After wanting to read it for years, I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of Marissa Meyer’s Cinderella-meets-Sailor-Moon novel, Cinder. Click here to read my review!
Alice Takes Back Wonderland – David D. Hammons
After ten years of being told she can’t tell the difference between real life and a fairy tale, Alice finally stops believing in Wonderland. So when the White Rabbit shows up at her house, Alice thinks she’s going crazy.
Only when the White Rabbit kicks her down the rabbit hole does Alice realize that the magical land she visited as a child is real.
But all is not well in Wonderland.
The Ace of Spades has taken over Wonderland and is systematically dismantling all that makes it wonderful. Plain is replacing wondrous, logical is replacing magical, and reason is destroying madness. Alice decides she must help the Mad Hatter and all those fighting to keep Wonderland wonderful.
But how can she face such danger when she is just a girl?
Alice must journey across the stars to unite an army. She discovers that fairy tales are real in the magical world beyond the rabbit hole. But they are not the fairy tales she knows.
Fairy tales have dangers and adventures of their own, and Alice must overcome the trials of these old stories if she wants to unite the lands against Ace.
With the help of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White and heroes old and new, Alice may have the strength to take back Wonderland.
Release Date: September 28th, 2015
Thank you to Curiosity Quills for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
I love all things Alice-inspired, so obviously I jumped at the chance to read this ARC. It was so good!! Especially because there was a lapse between when I requested it and when I actually read it so I had time to forget that other fairy tale creatures showed up and made the whole thing AMAZING.
What I liked:
-the cover, obviously, is gorgeous.
-the other fairy tale characters and the differences between their real stories and the “echoes” we have in our world. Loved Peter Pan (I shipped them hard), loved the twist on Pinocchio, loved the whole thing with the princesses…I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but it was really well done and integrated seamlessly with the plot.
The seven dwarves were especially awesome. Two words: pinstripe suits.
-Alice herself. She ended up being funny and smart and tough and pretty much exactly how you’d want a grown up Alice to be. She reminded me a lot of Tim Burton’s Alice (actually, the whole concept reminded me of that movie, so it’s a good thing I really enjoy Tim Burton’s take), which led to me rewatching the movie this weekend (never a bad thing).
I especially liked how, when she was changing outfits because her dress was ruined, she turned up her nose at the other dresses that were offered to her, choosing instead pants and a shirt because she didn’t “need it to be pretty”. Plus her pants had pockets for her shotgun shells, so it was more convenient than a frilly dress.
-at first I, along with other characters, was perplexed as to why exactly Alice wanted to take back Wonderland. It was like she had a goal, but she herself couldn’t reason why this goal was so important to her. That should have been annoying, but it actually made sense in a confusing way. I think this quotation from the book sums it up:
Magic, it seemed, showed no sign of scientific reason. It was frustrating, yet made me feel joyful to know that something existed in this universe that was completely devoid of rational explanation”.
If acting outside a set list of thing to do is what you call mad, then we’re all mad here.
Sidenote: I already love the original “we’re all mad here” line (enough to get it permanently inked on my skin), so of course I liked this more detailed version.
What I didn’t like:
-attacking the pirates’ ship in Neverland seemed to take a long time, plus I don’t know what a Gatling gun is, so I had a hard time imagining it.
-there were some emotional moments that felt like they were glossed over so that it didn’t slow the action down which was understandable, but they were the moments where I actually wanted Alice to stop and process what was happening. Chalk it up to her being mad, I suppose.
Overall, I think he did a fantastic job capturing Alice’s whimsical voice, even making me laugh a few times, and as a fan of mixed up fairy tales, I loved seeing other characters outside of their stories.
I wish I had read this a couple of weeks earlier so that I could have added it to my top ten list of fairy tale retellings.
Yesterday’s Top Ten Tuesday was one of my favourites so far. I absolutely love fairytale retellings (and fairytales in general, I suppose), so I had way too much fun going through other people’s lists and adding books to my TBR.
While I was brainstorming titles for my list, I remembered my own attempt at re-writing a favourite story. I wrote it for a contest and made plans to expand it into a full-length novel (or at least novella), but to be honest, I haven’t touched it in over a year.
So here it is. If you take the time to read this – thank you! And please let me know what you think! I hope it’s not too terrible.
Featuring the cover I made for it in my production class which isn’t the best because Photoshop/InDesign are not my friends and my instructor didn’t love the colour scheme (I told him that the black and white covers worked for Twilight and he couldn’t really argue).
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week’s prompt is Ten Fairytale Retellings I’ve Read/Want To Read. I absolutely love fairytale retellings, and there are a ton on my TBR list, so I’ve split the list into five that I’ve read and five that I want to read.
Note: I’ve definitely read more than these five, but they’re the first ones I could think of!
Five Retellings I’ve Read
1) Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine (retelling: Cinderella) (aka one of my favourite books EVER)
2) Another Pan – Daniel & Dina Nayeri (retelling: Peter Pan) (you can read an old review here!)
3) Snow – Tracy Lynn (retelling: Snow White)
4) Spinners – Donna Jo Napoli (retellling: Rumpelstiltskin)
5) Masque of the Red Death – Bethany Griffin (retelling: Edgar Allan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death) (you can read my review here!)
Five Retellings I Want to Read
1) A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas (retelling: Beauty and the Beast) (actually, I want to read all of her books, but this cover kills me)
2) Cinder – Marissa Meyer (retelling: Cinderella) (I’m including the rest of the Lunar Chronicles in this list, of course!)
3) Mechanica – Betsy Cornwell (retelling: Cinderella)
4) Splintered – A.G. Howard (retelling: Alice in Wonderland)
5) Dorothy Must Die – Danielle Paige (retelling: The Wizard of Oz)
Bonus: Five Retellings I’ve Reviewed on this blog
1) Spelled (ARC) – Betsy Schow (retelling: The Wizard of Oz and others)
2) A Whole New World (ARC) – Liz Braswell (retelling: Aladdin)
3) A Curse of Ash and Iron (ARC) – Christine Norris (retelling: Cinderella)
4) Dust City – Robert Paul Weston (retelling: Little Red Riding Hood and others)
5) The Fairest of Them All – Carolyn Turgeon (retelling: Rapunzel/Snow White)
What are some of your favourite fairytale retellings? Which ones should I check out?
This round-up is a day late because I honestly forgot about it until late yesterday. Either way, this month wasn’t terribly productive in terms of ARCs, but they were all decent. It was also the first time I conducted an author interview, so that was exciting!
- A Whole New World – Liz Braswell: “It’s YA, but it feels like the young end of YA – more 12-14 than 14-16 – which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but don’t go in expecting something scandalous, even if there are some surprisingly violent scenes.” (3 interrobangs)
- A Curse of Ash and Iron – Christine Norris: “I felt like it was lacking something. It was a decent story and it had some really fascinating elements, but my inability to connect with the characters made it a hard read.” (2.5 interrobangs)
- The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl – Ishbelle Bee: “The writing continues to have a lovely lyrical quality to it, even when she’s writing descriptions of a massacre.” (4 interrobangs)
- I also got the chance to interview the lovely Ishbelle Bee, which you can read here.
- Placid Girl – Brenna Ehrlich: “I liked the concept, and I think it serves as an excellent cautionary tale.” (3 interrobangs)
A Curse of Ash and Iron – Christine Norris
When he reunites with his childhood friend Eleanor Banneker, he is delighted. His delight turns to dismay when he discovers she has been under a spell for the past 7 years, being forced to live as a servant in her own home, and he realizes how sinister some secrets can be. She asks for his help, and he can’t refuse. Even if he doesn’t believe in ‘real’ magic, he can’t abandon her.
Ellie has spent the long years since her mother’s death under the watchful eye and unforgiving eye of her stepmother. Bewitched and hidden in plain sight, it seems no one can help Ellie escape. Not even her own father, who is under a spell of his own. When she sees Ben one evening, it seems he is immune to the magic that binds her, and her hope is rekindled along with her friendship.
But time is running short. If they do not find a way to break the spell before midnight on New Year’s Eve, then both Ellie and her father will be bound forever.
Release Date: May 21st, 2015
Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
I didn’t realize right away that this is a Cinderella retelling because apparently the cover distracted me from actually reading the synopsis.
What I liked:
-the cover!! Gorgeous. It reminds me of the Gail Carriger novels that I really want to read.
-the plot. I love fractured fairy tales or retellings, and, even though I think the best Cinderella retelling ever is Ella Enchanted, I’m always down to read another version.
-it’s not quite steampunk, but I found the inventions interesting, especially the historically accurate description of the Exhibition.
What I didn’t like:
-the characters. I feel terrible saying this, but I didn’t really care about any of the characters, except maybe Rebecca, but even she had a sudden personality shift.
I couldn’t understand how she and Ellie spent seven years being indifferent to each other and then Rebecca was all “you’re the best sister ever, I wanna help you”, and I was like “it’s a little late for that, isn’t it?”. But they ended up having a really sweet relationship at the end, which I liked.
-the “love triangle”. I didn’t feel any chemistry between any of the characters. And talk about insta-love: Ellie talks to Hamilton Scott for all of ten seconds before she walks away thinking “I’m in love!!”. No, Ellie, I’m pretty sure that’s just lust because you thought he was hot. Which I suppose is what happens in the original Cinderella story, but one of the reasons I loved Ella Enchanted was because of the relationship between Ella and Char (I still get emotional at the end).
Ben was no better. I didn’t particularly care for him, and I could see where his story was going, but it didn’t stop it from being annoying to watch Ellie toy with him (even if it was unintentional).
-the dialogue. While it was mostly realistic, it sometimes seemed forced and unnatural. It wasn’t so bad that it detracted from the story or anything, and it was a personal quirk, but I preferred the exposition to the dialogue.
Overall, I felt like it was lacking something. It was a decent story and it had some really fascinating elements, but my inability to connect with the characters made it a hard read.
A Whole New World – Liz Braswell
Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?
When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.
What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
I have such conflicting feelings about this book.
What I liked:
-the fact that it’s a twist on a Disney movie. That in itself is genius, and what a way to appeal to YA readers from a certain generation who grew up on the “classic” Disney movies!
-the genie was really well written, even if some of his jokes were taken straight out of the movie, and it was easy to imagine his dialogue in Robin Williams’ voice (RIP).
-Jasmine does have a bigger role in the book, compared to her mostly passive role in the movie, which is great. Plus there’s an intelligent thief, Morgiana, so yay strong female characters! Also, I’m glad they avoided the love triangle that they sort of hinted at.
-I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but it made me want to watch Aladdin (which I did, the day after I finished reading this, with my three year old niece).
What I didn’t like:
-the first quarter of the book is essentially a re-telling of the first quarter of the movie, including verbatim dialogue. The main difference is an expansion of Aladdin’s backstory (but I don’t remember any of the movie’s sequels, so I don’t know if his past is ever mentioned). It almost would have been better if it had picked up in the Cave of Wonders when Jafar takes the lamp off of Aladdin, because, really, who is going to read this book if they haven’t seen the movie?
-Aladdin and Jasmine’s relationship in the movie is cute and almost a side-plot. But in this case, it’s insta-love like you wouldn’t believe. It’s probably one of the worst examples of insta-love I’ve ever read, since Jasmine’s all “he’s the best thing in the world, I love him!” but she doesn’t learn his name until halfway through the book!!!!!!! It’s soooooo YA (in a not-great way).
-where the flock is Iago?! You get an explanation of his whereabouts approximately 70% into the book, but by that point, I had already complained to three people about the lack of everyone’s favourite parrot. What, I ask you, is the point of writing from Jafar’s point of view if you’re not going to include his sidekick??
-this is really nitpicky, but I couldn’t understand why they kept invoking God’s name (i.e. Good God, in God’s name, etc). Wouldn’t it be Allah? Didn’t the author remember the part of the movie when the Sultan says “Allah forbid you should have any daughters” to Rajah??
-formatting wise, there were an awful lot of italics which was really annoying to read every other sentence.
It’s YA, but it feels like the young end of YA – more 12-14 than 14-16 – which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but don’t go in expecting something scandalous, even if there are some surprisingly violent scenes.
This month, half of my ARCs had a musician love interest, which is funny, but also says a lot about me personally.
- Grunge Gods and Graveyards – Kimberly G. Giarratano: “I was intrigued by the cover, and I’m automatically drawn to books where the love interest is a musician (it was an bonus that he also happened to be a ghost), so I figured I’d give this one a shot. I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would!” (4 interrobangs)
- The Lady in Blue – Kimberly G. Giarratano: “..since I was intrigued by the Lady in Blue in [Grunge Gods and Graveyards], I was more than happy to find out a little bit more about Lana Bloom.This self-published sequel came out a couple of months ago and it does a fine job of filling in the gaps.” (5 interrobangs)
- Devil’s Daughter – Hope Schenk-de Michele and Paul Marquez: “It had a great plot and some interesting moments but, while it had an open ending, I’m not tearing down the house in anticipating for the sequel. Definitely a good change from most of the other angel-based YA out there, though.” (3.5 interrobangs)
- Fractured Dream – K.M. Randall: “It wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read ever, but I couldn’t really get into it (despite finishing it!). I’m certain there are people who will devour this, but I just couldn’t connect with anyone enough to care what happened to them.” (2.5 interrobangs)
- Date with a Rockstar – Sarah Gagnon: “This was one of those books where part of me was going “wow, this is cheesy/dramatic/over-the-top” and another part of me was going “I LOVE EVERYTHING THAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW”.” (4 interrobangs)
- The Heartbreakers – Ali Novak: “If you’re in the mood for a fluffy fanfic, then this will be your jam. There are some serious moments (Cara does have cancer, after all), but it veers around truly emotional territories.” (2.5 interrobangs)
Overall, it was an interesting month for ARCs, with a nice mix of hits and misses. What have you read this month?
Fractured Dream – K.M. Randall
It’s been eight years since Story Sparks last had a dream. Now they’re back, tormenting her as nightmares she can’t remember upon waking. The black waters of Lake Sandeen, where her Uncle Peter disappeared decades before, may hold the secret to Story’s hidden memories, or a truth she’d rather not know. On a bright summer afternoon, Story and her two best friends, Elliot and Adam, take a hike to the lake, where they dive into the cool water and never reemerge. What they find is beyond anything they’ve ever imagined could be possible, a world where dangers lurk in the form of Big Bad Wolves, living Nightmares and meddlesome witches and gods.
Now Story must remember who she really is and somehow stop two worlds from ultimate annihilation, all while trying not to be too distracted by the inexplicable pull she feels toward a certain dark-eyed traveler who seems to have secrets of his own. The fates of the worlds are counting on her.
Release Date: June 21st, 2014
Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the right mood for this or what, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would.
What I liked:
-the fairy tale elements. As I’ve mentioned many times, I enjoy fractured fairy tales (which is why I jumped at the chance to read this one). I liked how there is a Red Riding Hood in every generation, enjoy the different types of Thumbelinas, and, of course, love the Pegasus family (I’m not a huge horse fan, but who doesn’t love a FLYING horse??).
-Elliot. He’s gay and a psychic?! What a stellar combination! He was probably my favourite character.
-there was a death that I saw coming pretty much from the moment that character showed up, but I respect (and liked!) that the author actually made it happen and didn’t shy away from killing off people readers – and Story – liked.
What I didn’t like:
-I couldn’t connect with Story. I also found her to be slow on the uptake – there were many plot points that took her ages to figure out when they were pretty obvious (to me, anyway), especially anything having to do with Nicholas (who else saw those plot points coming?).
She also came across as younger than 20 (not that I was very mature at 20), so sometimes I forgot she was college-aged.
-on the same note: it was only a minor part of the book, but it drove me bonkers that they were interrupted FOUR TIMES when Nicholas started to tell her who he really was. FOUR TIMES! And since I had guessed his secret as soon as they met, the actual reveal wasn’t very satisfactory.
-I’ll be completely honest, by the time I hit 40%, I started skimming. There was a lot of exposition, a lot of telling me about feelings rather than showing them, and the perspective changed every so often, which I didn’t think was necessary. I respect the decision to have multiple POVs, but since I wasn’t a huge fan of Adam or Nicholas, I didn’t particularly care for getting stuck in their heads. Now, an Elliot POV, I could get behind, but alas, there were none (unless I accidentally skipped them).
I waffled between giving this 2 or 3 interrobangs, so I’m gonna go with 2.5. It wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read ever, but I couldn’t really get into it (despite finishing it!). I’m certain there are people who will devour this, but I just couldn’t connect with anyone enough to care what happened to them.
The kind people at Sourcebooks are getting ready to release Betsy Schow’s Spelled and they’re celebrating by offering a gift basket! Enter below for your chance to win and check out my review of this fun Wizard of Oz-inspired story!
Talk about unhappily ever after. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the not-so-charming prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.
Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving Dorthea with hair made up of emerald flames and the kingdom in chaos. Her parents and everyone she loves are stuck in some place called “Kansas.” Now it’s up to Dorthea and her pixed-off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse…before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.
The giveaway runs until May 24th, 2015 and is open to US/Canada only.
Advance Praise for Spelled
“A cute adventure with romance set in a world full of fairy-tale mash-ups. Readers will love Dorthea’s evolution from spoiled princess to strong, confident heroine… For Oz fans, this work is a great clean-read alternative to Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die.” –School Library Journal
“This wickedly funny, fast-paced adventure has it all: brains, courage, and heart. (Plus a kickin’ pair of heels.) .” –Jen Calonita, author of The Secrets of My Hollywood Life and Fairy Tale Reform School series
“Fairy tale survival rule #1, do NOT read this book late at night. You will wake up your entire family with loud laughter. Fairy tale survival rule #2, if you love the Wizard of Oz, clever fairy tale mash-ups, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen until the very end, you MUST read Spelled.” –J Scott Savage, award winning author of Farworld, Case File 13, and the Mysteries of Cove series.
“A hilarious and snarky reimagining of the world of Oz, along with many other fairy tales injected throughout, “Spelled” is one fabulous read…Kick off those silver slippers and tuck in with this wonderful tale!” —Senator Sipes, Lil Book Bug (Palmdale, CA)
About Betsy Schow:
Betsy Schow is the author of the memoir Finished Being Fat, and has been featured on The Today Show and in The Wall Street Journal. She lives in Utah, but travels the country with Color Me Rad 5k, and partners with nonprofits to teach kids creative thinking and how to reach their goals.
Excerpt from Spelled:
Most of the crowd had dispersed. The final few stragglers looked at me with the all too-common look of fear mixed with trepidation. Pix ’em. They were just servants. It wasn’t like their opinion mattered.
Only one remained, watching me with open curiosity. He looked to be in his late teens or was magically enhanced to appear so. He could have been a hundred for all I knew. I’d never seen him before in my life. He was handsome enough, for a commoner, even in his worn leather pants and cracked work boots. A foreigner, his hair was unruly and dark auburn, which complemented his tanned but dirt-smudged complexion, though the tall, dark stranger vibe was ruined by his piercing pale blue eyes.
Well, I’d had enough of being a sideshow for the day. “If you’re the new gardener, the hedges are overgrown and in need of a trim.” I pointed in the direction of my father. “While you’re there, you can help the king with the wisps.”
The young man’s expression clouded over, but he didn’t move.
I stamped my foot and pointed more forcefully. “Off with you. Courtyard’s that way. Be sure to clean those awful boots before coming back in.”
“Someone told me I’d find a princess of great worth here. One with the strength to be the hero this realm needs.” He stared at me with those unsettling blue eyes. They were cold, like ice water—made me shiver from head to toe. Then his gaze seemed to search even deeper. Finally, he looked through me, like I was nothing.
In brisk steps, he strode across the marble to the courtyard. But before crossing the threshold, he turned back to glare at me with his lip curled ever so slightly. “It seems she was mistaken.”
Just like that, I had been sifted, weighed, and found wanting.
I felt my own lip curl in response. How rude! Who the Grimm was this peasant to judge me? I was wearing a Glenda original. Original! Not some fairy-godmother knockoff worn by those servant girls turned royal. I was a crown princess, for the love of fairy, and no one dismissed me.
Before I could put the boy in his place—down in the dirt, where he belonged—a clatter came from behind, making me nearly jump out of my shoes. I checked and was relieved that Sterling had simply dropped his sword. By the time I looked back, the gardener was gone.
After stowing his blade, Sterling held up his shield, not in defense of the entrance but so he could look at his reflection. “Clearly he’s blind and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
I didn’t ask for Sterling’s opinion, but it made me feel better.
Until he opened his mouth again.
“Worth, pffft. I mean, look around at all the jewels. Your palace has everything you could ever want. Honestly, I don’t know what you’re fussing about. Why would anyone want to leave?”
Because a cage is still a cage, no matter how big or glittering the bars are.
And I would find a way free, no matter the cost.
Spelled will be released on June 2nd, 2015!