The Crown

Turn back now if you haven’t read Kiera Cass’ Selection series up to this point (The Selection, The Elite, The One, The Heir, and the Happily Ever After collection). You’ve been warned.

As you’ve no doubt gathered, I recently finished reading The Crown, the final installment in The Selection series by Kiera Cass. I fell in love with this series almost four years ago. I’m sad to see it end, but I have to say that the finale was satisfying. It had a variety of conflicts, but all of them were–more or less–resolved by the end of the book, and it was very apparent just how far this family had come since we first met America and Maxon in The Selection and Eadlyn in The Heir.

The Crown, of course, continues where The Heir concluded. Princess Eadlyn of Illéa is in the midst of her own Selection, but choosing her future husband is not the only thing she is dealing with.

Eadlyn’s mother, beloved Queen America, has suffered a heart attack, and her father, King Maxon, refuses to leave his wife’s side. That leaves running the country to Eadlyn, who is not exactly the people’s favorite member of the royal family.

Eadlyn must try to do what’s best for Illéa while convincing her people that she can be approachable, fair, sensitive, and empathetic…all while trying to figure out who of the remaining young men in the Selection will eventually rule beside her. No problem, right?

Almost against her will, Eadlyn has grown close to the men who are now part of the Elite. Each one of them would, in his own way, make a suitable companion for Eadlyn. But can Eadlyn truly love any of them? Perhaps, but Eadlyn wonders if it’s possible for her to have a love like that shared by her parents. If so, could that one special man be right in front of her eyes?

While she’s trying to choose a potential mate, Eadlyn also jumps into ruling Illéa as best she can. She tries to truly listen to the people and what they want, and an old friend seems to be intent on helping her do just that. Eadlyn values his insight and his connection to the people, but she’s not thrilled that he seems to be making more out of their relationship than is really there. Could this young man be making his own bid for the future queen’s heart, or is he working on an entirely different agenda?

It seems as though events are spiraling out of Eadlyn’s control. How can she be an effective leader when she feels so overwhelmed? Can she do what’s right by Illéa and her people, face the threats coming her way, and stay true to herself and her heart? Could her own happily ever after possibly be within reach? Read The Crown to find out!

I apologize if this post seems a little off. I’m on a lot of allergy meds right now. At the very least, I hope that I’ve whetted your appetite for The Crown without giving too much away.

I do think The Crown is a great conclusion to a wonderful series, and I, for one, love seeing how much Eadlyn grew as a person from the last book through this one. She really comes into her own. I also appreciate seeing how things end up for the characters encountered in the first three books in this series. A nice bit of resolution there, and there’s even a surprise revelation that I was not expecting. Good stuff.

For more information on The Crown, the entire Selection series, or author Kiera Cass, visit the author’s website, Twitter, or Facebook. You may also want to take a look at the official book trailer for The Crown below. It perfectly sets the mood for this outstanding book. Enjoy!

Queen Song

Note: Even though Queen Song is a prequel novella to Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen, it’s a good idea to read Red Queen first. (Also, Red Queen was published first, so there you go.)

As you’ve no doubt gathered, I recently finished reading Queen Song, the first prequel novella in the fabulous Red Queen series. This short story tells the tale of Coriane, who you may recall was the mother of Cal and was the first wife of King Tiberias. That’s not where her story began, though. Coriane was a simple girl–or as simple as a Silver can be in this world–and she had resigned herself to a somewhat mundane existence. Fate, however, had other plans…

All Coriane has ever wanted is to build things. She delights in taking things apart, figuring out how they work, and putting them back together better than they were before. She spends her spare time poring over technical manuals…when she’s not being forced to suffer through etiquette lessons or the like. As a Silver of somewhat noble birth, she’s expected to take part in the trappings of the royal court, even though she’d rather be doing almost anything else.

One evening at the palace, Coriane comes into contact with two people with the power to change her life forever. First, there is Elara, a girl with the ability to enter–and toy with–the minds of others. Coriane finds herself as Elara’s terrified plaything for several horrible minutes, and she escapes to the relative safety outside. It is here that she meets Tibe, the Crown Prince. The two strike up a conversation…a conversation that Coriane never expects to lead to anything more than an unlikely friendship. It seems that Tibe may have other ideas…

As Coriane and Tibe grow closer together, it becomes clear to everyone that the Crown Prince has chosen his future queen. This puts an enormous target on Coriane’s back, and, even though she has come to love Tibe, she remains fearful of what others may do and expect of her…especially the dangerous and devious Elara.

Documenting her thoughts in a diary, Coriane reveals what it’s like to go from Silver nobody to Queen. Little by little, she feels herself being lost to the world around her. She’s simply not the girl she once was. She fears for the fate of her loved ones–especially her brother Julian, her husband Tibe, and her son Cal–and herself. She worries over the continuing war and what it could mean for her family. And she wonders if the disturbing thoughts in her head are her own.

Is Coriane in control of her own fate, or is someone else whispering deadly thoughts into her mind to further their own agenda? You decide…

Given how Queen Song ended and what happened in Red Queen, I have no doubt as to who was pulling–and cutting–Coriane’s strings. I’m guessing that anyone who’s read either of these stories will come to the same conclusion I did.

Queen Song gives readers a quick look at the early lives of several characters from Red Queen. Readers see what lead to some of their decisions and what continues to drive them. This is particularly true for Cal, Tibe (the King), Julian, Elara, and even Maven. (I doubt I have to explain why.)

Coriane’s story, while often heartbreaking, gives a bit of insight into her relationship with both her brother and the man who would be her husband. It also shows how dedicated Coriane was to her son and having him grow up in a world without the constant threat of war. This young woman wanted a better world for her family, but, sadly, someone else wanted to be in control of that world. (Again, if you’ve read Red Queen, I don’t have to explain anything more.)

I think Queen Song is an excellent addition to the Red Queen saga, and I look forward to reading even more. There is one more novella, Steel Scars, which is already out, and I plan to read that this weekend. The second full-length novel, Glass Sword, comes out next week (!!!), and I’ll get my hands on that as soon as possible.

To learn more about Queen SongRed Queen, and Victoria Aveyard, visit the author’s websiteblogTwitter feed, or Facebook page. Have fun out there.

Red Queen

I should begin this post by thanking the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Committee for placing an outstanding book like Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard on next year’s list of nominees. Had they not, it probably would have taken me a lot longer to get to this most excellent book. So thanks to this group of librarians, teachers, students, and others for including Red Queen on the Book Award list and moving it to the top of my TBR pile.

Now, let’s move on to my thoughts on Red Queen. In a nutshell…Holy Crap on a Cracker. I was blown away by this book, and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to be able to express that in a single blog post. (I’ll do my best, though.)

I guess I’ll start with this: If you were to combine the X-Men, Graceling, The Hunger Games, and The Selection, you might get close to the awesomeness that is Red Queen. Yep, that about covers it. Still not enough info? Well, let’s explore this fantastic story a bit more…

Mare Barrow is a seventeen-year-old who lives by her wits. She lies, cheats, and steals to get by, and she realizes that, if she should be caught, it would mean certain death. Why, then, does Mare risk so much?

Mare is a Red. To be Red in this world is to be “less.” The Silvers–humans with silver blood and amazing abilities–are in power, and they plan to stay that way. The Reds fight and die in wars of the Silvers’ making, they work for scraps, and their lives are daily struggles. Until Mare is conscripted into the army, her only way to contribute to her family is to steal whatever she can to make things just a little easier.

Mare sees no way out of her current life, but a chance encounter with a strange young man–known only to her as Cal–changes everything.

Soon, Mare finds herself with a new job–working for the Silvers in the summer palace. This position ensures that she won’t have to join the army, but how did she come to be working here? Who could have possibly gotten her this job? Imagine Mare’s surprise when she realizes that Cal, the young man she recently met outside of a Red tavern, is none other than the Crown Prince. He’s the reason she’s here, surrounded by the very people who keep Reds like her under their heels.

But it seems that fate has more in store for Mare than she or anyone else realized…

When Mare’s life is in danger, it is revealed that she has powers of her own–an unheard-of occurrence in this world. Only Silvers have power, and the royal family will not let anyone learn that Mare, a mere Red, has special abilities. So Mare is passed off as a Silver and betrothed to Maven, Cal’s younger brother. Now, Mare is a princess-in-training, and she knows that the Silvers around her are looking for any excuse to put an end to the threat she poses to their way of life.

As for Mare, she’s looking to be even more of a threat. When the opportunity arises to join the Scarlet Guard, a group of rebellious Reds looking to end Silver rule, Mare takes it. She can help the Guard from the inside and finally stop the tyranny that Reds have lived under for so long. She may even find some unexpected help along the way.

But nothing is as it seems inside the palace. Mare doesn’t know who can be trusted or when everything will come crumbling to the ground. Have those in power seen everything she’s been doing, everyone she’s been talking to? And what will happen to Mare if her secret activities should be discovered? Will she be able to count on the Silver allies she’s made, or will they betray her for their own agendas?

Mare stands in the midst of this war between Silver and Red. How will her position, abilities, and relationships factor into the events to come? Read Red Queen to find out.

I hope I’ve done a little to entice you to read this wonderful book. It truly is phenomenal, and I look forward to reading more in this series.

Speaking of more, the next full-length novel, Glass Sword, comes out on February 9th. If you can’t wait that long–yes, I know it’s only a couple of weeks–there are also two novellas already out. They are Queen Song and Steel Scars, and I plan to read those as soon as I finish up a couple of other books.

While Red Queen is, in my view, definitely written for a teen audience, I do think that some middle grade readers will eat it up. Those who love The Hunger Games and The Selection will find a new series to devour in Red Queen.

If you want to learn more about Red Queen and Victoria Aveyard, visit the author’s websiteblogTwitter feed, or Facebook page. You can also check out the Epic Reads book trailer below. It doesn’t give much of anything about Red Queen away, but it does look pretty cool.

Happily Ever After

It is highly recommended that you, at the very least, read the first three Selection novels (The Selection, The Elite, and The One) before reading the Happily Ever After collection. Most of the stories will be all kinds of confusing if you don’t. Get to it!

After finishing The Heir a couple of days ago, I just couldn’t let go of the world Kiera Cass created in her Selection series, so I decided to finish up the novellas included in Happily Ever After. These stories include a few I’d already read in ebook form, but I ended up rereading a couple because I forgot what happened (and because I neglected to write posts on them).

Like I indicated at the beginning of this post, each of these stories is best approached after already becoming familiar with what happens in the first three novels in the series. I’ll try to explain why as I we go along. Let’s get started…

The Queen (Selection #0.4)

I actually did manage to do a short write-up of this novella, and you can read that here. Even though The Queen serves as a prequel to the entire series, I would read it after finishing The One so that you can adequately compare the characters of Amberly, America, Clarkson, and Maxon. Each of the characters is very different, and they all approached hardships in varied–and not always positive–ways.

If you’re curious, I still think King Clarkson is a butt-faced jerk.

The Prince (Selection #0.5)

This is one of the stories I re-read so that I could remember exactly where it fit in the Selection timeline. The Prince, obviously, is told from Maxon’s perspective, and it takes place both immediately before and during the first days of his Selection. I would say that this story can be read after finishing The Selection.

The Prince provides an interesting look into Maxon’s rather tense dealings with his father, his feelings on the Selection as a whole, and his earliest interactions with America. In this story, Maxon also struggles with the very concept of love. If he can’t feel anything for a girl who he’s known forever and professes her love for him, how can he possibly grow to love one of the thirty-five girls chosen by his overbearing father, all in a matter of months? Luckily, his mind is somewhat eased fairly early on.

I think it’s clear to see in this story that, for Maxon, the winner of his Selection was decided before the competition even began.

The Guard (Selection #2.5)

The Guard, told from Aspen’s perspective, should be read after finishing The Elite.

If you’re at all familiar with this series (and by this point, you should be), you know that Aspen was America’s first love back in Carolina, and he’s now a palace guard. Both he and America are still very close, and Aspen is trying to envision a future where they can be together…even as he sees America winning the heart of the future king.

While Aspen is looking for any stolen moments with America that he can find, another guard and a Selection contestant are caught in a compromising situation. The consequences of their actions make him think about his relationship with America and how far he’ll go to keep her in his life. Is he willing to risk everything? Is she? (If you’ve already read the first three books, you know the answers to these questions, but it’s still fun to see things from Aspen’s point of view.)

The Favorite (Selection #2.6)

This story, which I read for the very first time this morning, might be my favorite (Ha!) of these short stories. It focuses on Marlee, America’s closest friend in the competion. This girl managed to make it to the Elite round of competition for Maxon’s hand…before she threw it all away for love.

The Favorite begins immediately after the Halloween party (seen first in The Elite) that changed everything. Marlee and Carter, a palace guard, were discovered with each other, and they’re now in the palace cells awaiting their punishment. Marlee is certain they’ll be sentenced to death, but they are to be publicly caned and virtually exiled instead. As long as she and Carter can be together, Marlee is willing to take whatever punishment the King dishes out.

Marlee is unprepared, though, for just how vicious this caning actually is. The fact that her family is forced to watch doesn’t help the situation. Through it all, though, Carter is there with her, professing his love. And, even though she doesn’t realize it at the time, her friend America–and even Prince Maxon–are there for her at what seems to be her lowest point. With Carter by her side and good friends who’ll move heaven and earth to help her, Marlee feels like she’s won something more precious than a crown.


Okay…so those are the four major short stories in this collection. But wait, there’s more! Happily Ever After also includes several extras that are worth a mention:

  • Endpapers that feature a map of Illéa. This map clarifies a few things for me. Also, I really like geography, so I enjoyed comparing this map to the current map of North America and figuring out why places were redrawn and renamed the way they were. (Yes, I know this makes me even more of a nerd than some of you probably thought. I’m okay with that.)
  • Lovely illustrations peppered within each story.
  • Several scenes from Celeste’s perspective. These were particularly enlightening, given that I loathed Celeste for most of the series. She really grew from the spoiled, entitled girl we first met into someone who would do whatever she could to redeem herself.
  • The Maid. Told from Lucy’s point of view, this story gives readers a look into this girl’s budding romance with Aspen. Lucy, who serves as one of America’s maids, is worried that Aspen can never let go of his first love. It’s up to Aspen to convince Lucy that she’s truly the one for him.
  • After the One. This story is an epilogue for The One and, obviously, should be read after finishing that book. It is very sweet and serves as a great lead-in to The Heir.
  • “Where Are They Now?” Updates on three of the Selection candidates and what happened to them after this huge chapter in their lives came to an end.

All in all, Happily Ever After is a must-read if you’re a Selection fan. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m glad I spent this last day of 2015 immersed in this world. For more on all things Selection, visit Kiera Cass’ website.

With that, I bid you adieu. I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year’s Eve. Be safe out there, and be sure to come back here tomorrow for my year in review, my reading resolutions, and the books I’m most looking forward to in 2016. Happy New Year!

The Heir

If you haven’t read The Selection series up to this point (The Selection, The Elite, and The One), turn back now! You’ve been warned!

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to The Heir, the fourth full-length novel in Kiera Cass’ Selection series. (There are also four novellas that go along with the series–The Prince, The Guard, The Queen, and The Favorite. If all goes according to plan, I’ll post on those tomorrow or Thursday.)

The Heir, which was released in May of this year, introduces Selection fans to Princess Eadlyn, the daughter of Maxon and America. (See now why you need to read the first three books before moving on to this one?) If the first three books make you think of The Bachelor, well, Eadlyn’s story will bring The Bachelorette to mind…but, you know, better.

Princess Eadlyn knows she will be Queen someday. In the meantime, she learns everything she can from her father, King Maxon, and she also seeks the counsel of her mother, Queen America, and her three younger brothers. Eadlyn knows, though, that the future of Illéa is in her hands. Her primary focus is on doing whatever she can to someday be an effective ruler. She has zero interest in finding a romance as epic as that of her parents. Unfortunately, that decision may not be up to her…

When reports surface of problems with the country’s new caste-less system, King Maxon and Queen America devise a plan to keep the people’s minds on something else. They believe that their only daughter, the Heir to the throne of Illéa, should go through her own Selection. It worked for them. Why not for their daughter?

For her part, Eadlyn is against the idea from the beginning. She isn’t looking for love, and she doesn’t need a man to get in her way. She has things to do, and a Selection will only slow her down. Her parents, however, feel that this is the best move for the country, so Eadlyn has no choice but to go along with it…but she doesn’t have to like it.

Soon enough, thirty-five strange boys are moving into the castle, and it’s up to Eadlyn to figure out which one will annoy her the least (if possible). In the back of her mind, though, Eadlyn is comforted by the knowledge that she doesn’t really have to choose any of them. If, at the end of three months, none of the young men have earned her heart, she can let them all go.

Eadlyn removes some of the boys immediately, and her coldness in doing so earns some media attention that she never truly expected. Do people really think that she is cold and heartless? How can she change the public’s attitude when she doesn’t want to be a part of this in the first place? Is there any way to turn all of this around and give her father the time he needs to address the growing outcry against the monarchy?

As days go by–and Eadlyn really gets to know the remaining candidates–she also comes face-to-face with her own shortcomings. She’s built a wall around her heart, and she’s loathe to let someone get to know the real her. A few of the Selection entries, though, have managed to capture her interest, and she finds herself softening a bit. Eadlyn is taking the time to get to know these young men, and she’s learning more about herself in the process.

Can Eadlyn find a way to truly immerse herself in the Selection? Is it possible that the man she’s meant to marry is in this group? Will Eadlyn be able to put all of her preconceived notions–about her parents, the Selection, the candidates, and herself–aside and do what must be done for the future of Illéa? Time will tell…


Truth time: I found Eadlyn to be a snob, and, for much of the book, her attitude really bothered me. (I would say the same thing about a male character who behaved the way she did.) I get that she’s being groomed to be queen, but she had an almost unshakable air of superiority. I do think, however, that was the author’s intention. Eadlyn has one focus–becoming Queen–and she doesn’t have time for anything or anyone that interferes with that. Unfortunately for her, it’s that attitude that leads to many of her problems in this book (and possibly the next one).

If you’ve read the other books in this series, you can probably guess that The Heir ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger. Things are up in the air with Eadlyn’s Selection, the state of affairs in Illéa as a whole, and even with the royal family. All of this only whets my appetite for the next book, The Crown, which will be released on May 3rd, 2016. (According to Goodreads, The Crown is the series finale. That’s what we thought about The One, so I’m not so sure.)

Like the rest of the series, I think The Heir is suitable for any libraries that serve middle grade, teen, and adult readers. There’s something here for everyone to enjoy, especially if you’re already a fan of the previous books.

For more information on The Heir, the entire Selection series, or author Kiera Cass, visit the author’s website, Twitter, or Facebook. You may also want to take a look at the official book trailer for The Heir below. It in no way captures Eadlyn’s complex personality or gives anything away, but it’s still pretty good.

As for me, I’m going to spend tomorrow finishing up the Selection novellas (compiled in Happily Ever After). I’ve already read three of them, and I have to say that those added to my enjoyment of the series as a whole, and I’m sure the final story, The Favorite, will elicit the same response. I hope to let you know about that soon. Happy reading!

Just for Fins

Caution! Read Tera Lynn Childs’ Forgive My Fins and Fins Are Forever before continuing with this post. Just for Fins is the third book in the series and is definitely not a stand-alone title. (You could read it without reading the previous two, but you’d miss a lot of very important plot points and details. We wouldn’t want that, now would we?)

Before I dive (pun intended) into Just for Fins, I’d like to wish everyone who follows this blog a very happy holiday season! Whatever you celebrate this time of year (and even if you don’t celebrate anything), I wish you all the best, and I hope you have a season filled with warmth, laughter, friends, family, and, yes, books! I probably won’t post anything else until after Christmas, so I wanted to take this opportunity to say, “Happy Holidays!” and thank you for following Knight Reader this year. (I’m hoping to post a couple more times before the year’s end, so stick with me. 2012 isn’t over yet!)

On to the real reason you’re here…

If you’ve read Forgive My Fins and Fins Are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs (or even if you’re marginally good at picking up clues from titles and book covers), you know that the Fins series revolves around merpeople, specifically one mermaid princess named Lily. In the previous two books, Lily had to deal with relationship issues (like bonding–and unbonding–with the wrong guy who actually turns out to be the totally right guy) and deciding if she wanted to give up her claim to the throne of Thalassinia so that she could stay on land with her true love. In Just for Fins, Lily’s problems are about to get a lot more complicated. Yes, she finally decided to claim her birthright (with the help of an in-name-only bond with Tellin, the heir to another kingdom), and she’s mostly worked out her relationship issues, but she must now learn about the politics that come with ruling a mer kingdom.

Lily’s first order of business is to gather the leaders of the nearby mer kingdoms together to provide aid to Tellin’s dying kingdom of Acropora. The changes in the ocean environment, most of them caused by humans, have wreaked havoc on the fragile ecosystem of this once thriving kingdom, and it will not survive if help is not sent soon. Lily’s intentions are good, but she doesn’t realize that all of the mer kingdoms (except her own) are suffering from the same types of issues. The other leaders are reluctant to provide assistance when their own situations are becoming dire. Lily must find some way to make everyone see that they are interdependent on each other, and they can provide help to each other–and possibly repair and reverse what humans have wrought on the oceans–without resorting to drastic–and even deadly–measures.

And that’s not all Lily’s dealing with, boys and girls. It seems that ancient mer law has yet another obstacle to throw at Lily’s relationship with her human boyfriend, Quince. If the two want to remain together, Quince must pass a series of tests to prove he is worthy of being the companion of a princess. These tasks will test his physical, mental, and emotional commitment to Lily. Should he fail–or should he be helped along by Lily–the two will be separated…forever. As if a mer princess didn’t have enough to deal with…

Will Lily be able to wrap her head around all that is happening around her? Can she convince the other rulers to work together to combat climate change in their beloved oceans (without doing harm to themselves or the humans they blame for the situation)? Can she step back and trust Quince to pass the tests that could decide their future together? Dive into Just for Fins to find out!

Just for Fins is a fast, fun read, but it does address a pretty serious subject:  the environmental impact of humans and climate change on the world’s oceans. It’s a serious subject, and it’s treated as such in this book without being too terribly preachy. This book does bring up an interesting point. Would humans treat the oceans with more respect if we knew that merpeople were living–and dying–there? (I’m not so sure, but I’m a cynic.) The author does let readers know–through a fun, young adult fiction book–that something must be done quickly to save the world’s oceans–the entire planet, really–or the damage could be catastrophic. (There’s nothing fictional about that.)

So, if you’re interested in stories about mermaids, want a light, fast read, or simply want to see how ocean environments might be dealing with climate change, pollution, and other man-made environmental problems, give Just for Fins (and the first two Fins books) a try. As far as I know, this third installment is the last book in the series, but I’ll keep you posted if there will be any further adventures of Princess Lily. You can learn more about this series and others by Tera Lynn Childs at the author’s website or through Twitter.

Merry Christmas! Knight Reader out!

Forgive My Fins

I was first introduced to the work of author Tera Lynn Childs when I read Oh. My. Gods.  (Great book, by the way.)  Ever since, I’ve been a fan.  Her writing is hilariously funny, and it tends to grab me from the very first page.  Her latest book, Forgive My Fins, is no exception.  In this book, Childs moves her attention from Greek mythology to mermaids (though there is some reference to Poseidon and others).  This book is a definite winner for me.  I was charmed by all of the nautical slang the main character used.  I may start using some of it myself.  (I really liked substituting the word “carp” for “crap.”  It’s not much of a stretch if you’ve ever eaten carp.  Yuck.)  Anyway, Forgive My Fins is a great piece of fantasy fiction, and female readers will really eat it up.  I think of it as a wonderful mash-up of The Little Mermaid and The Princess Diaries.

At first glance, Lily Sanderson would seem like your typical high school student.  She’s uncoordinated, doesn’t really pay attention in class, and has a major crush on a guy who barely notices her.  But Lily Sanderson has a secret.  She’s a mermaid.  She’s not just any mermaid, either.  She’s the heir to the underwater kingdom of Thalassinia, and she has just a few weeks to find her mermate or she’ll lose her claim to the throne.  It really shouldn’t be a problem, though.  She has the perfect guy all picked out–Brody Bennett.  He’s cute, he’s popular, and he loves to swim.  Now, she just has to get up the nerve to have a conversation with him.

Lily has everything all planned out.  She’ll confess her love to Brody, tell him she’s a mermaid, and they’ll live happily ever after under the sea.  Well, that might have worked if not for one little complication…her neighbor and nemesis, Quince Fletcher.  Instead of meeting Brody in the library at the school dance, Lily meets–and kisses–Quince.  (Actually, he kissed her, but that’s really beside the point.)  No big deal, right?  Um, wrong.  You see, when a merperson kisses someone, a bond forms, a permanent bond that can only be broken by the king…who you may remember is Lily’s dad.

Lily is now faced with telling Quince the truth about what is going on, especially the fact that he’s turning into a merman.  The two journey to Thalassinia to have their bond severed, but things don’t really go quite the way Lily envisioned.  Her father isn’t quick to break the bond between Lily and Quince, and Quince is showing signs that he wouldn’t mind being with Lily on a permanent basis.  What’s a mermaid to do?  Should she break the bond and go after Brody, her “true love?”  Should she stay with Quince, a guy who’s tormented her for the past three years?  How can she possibly cope with all of the mixed-up feelings roiling around inside of her?  It’s just too much to take, and Lily is going out of her flipping mind.  Find out what becomes of Lily and the gang when you read Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs.

I must say again that I really enjoyed this book.  I was a very light, quick read, and anyone who ever loved The Little Mermaid will enjoy Forgive My Fins.  I can’t wait to see what happens in the sequel, Fins are Forever, due out in the summer of 2011.  For more information on Tera Lynn Childs and her wonderful books, visit

A Kiss in Time

It’s no secret that I like fairy tales.  Beautiful princess, handsome prince, fighting the bad guy, true love…what’s not to like?  There is one, however, that’s never been a favorite of mine–Sleeping Beauty.  I just didn’t see the point.  This girl pricks her finger on a spindle, falls asleep, is awakened by a kiss, a witch gets mad, the witch is killed, and they all live happily ever after.  Not my thing.  Well, my lastest read, A Kiss in Time, is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty by acclaimed author Alex Flinn.  It puts a new spin on this story, and I must say that I like this version a lot better.  When I was reading, I was reminded of Enchanted, the movie where a fairy tale princess is magically transported to modern-day Manhattan.  I adore that movie, and I feel the same way about this book.

Princess Talia of Euphrasia has lived her entire almost-sixteen years in fear of spindles.  At Talia’s christening, a curse was placed on her by the evil witch Malvolia stating that the princess would prick her finger on a spindle before her sixteenth birthday and die.  A fairy modified the curse a bit so that the princess wouldn’t die.  Instead, she and everyone in Euphrasia would sleep until Talia was awakened by true love’s first kiss.

Nearly sixteen years pass, and Talia has been bombarded with talk of this curse.  Spindles are outlawed from Euphrasia to protect her, and she is horribly sheltered.  She can’t go anywhere, and she’s tired of it.  As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Talia can finally see an end to a life full of fearing a curse and always being told what to do.  The curse has not been fulfilled, and she’s almost sixteen.  (The key word here is “almost.”)  Well, guess what?  Shortly before her birthday celebration, Talia is searching for her perfect dress when she happens upon an unfamiliar room.  An old lady is inside with just the dresses Talia is looking for.  The old lady just needs a bit of help from Talia.  Just hold this sharp, pointy thing for a bit…lights out.

Fastforward three hundred years…

Jack is in Europe on a boring trip full of museums and other stuff he’s not interested in, so he decides to escape for a bit.  He and his buddy Travis walk through a dense hedge and find a village where everyone appears to be sleeping, even the horses.  They soon find a castle.  Jack is drawn to the highest tower where he discovers a sleeping girl.  She’s beautiful, and he feels almost compelled to kiss her.  He does, and she wakes up.  Surprise!

Join Jack and Talia as they deal with expectations, customs, and technologies (or lack thereof) of different time periods, parents, ex-girlfriends, running away, a continued threat from Malvolia, and a three-hundred-year age difference.  Can this even be real?  Do Jack and Talia have any hope of getting together under these circumstances?  He’s a slacker; she’s a princess.  Do they even want to be together?  Read A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn to find out!

Princess Ben

Although I love fairy tales, I’ve always had a problem with some of them:  Why does the beautiful princess need to be rescued by the handsome prince?  Additionally, why does the princess have to be beautiful, and why can’t she save herself?  (If you haven’t figured it out by now, yes, I am a feminist.)  I like seeing a strong, smart heroine who solves her own problems.  I got what I wanted in Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.  (The whole title is Princess Ben:  Being a Wholly Truthful Account of Her Various Discoveries and Midsadventures, Recounted to the Best of Her Recollection, in Four Parts.  Great title.)  At times, Ben is irreverent, brash, and a bit immature, but she grows into a woman who thinks for herself and can save herself and those she loves.

Princess Benevolence of Montagne has just lost her uncle, King Ferdinand, her mother, and her father.  She is the sole heir to the throne, but Ben has almost no desire to learn the seemingly trivial things that her aunt, Queen Sophia, thinks she should learn.  Ben isn’t interested in pointless conversations, fashion, needlework, or starving herself so that she can be the slim princess who will attract a husband.  When Sophia becomes fed up with Ben’s apathy and locks her in a tower cell, Ben thinks her misery will surely be a permanent condition.  That changes, however, when Ben stumbles upon an enchanted room and secret, magical passageways throughout the castle.  Ben begins to explore magic and learn things that are definitely not boring and may, in fact, have some use for her in the future.

When neighboring Drachensbett begins to threaten the kingdom of Montagne, Ben sets off on a perilous journey that threatens her very life.  She comes to painful and eye-opening realizations about herself and those around her.  What will become of her?  Will she ever make peace with Queen Sophia?  Will Drachensbett attack Montagne?  And what is she to do about her tumultuous feelings about Prince Florian, heir to the throne of Drachensbett and Ben’s own nemesis?  Princess Ben is definitely not your typical princess, and her story is not your average fairy tale.  Read Ben’s account of her life and discover what it’s really like when a princess grows up and learns the lessons that will make her a strong woman and queen.

Princess of the Midnight Ball

I love a good fairy tale.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is still one of my favorite Disney movies of all time.  And what girl didn’t dream of being Belle in Beauty and the Beast (especially since the Beast gave her that wicked awesome library)?  My point is…fairy tales are great.  They’re even better when they’re adapted for a new audience.  My latest read is just such a tale.  Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball is a retelling of the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and it has been retold to fit a young adult audience.  Now, many of my students will claim that they’re too old for fairy tales, but I contend that you’re never too old for a great story of romance and good triumphing over evil.  They’ll get it all in Princess of the Midnight Ball.

Princess Rose and her eleven sisters mysteriously disappear every night.  No one knows where they go, and the sisters cannot speak of their activities.  The only evidence that evil is afoot is their worn-out dancing slippers.  The sisters are under the power of the King Under Stone, a horrid being who is imprisoned deep within the earth.  The princesses are condemned to dance for him every night at his Midnight Ball.  There is seemingly no escape from this horrible curse.

Galen, a soldier returning from war, has recently been hired as a gardener at the palace.  He notices that things are not right with the princesses.  When the king begins to offer rewards for he who can solve the mystery of his daughters’ nightly activities, and the princes who try to figure things out begin to die, Galen starts to piece things together (with the help of a few magicians-in-disguise).  He is determined to help the princesses, especially Rose, break their curse.  He seeks no reward other than the knowledge that the princesses are safe.  (But we all know how those things go…the brave but poor commoner is really the best guy for the nice princess to end up with.)  Will he succeed?  Will the curse be broken?  What will become of the princesses, Galen, and the King Under Stone?  I’ll leave that for you to figure out.

Princess of the Midnight Ball is a lovely story, and the book cover is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen.  Although this will be marketed as a “girl book,” there’s lots in it that guys will find appealing–danger, fighting, and bad guys.  It’s a winner for all readers!