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.
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 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!
Since joining NetGalley in late March, I’ve read four ARCs – here is a round-up of my reviews! (please click the title for the full review)
- Spelled – Betsy Schow: “I love fractured/retellings of fairy tales so I was pretty stoked when my request for this was approved.” (3.5 interrobangs)
- The Rise and Fall of the Gallivanters – M.J. Beaufrand: “I liked the fact that they were in a punk band. These are my people (well, these are the people I wish were my people), and I’ve always loved stories where one or more characters are in a band.” (3.5 interrobangs)
- Fairy Keeper – Amy Bearce: “[F]airy keepers…have this great fairy-wing shaped marks on their neck, which is very cool, but it’s also interesting that not everyone had control over magical creatures – just a select few.” (4 interrobangs)
- The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath – Ishbelle Bee: “[T]he writing…had a whimsical, Neil Gaiman-esque quality (and since I worship Neil Gaiman, this is very high praise).” (4.5 interrobangs)
- Mad Miss Mimic – Sarah Henstra: “I loved this book!! I was obsessed with the title/cover before I started it, and I devoured the whole thing…If you like spunky Victorian heroines (which I do), I highly recommend this one.” (5 interrobangs)
Over the past week-and-a-bit, I’ve read a classic, two ARCs, and a second book in a series! Click the links for full reviews!
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll: “This is a book that speaks to the nonsensical part of me, the part that prefers to fantasize my way into a story rather than, you know, do actual work.”
- Spelled (ARC) – Betsy Schow: “I love fractured/retellings of fairy tales so I was pretty stoked when my request for this was approved.”
- The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag – Alan Bradley: “Flavia continues to be precocious and clever, and I sort of want to be her. Or I’d at least like to understand chemistry the way she does.”
- The Rise and Fall of the Gallivanters (ARC) – M.J. Beaufrand: “I liked the fact that they were in a punk band. These are my people (well, these are the people I wish were my people), and I’ve always loved stories where one or more characters are in a band.”
Last week was Good Friday and I only posted one review (but it was SUCH a good book!):
- The Wondrous and the Wicked – Page Morgan: “I don’t want to spoil anything about this book, but I’m just going to put this out there: it was one of the best endings to a trilogy I’ve read in a long time…”
Until next week, happy reading!
Spelled – Betsy Schow
Yeah, no thanks. 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 brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.
Talk about unhappily ever after.
Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents 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.
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015
Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
I love fractured/retellings of fairy tales so I was pretty stoked when my request for this was approved (it was also the first time I had ever requested anything on NetGalley, so I guess it was beginner’s luck?).
What I liked:
-the fairy tale puns and allusions. I love a good pun, and I found the “swear words” hilarious – what the spell/I’m so pixed/fairy-loving, etc. Amazing! Also, the advice/life lessons/excerpts from other fairy-tale authors that started each chapter was a whimsical touch.
Plus the appearance of other characters, Hydra’s ability to change heads, the different realms – the world-building in this book was fantastic, though it helps that a lot of people would already be familiar with a lot of the source material.
It sort of reminded me of Ever After High, to be honest. But since I’m fascinated by the Ever After High world/characters, I enjoyed it!
-Rexi. Rexi is the servant girl who ends up being Dorothea’s sidekick/adventuring partner. She was sarcastic and funny, and even if she did have her bad moments, she more than made up for them.
I’ll also admit that I was sort of hoping for a Dorothea-Rexi relationship, but that wasn’t the case.
-there’s no insta-love between Dorothea and Kato. In fact, they have an Elizabeth Bennet/Mr. Darcy vibe at first (except not as epic): they start off fueled by hate, but eventually learn to accept each other. I didn’t feel their relationship right away, but it grew on me and ended up being a lot cuter than I expected.
-the ending. I didn’t think this was the first book in a series, but I felt like the ending both wrapped everything up and left it open enough for a possible (probable?) sequel.
-Dorothea started off as a spoiled (literal) princess, but she gradually developed into a flawed but generally likeable heroine.
Which leads me to
What I didn’t like:
-it was hard to sympathize with Dorothea at the beginning, because she’s so spoiled. But she grows and matures and eventually you can’t help rooting for her. HOWEVER, there are several times when she resists using her powers because she’s scared they’ll tip her over to the “dark side”, and I was like…DO IT. Let loose and wreck havoc and destroy everything! Don’t be a traditional heroine, be badass and tough and take control of your own destiny (which she does, but not in the chaotic way I hoped).
-I felt like this book took forever to finish. Maybe I had way too many things going on this past week, but it almost felt like a chore to finish (like I said, that was probably just me).
-while it’s listed as YA, it felt like the younger end of the YA spectrum (I guess 12-14? Right on the cusp between middle grade and young adult). That’s not a bad thing, but Dorothea tended to sound younger that she is, most likely as a result of her spoiled upbringing, which could annoy some “older” YA readers.
It took me nearly two weeks, but I finally finished The Song is You.
“Each song on Julian’s iPod, “that greatest of all human inventions,” is a touchstone. There are songs for the girls from when he was single, there’s the one for the day he met his wife-to-be, there’s one for the day his son was born. But when Julian’s family falls apart, even music loses its hold on him.
Until one snowy night in Brooklyn, when his life’s soundtrack—and life itself—start to play again. Julian stumbles into a bar and sees Cait O’Dwyer, a flame-haired Irish rock singer, performing with her band, and a strange and unlikely love affair is ignited. Over the next few months, Julian and Cait’s passion plays out, though they never meet. What follows is a heartbreaking dark comedy, the tenderest of love stories, and a perfectly observed tale of the way we live now.”
I don’t know how I felt about it.
There were a lot of emotions and experiences I could relate to: the pure joy of finding a new musician/band; that period of absolute obsession (with said musician/band) that probably lasts longer than what most people call “normal”; the delight at finding a song that seems to be speaking directly to your current state of mind; deciding you love the singer responsible for your favourite song…that’s basically a summary of my life. Those experiences were described in such a way that I occasionally nodded along like “I know exactly what you mean, jelly bean”.
I liked the idea of the connection between Cait and Julian. Using coasters, he sketches a series of pictures of what Cait was and what she could become – and when she gets the coasters, she finds a sort-of invisible mentor. At one point, Julian describes himself as being a phantom or angel of music or something…I don’t remember the exact words, but it was definitely a Phantom of the Opera reference (who doesn’t love Phantom?).
Apart from that, it felt dense. It’s not a long book (under 300 pages), but there were times when it felt closer to 600 pages. It was hard to get into, though, like a lot of books, once you hit your stride, it goes by a little easier. I read a couple of reviews where people raved about the prose and yes, it was good, but, because it was taking so long to really read and understand, I got impatient and just wanted to reach the end.
I can’t decide how I felt about the ending. On the one hand, it was very disappointing considering the amount of set-up (i.e. the entire book up until that point), but it was probably the most realistic outcome. I get the feeling this author isn’t one to give his readers a happy ending because that’s what they want (I respect that).
In other news, I’ve slowly been sinking back into my YA-reading habits…this week’s book was Dust City.
“With his dad doing time for the double murder of Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother, Henry Whelp tries to keep a low profile in Dust City—a gritty metropolis known for its black-market, mind-altering fairydust. But when he begins to suspect that his father may have been framed, Henry ventures deep into the City’s underworld. There he comes face to snout with the legendary mobster Skinner and discovers what really happened to his father… as well as the horrifying truth about fairydust.”
First of all, look at that cover. Superb. The back had this tagline: “When your dad is the wolf who killed Little Red Riding Hood, life is no fairy tale” which, as far as taglines go, was a fantastic decision on the designer’s part.
As I have mentioned (and will probably continue to mention), I love mixed-up fairy tales. In addition to Red Riding Hood, this book included references to Cinderella (Cindy, the administrative assistant with the glass stilettos), Snow White (the tough-as-nails detective), Jack and the Beanstalk (Henry’s best friend Jack), and a few others. It was a very interesting take on these characters, completely different from what you might expect.
Obviously, I loved the fairy tale allusions, and the plot itself was great. I liked the concept of fairydust and the whole industry that was built around it. It was also very well written – you could really imagine these wolves and foxes and other animals walking around in an almost-but-not-quite-human way. And the pacing moved quickly, but not so quickly that you lost track of where you were.
I thought it was more middle-grade, but I suppose it’s young adult: there were some plot points that were a little dark for it to be aimed at 8 year olds (the suspected suicide, and the temporary resurrection – hella creepy, but so good!). I highly recommend it.