Book Reviews

Unbirthday Book Review

This was book was my pick for January as part of the #fairytalereadingchallenge. If you missed the post about the challenge, you can check it out here.

About the Book

What if Wonderland was in peril and Alice was very, very late?

Alice is different than other eighteen-year-old ladies in Kexford, which is perfectly fine with her. She’d rather spend golden afternoons with her trusty camera or in her aunt Vivian’s lively salon, ignoring her sister’s wishes that she stop all that “nonsense” and become a “respectable” member of society. Alice is happy to meander to Miss. Yao’s teashop or to visit the children playing in the Square. She’s also interested in learning more about the young lawyer she met there, but just because she’s curious, of course, not because he was sweet and charming.

But when Alice develops photographs she has recently taken about town, familiar faces of old suddenly appear in the place of her actual subjects-the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar. There’s something eerily off about them, even for Wonderland creatures. And as Alice develops a self-portrait, she finds the most disturbing image of all-a badly-injured dark-haired girl asking for Alice’s help. Mary Ann.

Returning to the place of nonsense from her childhood, Alice finds herself on a mission to stop the Queen of Hearts’ tyrannical rule and to find her place in both worlds. But will she able to do so . . . before the End of Time?

My Review

While I enjoyed this book, I did not think it was as good as some of the other books in the Disney Twisted Tale Series. I liked the way it portrayed Alice – an intelligent girl not easily swayed by whatever those around her believed. I loved that she was a photographer, and I liked how the author used Alice’s photography to connect her with Wonderland.

I also like how each Wonderland character had a real world equivalent, and I especially liked Katz.

This book had a fair amount of silliness, which of course is on par with the nonsense of Wonderland, and for a minute I was afraid I was not going to like how the book ended. The ending was unexpected, but satisfactory. However, the book is quite long, right at five hundred pages, and I think some of the silly stuff could have been cut without taking away from the story.

Also, I think I had pretty high expectations for this one after reading and loving Straight on Till Morning so much. It was enjoyable, but not my favorite of the Twisted Tales.

Have you read Unbirthday? What did you think of the book? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

Introducing the Fairytale Reading Challenge!

For 2021, I am hosting a reading challenge! Since I write and love to read fairytale retellings, I decided to make that the theme for the challenge. 🙂

The challenge is pretty simple. Each month has a fairytale assigned to it, and you can choose any retelling of that fairytale to read for that month, or read the original fairytale. If you are feeling ambitious, you can read both. 🙂

Feel free to share the graphic on social media with #fairytalereadingchallenge. I’ve also created a printable bookmark with all the prompts which you can find below.

I’ll be participating in the #unreadshelfchallenge again this year (more about this to come in another post), and I’ve selected mostly unread books I have on my shelf for this challenge. Here are my picks:

My Picks

January – Unbirthday by Liz Braswell (Alice in Wonderland)

February – A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, Rebel Rose by Emma Thieriault (Beauty and the Beast)

March – Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Peter Pan)

April – Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, The Wish Granter by CJ Redwine (Rumplestiltskin)

May – Entwined by Heather Dixon Wallwork, House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (The Twelve Dancing Princesses)

June – Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay, A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (Sleeping Beauty)

July – Part of Your World by Liz Braswell (The Little Mermaid)

August – Hood by Jenny Elder Moke, Sherwood by Meagan Spooner (Robin Hood)

September – Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George (Red Riding Hood)

October – The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad, The Stolen Kingdom by Bethany Atazedeh (Aladdin)

November – Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (The Frog Prince)

December – Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige, Conceal, Don’t Feel by Jen Calonita (The Snow Queen)

If you’re looking for books to fill a specific prompt, check out the Epic Reads list and the Fairytale Central list for some more options.

What about you? What fairytale retellings are you planning on reading this year? Let me know in the comments!

Blog tours, Book Reviews

Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy Book Review

I’m excited to be part of Turn the Page’s blog tour for Melissa de la Cruz’s new book Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy. I’ve really enjoyed every book I’ve read by Ms. Cruz, and if you have followed my blog for very long, you know I love fairytales, so I signed up for this blog tour right away. 🙂

Don’t forget to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post to enter the giveaway!

About the Book

Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy
by Melissa de la Cruz
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Releasing on December 1, 2020

Nothing ever happens in Filomena Jefferson-Cho’s sleepy little suburban town of North Pasadena. The sun shines every day, the grass is always a perfect green, and while her progressive school swears there’s no such thing as bullying, she still feels bummed out. But one day, when Filomena is walking home on her own, something strange happens. 

Filomena is being followed by Jack Stalker, one of the heroes in the Thirteenth Fairy, a series of books she loves about a brave girl and her ragtag group of friends who save their world from an evil enchantress. She must be dreaming, or still reading a book. But Jack is insistent—he’s real, the stories are real, and Filomena must come with him at once!

Soon, Filomena is thrust into the world of evil fairies and beautiful princesses, sorcerers and slayers, where an evil queen drives her ruthless armies to destroy what is left of the Fairy tribes. To save herself and the kingdom of Westphalia, Filomena must find the truth behind the fairytales and set the world back to rights before the cycle of sleep and destruction begins once more.

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My Review

The author did not disappoint with this book. Exciting and fast-paced, it was a quick read that I really enjoyed. I love the way the fairytale world was woven into the real world, and I thought Filomena was a relatable character. Being a book lover myself, I also appreciated Filomena’s eagerness to read the next book in the Never After series. I loved the diverse characters, and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Fans of Rick Riordan’s books as well as the Ridley Pearson’s Kingdom Keepers series will enjoy this book!

About the Author

MELISSA DE LA CRUZ is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publisher’s Weekly and #1 Indie Bound bestselling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for readers of all ages, and edited the inspiring anthology of true stories, Because I Was a Girl. She grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. At Columbia University, she majored in art history and English. Melissa de la Cruz lives in West Hollywood with her husband and daughter.

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Giveaway

Click here to enter the giveaway: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d14/

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop (Sept. 25th)

This hop is hosted by Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addict.  I missed last week’s prompt, but still wanted to answer it, so I’ve included it here with this week’s prompt.

Last week’s prompt:

So, the cover has to draw me in initially, but the summary is also important. One book I recently purchased because of the beautiful cover is The Storyteller’s Daughter by Victoria McCombs, and this was a total cover buy. However, if the summary on the back had been uninteresting to me, I probably would have resisted the urge to buy the book. I love fairytale retellings, so the blurb totally convinced me to buy it.

I just love this cover! 🙂

Yes! My biggest pet peeve is when the story doesn’t match up with the blurb. You know those books where you read the blurb and you’re like, “Yes, I have to read this”, and then halfway through you’re like,”What happened to the stuff I read about on the back cover? This is not what I thought it was going to be like.” Then you go read the back blurb again because you wondering if you read it wrong.

What about you? Do you buy books just because of a beautiful cover? Do you have any pet peeves about books? Let me know in the comments!

Blog tours, Book Reviews, FFBC

The Peasant’s Dream Book Review

tour banner

I’m excited to be part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club’s blog tour for Melanie Dickerson’s new novel The Peasant’s Dream.  I’ve read several of Melanie’s book and love that many of them are fairytale retellings. So when I saw that the FFBC was doing a book tour for her new book, I knew I wanted to be part of it.

 

About the Book

book cover (1)The Peasant’s Dream (Hagenheim #11)

by Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: July 7th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Fairy Tale, Retellings
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Synopsis:
In this reverse Cinderella story, a poor farmer’s son, who dreams of using his talent as a woodcarver to make a better life for himself, falls in love with a duke’s daughter and must fight for a chance to win her heart.
Adela is the youngest daughter of Duke Wilhelm of Hagenheim and is never allowed outside of the castle walls. She loves her family, but she sneaks away one day to the market in the town center. There she meets a handsome young man and wonders what it might be like to fall in love with a poor farmer with a kind heart instead of marrying the man her family is suggesting for her.
Frederick earns the income for his family and defends his mother from his father’s drunken rages. He also uses his talent and creativity to carve figures, animals, and scenes into wood, and he’s asked to carve these scenes into cathedral doors when his talent is noticed. Frederick is inspired by the sweet and beautiful Adela, but he has no knowledge of her true identity. When he gets swept up into a plan to kidnap the duke’s daughter, both are shaken by what they learn about the other.
With the heartbroken Adela resigned to an arranged marriage with her noble suitor, Frederick must decide what he’s willing to risk for love.

My Review

First off, I like the characters. I connected with Adela on a couple of levels. Like her, I grew up in a big family (though I was the oldest rather than the youngest), my parents were fairly strict so I was somewhat sheltered,  and I always had to urge to go off on my own to do things. I connected with Frederick, because growing up, my family was also poor. I appreciated all the good qualities Frederick had – he was loyal, dependable, and trustworthy, and this is not always the case for YA heroes.

There was a little bit of insta-love or at least insta-attraction, as both Adela and Frederick couldn’t stop thinking about one another after having only met once, and with hardly any conversation between them.

I enjoyed the way Melanie seamlessly weaves her faith into this story, as she is able to do with all of her stories. I liked the gender reverse fairytale spin, and of course, I’m always  a sucker for happy endings! This is a clean YA, so it’s suitable for younger teens and even pre-teens. Fans of Jessica Day George’s books and of the movie Ever After will enjoy this book (there’s no magic, but there’s a lot of interesting historical tidbits included).

About the Author

Melanie Dickerson is the New York Times bestselling author who combines her love for history, adventure, and romance. Her books have won a Christy Award, two Maggie Awards, The National Reader’s Choice Award, the Christian Retailing’s Best Award, the Book Buyer’s Best Award, the Golden Quill, and the Carol Award. She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama and has taught children and adults in the U.S., Germany, and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing stories of love and adventure near Huntsville, Alabama.
SIDENOTE: If you’re interested, several years ago I did an interview with Melanie along with a review of The Captive Maiden.
Book Reviews

Straight On Till Morning Book Review

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Straight on Till Morning, by Liz Braswell, is part of the Twisted Tale series, a series of Disney books that retell the classic Disney stories with some kind of twist. This one is a retelling of Peter Pan.

Wendy’s brothers have grown up enough that they are now away at school. Wendy loves to tell stories about Neverland, but no on wants to listen to them anymore. After her parents tell her that she’s to be sent away to become a governess, she decides it’s time to escape her life by going to Neverland.

The twist in this book – Peter doesn’t bring Wendy to Neverland, instead she makes a bargain with Captain Hook to get there. Once there, she finds out it’s not quite the Neverland of her dreams.

I loved this book! In fact, it might be my favorite book of the Twisted Tales series. There are many reasons I enjoyed this book.

First, I really connected with Wendy. She loves to tell stories, even though others think she’s strange to still be telling stories at her age. She’s a dreamer who isn’t afraid to think outside of the box.

I loved seeing how she grew throughout the story. I liked how she developed a great friendship with Tinker Bell. Peter, while not the villain, is accurately portrayed as the immature, selfish boy he is, and Wendy realizes that he is not worthy of the ardent admiration she held for him. She also realizes that she can make choices that do make a difference in the world, and returns home with a new mindset.

I also loved all the nuances in this book. The were metaphors for the passage of time, and the reality that everyone gets older and sometimes dreams change because of that was a prevalent and relatable theme throughout the book.

Overall, it was a good read and a great addition to the Twisted Tale series!

Have you read Straight on Till Morning or any of the other Twisted Tales? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Blog tours

Fairy Tale Central Blog Tour

If you’ve been following my blog for long, then you know I love fairy tales. And when I learned about this new resource for fairy tale lovers, I knew I had to share it! It’s great for both readers and writers, so without further ado, here’s how Fairy Tale Central came to be…

Once Upon a Time two girls had a dream. A dream of a fairy tale site, an internet library, if you will, for all the fairy tale lovers of the land to gather and converse. To learn, to read, to fangirl/boy, to bask in the goodness that is fairy tales.

As this dream blossomed, the two girls recruited a third. Because, after all, all good fairy tales come in themes of three.

With the third member in place, the girls got to work. The dream began to take shape, until it was no longer just a dream. But something real.

Introducing…

FAIRY TALE CENTRAL

fairy tale central

This newly launched site run by Arielle Bailey, Faith White, and Christine Smith, is your source for all things fairy tales.

Every month a single fairy tale will be featured, and posts will include:

 

  • Reviews for retellings/shows/movies/etc.
  • Essay, origin, and discussion posts on the featured fairy tale
  • Interviews with fairy tale retelling authors
  • Galleries featuring fairy tale artists and artisans
  • And a whole lot more!

 

The FTC’s goal is to unlock the magic that is fairy tales and build a community of fellow fairy tale enthusiasts. Arielle, Faith, and Christine are thrilled to share this new fairy tale centric space and connect with all you epic fairy tale fans!

You can CLICK HERE to find the site and join the Fairy Ring! (Don’t worry, you won’t be enchanted or cursed.) And, if you want to connect even more, you can find the FTC on:

 

 

(If you’re inclined to share about the FTC in those places too, you may or may not be blessed by a fairy godmother. *smile, smile*)

Do tell a friend, or a dragon, or the fairy living in the hollow tree behind your house. All humans and mythological creatures alike are welcome!

Book Reviews

The Lunar Chronicles – In review

lunar post

I finished The Lunar Chronicles over the last year, and I loved them all!  I enjoyed these books so much, that I wanted to share a little about each book and what I loved about them. If you haven’t read them yet, maybe this will convince you to. 🙂

For those who don’t know: The Lunar Chronicles is set in a futuristic world where some people live on Earth.  Some more powerful people called Lunars, who can create glamours and control humans, live on Luna. The Lunar Queen is evil and she is determined to rule all of earth as well as Luna.

There are four main books. Each book introduces a heroine and a hero based on a fairytale. I love they way their stories intertwine and each one’s story continues until the very end of the last book.

Cinder – A retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg girl who serves as a servant to her mean stepmother and her two stepsisters, one cruel, one kind. In a nod to the original fairytale, Cinder goes to the ball and falls for the prince. When she rushes out she leaves behind her robotic foot instead of a slipper. (I lent out my copy of Cinder which is why it’s missing in the picture.)

Some of the things I liked best about this book: I loved Cinder’s courage and resilience. When things weren’t going well, she took action to try to change them. Also, I loved Iko, Cinder’s android friend. Iko was full of personality and was incredibly entertaining.

Scarlet – A retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, with hints of Beauty and the Beast as well. Scarlet lives on a farm with her grandmother. She meets Wolf, a beast-like man trained to be a special operative for the Lunar army. In a nod to the original fairytale, Scarlet always wears a red hoodie.

Some of the things I liked best about this book: I loved Scarlet and Wolf’s relationship. Even though he was trained to kill, Scarlet’s love for him and his love for her kept him from turning into a beast. I also enjoyed the many different locales visited in this book, a trend which continued into the next book as well.

Cress – A retelling of Rapunzel. Cress is trapped in a satellite, and has to do the Lunar Queen’s bidding. In a nod to the original fairytale, a guy named Thorne frees her from the satellite, and is blind for a period of time. (In the original story, it was a thorn that made the prince blind). Cress also has really long hair that she ends up cutting.

Some of the things I loved about this book:  This book was my favorite of the Lunar Chronicles. I could relate to Cress with her small stature and her anxiety about new things. I also loved Cress and Thorne’s relationship.

Winter – A Snow White retelling. Winter is the stepdaughter of the Lunar Queen. She is beautiful and well-loved by the people, so of course the queen hates her. Winter refuses to use her glamour to control others even though  doing this makes her see things and gives her nightmares. In a nod to the original tale, the Queen tries to kill Winter by glamouring herself as an old woman and offering Winter toxic apple candies.

Some of the things I loved about this book:

It ended happily ever after!  It tied everyone’s stories together so well. We really get to see Winter’s strength and personality. Prior to this book, she seemed to just be crazy, so I had been wondering how Meyer was going to have a whole book about her. It was the perfect ending to a great series.

lunar extras

Some companion books to the series include  a shorter book that tells the Lunar Queen’s origin story, a book of short stories, and a coloring book. There are also two graphic novels that tell about Iko’s escapades after the main books end. I just finished the first one and enjoyed it just as much as the other books.

The Lunar Chronicles has made Marissa Meyer an autobuy author for me. 🙂

If you’ve read the series, which book is your fave? What’s your favorite thing about the Lunar world? If you haven’t read the series, why not?! Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

Reading Challenges for 2019

Happy New Year! I can’t believe 2019 is here. It seems like 2018 just flew by.  I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays! I know I did. I was able to spend some quality time with family, as well as welcome a new nephew to the world. 🙂

Now I’m focusing on my goals for the New Year. Part of that includes my reading goals. I’ve set my Goodreads challenge at 175 books. I read 160 in 2018, so I wanted to up it a little. Besides that, I ‘ve also chosen four other challenges to participate in.

First, I’m participating in my library’s challenge – they provide a theme for one book per month. I’ve already finished the book for January. I read Mother Knows Best by Serena Valentino.

aacpl challenge

I’m also participating in the #grimmreads2019. The goal is to read all the way through Grimm’s Fairy Tales, by reading a few stories each week. I have an abridged version of the fairy tales, so I may also do an abridged version of the challenge where I just read through the book I have. I’m starting with “The Frog King”.

grimm reads challenge

I’m also participating in the #YearofEpicReads challenge sponsored by Epic Reads. They have three tracks – monthly, quarterly, and weekly. I’m going to try the weekly challenge. Each week Epic Reads posts a theme for your read. The first theme is “Read a Book with Your Favorite Color on the Cover”.  I’m reading The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser.

epicreads challenge

The last challenge is one I did last year as well – Unread Shelf Challenge. I’m going to focus on reading mostly my own books (ones I haven’t read yet), try not to buy very many more books this year, and not go crazy checking stuff out at the library. 🙂

There’s a prompt for each month for this challenge. The Book Jumper will also fulfill my requirement for January’s theme. 🙂

January – any unread book
February – a book gifted to you
March – the book that’s been on your shelf the longest
April – the book you most recently acquired
May – a book you bought because of the movie/TV/theater adaptation
June – a book about travel or set in a country you’ve never been to
July – a book from a series on your shelf
August – a book voted for you to read by Bookstagram
September – a book you can buddy read with someone
October – a book that scares you, whether because of length, content, or actual horror level!
November – a book from your favorite genre
December – the shortest book on your shelf

unread shelf 2019

How about you? What reading challenges are you doing this year? Let me know in the comments.

Mermaid Read-a-thon

Little Mermaid Retellings

Today’s blog challenge for the Let’s Be Mermaid’s Read-a-thon (details about read-a-thon here) is hosted by Ashten at wonderlandianbooks. The challenge for today is to recommend some Little Mermaid retellings.

I haven’t read as many Little Mermaid retellings as some other retellings, but here are some I really enjoyed:

I’ve read a lot of  mermaid books, but many of them were not actual little mermaid retellings. To Kill a Kingdom was my favorite of these three.

What Little Mermaid retellings have you read? Which one was your favorite? Let me know in the comments!