Category Archives: Retelling

Six-Gun Snow White – Catherynne M. Valente

Six-Gun Snow White – Catherynne M. ValenteTitle: Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente
Publishing Info: February 28, 2013 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Adult, Magical Realism, Western, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 7, 2016

A plain-spoken, appealing narrator relates the history of her parents - a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. With her mother's death in childbirth, so begins a heroine's tale equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have. Filled with fascinating glimpses through the fabled looking glass and a close-up look at hard living in the gritty gun-slinging West, readers will be enchanted by this story at once familiar and entirely new.

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I just had a serious disconnect with this book. It’s one of those where I’ve seen friends rave about it and then I feel uncouth for not feeling the same way. This is the same way that I felt about UPROOTED — I could clearly see the beauty in the words there but I just wasn’t connecting with them. To be fair to the book (and to myself, I guess), I wasn’t really expecting the book to read like it did and I think I wouldn’t have picked it up at this very point in my life because I have too much going on to really appreciate something like this. I’ve never read Catherynne Valente so I had no idea what to expect and the writing style was just so different than I thought it was going to be.

The book was true to the original Snow White tale in its adaptation but I seem to be a person who appreciates even more of an original twist with an adaption with my retellings. I like the concept of a fairy tale and the author running with their own plot, essentially, because then there’s still a plot for me to figure out. SIX-GUN SNOW WHITE, although taking place in the Wild West and having many differences in time period and setting, still remained very true to the original tale in plot so it’s not like there were really many surprises in store, and I just didn’t feel connected to the book because of that. It was also much more prosaic than action-based, which is fine — I don’t need all action, all the time — but again, it was more of an expectation and something I just ended up not being in the mood for but finished anyway.

I listened to the audiobook of this because I needed a new audio, Hoopla had it available, it’s narrated by Julia Whelan, and it was short. I knew if I put it down to continue at a later time, I likely wouldn’t pick it back up so I motored through and just didn’t really ever connect, unfortunately. Julia Whelan is one of my favorite female audiobook narrators but a good narrator can’t always make you love a book.

Overall, I think this just wasn’t my style and I wasn’t in the right place to read this style at the moment either. Such is life, though. I try to pick up what I’m in the mood for and some things just surprise me. This book just didn’t surprise me in a good way, unfortunately. I can see why so many people have loved it and I think a lot of my friends will love it if/when they read it but it just wasn’t the book for me.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique retellings. I loved the Western twist on this retelling! I’ve barely read any Westerns much less Western retellings.
Left Me Wanting More: Action. I don’t need action for a book to be good and enjoyable for me… but I did have the expectation that this book was going to be a little different.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

Literally all of my other Goodreads friends who have read this enjoyed it but it just wasn’t the right book for me, at least not at the point in time that I read it, so I may not be the only person to trust on this one! Gather up some trusted reviewers!

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BOOKS LIKE SIX-GUN SNOW WHITE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) – Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) – Kendare BlakeTitle: Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: BEA 2016, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 7, 2016
Related Posts: Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1)

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

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One of the exciting things about being a book blogger is being able to read review copies before a book or series is published. There are a few drawbacks to ARCs (advanced reader copies) sometimes and I had a huge upset while reading THREE DARK CROWNS in the sense that I didn’t realize it was a series until I finished the book… BY finishing the book and finding a cliffhanger. Book info doesn’t always get updated right away and I started reading THREE DARK CROWNS before realizing it was a series.

Aside from the “surprise” of a series, the book definitely had a feel like things were taking a long time to go anywhere. Looking back, I can see where this would be a natural part of a series opener BUT I also felt like I shouldn’t have been so disconnected, even without that knowledge. I was so excited for something dark and sinister, magical and mysterious, and THREE DARK CROWNS really missed the mark on a lot of those things for me. With a concept of three sister queens pitted against each other and only one surviving, I was expecting a lot more darkness and a lot more intrigue. I was actually rather interested in the beginning. The book has this overall eerie, misty, inky feeling that you get when you watch creepy movies. I really picked up on the darker vibe, especially in the Poisoner chapters, but I did want a little bit more of it from the other two sisters as well. It was towards the middle of the book where I started to feel like things really weren’t going anywhere and I felt like even being the first in a series, it could have been a little better-structured.

The story just didn’t quite feel exciting. The sisters are separate (alternating but still third-person POVs) so there’s not much crossover with their story and once they do meet, things seem to bob around and not really flow. I almost felt like I was missing chapters the way things jumped around. The romances felt really rushed, unfinished, and one was plain unnecessary (in this book) and I just didn’t like it at all. The characters were also very hard to keep track of, with each girl having maids and priestesses and aunts and mothers and townspeople… it was just a LOT of names and with some people even described so similarly, it was hard to remember the name with the proper association to each queen, much less who they actually were.

I also was kind of disappointed in the concept of each ability, maybe because I didn’t see how the other sisters stood a chance against an elemental. If you’re trying to kill each other, poison just seems like too easy of a thing to avoid. And I don’t really know what the Naturalist powers can do since they’re not really explained too much (not as much as the others). But despite all that, I actually liked Katharine (the Poisoner) and Arsinoe (the Naturalist) the best. I loved their stories and their settings the most and their relationships really expanded in the best ways. Maybe I also liked them better because they were the underdogs, with Elemental sister Mirabella being the favorite and highly doted upon.

Overall, I just didn’t feel anything blending in THREE DARK CROWNS. The story lines for each sister felt like three very separate stories, even when they all converged. The only way they really felt connected was the basic concept that they’d have to go head-to-head eventually. I really wanted more twists and just didn’t feel that dark, twistiness that I really wanted. UNTIL the very last sentence. (I actually said WHOA. And then the book ended.) So will I read the next book? Maybe. Probably? I love where the ending was heading but as of right now, I don’t feel the draw to read more. I guess we’ll see when it comes out how I feel.
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Katharine // Character obsessions: Poisons, proving herself, first loves.
I was hoping for Katharine to be a bit darker… But I also understand why she wasn’t! Katharine was the Poisoner queen but she also was still struggling to come into her powers. She kind of seemed like she was on the sweeter side and and was trying to be “bad”!
Arsinoe // Character obsessions: Nature, finding her familiar, best friends.
Arsinoe was the Naturalist queen and I really enjoyed her chapters! I loved her best friend but I also found these chapters difficult because the best friend really took the spotlight with more power and the love interest so that kind of put Arsinoe in the background for me.
Mirabella // Character obsessions: Elemental magic, freedom.
Mirabella was actually my least favorite queen. I felt like they praised her so much that I wanted to root for the underdogs more — and she also ended up being sort of sweet. I was wishing for the book to be dark and sinister so I shied away from the “sweet” of this book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Family feuds. The battle between sisters was interesting! I was wondering how it would all play out and since it’s a series, it’s still not over! I’m curious to see how it goes.
Left Me Wanting More: Darkness! It’s Three DARK Crowns! Let’s get some serious darkness up in here!!!

Addiction Rating
Try it

Some people really loved this one while I struggled with some structure and pacing. I feel like maybe if I had known it was a series that might have helped… But I think I still would have found parts to be slow either way. It was literally one of my most-anticipated reads of the year and those are always hard when they’re a bit of a let down!

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BOOKS LIKE THREE DARK CROWNS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE STORYSPINNER

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride – Cary Elwes

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride – Cary ElwesTitle: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes, Joe Layden
Publishing Info: October 14, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible, Gift
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 31, 2016

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.
The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.
Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!
With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

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Gosh, this was just so wonderful. The Princess Bride has always meant a lot to me, growing up with the movie, then later reading the book as an adult, and eventually sharing it with my husband who had never seen the movie and much like the grandson, ended up really enjoying it despite his initial hesitance.

It was just magical to hear all of these behind-the-scenes moments while the movie was being filmed, all of the delightful anecdotes, more movie trivia, and it was so overwhelming special to hear how treasured this movie and movie-making experience really was to all of the actors. It’s something that has become near and dear to so many fans and it’s so wonderful to hear how much fun they had making the movie and how they really became a movie family.

This book was wonderfully put together, consisting of a start-to-finish tale of how the movie was made, how all of the actors were brought in, and even how it was received. I loved the overall story and all of the anecdotes the book included. I haven’t read many non-fiction books or memoirs or really anything like this so I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to follow and listen to! (Although I suppose I watch plenty of non-fictional TV shows so it’s not that big of a leap.) Cary Elwes also does a wonderful job of really making this flow as a story to carry readers along with the production experience.

Despite having a print copy (which I would want to own regardless), I listened to the audiobook of AS YOU WISH and it was an amazing listen. Cary Elwes narrated and all of the actors (who are still living) as well as the directors and author William Goldman popped in to narrated their additions to this book as well. (Although a narrator stepped in for a few actors and William Goldman for this audiobook production.) Cary Elwes is an amazing narrator. Obviously he’s a great actor so he has a natural story-telling ability and the wonderful knack for bringing a story to life. He’s also amazing at impressions and was so great doing all of the actors voices and accents when telling his side of their conversations! If he isn’t a narrator for any other audiobooks, he really should be. It was such a delight listening to his narration!

I actually teared up at the end of the audiobook, I must admit. I could just feel the emotion that was such a big part of these actors’ experience with the filming of The Princess Bride and this movie is one of my all-time favorites. I just feel such a connection to it and I got quite emotional as well! AS YOU WISH was just wonderful and I think an important read for any Princess Bride fan! If you’re a huge fan of the movie, you won’t be disappointed with this book.view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Non-fiction. I really read next to zero non-fiction. I’m just such a fan of losing myself in fictional worlds that non-fiction doesn’t really catch my eye. AS YOU WISH may have me rethinking this for certain topics that mean a lot to me because this experience was just so enjoyable and  I learned things!
Left Me Wanting More: Time with this story! Everything I ever wanted was in this book. The only thing I wanted was for it not to end!

Addiction Rating
Read it/listen to it ASAP!

I SO recommend the audiobook for this one! Listening to Cary Elwes is just magical.

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BOOKS LIKE AS YOU WISH

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    

Heartless – Marissa Meyer

Heartless – Marissa MeyerTitle: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: November 8, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 5, 2016
Related Posts: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2), , Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5), The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles #1.5), Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky (Lunar Chronicles #3.1), Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2), Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3), Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4), Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection), Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1)

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.
Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

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If you know me or my blog, I’m sure you know how big of a Lunar Chronicles fan I am! I’ve basically grown obsessed with Marissa Meyer’s books so naturally when I heard about HEARTLESS, I was freaking out. When I received a glorious, glorious copy of HEARTLESS at BEA this year (as well as getting the chance to meet and chat with Marissa), I knew it was the first book from BEA that I was going to start! I was a bit apprehensive but wholly excited, as one usually is when starting a new book by their favorite author. I really love prequel and sequel adaptations of classic novels as well as the “what might have happened” retellings but prequels have a special place in my heart for some reason. I was doubly excited to start HEARTLESS because of this reason and also because it promised to be a little bit darker since the book revolved around the beginnings of the Queen of Hearts!

The first thing I’ll say is that this not The Lunar Chronicles… But I’m glad that it wasn’t! I think it’s easy for a writer to stick to a style or tone that they know and that’s definitely great to sort of make a name for yourself with a specific style. You could say that Marissa Meyer is getting that niche of fairy tales and retellings since HEARTLESS is different in so many ways but it still is a fairy tale adaptation. I’m really glad to be able to read such a different tone, setting, and context for this retelling than what we had see in The Lunar Chronicles! I’m impressed with how different this book was and how it really stood on its own, even after following such a massive series. Marissa really did an amazing job at bringing HEARTLESS to life and having it stand on its own!

I’m not a huge Alice in Wonderland fan so I don’t know the story inside and out, but from what I do know, I feel like the book followed the general story quite closely. This was nice to see so many things from the original tale pop up throughout the book and yet I felt like I was missing that sense of originality that I felt in The Lunar Chronicles (as an easy example) that really developed a story of its own and wasn’t just a straight retelling. Even though HEARTLESS is a prequel of sorts, it still really felt quite similar to Alice in Wonderland in many ways and I would have loved to see a few more original aspects that truly had the book standing out from Alice. On the flip side, it was cool to see how something could be used in the Queen’s time as a teenager/young adult that later comes back when Alice enters Wonderland. HEARTLESS was much more of a closely-following adaptation than just an inspiration.

One thing I worried about with an Alice adaption is how whimsical the original story is and that’s not something I always get along with in books. I enjoy adaptations so I was hoping HEARTLESS would be like The Lunar Chronicles in that way — the fairy tale inspires the book but it’s a bit more modern. HEARTLESS was definitely more like Alice than The Lunar Chronicles in this sense. The tone, content, and whimsy were all reminiscent of the original book. Rather than being a prequel concept, this was written as a true prequel to mimic the original Alice story itself. I did have a hard time with some of the whimsical fantasy in the book (as I have with Alice). Well, I shouldn’t say that I had a hard time. More like it wasn’t something that I particularly enjoyed. I didn’t dislike it but sometimes those things end up feeling more silly to me than fun.

The characters were really quite lovely. We get to see pre-madness Hatter (who was always one of my favorite Alice characters) and glimpses of characters like the White Rabbit and other Tea Party guests. Cath was so interesting throughout the book and I kept trying to take a peek at what might turn her into a heartless queen later on in the book. It actually did make me rather anxious because I just knew that the book couldn’t have a happy ending!! Every hope she had I was nervous for and of course that went doubly for the romance. Jest (the romantic interest) fought for my favorite character (against Hatta) in HEARTLESS and I didn’t know whether I was supposed to be wary of him at first or fall in love with him! And the King of Hearts was just so bumbling and cringe-worthy that it truly made every scene with him unbearable and nerve-wracking since you know that Cath is supposed to end up as the Queen!!

I really did enjoy HEARTLESS from start to finish. I thought the tale of the (future) Queen of Hearts was quite interesting and very well done. I liked how Catherine was a seemingly normal girl right from the start of the book and I spent the entire read really wondering how this whole thing was going to flip and turn back on itself to inspire a personality change. The concept was handled really well and even though I was expecting this to read a bit more sinisterly as if from a villain’s point of view, I did enjoy that I was really kept guessing until the end how that switch was going to happen!
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Catherine // Character obsessions: Baking, friendship, love, avoiding the king.
I’m not gonna lie… I was hoping this book would have Catherine as a villainous character right from the start. I was excited to read something a little dark and sinister… But I also did appreciate seeing the “true” history behind the Queen of Hearts and how she came to end up so ruthless when she was once normal Catherine. Marissa Meyer did a great job with her character and I really loved that slow creep of doubt slip in and then the sudden flip!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Prequels. Prequels are SO cool. I really, really love seeing what a world was like before the story even begins ad all of the backstories of everything. It also adds a whole separate level of world building that I LOVE.
Left Me Wanting More: Originality. I know that it’s a fairy tale retelling and this definitely felt more like a retelling than an adaptation, which I was surprised to find in a prequel since those usually build their own stories a bit more. Granted, I’m not SUPER familiar with Alice so I’m not sure what changed and what was the same but I did feel a lot of Alice elements that I did know and I just wanted more of the Queen’s story than Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It wasn’t my favorite book from Marissa Meyer so far but it was fun and absolutely enjoyable. I loved reading a different fairy tale adaption and like always, she did a great job with the characters and really pulling a story together! It’s also so nice that it’s a stand alone so you won’t have to wait for future books!

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BOOKS LIKE HEARTLESS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

NANTUCKET BLUE    TIGER LILY

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) – Ally Carter

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) – Ally CarterTitle: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter
Publishing Info: January 20, 2015 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Book Trade
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 31, 2016
Related Posts: Heist Society (Heist Society #1), Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2)

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:
1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.
As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.
Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

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I’m actually really disappointed that this is a new series opener from Ally Carter. I guess I’ve only read two of her books (Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals) but her early books were SO GOOD and this book just fell so flat. I heard it had a bit of a rough start but truly, the whole book felt rough for me.

ALL FALL DOWN felt super repetitive. The story repeating the same five concepts over and over again with no action to follow them up (until the very end of the book) and literally nothing happened for the first half of the book, in my opinion. I felt like the first 75% could have been crammed into a few action-packed chapters but instead, everything was drawn out. I wouldn’t have minded spending time with these characters in place of action, but the time I did spend with them didn’t feel to developed. They weren’t personalities that jumped off the page and everyone fell a little flat.

There were hints at the snark and sass that I love so much but Grace was too busy falling apart all the time for that to really take shape. I get what the book was going for and I followed it, but it all felt a bit too dramatic for me. The visions and hallucinations were just way too much and they really bothered me — as they do in pretty much any other book unless it’s really important and necessary. I’m all for showcasing a character who is suffering from PTSD and other consequences of going through some serious stuff but for some reason this just didn’t work for me in this book. It all felt forced and cheesy instead of informative and genuine.

After all that, I was waiting for the twist (I heard there was one) and… flat again. There were parts of it that were a bit predictable — I got there and understood what was going on but Grace still didn’t and it irritated me how long it reasonably took for her to catch on. There was something I actually wasn’t expecting because it was so cliche but the cliche happened anyway.

ALL FALL DOWN was an easy read and I do think I’ll continue the series but I might sneak a peek at reviews before I do so. I do love the Heist Society series and from the way this book ended, I am hoping for maybe a little more levity and a lot more intrigue in the second book.view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: International thrillers. I’ve been really into international thrillers lately and I loved the mix of worlds in this book! The vibe was also really great.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I just felt so let down by the overall plot here. There wasn’t much development at all and it was a total snooze-fest throughout the beginning. I was just so bummed because I came to hope for a lot from Ally Carter!

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

It’s hard for me to say. I think I’ll continue the series but I can’t outright recommend this one. I think if the series gets better, I’ll have a better feeling about it!

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BOOKS LIKE ALL FALL DOWN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    

My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi MeadowsTitle: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss, Subscription Box
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 23, 2016
Related Posts: Everneath (Everneath #1), Everbound (Everneath #2)

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

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MY LADY JANE is such a fun and unique concept. There isn’t a lot of satire out there in YA right now and this was such a fun way to bring both history and humor together. The book is told by narrators who frequently interrupt their own story-telling to add notes for the reader and inform them of historical inaccuracies, fun facts, or just silly tidbits. It was a lot of fun and really reminded me some of wonderfully comedic Mel Brooks movies in which characters often break the 4th wall to address the audience directly. It’s even more fun to incorporate satire with a historical account (or rather, a quite fictionalized historical account) because of all the anachronisms and pop culture references that really make the book even more funny!

Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about the story of Lady Jane Grey. Obviously by now, I know the broader points of history (and I still blame my middle school and high school education for a seriously lack of historical knowledge) so I think the book could have been a bit more fun if I was more of a history buff. I know a few friends who love history and have an extensive knowledge on historical events who took a little more joy from the story overall, so that’s really just a personal experience that unfortunately can’t helped. I will say, though, that the book was enjoyable whether you know the history or not! I had a basic understanding but details are explained and even if you don’t care about the true story, the book will carry you through with a fun historical-fiction romp (and they change the ending anyway so I suppose it doesn’t matter too much in the end)!

The concept of Eðians (people who magically change to and from an animal form) was so much fun! I loved how it was incorporated in to the book in so many ways — from selecting to change to being cursed, the support and blatant rejection, the people in disguise — it was a great way to incorporate magic from start to finish. I liked that it was the only real form of magic in the book so it brought that magical element but didn’t turn into a full-out fantasy. It was the perfect way to alter history just a bit and keep things tied to the actual facts.

I just loved the collaboration from Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton, and Cynthia Hand. They really put together a fun and unique book and MY LADY JANE easily found a place in so many readers’ hearts. MY LADY JANE easily appeals to fans of The Princess Bride with its historical feel and slight satire, Disney fans for its animal magic and pop culture references, and historical fans who love a twist on history. There are direct references to books and movies like The Princess Bride, A Game of Thrones, Monty Python, and I’m pretty sure I saw Tangled in there! It also had the magic of all of seeing everything combined and so many loves in one place. I laughed out loud so many times and the book was just so clever!

I had a weird experience in which reading this book was so enjoyable and yet it felt really long! The book is over 500 pages so it’s no speed-read but the content was so light and fun that I feel like I should have finished it fasted. Maybe it was just my reading schedule… but I do feel like it could have been a little bit shorter. A lot of people said the book just flew by and it didn’t feel to long until I was nearing the end and it still wasn’t over. Don’t get me wrong — I was enjoying the whole thing — but there was just something that was off that was making me anxious for things to wrap up. That’s seriously one of my only qualms, though. MY LADY JANE was always fun and these authors did a great job of putting things together!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Satire. I’ve barely read any satire but when it’s done right, it’s SO much fun! These authors totally nailed it.
Left Me Wanting More: Swiftness. At some points I felt like the book was a bit long. I was hoping for a couple things to be wrapped up a bit quicker but I still enjoyed it all around!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

MY LADY JANE was just so much fun. No matter if you enjoy history or not, this is such a great read and will definitely make you laugh out loud!

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BOOKS LIKE MY LADY JANE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA    

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) – Brandon Sanderson

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: May 14, 2013 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 8, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.
As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

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I’ve slowly but surely been making my way through Brandon Sanderson’s entire published works and next up on my list was THE RITHMATIST! For some reason for the longest time, I thought this book was Middle Grade but it’s actually Young Adult, though I see some great potential crossover for those two age ranges, along with the ever-present crossover to Adult since Sanderson’s books are always so clever and well-put together. THE RITHMATIST reads a little younger than Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy (which is also YA) and actually really reminded me of Harry Potter! It was just something about the characters, the structure of the book, and possibly the presence at school that reminded me of Harry Potter and all of the mischief he manages to get into, not to mention the distrust of a teacher and some other secret happenings that really reminded me of Hogwarts in the best way. It is definitely the youngest-feeling book I’ve read from Sanderson (since I haven’t read the Alcatraz series yet) and that is quite notable but I wasn’t put off by it at all since that’s really what I was expecting!

loved the characters in this book. Joel is the main character in THE RITHMATIST and I love his thirst for knowledge, especially when it comes to the Rithmatists. Not being a Rithmatist himself, he has to try to find information in secret since non-Rithmatists are not allowed to learn all of the theory, strategy, and history, but that is Joel’s true passion. As usual, Sanderson creates an excellent core group of characters who are all a little bit misfits. Joel, the wannabe Rithmatist;  Melody, the Rithmatist who couldn’t care less; and Professor Fitch, the pleasant yet out-dated professor make up the main part of this group and it’s so special to watch all of these personalities and strengths balance each other. They work so well together because their relationships are so mutually beneficial… and of course there’s some great banter in their with some clashing personalities that kept me delighted and maintained a lighter tone!

It’s always so interesting to see what kind of magic system Brandon Sanderson chooses for his books. In this case, it’s the power to bring chalk to life as an offensive and defensive course of action. Rithmatists have the power to draw chalk lines or figures and give them basic direction and of course, the way chalk lines are drawn and connected have a very systematic way of behaving. I’m always so impressed with how much thought and effort goes into creating a magic system and I really enjoyed how unique this one was! I’m not sure I loved the concept — I suppose bringing inanimate objects to life is hit or miss for me — so I wasn’t totally crazy about it, but the structure and rules really brought the ideas together and made it a somewhat realistic (albeit, fantastical) concept to follow and understand.

The geography and history were also incredibly interesting, as always! Sanderson chose to mix fantasy and history, creating a time period that felt a little steampunk but had an alternate history incorporating the origin of Rithmatists and how they shaped the world. The course of events changes history completely and even changes geography, breaking up what we know as North America into the United Isles, consisting of a broken apart continent of many islands with various Rithmatist schools throughout the country. There are also some real historical figures who make appearances and in the alt-history concept, affect the world in similar or entirely different ways. It’s quite fascinating and I really enjoyed what Sanderson did with the book! I always find it fun to see “what if”s and see an alternate geography based on a different history.

THE RITHMATIST was just plain fun and I loved its lighter tone. I really enjoy the deep Sanderson novels but this one felt like it was quite a bit lighter and did have a sort of Harry Potter feel — which is to say that it reads potentially younger but is still enjoyable for an audience of all ages. The ending left me just waiting for more and there is confirmation of another book but we might still be waiting a few years for it according to the most recent Sanderson news! Such is the life of a Sanderson fan. (And this is what I get for bingeing all of his works.)

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Michael Kramer
Performance: Excellent overall! One of my favorite narrators

I listened to the book on audio which was fantastic since Michael Kramer, who narrates the entire Mistborn series, also narrates THE RITHMATIST. It’s the first YA book I’ve heard him narrate (actually, the first book besides the Mistborn books) and I think he handled the younger voices really well! Sometimes the younger male and younger female voices weren’t as distinct as his adult voices but he’s just such an enjoyable narrator! I was lacking a few things with the audio, simply because there are diagrams within the book showing different chalk defenses and moves that obviously I couldn’t see since I was listening. They’re all described but obviously you  miss a little bit in that sort of experience! 
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Joel // Character obsessions: Learning, Rithmatic theory, family.
I keep wanting to call it “rithmancy” because of “arithmancy” in Harry Potter… But I don’t think that’s right. Rithmatic theory? I think?
Anyway! Joel was such a fun character. I love characters that are so knowledge-thirsty because they’re the ones always off to the library or hunting for clues to give readers all of the amazing answers and discoveries that I love so much! He was smart, clever, and maybe a little naive but that added to the gentleness of his character and he was so incredibly likable.
Melody // Character obsessions: Unicorns, frivolity, ice cream, the easy life.
Melody is so sassy! She’s an unlikely companion for Joel but they totally work together because they have very different strengths. They really help each other even though they butt heads a lot but I love their banter.
Nalazar // Character obsessions: Dominance, power, scowling.
Nalazar = Snape in the best possible ways and that’s all I’m going to say about that!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Alt-History. Alt-history is SO much fun. I love changing timelines and imagining “what if”, especially when it comes to new geography. This wasn’t my favorite imagination of the “former” North America but it’s always fun no matter what!
Left Me Wanting More: Realistic magic? That’s an oxymoron, I know, but I wasn’t toootally hooked on the chalk concept. I got along with it all right and structured rules always help but bringing chalk wasn’t my favorite magic system.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I’m a true fan of pretty much everything that Sanderson writes and there isn’t really a book of his I wouldn’t recommend. THE RITHMATIST was fun, easy to read, and quite clever.

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BOOKS LIKE THE RITHMATIST

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    PETER AND THE STARCATCHES