Monday, March 7, 2016

Charmed by Jen Calonita - A Mom Monday Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

A Mom Monday Review

Author: Jen Calonita
Publication Date:  3 March 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwoky
Series:  Fairy Tale Reform School, book 2
Genre:  Middle Grade Fantasy
Age Recommendation: 8 and up
Rating: 4 stars
~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~ 

Book Description:

It takes a (mostly) reformed thief to catch a spy. Which is why Gilly Cobbler, Enchantasia’s most notorious pickpocket, volunteers to stay locked up at Fairy Tale Reform School…indefinitely. Gilly and her friends may have defeated the Evil Queen and become reluctant heroes, but the battle for Enchantasia has just begun.
Alva, aka The Wicked One who cursed Sleeping Beauty, has declared war on the Princesses, and she wants the students of Fairy Tale Reform School to join her. As her criminal classmates give in to temptation, Gilly goes undercover as a Royal Lady in Waiting (don’t laugh) to unmask a spy…before the mole can hand Alva the keys to the kingdom.
Her parents think Gilly the Hero is completely reformed, but sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. Sometimes it’s good to be bad…

My Review:

If your middle grade reader(s) are looking for a dull, unfunny, eye-rolling read....DO NOT LOOK HERE!  

Charmed brings us back into the fold of the FTRS (Fairy Tale Reform School) not long after Flunked (book 1) ends with Alva being placed under lock and key in the dungeons of FTRC.  As with Flunked, Charmed starts of with a scroll from the 'Happily Ever After Scrolls', one of my favorite parts of this series, giving us a quick look back to what happened in the first book.  

Alva has bee captured, Gilly AND her friends have saved Enchantsia and FTRS, but it seems all anyone remembers is Gilly and now that hero status has begin to go to her head.  Gilly I hate to say it turns a bit unlikeable in this book, she's still the snarky, courageous, fun-loving girl we met in book one, but she isn't handling her 'fame' well and ends up doing and saying somethings that will have us sad for her and her friends.  Our one's all a ruse and she's actually gone undercover, I mean 'OUR Gilly' would never willingly join the Royal Ladies-in-Waiting Club...would she?

I love the basis of this story which to me is the friendships between Gilly, Ollie, Jax, Maxine, and Kayla.  It is the story of a tight group of friends and how they handle life...even a life that is nothing like our own.  They stand together with each other, root for one another and maybe even kinda 'like-like' each other.  Most importantly when the going gets tough they do not give up on one another and they always know how to say sorry even if it isn't by using that one word.  

As always it is easy to get carried away into the world of Enchantsia and FTRS, Ms. Calonita's world building is amazing especially in Charmed as we get to see more from outside the FTRS walls.  When I imagine it in my head I see it as a more kid friendly, classier even, version of the cartoon Ever After High and that just makes me want to see Fairy Tale Reform School on the Big Screen, how fun would that be!  

This was a great follow up to the first book and I am hopeful that we have many more in this series to come.  I mean Gilly was never really ALL that bad was she, but she's never going to be ALL that good either is she?...

This is a great read for any reader from I'd say 8 and up.  The group does get a bit more angsty in this book, but they're pre-teens (now maybe teens) so it is to be expected.  There isn't anything that a young middle grade reader can't handle angst wise though and while there are undercurrents of romance (TeamJax, haha) it is so light that most young readers won't even pick up on it.  These books are overall just great fun light reads with an important message in-between about being true to yourself, being a good friend, being a good family member, and fighting for what is important.  A wonderful series for any middle school teachers book shelves, and one that I happily display on ours at home!  



The Magic Mirror’s voice crackles throughout the school, “Let the first annual Fairy Tale Reform School WAND WHAT YOU WANT hour begin!” 

I hear students cheer and wands begin popping up in kids’ hands as we walk through the halls. POP! My wand arrives in my hand; long, dark-gray and nicked like its seen a few battles. What to try first… I’m just about test the wand out, when I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I dive out of the way just as a classmate casts a spell on the girl next to me, turning her into an ice sculpture. 

POP! POP! POP! Kids begin casting all around me. The crowded hallways is suddenly full of talking woodland creatures, toads, fireworks, and a pretty impressive cloud raining licorice. Kids are cheering, fighting, and the sound of all those wands working is enough to give me a headache.


The chaotic hallway disappears and a new empty hall arrives in its place. The magic hallways are always changing for security reasons, but I happen to know this hall leads to the school courtyard. More students appear and new spells begin zapping around me. I run out into the quiet school courtyard to test out my wand in peace. The warm sun is shining bright high above the castle walls, making me wistful for adventure. I can never sit still for long.

“We hope you enjoy your wand experience, but remember, all wands disappear at the hour mark so choose your magic wisely,” I hear Miri continue. I’m relieved to find no mirror in the courtyard, which means she can’t see what I’m up to. That magic mirror is forever tattling on students for bad behavior. “Flying is not advised.”

“Not advised, but she didn’t say it was against the rules,” I say to myself. I flick the wand over my stuffy, uncomfortable pale blue uniform and turn it into a comfy peasant shirt and pants. I get rid of my ugly school shoes and swap them out for my beloved high-lace up boots. Now that I’m comfortable, I get to the task at hand. I’m sure an actual spell would work better, but since I don’t know one, I just imagine myself flying and bam! I’m slowly floating up, up, up in the air. Score!

A Pegasus flies by pulling a coach with four students in it.

“HI GILLY!” they shout and wave.

When you save your school from a wicked fairy, people tend to remember your name. Even if you don’t remember theirs. 

“Hi!” I say, lying back like I’m floating on a cloud. Wow, this is relaxing. I stretch my arms wide and -- oops! 

My wand falls from my grasp. Uh oh. I begin to plummet, spinning, faster and faster with no sign of stopping. Before I can even think of a way to break my fall, WHOOSH! I feel my body hit a blanket, bounce up, then land again on a magic carpet being steered by my friend Jax.

“Ten minutes into WAND WHAT YOU WANT and you’ve already had a near death experience?” Jax says, a glint in his violet eyes. His curly blond hair looks white in the bright sunlight. “You’re getting sloppy.”

“I’m not getting sloppy!” I’m seriously offended by that statement. “How’d you even know where to find me?” 

“I thought to myself, ‘What would Gilly do with wand access for an hour?’ and I knew right away you’d try to sneak home for a bit,” Jax says. 

My usual partner in crime steers our magic carpet over the castle walls and across the vast school grounds. Below I can see students fanned out on castle rooftops, in the garden mazes, near the lake, all casting away with various results. Jax flies the carpet faster, the wind whipping our hair and making it hard to see. I push the hair away from my eyes and strain to see home. There, beyond the gleaming pillars of Royal Court, where the princesses who rule our kingdom live, is my small village of Enchantasia. Somewhere down there, my family is working, playing and hopefully missing me as much as I miss them. The carpet is nearing the Hollow Woods which separates us and the village--CRACKLE! Our magic carpet is stopped by an invisible wall that keeps us from escaping school grounds. Clever of Flora to put the barricade up during wand training. Oh well. Leaving was a long-shot, but maybe I could wave my wand and at least see what my family was up to. “My wand! I realize. “I need to go get it.”

Fairy Tale Reform School book one:


2 sets of Fairy Tale Reform School Books 1-2
Runs 3/1-3/31 (U.S. and Canada only)

Jen Calonita is the author of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series and other books like Sleepaway Girls and Summer State of Mind, but Fairy Tale Reform School is her first middle-grade series. She rules Long Island, New York, with her husband Mike, princes Tyler and Dylan, and Chihuahua Captain Jack Sparrow, but the only castle she’d ever want to live in is Cinderella’s at Disney World.

She’d love for you to visit her at and keep the fairy-tale fun going at

AuthorWebsite ~ BookWebsite ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

1 comment:

  1. I'd be friends with Rapunzel--she is intelligent, fun-loving, loyal, and hard-working.