Tag «middle grade»

Series Review: Descendants by Melissa de la Cruz

Series Review: Descendants by Melissa de la Cruz

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Isle of the Lost (from Goodreads):

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that’s been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon’s eye: the key to true darkness and the villains’ only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it…who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent’s daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon’s eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie, doesn’t know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she’s a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal’s little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he’s not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon’s eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil’s son may not be bravest, but he’s certainly clever. Carlos’s inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon’s eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon’s eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the dragon’s eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.

breakdown

Series: The Descendants
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 4 to be Released
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magic, Disney
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read the first book of the series, Isle of the Lost, and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love anything to do with Disney so I was super excited by the premise of this series. The offspring of classic Disney characters all together in one place? Very cool. I’ve read (and enjoyed) Melissa de la Cruz’s works in the past so I couldn’t wait to see how she would weave this unique world.

What I Liked:

–The World–

Without a doubt, the coolest part of this story was the world it was set in. I loved watching the next generation of classic fairy tale characters come to life. All the kids have some of the characteristics of their famous parents but also had their own unique spin which was a treat.

Everything felt original and fresh. I couldn’t get enough of the creativity; it was superb!

What I Didn’t Like:

–That It was Middle Grade–

I’m not one of those people who thinks people should read books for their marketed demographic (ie adults can’t read YA, etc) but I’ve never had great luck with MG titles as an adult. I think I like my stories to be grittier and less predictable and you don’t necessarily get that with an MG title like this one.

–The Plot–

This ties in with the MG genre because most of the “drama” we get is junior high in nature. While it was creative (they are villains after all), I just felt like the plot was a little aimless at times. We do get the overarching plot towards the end of the novel but by then it was too late for me to feel invested in this series.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. I really do love the idea of this series but I’m not sure I would be able to be invested in future instalments. I might check out the movie though!

My Rating: DNF

The Isle of the Lost  3/5| Return to the Isle of the Lost N/A| Rise of the Isle of the Lost  N/A| Book 4 TBP

overall

Readers who enjoy middle grade or absolutely LOVE anything Disney will love this!

Read if You Like: Disney, retellings, fairy tales
Avoid if You: dislike middle grade, want darker/grittier plots

similarreads

  • Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (Beau Rivage Series #1)
  • Beastly by Alex Flinn (Beastly Chronicles #1)

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Movie Mondays: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis | Movie: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Series: The Chronicles of Narnia
Genre: Childrens, Adventure, Action, Magic

Thoughts:

I had to read this book in elementary school and it is one of the only books I actually enjoyed reading. I loved the story and I found myself easily submerged into the world Lewis created. It’s both kid and adult friendly so it makes for a great family read.

This was the first book I read in the series and I then went back to read The Magician’s Nephew, then the two books following Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe (LWW) which are The Horse and His Boy and Prince Caspian. I found the Magician’s Nephew to be a little confusing at times but it was interesting–I just felt like it was a disappointment compared to LWW and that can be said about the other books. The Horse and His Boy starts super slow but really picks up by the end. I think I finished Prince Caspian but it’s been at least 10 years so I can’t remember if I actually did finish it! Again, didn’t like it as much as LWW but I also wasn’t into reading that much at the time.

I have the whole box set and one day I will read them all just to say I finished it all.

Conclusion:

Just a great children’s read that has so many deeper elements to it that I can appreciate now that I am older and have studied English literature extensively.

Rating: 4/5
Similar Reads: Nothing immediately comes to mind

The Movie:

I’m reviewing the Disney version and I feel like that is important to state because I remember when I studied the book in school the Disney version hadn’t been released. I think they might have announced it but I hadn’t seen anything about it so we watched some crappy version (unless I am thinking about the Hobbit’s crappy animated movie but it has been quite a few years since).

I absolutely loved the Disney version–no surprise there because I adore all things Disney. They really brought the book to life with great casting, costumes and props. They also kept true to the book (there are a few little differences, like how they get into the Wardrobe, but nothing major that changes the story) which always makes book-movie adaptions great.

I haven’t seen any of the other movies (not sure what happened there!) but they are on my to-watch list!

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is TIE. I really feel like they are so similar that it is unfair to pick one over the other.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (from Goodreads):
When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy took their first steps into the world behind the magic wardrobe, little do they realise what adventures are about to unfold. And as the story of Narnia begins to unfold, so to does a classic tale that has enchanted readers of all ages for over half a century.

Trailer:

Single Sundays: A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Talia fell under a spell…Jack broke the curse.

I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic…

I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.

I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger’s soft kiss.

I couldn’t help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn’t know this would happen.

Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!

Now I’m stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels…The good news: My parents will freak!

Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all—even time?

Review:

If you were to ask me who my favourite Disney Princess would be, it would be a tie between Jasmine from Aladdin and Princess Aurora, aka, Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty isn’t as popular a princess as Cinderella or Snow White or Belle so when I read that this book was about Sleeping Beauty, I jumped at the chance to read it because in the past, the retelling of fairy tales that I have read have been about those princesses and it’s refreshing to read about something else.

Before I read this, I read Beastly by Alex Flinn which is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast so I was familiar with her writing style. Her books are definitely geared towards a younger teen crowd (14+) but I did read this when I was a little younger so I enjoyed it. Now, I don’t think I would so much just because I am slightly outside that target audience.

Jack and Talia (aka Sleeping Beauty–Sleeping Beauty’s first name changes depending on which version you read) are both self-centered in their own ways. But they aren’t annoying like “I have to put this book down I can’t stand them”–more like you know that they are going to learn a valuable lesson by whatever transpires in this novel. It’s nice to see them grow through their relationship and the events that happen together.

I loved the interaction between these two, more so than in Beastly. I think it is mostly because Talia doesn’t know everything about the modern world (like phones, etc.), so I find the comments she says are pretty funny and Jack has some great responses.

Conclusion:

It’s been a long time since I read it, but I really enjoyed this book. Probably my favourite of the books I have read by Alex Flinn. I recommend this more for younger teens but I think older audiences might enjoy it as well.

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Middle School, Romance, Fairy Tales, Time Travel, Magic
Recommended for: 13+
Similar Books: Beastly by Alex Flinn and Devoured by Amanda Marrone

Single Sundays: Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
I’m not your average hero. I actually wasn’t your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with the curse. And the frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.

There wasn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Keys.

Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got CLOAKED.

Review:

I’ve enjoyed Alex Flinn’s work after reading Beastly so I have read a few of her other fairy-tale based books and enjoyed them. I like how she takes well known stories and makes them applicable to the modern world so this book seemed like a no-brainer.

What I like about Cloaked was that it wasn’t just one fairy tale book used in this story (so don’t think it is about Little Red Riding Hood because it isn’t!). In her author note, Alex talks about using lesser known fairy tales in this novel as her main purpose for writing this book and she succeeds in this mission. While I wasn’t familiar with all of the tales used, it added a bit of freshness to the story as I didn’t know where it was going and I was able to learn about other fairy tales that haven’t been made into Disney movies.

However, I just didn’t like this book as much as I hoped. I think I was a little too old to be reading it so it took me a while to get into it. It definitely picked up once you got into it but nothing really wowed me about this book. It was a long time ago when I read this and the fact that this review is so short she be a good indication of how much I enjoyed and remembered the story.

Conclusion:

Definitely better for a middle school crowd who enjoy action, minimal romance and like modern adaptions of fairy tales.
Rating: 3/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young adult, Adventure, Magic, Fairy Tales
Recommended for: 12+
Similar Books: Kill me Softly by Sarah Cross and A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn