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103 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Land of Stories is a Love Letter to Classic Storytelling
A promising first novel from an imaginative young talent. Even though Colfer is a newcomer to the world of novel writing, I feel that he accomplished what he set out to accomplish with this book.

Children (especially those who have feelings of inadequacy or who have suffered early tragedy, just like Colfer did as a child) will find lots of hope within its...
Published on July 17, 2012 by Leslie W

versus
93 of 116 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Celebrity status trumps good writing
The main reason I am writing this review here is because I am tired of hearing only positive things about this book. I find it misleading and I know that there are many other better written stories for our readers. Chris Colfer is an actor on the television show Glee, and this book reads like a long drawn out screenplay. Descriptions are either nonexistent or so basic...
Published 22 months ago by Nicole Marquis


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103 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Land of Stories is a Love Letter to Classic Storytelling, July 17, 2012
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A promising first novel from an imaginative young talent. Even though Colfer is a newcomer to the world of novel writing, I feel that he accomplished what he set out to accomplish with this book.

Children (especially those who have feelings of inadequacy or who have suffered early tragedy, just like Colfer did as a child) will find lots of hope within its pages, along with bravery and kindness and self-acceptance. It's a book about how every seemingly happy ending creates a new set of struggles to contend with, which you have to keep trying your best to overcome -- while also making good moral decisions and finding some kind of peace in spite of hardship. It's also a book about how things often seem to happen for a reason, and how unexpectedly wonderful things can happen as a result of painful struggles.

The book has some interesting meditations on the nature of deep loneliness and longing -- and what people are capable of doing to remedy those heartaches. It's one of the strongest themes that run throughout the story. It appears as a theme in many ways with a variety of outcomes, and manages to be melancholy and uplifting at the same time, which is really lovely. Even with all of that sadness being examined so deeply, the book manages to be really funny and light.

Another thing the book does strongly is preaching the power of understanding and compassion, even towards people who have done terrible things. It doesn't condone those terrible things, and it heavily emphasizes doing the RIGHT thing, but it deftly paints the characters as more complex humans than the classic Good Vs Evil stories do, which makes it all much more interesting and more relevant to real world conflicts.

It isn't a perfect book, of course, and it could have benefited from a little more editing in a few places, but it's very charming and clever and more-than-a-little magical. I found myself giggling out loud at least once every chapter, and I even got a little teary-eyed in a few places. It will speak to children and adults on different levels emotionally while taking them all on a sweet, exciting adventure.

I can't wait to read my copy of the book to my young niece and nephew.
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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, except the parts that made me want to cry, July 17, 2012
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But those parts were wonderful in their own way.

The book is nicely written, but the real stars of the book are the characters. All the characters have disarming vulnerabilities and a wisdom you don't expect in a book written for kids, or even in a book written by someone so young.

It's especially noteworthy that the female characters are always independent, driven, wise and strong. That isn't always the case in traditional tellings of these tales.

There are still a few typos in the Kindle version, but nothing too distracting.

Honestly, I'd recommend this to almost anyone, ages 8+. It's a fun, easy read and I'd be a lot happier about kids reading these fairytales than pretty much everything else out there.
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93 of 116 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Celebrity status trumps good writing, September 3, 2012
By 
Nicole Marquis (Wiscasset, Maine) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The main reason I am writing this review here is because I am tired of hearing only positive things about this book. I find it misleading and I know that there are many other better written stories for our readers. Chris Colfer is an actor on the television show Glee, and this book reads like a long drawn out screenplay. Descriptions are either nonexistent or so basic that my students could paint a far better image. When describing a cavalcade of knights arriving in front the twins, Colfer describes them only by saying: "Their armor was clean and shiny." OK...
Colfer puts most of his story in the dialogue and the narration seems to be just a means to link those speaking parts together. He misses the beauty that can go into a well written narrative. A story should not leave its reader breaking away from the flow to consider how awkwardly written it is. Truly though, I could go on and on, and that would be too harsh. So, here are a few things that bothered me in a (sort of) list:

The extreme overuse of poor similes:
"Mrs. Peters was staring at her as if she had just witnessed a gruesome rural animal give birth."
(I couldn't think of a gruesome rural animal...pig, cow, mouse. Dunno.)
"Alex clambered up the tree faster than any animal she had ever seen in a documentary."
(Doesn't that just flow off the lips.)
Compares the witch with the gingerbread house to: "...staring at her as if she were a rabid Tyranosaurus rex about to pounce on them at any moment."
(#1 rabid T-rex. #2 would pounce be the best word to describe the movement of a T-rex? #3 the word rabies makes, I believe, 3 appearances. At least one more I flagged when the twins come upon some unicorns. )
The similes go on and on and on and on...

Lack of revision.
If Colfer spent any time at all revising this novel we would not see the following phrase appear so often:
"Steam was practically coming out of the teacher's ears and nostrils." pg.75
"Steam was practically coming out of their nostrils." pg. 361
"...Conner said. Steam was practically coming from his ears." pg. 164

Some of the writing just simply strikes me the wrong way. Like when Conner sees the gingerbread house on page 112. "'Whoa,' Conner said. 'I feel like I might get diabetes from just looking at that place."

Overall, the story is so horribly written that I BEG Colfer's editor to help him make the next book in the series a bit smoother. The plot of the book doesn't bother me. I can fall into the most fantastical storyline and believe every line of it. But that is where the hard work on the author's part comes in. Colfer must read more to become a better writer. This is not a script, it is a novel.

Go on, tell me I'm wrong. I can take it.
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46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "REFRESHING, CHARMING, DELIGHTFUL!", July 17, 2012
This is the hilarious tale of twins Alex and Conner as they leave their world and find a foreign land of wonder and magic. An enjoyable adventure that combines modern day with the realm of fairy tales. Chris Colfer delivers a fun magical-mystical story, combining modern day with fairy-tale characters that the twins grew up with. The authors include mysterious powers and excitement as the twins face challenges to get back home. A fantasy children will adore. Highly Recommended!
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44 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh, Chris..., September 8, 2013
I bought this for my sixth-grade class library. I read a lot of children's books so that I can make recommendations for my students.

So, I wonder if I'm the only Glee fan to give Chris a poor review. Now, the premise is pretty good, and I love how all the kingdoms are next to each other, and there are parts so far that I have enjoyed. I am on Chapter 10 - about halfway through - and this is such a weak book. I think too many people were "supportive" before this book went to print. Where was his editor? I quote: Alex and Connor (the main characters) "were so petrified, they were paralyzed." Um, yeah, that's kind of the definition of petrified. Earlier in the story, when the twins were given the (magical) storybook by their grandmother (a book that had been treasured by generations of their family, apparently), Alex thinks "It was like receiving an heirloom from a relative that was still alive." Yes, Chris, getting a treasured family object from a visiting grandmother is a lot like receiving an heirloom from a living relative - in that those are exactly the same things.
Last example, when the children are in the storybook land, and Alex is looking at the buildings of the city, she thinks "It was like being in a storybook."

This is harsh, but there's an episode of "Friends" where Joey has to write an official letter, and so he uses a thesaurus to change every other word to a synonym, reducing the letter to gibberish. There's a place or two in this book where I imagine Chris did the same thing.

This is why it's worth having a really good editor. I don't know if there were too many "yes-men," or if Chris Colfer refuses to listen to any constructive criticism, but I expected a lot more from him. I hope the third book in the series is more polished (it's too late for the second), and I wish that fewer fans had written such glowing reviews. The good parts have such potential that with some serious attention to writing, this could have been a much better read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for a YOUNGER audience!, August 17, 2012
By 
PWDecker (Melbourne, FL) - See all my reviews
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First I must say that I did enjoy this book. It is a wonderful, fantastical story involving many colorful fairy tale characters living all in one world after their "Happily Ever After"s. BUT, it was definitely too young of a read for me. I do understand that a 23 year old man is not the target audience, though.

I can see how Chris Colfer has been working on this since he was young. The world has depth, with many of the kingdoms ruled by a traditional fairy tale princess. Reading this book reminded me of so many books, as well as other media from my childhood. The twins, Alex and Connor, as well as their storybook reminded me of the kids from The Magic Tree House series. Harry Potter also came to mind, although this book isn't as well structured. Warriors of Virtue and other fantasy 90's children's films where kids are thrust into magical worlds also came to mind. Something from my early childhood that this book reminded me of was the Wee Sing VHS tapes. One of my favorite computer game series as a child was King's Quest. Many nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters are in both of these. This book especially reminded me of King's Quest because of the list of items they needed to collect to complete the Wishing Spell. On that same note, there is a game called Enchanted Forest that has a similar theme of collecting storybook characters' items. Since Chris Colfer is around my age, I wonder if any of these things actually did inspire him.

This book is a very easy read. Many of the big revelations were very predictable. I thought everything in the story was too easy for the twins. I wish there would have been more difficult hardships and conflicts to conquer. At some points the story was unusually dark. There were some deaths in which no repercussions were mentioned. I wanted to see more of the wolves' stories. They were seen as merely bad guys. I wanted more depth. Red Riding Hood's Kingdom is surrounded by a wall discriminating against all wolves of all shapes and colors. I thought this was going to lead to a message about not generalizing groups of people, but that never came. The story is generic, but what really pulled me in was the rich characters and the rich world they inhabit. Colfer took a clever take on many of the well known fairy tale characters.

My favorite character was the Evil Queen. I really enjoyed her back story. I could not get The Mayor from Once Upon A Time out of my head whenever I imagined the Evil Queen.

In the end. I give this book a 3/5. Now, this is my rating for me, a 23 year old man, reading this. If I was age 10 to 12, I would probably have given this a very strong 5. I recommend this to anyone interested in fairy tales and magical worlds. I recommend this even more so to a younger audience. If you have a niece, nephew, son, daughter, or if you just know a youngling that likes fairy tales, this would be a PERFECT gift!

-PAUL
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Land of Stories, July 17, 2012
This book is utterly fantastic! Colfer's voice shines through. A great addition to the genre, kids are sure to find it a wonderful escape. However, despite its appeal to a younger audience, it's really a novel for all ages. Some parts really made me think. I'll definitely be re-reading it!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So much more than just another fairy tale rehash, August 7, 2012
First Sentence: The dungeon was a miserable place.

A Quick Synopsis: On Conner and Alex's twelfth birthday, their grandma gives them a most special gift: her fairy-tale book, called The Land of Stories. But they have no idea just how special this book is, until one day, they find out this book can take them to a place called the Land of Stories, where fairy tales are reality! And all their favorite fairy tale characters are here--including Snow White, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and the like. But not everything's perfect, and the twins are soon hunted by a dangerous queen. How are they to get back to our world?

The Review: When I placed a reserve on this book at my local library, I had no idea who Chris Colfer was. Honest to goodness! And of course, since I didn't know who Chris Colfer was, I had no idea why the book was generating so much buzz on Amazon. For those of you like me, who don't know who he is, Mr. Colfer is an actor, best known for his role on Glee. As soon as I found this out, I'm ashamed to say that my expectations for this book dwindled greatly.

But they really shouldn't have. Sure, lots of books written by celebrities have been sub-par lately (see The Fame Game by Lauren Conrad), but The Land of Stories is different.

Here's why.

1) The characters, specifically the main ones. Alex and Conner seem a bit stereotypical at first, but soon we see just how deep they are. Both are kids mature beyond their years who know how to deal with grief and loss. At one point their mother remarks they are even too young to expect to be disappointed. I just loved Alex and Conner so much.

2) The humor. Wow, is this book funny! The twins are always comical, even in the face of danger. Cinderella has an amazing sense of humor. Conner is a natural-born jokester. The characters banter and bicker oh-so-enjoyably. You'll be smiling and laughing throughout the book as you read it.

3) The fairy tale lore. Some fairy tale books (like Enchanted) seem to just try and stuff as many fairy tale references as they can into the plot. Not this one. Everything fits so well, and Mr. Colfer, while using all the fairy tale characters we love, manages to build upon them! This book was very well-plotted with all its fairy tales and such, which brings me to

4) The plot. Good golly did I love it. It is imaginative, wacky, and fantastical. This book is filled with twists and turns until the very last chapter. I'm serious; just when you think everything is settled, Chris Colfer throws in an awesome twist that you never saw coming!

5) The depth of the story. At first glance, the book just seems like an everyday middle-grade fantasy adventure. But that's not all. There are themes such as loss and moving on, hiding and being an outcast scattered throughout the book. And Colfer's characters are not as good and evil, not as black and white as you may first think they are. This makes the book enjoyable for older as well as younger readers.

6) Lastly, the action and suspense. I may be cheating with this one since I put down Plot already, but I just could not stop reading this book! It is over 400 pages, yet I read it in two sittings. Mr. Colfer ends his chapters deviously with cliffhangers and suspense so that you must keep reading. There is a surplus of action, with hungry wolves, evil trolls, and castle battles.

The Land of Stories has all the humor that a Rick Riordan book does, has all the action and adventure that Brandon Mull's A World Without Heroes (Beyonders) does, and to top it off, has all the magic of your favorite fairy tales. If you know any kid in middle or elementary school that likes any of the three, this'll make a great gift for them--especially with Brandon Dorman's beautiful cover and interior art, including a full-color map inside! Is this book amazingly original? No. Is this book destined to be a classic? No. But this book is so much more than another book written by a celebrity, and is so much more than just another fairy tale rehash. It made me wish it could have been released just a few years earlier, back when I was in elementary school. And it is, without a doubt, one of my favorite fantasy reads of 2012 so far.

Memorable Quote:
"Your story will be forever be romanticized. No one will ever think twice about mine. I will continue to be degraded into nothing but a grotesque villain until the end of time. But what the world fails to realize is that a /villain/ is just a /victim/ whose story hasn't been told."

Inappropriate Content Notifiers (for Parents, spoilers below!):
-Sex/drugs: This is a middle-grade (and not Young Adult, which I usually review) read, so I'm not sure I really have to say this...but, there's no sexual content or drug usage. One character, however, does kiss another, but it's for the plot, not some developing romance.
-Violence: There is nothing in here that you wouldn't see in a Disney/Pixar movie, violence wise. No blood or gore or anything.
-Language: The main characters are in sixth grade and don't curse. They say stuff like "what the heck", "pissed off", and "darn". Two supporting characters do say "d*mn" twice, though, but that's the worst it gets.
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29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!, July 25, 2012
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I am 66 years old. I grew up with fairy tales, but admit I don't recall "lessons" from them, just the delightful stories. I bought this book for my grandkids ages 2 to 9. When I received the book, I read the first chapter, and realized there was something special in my hands. I could not put it down. I was as enthralled as reading Harry Potter for the first time. I am in awe of the young man who wrote this. How wonderful to have such a great imagination and be able to write so cleverly. I doubt the grandkids would get as much from it as I did, so I passed it to my 62 year old sister who understands the same ecitement that I felt. I feel sad for young children who don't know these wonderful tales anymore, except what is presented in the movie versions. I thank the author so much for a WONDERFUL read. I just can't say enough in his praise.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story, mediocre writing., January 26, 2013
By 
Jared TWG (Baltimore, MD USA) - See all my reviews
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I did enjoy the story quite a bit. It was rife with clever things and originality. However, the writing itself was a bit clumsy- for lack of a better word. I feel like perhaps the manuscript was edited for spelling and grammar, but not the writing itself. It's been months since I read the book, so I can't think of any specific examples, though there was one in the prologue where something like "mirror" was used twice in one sentence. There were also a few instances where kids didn't act their age, (ig, when a teacher uses the word "bastardized" in front of a young class and none of them seemed to bat an eye) but they weren't enough to pull me entirely out of the story. Well, except for "bastardized."

Overall, it was an enjoyable read, but I wouldn't hold it up as an example for new writers.
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The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer (Paperback - July 2, 2013)
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