The Princess Tales, Volume One

Title: The Princess Tales, Volume One
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Series: The Princess Tales, 1/2
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: December 1st, 2003

Note: Even though this is Volume One of two, The Princess Tales is a collection of stand-alone novellas. Characters from the other novellas are referenced so you may like to stay in order, but it is not necessary. 

When a fairy gifts Rosella jewels falling from her mouth when she speaks, she doesn’t realize how problematic it will turn out to be. People begin taking advantage of her, especially greedy Prince Harold, forcing her to speak all the time, simply because of the wealth flowing from her lips. In The Fairy’s Mistake, Rosella must find a way to make this gift a blessing, rather than a curse, for the rest of her life.

Lorelei is the daughter of a humble peasant – with the tastes of a princess. Everything must be just-so for this picky, but sweet, girl. She doesn’t mean to be particular; it’s just the way she is. She accidentally finds herself at the castle amongst scores of princesses vying for the hand of the prince. If she can pass The Princess Testshe will get to marry the kind prince.

In Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep, Sonora is a princess who has it all – beauty, brains, kindness – but what she doesn’t have is friendship. No one likes to spend time with the know-it-all princess. Sonora knows she is destined to prick her finger and sleep for a hundred years, but she is still surprised when it happens. Even more surprising is the prince who awakens her, curious about this brilliant princess.

This collection of novellas is a fun, light read. I recommend it for any fellow fans of Gail Carson Levine, as well as fans of princess tales, like myself!

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the other in its series:

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!

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the other in its series:

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!

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the other in its series:

Friday Favorites: September

I am posting my Friday Favorites on the last Friday of the month (this time), instead of the first! The month got away from me, with the RMFW conference and birthdays and life.

This month, I thought it would be fun to share some of things things I took away from RMFW (Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers) conference. I learned so much as a writer, and had so many wonderful experiences, so I will share only the highlights! (All of this is paraphrased and taken from my notes.)

Sherry Thomas, Romance 101

Characters in conflict is the engine of your story – it drives your story forward.
• Characters must be introduced and conflict must be established as early in your book as possible.
• Dialogue should be used to further conflict.
• The first page sells this book – the last page sells the next.

James Hunter, The Villain’s Story

• Villains should have moral quandaries.
• Villains need nuances to be good villains.
• Protagonists / Antagonists are two sides of a coin, who play by different rules.
• Your Antagonists should have strengths that can exploit your Protagonists’ weaknesses. They should be each other’s opposites.

Bonnie Ramthun, How to Write a Breathtaking Action Sequence

• Raise the stakes – life or death.
• Suspense happens when the reader knows something the characters in the scene do not.
• Start emotions in a place where you can build from.
• Use flashing glimpses instead of lingering observations.

Diana Gabaldon (the author of Outlander!), Immersion: The Best Books Are Made of Quicksand and White Space: You Think It’s All About Words

• Don’t tell your readers anything they don’t need to know in that moment.
• There should be at least one action in each paragraph. Even small actions, like body language, create immersion.
• Create a cascade of questions that makes the reader want answers. They can be small questions that are answered quickly, but they will make the reader keep reading.
• A good sex scene is about the exchange of emotions. You don’t need to show much for them to feel deeply.
• You want friction in your fiction.
• Sometimes if you plan too much before entering a major scene, it loses its juice.

Thea Hutcheson, Fishing For Readers: How to Hook Em

• You have about 150 words to hook your reader before you lose them (agent, editor, reader).
• Sensory details light up the brain.
• Remember the first 150 words technique for the beginning of every scene/chapter.

Susan Spann, Coal to Diamonds

• When you finish writing for the day, try to stop right before something exciting happens, so you are excited to write the next day.
• Leave your chapters unresolved.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these notes! Which ones do you find the most helpful?

Finally, here are some cute pics of me and Brianna having the best weekend ever!

Image result for rmfw

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, closeup Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing



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.

Click on the link below to get your copy of this book:


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.

Click on the link below to get your copy of this book:

The Two Princesses of Bamarre

Title: The Two Princesses of Bamarre
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Genre: Fairytale, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: March 1st, 2004

Addie has never been the brave one who dreams of heroic adventures – that would be her sister, Meryl. Quiet and shy, Addie is scared of almost everything. Her biggest fear is losing Meryl to her adventures; but she doesn’t expect to lose Meryl in the safety of their own castle in Bamarre.

When Meryl falls dangerously ill with the Gray Death, Addie realizes that it is up to her to find a cure and save her beloved sister. She must face her fears and venture into the unknown if Meryl even stands a chance. Even though this is a quest she must do alone, she is sent with gifts from her friends – including their sorcerer, Rhys – to help her in times of need. Addie battles specters, gryphons, and a dragon – but will her valiant efforts be enough to save the person she loves most?

As with Ella Enchanted, I fell in love with this book as soon as I read it. Gail Carson Levine is a mater of her craft, with her characters, plots, and voice. If you also love these kinds of stories, you need to add this to your bookshelf!

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