Dealing With Dragons (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #1) – Patricia C. Wrede

Source: Goodreads

Princess Cimorene of Linderwall has very proper parents. She is nothing like her six elder sisters. Her hair is black and unruly. She avoids her dancing classes to fence with the castle armsmaster, learn magic with the court magician, practice economics with the court treasurer, or bake in the castle kitchens. Bored out of her mind, she summons her fairy godmother, who is no help whatsoever. So she runs away. Cimorene takes up the perfectly acceptable life of being a dragon’s princess, but she is nothing like the other captive princesses. She finds a place where her abilities (math, declining latin, cooking, baking, cleaning, magic) are welcomed and even useful. Now if only the knights and princes would stop showing up trying to fight Kazul and carry Cimorene off to live happily ever after.


Every year when International Women’s Day rolls around, I think of Cimorene. Wrede didn’t write her as a feminist. Equality is something that Cimorene takes as a given, not something she has to fight for. Anything that isn’t based in equality is just absurd, regardless of what is deemed ‘proper’ by the governing bodies. Cimorene is strong, smart, curious, and stubborn. She is, in short, my favorite literary character ever created and I hope I can write characters half as cool as her someday. I read this book at least once a year, usually more, and it is one of the biggest inspirations in my writing, equal to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time and Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted. I bring a copy with me any time I babysit and read it to my charges regardless of age and gender because it never fails. This book is pure magic.

Dealing With Dragons is not a romance. It is about Cimorene finding her place in the world and turning it into her best life. When life gives you lemons, make fresh-scented soapy water. Trust me, it can solve most of your problems.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other books by Patricia C. Wrede:
Sorcery & Cecelia, Or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

Watch Hollow – Gregory Funaro

Source: Goodreads

Lucy and Oliver Tinker live with their father at his clock repair shop, scraping by selling antiques ever since their mother passed away. When the rich Mr. Quigley walks in at closing one day and offers Mr. Tinker a fortune to fix a giant clock at his home in Rhode Island, they can’t say no. Blackford house is situated in the middle of nowhere, falling apart at the seams and without electricity. The forest around the house is barren and quiet despite it being the height of summer, but Lucy is determined to make Blackford house home. Then the wooden animal statues she finds around the house start talking, and Oliver meets a mysterious boy who lives in the dark woods. Before long the Tinkers are drawn into a centuries old war between light and dark, and the fate of Blackford house hangs in the balance.

I received an ARC of Watch Hollow from the author in exchange for an honest review, but this is something I would have eventually picked up anyway. The characters are lovable and yet complex for a middle-grade book, and I love how the world itself is alive. The plot moved well and I was quickly swept up in the Tinker’s adventures. Funaro plans a sequel, making this a duology, and The Maze of Shadows is sure to be just as good when it comes out next year.

My favorite part of this book was definitely the clock animals. The whole idea of light and dark being incarnate in them, balancing the powers and powering the clock and providing electricity for the house, not to mention the naming conventions – Torsten Six, Fennish Seven, Tempest Crow – Everything about them is just fantastic. My second favorite part was obviously the shadowood vs. sunstone debate, and the ash-acorns. At ~250 pages, this book was the perfect length to get wrapped up in. I would have loved to read this as a child, and it’s still great as an adult! I will definitely be picking up the sequel next year.

Available from January 12th wherever books are sold!

HHC Rating: 5 Stars.

Other reviews in this series:
The Maze of Shadows (Available 2020)

Molly Bell and the Wishing Well – Bridget Geraghty

Molly-Bell-And-The-Wishing-Well-Bridget-Geraghty

Source: Goodreads

Still grieving her mother’s death two years prior, Molly Bell is less than thrilled with the prospect of a brand new stepmother and little stepbrother. When her dad and new mom head off on their honeymoon and Molly and Henry are left at their grandparents’ farm, and Molly discovers the old wishing well where her Aunt Joan claims all the wishes she ever made came true. Molly is convinced that if she wishes hard enough, things will go back to the way they were, and she could be happy again. The consequences of wishes are much larger than Molly anticipated, however, and her selfish desires start to disrupt what happiness she has left. Now she’ll need to figure out it’s possible to undo wishes, or if she’ll have to learn how to make things right on her own.

First-time author Bridget Geraghty makes a permanent mark with this book. I was granted a copy by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and I just have to thank them for giving me this book! I wasn’t initially impressed with the very simple sentences in the first few chapters, but as the main character cheered up the sentences became more complex and I thought that was awesome. The book is written for middle-grade/juvenile readers, but it is definitely something enjoyable at any age.

The light went out in Molly Bell’s eyes when her mom died, and she’s struggling with her dad’s imminent remarriage. Her now stepmom, Faith, is nice, but it’s hard to like someone when they’re replacing your mother. Molly is also not excited about gaining an annoying little brother in Henry, and it’s especially hard to watch her family love Henry while they seemingly ignore her. At her grandparents’ farm, Molly learns hard lessons about the power of wishing which leads her in learning to accept the life she has now and loving the people she’s been given.

It’s a good thing this book is short because I sobbed through the entire thing. It was heart-wrenching to follow Molly through her struggle to find happiness again, but there was true beauty in the discovery. I highly recommend reading this. The lessons shared here are just so powerful, and I think they could be potentially life-changing for anyone who might be going through the same struggles that Molly faces.

HHC Rating: 4 Stars

Triple Threat (Lois Lane, #3) – Gwenda Bond

Lois-Lane-Triple-Threat-Gwenda-Bond

Source: Goodreads

 

Lois Lane is living the life of a normal teenager for the first time ever. She has the best friends, an amazing job, good grades, and a soon-to-be-in-real-life boyfriend. Before she gets too comfortable in her perfectly normal life, however, Lois becomes the target of a mad scientist and a group of mutant teenagers determined to turn her to the dark side, and as if that wasn’t enough, she is called upon to protect the mysterious flying man from a bunch of snoopy feds that includes her father. Will Lois save the day, protect the vulnerable, and get the guy? Check out Triple Threat to find out.

 

I’ve been highly anticipating this book since I finished the second one last month, and hallelujah! it arrived early (Thank you, Amazon, for the mix-up. God Bless You). The third and potentially final book in Gwenda Bond’s Lois Lane series does not disappoint.

The writing continues to be excellent. Bond knows her characters inside and out, and they remain pretty true to themselves historically as well. The romantic aspect was very well incorporated, weaving seamlessly with the mysteries at hand and complementing all of the other parts of the story rather than impeding or disrupting the plot. The new characters introduced in this installment were reliably well developed and interesting to read about, able to lend their own hijinks to the narrative.

I will admit that I was a bit confused with who the actual triple threat was because for each of the last books the title has had something to do with the plot. The summary on the dust jacket says something about ‘a trio of mutant teens’, but there are actually four teens? So it wasn’t until the end that I figured out who the group of three was supposed to be, but at least there was a group of three. Otherwise, I would be one very annoyed reader right now.

Overall I really enjoyed how Bond wrapped up the trilogy. Nearly everything got tied up nicely, and the strands left hanging allow for a sequel series or to bridge the gap to other Superman/Lois-centric works. I would definitely recommend Triple Threat as well as the entire Lois Lane series Gwenda Bond has written to anyone who enjoys a good kick-butt heroine with a dash of romantic tension (in books 2-3 mostly).

 

Highlights and Hot Chocolate Rating: 4.5 Stars

 

The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate (The Bizarre Baron Inventions, #1) – Eric Bower

Bizarre-Baron-Inventions-The-Magnificent-Flying-Baron-Estate-Eric-Bower

Source: Goodreads

Waldo Baron’s parents are amazing scientists who invent things like super speed horseshoes and contraptions that pull people out of wells. W.B. is a little overweight, clumsy, and completely friendless. The friendless part is because his parents are so strange. The overweight part is because he loves food. Rather than getting involved with his parents’ experiments, none of which he actually understands, W.B. would rather sit in his room and read his Sheriff Hoyt Graham novels, living vicariously through the stories about his real life hero. On the day when W.B. is finally going to see Sheriff Graham in person, he wakes up to find his house floating 1,000 feet in the air, about to be whisked out of Arizona territory on a race around the country.

This charming middle-grade adventure set in the historic wild west was just released on May 16th, and I was lucky enough to get an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. W.B., who goes by his initials because he thinks Waldo is a horrible name, is a slightly overweight kid who just wants to read his books and daydream about going on daring adventures with his hero, Sheriff Graham. He is blessed with two parents who somehow are able to create amazing inventions and withstand being stuck by lighting multiple times a year without dying. He calls them M and P. W.B. has no interest in science, mostly because it doesn’t make any sense to his 10-year-old brain.

The plot follows the Baron family on their around-the-country adventure, fueled by the appearance of Rose Blackwood, the younger sister of the notorious enemy of Sheriff Graham: Ben Blackwood. Rose needs the prize money from the race to hire some thugs to break her brother out of jail, but the Rose and Barons quickly develop much bigger problems.

A lighthearted and fun read, I would recommend this to every 10-year-old I know. The quirky characters help fuel the needed suspension of disbelief, and the H.E.A. ending sets up the family for even more entertaining adventures across the world in the 1800’s.

HHC Rating: 4 Stars