Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Four Silver Stars

fairestFairest by Gail Carson Levine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“Foolishness may have golden offspring. I hope yours does.”
I did too.

Aza might have the most unusual and loveliest voice in all of Ayortha, a kingdom of singers. But because so many people–including Aza herself–consider her to be ugly, she’ll go to foolish lengths in her attempts to magically become pretty in Fairest, a novel by Gail Carson Levine.

Oh, fairy tales aren’t my go-to type of reading, and I don’t reach for many middle grade books to read either. But I once saw and enjoyed the movie Ella Enchanted, based (loosely?) on the Newbery Honor book by the same author. As I used to read more fantasy as a child, it’s been my plan for some time to dip back into fantasy fiction of the mythical and magical variety. So, when I happened to come across this novel, I figured, “Hey. Why not?”

This fantastical tale turned out to be quite engaging with excellent drops of genius along the way. There’s blackmail, betrayal, and some violence, but also endearing kindness and romance in the story, along with Aza’s down-to-earth lesson that young people (and, I daresay, grown folks as well) can learn from. The novel didn’t leave me with a Chronicles-of-Narnia kind of “wooow,” but still, every minute of it was worthwhile to me.

So, I’ll say this book is my small, happy step back into the mythical and magical side of things. 🙂

The Dressmaker’s Secret by Kellyn Roth

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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The Dressmaker's SecretThe Dressmaker’s Secret by Kellyn Roth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Eight-year-old Alice loves and admires her mother, Claire, a seamstress in 19th Century London. But as Alice’s curiosity grows around the apparently taboo subject of her absent father, she’s determined to find some answers in The Dressmaker’s Secret by author Kellyn Roth.

This novel has an old-fashioned feel. Here and there, it gave me an impression much like the starkness I’ve felt while reading Dickens and Brontë (Charlotte more so than Emily.) My favorite parts were those centered on the antics and young struggles of the novel’s children, and I couldn’t help being reminded a bit of Johanna Spyri’s Heidi and her friend Peter, the shepherd boy, during the scenes with Alice and her friend Kirk, the stable boy.

I’ll admit that modern middle grade fiction is unfamiliar territory for me, as this novel is aimed at an upper middle grade to young adult audience. Yet, while the book’s stylistic aspects like the clear melodrama, the childlike or vague explanations, and the excess of exclamation points seem more fitting for children, much of the story’s subject matter might be pretty mature for readers younger than teens.

At times, I lost the sense of a vital plot behind the novel’s course of events. Then as the story headed toward its ending with a rather sudden and convenient solution for the characters’ predicament, I felt unsure about whether Claire and Alice were meant to grow and learn a central lesson through it all, beyond their outward circumstances.

Still, the novel’s mix of faith, mystery, romance, and the perspectives of characters of different ages should appeal to a number of Christian Fiction fans.

The Little Gymnast by Sheila Haigh

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Five Gold Stars

The Little GymnastThe Little Gymnast by Sheila Haigh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

I lost track of how many times I reread this book as a child. Somehow, I understood what it meant to be passionate about something yet to have the looming threat of not being able to follow your passion because of practical constraints. Plus, I was a big fan of gymnastics, which added to the book’s appeal. I’d recommend this book to any girl to instill in her the hope of reaching her dreams as she works hard and doesn’t give up.