Tag Archives: Jennifer Donnelly

Review: Beauty and the Beast Lost in a Book

Today I’m part of a blog tour with Disney to celebrate Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly! My review copy of Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book and a complimentary copy of Belle’s Library: A Collection of Literary Quotes and Inspirational Musings was provided by Disney.

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book
Jennifer Donnelly
Disney Press
January 31, 2017

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book

Smart, bookish Belle, a captive in the Beast’s castle, has become accustomed to her new home and has befriended its inhabitants. When she comes upon Nevermore, an enchanted book unlike anything else she has seen in the castle, Belle finds herself pulled into its pages and transported to a world of glamour and intrigue. The adventures Belle has always imagined, the dreams she was forced to give up when she became a prisoner, seem within reach again.

The charming and mysterious characters Belle meets within the pages of Nevermore offer her glamorous conversation, a life of dazzling Parisian luxury, and even a reunion she never thought possible. Here Belle can have everything she ever wished for. But what about her friends in the Beast’s castle? Can Belle trust her new companions inside the pages of Nevermore? Is Nevermore‘s world even real? Belle must uncover the truth about the book, before she loses herself in it forever.

My Review

I won’t lie– I agreed to review this book for two reasons: one, because I love Jennifer Donnelly’s writing (A Northern Light is still my favorite, though I’ve enjoyed other books she’s written) and because I needed a little more Beauty and the Beast in my life to tide me over until the movie comes out next month. Right? You know.

Because I know what a fantastic writer Donnelly is, I didn’t worry that this book would be overly cheesy, and in fact it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong– there are still silly antics between the household characters, like Cogsworth rambling about grand stories and Lumiere gently teasing him while Mrs. Potts mothers everyone. But on the whole, the story has a more serious tone– much like the original animated movie. The prologue and epilogue feature two sisters– Death and Love playing chess together and discussing a wager they’ve made over the lives of Belle and her Beast. That sets a darker tone for the story, but for the most part, the tale isn’t dark.

I liked that the story tied into some of the memorable moments from the movie– Beast sharing his library with Belle, and the way he saved her from the wolves. But there were added moments, too, where the reader gets to see expanded scenes from those referenced in the movie and a lot more of the process of Belle trying to figure out where she belongs and whether to trust her new castle friends.

The story about the enchanted book felt like it definitely could have happened between scenes of the original movie. I liked that I didn’t have to abandon one of my favorite childhood movies in order to enjoy this, but it didn’t try to compete with the movie, either. This was a fresh, different story that still tied in with the overarching tale.

Overall? I definitely recommend this one to Beauty and the Beast fans, especially those counting down the days to the release of the new movie who need a little something to get through until it hits theaters.

Recommended for Ages 9 up.

Cultural Elements
Belle comes from a small French town. In Nevermore, she meets a fair-skinned countess and her sister, who has dark skin and silver hair.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
One instance of mild profanity near the beginning of the book. (Beast makes a comment that he and his companions are cursed.)

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Some magical elements. Two sisters– Death and Love appear as sisters and make a wager on Beast and Belle. Death intends to win the bet by any means necessary. Throughout the story, as in the original Disney movie, Belle learns that it’s the strength of heart, of love that matters and that loving takes great courage.

Violent Content
A brief battle scene in which Belle fights off clockwork beings and briefly faces down Death herself.

Drug Content

About Jennifer Donnelly

website | twitter | instagram

Jennifer Donnelly is an award-winning, best-selling author of books for young adults and adults, including the Waterfire Saga: Deep Blue, Rogue Wave, Dark Tide, and Sea Spell. Her other young adult novels include These Shallow Graves, Revolution, and A Northern Light, winner of Britain’s prestigious Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature, and a Michael L. Printz Honor. She has also written Humble Pie, a picture book, and the adult novels The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose, and The Wild Rose. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. You can visit her at www.jenniferdonnelly.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @jenwritesbooks.

Enter the Giveaway for a Chance to Win a Collection of 20 Books!

Update: Giveaway has ended.

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Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizes and samples provided by Disney Press.


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Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

These Shallow Graves
Jennifer Donnelly
Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

When news of Jo’s father’s sudden death rips her away from school, she returns home to her grieving family. Unable to accept the story that her father accidentally shot himself, she teams up with Eddie, a local reporter who worked for her father’s paper, to uncover the truth about his death. As each clue leads to more questions, Jo and Eddie quickly realize that the uncovering the truth could destroy everything her father once built. Jo also realizes she may be falling for the handsome reporter, but to surrender to her feelings would mean turning her back on her family.

I first fell in love with Donnelly’s writing in A Northern Light. More recently I’ve read the first three Waterfire Saga books, which are a lot lighter and geared for a bit of a younger audience. I enjoyed those books, too, but I have to say I’ve been craving the darker, more complex historical feel that first book contains, and These Shallow Graves absolutely delivered all that I hoped for and more.

The romance between Jo and Eddie had me flipping page after page. I loved the dynamics between them and also the way they each related to other characters in the story. I loved that the side characters had a lot of personality and many became significant to the story. Jo’s journey has a lot to do with answering the question of who’s valuable, and over and over Donnelly presents answers in the way these minor characters unexpectedly play significant roles in the way the story develops. I loved that message.

Readers looking for a murder-solving suspense, a taste of historical fiction, or a swoon-worthy romance will find these things and more in These Shallow Graves. If you liked A Northern Light, I suspect this one will be a sure win, too.

Language Content
Infrequent use of moderate profanity.

Sexual Content
Girls briefly discuss curiosity about sex – no details. Jo learns of the existence of brothels and briefly visits the parlor of one. She spends the night in the company of a man, but only sleeping occurs.

Spiritual Content
References to church attendance. A man claims regret over his past misdeeds causes him to have visions of Hell.

This book contains a lot of suspenseful and intense moments featuring bad, violent men, who don’t hesitate to harm women and children. The description are often brief, but so sinister.

One of the characters is a student of forensic medicine. He relates information about causes of death to Jo and Eddie. His descriptions can be a bit graphic.

Drug Content
Brief reference to morphine addiction. Several scenes take place in a bar or show characters drinking alcohol.

Waterfire Saga Giveaway

Don’t miss a chance to enter the giveaway for the first three books in the Waterfire Saga plus series-themed nail polish. Check it out here. (Giveaway ends 11/3/15)


Waterfire Saga Giveaway and Mini Reviews #Giveaway

One of the series I’ve been super excited about is the Waterfire Saga series. Today, I’m honored to work with Disney Hyperion to offer a Waterfire Saga prize pack as part of a giveaway celebrating the release of Dark Tide, the latest book in the series by the amazing and lovely Jennifer Donnelly.

Mini Review: Deep Blue

My favorite thing about this book is that it doesn’t take the traditional line of stories about mermaids. There’s no handsome human prince out there waiting for this Mer princess to rescue him. She’s got much bigger problems right here under the sea. I love that Donnelly creates this whole culture with  lore and customs but keeps it feeling fresh and accessible. Sera and her friends feel like hip teen girls even though they’re in a completely different world than ours. This is a great intro series for younger teen or preteen readers looking to get into fantasy or fairy tale retelling-type stories. (Read my full review of Deep Blue here.)

Mini Review: Rogue Wave

While Deep Blue spends a lot of time following Sera’s story, Rogue Wave branches out into her friend Neela’s story quite a bit. The Mer world has kingdoms of wildly different races and Sera’s journey to save her kingdom involves six girls with diverse backgrounds. I liked that the series brings some variations in race and ethnicity even at the ocean floor. Sera and Mahdi’s romance progresses but stays very PG and sweet. There are a couple of things that got a little bit repetitive for me – over and over we’re reminded that a ritual shared by five of the Mer girls transferred some of their special abilities to each other. It wasn’t a big deal, but it did seem to come up a lot. (Full review coming soon.)

Mini Review: Dark Tide

Read an excerpt of Dark Tide here.

In Dark Tide we get a view into Ling’s and Astrid’s roles in the plot to destroy the monster Abbadon. The stakes get higher as the bad guys close in on the mermaids and Mahdi’s cover could be blown at any minute. Sera and Neela have grown a lot since we first met them. Sera is now a seasoned warrior and leader. Neela has so much more confidence in herself. We get a little taste of romance with some of the other characters, which I really liked, too. Again, the love stories stay very clean. This might have been my favorite book of the series so far. The suspenseful ending definitely left me eager to read the final novel Sea Spell, which won’t be out until June 2016. (I received a copy of Dark Tide from Disney-Hyperion as part of my participation in the giveaway, but my opinions on the book and series are my own. Look for my full review on Dark Tide in November.)

About Jennifer Donnelly

Jennifer Donnelly is an award-winning author of both adult and young adult books, including Deep Blue, Rogue Wave, and Dark Tide, the first three books in the Waterfire Saga. For adults she has written a trilogy of best-selling books that includes The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose, and The Wild Rose. Her first young adult novel, A Northern Light, received many accolades, among them the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Carnegie Medal in the UK, and a Michael L. Printz Honor. Her second young adult novel, Revolution, was named a Best Book of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal, and the audiobook received a 2011 American Library Association Odyssey Honor. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. For more information, visit www.jenniferdonnelly.com.

(She is also one of my favorite authors! If you haven’t read A Northern Light you definitely want to check it out.)

Waterfire Saga Books and Nail Polish Set Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive these awesome goodies provided by Disney Hyperion. (US addresses only, please.) Winner will be chosen when the contest ends on 11/3/15.

Leave a blog post comment about your favorite mermaid myth or story to enter the giveaway.

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Top Ten Authors on my Auto-Buy List

Top Ten Tuesday is an original meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme asks participants to list the authors we keep on auto-buy. As soon as we know there’s a new book coming out, we’re already planning when we’ll read it and requesting the galley or placing a pre-order.

Finding favorite books is always a treat, but finding an author who never fails to disappoint is a whole other kind of fun. When a new release hits shelves by these authors, I know I’m going to buy it. Here are my top ten auto-buy authors followed by snippets of some of their book covers. Enjoy!

(These are listed in no particular order.)

1. Markus Zusak

2. Jonathan Friesen

3. Stephanie Morrill

4. Laura L. Smith

5. Marissa Meyer

6. Leah Cypess

7. Jenny B. Jones

8. Lemony Snicket

9. Jacqueline Woodson

10. Jennifer Donnelly

How about you?

Do you have a list of authors whose books you automatically buy? Which authors would make your top ten list?

Review: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Deep Blue (Waterfire Saga Book One)
Jennifer Donnelly
Disney Hyperion
Published on May 6, 2014

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Dark dreams haunt Princess Serafina as she prepares to prove herself worthy to one day be Regina and rule her people. When an assassin attacks her mother and an army overtakes her home, Sera and her best friend are forced to flee for their lives. Could there be truth to the voices from Sera’s dreams? If she can find the ones she hears in her sleep, can they stop the evil force and restore Sera’s world to what it was?

As far as mermaid books go, Donnelly wins the award for best story world and most unique story ideas. If you’re rolling your eyes expecting there to be a human prince out there waiting for rescue, think again. This author has developed an entire Mer culture with rituals, history and complex political alliances with other Mer kingdoms. Delicious stuff. And instead of the familiar mermaid-longs-to-be-human-for-love theme, we experience an entirely different adventure full of danger and intrigue.

As a part of the ceremony in which Sera proves herself the rightful heir to the throne of her kingdom, she will pledge to marry her childhood sweetheart, Prince Madhi. Troubling rumors surround the young prince, and Sera fears he is no longer the friend and love she once knew him to be. In one scene in which Sera confronts the prince, he claims there’s more going on than she knows. As the story unfolded, I developed a pretty specific theory about what I think is going on. I’m anxious to read the second book in the series, Rogue Wave to learn if I’m right!

Language Content

Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Sea witches chant a song about five mermaids gathering to stop a terrible evil from destroying their kingdoms. Mer people worship powerful ancestors who saved them when Atlantis fell, giving them tails, the ability to breathe under water, and the power to perform magic through song for protection.

Serafina and her friends are captured by an evil man who threatens to torture them and has already cut the thumb from another prisoner. Some brief details.

Battle scenes show armies fighting one another and civilians caught in the fray. Descriptions are brief.

Drug Content
Green pill.



Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases I Meant to Read

This is in participation with a weekly meme from The Broke and the Bookish.

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

“When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen.

With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo’s search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she’ll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time.” (description from Amazon.com)

Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin

“Twelve-year-old John Fischer Jr., or “Little John” as he’s always been known, is spending his summer helping his father with his tree removal business, clearing brush for Mr. King, the wealthy owner of a chain of Texas dollar stores, when he hears a beautiful song that transfixes him. He follows the melody and finds, not a bird, but a young girl sitting in the branches of a tall sycamore tree.

There’s something magical about this girl, Gayle, especially her soaring singing voice, and Little John’s friendship with Gayle quickly becomes the one bright spot in his life, for his home is dominated by sorrow over his sister’s death and his parents’ ever-tightening financial difficulties.

But then Mr. King draws Little John into an impossible choice—forced to choose between his family’s survival and a betrayal of Gayle that puts her future in jeopardy.

Inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen story, Nightingale’s Nest is an unforgettable novel about a boy with the weight of the world on his shoulders and a girl with the gift of healing in her voice.” (description from Amazon.com)

The Draw of Kings by Patrick W Carr

“Dark Forces Have Gathered and the Final Battle for Illustra Has Begun.

Their journey to Merakh should have made Errol and his companions heroes of the realm. Instead, they’ve been branded enemies of the kingdom.

In the wake of the king’s death, Duke Weir is ruling the country–and he intends to marry Adora to bring an heir from the royal line. With Errol and the others imprisoned and the identity of the rightful heir to the throne still hidden in secrecy, Illustra is on the verge of civil war–and threatened by hostile forces gathering on every side.

A dangerous mission to free Errol is attempted, but the dangers facing the kingdom mount with every passing moment. The barrier has fallen, ferrals are swarming toward the land, and their enemies draw ever closer. Will the discovery of the true heir turn back the tide of Illustra’s destruction?” (description from Amazon.com)

Blue Gold by Elizabeth Stewart

“Coltan, or “blue gold,” is a rare mineral used in making cell phones and computers. Across continents, the lives of three teen girls are affected by the “blue gold” trade.

Sylvie’s family had to lee the Democratic Republic of the Congo after her father was killed by a rogue militia gang in the conlict for control of coltan. The refugee camp where she now lives is deplorable, and Sylvie yearns for a way out—to save not only herself, but her remaining family.

Laiping labors in a Chinese factory, soldering components for cell phones. She had left her small village to make her fortune, but the factory conditions are crushing, and the constant pressure to send money home adds to her misery. Yet when Laiping tries to improve her situation, she sees what happens to those who dare question the electronics company’s policies.

Fiona is a North American girl who, in one thoughtless moment, takes a picture on her cell phone she comes to regret. In the aftermath, she learns not only about trust and being true to oneself, but the importance of fighting for what is right.

All three teens are unexpectedly linked by these events.

Elizabeth Stewart conducted extensive research to authentically capture the experiences of all three girls. The result is an intense and powerful story about their struggles to create better lives for themselves in the face of the world’s increasing appetite for coltan.” (description from Amazon.com)

On a Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers

“Young heroes decide that they are not too young or too powerless to change their world in this gripping, futuristic young adult novel by the New York Times bestselling author of the Printz Award–winning Monster.

It is 2035. Teens, armed only with their ideals, must wage war on the power elite.

Dahlia is a Low Gater: a sheep in a storm, struggling to survive completely on her own. The Gaters live in closed safe communities, protected from the Sturmers, mercenary thugs. And the C-8, a consortium of giant companies, control global access to finance, media, food, water, and energy resources—and they are only getting bigger and even more cutthroat. Dahlia, a computer whiz, joins forces with an ex-rocker, an ex-con, a chess prodigy, an ex-athlete, and a soldier wannabe. Their goal: to sabotage the C-8. But how will Sayeed, warlord and terrorist, fit into the equation?

Walter Dean Myers was a prolific author for young people, writing over one hundred books and receiving every major award in the field of children’s literature during his lifetime. He was the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature during 2012 and 2013.” (description from Amazon.com)

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

“The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne–or his life.” (description from Amazon.com)

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Matthieu

“Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party. When Healy High star quarterback, Brandon Fitzsimmons, dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody.

Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the “slut stall” in the girls’ bathroom: “Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers” and “Alice got an abortion last semester.” After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they “know” about Alice–and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.” (description from Amazon.com)

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly (Waterfire Saga #1)

“Deep in the ocean, in a world not so different from our own, live the merpeople. Their communities are spread throughout the oceans, seas, and freshwaters all over the globe. When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin’s arrow poisons Sera’s mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin’s master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world’s very existence.” (description from Amazon.com)

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey (Sequel to The Fifth Wave)

“How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.” (description from Amazon.com)

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

“Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.” (description from Amazon.com)