Life's hard.

It's even harder when you're stupid.

John Wayne

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker ★★★★☆

Magic doesn’t always improve things!
Fiction – Juvenile/YA – Medieval Fantasy
261 pages
 10 - 14  5 – 8
Wide-Awake Princess #1  

When a curse is set in motion Annie, the younger sister of Sleeping Beauty, is the only one immune to the enchanted sleep placed on the castle.  Annie, with a little help from her friends, has to find her sister’s one true love to save the kingdom.

The Wide-Awake Princess (Wide-Awake Princess, #1)I found this story idea so fascinating and to me my delight I found its execution nicely handled.  The interweaving of fairy tales was well planned and the comfortable writing style a great asset to keeping it somewhat romantic, but not offputtingly so.  Ms. Baker sets the stage perfectly for the body of the story with a great prologue, and allows this fun story to mature at a comfortable rate.  I appreciated some Annie’s insights on how much magic messes up things and that it isn’t a crutch for her.

Ms. Baker does a great job both in world creation and character construction.  Annie is a delightfully real girl, with no artifice added either through the use of magic like others of her noble class in the book or by the author trying to create a character full of perfection.  The different places and kingdoms have enough of their own culture to contrast with what Annie is used to create the feeling that we are all experience new things together.  My only real complaint is that the nobility titles were not used correctly, which is rather minor and probably would only bother me, but unlikely to cause the intended audience any problems.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson ★★★☆☆

Product DetailsA charming light read with a bit of depth.

Fiction – Adult - Classic
234 pages
Publication Date:  1938 

After a colorless life as an English governess, Miss Pettigrew, is mistakenly sent to work for glamourous nightclub singer, Delysia LaFosse, changing the course of both women’s lives.    
This story takes place in a different time and setting than I usually read, but I found it rather refreshing, especially since this was written as a contemporary piece instead of the usual historical fiction I see.  It was beautifully contrived, with lovely writing and a fascinating premise and well executed plot.  And being written before England entered WWII puts an interesting perspective on life during this time.
Miss Pettigrew was an interesting mix of contradiction and a stark contrast to Delysia and her anything goes crowd.  I would by no means this book a sort of moral compass, but I did love Miss Pettigrew opening herself up to new experiences and ideas.  This allows her to decide things for herself and stop depending on the morality forced upon her by others.  She finally got to become more herself and less what she was told to be.  A sort of universal human struggle, we can relate too.
Because of its time period I was a little taken a back my by the language, but I did quickly adapt, but it should be noted that there are a couple of blatantly racist parts that really threw me.  I will make no excuses for them, and only mention them as something to be aware of.
I also really adored the movie with Frances McDormand and Amy Adams, but the book and movie should really be treated as two separate things and not the book coming to life on the big screen.