Review: Darling Girl

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Dutton Books) for promotional purposes. 

Wow! What a book! This was a dark retelling/reimagining of Peter Pan that managed to creep me out quite a bit. This book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it worked. 

I loved the dark take on Peter Pan. There is something inherently a little sinister about the original story and this book really delved into that. It made me rethink the classic story and want to rewatch the Disney movie. 

The story moved at a good pace, with everything unraveling at the right time. There were a lot of twists and turns that kept me hooked and turning the pages. This book kept me guessing until the very end. 

As for the characters, I liked the incorporation of the original Peter Pan characters. The main characters from Peter Pan (Peter, Wendy, John, Michael, Tinker Bell, and Captain Hook) are either characters in this book or mentioned/incorporated in some way. I also enjoyed the dynamic between the main character, Holly Darling, and her mom, Jane Darling (the daughter of Wendy). They had a very complex mother-daughter relationship that grew as the story went on. 

Overall, if you love Peter Pan and want to explore a darker side to the classic tale, then read this book! 


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Review: Alliana, Girl of Dragons

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Rating: ★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I previously read one of the author’s other books, Eva Evergreen, Semi Magical Witch, and absolutely loved it. I was very excited to read this one since it acts as a prequel to the Eva Evergreen books. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this book as much as Eva Evergreen. 

This is a Cinderella retelling and because of that, the book felt constrained plot wise. I didn’t feel as though the story benefitted from being a Cinderella retelling. If the book was just a regular middle grade fantasy without the Cinderella aspects, it still would have worked. I also felt that the book wasn’t as magical as Eva Evergreen. Eva Evergreen had a certain charm about it and I was hoping this book would too since it is set in the same universe. 

Additionally, for a book with the word “dragons” in the title, it was light on the dragons. The book never seemed to fully explore the dragons and Alliana’s relationship with them. (Maybe this will come in a later book?)

Don’t get me wrong, I did like some things about the book. I enjoyed the supporting characters, especially Grandmother Mari and Nela. Each of them had such a special relationship and bond with Alliana that was heartwarming to see. I also liked the parts that did feature the dragons. 

Overall, there were some things I liked about this and some things I had issues with. I hope there is a sequel to this book since there’s still more to explore with Alliana. If you are looking for a middle grade fantasy, I would say to give it a shot! 


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Review: My Fine Fellow

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Harper Teen) for promotional purposes.

This was a really cute My Fair Lady retelling! I have seen My Fair Lady, but it was a while ago so I didn’t pick up on any of the references to it. If you’re a fan of the movie I’m sure you would appreciate those references. 

I loved that it was a gender swapped retelling. I also loved that Penelope was half Filipino and Elijah was Jewish and that their backgrounds were a central and integral part of the story. The book explored the prejudices that both of them faced. 

The three main characters were all well developed. I particularly liked seeing Helena’s character arc unfold and how her actions affected her friendships with Penelope and Elijah.  

Food is a big part of the story so do not read this book on an empty stomach. You will get hungry! Luckily there is a recipe at the end for the empanadas mentioned in the book. 

Since this is a retelling, the story is a little predictable and straightforward. There are no big surprises.  

Overall, I enjoyed this historical YA retelling of My Fair Lady. If you like reading about 1830s England or books about food, I recommend checking this book out. 


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Review: Bookish and the Beast (Once Upon A Con #3)

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Quirk Books) in exchange for an honest review.

I am such a huge fan of this series so I was excited to read this, especially since Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale. I ended up enjoying this a lot!

So first off, there are a lot of references to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Like on page 37 there is a reference to “the great wide somewhere” and on page 224 there is talk of “Magic spells. Daring sword fights. A prince in disguise.” As a Beauty and the Beast super fan I had a ton of fun picking up all these little Easter eggs. 

As for the characters, the author always writes the most interesting and dynamic ones. Both the main and supporting characters were so lovable and fleshed out. My favorite was Rosie’s dad, aka Space Dad. He seemed like the coolest dad ever. 

The writing style as usual was perfect for the genre. It was a good amount of geeky mixed in with an easy to read prose. 

This books also had amazing descriptions dedicated to the love of books. For example, Rosie states, “But there is so much more in those words than just loving books. I love the smell of them. I love the way their bindings look pressed together on a shelf…They are portals into places I’ve never been and people I’ll never be, and in them I have lived a thousand lives and seen a thousand different worlds” (pg. 39). I couldn’t agree more. 

I also would like to point out something the author put in the acknowledgments that I absolutely loved. She writes, “I wrote this book for me. So, if you didn’t really enjoy this book, that’s okay! You’ll find one that you love” (pg. 284). I thought this was a great reminder to readers that it is okay if you didn’t like a book and that authors can write what they want to write (on the assumption for course that it is not offensive, problematic etc.) 

Lastly, I did feel like there was something missing in this book compared to the other ones in the series. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was. It could be that this book is significantly shorter than the other two and I wanted a bit more. 

Overall, if you are a fan of this series (or books or Beauty and the Beast), you’ll probably like this one! 


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Blog Tour: Poisoned

Hi beauties! Today I am a stop on the Poisoned blog tour hosted Rockstar Book Tours. If you love fairy tale retellings, be sure to check out my excerpt post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About the Book:

Title: POISONED

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Pub. Date: October 20, 2020

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 320

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, AudibleB&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org

From Jennifer Donnelly, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Stepsister, comes a fairytale retelling that’ll forever change the way you think about strength, power, and the real meaning of “happily ever after.”

Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman took out his knife . . . and took Sophie’s heart.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule — a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she’d heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . .

With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can’t extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength. 

GRAB STEPSISTER NOW!


EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK

Once upon long ago, always and evermore, a girl rode into the Darkwood. 

Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. 

The tall pines whispered and sighed as she passed under them, the queen’s huntsman at her side. 

Crows, perched high in the branches, blinked their bright black eyes. 

As the sky lightened, the huntsman pointed to a pond ahead and told the girl that they must dismount to let the horses drink. She did so, walking side by side with him. Lost in her thoughts, she did not hear the soft hiss of a dagger leaving its sheath. She did not see the huntsman lift his face to the dawn, or glimpse the anguish in his eyes. 

A gasp of shock escaped the girl as the huntsman pulled her close, his broad hand spanning her narrow back. Her eyes, wide and questioning, sought his. She was not afraid—not yet. She felt almost nothing as he slid the blade between her ribs, just a slight, soft push and then a bloom of warmth, as if she’d spilled tea down her dress. 

But then the pain came, red clawed and snarling. 

The girl threw her head back and screamed. A stag bolted from the brush at the sound. The crows burst from their roosts, their wings beating madly. 

The huntsman was skilled. He was quick. He had gutted a thousand deer. A few expert cuts with a knife so sharp it could slice blue from the sky and the delicate ribs were cleaved, the flesh and veins severed. 

The girl’s head lolled back. Her legs gave out. Gently, the huntsman lowered her to the ground, then knelt beside her. 

“Forgive me, dear princess. Forgive me,” he begged. “This foul deed was not my wish, but the queen’s command.” “Why?” the girl cried, with her dying breath. But the huntsman, tears in his eyes, could not speak. He finished his grim task and got to his feet. As he did, the girl got her answer. For the last thing she saw before her eyes closed was her heart, small and perfect, in the huntsman’s trembling hands. 

• • •

 In the forest, the birds have gone silent. The creatures are still. Gloom lingers under the trees. And on the cold ground, a girl lies dying, a ragged red hole where her heart used to be. 

“Hang the huntsman!” you shout. “Burn the evil queen!” And who would fault you? 

But you’ve missed the real villain. 

It’s easily done. He’s stealthy and sly and comes when you’re alone. He stands in the shadows and whispers his poison. His words drip, drip, drip into the small, secret chambers of your heart. 

You think you know this tale, but you only know what you’ve been told. 

“Who are you? How do you know these things?” you ask.

Fair questions, both. 

I am the huntsman. Dead now, but that’s no matter. The dead speak. With tongues blackened by time and regret. You can hear us if you listen. 

You will say that I’m telling you tales. Fairy stories. That it’s all make-believe. But there are more things afoot in the Darkwood than you can imagine, and only a fool would call them make-believe. 

Keep to the path, the old wives say. Stay out of the forest. 

But one day, you will have to walk deep into those dark woods and find what’s waiting there. 

For if you do not, it will surely find you.


About Jennifer:

Jennifer Donnelly is the author of A Northern Light, which was awarded a Printz Honor and a Carnegie Medal; Revolution (named a Best Book by Amazon, Kirkus ReviewsSchool Library Journal, and the Chicago Public Library, and nominated for a Carnegie Medal); the Deep Blue series; and many other books for young readers, including Lost in a Book, which spent more than 20 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon


GIVEAWAY DETAILS

3 winners will receive a finished copy of POISONED, US Only.

Enter via this link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba21161/


Tour Schedule:

Week One:

10/1/2020The Book Nut : A Book Lovers GuideReview
10/2/2020oddandbookishReview
10/3/2020popthebutterflyReview

Week Two:

10/4/2020A Backwards StoryReview
10/5/2020FictitiouswonderlandReview
10/6/2020Kait Plus BooksInterview
10/7/2020The Book RookeryReview
10/8/2020History from a Woman’s PerspectiveReview
10/9/2020MomfluensterReview
10/10/2020Thindbooks BlogReview

Week Three:

10/11/2020The Momma SpotReview
10/12/2020Satisfaction for Insatiable ReadersReview
10/13/2020Bookhounds YAReview
10/14/2020Seeing Double In NeverlandReview
10/15/2020Book-KeepingReview
10/16/2020Nays Pink BookshelfReview
10/17/2020Lisa Loves LiteratureReview

Week Four:

10/18/2020Two Chicks on BooksInterview
10/19/2020The Pages In-BetweenReview
10/20/2020Two Points of InterestReview

Blog tour spotlight (+ giveaway!): Jo and Laurie

Click the banner above to see the full tour schedule

Happy publishing day to Jo & Laurie! Today I am stop on its blog tour. Be sure to keep reading this post to find out how you can enter the giveaway!

BOOK INFORMATION

Jo & Laurie

by Margaret Stohl & Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 2nd 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Retellings, 

Synopsis:

Bestselling authors Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz bring us a romantic retelling of Little Women starring Jo March and her best friend, the boy next door, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence.

1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration—museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!

But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo’s desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart’s desire or lose the love of her life forever?


BOOK LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48895207-jo-laurie

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3eKjILC

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/jo-laurie-margaret-stohl/1136270761?ean=9780593112861

iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/jo-laurie/id1489092197

Bookdepository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Jo-Laurie-Melissa-de-La-Cruz/9781984812018?ref=grid-view&qid=1587559819389&sr=1-1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/jo-laurie-1

Google Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=8Pe_DwAAQBAJ&rdid=book-8Pe_DwAAQBAJ&rdot=1&source=gbs_atb&pcampaignid=books_booksearch_atb


AUTHOR INFORMATION

MELISSA DE LA CRUZ

She is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.

Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.

She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.

Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).

She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.

MARGARET STOHL

Margaret Stohl is a #1 New York Times bestselling nerd, world-builder, video game creator, comic book writer and festival founder.

As an award-winning young adult author, she has been published in fifty countries and thirty-two languages and has sold more than ten million books worldwide. Beautiful Creatures debuted as the Amazon #1 Teen book of the year; seven of Margaret’s books have reached bestseller lists around the world.

She has published fifteen novels and graphic novels, as well as contributed to several games and countless comics since her debut. Her last book, Cats Vs Robots: This is War, was a family affair, illustrated by her child, the artist Kay Peterson, and co-written with her husband, Lewis Peterson. It also starred three of her family’s five cats.

After Beautiful Creatures was released as a feature film from Warner Brothers and Alcon Entertainment, Margaret began working with Marvel on her bestselling Black Widow: Forever Red duology; in 2017 she began writing the ongoing Mighty Captain Marvel comic, followed by the acclaimed Life of Captain Marvel miniseries, where she established a new origin story for Carol Danvers in preparation for the theatrical debut of Brie Larson as “Captain Marvel” for the MCU. 

When not roaming the halls of Seattle game developer Bungie – where she oversees the creation of new global IPs – Margaret can often be seen at a Comicon or at one of the teen and youth book festivals she co-founded, YALLFEST (Charleston, SC) and YALLWEST (Santa Monica, CA), the largest in the country. Wherever she goes, you can find out more about her (and invariably her cats) at @mstohl on twitter or margaret_stohl on instagram or margaret_stohl on snapchat or at mstohl.com.

AUTHOR LINKS

MELISSA DE LA CRUZ

Website: https://melissa-delacruz.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21911.Melissa_de_la_Cruz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelissadelaCruz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorMelissadelaCruz/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authormelissadelacruz/

Tumblr: https://authormelissadelacruz.tumblr.com/

MARGARET STOHL

Website: https://mstohl.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2895707.Margaret_Stohl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mstohl

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/margaret_stohl/


AUDIOBOOK SAMPLE

Click here to listen to a sample of the audiobook.

GIVEAWAY

Prize: Win a copy of JO & LAURIE by Margaret Stohl & Melissa de la Cruz (US Only)

Starts: 27th May 2020

Ends: 10th June 2020

Click here to enter the giveaway!


Review: Ever Alice

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free as part of an Instagram book review tour. 

This was a really fun retelling! The book takes place years after the original, when Alice is 15 and she once again follows the white rabbit back to Wonderland. I just have to put it out there that Alice in Wonderland is one of my all time favorite stories so I was exceptionally eager to read this. 

At first I didn’t quite know if I would like this but once Alice went back to Wonderland I was hooked. I just had to keep reading to find out what happens to Alice and the fate of Wonderland. 

All your favorite characters are back such as the Queen of Hearts, the white rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and the Cheshire Cat. There are some new characters too, like Thomas, the Queen of Hearts’ son. 

I really liked that the book was told from both Alice and the Queen of Hearts’ perspective. Having the queen’s point of view was very enlightening. It gave her character more complexity and dimension. 

I found that the style and tone of the book was a good continuation of the original. Obviously no one can compare to Lewis Carroll, but the author did a wonderful job in keeping with the spirit of the original while offering her own unique twist.

The ending was amazing. I don’t want to give it away but I think it was perfect for this mad tale. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this Alice retelling. If you love Alice in Wonderland, give this book a try! 


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Review: The Dead Queens Club

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Rating: ★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Inkyard Press) in exchange for an honest review. 

Initially, I was super excited to read this book. The Tudors meets Mean Girls? Yes please! However, this book ended up being pretty messy. 

My main issue is that the book is way too long. The book is about 450 pages and could have easily been just over 300. The whole first half is is slow and confusing. The book starts off at girlfriend number 5 and then kind of goes back and forth into the backstory. And there was so much backstory. It could have been summarized significantly and in a more chronological manner. Part of the issue was that the backstory jumped around a lot so it was sometimes hard to get a bearing as to what point in time it was.

Once the book got to girlfriend number 6 (about halfway through), it picked up. It was so much more exciting and The Dead Queens Club finally came into fruition. The book was enjoyable from the halfway point onwards. 

There were some things I did like. The premise was genius. Taking Henry and his 6 wives and setting it in a high school was so appropriate. I liked how Henry and the wives were all translated. I also liked the themes the book handled like slut shaming for example. 

Overall, this book could have been really amazing had it been edited more for clarity and length. 

Review: The Princess and the Fangirl (Once Upon A Con #2)

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Quirk Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

Omg this book was incredible and I have nothing but good things to say about it. I read Geekerella about 2 years ago and loved it, but I don’t remember having this level of response to it. I’m obsessed. 

So first off, I loved the writing style. Sometimes when you read books about fandoms it can come across like a fan fiction. This book read like a nice YA contemporary with fandom references. 

I also loved that this book tackled the darker side of fandoms. A big focus was on how harsh fans (particularly in the sci-fi community) can be on actors. This is something that happens all the time and I’m glad the book gave the perspective of the actor on the receiving end of it. I also liked that this darkness was balanced by the positives of fandoms. It showed both sides well. 

As for the plot, I liked that it took place entirely at the con. I thought the romances were adorable and I loved the representation (LGBT and POC).

The fandom references were so on point. My favorite was the Blue Eyes White Dragon reference to Yu-Gi-Oh on page 251 (I was super obsessed with Yu-Gi-Oh as a kid). 

Lastly, if you miss Darien, Elle, and Sage from Geekerella, don’t worry. They all make an appearance in the book and I was so happy to see them again.

Overall, this was an amazing companion novel to Geekerella. If you loved that book, you’ll love this one! 

Review: Reflection (Twisted Tales #4)

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Rating: ★★★★★

For the longest time I’ve been debating whether or not to read the Twisted Tales from Disney. Typically, I’ll read any Disney related book, but the first two books in the series got such mixed reviews, that it deterred me from picking one up. Then the Beauty and the Beast one and this one came out and they got better reviews. So I finally decided to try one out. I’m so glad I did because this was really good!

First off, I was really happy that Disney choose a Asian author   to write this book. I think #OwnVoices literature is so important. You can tell that the author knew the culture so well. She did a great job incorporating the Chinese underworld and mythology into the story.

I also have to give the author major props for doing her homework. It was very clear that she watched the direct-to-DVD Mulan 2 movie. There was one part where Shang says, “Perhaps when I marry, I’ll combine the ancestral temples so my bride won’t have to leave her family” (175). That is exactly what ends up happening in Mulan 2. When I read that line, I immediately remembered that part in the movie. 

Since the book starts during the battle against the huns on the mountain, I was happy that it still referenced earlier events in the movie. They were woven into the story nicely. 

Overall, I just think the whole book was so well done. From the writing style to the incorporation of mirrors and reflections, it hit all the checkboxes.