Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Cloaked by Alex Flinn
published 2011 by HarperCollins
341 pages (hardcover), MG/YA

Okay, the front flap is too good not to share:
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 a curse. And a 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 Everglades.
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.
Oh, Johnny. You poor boy. Literally. Johnny's a cobbler (not the yummy kind, though I imagine he might be ruggedly handsome) and a hard, hard-worker. He repairs shoes day and night so that he and his mom can afford to live. One day, Princess Victoriana shows up at Johnny's hotel and his ogling turned accidental meeting changes his life. Victoriana is gorgeous, obviously, and flashy in the spotlight, giving the paparazzi exactly what they want, but she is devastated on the inside. Her brother has been kidnapped and she needs a trustworthy someone to find him. Someone like Johnny. Did I mention that her brother's been turned into a frog? Right. But if Johnny finds him, this frog prince, Victoriana will marry Johnny - not a bad proposition for a boy who has no wealth or any chance at finding love with someone so beautiful. Yes! Of course he'll help! With a magic cloak that can transport him anywhere, Johnny begins his quest to find Victoriana's brother.

This is a fairy tale retelling of sorts, though it doesn't follow one story but rather seven different ones, which are briefly summarized at the end of the book. This is something I wanted to know beforehand, and I should have checked the back to find it. So, I thought I'd list them for you, just so you know:

  • The Elves and the Shoemaker
  • The Frog Prince
  • The Six Swans
  • The Golden Bird
  • The Valiant Tailor
  • The Salad
  • The Fisherman and His Wife
That's quite a collection of tales! But Flinn weaves them all together so wonderfully. It's an insane adventure that Johnny has, but it works. I liked the story, and I alternated between reading the book and the e-book (which I've never done before!) so that I could finish it. I was a little disappointed in some parts of the writing - the love story was a little too predictable and could have been left a little more elusive. But overall, I enjoyed the story and look forward to more fairy tale retellings from Alex Flinn. A solid three purple crayons. 


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Reading Recap

Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat by Philip C. Stead --- This could quite possibly be my favorite picture book of the year. Oh, how I love the collage illustrations. And the story! Jonathan, a little boy, has lost his teddy bear and is on the hunt for it, using his big blue boat, of course. Along the way, he meets a host of quirky characters that join him on his journey. I need to get to a bookstore pronto to buy this book! Love love love.
Demonglass (Hex Hall, #2)
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins --- This is #2 in the Hex Hall series. In Hex Hall, Sophie raised a lot of hell. It's a school for supernatural misfits, and Sophie fit right in. In Demonglass, Sophie moves to England with her father, whom she's just met, so that she can learn more about her demon self. This was a good book to read in October, with those spooky nights of howling wind. I like Sophie's spunky character and her forbidden love with her sworn enemy. I'll keep reading the series, I think. 

Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society, #2)Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter --- Another second in a series (Heist Society #2), this book follows Kat as she breaks out of her lonesome streak and learns to play nice with others. The target - Cleopatra's emerald, that which has never been successfully stolen, except upon its discovery during an archaeological dig long ago. The emerald has quite the history, one that Kat seems to be tangled in. Love the adventure. Will read more in the series.

Scary GodmotherScary Godmother by Jill Thompson (reviewed at my library blog) --- This is a collection of Scary Godmother stories previously published by Dark Horse Comics. I bought this for the library and thought kids would flock to it this month. Not so much. I don't get it. I absolutely devoured this book. The deeply saturated pictures pop off the page and the content was perfect for this month. But there was no excitement. Sure, it got checked out a couple of times , but it didn't get the peer pass-off. Friends didn't tell each other about it. Sad tale. I still like it, though.

Bake SaleBake Sale by Sara Varon --- I loved Varon's Robot Dreams, so I had high hopes for this graphic novel. While I love her signature drawing style, the story itself  didn't do much for me. I don't bake. And I mean that emphatically. I really, really hate to bake. Cookies, cakes, cupcakes - I can't do any of it. So yeah, the subject material was a bit foreign and of little interest. But in the warm, gooey center, it's another friendship story, and I appreciated that. 

How to Save a LifeHow to Save a Life by Sara Zarr --- Told in alternating perspectives, this is the story of a girl (not to be confused with Story of a Girl, which I loved by Zarr) who's just lost her father and another girl who's about to give birth. They're similar in age but couldn't have more different stories. Jill's had a tough time dealing with her dad's death, but her mother has seemingly moved on, so much that she's taking in Mandy and adopting her baby. An interesting premise, but I had a hard time getting into it. Realistic fiction is not my favorite genre, especially "issues" novels, and this one read like it sometimes. 

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)Bloodlines by Richelle Mead --- Can someone please tell me what this book was about? Because I ate it up while traveling one weekend, but now I can't remember a darn thing about it. The blurb says that it's about alchemist Sydney moving in with Moroi princess Jill (to keep the Dragomir bloodline safe by hiding Jill away), but the details are kind of fuzzy. That's how it is with these books though. Love em and leave em is what I say, and that's not a bad thing. Can't wait for the next one!

The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus: A Novel About Marriage, Motherhood, and MayhemThe Hunchback of Neiman Marcus by Sonya Sones --- I love that I'm too young for this book. I read it anyway because I love Sonya Sones' way with words, but I don't have a nest, and even if I did, it would certainly not be empty at this point, so I really and truly can't relate. If anything, I put myself in the shoes of the daughter going off to college (even though it's been a generous few years since that was true). But anyhow, it doesn't matter if you can relate or not. I still laughed and nearly cried at all the right parts and know that in some decades, I'll appreciate this book a little more.
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