Review: The Juliet Spell (Douglas Rees)

The Juliet Spell
Douglas Rees

The Juliet Spell (Harlequin Teen)I wanted the role of Juliet more than anything. I studied hard. I gave a great reading for it—even with Bobby checking me out the whole time. I deserved the part.

I didn’t get it. So I decided to level the playing field, though I actually might have leveled the whole play. You see, since there aren’t any Success in Getting to Be Juliet in Your High School Play spells, I thought I’d cast the next best—a Fame spell. Good idea, right?

Yeah. Instead of bringing me a little fame, it brought me someone a little famous. Shakespeare. Well, Edmund Shakespeare. William’s younger brother.

Good thing he’s sweet and enthusiastic about helping me with the play...and—ahem—maybe a little bit hot. But he’s from the past. Way past. Cars amaze him—cars! And cell phones? Ugh.

Still, there’s something about him that’s making my eyes go star-crossed....

Will Romeo steal her heart before time steals him away?

If I could describe this book in one word it would be... lackluster.

I was SO excited to see this book on NetGalley. I love retellings of SHakespeare's plays. One of my all time favorites is Ophelia by Lisa Klein. Unfortunately, this book did not live up to my hopes. Actually, it was really disappointing. I finished it just because I hate to abandon books, but it was a chore.

The first sign that I wasn't going to fall head over heels in love with this book was the characters. I never made a connection with them. None of them. Miri was a little boring and self-absorbed for my liking. She constantly droned on and on about being in love and wanting to play Juliet. It got old really fast. She was also too wishy-washy. If you read the book, you'll know what I mean. There were other characters, but I don't feel like they're worth mentioning. They were just there, interacting, but not really contributing anything of significance. You never get the sense of any character development. They were very flat and one sided.

My major issue with the book was the plot. It was so rushed! Too much happened in a short amount of time. I never bought into the chain of events. It was like the pieces just magically made themselves fit into some puzzle and I was supposed to believe it all. I realize that this is fiction, but you have to at least give me a reason to suspend my reality. Sell me on the story, please! Along with being rushed, it felt choppy in places. Parts of the story lagged considerably. There were pages of time-traveling hoopla that didn't seem to flow with the rest of the story. I understand the purpose of the time-travel-- after all, that's how Shakespeare and his brother arrive in the 21st century, but it still didn't fully fit. I skipped many of those pages because it read like a physics textbook. Very boring.

Overall, I really didn't "feel" this book. I had high hopes that fell flat. The money I would have spent on this book (if I were to buy it) will be going towards my new Coach purse. THAT would be money well spent.


Review: A True Princess

A True Princess
Diane Zahler
Product Details: 
Reading Level: Middle Grades
Pages: 192
Publisher: Harper Collins (February 1, 2011)
ISBN: 0061825018
Source: ARC from publisher in exchange for an honest review

A True PrincessTwelve-year-old Lilia is not a very good servant. In fact, she's terrible! She daydreams, she breaks dishes, and her cooking is awful. Still, she hardly deserves to be sold off to the mean-spirited miller and his family. Refusing to accept that dreadful fate, she decides to flee. With her best friend, Kai, and his sister, Karina, beside her, Lilia heads north to find the family she's never known. But danger awaits. . . .
As their quest leads the threesome through the mysterious and sinister Bitra Forest, they suddenly realize they are lost in the elves' domain. To Lilia's horror, Kai falls under an enchantment cast by the Elf King's beautiful daughter. The only way for Lilia to break the spell and save Kai is to find a jewel of ancient power that lies somewhere in the North Kingdoms. Yet the jewel will not be easy to find. The castle where it is hidden has been overrun with princess hopefuls trying to pass a magical test that will determine the prince's new bride. Lilia has only a few days to search every inch of the castle and find the jewel—or Kai will be lost to her forever.

There are several things in life that I find hard to resist: shoes, free books, and retellings of fairy tales. A True Princess (Diane Zahler) was a quaint retelling of the classic fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.” Unlike the well-known fairy tale version, however, this retelling is packed full of adventure and “girl power."

The story begins when Lilia, the adventurous protagonist of the story, finds herself in a very difficult situation. She has to decide whether or not to run away from the only home and family she has ever known. If she stays, her stepmother will sell her to the local Miller. If she runs away, however, she will be on her own in a strange land without any protection. The decision may seem daunting to some, but Lilia does not falter from her choice: she will run away.

While on her way out of town, Lilia is met by her adopted brother and sister, Karina and Kai. The two siblings tracked Lilia easily using the family’s dog as their guide. Together, the three companions set out to find Lilia’s true parents. Unfortunately, their trip would not go as smoothly as they had planned. A close call with a group of robbers in Bitra Forest leaves the group lost in the Elf-King’s territory. Knowing the horrible danger they are in, they become even more distraught when Kai falls under the Elf-King’s daughter’s evil spell. Luckily, Lilia is a fast thinker. She makes a deal with the Elf-King, but he gives her only two weeks to carry out the bargain. Thus, Lilia and Karina find themselves posing as servants in the local castle while they desperately try to devise a plan to save Kai.

Keeping with the genre of fairy tale retellings, the remainder of the plot holds true to the story of “The Princess and the Pea.” However, there are a few twists in the new version. As the title hints, “a true princess” will be found; she’s just not what everyone expected. This retelling shows that a princess can come in any form. It’s very pleasing to find a strong female character for young readers. Lilia is confident, courageous, and loyal. All of her honorable traits become evident throughout the book, and develop to make her an enjoyable character. Also, the development of the characters is fantastic, and makes the reader imagine they are a third party in the conversations between Karina, Kai, and Lilia. Fans of fantasy and fairy tales will enjoy this novel.

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