Stolen Magic

Title: Stolen Magic
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Series: A Tale of Two Castles, 2/2
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: April 21, 2015

Note: This post reviews the second book of the A Tale of Two Castles series. You may like to read the first book in the series, A Tale of Two Castles, before reading this review.

Elodie travels back to her homeland with her master, the dragon Meenore, and her friend, the ogre Count Jonty Um. But they arrive in Lahnt to hear terrible news: the replica of their volcano – which keeps the real volcano from erupting – is missing. The only way to save the mountain is to find out who stole the replica, and return it before time runs out. Elodie, with the help of Meenore and Count Jonty Um, works tirelessly to unravel the mystery that surrounds the missing replica, risking their lives to save the people of Lahnt.

This book has a similar feel to the book before it. At times, it felt slow and was a little difficult to get through – probably because I don’t really gravitate towards mysteries. I still enjoyed it, because it’s almost impossible for me not to enjoy a book by Gail Carson Levine, but I still prefer her other fairytale stories!

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A Tale of Two Castles

 

Title: A Tale of Two Castles
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Series: A Tale of Two Castles, 1/2
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: May 10th, 2011

Elodie travels to Two Castles with the intent of becoming an apprentice. Her dream is to become a mansioner – an actress – but when the master of the troupe turns her away, she must find work elsewhere. It seems that Meenore, a brilliant dragon and detective, is the only one who will take her as an apprentice. Elodie learns much from Meenore, particularly the art of induction and deduction.

These skills will help Elodie on her assigned case as she goes to the ogre’s castle as an undercover scullery maid. Elodie doesn’t know who she can trust at the castle – the shape-shifting ogre, the air-headed Princess who is to wed him, her greedy father the king? No one is dismissed from Elodie’s suspicions, and no one will be safe until she finds the suspect behind the mysteries at the castle.

This was a fun read. The mystery that carried this book made it different from Gail Carson Levine’s other stories. I was hoping for a bit of romance, because Levine is so good at them, but that was not the purpose of this book. I enjoyed seeing Elodie and Meenore – an unlikely pair – work together to solve the case. And, as the masterful storyteller that she is, Levine hides the villain in plain sight!

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Ever



Title: Ever
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Mythology, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: May 6th, 2008

Kezi is a beautiful dancer, a skilled rug weaver – and a mortal. And because of a vow her father made to their god in desperation, she only has 30 days to live. To make her life even more complicated, she falls in love – with an immortal god. Olus, the god of winds, believes that he can help Kezi escape her impending fate; together, they risk everything to find a way to be together, and to save Kezi before she must make the ultimate sacrifice.

Told in a style different than the rest of her fairytales, Ever switches back and forth from Kezi’s to Olus’ point of view, giving us an enriched understanding of both characters. Levine’s Mesopotamian setting is also a step away from her usual fairytales, and gravitates more toward ancient mythology. I find it fascinating that Ever was inspired by the Old Testament story of Jephthah and his daughter, found in Judges 11:30-40. This was a fun read, especially if you are already a fan of Gail Carson Levine.

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Fairest


Title: Fairest
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: September 19th, 2006

Aza is an unlikely heroine, especially for a Snow White fairytale retelling. She is awkward, clumsy, and convinced she is far from beautiful. But her voice is truly the fairest of them all. Her magical singing gets her noticed by many in the kingdom of Ayortha, including the royal family.

When she goes from being an innkeeper’s daughter to the queen’s lady-in-waiting, Aza realizes her beautiful voice could put her in more danger than she ever could have known. She must navigate the attentions of the charming prince, Ijori, and the jealous new queen, while keeping secrets of her own.

In my opinion, Gail Carson Levine can do no wrong in her magical world of storytelling! I love her books, but my only problem with them is there are not enough.

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Ella Enchanted

Title: Ella Enchanted
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: 1997

🌹 🌹 🌹 🌹 🌹

Happy 20th anniversary to Ella Enchanted

When she was a baby, Ella received the “gift” of obedience from a fairy. Now, she must obey any command given, great or small. More of a curse than a blessing, this gift controls her, and no matter how much she struggles against it, Ella always obeys in the end. Though many give Ella commands unknowingly, there are some who manipulate her deliberately – namely, her two stepsisters.

Ella suffers countless miseries in addition to the curse: the death of her beloved mother, neglect from her selfish father, abuse from her stepsisters, an insufferable finishing school. But through it all, Ella remains kind, vivacious, and brave, with the help of her friends – her fairy godmother, and the prince, Char. As Ella’s childhood friendship with Char gradually turns into something more, she realizes that her curse could be used not only to harm herself, but Char. Will Ella find a way to undo her curse, or will she be forced to sacrifice her happy ending to ensure the safety of the one she loves?

I read this book for the first time over a decade ago, and it remains one of my favorites to this day. Gail Carson Levine has influenced my writing in a huge way. Her fairytales are one of the reasons that made me want to write in the first place. Re-reading this book reminded me of what I’m looking for in fiction, and what I want to write. If you haven’t read it, read it.

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The Assassin’s Blade

Title: The Assassin’s Blade
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass series, a collection
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: March 4th, 2014

Note: This post reviews a companion of the Throne of Glass series. As it is a collection of novellas that take place before Throne of Glass, it is okay to read this book in any order of the series. I recommend reading it after Heir of Fire, as it introduces some of the characters in the following books. 

Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s Assassin and protégé of the King of the Assassins, is the best of the best – and oh does she know it. As arrogant as ever, Celaena carries out whatever orders her master, Arobynn, gives her. But when she and Sam, a rival assassin, are sent to deal with the Pirate Lord in Skull’s Bay, Celaena must decide whether to follow her master, or follow her conscience. In The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, we see just how far she will go to fight slavery.

We see yet another side to the notorious assassin in The Assassin and the Healer. Celaena is on her way to the Red Desert as a punishment for her actions in Skull’s Bay, when she meets a young woman, trapped in an unwanted life. She assists the woman, giving her the push she needs to make a better life for herself.

Celaena continues on to the Red Desert and reaches the Mute Master in The Assassin and the Desert. She is to spend one month with this group of assassins, and to learn from their master. During this time, Celaena forms an unlikely friendship with Ansel, another assassin.

The Assassin and the Underworld shows Celaena, back in Rifthold yet again. She is assigned to another job involving slavery, and this time, she believes she is doing what is right. With Sam – no longer a rival, but a friend – at her side, she begins to see more clearly who she can trust, and who she cannot.

In the last novella, The Assassin and the Empire, Celaena and Sam know that their place is with each other – and not Arobynn. But as they make plans of their own to start a new life together built on their love, they realize that their master, the King of the Assassins, will not let them off so easily.

I really enjoyed this prequel to the Throne of Glass series! Maas did an excellent job of taking us back in time and showing us Celaena’s life before she is rescued from Endovier. We get to see more between her and Arobynn, Lysandra, and of course, SAM. It was really well done. The reason I gave it a 4 out of 5 is because I have grown to love the person Aelin is so much, and it was hard to go back to the person she used to be as Celaena. Aelin > Celaena.

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Queen of Shadows

Title: Queen of Shadows
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass series, book 4
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: September 1st, 2015

Note: This post reviews the fourth book of the Throne of Glass series. You may like to read the first three books in the series, Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire before reading this review.

Celaena Sardothien has returned to Adarlan – and she is ready to do what needs to be done, no matter the cost. With both Prince Dorian and Aedion Ashryver, her long-lost beloved cousin, imprisoned by the King of Adarlan, Celaena must risk everything to save the people she cares about.

But that is only the beginning. The King of Adarlan must be brought down, his tyranny and corruption brought to an end. With the help of her friends, and the Fae Prince Rowan faithfully at her side, Celaena must embrace the truth of who and what she is if she is to save Dorian’s people, her people, and the rest of Erilea from the impending darkness ahead.

This fourth book of the Throne of Glass series was the best so far. Not only was it an action-packed page turner, but it was rich with character development. Maas definitely upped her game with this one, and I am ready to jump right into the next one, Empire of Storms. 

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