Tag Archives: fantasy

Once Upon a Time…

Everyone loves a good fairytale. It doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s just something about kings and queens and castles and magic and happy endings that just leave you with a good feeling and a smile on your face.

And that’s exactly what 22-year-old Chris Colfer’s debut novel The Land of Stories does.

You may be wondering, how did a book of fairytales revolving around a pair of 12-year-old twins end up on the reading list of a 19-year-old girl?  (Even if this girl readily admits some of her favorite books are teen fantasy in which the main characters are bow-and-arrow wielding teenage boys.)

Usually when choosing a book I read the description and judge it based on my interest in the plot, but this one was purely authorial based. I love Chris Colfer.

Now if you’re thinking that name sounds familiar, it could be because of his role on the tv show “Glee” as the beautiful face and voice of Kurt Hummel. Even though I don’t watch “Glee”, I know all the music because my friend watches it, and when she learned Chris was writing a book she pre-ordered immediately. After she was done she passed it my way, and the rest is history.

The Land of Stories follows what happens to the twins Alex and Conner when they fall through the pages of a book and into the world of fairytale creatures. We meet familiar characters that then take on different personalities and come alive in unexpected ways. All the classic fairytales are beautifully (and sometimes painfully) intertwined with the story of Alex and Conner to make a wonderful new adventure.

This novel has just the right amount of romance and action-adventure to appeal to boys and girls alike, all culminating in a happily-ever-after of course. This book was a blast to read, I recommend it to the kid in us all!

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Graceling: One of the most underrated teen book series

Everyone’s heard of the Hunger Games. They’re a huge phenomenon, especially with the movies coming out. I’m not going to bash the Hunger Games, I love them (except maybe Mockingjay), and they’re about the only post-apocalypse/distopian society books I can stand. That being said, although they’re definitely a huge step above Twilight, there are better teen books out there with plot lines that are much more complex than the Katniss-Gale-Peeta love traingle.

Take Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue for example. Never heard of them? You’re not alone. Her debut novel, Graceling, was released in 2008, but it wasn’t until a couple years later that I got my hands on it. The story centers on a teenage girl named Katsa who is graced with fighting. Because of her skills she is used by royalty as an assassin, but then she meets a boy, Prince Po, who helps her realize she doesn’t have to do what she’s told. They fall in love (triangle free), but their love is not the purpose of the story: It’s a story of oppression, rebellion, bravery, forgiveness and deceit.

Next, instead of creating a sequel, which would’ve been the obvious next step, Cashore wrote a companion for Graceling called Fire. Set in the same realm as Graceling, Fire takes many years earlier in a different kingdom. This story follows another strong herione, Fire, a beautiful but strange creature. There is one common character between the books, and while it’s not imperative that the reader have finished Graceling, the back story of this character is beautifully and terribly unwoven throughout Fire which lead to many of those “ah-ha” moments that we readers all love.

Then, in 2012, Bitterblue was released, a sequel to Graceling that takes place eight years later. This book takes a more somber turn and addresses some of the most serious issues in the series. It follows the story of young Queen Bitterblue as she uncovers the truth of her past. She must unravel the tangled web left by her father and restore order to her kingdom, all while moonlighting as a poor castle servant and learning the truths of her people. Favorite characters from Fire and Graceling come together, bringing resolution to the kingdom. However, the ending is ultimately left open to interpretation (or another novel, hint hint).

Series like this make me wonder what else is out there that doesn’t get as much attention from the media. Part of me wants these books to get the recognition I know they deserve, but the other part wants to keep them as my own personal treasures. However, I have now shared with you the greatness that is the saga of the gracelings, and I expect you to take full advantage of that.


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