Rump is a fun, humorous retelling of a traditional fairy tale that we all know, RumplestiltskThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Rump is a fun, humorous retelling of a traditional fairy tale that we all know, Rumplestiltskin. The writing was charming. The characters were funny and interesting. Here's a little demonstration of both the delightful writing and the great main character, Rump, who wrote this poem.
Home is a place to get out of the rain
It cradles the hurt and mends the pain
And no one cares about your name
Or the height of your head
Or the size of your brain
- Liesl Shurtliff, Rump, pg 8
This book was written before Once Upon a Time came out, but I can't help comparing the two since they are both intelligent retellings. There's a scene in this book where Red is talking about the consequences of magic and I couldn't help but hear my favorite character, Rumplestitlskin from Once Upon a Time, say "All magic comes with a price!" Another similarity to Once Upon a Time is the ability of this story to get us to empathize with the "villain." I was really impressed that Liesl Shurtliff was able to keep the plot so close to the traditional fairy tale but give us back story and motivations in a way that made me see the story in a new light and not see Rump as the bad guy. It also kind of felt like a prequel because of the back story about his parents that the author went into.
Rump has a beautiful message about the importance of names and labels and our destiny. It's a story about not only learning from your own mistakes but the mistakes of others.
My one and only (and very small) complaint is that it felt like it ended very quickly.
Overall, it was a charming fairy tell retelling about finding your destiny that will appeal to everyone - especially if you are a Once Upon a Time fan....more
Cruel Beauty was a very dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast that had an unexpected mix ofThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Cruel Beauty was a very dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast that had an unexpected mix of Greek Mythology. The story opens on a very stiff and formal life for the main character Nyx like a dark version of Downton Abbey. Then we get a nice, long lecture on How This World Works that I found hard to get through.
I was entertained by the story but I really didn't like the cop-out device of Nyx having "no choice" to create these dramatic situations. Nyx is engaged to a demon since birth because her father made a bargain and now she has no choice but to marry him. This bothers me for two reason. 1. It takes away the self-sacrifice element of Beauty and the Beast that I love but, more importantly, think was the main point of the fairy tale. 2. Her dad is an idiot. And 3 -- okay apparently there are more than reasons why this bothers me -- she doesn't "have" to do anything. It made the main character seem very passive about her life. She was very negative and spiteful all the time. I didn't like her all that much, which is fine, but if she's going to be unlikable then at least make me understand why she did things. I never understood why she did things.
I did like the quest of trying to find the demon's name which was one of the few elements remaining from the original fairy tale. The castle was a wonderful adventure full of strange rooms like something out of Alice in Wonderland.
I won't spoil the ending, but I didn't like it. I felt like the ending did not have anything to do with what they had been doing for almost the whole novel. I felt like we spent the whole novel doing one thing and she suddenly decides to change course and last minute do something very drastic. And as the books comes to a close, I felt like the characters were so completely different that they weren't even the same characters anymore. They felt like strangers and I didn't care all that much what happened to them.
Overall, it was too dark of a fairy tale retelling with poor world building and unlikable characters that just wasn't for me even though I did like the Greek Mythology element of the story. Content warning: quite a bit of dark innuendo (that is thankfully not very graphic) about a girl trying to seduce a demon which I found mildly disturbing....more
Sink me if I didn't just adore this most excellent retelling of the Scarlet Pimpernel. I do sThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Sink me if I didn't just adore this most excellent retelling of the Scarlet Pimpernel. I do say the lovely author pulled off the futuristic and sci-fi world just splendidly. Alas, I admit that the politics were a little confusing at first, but I got them straightened out in my head soon enough and it was definitely much easier to understand than the politics of the first book. And oh such lovely politics they were! What a glorious exploration of the deep-rooted problems of sexism and inequality. It gave me so many things to ponder and the author represented the issues very well. You won't find a combination of dystopian, romance, science-fiction, and retelling in such a fashionable way as it is in Across a Star-Swept Sea.
But seriously. I loved this book. The role of the Scarlet Pimpernel, who is called the Wild Poppy in this book, is a woman instead of a man like in the original. I really enjoyed the gender reversals in the story. The pace felt faster than the first book, For Darkness Shows the Stars. At first, Across a Star-Swept Sea felt like a companion novel until the very cool tie-in at the end. I would even say that I liked this book more than the first in the series which is saying a lot - I loved that book, too.
The romance was just superb. They have such a complicated relationship and I'm still impressed how well Diana Peterfreund pulled it off. I say! Bravo!!
What more can I say other than this book had so much heart. The fashion, the flakey Persis, the extravagant parties were entertaining but it never sacrificed being meaningful at the same time. This is my favorite quote from the book that I think sums up the story in a beautiful way.
Because I know from experience that sometimes it’s only the young ones who are crazy enough to change the world.
- Diana Peterfreund, Across a Star-Swept Sea pg 166
Overall, an excellent science-fiction/dystopian/romance that I could not put down. Content warning: a few kissing scenes....more
Without it saying so in the summary that Life After Theft was a retelling of The Scarlet PimpThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Without it saying so in the summary that Life After Theft was a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, I would have never known. It was a very loose retelling since instead of saving people's life, the main character Jeff is returning people's stuff. The setting did a great job of being updated and contemporary, but I didn't think this was a great retelling. The stickers with red flowers on them that Jeff put on the stuff he was returning was really the only tie-in to The Scarlet Pimpernel that I could see. It was more like Mean Girls meets the 1990's film Ghost Dad that starred Bill Cosby (yes I watched that show all the time as a kid). I compare it to Mean Girls because these girls in the book were awful to each. Just awful. And the reason when we finally find out didn't really justify to mean the extreme hate these girls had. I can't even remember what it was.
The voice of the main character Jeff was very well written and fun to read. He was snarky and funny. The plot was a little bland and didn't move along that fast, but the characters were interesting enough that it kept me turning the pages. I was also curious about why these girls seemed to hate each other so much and that kept me reading as well even though I didn't really like the reason when I found out.
Overall, it was a quick, fun read with interesting characters but not that great as a retelling. Content warning: swearing, crude language, teen sex (that fades to black), and teen drinking. It was actually quite a lot of content and it bothered me a little....more
Splintered starts out as anawesome retelling of Alice in Wonderland with a gothic twist. Alyssa, the main character, goes on a Short and Sweet Review
Splintered starts out as an awesome retelling of Alice in Wonderland with a gothic twist. Alyssa, the main character, goes on a journey fixing what Alice broke in Wonderland, which I thought was a clever idea. The middle suffered from way too much info-dumping. The end never quite recovered from that loss of momentum from the slow middle. The story turned into a shaky quest to get this thing so she could get that thing then the other thing and I easily got lost which made me stop caring about the story. I sadly didn't like it as much as I thought I would. Jessica Thinks Too Much Review (view spoiler)[
I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick.
- A. G. Howard, Splintered (p. 1)
What an opening line! It's so cool! This girl, Alyssa, is slightly crazy but so relatable and likable that I kind of over looked it. She kills bugs as a way to deal with hearing their voices and then makes beautiful/creepy art out of them. It's such a strange but fascinating way to deal with the struggles she has. The fact that she does her best to deal with them instead of ignoring them is what makes her so easy for me to like.
I tapped the bee hard enough to stun it. Then I whisked the flowers out of the water and pressed them between the pages of a spiral notebook, to silence their chattering petals.
- A. G. Howard, Splintered (p. 4)
Chattering petals. I just love that.
When Alyssa does go to Wonderland, she meets some flower zombies (which is an awesome idea all by itself) and then tries to fix all the things that Alice ruined in Wonderland to fix a curse that has plagued her family (who are descendants of Alice) ever since. What a cool way to retell Alice in Wonderland! She soaks the ocean of tears up with a sponge and defeats a creepy gothic version of the walrus. Oh. My. Gosh. I am so on board with this. I'm having the best time!
Alyssa goes to Morpheus' house. He's the "grown-up" caterpillar meaning he's a moth/human thing of some sort. So cool. But at Morpheus' house we run into the major issue I had with this book. What started as a journey to fix a curse is getting twisted into a story about Alyssa getting crowned Queen because she's actually a descendant of the Red Queen (and so not cursed but a half-breed, solving that problem nicely). We obviously don't know that at this point in the book (which was almost exactly in the middle), but to foreshadow such a big shift like that takes a lot of info-dumping. Buckets and buckets of tedious, boring information. It took so much setting up to have the twist at the end that *gasp* Alyssa is the new Red Queen (!) that I had lost interest by that point. I kept getting impatient with the middle of the book waiting for things to happen again. Some of the info-dumping was about things I had already guessed, like her mother was not really insane. Duh. It's hard to keep interested in a story when 30 pages of it goes something like this:
“After Queen Red was exiled to the wilds, she was never seen again. Her stepsister, Grenadine, married the king and became Queen— a woman so forgetful, she could never handle wearing the crown. And now her king wants to give her two.” Morpheus drags a glittering diamond tiara from the bag. “I’ve a spy stationed in the Red castle. When the White Court came to me with news of Ivory’s fate some weeks ago, I sent word for my contact to steal the jabberlock box. I’m harboring Ivory here, along with her crown, to keep them safe from Grenadine and King Red. If they control both the Red and White portals, good luck ever getting home.” He tucks the tiara away again. “All this will be ameliorated once Alyssa finds the vorpal sword. It’s the most powerful weapon in Wonderland. I can use it to force them to grant Ivory’s freedom. Her portal will be open to you then.”
- A. G. Howard, Splintered (p. 201)
It's too much all at once. I want to experience events as much as possible and be told about past events as little as possible. One instance of info-dumping isn't so bad. It happens sometimes in stories. But so many stories like this were told right in a row that it slowed the story down. We get info-dumps about her boyfriend's past issues and info-dumps about how Alyssa has looked extremely different the entire time she was in Wonderland. Say what. I'm baffled that this guy would keep Alyssa's altered appearance to himself. For what reason does he do this exactly? No guy would mention it that late in the game if they had even noticed a change in her appearance at all. But because he decided to keep it to himself, we get another glorious info-dump.
“You’ve been like this the whole time. I noticed it when we first stepped out of the rabbit hole. I thought your makeup had smeared. But then, after the ocean, you still had it. I didn’t make the connection until I saw Morpheus without his mask a few minutes ago.” Jeb pauses, looking like he might be sick. His thumbs rub the edges of the black designs. “They don’t wipe away. And the glitter all over your skin? That’s not salt residue. You’re starting to look like my fairy sketches, for real.”
- A. G. Howard, Splintered (p. 188)
The theme of insanity was well done and one of my favorite things about the book. I enjoyed the quotes that came up about sense and logic and how relative those terms really are. When Alyssa goes to a dinner where they have to hunt down and kill what had, at first, seemed like a dead and roasted bird, I love how Morpheous explains that just because it looks insane, doesn't mean that it is.
“You understand the logic behind the illogical, Alyssa. It’s in your nature to find tranquility amid the madness. And that’s what we’re doing here. We’re giving our food a fighting chance.”
- A. G. Howard, Splintered (p. 211)
I don't mind sensuality when it adds something to the story. When two characters are falling in love, it works. I felt like there was a lot of pointless sensuality in Splintered. The vomit inducing sensuality didn't add anything to the story besides my vomit.
Then she turns to Jeb. “Elfin knight, do you wish for pleasure on your quest? I can provide it, if you so desire.”
- A. G. Howard, Splintered (p. 145)
The romance. Jeb draws pictures of Alyssa all the time but he has a girlfriend. Ok. All Alyssa can think is, "He's going on a dangerous adventure with me and he almost kissed me. Clearly he likes someone else." Ok. I just really didn't get it. Then they make-out some more. End romance.
I wished I had liked the ending, but it was even more confusing than the romance. Stuff happens and Jeb loses his head. Literally. It was one of those things where it's so crazy that the only way to fix it is with magic. Alyssa fixes this problem by going back in time and making it so Jeb doesn't come this time and therefore doesn't lost his head. Weird magical time jumps should not just magically fix things. But maybe that's just me.
Then we get to a possessed toy graveyard and by this point I'm just really sad. I'm really sad for all the toys I've ever thrown away and I'm really sad that there are now characters that weren't in the original Alice in Wonderland. I don't really get why these spider/woman things are even in the story other than stopping Alyssa from getting the latest thing. I think it's a sword right now. I'm also really sad that the love I had for the first quarter of the book is gone. I wish the rest of the book could have been that awesome.
When I finished, I don't I understand why this book is a series. The ending seemed pretty wrapped up. For some reason, Alyssa is a queen in Wonderland but decides to go home. Seems like a lot of work to go through to become queen if all she gets out of it is going home. Maybe she couldn't find the ruby slippers. I don't know. Morpheous got eaten by a pig but I don't really care that much. To be honest, there's nothing that is pulling me into the next book. I love retellings and while I liked some things about this gothic rendition that was inspired by Tim Burton's take on Alice in Wonderland, it just didn't click with me liked I hoped it would. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The tone that I adored from the first book is back. The opening line, which I loved, just sets the tone so well.
“It is by going down into the abyss thThe tone that I adored from the first book is back. The opening line, which I loved, just sets the tone so well.
“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” – Joseph Campbell
Nikki is going on an adventure to get something back that she lost in the underworld called the Everneath. It took me a minute to get reoriented in the world again, but I slipped back in easily after a few pages even without rereading the first book. I positively flew through this book in one sitting. The journey through the underworld and the task she wanted to complete felt impossible the whole time and kept me just glued to the pages. The layers of the underworld that she travels through were different in a chilling and alien way. This is one of those books where the foreshadowing was spot on. I thought I was all smart and I knew everything that was going to happen. Then the bombshell of an ending hits and I’m still in awe. Brodi even put the clues in there of what was going to happen at the end and I missed them all. It gives me chills just thinking about it. I feel like she deserves a round of applause for that ending.
Cole is a sexy, modern, teen version of Hades. He’s likeable yet sneaky and dark and I can’t ever totally trust him. My only complaint about the whole book was a few things that were taken too literally. The “kicking” element of the story was just a little to literal and weird for me.
Overall, don’t miss this stunning retelling of Persephone and Hades.
Take the beautiful, imaginary world of Neverland and make it a literal place where everything is messy and covered in dirt and that is the uninterestiTake the beautiful, imaginary world of Neverland and make it a literal place where everything is messy and covered in dirt and that is the uninteresting world where Tiger Lily is set. I didn't think it was possible to make Neverland so completely boring. A few magical elements remain like fairies and mermaids but they felt very flat and unoriginal. There's also a poorly explained excuse for why some people get old and some people don't. If you're curious the reason some people don't get old is because it just happens when something important happens in your life for no logical reason whatsoever.
The plot felt very been there done that in the way that Avatar was. It's kind of a tired plot line to have new people come and mess everything up for the indigenous people. I also felt like there was nothing new or interesting added to this retelling of Peter Pan. I personally like my retellings to have new twists otherwise what is the point of the retelling? I'm not really sure what the overall conflict even was. It felt like the plot just kind of dragged along with an ending that kind of baffled me. Honestly, the whole book felt a little preachy. There were a few cute scenes between Peter Pan and Tiger Lily but not enough to make me really love this book.
The writing was good though it wasn't my favorite. The word choice stood out to me sometimes and felt a little awkward here and there like it was trying too hard to be poetic or something, but there were a few quotes I really liked. Like this one:
“I’m not myself,” [Tiger Lily] offered, guilty. . . .
“You can never say that. You’re just a piece of yourself right now that you don’t like.”
-Jodi Lynn Anderson, Tiger Lily (p. 69)
My favorite character by far was Smee who sadly shows up in the book only a few times. The rest of the characters I had a hard time connecting with, especially Tiger Lily and the very strange decision she makes at the end of the book. I honestly found it hard to tell some of the characters apart.
Overall, I did not enjoy the world building in this book at all. It had a tired plot line with a cast of characters that I ended up not caring much about.
First of all, I loved finding all the similarities between For Darkness Shows the Stars and Persuasion. The book stands really well on it’s own if youFirst of all, I loved finding all the similarities between For Darkness Shows the Stars and Persuasion. The book stands really well on it’s own if you don’t want to read Persuasion, but I had a lot of fun recognizing the familiar characters. For Darkness Shows the Stars is set in a post-apocalyptic world, but when the world eventually recovers and we finally come full circle, it is eerily similar to Jane Austen’s time. For Darkness Shows the Stars was a more faithful re-telling than I thought it would be which I loved. I was a little confused with some of the terms at first (like the term “Post” for a class of people) but it gets explained later on. The history of how the world was destroyed is also revealed, but it takes a few chapters. I found the moral dilemma in the book of whether technology is good or bad completely fascinating. I would never have thought that a Jane Austen sci-fi re-telling would work, but it totally does. I loved this unique story and it is one that will definitely stick with me.
A Breath of Eyre was a lovely debut novel about Emma Townsend who gets to live her own life as well as Jane Eyre’s in a fascinating re-telling that IA Breath of Eyre was a lovely debut novel about Emma Townsend who gets to live her own life as well as Jane Eyre’s in a fascinating re-telling that I loved. My favorite thing about modern retellings is looking for little references and clues to the original story. I had a lot of fun in A Breath of Eyre noticing the big and small references to Jane Eyre like similar plot points and even the similar school name.
The first thing that struck me as charming was Emma’s connection to the world of Jane Eyre. It reminded me of The Wizard of Oz because she starts to recognize characters from her real life which makes it hard to tell if she’s really living Jane Eyre’s life or if it’s all a dream. That sort of ambiguity is something I love to devour in stories. And since the author had done such a good job at creating strong, unique, and interesting characters, it was easy to recognize them in Jane Eyre’s life.
As I was getting about a third of the way through the book, I started to feel like it was all very predictable. It wasn’t veering much from the Jane Eyre story at all. There were a lot of lines that came directly from Jane Eyre. Just as I was about to give up, the author threw a twist in there that I did not see coming. It was the kind of twist in a story that changes everything and gives you chills. I was glued to the book after that. And the story grew into so much more than a retelling.
Overall, it was a great new take on the world of Jane Eyre that didn’t turn out to be as predictable as I feared it would. It’s an imaginative, tension-filled romance that I loved.