"To find out what a story's really about,' the Librarian said,

'you don't ask the writer. You ask the reader."

- SNOW & ROSE by Emily Winfield Martin

Friday, March 6, 2015

Blog Tour (Excerpt, Review and Giveaway): FLUNKED (Fairytale Reform School #1) by Jen Calonita (MG)

Fairytale Reform School #1
by Jen Calonita
Release date: 
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre: Middle Grade Fairytale
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Format read: eARC from the publisher.



Gilly wouldn’t call herself wicked exactly… but when you have five little brothers and sisters and live in a run- down boot, you have to get creative to make ends meet. Gilly’s a pretty good thief (if she does say so herself).
Until she gets caught.
Gilly’s sentenced to three months at Fairy Tale Reform School- where all of the teachers are former (super-scary) villains like the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Queen, and Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother. Harsh. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there’s more to this school than its heroic mission. There’s a battle brewing and Gilly has to wonder: can a villain really change?


There’s a boy up there, standing on the crystal chandelier! He has slightly curly blond hair and is wearing a uniform—­a navy sweater vest over a white shirt with khaki pants—­but his boots are muddy. He’s stepping on priceless crystals with cruddy boots? Is he insane?

“Jax! What are you doing up there?” Kayla whispers heatedly.

“I’m cleaning the crystal for Flora,” Jax says and rolls his eyes. “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m making a break for it.”

Kayla applauds. “Yay! This time I know you can do it.”

I shade my eyes from the light bursting through the stained-­glass window next to the chandelier Jax is perched on. “Busting out? Why?” I ask Kayla. “I thought you said this place was cool.”

Jax laughs loudly and looks at me. I feel slightly stunned. I’ve never seen violet eyes before. “FTRS was fun for a while, but strange things have started happening and I don’t want to be here when something bad goes down.”

Strange things? What kind of strange things? Why does Kayla suddenly look pale?

“He’s exaggerating,” Kayla tells me, but she doesn’t sound convincing.

Drip. Whatever Jax is holding is leaking. Kayla and I move out of the way so we don’t get wet. “Grease,” Jax explains to me. “It lubes the window.” He swings the chandelier, and as it nears the window, he uses a fork to try to pry the window open. “A few more tries and I’ll have it.”

“Then what are you going to do, genius?” I ask. “You’re two stories up.”

Jax’s eyes gleam. “I’ve jumped from higher spots before.”

“It’s true,” Kayla says to me. “Jax once jumped from the gym to the dining hall turret. That was three stories up. We call him the Escape Artist. One time he even managed to break into Azalea and Dahlia’s rooms and borrowed their keys to the indoor pool so the whole dorm could take a midnight swim.”

“Impressive,” I tell him. “And I thought I was good at tricking obnoxious royals.”

“She stole a dragon’s tooth clip from one this morning,” Kayla fills him in.

“Nice,” Jax says. “Your first pull?”

“No, I’ve been doing it for a while,” I brag.

“Me too,” Jax says. “My father is a farmer. You can only get so far trading vegetables. I needed to kick things up a notch.”

For some reason, I don’t think any of us are going to make the transformation Headmistress Flora is looking for. “Why do you want to break out so bad?”

“I’ve got places to see, and Enchantasia isn’t one of them.” Jax swings the chandelier so hard the crystals clang together. The window latch pops open, and I watch Jax leap from the chandelier to the tiny window ledge. I’m in awe. Jax looks down at us smugly before pushing open the window. “Are you sure you two don’t want to join me?”

“There’s no time for us,” Kayla says. “Get out of here. Wait!” Her eyes widen. “You deactivated the alarm on the window, right?”

“There isn’t one,” Jax insists. “If there was, I wouldn’t be able to do this.” But when Jax lifts the window, we hear:

EEEEEE! EEEE! EEEE! Unauthorized exit! Unauthorized exit!

The shrieking sound is so intense that Kayla and I cover our ears. Within seconds, Flora is out of her office and running toward us.


I feel something brush past me and I whirl around. When I look up at Jax again, a large, muscular man with a long mane of hair is hanging on to the window ledge, his furry hands pulling Jax back by his shirt. How did the man get up there without a ladder?

“Mr. Jax,” the man says in a low growl, “we really must stop meeting like this.”


Amusing, witty and full of magic - FLUNKED has a wonderful assortment of fairytales and their characters, most notably, their villains. A wonderful book that will make you think about what defines the good from the bad, giving second chances and who your true friends are.

Gilly is a 12 year old who has developed a Robin Hood complex due to her father's dying shoemaking business. She steals from the nobles in order to help put food in her siblings bellies and smiles on their faces. One of six siblings who live in a shoe, Gilly has brought it onto herself to take the risks to do what she can. She knows that if she is caught she will be sent to Fairytale Reform School and her siblings will suffer.
When Gilly pulls off her biggest heist to date, she is completely unaware of the trail she leaves behind until she is caught. Having to see the disappointment on her families faces is hard, but being sent away to school is even worse. Who will help and look after her siblings.

Fairytale Reform School was founded by the reformed "Wicked Stepmother", Flora. After realizing how badly she mistreated Ella, Flora decided to change her ways and what better way to complete the process than to extend a hand to others who have done wrong and help them find a way to better themselves. After reforming these "villains", she recruited them to do something worthy with themselves within society and asked them to join her faculty at the school. A few of these memorable characters are - the Werewolf that ate Little Red's grandmother, the Sea Witch and the Evil Queen, who is still obsessed with apples.  
The school itself resembles a castle - with ornate rooms and furniture, and nothing is lacking. Gilly's classes and meals are better than anything else she's ever had in her life. She feels guilty for not being able to take care of her siblings, but also, for living better than them too.
However, strange things have been happening at the school. Unexplained disappearances and teachers and students acting differently... something is happening. And Gilly and her friends are going to find out what it is.

What I love most about this book is Gilly's personality, she is very strong-minded and not only sticks up for what she believes in but for others too. She won't tolerate any type of bullying towards anyone and is very loyal to what and who she believes in. Gilly is definitely someone you can count on. Her new friends all fit an important role in her life and situation. There is a little magic here and there, but by all means, this is no fairytale where magic fixes everything and things are swept away with a swish of a wand. Everyone has to work hard and your best is always expected.

The story is wonderfully written and told strictly from Gilly's point of view, primarily through conversations and her thoughts. We see and know precisely what Gilly does without unnecessary details, which is exactly what my boys enjoy.

Fun, sassy and bold - we cannot wait to read the next book in this series! One of the best middle grade books of this year!

*I received an eARC from the publisher for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

If you get sentenced to Fairy Tale Reform School, it will help to have an ally. 
Take the quiz and find out who your mentor would be.

- 5 winners will receive a print copy of FLUNKED!
- Giveaway ends 3/31/2015.


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 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 drop her a line at jencalonitaonline.com or keep the fairy tale going at http://books.sourcebooks.com/enchantasia/

1 comment:

  1. Either Professor Dumbledore or Larten Crespley!
    Mary G Loki


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