Review: Charmed (Fairy Tale Reform School #2) by Jen Calonita

Charmed (Fairy Tale Reform School, #2)Charmed is the exciting sequel to the wildly popular Flunked -- second in the brand new Fairy Tale Reform School series where the teachers are (former) villains. "Charming fairy-tale fun." -Sarah Mlynowski, author of the New York Times bestselling Whatever After series.

It takes a (mostly) reformed thief to catch a spy. Which is why Gilly Cobbler, Enchantasia’s most notorious pickpocket, volunteers to stay locked up at Fairy Tale Reform School…indefinitely. Gilly and her friends may have defeated the Evil Queen and become reluctant heroes, but the battle for Enchantasia has just begun.

Alva, aka The Wicked One who cursed Sleeping Beauty, has declared war on the Princesses, and she wants the students of Fairy Tale Reform School to join her. As her criminal classmates give in to temptation, Gilly goes undercover as a Royal Lady in Waiting (don’t laugh) to unmask a spy…before the mole can hand Alva the keys to the kingdom.

Her parents think Gilly the Hero is completely reformed, but sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. Sometimes it’s good to be bad…
  I hope you are ready for another fun-filled romp through Enchantasia. Charmed is full of everything I loved from book one, Flunked, plus a little bit more. As to be expected, the setting is great! I really wish Fairy Tale Reform School was a real place so I could see it with my own eyes. (Someone tell Disney they need to make this the next expansion at Disney World, please!)Charmed brings new characters to the mix, but is that a good thing? That's something Gilly has to find out. Along with, of course, a serious life lesson about friendship. Like all good middle grades fiction, the main character has to make some life changing revelation. For Gilly, this is not an easy task and nearly costs her everything she values. I knew, though, that this would be a hit with its target audience, and I was right. I gave Flunked to my niece for Christmas and she loved it! In fact, she texted me when she started Charmed so we could discuss it. That's a sign of a good book, folks. I did find the conflict a bit transparent (I figured out the villain from the beginning), but I'm also well outside the intended age for a reader. So, I think the book gets a pass on that. Even if it was easy to scope out the bad guy, the setting and unique idea helped shape a great story. The Fairy Tale Reform School books are quickly becoming a favorite for me, and I hope Jen Calonita continues to write them. I look forward to seeing where the characters' adventures take us. On a side note-- If you ever get the chance to hear Ms. Calonita speak in person, DO IT. She's fascinating and has such a great story! Anyone that has pictures with N'Sync and wrote for TigerBeat magazine wins cool points for life. Just saying. 


Review: A School for Unusual Girls (Kathleen Baldwin)

A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, #1)It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don't fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts...
   How could you not love this book?! Smart women. Dashing young men. Espionage and sudden death. Yep, all the makings for something awesome.  I loved the strong characters! The girls were great on their own, but the supporting roles helped in many ways. Each dashing fella, both young and old, helped add a layer to the story in unique ways. There was a definate air of mystery with everyone's back story that you cannot deny. But then those stories come to a crashing peak towards the end that made for great page turning! With books like these, the setting has to be on point for the story to be believable. Kathleen Baldwin has done a fantastic job of re-imagining historical events and incorporating them into A School for Unusual Girls. Stranje House is mysterious and stands isolated from the rest of society, but that doesn't seem contrived. In fact, it works perfectly for some of the events that occur. I dare say that one of my favorite aspects about A School for Unusual Girls is that the events are based on "what-if" scenarious from history. For instance, imagine if Napolean was victorious and accomplished his dreams? What would the world become? To answer that, we might have to keep reading the series to see how events pan out. I highly recommend this one. I do not usually enjoy historical fiction of any kind, but A School for Unusual Girls spoke to me (hello, gorgeous cover!) and did not disappoint. 


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