Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel (Tyme, #1) – Megan Morrison

Grounded-Rapunzel-Megan-Morrison

via Goodreads

Rapunzel has lived in the tower her whole life. Her beloved Witch brings her everything her heart desires and protects her from evil princes who want to steal locks of her golden hair. Then Jack shows up insisting that Witch is lying, and although she’s sure that she’s never met this mysterious thief before, he seems to know her. Before she has time to call Witch for help, Jack has run off with one of Rapunzel’s beloved roses, and the only way to get it back is to go after him herself. On the ground. What waits for Rapunzel in the wide world of Tyme is more magical and terrifying than anything she could have imagined, and she’ll have to survive it all if she wants to know the truth: about Jack, about Witch, and about her own hidden past.

If you know me at all, you know that I simply adore a good fairytale. I picked this one up by chance at the library in April 2016. The original hardcover came out in 2015 and the paperback was released in May 2016, but I still have yet to find a store with either in stock. I find this appalling because the book is so good. Barnes & Noble and Amazon both have it online, but it’s not the same as having it at the ready to buy for all of my friends’ birthdays and Christmases.

Obviously, my favorite part is how the author deals with Rapunzel’s lack of knowledge about anything outside the game of jacks, but the world building is phenomenal as well. I believe the idea behind the series is that each book will follow different characters, which is exciting, but I’m kind of attached to Rapunzel and Jack now and I wouldn’t mind seeing them fix other fairy tales during their adventures.

I am also obsessed with the kingdoms being named after colors. It reminds me strongly of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books (The Blue Fairy Book being the first and most well known), which are collections of fairy tales. There are a dozen books, and they were my absolute favorites growing up. Having Tyme’s kingdoms named after those colors feels to me like a nod of thanks to Lang and to all of our childhoods, regardless of whether or not that was the intention.

Goodreads tells me that Megan Morrison has been developing the world of Tyme with her friend Ruth Virkus, who is listed as the co-creator. So we might be able to expect some Tyme novels from Ruth as well. The second book in the series, Disenchanted, came out October 11th, 2016, and follows Cinderella. I’m beyond excited to dive into that book next.

HHC Rating: 5 stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #2 – Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella (Review Available 8/29)
Book #3 – Transformed: The Perils of the Frog Prince (To be published in Summer 2018)

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

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

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – Katarina Bivald (T: Swedish-English by Alice Menzies)

the-readers-of-broken-wheel-recommend-katarina-bivald-translated-by-alice-menzies

Source: Goodreads

Sara Lindqvist, a bookstore clerk from Sweden, travels to rural Iowa to visit her pen pal, Amy Harris. Unfortunately for Sara, she arrives just as Amy’s funeral is ending. Unsure what to do with her two-month-long visa, Sara is collectively taken in by the town of Broken Wheel, where she slowly comes to know everyone she has only heard about through Amy’s letters.

 

This book has many high ratings, and I have heard many people discuss it and how much they loved it. I don’t think it lived up to the hype, but I did enjoy it.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend should have some kind of warning label attached, however, due to the spoilers for other books that are contained in its pages. Yes, Sara and Amy are huge book lovers and so book talk is to be expected, but Bivald’s book contains huge spoilers for works such as Pride and PrejudiceFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CaféLittle WomenTo Kill A MockingbirdGone with the WindJane Eyre, and The Horse Whisperer (book and film) to name a few. Having read most of these, the spoilers didn’t phase me so much, but I feel truly terrible for those readers who have had all of these wonderful stories ruined for them without warning. I would also like to note the author’s fictional adherence to some laws, yet complete ignoring of others. A town cannot just open a bookstore without doing any paperwork. They just can’t. Sara even says she wouldn’t be able to open one in Sweden for a host of reasons, but these reasons apparently cease to apply at the town line of Broken Wheel.

That being said, the translation is impeccable. The story itself takes around fifty pages before it actually gets interesting at all, but once things start rolling it’s quite a fun ride. Going into the book I didn’t have any background beyond Amy’s death, Sara’s arrival, and that a bookstore was somehow involved. Let me tell you, those the bare essentials. So bare, in fact, that they may be almost meaningless. This book is not really about a bookstore. Sure, everything revolves around said establishment, but only because Sara happens to be there. No, the real story is the town, the people’s who’s lives have almost lost meaning rising up like flowers in the spring, and how every single tiny thing we do can change the world around us. Oh, and of course there’s unrequited love and complicated romances and diversity galore.

Overall I’m not sure what I expected from this book, but I certainly didn’t expect a fluffy romance crossed with a comeback story, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. The beginning was boring, but the ending had me in tears. At the time of writing, I’ve only been done with the book for about 10 hours, so things are a little jumbled. Ah, well, maybe it’s just one of those things you’ll have to read for yourself.

 

HHC Rating: 3.75 stars

Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy – Emily Ley

grace-not-perfection-emily-ley

Source: Goodreads

Grace, Not Perfection, is Emily Ley’s debut book. Part inspirational, part self-help, all kindness, Ley’s words flow easily off the page and stick in your mind. A mother of three children under the age of five and a small business owner, Emily shares how she learned to embrace the circus and enjoy each season her life brings her.

This cover caught my eye while I was Christmas shopping in November, and I just had to pick it up from my local Target. I forced myself to savor it, to only read one chapter each day, and to really think out each lesson that was shared. Every word was kind and beautiful, her personal anecdotes and stories completely relatable even for a young, unmarried, full-time nanny like me. Parts of it did, of course, read like they were specifically for moms, but others seemed written for young women, such as myself, or those farther along in their lives. Emily has somehow created something that is all encompassing, from young to old, single to married, poor to rich, I believe her words will resonate strongly regardless of which characteristics define her readers.

I found myself looking forward, each day, to the time when I got to sit down and open this book. The end of chapter eight really hit home when she suggested unfollowing on social media anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable, inadequate, or negative in any way. I went through a social media detox at the beginning of last year and made my Facebook almost completely private, and I now consistently have less than 150 friends. Most of them are family because my family is huge, and the rest are close friends and former colleagues that I enjoy keeping up with. The key word being ‘enjoy’. My Twitter and Instagram follow under 1000 people because I purge them regularly. If I don’t remember why I followed someone or I stop enjoying their content, I unfollow. And I refuse to feel bad about it. Having someone else validate that point added sprinkles to my cupcake of happiness.

This one of those books that I could read over and over again, which almost never happens. In fact, I spent so much time talking about this book from the minute I opened it that my mom and my sister decided to buy me one of Emily Ley’s Simplified Planners for Christmas. I wish I could force every woman I know to read this book, but I guess I’ll have to settle for continuously talking about it and gifting it every chance I get.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1) – Brittany Cavallaro

A-Study-In-Charlotte-Brittany-Cavallaro

via Goodreads

This book is a retelling of Sherlock Holmes, except that in this universe both Sherlock Holmes and his author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are real, and the storyline follows descendants of Holmes and Watson thrown together seemingly by fate at a prestigious school in Connecticut and then framed for murder. Although Charlotte Holmes is the titular sleuth, the main POV is that of Watson, who besides being recruited for a sport at which he is terrible, finds himself shipped across an ocean in an effort by his mother for him to get to know his estranged father and step family.

I saw a book trailer for A Study in Charlotte sometime ago and assumed it was a movie. You can find it here. When I realized it was a novel, I immediately added it to my TBR and eagerly awaited it’s release. Not only did the cover speak to me in a decidedly Nancy Drew kind of way, but the characters seemed interesting and I am a person who always loves a good Sherlock Holmes story.

The novel was gritty and twisting, and in true Sherlock form, much was left unexplained until the big reveal at the end of the book. Although this frustrated me as I read, it was obvious that Cavallaro was attempting to make it recognizable as the formula of all the Holmes stories. Because a lot of details were saved for the reveal and the story was told from Watson’s inexperienced point of view, I had no idea what was going to happen until it did. In this age of technology and surveillance equipment, it seemed odd to me that it took them so long to put all the pieces together, especially when Charlotte had a lot of experience in mystery solving pre-storyline and much of the framework for the case comes from the original Sherlock stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which both Holmes and Watson have read to death. However, the turn of events was original enough to be interesting.

I was feeling rather meh about the quick wrap-up, I’ll be honest. The epilogue, however, provided us with a brief Charlotte POV, which finally had me looking forward to a potential sequel or series and the idea of getting to know Holmes and Watson better as characters as they mature together. I think the storyline could have been a little stronger, but I think the characters will develop themselves further throughout the series, which I believe is going to be a trilogy.

This book is definitely on the upper end of YA. It takes all the dark parts of the Holmes family and fits them onto a teenage girl: Depression, unrequited love,  alcoholism and drug addiction, sociopathic genius, and ever-rising stakes. Add in a rape and a murder and you’ve got enough material to make Charlotte Holmes a tortured creature. Yet she manages to rise above everything that’s happened to her and those around her and focus unwaveringly on the mystery at hand. Author Brittany Cavallaro had a lot of work to do to rein in a character like that, and I think she did a pretty great job.

HHC Rating: 3.5 stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #2 – The Last of August

Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media. – Aliza Licht

Source: Goodreads

Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht is part memoir, part advice book, and part much-needed kick in the rear end. Aliza, formerly known as DKNYPRGIRL across social media, was the Senior Vice President of Global Communications for Donna Karan International. After rising to success on Twitter and inspiring other brands to place Public Relations on the front lines, Aliza answered the many inquiries for advice from young Fashion and PR professionals and students with this book, which she terms a sort of written mentorship.

Throughout its pages are sprinkled stories from her life, ranging from early career woes to the challenges of anonymous stardom. Her advice is great, and the flow of the book is mostly fantastic, but the formatting could use some work. By the end I was growing increasingly annoyed by the interruption of a perfectly good paragraph by an “insider tip” that was usually pretty common sense, yet made to feel so secret that it might as well be the identity of Gossip Girl.

Occasionally, Licht would go on a rant (something that, IMO, should be saved for opinion columns and reviews, not used in memoirs or advice books, although I can understand the urge.) and it would feel like she was yelling at the reader for something they hadn’t done, but that there was a small chance they might do in the future. I found myself feeling slightly upset and bewildered after these parts and having to put the book down in order to remind myself that I hadn’t done whatever it was before I was able to pick the book back up and try to get back into it.

Although I know Licht was just trying to be thorough and professional and when she announced in the beginning that she would be altering names and even genders of people she would refer to so that their identities would say secret and the reader, whether they be a man or a woman, would feel equally represented, the whole concept rang through my head like a song on replay whenever I was reading the book and ended up making it feel somewhat contrived and slightly less than genuine.

However, the overall tone of the book was pretty good, and it carried a lot of solid advice for only 288 pages. I think it was a bit of a cautious beginning for Licht in the literary world, but I get the feeling that she will probably publish more, and that she will improve with each publication. I definitely enjoy her social media presence, sass and all, and look forward to reading anything else she decides to print. I would recommend the book in its entirety to anyone looking for advice on a career in social media, fashion, or PR specifically, and the resume section to every person I have ever met or will meet in the future.

HHC Rating: 3.5 Stars