Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mini-Review: WILD by Alex Mallory

Title: Wild
Author: Alex Mallory (aka Saundra Mitchell)
Published: July 8th 2014
Series: N/A
Genre: YA contemporary | retelling
POV: 3rd person, switching
Pages: 448
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Electronic ARC
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: The Courtyard
The forest is full of secrets, and no one understands that better than Cade. Foraging, hunting, surviving— that’s all he knows. Alone for years, Cade believes he’s the sole survivor. At least, until he catches a glimpse of a beautiful stranger…

Dara expected to find natural wonders when she set off for a spring break camping trip. Instead, she discovers a primitive boy— he’s stealthy and handsome and he might be following her. Intrigued, Dara seeks him out and sets a catastrophe in motion.

Thrust back into society, Cade struggles with the realization that the life he knew was a lie. But he’s not the only one. Trying to explain life in a normal town leaves Dara questioning it.

As the media swarm and the police close in, Dara and Cade risk everything to get closer. But will the truth about Cade’s past tear them apart?

A YA Tarzan retelling.

Wild is a retelling of Tarzan, and it is an interesting take on that story. Cade is a survivor and highly in balance with nature – he knows how to the move and all the tricks it takes to survive in a forest from season to season. Dara, meanwhile, is your average high school teenager who loves photography and finds her relationship with her boyfriend slowly unraveling, especially once Dara and Cade collide. Their connection is immediate, and never wavers as Cade finds himself entering Dara's world. He's a fish-out-of-water, and the media is ready to devour him and his oddness. His character is undeniably the best part of the novel, along with Mallory's descriptions of various settings (especially the forest). A story about difference, friendship, and discovering the truth, Wild is a fresh and intriguing story. 

Highlights: Cade's perspective and his character were great. I loved the chapters that zeroed in on his mindset and loved how he saw the world. He has this innocence and wonder to him as he explored Dara's world, and that genuine sweetness and cluelessness made him an intriguing character. Dara's love for photograph was also nice, and some of the descriptions for her photographs were lovely. I also liked Dara's relationship with her sister, and how it was a bit messy but still realistic. 

Lowlights: I ended up lowering the rating because the story itself, while fascinating, ultimately disappointed. I didn't care about the characters, or for the multiple POV jumps. What little mystery that was present wasn't actually mysterious. And in the end, the only reason I continued reading was to see what would happen, and to enjoy Cade's fish-out-of-water perspective.

Rating: The Courtyard (very low 3 out of 5). I did like this book while reading, so Wild does have permission to hang around the palace grounds. But, the more I thought about Wild after finishing, the more I realized it was lacking that extra spark. It's a likable story, but it has some problems and is ultimately a story I will forget. Regardless, I'd recommend checking it out if you're a fan of Tarzan and are in any way curious about this novel!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

June 2015 from Simon Pulse
Sometimes, there are no words…

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .

A contemporary version of The Little Mermaid by Sarah Ockler? I'm sold. I'm a huge fan of Ockler's work – her novels are always heartfelt, humorous, and memorable  – so I am incredibly EXCITED for this book! Plus, I'm loving the diversity of the cover. It looks fabulous!

What are you waiting on? 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine

Title: Ella Enchanted
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Published: Originally in 1997
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic
Age: Middle Grade*
POV: 1st person
Pages: 232
Format: Paperback & Kindle
Source: Purchased
Rating: The Treasure Vault

How can a fairy's blessing be such a curse?

At her birth, Ella of Frell was given a foolish fairy's gift--the "gift" of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it's hopping on one foot for a day or chopping off her own head!

But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. She goes on a quest, encountering ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, fairy godmothers, and handsome princes, determined to break the curse--and live happily ever after.

What if you had to obey every command you were given? Ella of Frell, thanks to a "gift" given to her from the fairy Lucinda, has been cursed with such compulsion to be obedient ever since she was an infant. After her mother's death, her father catches the interest of Dame Olga. Dame Olga's two daughters, Hattie and Olive, take an unfortunate interest in Ella, and Ella quickly finds that hiding her obedience will be even more difficult than usual. Throw in a charming prince, some deadly and hungry ogres, and a coming-of-age journey to find a somewhat annoying fairy godmother, and you have the excellency that is Ella Enchanted.

Delightfully magical, Ella Enchanted gives a fresh twist to an old classic. Ella may be forcibly obedient, but she's fiercely determined to fight against her curse and not let it ruin her life. Despite how lighthearted some of the elements in this story seem, Gail Carson Levine touches on emotion quite genuinely. This book is simply charming, amusing, heartfelt, and truly wonderful. As a kid I adored this novel and Ella's stubborn, take-action personality. Even now as an adult, I still love and adore this novel. I would highly recommend Ella Enchanted to fantasy fans looking for something familiar, but with a few new, intriguing twists. 

Highlights: Amusing, sweet but also a sharp-witted fairytale with a twist. Prince Char, because he is obviously quite charming. Vivid descriptions bring the magic to life, and especially the various mythical creatures. Mandy is an excellent side character. As a protagonist, Ella is so smart, easy to adore, and determined. But, she's still capable of making mistakes, and that only made me root for her more. The various relationships, both good and bad, are wonderfully developed. The themes of this novel are fantastic, and I love how Gail Carson Levine delves into relatable issues while still keeping that fairytale charm. 

Lowlights: The larger plot is predictable (since this is a Cinderella retelling), but it's not very problematic, since Gail Carson Levine infuses plenty of creativity and fresh twists to keep readers on their toes. Not enough pages? That is problematic!

Rating: The Treasure Vault (5+ out of 5). Ella Enchanted is an old favorite and is worthy of keeping company with the crown jewels. I'd highly recommend this novel to other readers. If I could give this book a palace of it's own, I would. 

* I first read this novel when I was 9 or 10 years old, and adored it. This book seems to be Middle Grade, but as an adult, I can see this book as being a slightly younger YA novel, too (or an older MG story). Ella's age (15/16) makes it seem like a YA, but the content is very tame.