Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

Rump was brought up in a world where names are not given to mountains, kingdoms, roads, animals or woods, instead only reserved for people.  Names are considered to be powerful and hold your destiny.  Unfortunately, Rump's mother only gave him half a name before dying after childbirth. For this reason, Rump believes that he need only find his true full name and his destiny will be revealed to him.  On Rump's twelve birthday, he finds his mothers spinning wheel hiding among the wood pile.  Rump believes that finding the spinning wheel will help him find the other half of his name and unravel his destiny.  Instead, he learns that he will "cause a heap of trouble" first. 
Why I picked this book should be pretty obvious, cover love and fairy tale re-telling, yep I'm in.  Of course I was first drawn to this book by the beautiful cover.  (That makes two books in a row where covers instantly drew me in.)  I love the golden hue of the words Rump and the women in the window with the spinning wheel adds such a nice touch. Ahh,  but those pixies on the cover are very misleading with their glitter.  They are so not the way they actually are in the story.   I also really wanted to read this story because I love the TV series Once Upon a Time and well fairy tales can be such fun when they get all twisted up and retold in a special way.  I will be the first to admit that I knew only a few things about Rumpelstiltskin before going into the story.  I knew him as Rumpelstilzchen from the German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.  I knew the fairy tale entailed a miller promising the king that his daughter could spin straw into gold and Rumpelstilskin came to help her in exchange for a promise of her first born baby.  In the versions that I knew, Rumpelstilskin appeared evil and villainous to me.  Which in the case of Liesl Shurtliff's version, Rump just isn't. He even takes all of the jokes about his name in stride.   I really enjoyed this retelling because it contained all the elements of the original tale, spinning straw into gold and taking of a baby, but combined them into a rather cute tale.  I also loved the theme that magic comes with consequences, a predominant theme in  Once Upon a Time too.   In Rumps case magic comes in the form of bargains with the miller.  Yet, the millers bargains  never seem fair and although Rump tries to pay the price in gold, he may just need to find a way to make a fair trade.  Overall, loved the story and the characters and look forward to any new books to come by Liesl Shurtliff.  My Copy for review was from the Public Library. 

Up Next:  House of Secrets by Ned Vizzini and Chris Columbus

Monday, May 20, 2013

Poison by Bridget Zinn


Sixteen year old Kyra, is one of a Trio of Master Potioners who specialize in poisonous weaponry.  Kyra's skills also include mixing sleeping potions, truth serums, cloaking potions and in rare cases lethal poisons. Her old partners include Hal, Ned and Ellie the Hermit.  Poison begins with Kyra trying to break into the master trio potioners lodging.  She plans to steal a very dangerous poison called Peccant Pentothal, when she is suddenly interrupted by Hal and Ned and must flee their capture.  While dodging out of what used to be her home, Kyra notes that here is where she "made a name for herself, fell in love with the wrong man, and betrayed everyone she knew when she tried to murder the princess. "  What makes this even more difficult Kyra and Princess Arianna are the best of friends.  Yet, Kyra has determined that the Princess must die or the rest of the kingdom will come to ruins.  The only problem is Kyra has to find her first.  After stealing this lethal poison, Kyra is on the run from the king's men and also her previous housemates (Hal and Ned).  Running out of options, Kyra seeks out the criminal Arlo who gives her a Katzenheim pig and says that the pig will help her find Princess Ariana.  This pig is no ordinary pig, she has the ability to track anyone if an article of clothing belonging to the person your trying to find is placed into the special sniffing basket hanging around the pigs neck.  Kyra then sets off on a quest to track down the Princess.   Kyra encounters Fred, a handsome stranger traveling with his wolf/dog, while crossing a river.  When her pig and weapons unexpectedly get swept away with the current, Fred is there to rescue her.  What ensues is a lovely story filled with action and yes some sweet light bantering between Fred and Kyra. 

There is just something so appealing about this cover to me, be it the blueish lettering of Poison, or maybe it's Rosie peaking out from the ferns.  My only hesitation is that Kyra doesn't look sixteen to me in this photo.  Ahh, but I still can fore go all of that because Kyra is a strong, determined, funny and very loving and loyal. I loved the bantering that goes on between Fred and Kyra.  It's adorable and sweet with just some light hints of romance.    Author Jacqueline West (books of Elsewhere Series) says in her review that Poison is "delightful and funny and adventure-filled and romantic, and it made me think again and again of the Princess Bride."  I would have to agree, it really is all of those things.  Especially the tie in to the Princess Bride, one of my favorite movies too.  My review copy was purchased. 

Up Next:   Rump:  The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gustav Gloom and the Nightmare Vault by Adam-Troy Castro

 Gustav Gloom and the Nightmare Vault (Gustav Gloom, #2)

Adam-Troy Castro's first installment in this series was Gustav Gloom and the People Takers.   I loved the first story.  It was creepy, full of mystery and featured a really evil bad guy (Lord Obsidian) who makes your hair prickle and brings shivers down your spine.  I also enjoyed reading about the Gloom Mansion and our poor sad Gustav all dressed in black.  Oh and did I mention the beautiful illustrations by Kristen Margiotta? 

 It seemed logical that I should follow it up with the second in the series Gustav Gloom and the Nightmare Vault.   Fernie and Gustav are once again in danger.  Lord Obsidian has released his Shadow Eater to track down and find the Nightmare Vault.  What's inside the vault, Gustav and Fernie don't really know, but they know that it is sure to house something terrible and if Lord Obsidian  is after it then it is really bad.  Adam Troy Castro expands in book two on Gustav's parents and how Gustav came to live in a home filled with shadows.  As Fernie and Gustav race through the house more and more of what is behind all of those secret doors and passageways is revealed.  Yet, there is still so much more to learn about Gustav Gloom Mansion.  I wish the author was able to expand a little more about Gustav's curse and his family.  I also really enjoyed the moments when Fernie and Gustav stopped their running and plotted the next move it is after all the appeal of this book for me, Gustav and his relationship with Fernie.  Even though the house is dark and creepy, Fernie knows that Gustav will help her and she brings some normalcy to Gustav's life.  Again, I can't say enough about the wonderfully detailed black and white illustrations by Kristen Margiotta.  The cover is also beautiful and I'm happy to see that they continued the cut out on the cover.  You can't see it in the design above, but imagine a black panel with window like panes covering up the house and sunshine.  Looks like I'll have to wait til August for book 3 but again a wonderful creepy book.  I purchased my copy for review.  

Next up is    Poison by Bridget Zinn

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Timmy Failure Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Here's a description from Goodreads:

Take eleven-year-old Timmy Failure — the clueless, comically self-confident CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. Add his impressively lazy business partner, a very large polar bear named Total. Throw in the Failuremobile — Timmy’s mom’s Segway — and what you have is Total Failure, Inc., a global enterprise destined to make Timmy so rich his mother won’t have to stress out about the bills anymore. Of course, Timmy’s plan does not include the four-foot-tall female whose name shall not be uttered. And it doesn’t include Rollo Tookus, who is so obsessed with getting into "Stanfurd" that he can’t carry out a no-brainer spy mission. From the offbeat creator of Pearls Before Swine comes an endearingly bumbling hero in a caper whose peerless hilarity is accompanied by a whodunit twist. With perfectly paced visual humor, Stephan Pastis gets you snorting with laughter, then slyly carries the joke a beat further — or sweetens it with an unexpected poignant moment — making this a comics-inspired story (the first in a new series) that truly stands apart from the pack.

 I liked the character of Timmy but am curious how much others will enjoy him.  Maybe it's his over confidence in his detective skills or his bumbling nature, he just isn't really as good at crime solving as he thinks he is. Yet, maybe that is his charm.  Timmy does land himself in some interesting predicaments and I can see children enjoying how he gets out of them.  Timmy's 1500 pound sidekick business partner, Total the polar bear was hard to imagine wandering around solving cases with him but the illustrations of the two were very well done.  I believe this is the kind of book that will resonate with 8 to 12 year old's who enjoy diary and comic book illustrations with their stories.  I am curious where the story with Timmy and Total will go next and will look out for the next in the series.   Overall, an enjoyable (three out of five) read.  My copy was from the public library.