Ensnared by Rita Strandling

Rating: 3/5

Genre: YA Science-Fiction/Fantasy

Recommended Age: 18+ (violence, adult situations, and lots of robots. Like seriously, if you have automatonophobia I would highly suggest you not read this book).

I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley! My opnions are my own.

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse. – Amazon.com

Another book I had to DNF. Beauty and the beast is my favorite fairytale and Disney movie. I pride myself on being like Belle (except I probably would have kicked Gaston’s ass on my own but that’s another thing entirely). That being said I was so excited to see this book on Netgalley and I jumped at the chance to review it! While reading it I thought the concept of the book was really intriguing. I also thought that the plot and the pacing were well done and that the writing was really good. This book should have been a 5/5 for me, but for a few reasons it just wasn’t.

Firstly, a couple of the characters felt a little flat and one of them did not have any character development at all. I also thought that while this book is set in the “near future” there was still not enough world building to it. It really made me confused in some spots because I wasn’t sure about how the world was and how it was laid out. I also thought that because of the massive boom in retellings, especially Beauty and the Beast retellings, that I just could not get into this book. I tried multiple times, but failed every time. I felt like I knew all the of the surprises and things that would come from this book.

Verdict: Will I try this book out again? Yes definitely. I’m still intrigued by it and I want to read it. Will I give it a second shot anytime soon? No. As of right now I’m Beauty and the Beast worn out and I want to wait a few years before I attempt anything like this book again. I’d still highly recommend this book for any fairy tale lovers and any sci-fi lovers and especially those that belong in both categories.

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The Step-Spinsters by Madine Papadopoulos


Rating: 5/5

 

Genre: Fantasy/Fairytale Retelling

 

Recommended Age: 14+

 

I received a free copy of this book from Kindle Scout AND the author herself! This did not influence my decision in any manner.

 

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away… …(actually, in Medieval France, to be exact) there lived Cinderella’s stepsisters, Fredegonde the tall and Javotte the small. They wake up the morning after the legendary ball to learn that they each still have a chance to be the bride—all they have to do is make their feet fit into that tricky slipper. Alas, these two damsels under stress never quite seem to fit in anywhere. But that doesn’t stop them from wishing and hoping as they set upon a quest for grooms and grandeur of their own. – Amazon.com

 

I really really REALLY enjoy fairytale retellings. I’ve always wanted to see what the world looked like from another’s point of view and with retellings I can do just that! So, being a lover of retellings I feel that I am somewhat critical of them and I haven’t found one that has swept me away since first reading Wicked by Gregory Maguire. Well, the day I picked up this book changed that for me. This book. THIS BOOK. IT. WAS. AMAZING! I thought the book was expertly written. From the first word you’re hooked. The book was also very easy to follow along with even though the author incorporated more of the history and language patterns of the Cinderella era. The character development was phenomenal and I loved how the characters you end up rooting for are not these model-type characters readers are very commonly introduced to. The plot, even though it’s a mostly recycled one from the Cinderella story we know and love, feels new and exciting. I love what the author did with all of the elements of the Cinderella story, especially with the fairy godmother. The pacing is also expertly well done.

 

While the book was a perfect fit for me, it may not be for some readers. The book seemed a bit denser than other popular books are and the book does showcase Cinderella in a bad light, so it does break the heart of Cinderella lovers everywhere.

 

Verdict: This author is going places and you can help her out by supporting this book. It’s a wonderful read, perfect for any fairytale retelling fans anywhere. Definitely check out this book if you want to read a book you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

July 2017 – Enchanted Book Box


Rating: 5/5

Price: $38.00 USD/month plus shipping and handling. You can purchase a one-time box to test out the company to see if it is the right fit for you. There are sometimes half-boxes available for cheaper and you do save some money with subscribing. Sometimes the company also offers limited edition boxes. The one they just offered was a Sarah J. Maas box called A Court of Thrones for $65.00 USD. You can save 10% by using any codes from the reps for this company! There are only 17 boxes left for the July Grimmly Ever After box so get yours NOW!

Products: 1 YA book along with 5-7 bookish items. The company tries to use handmade products from Etsy or other shops you see on bookstagram. For the limited edition boxes there are more items.

Ships: USA and most countries.


July is a time for the end of summer, but for me it was a time to celebrate the creation of some of the most beloved fairytales. So I celebrated it with Enchanted Book Box’s Grimmly Ever After box! This card was obviously the first item I grabbed from the box and the artwork is to DIE for! I LOVE how great these turned out! The info card artwork was done by @johnyfoxart. The artist has other art pieces for sale on the society6 page for $15 USD


The first items I grabbed from the box were the bathbombs from @genevachicmermaid titled Dance All Night, which is a reference to the story The 12 Dancing Princesses. The other item was a candle from @hollowcandleco! The candle was called Granny’s Basket, an obvious reference to Little Red Riding Hood. The candle smells absolutely delicious that even my husband wanted to get up and start baking some cookies! The bath bombs retail for about $5.95. The candle shop mainly has 4 ounce candles for sale for about $8 USD, but since the candle is a 2 ounce one, then I estimate the price to be $4 USD.


The next items in the box were a bookmark from @inapaperforest, which I was SUPER EXCITED to receive because I’ve always wanted a bookmark from this company! The bookmark references Cinderella and the quote is so sinister it fits this dark theme perfectly. The other item was a golden bird feather pen, which symbolizes how the Grimm brothers wrote the original book. The bookmark is worth about $2.87 and the pen is about $1.60 USD.


The next items in this box were the most beautiful items I had seen! The first was the Snow White and Red Rose key necklace crafted by @aspiring.artista! Just look at it!! How gorgeous is it!? You could receive one of three different types of these key necklaces. The others were a Hansel and Gretal themed one and a Rapunzel themed one. The other item was a Grimm themed pocket mirror made by PrettyPicturesGiftsCo from Etsy! The artwork was so beautiful and the detail on such a small surface was AMAZING. The key necklace retails between $10USD to $25USD depending on the style of key necklace you desire and the pocket mirror retails for $4USD.


The last item before I found the book was this simple yet stunning hook bookmark with a Cinderella show charm on it. Enchanted Book Box has decided to test out the idea of a monthly bookmark hook charm and I think the idea is amazing. Usually boxes do buttons and while buttons are cool decoration pieces they have no functionality outside of that. With this item you can accessorize it and put it to use marking your spot in the book! If you loved the item and/or the idea of it, then please contact Kailey (@enchantedbookbox) to let her know!


The last item in the box was the book which was… surprise!… The Brother’s Grimm Fairytales! The book is bounded leather with classic illustrations and it contains a ribbon marker. I simply love the cover art on the book and I loved that the item was wrapped by Kailey herself. I love how she single-handedly makes sure each box is packed with love and how she manages to do this herself! She’s a one-woman team who is kicking ass and taking names! Book is worth about 15USD. I had to estimate the price between different books because the version in the box is sold out at the moment.


 

Verdict: Another hit for Enchanted Book Box! I loved every item in the box and I felt that the theme was very appropriate nothing felt out of place. I also loved the monthly charm idea and the beautiful artwork on the info card! The only issue I had with the box was that my charm latch came broken, but it won’t be a hard fix. It’ll take me 30 seconds to fix the item when I find extra latches.
Overall, I enjoyed yet another Enchanted Book Box, the price of the box without including the artwork on the info card and the monthly charm is over $40USD, and I can’t wait for the Women In Comics August box! This box is always a great deal on bookish items I can  actually use! I also can’t wait for the photo challenge beginning August 7th! Are you going to participate? Leave me a comment below!

The Unseen (Order of the Bell #2) by Jacob Devlin


Rating: 4.5/5

 

Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairytale Retelling

 

Recommended Age: 13+ (some strong language)

 

Favorite Quote: “‘The heart houses the soul, and I see that you, too, are missing something vital in the center.'”

 

I received an e-book version of this book for free for being a representative of Blaze Publishing. This relationship did not affect my decision in any way. Also, slight spoilers from the previous book. If you’ve not read the first book in this series you may not want to read this review.

 

Plunged through the looking glass and into Wonderland, which is a former shell of itself, we’ve returned back to our heroes: Enzo, Rosana, and now Zack, Peter Pan’s son. And just like the previous book we’re privy to split POV between multiple characters, so we also get to see the action through Alice, Hansel, and Snow’s eyes just to name a few. With the mirror broken you’d think that the world is safe from Avoria’s reign… but she is lurking and she will strike when you least expect it. Will all of our favorite fairytale and “real life” characters make it out alive?! You’ll just have to read to find that out for yourself, but I will say that the book is definitely a very tense book. The way Jacob Devlin builds the tension and stress in this book is phenomenal and I’m going to need at least one deep tissue massage before I return to normal! Besides the tense feeling of the book, I found the plot to be very well developed and well thought out and I found the writing quality to be amazing. I also found the pacing to be perfect. It wasn’t too fast of a read and it wasn’t too slow as well. It was just right as Goldilocks would say.

 

However, I did find the character development to be a little issue for me. There is a HUGE cast of characters in this series and I found that while I received a lot of answers and back-story on many characters, that some were still lacking in being developed. The amount of characters also made it hard for me to remember who the side characters were during some moments of the book. I also think that some of the characters who lost their soul in the first book should have acted a bit more like Snow (who was one of the best developed characters in this book! Bravo to the author because Snow almost NEVER gets development in any platform with the exception being Once Upon a Time), but that’s just my opinion. I was looking for signs of these characters having lost a part of themselves, but some of them acted normal. Just my opinion though, because other than that the story is FANTASTIC and I can’t wait to read the next book in this series! I also need to read the side series book: The Ivory Queen. This book just came out recently and if you’ve not bought your copy I’d suggest doing so, especially if you love retellings!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 4/5

 

Genre: YA Fantasy Romance

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (some mature sexual scenes, make sure you have permission from your parents to read this!)

 

Favorite Quote: “He was gone when I awoke, and I was certain I had dreamed it.”

 

What happens when you kill a wolf in the woods to only find out that it was actually a fairy? What happens when you’re kidnapped by a beast-like creature from your family who will certainly die without your helping hand? What happens when the fairytales you’ve heard in your infancy are actually true? What happens when the beast who kidnapped you was actually a lethal, immortal High Fae? This is the world Feyre finds herself in. As she schemes to journey home, she begins to learn about what strange things have befallen Prythian and she begins to feel strange emotions towards her captor. What will Feyre do? Will she flee at her first chance or will she save this world she was brought into against her will?

 

In a world of vampires and werewolves there has to be some solace for the many who crave a new world, a new lore. This relief came in the form of A Court of Thorns and Roses and the Throne of Glass series and thus almost overnight Maas became a household name. The Court of Thorns and Roses saga has become widely popular and because of this popularity I decided to not only host a readalong of the book but to read it carefully for myself to discover the reason behind this insane popularity. While I had issues with all of my usual points, for the most part I enjoyed my journey through Prythian with Feyre. The book is a very easy read and the writing is very high fantasy and very descriptive. The pacing, while off in some areas, is fairly well done and the plot developed at a slow, but somewhat natural rate. The characters were also very well detailed and you can tell Maas knows way more about these characters than we probably ever will, which is what all great authors possess.

 

While for the most part I found the book to be a very beautiful and unique retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I had some minor issues with it. The fact that the book is called a retelling of Beauty and the Beast is my first issue. The book makes several allusions to many other fairytales. Cinderella and The Princess Frog are some of the other fairytale retellings I read in the book. This book should really be regarded as a retelling of many fairytales rather than just Beauty and the Beast (but for what it’s worth they probably say that it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling because that will bring in the big bucks). I also felt that the pacing was a bit slow in areas and that the author tended to repeat phrases and became too detailed in areas as well. While the book did pick up at the end of the book, the beginning was fairly slow. I also felt that the quality of writing suffered when the pacing and the plot dwindled. There were some odd phrases in the book and I feel that making the book a 270 page novel rather than a 420 page one would have fixed a lot of these issues.

 

Overall, I enjoyed the book and I loved reading this book along with my readalong group, but I dread any potential slow parts of the next novel.

The Carver by Jacob Devlin


Rating: 4/5
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Fairytale Retelling
Recommended Age: 13+ (some strong language) the
Favorite Quote: “Of course not! You wouldn’t be happy if a thousand puppies slid down a rainbow with ice cream cones and told you you’d never have to do homework again.” … “I mean, I’m kind of allergic to dogs, so –”
I was provided a free copy of this book by the publishing company I represent: Blaze Publishing. This did not influence my opinion of the book.
Crescenzo (sometimes called Enzo) is a 15 year old child who has grown up seeing his father carve these intricate figurines. His father, Pino, doesn’t even start carving after his wife and Enzo’s ​mother disappears. No trace, no phone calls, just vanishes. Soon Enzo’s neighbor loses his wife and child. Like Enzo’s mother they both disappeared without a trace. When a strange man suddenly appears in Enzo’s home and kidnaps his father as well, Enzo and his neighbor, Pietro, have to journey across the country in order to find the wooden people Pino carved if they have any hope of finding the ones they love. Old secrets and new mysteries are revealed when they start finding the look alikes of the wooden carvings and when those characters seem to be from a different world.
I wasn’t expecting this book to be a fairytale retelling, but that’s also because I’m horrible at not reading the back cover blurb for books I choose to read. That being said I have decided that since there are numerous retellings of fairytales now, I need to also judge the book on how if it sticks to the original story format or takes off on its own. On that account, i liked that the book took off on its own and that it Incorporated a lot of different fairytales and expanded on them. The plot developed nicely because of this and I loved how the author imagined this world in which the fairytale characters lived in after their tales had ended. 
The book was also very insightful on how easy it could be to corrupt others and how you shouldn’t trust a witch (duh, it’s a fairytale! Of course you shouldn’t trust the witches!). Overall, I felt the book was very enjoyable and fresh breath of air in the retelling world where a lot of retellings stick to the plot of their fairytale counterpart. While I also enjoyed the pacing of the book, the characters, and the ease of reading, I did have some quips about them.
The pacing was good once one got used to it, but in comparison to other books I’ve read it felt a tad slow and drawn out. The book switched between 4 different time and place periods, which made the pacing feel extra slow and it was a bit of a challenge to reorient yourself to each different time zone. The quality of writing was quite good, but at certain points I feel the author was a bit vague or sometimes overly expectant in his assumption that the reader would know what’s going on or why certain characters were needed for a certain event. I felt very confused as to why those characters were chosen when I could name 7 others who would be better (Kingdom Hearts taught me different). These issues ultimately effected the ease of reading for me and left me very confused and in need of answers. 
While I loved characters and I enjoy seeing how different authors write my favorite fairy tale characters, I felt the author missed a huge opportunity in writing about many many MANY more fairytale characters that could have made appearances or could have been talked about. The author mainly stuck to a handful of characters when I know the Woodlands is a vast place with thousands of fairytale characters.
All in all I felt the book was enjoyable, but very confusing at times and slow. I also wanted more fairytale characters than what I received. While I had issues with the book I feel like the upcoming sequel will fix this problems and I have hope for answers to all the questions I have, which is why I rated the book a 4/5. If you’re a fan of retellings, then this book is a good mix of Once Upon a Time and The Wolf Amoung Us/the Fables comic book series.