Book Review: Stepsister – Jennifer Donnelly

Book Review: Stepsister – Jennifer Donnelly

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Release Date:
May 14th 2019
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-11T210836.240The story of Cinderella and the story of the ugly stepsisters has been told in a million different ways, so to find one that takes the story in a completely different direction was something I immediately wanted to read. Stepsister follows Isabelle, one of the ugly stepsisters to the newly crowned Ella, Queen of France. Reviled for the way she treated her stepsister, Isabelle and her sister Octavia are left with little options – they have tried to be sweet, pretty girls and find husbands but they never live up to their perfect stepsister. With war brewing and no way to protect themselves, Isabelle and Octavia must stand up and fight, proving that girls are a lot more than pretty possessions.

I am completely torn about how to rate this book. It took me quite a while to get into the story, I particularly found the early chapters quite slow, however once I got further into the story I really started to fall in love with these Isabelle and her sisters. They’re brave, intelligent, brilliant girls and I was rooting for them the entire time. The message of this story is so powerful and so important – that you don’t have to be what everyone expects you to be, that you should follow that dream no matter if others think you won’t succeed.

The story provided a really interesting take on this tale, and I loved the vivid world of France at war. I also liked the additional stories of Fate and Chance, two beings waging a bet over Isabelle’s life. It added a fascinating perspective to the tale and one I really enjoyed. One of the things that did put me off this book is the incredibly short chapters. Most were only a few pages long and for me it was a little off putting, it felt like as soon as I got back into the swing of the story I was at the end of the chapter again. The crazy amount of chapters (over 130) also put me off a little.

This is an emotional and inspiring story and if you’re a fan of retellings this is absolutely a must read. Stepsister is an exciting, feminist take on the ugly stepsister trope and I hope this trend of feminist retellings continues because I am fast becoming obsessed with them. If you love all things fairytales, you’re definitely going to love this one.
3 stars

Book Review: Sea Witch – Sarah Henning

Book Review: Sea Witch – Sarah Henning

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Series:
Sea Witch #1
Release Date: July 21st 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was given this book for Christmas.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Everyone knows what happens in the end. A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss. But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends. One feared, one royal, and one already dead.

Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch.

A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.

Review

36502054 (1)Sea Witch is the first in a new fantasy series which reimagines the story of The Little Mermaid – but from the perspective of the sea witch. This first instalment is a dark and exciting story, and one that will definitely leave you hungry for more.

Sea Witch follows Evie, the daughter of a Fisherman and her best friend Prince Nik. The two are still reeling from the drowning of their friend Anna several years previously, so when Evie discovers a young woman who looks exactly like Anna, she immediately agrees to help her – but who is this mysterious girl and why does she look so much like the friend that drowned all those years ago?

This story was completely different to what I was expecting. It’s a clever tale that brings a really fresh perspective to a story that has been reimagined so many times before. It’s got plenty of twists and turns and the story is well paced – really allowing you to get to know the characters and the world.

I really enjoyed the setting in this story, the seaside Kingdom, beautiful scenery and twisting waves were all really brought to life in the story. I liked the characters too – they were well fleshed out and I thought Evie made an excellent protagonist. There were some plot points that I felt were a little predictable but I still enjoyed the overall execution of the story. The story jumps in time with each chapter containing a scene relating to the past and the friendship between Anna, Evie and Nik. I really liked this as it gave the reader the opportunity to get to know the characters and see how Evie and Nik cope with the loss of their friend.

The one negative I have about this book is the romance aspect. There are several romances taking place throughout the course of the story and I did feel that there wasn’t all that much to them. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone so I won’t name characters but the romances felt a bit forced, meaning I had less of an interest in the characters getting together. Despite this I still enjoyed the overall conclusion, and thought the ending was particularly well done.

Sea Witch is a really dark and fascinating tale, and if you’re a fan of retellings, you’re definitely going to want to try this one. There’s a second book coming in August, so you won’t have too long to wait to find out what’s in store next.
4 stars

Book Review: To Kill A Kingdom – Alexandra Christo

Book Review: To Kill A Kingdom – Alexandra Christo

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Release Date:
March 6th 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 358
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received a copy of this book through ReadersFirst

Synopsis

I have a heart for every year I’ve been alive.

There are seventeen hidden in the sand of my bedroom. Every so often, I claw through the shingle just to check they’re still there. Buried deep and bloody.

Princess Lira is siren royalty and revered across the sea until she is cursed into humanity by the ruthless Sea Queen. Now Lira must deliver the heart of the infamous siren killer or remain a human forever.

Prince Elian is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world and captain to a deadly crew of siren hunters. When he rescues a drowning woman from the ocean, she promises to help him destroy sirenkind for good. But he has no way of knowing whether he can trust her…

Review

To Kill a Kingdom is a book that really caught my eye and gained a lot of buzz on social media. The story follows two characters: a siren Princess named Lira who is killers princes so she can steal their hearts. The other is a the Heir to the throne of Midas, one of the most powerful kingdoms. Although he is next in line for the throne he much prefers being aboard his pirate ship, attempting to rid the world of sirens forever.

book cover (3)This was a really fun and enjoyable read. The story is told in alternating points of view between the two characters and I really liked seeing things from each characters perspective. To Kill a Kingdom is a dark and sinster retelling of The Little Mermaid, but it is so much more gripping and enticing than the Disney version. The plot draws you in early on and I was eager to know how the story was going to end. I really liked our two main characters though I would have loved the opportunity to get more from the cast of secondary characters. Elian’s sister, Madrid and Khalia. I really enjoyed the banter between the Elian and Lira, and it was interesting watching their relationship develop,

The writing was captivating and the story definitely had a few twists that I wasn’t expecting. The story could have done with more solid world building and I would have loved to learn more about the different kingdoms and to delve more deeply into the magic system. Overall it was a fun swashbuckling adventure and if you’re a fan of retellings, this definitely shouldn’t be missed.
4 stars

Blog Tour: A Blade So Black – L. L. McKinney

Blog Tour: A Blade So Black – L. L. McKinney

Book Review (25)
Synopsis

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

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

Excerpt

 Now check out an exclusive excerpt from this beautiful book!

“Hatta”. Louder this time, but not enough. Leaves and branches slapped at her as she ran blind through the forest. Twigs stung her face and tugged at her hair. She lifted her hands to guard her head as her legs pumped and her heart hammered. A sudden drop into a ditch took her feet out from under her. She cried out when she hit the ground and tumbled down the incline. She dropped off a short overhang and landed in a trench on her side. Agony spiked through her torso. Something hard dug into her hip. Her injured leg felt like little more than wrenched nerves and torn flesh engulfed in hot hurt, but she forced it and her other one under herself. They barely held her weight.
The Nightmare bellowed as it slammed into the ditch behind her. Branches snapped. Rocks tumbled. Alice’s heart jackknifed between her lungs. The monster flailed, trying to regain its feet.

Her lips pursed, locked between her teeth. Blood coated her tongue, copper sweet. Her scream welled up from her gut, scorched her throat, and nearly knocked her teeth loose as it tore free. “Hatta!” His name echoed through gunk and mud, her mind frantic with terror. He couldn’t hear her. She was too far away from the Gateway.

She tried to run, but her now-useless leg gave completely. She fell against a boulder lodged in the dirt, barely pushing away in time to avoid being impaled as talons raked along stone with a shriek. Sparks flew.

Scrambling, she rolled in under the Nightmare’s arm and hurled herself at its body. Inky fur stuck wet to her skin as she drove the knife into its belly. The beast howled but couldn’t get at her, not with its movements restricted by the high, close trench walls.

What looked like tar and smelled like rotting flesh spilled over her hands and forearms as she gritted her teeth, pushing, trying to reach the core with her blade. The Nightmare twisted and turned, finally able to get a swing in. The swipe caught her across the face. Stars exploded against the backs of her eyes. Her teeth rattled. She staggered away, her weapon still lodged in the beast. It slapped at the hilt with massive paws.

Alice’s vision speckled. She dropped to the ground, her ears ringing. Blinking did little to clear the haze over her eyes. Somehow, she saw the knife, saw how it caused the beast pain.

Hauling herself upright, nearly losing her head to another swipe in the process, Alice gripped a root jutting out from a wall of dirt overhead with both hands and flung her good leg out. Her heel caught the dagger’s hilt like a hammer on a nail and drove it into the beast.

It loosed a wail, tearing at its flesh with one arm, the other trapped by the trench. The knife was too deep and couldn’t be pulled out. The monster bucked and thrashed, putrid pus pouring to the mud beneath it.

I’m currently reading A Blade So Black now and it’s a fantastic action packed read. A Blade So Black is available now from Titan Books so you can pick up a copy now!

BSB_blogtour

Waiting on Wednesday #3 – A Curse so Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer

Waiting on Wednesday #3 – A Curse so Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer

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Synopsis

 Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Thoughts

I am so excited for the release of A Curse So Dark and Lonely in 2019. I absolutely adore retellings and I don’t think I’ve read very many Beauty and the Beast retellings. It sounds like it’s going to be a fast-paced and beautiful read. I’ve read a few books by Brigid Kemmerer – Letters To the Lost and More Than We Can Tell. I loved them both so I’m really excited to see what she does with this dark fairy tale. I also think the cover is absolutely stunning and I’m so desperate to read it. A Curse So Dark and Lonely is coming January 29th 2019 from Bloomsbury Children’s.