Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mini Book Review: Frogged by Vivian Vande Velde

Frogged by Vivian Vande Velde
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Pages: 208
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


From Goodreads:

One should be able to say of a princess “She was as good as she was beautiful,” according to The Art of Being a Princess (third revised edition), which the almost-thirteen-year-old Princess Imogene is supposed to be reading. Not feeling particularly good, or all that beautiful, she heads for a nearby pond, where, unfortunately, a talking frog tricks her into kissing him. No prince appears, as one might expect. Instead, the princess turns into a frog herself! Thus launches a funny, wonderfully spun fractured fairy tale in which Imogene wonders if she will be forever frogified.

Mini Review

I don't even know how to describe this book. It's Vivian Vande Velde. I like Vivian Vande Velde. I haven't read a book she's written that I haven't liked, though some I've LOVED (but this one I liked). I recommend her to everyone because she's just that kind of author. Basically, amazing.

What I mean to say is that this is a solid read. It didn't leave a huge impression on me, but that's mostly because it's the more MG Vivian Vande Velde as opposed to the more YA Vivian Vande Velde, and I like her YA stuff more than her thinner MG stuff.

Her YA stuff has more character depth and deeper plots, whereas her more MG stuff sits a little closer to the surface and the characters aren't nearly as developed. 

But that's ok, because YA or MG, I can pretty much always count on Vivian Vande Velde to give me these things:
  • Sarcastic, sly, witty humor
  • A sweet, but background, romance
  • An imperfect main character who is fun, stubborn, smart, and ultimately good
  • An engaging mystery or conundrum with a satisfying conclusion
  • A plot with no boring filler and enough momentum to keep me engaged from start to finish
  • A feel-good, comfort read story
  • Funny side characters
  • Slap-in-the-face characters who aren't as good or nice as typical MG/YA book characters tend to be
  • A unique twist on ho-hum plot
And I got all that, so I'm happy.

Also, I loved that her prologue basically chastised me for remarking on how I usually skip prologues and author's notes. Ha! Well, I assure you, while I STILL skip most author's prologues (you know, the kind that are ABOUT the book and not actually a PART of the story), I ALWAYS read Vivian Vande Velde's prologues and author's notes (and you should too. They're funny!)

Recommended for fans of Vivian Vande Velde and fractured fairy tales.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Frogged that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

 Click on the pictures to go to my reviews.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: The Riyria Revelations by Michael Sullivan

Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, and Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan
Series: the Riyria Revelations
Release Date: 2012
Publisher: Orbit
Received: Library/Bought
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Special Shelf


From Goodreads:

There's no ancient evil to defeat or orphan destined for greatness, just unlikely heroes and classic adventure. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, are two enterprising thieves who end up running for their lives when they're framed for the death of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy that goes beyond the overthrow of a tiny kingdom, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery before it's too late.

The Riyria Revelations is a multi-book fantasy series released as six novels (now out of print) and the current trilogy version containing two books in each volume. Instead of a string of sequels the entire series was conceived as a single epic tale divided into individual episodes. All were written before the first was released so that plot elements are intertwined, yet each is self-contained with it's own conflict and resolution.

The Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles are two separate, but related series, and you can start reading with either Theft of Swords (publication order) or The Crown Tower (chronological order).


Let's be honest here

I initially picked up this series because I thought the guy on the cover looked hot. Yes, that IS how I select my books. Mostly.

His smaller companion on the right wasn't too bad either, but, really, it was that rugged man on the left with, count them, three swords that caught my eye.

Oh, and it was also billed as an epic fantasy series that promised battles, thieves, court intrigue, mercenaries, assassinations, questing, conspiracy and all that good stuff. So that caught my attention, too. 

Did it live up?

Did it ever! My gosh, this is one of those Leave Me Babbling books where it's just too good to not insert squees between mostly-incoherent gushing. 

This is definitely the type of series that gets better as it goes along. I finished the first book (which ends pretty well as a standalone) and a tiny part of me considered moving on to something else because, while I totally loved it, the characters felt a tiny bit...distant? Not entirely alive?

They were great, but, you know me, I'm a character girl and these characters were maybe 90% of the way there.

But I didn't wait and I don't recommend doing anything silly like waiting. Pick up the next book in the series as soon as you finish the first (added convenience, they're sold as omnibus editions! So the next book is already in your hands!). I did that, and I'm so glad I did that because the characters totally grew on me.

Also, all those things about the plot that I thought were plain old surface level fantasy fare turned out to be twisty turny stuff that took on a whole new level of meaning once I started connecting all the dots later on. 

Oh Hadrian

And that guy on the cover? He totally lived up! Talk about swoon fest. It wasn't the type of swooning where he had sizzling romantic scenes ('cause, honestly, his ultimate love declaration scene was kinda embarrassing—totally cute, but also totally embarrassing. BUT, yay for slow burn romance!). No, I swooned because of the type of man he is, which is a MANLY man. Not alpha man, but more like knight paragon kinda man.

There's even this scene in, oh, book five? Four? Six? Something like that, where he's pretending to be a knight and the real knights sneer at him because he's all common and stuff but it's Hadrian who actually embodies all the qualities of nobleness, steadfastness, honor, virtue, kindness, humility, etc. and the "real" knights are just big meanies.

It's all very heavy handed, but it's also SO TRUE that I didn't mind because by that point I was already donning my Hadrian cheerleading outfit and breaking out the pom poms every chance I got.

Ok fine, do you prefer the rogue wounded bad boy with a hidden tenderness?

Well lucky you, that's the little guy on the cover. Don't worry, he's not little in, erm, real life? Book life? Whatever, the cover is totally miscast, because Royce is a badass assassin who does BAD things to even badder people and doesn't bat an eye.

BUT, he has a not-so-secret relationship that makes him melt into a puddle of total besotted mush. Also, he's allowed himself to stop being so closed off and let Hadrian in as his best pal.

So you know what that means, right? LOTS of brothers-in-arms bonding! I LOVE brothers-in-arms bonding. It's fantastic. They do all sorts of cool things like pulling off amazing thefts that no one else could do or fighting in battles or engaging in secret missions and quests and bantering all the while because they have a kind of platonic man version of the hate-turned-love relationship going on that adds about a bizillion points to everything.

Did I say quests and battles?

YES! Also, court conflict and intrigue, assassinations (and not just by Royce's hand), mysteries, deposing kings, sieges, explosions, magic, duels, scary creatures, ship voyages, jungle battles, charming street urchins, villainous political factions, pretender queens, romances, kick butt women (TOTAL kick butt women!), double crosses, misdirection, and ALL sorts of other fabulous stuff.

It's pretty much an explosion of everything I want, all packaged in three, ok, BIG books (but all with swoony covers).

And a note on that size? I WANT MORE. Seriously. These books aren't long enough. Sure, they're LONG. I consider anything over 300 pages a LONG book, and there are six books here, each well over 300 pages. And yet, I'm not satisfied.

Oh sure, everything wraps up fine, in the end. But I'm not ready to let go of these characters or this world. I think I read everything in a little over a month and  a half, and it only took that long because halfway through I realized I loved it so much I needed to start "making it last."

Otherwise, this was the kind of series where my main motivation for waking up in the morning was so I could start reading and it was only my super strict fear of lying that kept me from using a  coveted sick day to call out of work so I wouldn't have to stop reading.

I've only really mentioned Hadrian and Royce, but this is an epic fantasy, so you know there's a requisite character guide because there are so many side characters (there are also maps, obviously). And, being a more traditional epic fantasy, a lot of those side characters get narrative time so I was able to fall in love with them even more.

I'd start listing my favorites (other than the obvious) but I'd end up with basically the character guide, and that thing is PAGES long. So I'm not even going to try. I'll just say that by the end of the series, all the characters felt like real people and, months later, I'm STILL not ready to let them go.

The near-non-stop action interspersed with character growth and tense peril helped make the pages fly by, too. 

I guess EVERYTHING these days

I feel so jaded lately. I used to be super dense and never guess endings and I loved that because who needs to be a smarty pants if it ruins the surprise? But lately I've been guessing all the endings and that's just no fun.

But not with this series! I think I've now firmly cemented my status as loony book lady in my new job's library because I read this series during my lunch breaks there and I swear I tried, but I couldn't stop myself from exclaiming out loud and otherwise talking to my books.

I mean, it's just, all this STUFF happened! And I didn't see ANY of it coming! It was amazing! There were all these twists and turns and I wasn't expecting any of it! Oh my, oh my gosh, NO NO NO, YES YES YES!! and similar phrases made up my more regular outbursts.

Also, I would just periodically exclaim, "My gosh I LOVE this series!" for no reason in particular other than just the general accumulation of awesomeness that I couldn't contain in non-verbal ways anymore.

At one point a student even asked me if I was ok. Thankfully she must have been a reader herself because after I sputtered out a, "yeah, I'm fine, it's just, my book" she just nodded kind of knowingly and smiled. So she's probably totally a kindred spirit reader.

Or she thinks I'm nuts. 

Bottom line

Do you love fantasy series? Brothers in arms? Romance? Action? Peril? Mystery? Court intrigue? Quests? Intriguing characters? Double crosses? Unexpected twists? Well, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?

Michael J. Sullivan, welcome to my auto-buy list.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Stuff you need to know about reading order:

The Main Series:

Theft of Swords (books 1 & 2)
Rise of Empire (books 3 & 4)
Heir of Novron (books 5 & 6)

The Prequel Series (soon to be released. Yeah, I've pre-ordered)

The Crown Tower
The Rose and the Thorn

Do you have any questions about The Riyria Revelations that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this? 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Review: The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
#2 in the Assassin's Curse duology
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry 
Pages: 336
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This is a review for book 2 in a duology. I mostly avoided spoilers for the first book, but if you're worried, then read my review for The Assassin's Curse instead!


From Goodreads:

After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.

Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.


I'm torn

I have a totally mixed response for this book and part of that is 100% ME and no other reader will be affected by it, but some was me as a reader and readers like me might feel similarly.

This is also a case of Star Decay Due to High Expectations, because after The Assassin's Curse I had SUPER high expectations for The Pirate's Wish. I mean, I even theorized that The Pirate's Wish could set a new bar in quest fantasy. I guess you could say I was a little over eager?

And, well, it didn't really meet my expectations. It DID, and it even gave me things I wanted and never realized I wanted, but it also failed to live up to my internal hype.

The good: Ananna

Ananna is still AWESOME. After meeting her in The Assassin's Curse she fast became one of my all time favorite fictional characters ever. Well, she is still one of my favorite characters ever.

She's smart, sassy, bold, brave (though never afraid to admit when she's scared out of her mind!) and she's no pushover. She goes for what she wants, and I admire her for that.

I especially love her voice, which is a mix of SHE'S SO COOL and wow, she's totally down to earth! It's rare that I, small, non-adventurous me, can be both enamored and in awe of a character who I can still totally relate with. But that's Ananna.

The unexpected good: The manticore

There's a manticore on the cover and at first I thought it was going to have something to do with the quests. Maybe some beastie our heroes would have to vanquish as one of their many questy actions to cure Naji of his curse.

Or maybe it was just slapped on the cover to give it an "ooo fantasy" vibe.

Either way, I was totally wrong. The manticore is a new character and I love her so much I want to reach into the book and hug her (not that SHE would appreciate that much, at least not that she'd admit).

I was pretty lukewarm on the relationship developments between Ananna and Naji (I KNOW, more on that later), but Ananna's friendship with the manticore totally made up for it! Their banter, deals, and the wary truce they struck that slowly built toward a real friendship was engaging and satisfying.

As much as I'm a sucker for a good romance, I do love friendship relationships and this one is wonderful. If Cassandra Rose Clarke ever decides to write more books about Ananna, I hope she includes the manticore.

Also, the manticore was FANTASTIC in the battle scenes! I never would have thought a manticore was what was missing from my pirate battles, but, yep, it was a definite mark in the win column.

The first half was great

I was reading along and for the full first half of the book I was ready to add The Pirate's Wish firmly on my Special Shelf. It was everything I loved about the first book and everything I wanted from the sequel.

There's a kiss early on, but the combative romance isn't replaced by boring sappy romance. I still felt the tension of wanting *THAT* kiss, which was wonderful because it was pretty much like I got to have my cake and eat it too.

The pacing was also brisk, but not super fast, and perfectly matched the level of excitement and action that characterized the first book. You can basically take my review for book one and apply everything I said to the first half of book two. I loved it. It was wonderful. And then.

The bad: Which was totally MY fault

I read this book on my computer. I don't like reading books on my computer. My brain mentally takes away points simply because I'm reading on the computer. It takes a truly awesome book to overcome that, and while the first half had decimated the little computer problem, the second half couldn't hold up.

I was also interrupted in my reading. This is what happened in my life at the time:

Nice life, nothing particularly happening. Reading first half of book.

Need to put book on hold for a week. Disaster strikes! Small is sad.

Tries to pick up book again. Magical spark is gone.

So, you see, my own stuff got in the way and I think I ended up turning to the book to make it all better, which added even more pressure onto an already over-hyped book.

The bad: Which wasn't ALL my fault

I thought this was going to be a questing book. The stuff that we did do was interesting and there's this part at the end that is definitely, different, but these activities hardly constitute a QUEST.

Also, I thought the impossible tasks were supposed to be, I don't know, HARD to achieve. I mean, we didn't have to go all out and drop a ring into Mordor or anything, but maybe hunt down a few horcruxes or battle with armored bears or maybe tangle with a ringwraith or something.

Mostly Ananna's "quest" was standard fare for an adventuring pirate. Sure, she did things, fun things, but they were of the normal battle one's pirate enemies type stuff. I expected the impossible tasks to require more than the day to day pirate activities (and an interesting but entirely peril-free encounter).

The bad: The romance

I'm cringing just writing this. I'm a total sucker for a good romance and I have to admit to being a little disappointed if there isn't at least a tiny bit of romance in every book I read.

But what's worse than a book that has NO romance? A book that has a disappointing romance. What's even worse is that I was on board with this romance in The Assassin's Curse but then it all sort of fell apart for me here.

My one complaint in the first book was that, while wonderful, the romance needed a little something more. More specifically, I needed to know Naji more (he also needed a name change, but at this point I don't even care anymore).

He was such a closed off character, but I let that slide because I knew there would be a sequel and I was hoping his character growth would come into play there. Well, it didn't. He's just as closed off as he was in the first book.

Not only that, but he seemed less capable. He mostly moped around and whined. He also didn't seem to care for Ananna nearly as much or in the same way as she cared for him. I found myself falling out of swoon with him, and that's a very disappointing thing to feel. His whole character and his romance with Ananna fizzled for me.

Bottom line

Clearly, I am disappointed. But, I'm also super excited and in love with The Pirate's Wish. I think I need to look at the duology (nope, not a trilogy!) as Ananna's story, with Naji just happening to be a part of that story, instead of looking at it as THEIR story. If I do that, then I like it a lot more.

I will definitely re-read both books and mentally categorize the duology as a whole as a Special Shelf book, even if I was disappointed with some events in the second book. There is plenty of room for more adventures and if Cassandra Rose Clarke ever writes them, then I will for sure read them.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about The Pirate's Wish that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

 Click on the pictures to go to my reviews/Goodreads.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mini Review: The Glitter Trap by Barbara Brauner

The Glitter Trap by Barbara Brauner
Series: #1 in the Oh My Godmother series
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 240
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page


From Goodreads:

Middle school is far from a fairytale for adorkable misfit Lacey Unger-Ware. When Lacey ends up with popular girl Paige Harrington's smart-mouthed fairy godmother, Katarina, trapped in her hair, life gets more magical--just not in a 'prince charming' kind of way.

Katarina's wings are too damaged to continue her fairy duties, and Lacey must take over as Paige's fairy godmother. Distracted by her new responsibilities, Lacey's in danger of losing her best friend, Sunny. Can Lacey get the hang of magic, make Paige's dreams come true, and survive middle school?

Barbara Brauner and James Iver Mattson's debut novel is full of heart and charm. Get ready for the Oh My Godmother series to cast a spell on tween girls!


There isn't anything negative I can say about this book except that it's age appropriate, which isn't really a negative at all. The plot moves briskly and kept me engaged throughout, the events and Lacey's narrative made me laugh out loud, and the world of godmothers was pretty inventive.

But, it's also very much a middle grade book. For me, the characters didn't have the level of development I look for as an adult reader and the basic underpinnings of the story were very been-there-done-that. But, this book isn't marketed to adults. It's marketed toward tweens.

And tween girls will probably love it, especially if they're animal lovers like Lacey. Friendship, family, and similar lessons are sprinkled throughout the story, but the overall vibe is lighthearted and fun. The basics of the story are pretty predictable, but the godmother magic was inventive. Tween girls can find a lot to relate to in Lacey and her two friends.

I see this series getting high circulation in my library and becoming one of those auto-buy series with a long list of library holds like Goddess Girls. There isn't as much personality diversity as in the GG series, but Lacey and her friends are average enough that they should appeal to a wide variety of girls.

The Glitter Trap can be read as a standalone

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about The Glitter Trap that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mini Reviews: Spellbinding & The Dead and Buried

by Maya Gold

Release Date: April 1, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 272
Received: ARC from publisher
Stars: 3
Goodreads Page

I'm pretty neutral on this book. I didn't love it and I didn't hate it. The main character didn't make much of an impression one way or the other and the romantic lead was inoffensively bland. The plot was fairly predictable and there wasn't a whole lot to it.

But, I liked it. I wanted to find time to read it and I ended up pushing aside other things in order to spend time reading. The main character didn't make much of an impression on me, but the writing style was languidly engaging and a lot more mature than I would have expected with that cover. I was expecting light and fluffy, which was pretty off base. 

The whole thing felt almost like an adult narrating. Not in the cringe-inducing adult-author-trying-and-failing-to-sound-hip way. But more like an adult looking back on her teenage years and telling her story. It had that vibe, and I tend to like that approach. Going along with that, the story focused more on Abby discovering what kind of person she wants to be than on the blurb's love spells and action.

Recommended if you're looking for a pleasant way to kill an afternoon or two.

The Dead and Buried
by Kim Harrington

Release Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Pages: 295
Received: ARC from publisher
Stars: 3.5
Goodreads Page

I'm always up for a good ghost story, and The Dead and Buried hit the mark of being sufficiently chilling without being *too* scary for a wimp like me.

It probably could have even been a little scarier. The scariness lost some steam as the book progressed. Actually, it lost a lot of steam overall.

Mostly that's because I figured out whodunnit way too early and then spent about half the book somewhat impatiently waiting for main character Jade to catch up. This is always a big let down.

That's ok though, because even though I figured out the big mystery, there was still a lot to like and hold my interest. Jade herself is just straight up likable. I enjoyed spending time with her. She's not a push over and she doesn't lose her perspective (or dignity) the second a cute guy shows interest. She pretty much made the book for me.

She also had her own hobbies and interests that she engaged in with little care to what other people thought about them (and what I thought about them was that they were super cool! I love gemstones).

All in all, a nice standalone mystery that I liked more than Kim Harrington's first book Clarity (mostly because I liked Jade a whole lot and I didn't like Clarity that much. The romance was better than Clarity's romance, too. The mystery was about the same though, which is a solid good for both books).

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

 Click on the pictures to go to my reviews.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Review: The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy
#2 in the League of Princes series
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Pages: 496
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Special Shelf

This is a review for a sequel, but there really aren't any spoilers here.

BUT, if you're still worried, you can read my review of the first book instead.


From Goodreads:

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don't you? They're the Princes Charming who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses - Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose - to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms.

But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening - even if no one will ever know it was they who did it.


Is it as good as the first?

Look, the first book left some pretty big shoes to fill. I had every confidence that Christopher Healy wouldn't let me down, but I'll be honest, I was a little worried. It's not that I had any real reason to worry. It's just that, well, when a book is SO good, it's kinda hard for a sequel to live up to that.

But don't worry, because The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle totally lives up to all my internal hype. I keep almost wanting to say it's better than the first book, but then I remember how awesome the first book was and I think no, no, it can't be better (but maybe it is a little better. Or, no, ahm...agh I'm not good with ranking things.)

So, yeah, I'm going to go with: Yes, it is definitely as good as the first.

(and maybe even a little better.)

Are all my favorite characters back?

YES! Plus a few new ones who are now also favorites.

And not only are they back, but they're just as great as they were in the first book. Maybe better, since there's all sorts of character growth going on.

Well, Liam is a little less great than the first book but that's because he's doing hero-soul-searching and you know me and issues. I just wanted him to be quiet, put on his cape, and get down to the mission. Still, he's not that bad.

But his sister Lila? SHE was beyond awesome. Talk about a plucky, intrepid character! She also has a non-romantic relationship developing with another character that made me want to go around hugging puppies every time it came up. It's absolutely wonderful.

Also, it has great spinoff fodder (hint, hint, Mr. Healy...)

Then there's Briar, who was annoying in the first book (in a good way) but is downright BAD in the second book. She's fantastic! She totally revels in her villainous ways but I can't help wanting to invite her to a sleepover party anyway. One thing is for sure, we would definitely have fun. And pageantry (which is a plus, I think).

Her total hate-turned love flirting with Gustav is also a blast to read. They're two characters who are funny and great on their own, but enhance the second they're put together. But don't think romance is a big thing. It's there for sure, and the hints from the first book at switching up the couples are developed more (YAY!) but romance still takes a back seat to the humorous action.

I also have to note how Frederic never failed to make me laugh out loud. I'm a sucker for a good pun, and the way Frederic congratulates the other characters for their unintentional puns just about made my day. While it's insanely hard to pick a single favorite character among all the awesome characters in this book, I think Frederic may just be my favoritest favorite.

Four hundred ninety six pages is a LONG book

And I don't do well with long books. It's just, all those pages! Long books leave a lot of room for boring stuff, and I really don't like reading about boring stuff.

Thankfully, Christopher Healy doesn't write about boring stuff (and if he did, I guarantee he'd find a way to write it funny). The plot is peppered with all sorts of things like questing, mystery solving, battling, sneaking in castles, taking over kingdoms, plotting, scheming, and a bank-heist-type escapade to steal a sword (the presence of swords adds auto points).

Plus, more.

Every bit is super, laugh-out-loud funny. I'm not really big on quoting things, but The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle makes me want to start quoting. I might have annoyed my husband (!!) once or twice or ten or so times reading bits out loud or just shoving the book at him and telling him to read the page I had open. It's that quotable.

Do you have to read the first book? Or the third?

I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to read the first or third books, but, yes, The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle can be read pretty well as a standalone.

As for the first book, their adventures are referenced for sure, but it's pretty easy to get the gist of what happened without totally spoiling book one or leaving the reader lost in book two. So if you only have book two in your hands, go ahead and start reading. Just make sure to track down book one later on (because it's so worth it).  

And as for book three, there is definite Set Up going on at the end (villains cackling, heroes regrouping, travel plans established) but no one is left in peril or anything like that. So if you're worried about not starting the series until the third book is published and the series is complete, don't be. I'm a total proponent of that approach, but in this case I don't think it's necessary at all. Jump in.

Bottom line

Christopher Healy was an auto-buy author after The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom and he's still solidly an auto-buy author. I can't stop raving about this fantastic series and book-pushering it on everyone I know.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

 Click on the pictures to go to my reviews.

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