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Retelling

Retellings I Would Definitely Recommend

Hey, everyone! Since reading A Blade So Black, I really wanted to share more retellings with you all! I find that a good retelling not only shares a story that had a lot of appeal to carry on over to today, but also adds something new and different, building on the story and making it more than it was before. Here are just some of the books I’ve read over the years that I would 100% recommend!

Well, those are my retelling recommendations! Do you have any retellings you’d like to recommend? Feel free to share them in the Comments Section below!

Have a nice day!

–  Sumaya

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ARC Review: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Summary

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

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Review

Hi, everybody! I’m back with another review. But first, I’d like to apologize to anyone wanting to comment on Monday’s blog post and found that they couldn’t. I didn’t realize the Comments Section was closed until the next day. I love hearing what people think and will make sure to double-check to see if the Comments Section is open.

Anyways, back to today’s review, which is on L.L. McKinney’s debut, A Blade So Black. It starts off with some action, setting the stage for two of the main characters and their dynamic. This relationship between Alice and her mentor, Addison, was one of the main reasons that I liked the book. They cared for one another on a really deep and emotional level. However, readers only get to see the result of spending months together, so who knows? It might have not been the best teacher-student relationship in the beginning. 😄

I also appreciated how the author adapted Alice in Wonderland to fit into her retelling. I honestly loved all the changes she made, and thought that it made the story more enriched and engaging. One of my major hang-ups on retellings is when the retelling could be exactly the same as the story, with the exception of setting or something like that. It’s always nice to see what authors add on to an older story, you know?

The only thing I that I didn’t like when reading the book was that sometimes I’d go from really invested to looking around the room in semi-boredom. Thankfully, the ending was interesting enough to redeem the novel overall, but I doesn’t erase how I fell in and out of reading at times.

Well, that’s all I have to say about A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney today. I liked what it brought to the table as a retelling, even though it had its slow moments. If you have any questions or comments about this book, though, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below! And remember, if you’re interested in reading A Blade So Black, the book comes out on September 25th, 2018!

And as always, thanks for reading everyone!

– Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Pérez

Summary

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

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Review

My rating:

green25

Hi, there! I’m back with another review, this one being on Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Pérez. I received this book via NetGalley by being one of the first few people to request the ARC and read it. Now, at the time, it did really seem intriguing, being a Tristan and Eseult retelling. I remember enjoying medieval romance a lot during my time at university. But then this book reminded me why I didn’t like Tristan and Eseult when studying it briefly in school and almost wish I didn’t request it.

Don’t get me wrong; I liked some elements of the book. For instance, the sisterly bond between Branwen and Eseult was one of the best things to come out of the novel, in my opinion. The way they cared for each other, even when Eseult was being self-centred or Branwen stoic, had me rooting for this femship. They’re each other’s balm and comfort, often referencing the hazelnut and honeysuckle tree that are entwined, neither being able to live without the other (from the original tale). Also, this book got me thinking about arguments and how even though Eseult had a point in that she’s being treated more as a symbol than a person, she seems to be in the wrong because a lot of the time, she acts like a petulant child. Meanwhile, everyone else acts calmly about the fact that she’s being married off to a person she didn’t choose, worse yet because their kingdoms are enemies. But everyone else sees this as an opportunity to stop the warring between the countries and don’t see it as a problem if she marries for duty rather than love.

A main reason I gave this novel a low rating though, wasn’t because of the writing style, but because by the time I figured out that the retelling included the love potion, I knew it was only a matter of time before it was administered. The only problem was that I didn’t know when. So afterwards, I couldn’t get into the story the same way as I did before. Maybe the sequels will add some more interesting twists…

Well, that’s all for now! If you’re interested in reading medieval retellings, I would suggest reading Sweet Black Waves, since the writing style is pretty engaging. If you have any comments or questions about this book, though, let me know in the Comments Section below.

Have a nice day, everyone!

–  Sumaya

ARC Review: My Plain Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows

Summary

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

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Review

My rating:

blue4-copy

Hi, everyone! I’m back with another review, this one being on My Plain Jane, a retelling of the classic Jane Eyre. Now if I’m being honest, the fact that it was a retelling of Jane Eyre was probably a main reason why I was interested in this novel. I tried to read My Lady Jane, and despite it’s interesting blurb and cover, I just couldn’t get into it. And for a good moment, I thought the same thing would happen with My Plain Jane, but after a couple of chapters, I found the book to be really neat!

First of all, Charlotte Brontë is in it! And apparently she and Jane are BFF! I love how the authors pulled on the fact that they were so many similarities between them, but are also able to contrast to create an effect, for instance in terms of healthy relationships. Also, the fact that we had a commentary other than Jane, who can maintain a bit more objective is great. Because that commentary coincides with Mr. Rochester’s questionable actions, and honestly, it’s amazing!

Paired with the fact that it’s about ghosts and people who hunt them, My Plain Jane is a thrilling retelling that will you leave you second-guessing and wanting more! I especially love how the modern paranormal genre fits into the gothic novel so effortlessly! Plus, the novel had so many references from other works, like The Princess Bride, The Shining, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings. It just made the book more enjoyable to read when catching a reference.

Overall, I really liked reading My Plain Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows. This retelling makes me really want to go back to the original and read it again. Even after all that sarcastic commentary about it. Especially after all that sarcastic commentary about it. And to anyone who is interested, the book is in stores today!

Have you read Jane Eyre or any other Jane Eyre retellings? Let me know in the Comments Section below!

Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from HarperCollins Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Finley Price has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend, the Bertram’s son Oliver. If she could just take Oliver’s constant encouragement to heart and step out of the shadows, she’d finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater.

When teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move next door to the Bertram’s, they immediately set their sights on Oliver and his cunning sister, Juliette, shaking up Finley and Oliver’s stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Harlan finds his attention shifting from Juliette to the quiet, enigmatic, and thoroughly unimpressed Finley. Out of boredom, Harlan decides to make her fall in love with him. Problem is, the harder he seeks to win her, the harder he falls for her.

But Finley doesn’t want to be won, and she doesn’t want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver’s heart—and keep her own—she’ll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight.

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Review

My rating:

blue4

Hi, everyone! I hope everyone’s having a wonderful Monday! I certainly am, since it’s Family Day and I got to catch up on some much needed rest! Anyways, enough about me; I’m really excited to talk about the book of the day! Today’s review is on Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson. It’s a retelling of Mansfield Park, which I wasn’t sure if it would wound up being a great book, but I took a chance on it since it had mentions of the entertainment industry, with acting, directing and whatnot. I was not ready for how unputdownable this book was, though!

First off, I have to say that I’m in love with how the story was told through our main characters, Finley and Oliver. Readers get to see the world from both their perspectives, getting a better picture of what’s actually happening instead of just one person’s opinion. But out of the two, I honestly thought that Finley’s POV was more raw and well-written, given how she was raised and treated, as well as the fact that I feel it shows an honest character development. Oliver’s not so much, especially since he’s worried about Finley or thinking about her most of the time… Honestly, the only thing I felt was missing from Finley’s story was that she didn’t get a chance to face one particular obstacle, when all throughout the novel, I was really hoping she would.

I also loved the amount of theatre and movie info that was brought into the text. If you’ve read Mansfield Park, you know that theatre plays an important role (no pun intended) in the novel. So it was nice to see it in the retelling in a number of ways. Plus, I think it’s clear by this point that I really like novels that include almost any facet of the entertainment industry, so there was a good chance that I was going to enjoy the book anyways.

Anyways, that’s all I have to say on Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson. It is definitely a retelling worth reading! Side-note: I’ve been reading so many retellings lately, but I really love it when they’re well done with a bit of something new! Has anyone else been reading any great retellings? Feel free to share them in the Comments Section below. I would love some recommendations! 😉

Have a nice day, everyone!

–  Sumaya

 

Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Summary

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t.

And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

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Review

My rating:

purple2.5

I received this copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Hi, fellow book lovers! I’m finally back with another review, this one being on The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. Well, this review has been in the works for a long while now! But it’s finally done! To be honest, that’s kind of how I felt reading the novel, especially near the end. I loved Cynthia Hand’s other books, so this was kind of a let-down for me.

First of all, the retelling sounded pretty interesting. I’ve never read or watched A Christmas Carol, but I’ve heard of Ebenezer Scrooge, bah humbug, and all that jazz. Anyways, it was really nice to read and learn more about the tale in general, the roles people play in the Scrooge’s life and vice versa. I loved the concept of what would happen if the story wasn’t tied up with a happily ever after once Scrooge learned the error of his ways. What would happen if he thought it was all a big joke? Well, this book goes into detail answering that and more by creating a world where people are trying to save others before it’s too late. It did bring up some questions for me, though. Like, why couldn’t it be certain times of the year instead of just Christmas? Or why is it only one person at a time?

While I loved the world building, I didn’t like the characters as much. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them well enough in the beginning, but by the end, I lost the idea of what the story was about and how it even got there. What was it more concerned about: Holly’s character development or romantic development? I’m not really sure. Once the romantic aspect of the novel started, I felt myself getting less interested in the book to the point where I could put it down easily and continue onto other books. It’s not that I’m against romantic entanglements in novels; it’s just that I didn’t feel like it was balanced well against Holly’s character development…

Well, that’s all I have to say about The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. It wasn’t my favourite by the author, but I loved the concept! Has anyone else read this book or others by Cynthia Hand? And if so, what did you think of it? Let me know in the Comments Section below!

Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya

Review: Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

Summary

Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.

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Review

My rating:

pink4

Hi, everyone! I’ve finally finished reading something- and that something is Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George! It was pretty great as far as retellings went! I remember reading Much Ado About Nothing, the play Speak Easy, Speak Love is based on, back in university and loving it, so I was really excited for this book! And rightfully so, because I can see the play shining through the retelling as well as a few additional details the novel adds to the tale.

First things first, this book helped me learn a lot more about the Roaring Twenties! As I was reading, I researched the Prohibition era as well as speak easies to get a better sense of the situation within Speak Easy, Speak Love. The author’s note at the end of the novel was pretty helpful as well! I haven’t read much historical fiction lately, and even then, it would be about the Victorian era, never the first half of the century. So there was a lot of new things I learned upon reading this book. 😉

Also, I loved the slew of people that appear in this novel! I felt as if the author had adapted Shakespeare’s characters perfectly into the 1920s! Not only that, but I thought that there was even more character development going on in comparison to the original – especially in Hero’s case, since she was more of a flat character within the play – which made the story a whole lot more interesting and new to me! I love when retellings become something more than the original, having its own twists and whatnot. Otherwise, unless you haven’t read the primary source, the retelling would seem a bit stale, in my opinion.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George! It was a delightful retelling that I would recommend to anyone who liked Much Ado About Nothing! Has anyone else read Speak Easy, Speak Love? What did you think of it? Let me know in the Comments Section below!

Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Summary

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her dad and little brother.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32 and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

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Review

My rating:

red3-5

Hello, lovely readers! I’m back with another review. Today’s review is on Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz. I thought it would be interesting to read a Pride and Prejudice retelling after a long time. I think the last time I read a Pride and Prejudice retelling was 2012 or 2013. I just remember for a good moment I read them A LOT. To the point where I would only be reading Pride and Prejudice retellings. Never mind the fact that I didn’t read the actual book it was based on until my third year in university. I was lost in the sea of multiple retellings to the point where the original didn’t mean as much to me. Just the idea of it, I guess.

Anyways, I liked reading this retelling, because it mixed a whole bunch of things together, character-wise. For instance, at times, I felt as if Darcy Fitzwilliam was a combination of the Elizabeth and Darcy of the original Pride and Prejudice. Same goes for Luke Bennet. But I loved the original parts to the story as well, like Darcy’s job or her backstory in terms of her relationship with her family and hometown. I also liked how the novel didn’t leave me with any questions. It was pretty entertaining to read!

You might  wonder why I gave this book 3.5 stars instead of giving it 4 stars or more. That’s because while it was a quick and easy read (I finished this book in a few hours), I thought that it was a bit too “Hallmark movie” for me and did barely anything to subvert the genre. Also, at a certain point, I was ready to move on from the novel, but it kept on going with more plot. But I understood afterwards that the extra plot was meant to tie up any loose ends, which was a pretty good reason for it. And even though I liked Darcy’s POV, I would have liked to have heard from Luke as well.

Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz was a pretty quick read that I would recommend to people who don’t mind predictable stories (both because of the retelling aspect and the fact that it adheres to certain tropes and ideas). Have any of you read Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe or other Pride and Prejudice retellings? Let me know in the Comments Section below! Have a nice weekend, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson

Summary

The sequel to The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, inspired by The Importance of Being Earnest.

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn’t going to do this summer.

1. She isn’t going to stay home in Sacramento, where she’d have to sit through her stepmother’s sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn’t going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn’t going to the Air Force summer program on her mother’s base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender’s Game, Ellie’s seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it’s much less Luke/Yoda/”feel the force,” and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn’t appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she’d be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she’s going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer’s going to be great.

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Review

My rating: black3

(3.25 stars)

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hey, everyone! Another day, another book to talk about! And today, I’d like to express my thoughts on Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson. Now, Lily Anderson has already written a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing and Not Now, Not Ever is her second go at another retelling, this time of The Importance of Being Earnest. What really drew me into reading Not Now, Not Ever was the camp aspect of it all. I always love reading about summer camp and thought that this book would be no exception. Except it kind of was…

Now, when I say kind of, I mean that I liked some parts of the book and wasn’t much a fan of other parts. I’d have to encourage myself to read the book instead of wanting to read it on my own at times. There would be moments where nothing would happen, and then wham – the plot thickens. While those latter moments were great to read, it didn’t make up for the fact that I was previously bored and, for a good chunk of the book, wanted to  move onto something else. Then there was that ending, which left me more confused than not. The book’s conclusion just left me with more questions than answers to the point where I wasn’t at all satisfied with it.

Also, I didn’t really like the protagonist as much as I thought I would. In the beginning, I couldn’t really relate to her and the choices she makes, but I did warm up to her nearer to the middle. By the end though, I was back to square one in not understanding her decisions again. I preferred reading about other characters though, like Leigh, Jams, Hunter, Meg, even Trixie and Ben! Sure, Elliot/Ever could be really fun sometimes, but I thought she was way too rash and in the end, I didn’t witness much character development from her.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson. I know that a lot of people loved this book, but, for me, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I would recommend it for people who like retellings as there are a whole bunch of references from the book’s primary source, The Importance of Being Earnest. If you have any thoughts or questions about the book, I’ll be happy to answer them in the Comments Section below. And for those of you who are wondering, Not Now, Not Ever is released on  November 21st, 2017. Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

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