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A Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin (Angela from Angela’s Library)

FoF2014

Welcome to our third annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2015

Thanks for checking out the THIRD annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Angela from Angela’s Library is sharing her review of THE FALL by Bethany Griffin!


A Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin (Angela from Angela’s Library)Title: The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Publishing Info: October 7, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Library
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 26, 2015
Related Posts: The Fall

    Madeline Usher is doomed.
    She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.
    Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.
    In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

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Hi everyone! For today’s post for A Fortnight of Fright, I’m excited to share with you a review of one of my favorite Halloween reads, The Fall by Bethany Griffin. This book combines two things I absolutely love: a retold classic and a seriously creepy haunted house.

The Fall is a novel-length retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Madeline Usher, the protagonist, has always known there is something not quite right about her ancestral home. It seems to have a will of its own and a desire to impose that will upon its inhabitants. The house lives through the Ushers, feeding off of their emotions and doing everything it can to ensure the family stays on the property and under the house’s control.

This tie between the Ushers and their home takes a heavy toll on the family. It’s the fate of all Ushers to slowly go mad, and Madeline and her parents suffer from strange fits and trances. They experience fainting spells and fevers and are plagued by extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and even the touch of clothing on their skin. Time and memories slip, and reading is impossible because the words swim on the page. The family’s strange condition is so acute that they keep their own staff of live-in doctors, who are a little mad themselves and prey on the Ushers in their own way.

As Madeline grows up, she learns more about her house’s dark power and becomes more and more determined to escape it. She knows there must be a way to outsmart the house and free her family from its horrific legacy; she just has to figure out what that way is. The harder she struggles against the house, though, the harder the house fights back, finding ways to trap her and confuse her.

Each chapter is written from Madeline’s perspective, but the chapters aren’t in chronological order and jump back and forth between Madeline’s point of view at age 9, 18, 12, etc. This may sound like a strange way to tell a story, but it makes sense for the book. It lets the reader experience the story just like Madeline does – piece by piece, confused and disoriented. Like Madeline, just when you think you’ve caught the thread of the story you’re interrupted, taken off of your path and turned in a different direction. It throws you off balance, and you have to get your bearings again and figure out which Madeline you’re dealing with. Is it the Madeline who suspects the house is trapping her like a fly in a spiderweb? The Madeline who loves the house and trusts it to keep her from harm? The Madeline who is trying to escape? You don’t know what to expect from one chapter to the next.

Griffin does a fabulous job of making the house sentient and terrible, building it into as much of a character as Madeline, her family, and her physicians. The house thinks, feels, and is capable of taking action. It listens to the stories its occupants tell, redirects them when they get too close to the secrets it doesn’t want discovered, and occasionally throws tantrums, tremoring and convulsing and locking people in rooms. It can even influence people and put thoughts in their head, using them to fulfill its own purposes.

I love The Fall’s spooky gothic vibe. There’s an oppressive undercurrent of horror and dread that never completely goes away. The house corrupts everything within it: bright new dresses fade overnight, lace crumbles, and previously normal visitors slowly grow mad and twisted. Children’s swings sway eerily of their own accord, suits of armor fling axes at hapless passersby, and ghosts of long-dead Ushers lurk in the shadows. There are even old messages, presumably from the house, transcribed by Ushers of years gone by:

“The surface of the desk is covered with scraps of parchment. I read the first. I love you. […] I pick up another. I know you. […] The next one: I watch you. Dozens of scraps of parchment are scattered over the desk. I love you, I know you, I need you.”

If you want a book that will give you shivers this Halloween, The Fall will certainly do the trick. It’s creepy, atmospheric, and a worthy homage to Poe’s original. Just make sure not to read it before bed – it might just keep you up at night.


 

 

Thanks, Angela! Great review. I really enjoyed this one as well and I really loved how atmospheric it was! 
I reviewed THE FALL last year for A Fortnight of Fright too! You can see the full review here: The Fall by Bethany Griffin

10 Things I Felt About This Book | Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

10 Things I Felt About This Book is a mini-review feature to give you a quick run-down of a book without those long, lengthy paragraphs. It’s designed to give you a concise impression without bogging you down and a way to keep reviews creative!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley PearsonTitle: Peter and the Starcatchers (Peter and the Starcatchers #1) by Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson
Publishing Info: August 30, 2004 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Children's & Middle Grade, Fantasy, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 15, 2015

    Don't even think of starting this book unless you're sitting in a comfortable chair and have lots of time. A fast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk in its cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger.
Discover richly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary but familiar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles with pirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses the reader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries of the beloved Peter Pan.

10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THIS BOOK

  • CURIOUS. A Peter Pan adaptation? I’m in! Peter Pan actually isn’t one of my favorite fairy tales or Disney movies, but I really enjoy seeing how people have adapted it. PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS was a sort of prequel.
  • IMPATIENT. The beginning of the book was fairly slow for me. It was good enough but I felt like not a lot happened for a long time.
  • AMUSED. There are some really fun scenes with the pirates out on the water! I really liked seeing Smee and Black Stache’s interactions!
  • ANXIOUS. I wasn’t sure how “faithful” of an adaptation this book was so I kept trying to align the current story with what I knew of Peter Pan. It was both fruitful and pointless all at the same time. Not everything was a parallel but some of those things that didn’t line up turned out to be a good thing!
  • OLD. Not that the story was old but I felt old at times reading it. It’s really hit or miss with middle grade because sometimes I just fall right into the story and other times I feel like things are a bit too silly or unbelievable for me.
  • SENTIMENTAL. I do have fond memories of movies like Hook and the musical version of Peter Pan that carried me through my childhood. Maybe that’s why I enjoy adaptations so much! I wasn’t a huge fan of the Disney version but I keep seeking out other adaptations because they were some big parts of my childhood!
  • CONFUSED. I tried to line things up again! We see characters who are obviously a part of the Peter Pan we know (Peter Pan, Smee) but there are also characters who I don’t (or didn’t) understand (Molly, Black Stache). How does it all come together? Will I find out in future books? Or are they not supposed to be characters from the original Peter Pan? (Some do get explained a bit more towards the end.)
  • IMPRESSED. I really loved how the ending all came together! I actually think I wouldn’t have been as satisfied if the beginning and middle had both been direct retellings of Peter Pan. And again, I’m taking from the movie versions (I know, I know. I haven’t read the book so I can’t really tell you what else might have been there. I’m going off the pop culture knowledge here.) so most of the first half was all brand new to me. I really loved how all of the little things worked themselves out and everything was explained. It was really quite clever!
  • SATISFIED. Again, the ending was really, really great. It just left me feeling so happy and content.
  • INTERESTED. I THINK I want to read the second book in this series. I really didn’t love the first half and I think it would have been a bit hard if I hadn’t been listening on audio, but the way that it ended was really so perfect that I think I want to see where the next part of the story goes!

Have you read PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS? Or another Peter Pan adaptation? Which is your favorite?

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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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BOOKS LIKE PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

RED PYRAMID     HARRY POTTER

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids – Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids – Sarah OcklerTitle: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Publishing Info: June 2, 2015 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Contemporary, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 2, 2015
Related Posts: The Selective Collective features The Book of Broken Hearts, The Book of Broken Hearts, #scandal

    The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.
Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.
Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.
When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .
  

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I’ve had a two very different experiences with the two Sarah Ockler books I’ve read so far (THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS being a five-star read for me and #SCANDAL being a two-star) so I really wasn’t sure what to expect from THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS but I had of course hoped to call in the higher star-range but I really didn’t let the hype — my own hopes that it would be on the level of TBOBH and the hype that it was an adaptation of The Little Mermaid — get to me too much.

Firstly, let’s talk about The Little Mermaid aspect — THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS is very much an adaption and not a retelling. This is everything I love in adaptations too! There were pieces of the characters, plot, and setting that I was able to identify as parallels in both stories but CHASING MERMAIDS was very much its own story and had its own tale to tell. It made me smile to see a character named Sebastian but who is also nothing like the crab in personality or the concept of the main character having lost her voice but in a very different way. I loved how Sarah Ockler took those ideas in order to sort of bring the feel of The Little Mermaid in but really create an entirely unique story.

Okay, now into the feelings. I don’t know why but for some reason I expected a little more fluff from this book. Maybe that was The Little Mermaid hype in my head, expecting a Disney-ish feel but Sarah Ockler is definitely not one to shy away from the serious and the real and the raw emotion. (Actually, in an idea world, #SCANDAL would have had more serious and CHASING MERMAIDS would have had more fluff but that really stems from my expectations of the two going in.)  I wouldn’t say that this expectation ruined the book for me but it did hinder my enjoyment in just a tiny way. In another way, though, I appreciated the severity and emotion that Sarah Ockler brought to these characters and this world.

Despite that all, I just didn’t find myself making a big connection to the book. I loved the sleepy Oregon beach town on the fringes of being turned into a commercial tourist trap (and it sort of had a Goonies feel as the kids tried to prevent that from happening) and I really enjoyed Christian and everything that his family drama entailed… But for some reason I had a really hard time connecting with Elyse which is a serious problem since the book is entirely from her point of view. I really don’t know why that was but I just couldn’t seem to get on the same page with her and make that emotional connection. She always felt distant to me. It wasn’t that she was an unlikable character but trying to describe why I didn’t connect is kind of ineffable. It just was.

There were a lot of good things about THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS but the few negatives for me sort of took precedence in my mind. Once I was about 75% of the way through, I sort of felt myself just wanting to be done with the book and that’s not a good sign. I wasn’t excited for the ending and I wasn’t disliking the book but I was just read to be done. It was enjoyable and a really fun adaptation but didn’t leave a huge impression on me.

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!

summer of chasing mermaids gr updates

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Elyse // Character Obsessions: Music, her voice, finding what feels like home.
I really can’t pin my finger on why I didn’t connect with Elyse but I just didn’t. There was nothing “wrong” with her character but this was one of those times where I felt like I just didn’t quite connect. I actually really liked so many things about her but I can’t find the words to say why we didn’t become friends in this book. I actually think it may be the fact that she lost her voice — not her ability to speak, but she lost her voice when her voice was taken from her. She still stood up for herself and made herself known but of course she’s very different from the way she once was and that part of her I only got to see in flashbacks. She struggles to maintain her voice without being able to speak and I feel like keeping those feelings tucked inside prevented me from liking her a little bit.
Christian // Character Obsessions: His brother, saving the town, sailing, girls.
Christian I did like. His feelings felt so genuine — maybe because he was more forth-coming with them? I really loved his relationship with his little brother too. It was so endearing. He’s not perfect but he’s trying to figure out what he really wants out of life. His family life isn’t easy so it’s just so satisfying when he finally stands up to his father!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adaptations. I really, really love adaptations (vs retellings). I really like seeing those little pieces of a story within an original story. This wasn’t retelling the entire tale of The Little Mermaid but it was so much fun to see inspiration and pieces of it in there!
Left Me Wanting More: Fluff. Stupid, I know, but I wanted it to be a bit fluffier. I think that’s just my expectations versus what was actually written on the pages.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I wasn’t crazy about it but it was a really nice story and I was definitely interested! It got a bit slow for me towards the end, but I did still enjoy the book.

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BOOKS LIKE THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY     GOLDEN

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) – Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) – Renee AhdiehTitle: The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh
Publishing Info: May 12, 2015 by Penguin
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 11, 2015
Related Posts: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1)

    Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.  

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THE WRATH AND THE DAWN was our selection for April to read together for our On the Same Page monthly read along. I have to admit… I was a bit intimidated by this book before I even began. I heard SO many amazing reviews and reactions for this book that I was already afraid the hype would get to me before I even started. And then I started the book. I’m not going to lie to you guys — the beginning was rough for me. As in, I probably would have DNFed it if I wasn’t reading with my best friends. Thankfully the great thing about being a part of this book blogging and reading community is that along with my BFFs, I had great support to encourage me to keep reading. See, when I had heard all of this hype, I hadn’t heard anyone who had struggled with the beginning so I was wondering if it was just me. Thankfully, we all read on and with reassurances from Alyssa and Amy (who were ahead of me) and pretty much everyone who saw my reading updates on Goodreads, I continued reading and they were all right. It got MUCH better.

I kind of had a hard time shaking off that rough start. I felt a bit dropped in the middle of an unfamiliar setting with a head-strong female lead. Head-strong and willful isn’t a bad thing but characters like Shazi do take some time for me to get to know sometimes. Once I know them, I’m usually all about the determination and ferocity, but I usually need to explore the setting and the plot (you know, make sure I should be on board with their cause) before I start to love them so that was something that took me a while to appreciate. Once I did get to know Shazi though (make that all of the characters), I really did love them and I’m so glad I got to know their stories.

I had a lot of fun once I really started to get into the thick of things. The world-building was quite fascinating, full of rich descriptions, interesting magical elements, and just had a great overall feel. All of the characters really started to shine and I really loved every single one of them — well aside from the baddies, of course — but even the antagonists were incredibly interesting. It took a little time for things to develop but I like how natural it felt to let these things unfold, especially in the case of the romantic elements. Renee Ahdieh’s writing was quite beautiful and it was just lovely to let myself really feel out this world and sort of develop around me.

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN concludes with punch after punch and it turned out to be just as thrilling as everyone had promised! Lives on the line, relationships in jeopardy, kingdoms at stake, and really everything reaching its pinnacle all at the right moments. It definitely had me wanting more which is both good and bad since I really enjoyed the conclusion but now I have to wait for book two (which is a ways out considering I read this book even before its publication date). All-in-all, I really enjoyed THE WRATH AND THE DAWN and how Renee Ahdieh adapted 1001 Nights into the storyline. It was a great original story with a hint of that something familiar (even reminded me of Aladdin in a specific marketplace scene!) and although I had a bit of a tough time in the beginning, I do think it’s quite worth the read and recommendation!

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!

the wrath and the dawn gr updates

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Shazi // Character Obsessions: Revenge, freedom, love, justice.
I had a bit of a hard time with Shazi at first. Not because I disliked her but sometimes it’s hard for me to jump right in with characters and she happened to be one of them. Since she’s our main character, I figured her reasons and actions were justified but it took a while for me to warm up to her before I really started appreciating her. I think it’s hard for me to meet a character at a point in their life where they’re just angry, even if their reasons are justified so yes, I did end up loving Shazi but it took me just a little bit!
Khalid // Character Obsessions: Honor, ruling, protection, survival.
Khalid is my favorite character of this book… and it so did not start that way. I really ended up loving his character, appreciating his conflicts and struggles, and really sympathizing with him. I just loved getting to know him and finally understanding all of his interactions with Shazi. I can’t wait to read more about him!!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Middle Eastern influences. I actually don’t think I’ve ever read anything taking place in this region/with these influences! (Have I? Nothing comes to mind right away.) I really enjoyed it! I hadn’t written it off or anything but the region and culture are just so unfamiliar to me that it’s not something I normally gravitate towards. I’m really glad that I enjoyed it so much and Renee Ahdieh really did a fantastic job with all of the world building and lush descriptions of scenery, food, characters — everything. I was totally entranced.
Left Me Wanting More: Interest in the beginning. It wasn’t just that it was a slow start for me. There was something that was actively turning me off when I started the book. I mean, I’m definitely glad that I kept reading and once I understood the plot and why the book started where it did, I was totally okay with it but for some reason it was really hard for me to read with the book starting at that point in the characters’ stories.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This book was really good! I’m definitely anxious for book two. If you struggle with the beginning, I really hope you have a situation like I did where it really picks up shortly after that. I ended up really liking the book a lot!

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BOOKS LIKE THE WRATH AND THE DAWN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE WINNER'S CURSE     THE KISS OF DECEPTION


OtSPcirclebanner250I read THE WRATH AND THE DAWN for the On the Same Page monthly read along with my two friends Alyssa & Amy! They have great posts ready for you today to so be sure to check out both of these, especially if you’re excited for the book!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places): The Wrath and the Dawn Quotes
Amy (Tripping Over Books): The Wrath and the Dawn inspired Pinterest board

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles # 3.5) – Marissa Meyer

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles # 3.5) – Marissa MeyerTitle: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: January 27, 2015 by Macmillan
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Retelling, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 29, 2015
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), Heartless, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1), Renegades (Renegades #1)

    In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.
Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series
.

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Ahhh, FAIREST. Just what I needed tie me over until WINTER hits the shelves in November this year! I don’t always read ALL of the novellas that are published, but of course I was going to read a Lunar Chronicles novella and was especially excited to find out more about Queen Levana! She’s pretty terrifying in the books so I was especially anxious to see her history and how she ended up the way she is now.

The first thing I can say about FAIREST? Yeah. Levana is certainly crazy… BUT she didn’t have it easy either. I’m not saying that excuses the way she acts, but she’s had some majorly catastrophic and scarring events (oops, no pun intended but there you have it) happen to her and it seriously messed her up. Things also went down at a young age too so these traumatic events really affected Levana long before she was even close to being in a position of power, or even wanting that position. I definitely still fear her but it also made me pity her. Sometimes these kind of novellas sort of justify who someone is in the present story line and while I don’t think Levana is justified in her actions, I do think I understand her a lot more!

Another thing I really loved was seeing all of the other characters in Levana’s story and exactly how she’s tied to them all. It was really interested to see some of the title characters pop up, along with their friends and family and I got little chills and thrills seeing their names there! I think the most interesting for me was actually Channary. I may need to re-read everything again ASAP (kidding, that’s already in the works so I KNOW I will) but for some reason I don’t remember mention of how horrible she was! She was a terrible older sister to Levana and I really wonder how Levana would have ended up if it weren’t for Channary. I’m going to have to hunt down mentions of her in my re-reads!

FAIREST is very much Levana’s story so it’s not a major point in the series as far as plot goes, but I do still think it’s an important story for fans of the series to read. We learn a lot about the Lunar Queen and there’s also a LOT of Winter’s history in here which I was very excited to see since I don’t really know that much about her yet. There were still a few surprises though and it just goes to show you that there’s always more to learn about everyone!

I had such a blast reading FAIREST and that both filled the void and made me even more hungry for more of this series! I loved falling back into this world for a short time to keep my heart whole before WINTER probably chews it up and spits it out in November. In a good way! I CAN’T WAIT!

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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Levana // Character Obsessions: Appearances, acceptance, love, glamor.
I just loved learning more about Levana. It’s very, very interesting to see where she came from. I love that you can see the very — well, maybe not VALID but certainly obvious — reasons why she is the way she is in the current timeline of this series. Her life has truly been nothing but a constant series of ups and downs and she’s always had to prove herself, even to her family. The whole romance was really interesting and I was actually kind of surprised at how much love meant to her. I guess it makes sense!
Channary // Character Obsessions: Fame, fortune, frivolity, fun.
Did I TOTALLY not remember what Channary was like or was that not explained as much throughout the course of the series? We all think Levana is terrible but Channary surely didn’t make things easy for her. I can’t believe everything that went down between these two sisters! She was no peach herself. (And clearly I needed to re-read everything ASAP.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Backstories. YAYYYY a full-length novella giving us backstory! GAH. I love it. Hmmm I guess for those who don’t read novellas, I don’t know if it’s “necessary” for the series but it has a lot of really, really handy information and background for Levana, Winter, and even Cinder.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot development. Okay, I know that wasn’t the point of FAIREST, but can you blame me? AMAZING things happen in Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress so I am just spoiled! But I guess you can’t push a plot forward when the book doesn’t even take place in the same time, huh? ;D

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a fan of the series, it’s a must, in my opinion! I think the knowledge we gain is fantastic and I just loved slipping back into this world before re-reading all the books (before Winter)!

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BOOKS LIKE FAIREST

(Click the cover to see my review!)

SHADOW AND BONE               THRONE OF GLASS

A Wicked Thing (A Wicked Thing #1) – Rhiannon Thomas

A Wicked Thing (A Wicked Thing #1) – Rhiannon ThomasTitle: A Wicked Thing (A Wicked Thing #1) by Rhiannon Thomas
Publishing Info: February 24, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 7, 2015

    One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.
Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.
As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

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I am ALL about fairy tale retellings so when I heard about A WICKED THING — which is a retelling of Sleepy Beauty — I was ALL for it! Thanks to HarperTeen, I received a copy in the mail and immediately made plans to start ASAP! It started off really well and I was immediately intrigued. I really enjoy the fact that the plot started with Aurora’s awakening after 100 years — not just a short while — and she wakes up to a world that’s totally unfamiliar to her, all of her family and friends long gone.

But… that’s about where the good things stopped for me. I’m gonna be honest. This book did not sit well with me. It wasn’t particularly bad, but after the first few chapters, NOTHING was grabbing or holding my attention. I loved the potential for Aurora but I felt like she never really made it past the idea of a strong heroine. She was constantly overwhelmed with how alone she was in this new world, which yes, that’s totally understandable — I would be too — but it didn’t feel like any smooth transition from scared and alone to take-charge and bold. She flip-flopped back and forth between the two and once she finally turned into this take-charge girl, I just didn’t really believe it. It really just felt like too little too late and everything sort of felt very basic and undeveloped for me.

And that actually goes for the other characters too. Everyone felt very one-dimensional. The queen was supposed to be a baddie, but she just felt very static. Everything she did was horrible and rude and mean and she really didn’t have any redeeming qualities. Not all villains or antagonists have to (*cough*Dolores Umbridge*cough*) but I think I would have liked her character so much more if she had shown a little bit of humanity every now and then or tried harder to be trustworthy. Her blatant selfishness and the fact that Aurora gave in so easily frustrated me quite a bit.

The men in the book were no better. The king didn’t have much development either — which I was okay with, really. He was a big part of the overall plot but that doesn’t mean he has to be a main character — but it was all of the possible love interests that I really couldn’t get on board with that frustrated me most of all. There are three — THREE — gentlemen who are more or less vying for Aurora’s affections. One is the prince who woke her, one is a mysterious boy from town, and one is another prince who is “not to be trusted” (who I actually liked the best because he was deliciously snarky and clever)… and Aurora is kind of involved with all of them. Not all of those relationships are romantic but she’s sort of pulled in all directions and it was just too much for me. I never got to spend time with the ACTUAL love interest (Tristan) — the boy the reader is supposed to like — because there were just so many things going on. I felt no pull to him. I also wanted to feel more sympathetic to Rodric (that’s the prince who woke her) because it was clear that they didn’t really belong together, but they were trying to make things work because he was the one who broke the enchantment and by right should marry Aurora. Finnegan (the scoundrel prince) was my favorite but unfortunately he was the least important. it sounds like he’ll play a bigger part in the next book but I won’t be picking it up.

The story was lackluster. It took a very long time for things to happen and when they did, it didn’t feel like much. BIG events sort of came out of nowhere instead of a constant ebb and flow of character-driven portions to action to world building. I didn’t really feel much of anything was developed. What exactly was “a wicked thing”? (Yes, it was mentioned but it didn’t feel too wicked.) I felt like I didn’t get to know the characters. I felt like the world was essentially any old fairy tale. I felt like the plot didn’t really grow or move or do much of anything. And the ending didn’t even feel like a cliffhanger or a temporary resolution (since it’s a series) — it just kind of ENDED.

Sadly, after all of my original excitement, A WICKED THING was just not the book for me. I really appreciate HarperTeen sending me a copy of this book to review and I wish I could have fallen in love with it but it was quite the struggle to finish because it really just kept dragging for me. It sounds like things may pick up in the second book, but I won’t be picking it up to find out what goes down.

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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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Aurora // Character Obsessions: Freedom, family, magic, romance, adventure.. You may have noticed that in my updates above, I noted that it was making me crave an Aladdin retelling even though I was reading about Sleeping Beauty. Well, when Aurora goes on her little escapades, it just REALLY had an Aladdin feel to me and how Aladdin and Jasmine met, which also kind of made her feel like a poor man’s Jasmine, I think. I wanted her to be so much more feisty and read to take charge and she just didn’t feel like a strong character at all.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Sleeping Beauty. It’s actually not one of my favorite fairy tales (or Disney movies) but it’s been getting a lot of attention with Maleficent coming out last year and I’ve been a bit more interested in it as of late. I wish this book had done more for me regarding a retelling but I’m hoping more retellings come out at some point in time!
Left Me Wanting More: Development. Everything really felt so underdeveloped in this book. The characters, the plot, the action, the setting, the magic system… I just felt so underwhelmed by everything and it made it really hard for me to get into this book. Even if one thing had felt a bit deeper, I think I would have enjoyed it that much more and maybe even overlooked or not noticed the other things.

Addiction Rating
Skip it.

I was SO SURE I would love this one but it really just didn’t do anything for me. The characters fell flat, the pacing seemed off, and I wished there had been so much more to the plot. Sadly, I can’t recommend this one.

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BOOKS LIKE A WICKED THING

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        TIGER LILY       CINDER

On the Same Page: Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede

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     ON THE SAME PAGE: SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED by Patricia C. Wrede
A very visual fairy tale

For December, On the Same Page read Alyssa’s favorite, Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede. I had a lot of fun reading this one which I actually didn’t expect when I first started (was hesitant about the fairy tale (sometimes they just don’t work for me) and the Elizabethan language) but I actually easily slipped into the book. Patricia C. Wrede’s adaptation of this fairy tale was so much fun. The characters were absolutely fantastic and one of my favorite parts but the other was her imagery. I really felt like I could picture the story as I was reading it and it was very visually striking! So today for our On the Same Page post, I’m sharing a few of my favorite images with you that I would include on my SNOW WHITE, ROSE RED Pinterest board! !


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I just love this gorgeous artwork of Snow White, Rose Red, and the bear! These pictures are absolutely stunning and I LOVE the first picture because that’s almost exactly how I pictured their cottage too!


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I just LOVED the feel of the cottage. I mean, it wasn’t like that was even a focus but I could just really picture it in my head! Smash all three of these pictures together and that’s about what I could see in my mind!


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I also loved picturing the woods and the transition into Fairie! I’m not exactly sure what Fairie would look like but I’m guessing a bit more ethereal, maybe more stunning, maybe more distracting, maybe all of the above! These were some gorgeous forest pictures that made me feel like I was about to cross the border into Faerie!


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So I was just searching images and Pinterest trying to find something that would relate to Edward Kelly and John Dee and… they are ACTUAL people!

I didn’t know that! (Am I bad history student or is this not common knowledge? I thought it was neat!) John Dee was an actual advisor to Queen Elizabeth I in the late 1500s/early 1600s. He was a mathematician, astrologer, and philosopher. He took Edward Kelly under his wing in 1582 and the two began to delve into “supernatural pursuits”. They came up with the Enochian language which was said to have been given to them by the angels.


Hope you had fun checking out Snow White and Rose Red today! Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts about Snow White and Rose Red today too!
Alyssa (Books Take You Places)
Amy (Tripping Over Books)

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern #1) – Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern #1) – Shannon HaleTitle: The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern #1) by Shannon Hale
Publishing Info: November 3, 2003 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 26, 2014

    Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her.
Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.

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For On the Same Page’s September post, we read THE GOOSE GIRL which is one of Amy’s favorite books. She had read it and loved it but Alyssa and I have never read it so we chose it as one of Amy’s picks! We all have fairly similar reading tastes with minor variations here and there so even though THE GOOSE GIRL wasn’t really on my radar before this, I was hoping I would love it just as much as Amy did!

Fairy tale adaptations can be a tricky thing for me. I love SO many retellings and some of them are actually some of my favorite books/series — but I think in order for me to really fall in love with a fairy tale, I’m usually hooked into that modern twist as well. Looking back on the book, I think I figured out and actually ended up using that for this month’s post as a sort of discussion! Unfortunately, it was just a combination of very, very little things that I’ve discovered make a big difference for me as a reader and I was SO upset that this combination of elements just didn’t work for me.

I feel like SUCH a black sheep. I think just about everyone I’m friends with on Goodreads who has read this book has given it four or five stars and I really, really tried but I just wasn’t getting along with THE GOOSE GIRL. It was really general tone of the book combined with setting/time period and for some reason that combination really just doesn’t seem to work for me in anything I read. (I had a similar experience with Cruel Beauty which I didn’t realize was sort of the same deal going on until just now. (And Alyssa and Amy also loved it while I did not so maybe I should have seen this coming?) It’s not a bad book. It’s not bad writing. This was really, truly “It’s not you — it’s me.” The whole talking-to-animals thing just generally doesn’t work for me either so that was just one more thing that was thrown into the mix (and a big part of the story)!

I actually did a full discussion on why the book didn’t work for me so I won’t really rehash it here (even though this is my review) so really think of this as more of a collection of thoughts than a review (and see the previous post for details)! I’m so sad I couldn’t get into this but the good thing is that Amy knows and she’s not disowning me or phasing me out of the friend group. (She promised.)

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“The View from Goodreads” is a new 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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Ani // Character Obsessions: Speaking with animals, avoiding bad guys, politics.
SO many reviews say how strong of character Ani is but I just really had trouble connecting with her. For reasons unknown, she just felt very YOUNG to me and I just didn’t feel that depth in her character. She may have been strong but I just didn’t feel that depth. I really wanted to like her but I just had troublesssss.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Lesser-known fairy tales. I actually have no idea if this is really “lesser-known” or not but it is for me because I hadn’t really known much about it before this book! It’s interesting.
Left Me Wanting More: Everything. I just was not handling this book well. I finished, but it was really hard because I just couldn’t connect to really anything. It all seemed like something I SHOULD like but in the end, it didn’t work out.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

The ratings for this book are generally high. Like, really high. I’m a black sheep on this one, but I guess check out my opinions and those of others to see where you may fall!

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

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The Fall – Bethany Griffin

The Fall – Bethany GriffinTitle: The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Publishing Info: October 7, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 28, 2014
Related Posts: The Fall

    Madeline Usher is doomed.
    She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.
    Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.
    In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

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I’ve actually read very few original Edgar Allan Poe stories but when I was looking for a good, creepy Halloween read, I immediately turned to THE FALL, a retelling of Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, for a good book with just the right amount of scary for me. See, I’m a total chicken when it comes to the scary. I like creepy, but I don’t like my books (or movies or TV shows) to be too scary. Fortunately, Bethany Griffin’s THE FALL was just the perfect mix for me!

I actually can’t really compare too much to the original Poe tale since I haven’t read it, but upon finishing, I definitely wanted to! The book revolves around Madeline Usher and her family. The chapters are quite short and each one details a different point in Madeline’s life from her childhood all the way through teenage years, meeting up with the “present-day” story line in the novel. Sometimes it’s hard to jump around from age to age, but I think just focusing on Madeline and not having a second point of view in the mix really helped and I also found it really interesting to slowly get the pieces of how the family curse worked, how it affected Madeline and her family, and getting that information in a strategic way. I’m always impressed when authors are able to manipulate a timeline like that to remove things from chronological order in order to maintain a mystery.
At times, the short chapters seemed like both a blessing and a curse. I really like short chapters because especially during times when I don’t have a ton of time to read, the short chapters really help me feel like I’m making progress with a book. At the same time, having so many chapters did make me feel like I was progressing really quickly and then it came as a surprise how much of the book I really had left. I’m not saying I would have done it differently but it was definitely something that I was aware of while reading.

I think the reason THE FALL worked so well for me as a good, creepy book was how much the actual house itself was involved in the story. I am not a ghost person. I don’t handle ghost stories well because they’re just too real and I always get a little too creeped out. There were ghosts in THE FALL, but really the culprit behind all of the actions — and actually part of the reason why the ghosts are even present — is the house itself. There’s more to the curse and the explanation as to why, but that’s more for the reader to experience! Anyway… I just really enjoyed how the house was its own character. It had its own reasoning, a sense of feeling, and it interacted with the other characters. I loved its daunting presence and exactly how big of a role it played in the book.

The other characters were fascinating as well. Madeline was a very interesting character, being the main point of view as well as the “favorite of the house” so she had the most insight to the curse and everything that went on in the book. The interactions of the other characters and the house was really interesting as well. I was totally sucked in, analyzing exactly how the curse affected each person in turn and how the house chose to manipulate each of them.

Pretty much everything about this book worked for me! It was such a perfectly dark and spooky book with a fantastic gothic-horror feel and such a great horror read for a person like me who doesn’t like being scared pantless. I was still able to totally enjoy it without getting so scared that I wanted to stop reading and yet it never felt like anything was really missing either. It was really just a great balance for me and one I’d recommend for a creepy read!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a new 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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Madeline // Character Obsessions: The House of Usher, mysteries, family, her brother.
I really liked Madeline’s character! I remember feeling a few twinges of “hmmm” while reading, but I admired her determination to fight and figure out exactly what was going on with her family’s curse and trying to survive it. The family traditionally died young, had weird illnesses, and often fell victim to the curse in many ways so it was really interesting to see Madeline go through the same things and at the same time, try to fight it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Horror. I am not a horror person but I really enjoyed this book! A big thank you to Bethany Griffin for just the perfect amount of scary for a scaredy cat like me!
Left Me Wanting More: From secondary characters. There were plenty of secondary characters in this book but I guess the only thing I could say is that I wish I had felt a bit more connected to them. I actually think the house is the most important character after Madeline so the other characters felt a little pushed to the side (and actually, saying it like that seems totally reasonable considering how the book went! The house really did push them to the side…) but I did want to feel just a bit more connected to some of them.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed this one and I hope others do too! If you’ve read the original story from Poe, I’d love to hear what you think of it as a retelling! I think I’ll have to go read the original now so I can compare and be even more delightfully creeped out!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE FALL

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        this dark endeavor       her dark curiosity

On the Same Page: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

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ON THE SAME PAGE: THE GOOSE GIRL by SHANNON HALE
On pin-pointing why some books click and others don’t

It wasn’t until I started writing my review for THE GOOSE GIRL — originally intending to use that as my post for On the Same Page this month — that I finally came up with a good topic to really dig deeper into my experience with the book. THE GOOSE GIRL is one of Amy’s favorite books and with Alyssa and I never having read it, we chose it as one of our group reads. Honestly, before we chose to include THE GOOSE GIRL as one of our On the Same Page books, it wasn’t even on my radar. I actually thought it was a middle grade book (it has a sort of middle grade feel at times, I think, but the age range of characters is more young adult) and there was just something about it that I couldn’t quite pinpoint that just didn’t jump out at me, begging to be added to my TBR.

When I started the book, I started feeling that dread creeping in. The feel of the book was pretty much what I had anticipated (or did it come off that way BECAUSE that’s what I was anticipating? Self-fulfilling prophecy? Hard to say) and I was so upset that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get into the book. It was one of Amy’s favorites!!! I was seriously in fear that she would disown me if I didn’t like it and I didn’t even give it a rating on Goodreads when I finished because I didn’t want her to see and know my true feelings. I really worked hard to get into it, but I just wasn’t connecting and the overall feel just wasn’t clicking with me. (Alyssa started the book after I had finished and told me, “Oh, yeah, I can see why you didn’t’ like this.” She just knows my tastes haha.)

It dawned on me once I started to try and write my review for the book… Why didn’t I enjoy THE GOOSE GIRL? I enjoy many, many, many other fairy tale adaptations/retellings. Hell, The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series of all time! So what’s the deal? I took a quick look at what I loved about The Lunar Chronicles and saw that aside from characters and plot and all of those easy-to-analyze things about a book, the series just has a completely different feel and the feel that makes the big difference for me is the setting. I would say the majority of the fairy tale retellings and adaptations I’ve read are either set in the present day or have a futuristic feel while books like THE GOOSE GIRL tell the story in a more traditional setting. Its original story is by the Brothers Grimm and it was originally published in 1815 and the book definitely takes after that sort of feel — I’m no fairy tale expert so forgive me for sound uneducated on this little section, but I feel like so many of the traditional and original fairy tales are difficult for me to connect with because that’s just not a time period I connect with. I’m guessing that if these fairy tales — when first penned — weren’t written as if they were in the present day, then they referred to times even before that time period, pushing the setting of the fairy tale even further back into history. From the historical fiction I’ve read, I’ve found that I’m extremely picky about what time periods work and what don’t for me and I think the general feel of the time period in THE GOOSE GIRL was one that just wasn’t clicking for me.

Seems unfair, right? It totally is. I don’t know why only certain historical settings/feelings work for me and some don’t. I loved the His Fair Assassin trilogy even though it was set in the 1400s — a time period I would never have expected to enjoy — and I really enjoy several high fantasy settings like in A Game of Thrones, Graceling, and Throne of Glass.  Then on the other hand, I didn’t really enjoy the feel of Cruel Beauty and that was a retelling as well. So what’s the difference between these? The only possible explanation I can come up with is the tone. Yes, all of these are fairly serious books with heavy subjects, meanwhile with dashes levity to keep the book from getting too dark… But I feel like there’s an overall feeling that I got from THE GOOSE GIRL and CRUEL BEAUTY that I didn’t get from the others that somehow had me feeling like something was missing.

Every way I try to describe what didn’t work for me, it just comes back to that feeling. For THE GOOSE GIRL, I was hoping to connect to the book in spite of the feel that I was anticipating but I was either searching for it and found it, or just failed to connect to the characters and plot despite it. I can’t help but wonder if it was the exact same story but told a bit more modern or set in a different time period or added a few more light moments, could that have changed the whole book for me?

I feel like the more we read, the more we realize what we won’t connect with and tend to avoid it, whether the specific reasoning as to why that feeling is there is apparent or not. It’s been two and a half years (at this point) since I’ve started my blog and I’ve tried many different age ranges, genres, topics, and characters and even still I’m never sure if a book will work for me or not but I think that more often than not, as readers we start to learn to trust our gut! I’m still glad I read THE GOOSE GIRL even if I didn’t enjoy it as much as Amy and Alyssa because it was a reading experience that helped me understand a little bit more about myself as a reader. I wish I had connected more (and Amy said she won’t disown me) but it was definitely an interesting experience to analyze after finishing!

Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts about The Goose Girl today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places)
Amy (Tripping Over Books)