here for a preview of the book and the lovely illustrations!

4. I share birthday fairy dust with a princess. That makes me kind of princessly, too, right?

5. Princess Harriet, long may she reign. Find copies of this book in our library now.  The sequel, Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic, will be out March 2016.  I can’t wait!

 

Hamster Princess - Of Mice and Magic

 

4.5 Squinkles

Ursula Vernon’s Online Corners
Website | Other Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

 

Thank you, Dial Books for Young Readers, for sending me a copy of Harriet the Invincible, in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

%d bloggers like this: