blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Snow Song – Sally Gardner*

Women imprisoned by superstition, chained by guilt.

Perched on a mountain in a land of ancient forests is a village, rife with secrets. Cut off from the outside world it is run by the elders, men to whom tradition is all.

Edith lives alone with her alcoholic father who is forcing her to marry the village butcher. But she is in love with a shepherd who promised to return to her.

As the village becomes isolated in a sea of snow, Edith loses her power of speech. And it is this enchantment that will have far-reaching consequences, not only for Edith but for the whole village.

My thoughts:

This is a beautiful, magical fairy tale set somewhere in snowy Northern Europe, I could see elements of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, as well as modern feminist retellings of other fairy tales in Edith and her story. Which is how Edith’s own stories work, weaving together the old and the new.

Edith is the only woman, who finds strength in the midst of terrible heartbreak, to stand against the butcher and his cruelty (he seems a Bluebeard figure, there’s no explanation as to what happened to his previous wife) in the small village where fear, tradition and the elders (all men) hold sway.

Edith’s bittersweet winter in the forest (where the East of the Sun… came through strongest for me) enables her to return to the village and start to put things right, with her father, for her friends.

Lyrical, moving and with the gentlest of hope for the future at its ending, this is a stunning new fairy tale for this winter and those to come.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of of book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Poisoned – Jennifer Donnelly*

Beautiful Sophie, with lips as red as blood, skin as pale as snow, and hair as dark as night, is about to come of age and inherit her father’s throne. But Sophie’s stepmother wants rid of her – beautiful she may be, but too weak and foolish to reign. And Sophie believes her, as she believes all the things that have been said about her – all the poisonous words people use to keep girls like her from becoming too powerful, too strong.

When the huntsman carries out his orders of killing Sophie, she finds a fire burning inside her that will not be extinguished, and sets off to reclaim what was taken from her.

Jennifer Donnelly turns her feminist eye to this most delicious of fairy tales and shows Snow White as she’s never been seen before.

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Jennifer Donnelly is the author of seven novels and a picture book for children. She grew up in New York State, in Lewis and Westchester counties, and attended the University of Rochester where she majored in English Literature and European History.

Jennifer’s first novel, THE TEA ROSE, an epic historical novel set in London and New York in the late 19th century, was called ‘exquisite’ by Booklist, ‘so much fun’ by the Washington Post, a ‘guilty pleasure’ by People and was named a Top Pick by the Romantic Times.

Her second novel, A GATHERING LIGHT, won the Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Borders Original Voices Award, and was named a Printz Honor book. Described as ‘rich and true’ by The New York Times, the book was named on the Best Book lists of The Times (London), The Irish Times, The Financial Times, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and the School Library Journal.

REVOLUTION was named a Best Book by Amazon, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and the Chicago Public Library, and was nominated for a Carnegie Medal. The audio edition was awarded an Odyssey Honor for Excellence.

In 2014, Jennifer teamed up with Disney to launch the bestselling WATERFIRE saga, an epic series about six mermaids on a quest to rid the world of an ancient evil. The first book in the series, DEEP BLUE, was released in May, 2014; the second book, ROGUE WAVE, launched in January 2015.

Jennifer Donnelly lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.

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My thoughts:

This was a very good retelling of Snow White – but with a bit more bite and a princess that was determined even if a bit naive.

The seven dwarves are given a bit more in terms of personality, and the charming prince is anything but. Instead it is up to Sophie herself to defeat her stepmother and the evil King of Crows to regain her heart and her throne.

I really enjoyed this book, I love a fairy tale retelling with a bit more bite, and a princess who saves herself.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Twisted Beauty- Kristen Flood*

THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN LOSING EVERYTHING . . .

IS FORGETTING WHAT YOU LOST.

THE BEAST

Once the powerful prince of Renol, William is a shell of the man he once was. Living under the curse of a powerful witch, William has spent 100 years making deals on her behalf and mourning the loss of his first love.

THE BEAUTY

Belle has spent her life confined within the limits of her city, Paylor, and is now bound to a man she does not love. When she dares to venture outside the city’s gates in search of something she’s lost, she finds more than she ever expected.

As Belle and William embark on a journey of love and mourning, passion and forgiveness, they discover that sometimes what we lose isn’t as important as what we find.

This book is recommended for mature audiences and features adult content such as sex, language, and violence. If you are into that kind of thing, dive on in.

Kristen Flood is an Adult Romance and YA science fiction author and poet. At twenty-two, Kristen published her first book, The Museum: A Collection of Dark Poetry. Since she has released two more books. Her third book, Twisted Beauty, is awaiting its sequel this Winter. Kristen lives in Missouri with her husband, son, and newborn baby girl. When she’s not writing or chasing her toddler she spends her time playing board games, sword fighting and planning her next adventure. Kristen plans to release two more books in 2021.

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My thoughts:

Loosely inspired by Beauty & the Beast, with hints of other fairy tales, this is a dark and twisted story about love that survives and the cruelty we inflict on each other.

William lives under a curse and has to make deals on behalf of a witch, waiting for true love to break her spell, believing his beloved is long dead. When he meets Belle, they make a deal that sees her become his servant and moves to his hidden castle.

As they seek a way to break the curse, they begin to fall for one another, but Belle is having strange dreams and remembering things that seem to have taken place a hundred years ago.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Book Review: Bookish and the Beast – Ashley Poston

I was kindly sent this by a very nice PR person but as always all opinions are my own.

A tale as old as time is made new in Ashley Poston’s fresh, geeky retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.

On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.

When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.

But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.

My thoughts:

I haven’t read the other two books in the Once Upon a Con series yet, but I will, because I am a fairy tale and folklore nerd.

When I wrote my MA dissertation it was about Neil Gaiman’s use of mythic tropes, fairy tales and folkloric elements – his Norse Mythology book didn’t exist yet, so I focused on American Gods, Anansi Boys and of course the epic Sandman series.

I own dozens of books of fairy tales, about fairy tales (like heavy academic ones) and collect retellings. My favourite is Kissing the Witch by Emma Donaghue, which is very excellent.

On to this book – there are a fair few YA retellings of Beauty & the Beast knocking about, I liked Of Curses & Kisses by Sandhya Menon last year, and I had my fingers crossed this one would be fun too.

And it is. So much fun, and silly, and thoughtful and sweet. Rosie and her friends (and Space Dad) are delightful, Vance and Elias are the Odd Couple of our times and the dog, look, I love animals, even fictional ones, and Sansa the dog is a cutie (although I kept picturing Nicole Cliffe’s Sansa who is a husky not an Alsatian).

I really loved how nerdy and genuine the characters are, and yay for Quinn living their life and running for Homecoming Overlord. Brilliant subplot.

Basically this was a joyful, fun, whimsical read and you should all go buy a copy.

Me, I’m off to read Geekerella and The Princess and the Fangirl.

books, Illumicrate, reviews

Book Review: Wintersong – S. Jae-Jones

Calling all Labyrinth fans – this book, inspired by the author’s love of the film starring David Bowie as the Goblin King is a musical journey into the Underworld.

Liesl lives with her family in Germany near the Goblin Grove deep in the forest. She dreams of being a composer and her brother, the other half of her soul, plays her compositions. 

Her music attracts the attention of the Erlkonig  (Goblin King) and his minions. Drawing inspiration from Christina Rossetti’s poems as well as the aforementioned film, as winter turns, can our heroine escape the goblins’ lair and return to the World Above before the memory of her fades forever? 

I really liked this – fairy tale retellings are a bit favourite of mine and this is a well written one. German fairy tales aren’t as widely known as they should be, especially not the darkness within. 

This book was in my most recent Illumicrate, which means it’s a bit of a lucky find – I might not have read it otherwise as there are so many great books out there. 

If you like romance, adventure, fairy tales and plucky heroines, this book’s for you. 

books, reviews

Book Review; Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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One of my favourite forms of story telling is the re-imagining of fairy tales and myths, I wrote part of my MA dissertation on this form of literature and whenever I find an old story in new words I am really excited to read it. Naomi Novik doesn’t disappoint.

Set in what might just be Poland, near the Russian border in a village plagued by an evil Wood, there’s a wizard called Dragon and a heroine called Agnieszka (after a Polish fairy tale), a legendary witch called Baba Jaga, and a tragedy that started it all.

It is absolutely beautifully written, totally captivating from the brilliant opening

line;

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.”

to the fairytale ending where the heroes, having overcome terrible odds, live happily once more.

One of the things that interested me most was the changes made to the story of Baba Jaga (or Yaga) – a witch I was genuinely terrified of as a child having read about her. She lived in a house on chicken legs that could walk and when in one place it was surrounded by a fence made of human bones and she ate people. Oh and she travelled in a giant pestle and mortar. I was absolutely convinced she was real and going to come and get me.

Here, however, she is recast as a historic figure, her spells those of ordinary folk not educated wizards, her power rooted in the earth. I think I would have been less terrified if she had been presented a little more sympathetically than in my book of fairy tales as a child.

This is one of the things I find more intriguing than anything in these retellings, the subtle changes made to the stories, so that while still familiar, they are also wholly new and fresh every time.

Have you read Uprooted? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.