Tag «Beauty and the Beast»

Fresh Fridays: Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1) by Rachel L Demeter

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Fairy Tale Retellings Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Beauty of the Beast (from Goodreads):

Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

Disclaimer: This is an edgy, historical romance retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

breakdown

Series: Fairy Tale Retellings
Author: Rachel L Demeter
# of Books: 1+ (Beauty of the Beast, Book 2)
Book Order: Standalone
Complete?: No, Book 2 is in the works
Genre: Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance, Historical
Heat Rating: Hot **mature subject matter**
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 15, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found out about this book after seeing a review for it by Raven @ Dreamy Addictions. Most of the fairy tale retellings I read are from a YA perspective so I was curious to see what an adult version of a Beauty and the Beast retelling would be. Thanks to her review I knew that there was some darker scenes but overall it was an enjoyable read and I quickly marked it for my TBR.

What I Liked:

–No Magic–

I suppose you could argue that the magic involved in the Disney version adds to the charm of the story but I really liked the lack of magic here. The idea of the rose dying and imposing a time limit almost rushes the romance between the two–almost forcing them to be together. But without that in this story, we get to focus on the characters and their connection. It gives the story a realistic tone that simply adds to this story in a positive way that very few Beauty and the Beast retellings can achieve.

–Slow Burn Romance–

I enjoy slow burn romances because they usually take the time to show you how great a couple can be together. You see everything that draws them together and you see them start to change their mind about the other person as they fall deeper in love.

That’s entirely the case here. While these two seem to have a basal attraction to each other, their relationship really blossoms over time thanks to conversation and mutual understanding. You saw their chemistry come to life as you read and as time passed and I loved that.

Nothing ever felt forced between them or simply a result of being the only two people in the house (the biggest argument people have about this fairy tale). Their relationship was healthy and mature which is not always the case in this type of retelling. It’s starts as friendship and slowly becomes something more.

–Great Leads–

What I really liked is that both of these characters are strong yet flawed in their own way. It’s not just the “perfect” heroine taming the beast. Both leads had to work on becoming better people and letting someone else into their world. Throughout the novel they each had great character development and I loved watching them evolve as people while falling in love.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Middle Lagged a Little Bit–

All in all, the pacing of this book was pretty great. I found myself completely absorbed into the world. But I did find that the middle did get itself stuck in a bit of a lag. There was a point where the secondary plot just got shoved aside so it made the resurgence almost seem a little rushed. And some scenes felt slightly repetitive. However, I really just loved watching these two so I never felt bored with the story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

According to a Goodreads Q&A, the next book in the series might be a Little Mermaid or Aladdin retelling so I can’t wait to see what is done next!

My Rating: 4/5

Beauty of the Beast 4/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This is a great fairy tale retelling series for adults. Please do take the disclaimer to heart (though it is just an isolated scene) but know that this isn’t some dark erotica. It focuses on the great characters and the connection between them while weaving your favourite tales into it.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, adult fairy tale retellings
Avoid if You: want erotica, want magic, are uncomfortable with sexual assault

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Series Review: A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy

book3 book4 book5 book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Court of Thorns & Roses (from Goodreads):
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy; ACOTR
Author: Sarah J. Maas
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological (Books 4-6 are a different story arc)
Complete?: No, Book 4, will be published in 2020
Genre: New Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Faeries, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was a huge fan of Throne of Glass before it became mainstream. I loved the world Sarah J. Maas created but before I could move her from a “must-read” author to a “favourite author” I needed to read another series/book by her. So when I saw that she was releasing a 2nd series my reactions were this: 1) WHAT?! Write Throne of Glass faster! Not start a new series!; and 2) Yes please!

I love fairy tale retellings and Beauty and the Beast is a very popular one. So I really was expecting something out of the box with this book; especially because it focused on actual Fae, my favourite fantasy species. I also was expecting some fantastic world building, a strong heroine (or at least one who becomes strong) and a great romance. Some tall shoes to fill but I knew Sarah J. Maas could do it.

This book was everywhere before and after its release! ARC reviews were posted months in advance and there was so much hype that I was a little terrified to read this. I avoided all reviews (sorry everyone!) so I could go into it with a fresh mind and give it a fair shot.

The Concept / The World:

I loved the world Feyre lives in because I LOVE faerie stories! Doesn’t matter how many faerie books I read, each one has its own unique flare that sucks me in and this book is no exception. Maas does a great job building up the world and devotes the first half of the book really explaining how the faerie world works. And this could have been really dry but I felt like things moved along at a decent pace for the first half of the book so it didn’t bore me.

As for the Beauty and the Beast element, I liked that it didn’t follow the traditional conventions. The parallels are obvious but I felt like each had its own little spin on it. I thought it worked really well and I would have to say it is one of the best (if not the best) Beauty and the Beast retellings I have had the pleasure of reading.

The Plot:

So, don’t hate me, BUT, I felt like the first half of the book was really slow. It could easily just be due to the fact that I was reading it really early in the morning or late at night so I was more than a little tired. However, I feel like there really wasn’t much happening in the first half of the book besides building up the world–which is fine and all but not my personal cup of tea. I like action in my books and when it comes to faeries, I love their games.

Which is why I adored the second half of the book. It focused more on the faerie world’s political games, had more romance and had better character growth. I couldn’t put down the book once I reached the halfway point. And I knew that going into this book because Throne of Glass was written in the exact same way: slow and building.  So while I was expecting it, that doesn’t mean I was happy that that was the case.

The Characters:

What I loved about this series is that these characters made you work to like them. Feyre is jaded and initially hard to like because she really isn’t in a good place in her life. You really sympathize with her and I enjoyed watching her grow throughout the novel.

Tamlin–yeah, I wasn’t completely sold on him. I really didn’t feel like he was present much in this book enough for me to develop a crush on him. Sure, in theory he is everything a swoon-worthy hero needs to be: mysterious, charming and caring. It just didn’t work for me.–I’ll explain more in my romance section. I feel like he’ll have some great development in the sequel (that seems to be the trend in the Throne of Glass Series) so I’m hoping that will convince me of his “amazingness”.

All the other characters were great. Love ’em or hate ’em, they were all well developed and evolving as the story progressed which was great.

The Romance:

For a majority of the book, I wasn’t really sold on the romance between Feyre and Tamlin. A lot of their interaction isn’t narrated verbatim, rather it is just summarized by Feyre after it happens. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great scenes between them–because they’re are–I’m just saying it didn’t totally convince me their feelings were at that higher level. I could see why they would suit each other, I just wanted more scenes together that showed that.

For me, I couldn’t see why Tamlin had such deep feelings for Feyre when they really hadn’t talked all that much. They ignored each other at the start of time together (or at least is seemed like that because a lot of their interaction happens “off-stage”) and then BAM! His primal instincts are calling for her. It was a little too alpha male for me and I don’t like alpha male heroes.

Eventually, I warmed up to their romance and was totally rooting for them–it’s hard not to really given what happens in the last third of the book. It’s just that they won’t be gracing the top of my favourite couples list anytime soon.

I know that some people’s concerns with the Beauty and the Beast romance is the Stockholm Syndrome  situation. I definitely had those thoughts when I started reading and I could see why people would label it as that (I mean Feyre can’t really leave) BUT, I felt like these two would have connected even if they weren’t kept to his estate for the majority of their relationship.

Now, I feel like I have to say that is book is more like a New Adult Fantasy than it is a Young Adult Fantasy. While the sex scenes aren’t fully described (and there really isn’t a lot of them either)–they are sex scenes that don’t leave much to the imagination which isn’t really a YA characteristic. I found that refreshing because I don’t understand why sex should be so taboo in YA (I’m not saying full out, descriptive endless pages here)–it happens people so why should we ignore it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really don’t know what to expect for the next book! While not everything is wrapped up in this book, I felt very satisfied in how everything is left at the end of the book. I’m not dying for a sequel though I really do want to read it. I have some worries because I fear that one of my least favourite romantic tropes is on the way BUT I’m putting my faith in Maas to deliver and totally shock me like she did with Crown of Midnight–no pressure though!

updates

–July 3, 2016– Book #2: A Court of Mist and Fury


I was really impressed with this book!

I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses but somethings just weren’t on point for me, so it wasn’t an automatic 5 star read.

But what Maas does here is genius! The manipulation of the Beauty and the Beast story; the richness of the faery world; to Feyre’s character development–everything hits its peak here, making this one hell of a read.

While I still struggled to like Feyre, she definitely grew on me; as did the romance. The way everything interweaves and builds really helped with that.

I can’t wait to see what is in store for this cast of characters next!

–July 21, 2017– Book #3: A Court of Wings and Ruin

Oh dear, I’m in the minority for this one!

My rating hovers somewhere between 2-3/5 but considering the fact that I would have DNF’d this book at the 30% if it wasn’t the finale of the series (which it isn’t [ugh], but it is the end of the arc), I’m going to leave it at a 2.

Admittedly, I had high expectations. ACOMAF blew me away in every respect so it would be a hard book to top regardless. And the hype around any Maas book is so UNREAL lately. So I was a little scared to start this one.

This one just seemed painfully slow. Which sucked because it started so strong! Yet once I reached the 30% mark, it totally lost me. It just seemed slightly repetitive and monotonous to me. This book could have easily been 200 pages shorter and it would have delivered successfully. I needed more intrigue and action to keep my full attention.

So maybe seek an alternative opinion! Because others seem to enjoy it, but for me, this one fell flat and it has me thinking the next 3 books aren’t going to be for me.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3.5/5

A Court of Thorns and Roses 4/5 | A Court of Mist and Fury 5/5 | A Court of Wings and Ruin 2/5

overall

This series starts slow, peaks in the middle and has a slower end. But if you want a series that keeps you guessing; is rich in characters and the world; and has a heroine who truly transforms from start to finish, you might consider investing your time in this one!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, faeries
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, don’t like jaded heroines, don’t like fairy tale retellings

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Fresh Fridays: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (Cruel Beauty Universe)

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge  | Cruel Beauty Universe

Other books in the series:

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite New Series 2014, New Must-Watch Author 2014
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe
Author: Rosamund Hodge
# of Books: 2 (Cruel Beauty, Gilded Ashes, Crimson Bound)
Book Order: Connected (as in same universe)
Complete?: No, Crimson Bound will be published Spring 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Mythology, Romance, Mystery, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

I was really excited to read this book and pounced on it when it was available at my library. I’ve really been enjoying these dystopian/post-apocalyptic retellings of fairy tale stories lately and this book was no exception. I actually think that this one is one of my favourites.

This book reminded me a lot of the movie Inception and once you read it and see what is unfolding, you will get why. The blending of mythology, the Beauty and the Beast story as well as dystopian elements was done beautifully. There are a lot of layers to this book and as a reader (and studier of literature) I really appreciated it.

But I know a lot of people won’t like this book for those exact reasons. The writing style really reminded me of Graceling–it’s old fashioned in a way that we don’t particularly see in dystopian Young Adult novels. I also found that Cruel Beauty did remind me of Graceling when looking back at it. I didn’t feel like I was reading a regurgitation of Graceling while reading Cruel Beauty–they are two completely separate books with entirely different premises. But there are definitely similarities between the storylines and I think Nyx (Cruel Beauty) and Katsa (Graceling) have a lot in common. Both are extremely angsty and I think Nyx’s angst might not rub people well. I know I had a hard time with it at first but I didn’t really mind it because I understood why she felt that way–and that becomes more apparent as you read.

My favourite part of this book is the plot. It is a mystery essentially and I liked trying to figure it out as I went. Over time I put the clues together and figured it out, but often I didn’t really see the answer until I read it. Which resulted in me doing a bit of a gasping in surprise and saying “that is so cool” while the puzzle pieces connected mentally!

I was worried that this was going to be a lot like Of Beast and Beauty and while they do share some similarities–these books have two entirely different messages and plots. I think the romance is stronger (or at least to me I understood it better) in Of Beast and Beauty but I really warmed up to Ignifex and Nyx’s story by the end. Definitely readers of one will enjoy the other.

I’m excited to read the next book in the universe and I’m glad that there will be more books set in this universe because it is a truly fascinating world Ms. Hodge has created. I will definitely be checking out more of her books in the future!

UPDATED (June 26/14): Gilded Ashes is the next book in the series but it is a novella and not a full-out novel; which disappointed me at first because I wanted to read the next novel in the series. But this book was the perfect length when all is said and done. It doesn’t have the “mystery” element that Cruel Beauty did but it has a lot of cool supernatural pieces to it and I really enjoyed reading it; a very cool spin on Cinderella. What I like about these books is that the romantic leads aren’t gaga for their significant other right away; that the relationship really builds and develops between them. Overall, a great contribution to the series!

Conclusion:

This book will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea so I highly recommend that if you are interested in reading it, you grab the sample or read the first 70 pages here. If you aren’t drawn in by the mystery and story after the first 20 or so pages, don’t continue. But for those who like reading books that have a challenging mystery and are filled with Greek mythology–grab this NOW!

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay; For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (For the Darkness Shows the Stars #1) and Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

Synopsis for Cruel Beauty (from Goodreads):
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Single Sundays: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Review:

I initially read the synopsis for this story based on the striking cover. The title also gave a hint that this was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast so that also grabbed by attention. It wasn’t until I noticed that author’s name that I realized I had read her series Juliet Immortal and had enjoyed the retelling she did there. So with so many things seeming to align, I decided to put my name on the hold list.

Truth be told, I almost stopped reading this book. The first 20 pages or so were really tough to get through. I think most of it had to do with the setting and the descriptions of the characters. I had a hard time visualizing the world that was being described and that always turns me off a book. I always like to have a firm grasp of what the world and characters look like when I am reading and I wasn’t getting that here. So I decided to act on my 50 page rule–if I didn’t like what I was reading or didn’t care about what was happening after 50 pages, I was dropping this book.

I couldn’t even tell you what page I was at when I realized I was starting to like this book. It just snuck up on me and before I knew it I was 100 pages in and excited to see what was happening next.

I think what happened was that the focus of the book shifted from appearances and instead focused on character and plot development. I think it is important not to go into this book expecting an exact retelling of Beauty and the Beast because that isn’t what this book is. Sure there are elements of the story present here but it isn’t what is driving this story. This story focuses on finding yourself in a world of restrictions and learning to love others–which you will argue is the point of Beauty and the Beast, especially the Disney version but that is where the similarities between the two end. I find the Disney version focuses more on the romance between Belle and the Beast while this book focuses more on independent growth and breaking the curse.

Also, the story can get very depressing at times and is set in a world of desperation and no hope. It’s very dystopian in its approach and often sad but I think it really works here.

Irsa and Gem really mature as the book progresses so while they aren’t my favourite literary heroes of all time, I can respect their characters.

What I really liked about this book was the mystery Irsa uncovers about the curse. The curse development really helps push this book and gives it something more than character development. Learning more about what the curse is, how it was created and how you can break it was really interesting to me and I think that is what kept me reading.

Conclusion:

This book starts off a little slow but once the characters get invested in saving their respective people the story starts to pick up. Those who don’t mind a bit of fantasy mixed with dystopian settings will really enjoy this. Not for everyone but if you like trying something new or like different takes on fairy-tales, you will like this!

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Fairy-Tale Retelling
Recommended for: 17+

Similar Reads:

  • Beastly by Alex Flinn (Kendra Chronicles #1)
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky Trilogy #1)
  • Devoured by Amanda Marrone

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