Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

#34 Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
Copyright 2006
Harper Collins Young Adult Fantasy
326 pages
4/5

What led you to pick up this book? After reading The Two Princesses of Bamarre by the same author, I was eager to read more of her work.

Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. Aza has a stunningly beautiful voice and a family who loves her dearly, regardless of how she looks (and the fact that she was adopted after a guest in their inn abandoned her). Aza and is unattractive enough that insults by the patrons are simply a way of life, yet in a land where singing is an integral part of life, her voice is her saving grace. When a duchess and regular customer of the inn is left lacking an attendant due to illness, Aza is asked to step in and accompany the duchess to the king's wedding. While at the castle, Aza's voice and ability to throw it (which Aza calls "illusing") catch the attention of the new queen, who coerces Aza into illusing when the queen must sing, in order to both protect the queen's reputation and disguise her own lack of talent. When the deception is discovered, Aza must run for her life; and, in the process she learns much about herself and how little appearances really count.

What did you like most about the book? I liked the theme about beauty being more than skin deep, the adventurous scenes when Aza had to run and hide from the queen, the fast pace, and the warmth of Aza's adopted family. I also loved the gentle romance between Aza and the prince.

What did you think of the characters? They were, for the most part, distinctively polarized; you were meant to either love them or hate them, as in fairy tales. While I didn't adore Aza in the way I did Meryl and Addie in The Two Princesses of Bamarre, Aza was easy to like and her family was particularly charming. The king was lovely, the prince was kind and the duchess and queen were cringe-inducing.

Share a favorite scene from the book: I can't remember any particular scene, but I really enjoyed the time during which Aza was forced to hide out with gnomes.

Thumbs up, 4/5 - Adventure, love and lies with a touch of romance. Once I became involved with the characters, I had difficulty setting the book down.

In general:
An enchanting book with a lovely, positive theme. Not as good as The Two Princesses of Bamarre; but, had I reviewed The Two Princesses, it would have received a 5/5. Not many books are worth a perfect rating, so I definitely think Fairest is worth the time.

I'll do the book drawing, above, at approximately 7pm, Central Time (U.S.). Must go plant flowers while the weather is cooperating.

13 comments:

  1. I'm putting both Fairest and The Two Princesses of Bamarreon my list! Thanks for some good suggestions.

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  2. This sounds like a lovely book with such a positive message. I really enjoyed the photos of your last post. Can't believe that guy walking up to the dam(right word?)!

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  3. Jenclair,

    I think this author is right up your alley (and that of Chris in N.O.). For me, she's perfect because the fact that her books are YA makes them a bit "Fantasy, Light". Longer fantasies tend to lose me with the profusion of weird names. Plus, her themes are extremely positive and I like that. :)

    Tara,

    Exactly -- the messages in the two books I've read by this author have both been very positive. I love that.

    Thanks. It was really wild to see the water so high. As to the guy who walked up to the . . . um, I guess it's a makeshift dam, yep; I've referred to it as a barricade . . . he must not have any understanding of the power of water, I'd say.

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  4. This does sound like a great book! I love the cover!! I've always been a sucker for a sweet looking cover.

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  5. I saw this book on another blog too. Don't remember who, but remember the review was also positive...great review!

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  6. Very appealing cover, anyway. I haven't heard of any of these books, but I'm always looking for ideas of what my step-sister (16) can read during the summer. Not that she is jumping up and down for books. I have no idea what I was reading at 16...

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  7. Oooh, what are you planting? I had a yard-boy put down 4 yards of cypress mulch yesterday. What took him one afternoon would have taken me 3 weekends! I admired to pretty beds today as I sat out on our deck in 78 (!) degree weather. Here comes summer!!!!!!

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  8. Stephanie,

    I have that problem, too. LOL It's always good news when the cover matches the content, yes?

    J.Kaye,

    Really? I'll have to see if I can find that review. I love to read other people's thoughts about books I've enjoyed. Now that I've read two of this author's books and enjoyed both, I plan to read her Newbery Award winning book, Ella Enchanted, next. Gotta find a copy, first, though.

    Trish,

    16? I don't remember that far back. ;) What I've always done with my own kids (one is now 16, in fact, and such an avid reader that I have trouble keeping up with him) is simply pay close attention to their interests and then steer them toward books that I think they'll like -- or, you know, just show up with a book and say, "I think you'd like this."

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  9. Les,

    I would like to borrow your yard boy, please. :)

    I'm just doing a little at a time, since the weeds already went hog-wild in my absence; but, I planted a kalanchoe, a new guinea impatiens, some moss roses, a dianthus and a hydrangea. I'm just getting started. I've got a gorgeous purple clematis, a flat of impatiens (had to scoop out and replace the dirt in my impatiens/hosta garden because the neighborhood cats used that bit of garden as a winter litter box) and some other fun things.

    Tonight, I realized that most of what I've bought is pink or red. Sigh. That means I'll have to go back. I need some yellow, orange and white, need to add some canna bulbs where they've unaccountably thinned -- and I've got to yank out the monkey grass blocking my pretty yellow daylilies, which must be dwarfs (can't remember) then put in some nice edging. Anyway, I like lots of color, so I just keep going till I've got myself a jungle on the porch and color that can be seen from the street. I have such fun in the dirt. :)

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  10. I have read a few good reviews of her books lately and this definitely interesting. Thanks for the review.

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  11. Rhinoa,

    Levine's books seem like the kind you would enjoy, since you have a fantasy leaning. Let me know if you get around to reading any of them, please!

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  12. Wow! You've certainly been busy. I don't dare plant anything until after the 15th of this month. Believe it or not, that's our freeze date. I can't imagine having snow or frost this late in the season, but it's possible. I probably won't get to any annuals until late May. Since I'll be gone a week, I hate to leave the watering up to my hubby. He'll have his hands full just taking care of the dog and cooking his own meals. Poor guy. ;)

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  13. Les,

    I haven't been as busy as I need to be. Early May is about the deadline for getting the annuals planted. Really, the cannas should have gone in a few months ago. I can probably still get away with it, if I can just get out there early enough to beat the heat and remember to put on plenty of insect repellent. We don't usually have much of a problem with frost or freezing after February, although we can get the odd frost late in the year. Not this year. :)

    Heavens, don't defend a man on his own. They're plenty capable. Mine needs to get up off his fanny in the evenings. I know his days are long when he's home (meeting after meeting after meeting), but there's far too much to keep up with on my own. I'm set to hire a friend's son to do the mowing for the summer, though -- maybe that will free him up to do a bit more jungle control and home maintenance. We've hit the point of desperation, now that storms have done some roof damage and it's been a few years since we've worked on replacing wood trim (we're a bit too shady and moist with our giant oak trees).

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