An attractive blend of fairy-tale elements with self-esteem encouragement.

READ REVIEW

PRINCESS AND TROLL

ONCE UPON A TIME ON A BAD HAIR DAY

Told in rhyming verse, this illustrated book for kids ages 1 to 7 tells the tale of a princess with magical hair who is cursed by an unhappy troll.

A wise king and beautiful queen have a daughter they name Princess Marie Antoinette. She’s a perfect sweetheart with one noticeable difference from other babies: “The princess’s hair was magic— / the real fairy-tale stuff.” It changes color throughout the day, and though the colors are pretty, the princess’s parents are worried. A doctor prescribes “cough syrup and leeches” and warns that if Marie’s hair is cut, “she might stop being herself.” The baby’s fairy godmother arrives to reassure them that “the princess’s hair is a different affair / that comes from the magic realm.” To protect his daughter, the king declares her hair a national treasure, never to be cut. As Marie grows up, her hair grows longer and longer, heavier and heavier, until she needs help carrying it from “Six maids, five servants, / a kitchen helper, butler, and caddie, / the teacher and his silly pet, / a young page, and poor choir lady.” When a talented new court hairstylist arrives, the princess gains more freedom to move about and goes to school, where her magical hair amuses other students by changing color and dispensing butterflies and treats. Marie’s hair is cursed by a bitter, gloomy troll with a grudge, but her kindness finds a way to reach him. Mammonek (Escape From Cat City, 2018) tells a fanciful story bolstered by some serious undercurrents. Readers will likely enjoy the fun of all the ways Marie’s hair behaves and misbehaves and the various attempts to contain it. At the same time, the book includes messages about good self-care and the necessity of living in the real world, not in dreams. The rhyming verse usually works well, although the scansion can be off. Mammonek’s illustrations are a charming collage of photos and digital artwork in confectionary colors set against backdrops of swirls, butterflies, and other images.

An attractive blend of fairy-tale elements with self-esteem encouragement.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5255-4907-6

Page Count: 136

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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