Probably the darkest 12 Dancing Princesses retelling you’ll ever read | House of Salt & Sorrows by Erin A. Craig [ARC]

House of Salt and SorrowsAnnaleigh just wants her sisters to stop dying. There used to be twelve of them but now that Ava, Octavia, Elizabeth, and Eulalie are all dead, there are only eight of them left. As she struggles to mourn the latest death, Eulalie’s, Annaleigh must also find a way to comfort her younger sisters when the town starts theorizing about a family curse. Frustrated that all of the young men are too afraid of “the curse” to court them, the sisters realize they must try to find young men that have never heard of them or their dead sisters. They think they might have found a way, but what will it cost them?

TL;DR – The story of the 12 Dancing Princesses darker than you’ve ever heard it. Part mystery and part fairytale retelling, it comes together better than expected even if a little confusing at times.

Order: Hardcover | eBook

Sometimes I request books on NetGalley and then when it’s finally time to read and review, I’ve forgotten what the book was supposed to be about. I went into this book pretty blind–I didn’t realize at first that it was a retelling until they were buying their “fairy shoes”. With that being said, I love a good retelling and I’ve actually read quite a few retellings of the 12 Dancing Princesses. This one was different. A lot of the ones I’ve read stick to the “secret door in their room that leads to another place” outline. I’ve even read one or two where the princesses are forced to dance against their will. Craig’s take on the story felt a lot more insidious. I think part of it was Camille’s desperation and refusal to let go of this outlet she’d found and part of it was the spooky stuff that was going on with Verity.

Annaleigh was a likable character from the beginning. Her sisters varied in likability depending on what was going on, but they were all enjoyable. The only thing I wished was that we got to see the softer, kinder side of Camille. Annaleigh states that they grew up as best friends, but we never really see that side to their relationship. Camille is mostly just bratty and grumpy the whole book. Craig did a good job of making a lot of the secondary characters feel kind of grey. I wasn’t sure who was supposed to be good and who was supposed to be bad until almost the very end. It seemed like maybe we were getting set up for a love triangle, but the author managed to turn that on its head as well. I wasn’t super into Cassius as the love interest. I mean, he seemed perfect, but (as is often the case) we’re not really given any concrete reasons as to why he likes Annaleigh. He seems like this perfect guy (too perfect) so what exactly does he want with or flawed main character? Authors! We need an explanation for this!

The plot was twisty and suspenseful. I genuinely didn’t know what was going to happen next or what the conclusion was going to be until it was upon us. Without giving anything away, I will say that I’m a little disappointed by some character resolutions…I’ll just leave it at that. I thought the religious system could have used a little more explanation. Maybe the author could have started each chapter with a myth or legend about the gods that these people believed in. It’s just that almost nothing is said about their gods in the first 2/3 of the book, and then all of the sudden they start playing this huge role.

Overall, I would recommend this book for people who are looking for darker fairytale retellings. While it has a happy(ish) ending, I wouldn’t say that it’s feel good at all. It was definitely darker and creepier than I had anticipated–I was surprised by the touch of horror! I would definitely say this could be a good book to read in late September or in October to get ready for Halloween.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Advertisements

14 Best Book Deals for 1/26/19 – TWO FREE BOOKS, Notorious RBG, The Belles, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, and more

There are some great deals this week!

Free

Queen of Someday by Sherry D. Ficklin

Slave, Warrior, Queen by Morgan Rice

How can you turn down free books? Both of these are ones I’ve downloaded and I’m excited to get to them!

Less than $1

Truth or Dare by Madeleine Labitan – This is actually a novella and it sounds like a great love to hate story!

A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier РI absolutely adore retellings (especially Beauty and the Beast). This one looks great!

Less than $2

Stealing Snow¬†by Danielle Paige – Again, with the retellings! I seriously can’t get enough.

Loving vs. Virginia¬†by Patricia Hruby Powell – I loved this book so much! I don’t read many books written in verse, but as part of an interracial couple, this was a must-read for me. It tells this true story in such a delicate and beautiful way. I was literally moved to tears multiple times. (my review)

A Year with C.S. Lewis¬†edited by Patricia S. Klein – This seems like it would be a great way to start every day–with a little bit of C.S. Lewis.

Winterfolk by Janel Kolby – I just heard about this book and it sounds really interesting! I haven’t read a book with contemporary homeless representation before and I grew up near Seattle so it especially hits close to home for me.

Less than $3

A Date with Darcy¬†by Tiffany Schmidt – This is the first book in the Bookish Boyfriends series and it sounds so cute! Who hasn’t fantasized about their bookish crush coming to life?

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee – I have heard so many good things about this book! And I love a strong Asian American protag. Represent!

Less than $4

Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon РWith the RBG movie coming out, this could be a good book to familiarize yourself with her story.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton – This book was hyped SO MUCH last year. If you haven’t read it yet, then where have you been?

About $5

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner РThis sounds like a great book with serious fairy tale vibes and (hopefully) a strong sister relationship.

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer РI really loved this book which features two characters falling in love via letters (swoon). Highly recommend! (my review)

 

BLOG TOUR: Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor [GIVEAWAY]

NKNora & Kettle
by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Release Date: February 29th 2016

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|Kobo|iBooks

SYNOPSIS: What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?

Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to‚ÄĒthe internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having ‚Äúone drop of Japanese blood in them‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒthings are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to na√Įve, eighteen-year-old Nora‚ÄĒthe privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, NORA AND KETTLE explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.

Free gift

REVIEW: This book…wow. I’ve never read anything quite like it. First let me start by saying that this book deals a lot with the mistreatment of individuals based on race as well as domestic violence/abusive relationships. If these are things that you have a hard time reading about, I advise you away from this book. That being said, I personally feel like these are really important things to read about and I feel like this book changed some of my perceptions.

The book started off a little slow for me. The reader is placed in the middle of some action so we have to play a little catch-up to really figure out just what is going on. I had a hard time figuring out what the plot might be or where this book was headed. It also seemed like it took forever for our protagonists to finally meet. For whatever reason I felt really anxious the whole time about them finding each other and that kept me from fully enjoying the first half of the book.

I really liked the historical portrait that was painted for us. It’s a very stark picture and it makes me so glad that I live in the time that I do. It’s hard for me to read about kids living on the street or being discriminated against based on race though I know it¬†did (and still does) happen. Taylor did a great job of making the setting come alive and creating a believable backdrop.

Despite the fact that this book is based off of the Peter Pan story, I feel like this book really transcends that idea. Like I said earlier, it deals with really important topics and I am so glad that I read it. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction (especially Post-WWII era), fairy tale retellings, or just likes to read things that make them look at the world a little differently.

Overall Rating:4
Language: Moderate. Some stronger language scattered throughout.
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: None


Mystery Box Banner

Click on the picture above to be taken to the giveaway!


SONY DSC

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Facebook


ButtonXBT

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

BLOG TOUR: Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas

Kingdom-of-Ashes-GalleyCatKingdom of Ashes (A Wicked Thing #2)
by Rhiannon Thomas
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: February 23rd, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, Fairy Tales, Romance, Magic, Fiction, Teen

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|iTunes|Kobo

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:
A Wicked Thing (see my review for it here)

SYNOPSIS: Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss, Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale. But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king‚Äôs tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan‚ÄĒsomeone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan‚Äôs kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power‚ÄĒsomething so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them‚ÄĒshe begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before‚Ķand uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before.

REVIEW:¬†Let me start off by saying that this series is a commitment. There isn’t a lot of resolution in each book, but I think the overall series will be able to accomplish that. That being said, the pace of this book is slow. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Aurora is in her head a lot so it sometimes keeps the story and the plot from advancing as quickly as it could (so just be ready for that). At the same time, I feel like we as readers really get to know Aurora well and understand her feelings and motivations. It’s just kind of a trade-off there. Sometimes it can¬†get tiresome with all of the, “Should I kiss Finnegan? But no, I shouldn’t. But I really want to. But I can’t.” Just kiss him already!

Outside of Aurora though, I have a hard time figuring out some of the other characters and why they’re doing what they’re doing (i.e. Finnegan, Orla, Nettle, Tristan, etc). It seems like everyone is really secretive and nobody is telling Aurora the whole story. It’s almost like we’re all still playing catch-up with her from when she was asleep. This was hard for me at times because I typically like to feel like I know more than the protagonist does. In this case, we’re just as uncertain as she is who to trust.

Lastly, even though I feel like I get Aurora, I had a hard time understanding what exactly her end goal was which made it hard for me to care all the way about the plot of the story. Does she want to be queen? What does she want to do with her magic? Does she intend to stick around for a while? We don’t really know the answers to any of these questions.

Overall, I liked this book and I will continue with the series. There were some things that I disliked about it, but they were all personal preferences and I would not consider them fatal flaws in any way. My last bit of criticism is that I wish we had been given a more complete description of the dragons. They become a big part of the story, but I had a hard time picturing them.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: None


giveaway

Click on the above picture or this link to be taken to a Rafflecopter giveaway


RhiannonABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rhiannon Thomas is a recent graduate from Princeton University, where she studied English and Japanese, and smuggled bubble tea into the library on a regular basis. She now lives in York, England.

As well as reading and writing YA fiction, she runs the blog FeministFiction.com, where she discusses TV, books, and all kinds of fannish things from a feminist perspective.

I don’t hang out on Goodreads much, so if you want to contact me, please swing by my personal website or message me on Twitter.

Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Tumblr|Instagram


followthetour

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Aurora has been awoken. Now the sleeping beauty, her true love, and the rest of the kingdom will be able to live happily ever after. Except…Aurora doesn’t love Rodric, the prince who woke her. She knows that she’s nothing special so how is she supposed to live up to everyone’s expectations?

17930904I love a good fairytale retelling so this story¬†is interesting to me since it starts at the end of the fairytale. The prince has arrived and now our story begins. I thought the beginning was solid, but I didn’t know what the plot could be. There wasn’t much conflict beyond Aurora feeling like she couldn’t live up to expectations and whatnot. I was almost sitting here wondering, “Okay, when’s the story going to start?” Even at the end, it didn’t feel like much had happened. Mostly it felt like this book exists to set up the rest of the series. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not going to capture as many readers right off the bat as it could.

The characters are fine. Again, I don’t feel like we really learn too much about them in this book. Aurora seems nice and I’m glad that there isn’t too heavy of a romance. Overall, I felt like Aurora was a realistic character. She seemed realistically conflicted at times. Other characters…not so much. But I won’t get into that because spoilers.

In the end, this was probably just a three star book, but for some reason I did find myself liking it more than that. The plot doesn’t really drive the pace of this book forward, so I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly fast read. I think the next book will definitely have more action and plot in it and hopefully some more character development as well.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None
Violence: Heavy, but a lot of it’s “off-screen”
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: None

Winter by Marissa Meyer (SPOILERS)

Okay, normally I try to avoid including spoilers in my review, but I find that I just cannot talk about this book without them. So reader be warned.

winter-finalThis book was everything that I wanted it to be and more. I think it must be hard when you have such a hyped series to end it in a way that is satisfying for everyone–but I think Meyer was (for the most part) able to accomplish that. I liked that the book starts right where the third book left off. It really throws the reader into this world in a way that they become immediately invested in what’s going on. Meyer is also very good at doing some recapping without it feeling like review (especially for those of us readers who just discovered and devoured the series this last year). The characters were all just as great as they were in the previous books¬†and had the same¬†witty¬†banter going back and forth. There were a lot of times in this book (and the past ones) where I’m just going, “Okay, how the¬†heck are they going to get out of this one? There’s no way everything will work out okay!” But then it does and even better than that–it¬†makes sense how it does. Sometimes an author will do something and I’ll think, “Hmmm…not so sure about that” but not with these books.

The fairy tale elements were awesome and seamless. Every time something started happening to echo the actual fairy tale of Snow White, I would get a little excited. I don’t know why, but I got a little giddy when they brought out the stasis chamber or whatever to save Winter. I just thought it was all so clever!

I love how strong all of the female characters are in this book. Not only are they strong, but they are strong in perhaps traditionally masculine ways. Cinder is a great mechanic, Scarlet is a skilled pilot, Cress is an awesome hacker, Winter is a great natural leader, even Levana is a really good strategist (though I hate to admit it). It’s so awesome to me that these books are based off of fairy tales where the women are portrayed as damsels in distress. In these books, the women are saving the men just as much as (if not more than) the men are saving the women. Girl power!

Now that I’ve talked about how awesome the women are…I can’t help but gush over the romances. I seriously ship Thorne and Cress so hard. The other romances are fine–whatever. But I LIVED for the scenes between Thorne and Cress *sigh*. On another note, the most heartbreaking thing in this book for me was Wolf’s transformation after he’s been captured. Obviously I knew that Scarlet would still love him, but for some reason it really made me sad that this irreversible thing had happened to him. How can something like that not change their relationship? It has to.

Okay, just to wrap up, there were a couple of things that I didn’t like about this book. First, I think it’s unrealistic that all nine of our main characters made it out alive (the four couples plus Iko). They go through this huge battle–Lunar citizens are being killed left and right–but all nine of our protagonists make it through with only slight injuries? It’s just not realistic. I mean, compare this to Harry Potter, right? Sure our three main characters made it out, but not all of the characters who had been there from the beginning did. In fact, quite a few of my favorite characters ended up dying. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m happy they all survived and can live Happily Ever After–but is this realistic? I think you’ll agree with me that it is NOT. Second, I saw another blogger bring up that the book does not look like it’s over 800 pages long (due to the thinness of the pages). While my shelf space is grateful for this, my pride as a reader wishes that the book looked like it was as long as it is. Yes, I want people to visit my apartment and go, “Whoa, you read that whole thing?” Vain, I know. But what can I say?

Overall, I thought this book was GREAT. Totally worth the wait, definitely worth the hype. If you liked the first three books, you’ll like this one. If you haven’t read the first three books, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??? Seriously, you need to pick this series up ASAP.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: None
Violence: Heavy. Very large quantity, but not a lot of gory details.
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston [ARC]

She knew that Lo-Melkhiin would come to her village for a bride, and she knew he would choose her sister. She also knew that she must not let that happen–she couldn’t bear to see her sister’s fire smothered by this monster. She takes her sister’s place and so her journey begins.

I LOVED THIS BOOK. First of all, fairy tale retellings athousandnights_cvrare¬†always just awesome (except for when they’re unfortunately not). I was a little apprehensive about this book since the Aladdin retelling that I tried not long ago from this same publisher was not good. And by not good, I mean NOT GOOD. As soon as I started reading, however, it was obvious that this book was really something else. We never know the main character’s name. In fact, I think we only learn three names the whole book and all of them are men. I’m not sure if that’s some social commentary or what…but it kind of makes things a little easier. Instead of just calling people by their names, we get descriptions of people (even people we’ve already met) and it really helps to keep track of characters.

I love this main character. She’s so strong¬†and confident and has good values. She draws her strength from her friends and family back home who have made her into a smallgod and are praying to and for her. I don’t want to give too much away, but as a woman, I just felt very empowered while I was reading this book.

The plot could be perceived as slow moving, but I loved that it let me get into the pace of the qasr and I felt like I was sinking into the story. I also liked that I legitimately could not tell where the plot was going or what would happen next. The only thing that I didn’t like, was that we didn’t really get to know the real Lo-Melkhiin that well. If we had, I think the ending would have felt more real and genuine, but it’s definitely something that I was okay with. Overall, I thought this was a great, fresh retelling of the classic tale and would definitely recommend it.

Disclaimer: I haven’t read¬†The Wrath and the Dawn¬†by Renee Ahdieh so I’m not sure how it compares to that.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: None
Violence: Moderate. Fighting scenes, but not a lot of gore.
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild. Characters drink wine and mead.

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.