Reviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: A Tale of Two Castles
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Format: Audio Book
Narrator: Sarah Coomes
Listening Length: 8 hours and 27 minutes
Grade Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Summary: Elodie is traveling to the city of Two Castles (called such because it is home to two castles – one for the King, and one for the Ogre) to become apprenticed to a troupe of actors, known as mansioners. Gifted in the art of acting, Elodie is sure she can make it, despite her family’s more humble designs for her to become a weaver. But Lambs and calves! Elodie is unlucky and loses all her money before she can get to the field where the actors are and then the master of the mansioners turns her away. What is she to do? She has to eat! Or um… get eaten? A dragon offers up a paid assistant position to Elodie and despite the large teeth she accepts the job and almost right away they have a case to uncover the truth behind a mean act against the town’s unbeloved ogre.

Why I started this book:

I have always liked Gail Carson Levine’s longer stories. Ella Enchanted was a middle school favorite of mine when it came out and I love it still today.

Likes:

  • Meenore the dragon – seemingly unfeeling but in reality very tenderhearted and noble.
  • Elodie’s training in deduction, induction, and common sense! Ha!
  • Count Jonty Um the hated ogre. He’s a sweetheart too and seriously misjudged because of his parents. At one point I thought perhaps he’d become a hero of the piece and perhaps that the story would take a twist and skip a few years like in Ella Enchanted and all of a sudden he and Elodie would be an item. That of course didn’t happen, but he was equal to the task should it have.
  • I love how Gail Carson Levine builds her fairytale kingdoms – there’s magic, but they also seem real with lots of details and strongly crafted pinch characters.
  • The Princess of Two Castles. She was fun.
  • Sarah Coomes was an excellent narrator whose strengths lied in her accents!

Dislikes:

  • Lambs and calves – okay it’s not as grating as it could be and it is sort of cute the first few times you hear it but in audio book format it got old.
  • I could tell too quickly (as an adult at least) that Goodwife Celeste and her Goodman Twah were not what they seemed. They have been better if they’d been shapeshifting ogres.
  • Master Thiel, a cat trainer, with little ingrity and a streak of selfentitlement a mile wide.

Buy: A Tale of Two Castles

Rating: 5 Treasure Chests

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by First Mate Keira

Title: Winter’s Passage (Book 1.5 in Iron Fey Series)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Format: Kindle ebook
File Size: 211 KB
Grade Reading Level: Grade 7+

Summary: Winter’s Passage explores the gap of time between Iron King and Iron Daughter. If you remember, Meghan Chase made a deal with Ash, prince of the Winter court, to go with him willingly back with him to the heart of Unseelie territory and into Queen Mab. Winter’s Passage starts when Ash comes to collect on this promise. The journey is not without its challenges. On the way to Tir na nog an ancient rarely seen enemy begins to hunt them…and according to Ash nobody ever wins against it.

Why I started this book:

I just finished reading Iron King and wanted to know what happened next and didn’t want to wait for the release of Iron Daughter. I got a copy from the publisher. It’s a free ebook for a limited time online and might still be—you will have to check it out.

Likes:

  • The ancient scary enemy is the Big Bad Wolf. Kagawa writes deliciously thrilling fight scenes between the Big Bad Wolf, Ash, and Meghan.
  • That Meghan isn’t a complete dead weight in a fight. Yay girl power!
  • When Meghan doesn’t abandon Ash during a golden opportunity, it confuses him and yet shows him just how human she is… which frightens him because he knows this loyalty of hers will get her hurt in his home court. Poor faery boy.
  • The continuance of Meg and Ash’s relationship. He drops his icy demeanor around her and they get very close. You can’t question his love for her even if his loyalties must go to his mother, Queen Mab.
  • I think fans of the series should read this before starting Iron Daughter because it’s very illuminating, and while portions of it are found in reminisce on Meghan’s part in the second book, they have a stronger punch set within the novella.

Buy: Winter’s Passage (Kindle)

Rating: 5 Treasure Chests

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Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

by CaptainYarr October 22, 2014
Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Reviewed by Captain Lyaf Yarr Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Author: J.K. Rowling Format: Hardback # of pages: 734 Grade Reading Level: 5.9; Ages 8+ Summary: Something old is returning to Hogwarts this year, and with it two new populations of students from foreign wizarding schools. In a contest to see who […]

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Review: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Fablehaven, Book 4) by Brandon Mull

by First Mate Keira October 21, 2014
Review: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Fablehaven, Book 4) by Brandon Mull

Reviewed by First Mate Keira Title: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Fablehaven, Book 4) Author: Brandon Mull Format: Hardback Page Count: 535 pages Grade Reading Level: Ages 9-12 Summary:   Patton directs through clever means the location of more artifacts. It’s located in a wild dragon sanctuary, guarded by one of the original mages that […]

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Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

by First Mate Keira October 20, 2014
Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

by First Mate Keira Title: Frosbite (Vampire Academy Series, Book 2) Author: Richelle Mead Format: Paperback Page Count: 327 Grade Reading Level: Grade 9+ Summary: Because Rose was out of school for two years, she’s only now able to take her Qualifier. She’s going to be tested by one of the best guardians ever to […]

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Review: Fire by Kristin Cashore

by Master Llama October 19, 2014
Review: Fire by Kristin Cashore

by Master Llama, guest reviewer Title: Fire Author: Kristin Cashore Format: Hardback Page Count: 480 pages Grade Reading Level: Ages 14+ Summary: It takes place in Dells, which was mentioned in Graceling. (It’s over the big mountains.) The most beautiful of monsters live there and Fire is the only human monster left. She is so […]

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