Tag Archives: Fairy tale

Winterspell by Claire Legrand

29 Jul


author : claire legrand

pages :  [hardcover] 464

favorite character : anise

summary :

The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

review :

I adore stories based on fairy tales and I’ve never seen anything inspired by The Nutcracker before. I didn’t know what to expect from that and Winterspell certainly went against any thought I might have had about the story. In fact, there is no nutcracker to be seen in the near 500 pages that make up this novel. While it is an interesting read and I can appreciate the fact that it is a standalone, not drawn into a series, it just wasn’t the book for me.

I do feel like the majority of the plot was interesting or at least held enough intrigue to keep me going through the book. Perhaps the only reason that it didn’t feel long is because it concluded in this book when I was afraid a sequel would soon be coming. I hate when authors add on books that aren’t needed; I think Claire Legrand made the right choice in keeping this as one novel. I was happy with the conclusion. In fact, the ending of this book was my favorite part of it. I thought that it worked perfectly for the rest of the book and it made me think about what else could possibly happen after the action of the narrative, without leaving the book such an ambiguous ending as to frustrate me.

I also liked the world building in this book, yet I only enjoyed it in the fantasy realm and not the realistic one. It was terribly difficult to get an idea of the political structure in Clara’s ‘real’ world; I had no idea if it was only present there or if it was throughout the entire world. I had no idea what the rest of the planet was like, only getting a glimpse of Clara’s neighborhood. I liked the journey through the magical cities and warped surroundings in the fairy world much better because I had a better sense of where everything was in that layout and what exactly was happening to that society.

I think it was the characters that needed more fleshing out for me to have enjoyed this fully. We see the worlds, both fantastical and brutally realistic, through Clara’s point of view. But she switches her personality between an ass-kicking heroine to submissive debutante too many times. There doesn’t seem to be a change in her because she had the strength within her throughout the entire novel, only it never appeared when it was inconvenient for the plot. I never got a full grasp of Nicholas, either. I wish he and Clara would have had some longer dialogues together so I could have gotten a better hold on his character. Some things happened with him that I still find it hard to forgive because afterward I felt he was so absent (not always in a spacial sense) that I couldn’t hope to connect with him again.

I really wish that more had been done with Anise. She seemed like a complex character and villain; I absolutely loved reading the scenes including her because I never knew what was going to happen next. I feel like what the author tried to do with her ultimately came too abruptly and left me a little confused.

Overall, this was an okay book for me. It is definitely not one of my favorite retellings; I never would have known about the influence from The Nutcracker if it hadn’t been for the summary and a few key names in the book. There were parts of the novel that interested me but none that stood out as perfect.

3/5 stars

Wild by Alex Mallory

1 Jul


author : alex mallory

pages : [paperback] 448

favorite character : sofia

summary :

The forest is full of secrets, and no one understands that better than Cade. Foraging, hunting, surviving— that’s all he knows. Alone for years, Cade believes he’s the sole survivor. At least, until he catches a glimpse of a beautiful stranger…

Dara expected to find natural wonders when she set off for a spring break camping trip. Instead, she discovers a primitive boy— he’s stealthy and handsome and he might be following her. Intrigued, Dara seeks him out and sets a catastrophe in motion.

Thrust back into society, Cade struggles with the realization that the life he knew was a lie. But he’s not the only one. Trying to explain life in a normal town leaves Dara questioning it.

As the media swarm and the police close in, Dara and Cade risk everything to get closer. But will the truth about Cade’s past tear them apart?

A YA Tarzan retelling.

review :

This book seemed so interesting when I read the summary. I’ve never read something like a retelling of Tarzan before, though I don’t think the comparison to that well-known story does much for this book. Cade was a fascinating character. The only humans he’d communicated with, as far back as he can remember, were his parents. Now that they’re both dead he’s lived alone in the woods for three years, convinced that the rest of the world is dead or dying from a pandemic. That’s the explanation his mother always gave him for why they needed to keep themselves hidden from the world.

Unfortunately, Cade was the only fascinating portion of the story for me. Some of the plot was very easy to predict and I would skip a few pages ahead so that I could stop reading about Cade again instead of the media frenzy surrounding him or how Josh, Dara’s boyfriend, acts as a kind of antagonist and nothing more. Most of the characters lack depth and I didn’t care much for them. Even Dara, the other leading character, felt shallow. Her only ‘special’ aspect was her love of photography. I knew little else about her, except that she liked to defy everyone else to get to Cade because she felt an inexpiable connection with him . . another device that I typically don’t like to read about in YA.

While reading, I realized when there were only fifteen pages left that there was too much to say in that short amount of space. I was afraid that this book would be getting a sequel because it didn’t seem to deserve one; the plot dragged on as it was. No, instead the ending was very rushed and somehow ended up with a perfect, nonsensical ending. It left me unsatisfied.

I wouldn’t recommend this retelling because it was a good idea that was poorly executed. I liked hearing Cade’s story but it was never fully developed and he could not make up for the other, flatter characters. I do not know if I will pick up anything else by Alex Mallory.

2/5 stars


The Child Thief by Brom

25 Jun

The Child Thief

author : brom

pages : [hardcover] 481

memorable quote If you don’t learn to laugh at life it’ll surely kill you, that I know.

favorite characters : peter & cricket

summary :

Fourteen-year-old Nick would have been murdered by the drug dealers preying on his family had Peter not saved him. Now the irresistibly charismatic wild boy wants Nick to follow him to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive and you never grow old. Even though he is wary of Peter’s crazy talk of faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, New York City is no longer safe for him, and what more could he possibly lose?

There is always more to lose.

Accompanying Peter to a gray and ravished island that was once a lush, enchanted paradise, Nick finds himself unwittingly recruited for a war that has raged for centuries—one where he must learn to fight or die among the “Devils,” Peter’s savage tribe of lost and stolen children.

There, Peter’s dark past is revealed: left to wolves as an infant, despised and hunted, Peter moves restlessly between the worlds of faerie and man. The Child Thief is a leader of bloodthirsty children, a brave friend, and a creature driven to do whatever he must to stop the “Flesh-eaters” and save the last, wild magic in this dying land

review :

I absolutely love fairy tale retellings and haven’t picked up too many adult novels that feature this. Peter Pan is one of my favorite stories and I was eager to see how that idea was darkened and twisted in The Child Thief. In some ways, it went exactly as I’d expected it would, with the children being led to a world not quite like Neverland, more like an ancient fairy realm no one would really like to visit. Peter is charming enough to keep the children content, most of the time, and he convinces them to fight alongside him in his quest to rid Avalon of the dangerous monsters who used to be men that are turning the magical realm apart.

I’m a little confused as to why this is considered an adult novel. Yes, there is plenty of violence in it (which I’ll get to in a moment) and some sexual implications. But I’ve seen scenes like that in YA novels and the main character of this book is fourteen years old. It was an odd mix for me but it also makes me think this book would be a good one to reach for if you’re trying to transition from YA to adult reading because of the age range of so many of the characters (ignoring the fact that while Peter acts like a teenager he’s over 900) and while this book is well-written, it certainly isn’t overwritten.

That it, if you can overlook the gratuitous violence. I would say that it worked for me, or at least didn’t bother me, until the last third of the book. At that point terrible things were happening so often that I almost didn’t care, which is the worst thing that could possibly happen in a book. I was becoming immune to all of this because I couldn’t read about all of these deaths (sometimes about characters who really weren’t mentioned before they were killed off) and feel emotion about it because by the time I registered that something tragic had happened, another terrible thing was occurring.

I don’t think slower pacing would have helped that because the novel is already over 500 pages. Perhaps if the first half had been much shorter, the actions in the latter half could have been extended. I really loved reading about Peter’s backstory, however, as well as the intricacies of the fairy world, so I wouldn’t have taken that out for anything.

If you can handle the violence and love Peter Pan, I would say to give this book a chance. While I enjoyed reading it, I do not think it is one that I will reread.

3/5 stars

Cress by Marissa Meyer

20 May



The Lunar Chronicles #3
Book 1: Cinder
Book 2: Scarlet

author : marissa meyer

pages : [hardcover] 550

favorite characters : cress & wolf

summary :

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

review :

I absolutely love the Lunar Chronicles and Cress makes me love these books even more.

I’m a sucker for any books that twist fairy tales around and these books combine a few of my favorites, thus far featuring Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. What’s so wonderful about them is mostly the world these awesome characters are set in and the different challenges they face. There’s so much going on with this series I can’t even hope to explain it all. I wouldn’t ever try because I love recommending these books so much and wouldn’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t begun them!

In this third installment to the four book series, new characters are introduced alongside the old. The book maintains the same pacing as the others in the series, with small lulls between great action scenes. The characters are so well fleshed out and I loved that the book switches point of view a few times to show off what might be happening in a different part of the world or, well, to someone floating around in space (in a satellite, not on their own. That would be silly).

If you love fairy tales and stories that are unique, you’ll love Cress. I’ve never read anything quite like this and it’s awesome to have a breath of fresh text when YA novels all begin to feel so similar. Cress is as adorable a character I’d hoped, there was much more told about the characters who were introduced in the last book, and there were plot twists in here I definitely didn’t expect. These are books that will get you dreaming about what could happen next.

I’m looking forward to and dreading the next book, Winter, because it will also be the last. I’m not ready to say goodbye to this fabulous cast of characters, especially not because the beautiful writing in Cress made me love them that much more.

I’d recommend this book to anyone.

5/5 stars

If you liked Cress you might also like Tiger Lily.

Grim: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings

13 May



editor : christine johnson

pages : [ebook] 480

summary :

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today: 

Ellen Hopkins 
Amanda Hocking 
Julie Kagawa 
Claudia Gray 
Rachel Hawkins 
Kimberly Derting 
Myra McEntire 
Malinda Lo 
Sarah Rees-Brennan 
Jackson Pearce 
Christine Johnson 
Jeri Smith Ready 
Shaun David Hutchinson 
Saundra Mitchell 
Sonia Gensler 
Tessa Gratton 
Jon Skrovon

review :

I needed to read this anthology because one, it’s about fairy tales, and two it contains short stories by writers I love and have read before. This includes Julie Kagawa (The Iron King), Malinda Lo (Ash), Jackson Pearce (Sisters Red), and Jeri Smith Ready (Shade). As with any collection there were some hits and misses but overall I’m fairly pleased with the selection. There was a good mix of stories that were dealt with and I was glad that there weren’t too many repeats when it came to the tales. I was also excited to see some lesser-known stories getting a retelling.

My top two favorites have to be “Beauty and the Chad” by Sarah Rees-Brennan and “A Real Boy” by Claudia Gray. Both are just so fantastic that I’d really love a novel-length version of them to eat up. The first was so hilarious, I really couldn’t believe that Beauty and the Beast could be so entertaining in a new way when it’s already been done so often. “A Real Boy” was both touching and intriguing because it took so many turns that I didn’t expect and, at the end, I was left wanting to know what could happen next. Already my imagination was racing to fill in a bigger ending for myself. Any story that can trigger the imagination is awesome.

Sometimes it can be hard to predict whether a story collection will be worth reading but this is one I recommend, if only so you can check out both of those stories and tell me what you think of them! There are so many great authors included in this book but I don’t think every story was worthwhile to me. The problem I think is that most of these authors have also written novels and have more time in those to explain little details and tie up the stories neatly, whereas in these short stories interesting characters, details, or ideas might be introduced and then abandoned completely. I wanted a more rounded out tale whereas sometimes I was forced to be satisfied with less.

If you like twisted fairy tales, this might be the next book for you.

4/5 stars

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

28 Jan

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

author : karen foxlee

pages : [hardcover] 240

memorable quote And you might think a name is just a name, nothing but a word, but that is not the case. Your name is tacked to you. Where it has joined you, it has seeped into your skin and into your essence and into your soul.

favorite characters : opehlia & the marvelous boy

summary :

A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia’s help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy’s own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

review :

I have a special affection for children’s stories that are modeled after fairy tales. I think  it’s so important for everyone to embrace their imagination and allow it to thrive. While there were some parts of this novel that seemed rushed for me, I really did enjoy it and hope to read more by this author in the future!

Ophelia was a fantastic protagonist. Not only is she still grieving the loss of her mother, something no girl should have to do, she’s small, asthmatic, and her father and sister have changed and seem to have little time for her anymore. Finding a mysterious boy in a museum opens up a whole new world for her. I loved seeing Ophelia change throughout the story and I felt like I could really connect with her, especially her doubts and her hope that everything would turn out alright in the end.

I did get very frustrated with her family in this book, mostly because it was obvious how much she needed them and they tended to ignore her. Of course she was speaking about impossible things so they assumed she was making it all up, but she’s young and deserved more than they gave her. The end settled most of this for me.

Some of the scenes were bothersome because they were more summary than action and I would have liked to have seen how they played out rather than have them told to me. As with my frustration with Ophelia’s family, this was made up for elsewhere, but kept me from giving this read a full 5 stars.

I really think that younger readers will fall in love with this story and the characters in it. Older readers like me will be able to enjoy this quick read. I think it contains a great message as well as two great protagonists to root for!

4/5 stars

If you like this book, you might also like Catalina or A Kiss in Time.

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

14 Jan

Of Beast and Beauty

author : stacey jay

pages : [hardcover] 391

memorable quote And what good is a voice when so few will listen?

favorite characters : isra & gem

summary :

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

review :

I love twisted fairy tales and I was really interested in this one because it also had dystopian elements and took place on another planet! The fairy tale qualities of the story actually ended up blending with the sci-fi in an interesting mixture I never would have guessed would hook me in. There were so many things going on with this plot that it became anything but a predictable fairy tale.

First of all, the summary says that Isra’s city treats the Banished as ‘second-class’. That’s an understatement when they’re all rounded up and shoved into a camp at the edge of the dome and treated like animals-and much worse than animals should ever be treated-for the rest of their short lives. If that’s what they do to their so-called citizens then it’s easy to imagine the terrible things they might do to the Monstrous outside the dome who are trying to get in. The Monstrous are starving and desperate, looking for answers that will help them survive. Isra needs to find out what are lies and what is true about these creatures before its too late and both sides destroy each other.

I have to say the creepiest part of this story was that Isra was raised to be a human sacrifice. Knowing what kept their city going to me was a lot worse than much of the bloodshed and fighting that went on throughout the novel. It isn’t the forefront during most of the plot but it affects everything Isra is and everything she does. Another creepy element was Bo. At first I was afraid he’d turn things into a love triangle but no, that guy really had a twisted mind.

There were some plot twists in here that I never really expected and as the novel progressed, I just had to keep reading because I never knew what could happen next. Both of them characters were so well-written and at the end I still had no answer as to who was supposed to be Beauty and who was the Beast. Both had good and bad traits and it wasn’t all about appearances.

I really enjoyed this book and it surprised me in so many ways. It’s a quick and memorable read that I’ll recommend to anybody.

4/5 stars


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