Friday, December 26, 2014

The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

The Captive Maiden is a retelling of Cinderella, and it adds onto the story. Her name is originally Gisela and you all know why they start to call her Cindersella. In this story she is involved with Valten, the brother who gave up his betrothal to Sophie so she could marry Gabe, and has kind of been in love with him since childhood. Her stepmother and sisters are, of course, awful and instead of there being a ball it is 3 days of a tourney, with the first two being the fighting days and the last day being a legitimate ball. The first part of the story follows the tradition mostly except that Gisela does not have to leave by midnight and Valten knows who she is the whole time. However, she does get kidnapped by Valten's arch-nemesis and it is quite an adventure trying to escape. In the end though, they both survive and get married.

This story is great and quite frankly is one of my favorites! Gisela loves horses, which is a point in her favor according to my book, and is a very independent character that I enjoy very much. I also enjoyed the interaction between Valten and Gisela because it is rather cute! In this book the reader is able to get into Valten's head, which we didn't in the last book, and I really love it when Dickerson does it because he's so cute! He doesn't know how to deal with women and the revelations he has are simply hilarious. This book is almost something some people will need their man to read because he can learn with Valten. The kidnapping was great, not because they got kidnapped but because Gisela is so independent and doesn't let Valten be all macho by himself. She tries to figure out ways to help him and to get them both out of Ruexner's clutches; she doesn't just sit back and let him do everything.

I was a little frustrated with the whole kidnapping part. The whole part was necessary, but they got captured twice and I kind of wished that it had been just one scene. They met a friar who helped them and they had to sort out their feelings, but it just seemed a bit long. There was also a part where Gisela was upset with Valten and it seemed to me that it was a bit choppy. She was upset with him, then she was fine, then she wasn't. I thought the issue had been resolved, but then it hadn't been. It may have been just me not understanding fully.

I give this book a 9/10 and recommend it to YA readers.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson

The Fairest Beauty is a retelling of Snow White and is a very well told tale. Rose's children, from The Healer's Apprentice, are who this story focuses on. The family finds out that the eldest son, Valten, has a betrothed because she did not die at the age of 2 like her stepmother claimed. Well, Valten is stuck in bed with a broken leg so Gabehart, called Gabe, decides to be an adventurer and goes after her himself. Shockingly he falls in love with Sophie and helps her to escape the evil queen. They stay with the dwarves to recover and she finds Sophie and attempts to, but does not, kill her. She then is chased by the dwarves and dies. I'll let you find out how, since you already know the bones of the story :) The ending is pretty neat, so I won't spoil the particulars for you! :)

I really liked this book because there was more emphasis on the time in the Queen's castle. A lot of times the story is told where Snow White escapes because the Queen tells her huntsman to kill the girl and he refuses. In this story we get more of the dynamic between the two, their relationship, and we get to know Sophie a little earlier on in the story. The prince is also much more dynamic. The reader is able to see how Gabe develops his love for Sophie, and that it's not just love at first sight. The men in the cottage are 7 outcasts and they are all very cool! You can completely identify them with their 'original' names and it is fun to do :D

There were a couple things that I did not care for in this story, and one of them was the kissing. Once Gabe and Sophie confessed their love for one another, there was a lot of kissing and it seemed to really contradict how careful Sophie was earlier in the book and the general rules of society that were in place, according to the author. I feel each book has more kissing in it and it's a little odd to me. I also wished that the author used a tragedy from Gabe's past a little more. It was in the book, but I felt it kind of got lost and it was sort of used as a reason for him to leave in the beginning.

I give this book a 9/10 and recommend it to YA readers.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

This book is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, one of my all-time favorite fairy tales! Of course, following with the practice of the first book, it is a Christian series and does not have any form of magic. It is about a young woman whose family does not fulfill their duties to their land after the father dies. Her family has a choice: they can pay the amount due or one of the family can be an indentured servant to the new lord for three years. Annabel (clever, huh? :D) Chooses to do so rather than be wed to a creepy bailiff. The story follows how Annabel and Lord Ranulf le Wyse, I love his name, fall in love and overcome the obstacles that stand in their way.

I really like this book! This is not surprising considering it is based off of one of my favorite fairy tales :D I loved her devotion to God and her insatiable thirst to read the Bible. Melanie also does a great job of following the traditions of the time in how it was generally unheard of for a woman to be reading anything, much less the Bible. I enjoyed how Dickerson tweaked the story in that it is kind of opposite in terms of Annabel's family: her mother is alive and she has two brothers, rather than her mother having died while Annabel was young and having to sisters. It brings an interesting and different dynamic, because her brothers are supposed to be responsible but they are totally incompetent and unreliable for any type of hard work. I also really liked how Annabel and Lord le Wyse fell in love!! It is SO cute! Sorry for the fangirling, but it just makes me smile every time! I really enjoyed reading their progression :)

There were a couple things that I did not care for. First of all, this book seems completely disconnected with the others books(apparently until The Princess Spy) because none of these characters show up in the others books or vice versa, not to mention that this book is based in England or France and the others are based in Germany. It's rather frustrating to have such a tenuous connection. I also did not care for how Annabel was described. In this book she is a blond haired, blue eyed beauty. While I have no problem with this stereotype, it does not fit what Belle has been portrayed as for many years. It's not a big deal, just a personal thing that bugs me.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it for YA readers.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

The Healer's Apprentice is a very well written book. It is a modernized fairy tale retelling and I think Dickerson did a fantastic job of telling it! I am going to tell you which fairy tales each of these are because, well, it's not that hard to figure out! :D This book is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. This story is well known. A princess, to save her from an evil witch, is sent to live in the country to hide her from the one who wants her life. On her 16th birthday she is cursed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and, not die as the witch foretold but, fall into a deep sleep for 100 years. Only true love's kiss will wake her. In this case the story is a bit different, no shock there, but it does stay true to the main elements of the story.

What I really enjoyed about this book was that it was a Christian book without being a pushy Christian book. Some of the Christian romances nowadays just are too much and get annoying, but Dickerson does a fantastic job of keeping the Christian part of the book natural. Now, it may be because I am a Christian that I don't find it as painfully obvious, but it would depend on the reader. I also like the relationships in this book. They are well developed and enjoyable to read about. I got very caught up in some of the progress of the different relationships.

Honestly, it's rather difficult for me to come up with things I did not like about the book. I guess I did not care for her situation in which she grew up. I wish it had been a little different. I won't go into specifics because I don't want to spoil the whole book :) Also, I would have liked a little more perspective from the bad guy's perspective. The reader only get some of his viewpoint in the end, and I would have liked a bit more throughout the book.

I give this book a 9/10 and I recommend it for YA readers and older :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Update! :)

Hello everyone! How is your holiday going so far? Mine's going very well!! I finished my last class for college!! WOO!! I now have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English :D I simply cannot emphasize how excited I am about this!!! :D I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I have a few options I'm looking into :) Right now I'm more concerned with getting a full time job and then looking into getting a job that is a career :)

I'm going to be going back and making some edits to past blog posts that I wanted to tell you about :) First of all, I'm will be putting in every post that does not already have them a rating of _/10 for each book. Please remember that this is my personal feeling on the book and you may love something that I did not care for. I will also be entering into each post a recommended age range for each book. I hope you will enjoy these new additions and please let me know of any more suggestions you have to improve the reading experience of my blog :D

Lastly, I'm informing you of the series I'm going to be posting about. It's a series(kind of) by Melanie Dickerson. She is a Christian author and she is writing about fairy tales in the medieval time period, but they do not have magic. She does an excellent job with keeping the main idea of the story and implementing Christian beliefs. Some Christian books can be a bit annoying simply because they try to stuff a bunch of verses in the book and they can get a bit overused. However, she does a fantastic job of making the Christianity very natural and pleasant to read!! I will be posting about them in chronological order of when she wrote them. So far she has written 5 and she has been publishing one each year. I am very excited to see how many she writes!

Thanks for reading as always guys, and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!! God bless :D