Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review: A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Dunce

A Curse Dark as Gold
by Elizabeth C. Dunce
YA, Fairy Tale
396 pages
published: 2009
3 of 5 stars


Upon the death of her father, seventeen-year-old Charlotte struggles to keep the family's woolen mill running in the face of an overwhelming mortgage and what the local villagers believe is a curse, but when a man capable of spinning straw into gold appears on the scene she must decide if his help is worth the price.  - from Goodreads


I liked this book. It was a creative retelling of Rumpelstiltskin with a curse and a mystery, a history and the additional characters of the mill and the village. I enjoyed the perspective of the "Miller's Daughter" rather than Rumpelstiltskin. I believed in the characters. I reveled in hating one of them and loving others. I loved learning about the technical aspects of making and selling cloth. The writing was good, with emotional situations making me feel all the appropriate emotions.

Yet overall, this was no love affair for me for two main reasons - both of which are matters of personal taste/preference and do not prevent me from recommending this or understanding why others love it. First, I must be used to characters starting off at rock bottom, or quickly hitting rock bottom, and spending the rest of the time climbing out. It was difficult to read about a character whose situation got better, than worse, than really great, than worse-er... At one point when things were happy, I put the book down and didn't read for a while. I didn't want to ride the roller coaster down again! I am glad that I did finish. The ride was rough but the ending rewarding.

The second reason this wasn't my favorite story had to do with Charlotte. I admired her tenacity and hard work and independence and practicality. But she eventually carried it to the ridiculous and I stopped admiring her. She began doing things and making decisions that I hated. I have been thinking about this. More often than not characters do things I wouldn't do, think things I wouldn't think, and make decisions I wouldn't make, but that doesn't stop me from liking them or their story. My problem with Charlotte must have to do with the area of her disagreeable decisions. She poked a nerve of mine. At one point she was faced with a decision and she hesitated - honestly hesitated - and from that point on she lost me. My interest in finishing the story became more about solving the mystery than out of concern for her, and the loss of that personal dimension in a story is detrimental to me.

Overall? It is a worthwhile book that I would recommend to fairy tale lovers. It is not a personal favorite of mine.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

BBAW Registration


I am trying to carefully follow all the directions to participate in BBAW which is coming up after school starts, which I think is a good thing. I don't really know what it is all about, but it sounds exciting and fun. So I'm declaring my blog as an eclectic blog after much hemming and hawing. Here is the snippet of description: this blog doesn’t specialize in any one book genre. It is known for consistently excellent reviews, recommendations, analysis, and other content in a variety of genres.

I tried hard to fit somewhere else, but I review everything from picture books to classics. (Is this a problem for anyone??)

I've pulled out my 5 posts and now I'm jumping into the water!


Review: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
PPB: Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson - Illus. by Jane Chapman
Review: Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Listful Mondays: Reading Hazards

If you'd like to look into registering, check it out HERE.

PPB: Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley - Illus. G. Brain Garas


I don't want people to think that, in my opinion, only rhyming picture books can be perfect, so I'm throwing in some southern prose.
Saving Sweetness
by Diane Stanley
Illus. by G Brain Karas
Picture Book
published: 1996


Mrs. Sump is so mean to the ophans that little Sweetness runs away. The sheriff is duty-bound to find that little 'thang' and save her from the hot hot desert and that nasty outlaw Coyote Pete. But who really saves whom?


I was first introduced to this book at a writing conference where I was privileged to hear Diane read it out loud to us. We were in stitches. It was glorious. I had to immediately acquire my own copy and have loved reading it to my kids since. It is a tad longer than your average picture book, but you won't even notice. You'll love the resourceful, polite, clever Little Sweetness and that good-intentioned but hapless Sheriff. And the book is a wallow of fanciful and funny southern sayings. I challenge anyone to read it out loud and not fall into a southern accent, fake or otherwise. And the ending is funny, sweet, and laced with my all-time-favorite, poetic irony.

Please check it out! You won't regret it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Black Hole Reviews

Welcome to another edition of Black Hole Reviews! As I slog through my backed up reader, I am finding so much I want to read. I am noticing that I'm drawn to this Eva Ibbotson's books, even though I haven't read a single one yet.  Perhaps I'm just in a romantical mood? Anyway, check out these appealing book and these awesome/sucky reviews.