Tag «retelling»

Series Review: The White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter

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Series: White Rabbit Chronicles
Author: Gena Showalter
# of Books: 3  4 (Alice in Zombieland, Through the Zombie Glass, …)
Complete?: No, A Mad Zombie Party will be released September 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm *Spicy YA*

Thoughts:

Alice in Wonderland isn’t my favourite book or movie ever. It’s ok but I’ve always found it a little odd and I struggled to read the original book. I never bothered picking up Through the Looking Glass because I just couldn’t handle another round of weirdness. I like odd stories as much as the next girl, but Lewis Carroll is just that little too much over the edge for me. So I think it’s obvious to say that a retelling of Alice wasn’t too appealing to me. But what was appealing to me was “zombies”. My exposure so zombies isn’t that great to be honest. I don’t watch or read The Walking Dead but zombies are a paranormal creature that have always fascinated me so I decided to give this book a shot. Plus they seemed like a lot of fun in Shaun of the Dead 😉

I’m really glad that I did grab this series because I enjoyed both books immensely. They are filled with romance, paranormal creatures, action and feature smart AND mature high school students. I know that last part is a little shocking and it shocked me when I read Alice in Zombieland too.

First, I’ll start with Alice. I really liked her as a heroine. She was strong, brave and while she does suffer from lead-heroine sacrifice syndrome (ie she always has to be the one to save everyone even if it risks herself) I didn’t find it overly annoying. I think it helped that she seemed very mature for her age as did her companions in the book.

The maturity of all the teenagers really stood out to me in this book. This book is definitely for the older young adult crowd, especially Through the Zombie Glass. There are lot of more sexual situations present in these books that often get glazed over in other books–if they are even brought up at all. I would almost classify this book as New Adult except for the fact that all the leads are in high school. (Though when they have normal conversations, they do seem a little odd but I chalk that up to being a parallel to the original Alice in Wonderland with all its oddness)

Speaking of sexual situations, most of those happen to be courtesy of Cole. He is every young adult bad boy fantasy wrapped up into one. I really, really liked his character. I thought he was funny, tough and charming all at once. He has great character development throughout the series as do the other characters. I have to say that by book 2, I was just as invested in the secondary characters as I was in Alice and Cole.

I think what I like most about these books is the layers involved. The romance between Alice and Cole (and the other characters) is one of the main aspects I love but the paranormal aspect of everything is really interesting. While each book has its own plot that begins and ends within that book, there are aspects we learn about the zombie world that carry into the next books that keep you coming back. It goes without saying that these books are non-stop action and something is always going on that causes you to never want to put the book down.

Through the Zombie Glass was even better than Alice in Zombieland in my opinion. So many things came together in this book that I just couldn’t put it down. I didn’t know what was going to happen and what I love about Ms Showalter’s writing is that she isn’t afraid to go places you think she isn’t going to go. Both books have a lot of shocking reveals but Through the Zombieglass went in a direction I wasn’t expecting and one I am super excited to see where it goes in the next book, The Queen of Zombie Hearts.

UPDATED (November 14/14): The Queen of Zombie Hearts was a great way to end the series. It was action-packed, featured lots of twists and turns and was a lot of fun to read. Again, this series went in a direction I wasn’t expecting and I loved the unpredictability. Fans of the series will be happy with how it all wraps up!

Conclusion:

You don’t need to be a fan of Alice in Wonderland or even know the basics to enjoy these books. If you like paranormal action series with bad boy heroes and strong female heroines, grab these two books!

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: Starling by Lesley Livingston (Starling Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Alice in Zombieland (from Goodreads):
She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

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Movie Mondays: Ella Enchanted

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine | Movie: Ella Enchanted (2004)

Which did I read/see first? MOVIE

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Series: Enchanted
Genre: Teen, Medieval, Romance, Magic

Thoughts:

I wanted to read this book ever since I watched the movie and so, two years after the movie was released I grabbed my local library’s copy and got cracking!

It took me awhile to get into this book. I believe this was caused by two things: 1)I was expecting it to be like the movie and 2) I was probably a little too old to be reading it.

I’ll tackle #1 first. As we all know, movie scripts often take liberties in order to condense a book into a 90 minute film and that is the case here. While the basics are the same in the movie, there is a drastically different plot in the book (it is more of a Cinderella retelling with a twist than in the movie) and that wasn’t what I was expecting.

Which leads me into #2, I was a little too old to read this. This book is definitely geared towards the younger teen crowd. The writing is great, but the plot and setting is definitely “middle school” in its approach and just didn’t appeal to me enough.

Conclusion:

I was disappointed in this book, but I know that if I read it before the movie came out, I would have loved it. Great story and message, just not my cup of tea when I read it.

Rating: 3/5
Similar Reads: Beastly by Alex Flinn (Kendra Chronicles, #1)

The Movie:

I can remember finishing this movie and wanting to watch it again. I just thought it was such a cute story and I loved every minute of it. And my feelings on this have nothing to do with my huge crush on Hugh Dancy 😉

There were quite a few things I enjoyed besides the casting. I liked the story and the characters–it was a fun, funny, fantasy adventure that I hadn’t seen a lot of lately in the teen romantic comedy movies of the time. I also liked the modern yet medieval approach to the world (like the escalator in the market or the paparazzi). I thought it was a neat twist. Mind you, I was also 12 when I watched this for the first time so I was the target audience but if it is on the TV, I can’t help but to watch it — this probably has everything to do with my crush on Hugh Dancy 😉

After reading the book, I think I would have been severely disappointed in the movie. They weren’t alike as I mentioned before, although I still think it kept true to the message of the book–girls have the strength to do whatever they set their mind to. I think the movie was geared to appeal to a larger age range and for that to happen that had to change the story to get it there.

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is MOVIE . This is definitely a personal opinion and one I think would be the reverse if I had read the novel before I watched the movie. Both are entertaining in their own way–it is just one of those cases where it depends on your age and what you see/read first.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Ella Enchanted (from Goodreads):
At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.” When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read.

Trailer:

Fresh Fridays: For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

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:

For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund | For the Darkness Shows the Stars Series


Other books in the series:

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Reads of 2013
Series: For the Darkness Shows the Stars
Author: Diana Peterfreund
# of Books: 2 (For the Darkness Shows the Stars, Across a Star-Swept Sea)

There are also 2 novellas: #0.5 Among the Nameless Stars and #1.5 The First Star to Fall

Complete?: No, Across a Star-Swept Sea will be published October 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Romance, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cool

Thoughts:

This novel is a retelling/adaption of Persuasion by Jane Austen. I have never read Persuasion though it has been on my to-read list forever and after reading this book, I really want to read it even more so.

There is something about this book that just sucks you in. I started it and then quickly realized I was 50 pages in before I knew it. I think it is because I enjoyed Elliot’s character. She is like every Jane Austen heroine–that woman could write GREAT heroines that all girls can respect and admire, even decades after their publication–in that she is independent, tough and cares for her family. She was great to read about and a refreshing heroine when you look at some of the other offerings out right now in the young adult world (ie. whiny, spoiled, “I need a man to complete me” heroines).

I also really liked the jumps/flashbacks to the past using the letters written between Elliot and Kai. It helps to build up context about the world itself (which is a cool spin on the regular dystopian worlds often seen but still true to the era of Jane Austen’s novels) and the relationship between Elliot and Kai.

The relationship between Elliot and Kai is adorable. You fall in love with them as you read (and the other characters as well). I think it is fair to warn potential readers that this isn’t a book where there are stolen kisses behind the barn or late night rendezvous so if you are looking for that you won’t find it here–and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The romance is very Jane Austen–mostly talking and meeting at events but I found it very refreshing to read a book where there isn’t PDA around every corner and instead you see why they once loved each other.

The prequel eNovella, Among the Nameless Stars (ANS)–which is free on Kobo and Amazon–I recommend you read AFTER you read For the Darkness Shows the Stars (FTDSTS). I liked that when I read FTDSTS that Kai was a bit of a mystery and I didn’t know his feelings towards Elliot. Also, some things that were revealed as you read FTDSTS were mentioned in ANS and I think it takes away from the mystery of FTDSTS when you read it first. Overall though, the book is really interesting and it helps shape the world–and when it’s FREE, it doesn’t get any better than that 😉

Conclusion:

For the Darkness Shows the Stars is easily one of my favourite reads of this year. The book is beautifully written and manages to be unique all while capturing the atmosphere of Jane Austen’s work. I loved Elliot and Kai and while the next book may not deal directly with them I am excited to see more from this author in this fabulous world she has created! However, it probably isn’t for everyone; especially those who like more exciting romances and faster moving plots as this is a little slower and it isn’t a steaming romance.

Rating: 5/5

Similar Reads: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky, #1)

Synopsis for For the Darkness Shows the Stars (from Goodreads):
It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth–an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret–one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it

Series Review: Scarlet by A.C Gaughen

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

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen | Scarlet Series

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Series: Scarlet Trilogy
Author: A.C. Gaughen
# of Books: 3 (Scarlet, Lady Thief, Lion Heart)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Action, Retelling, Romance
Heat Rating: cool; warm in later books
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2012 – May 2015
Source & Format: Own & 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.**

My Expectations / Why I Picked it Up:

I bought this book around Christmas because I love stories about Robin Hood and his merry men–always have since I was a kid. I used to watch the Disney Robin Hood movie with the animals all the time when I was young and one of my all-time favourite movie comedies is Robin Hood: Men in Tights. So, I think you can understand my excitement when I read the synopsis for Scarlet. It had all the promises that make a book 5 stars for me: a tough heroine, action, romance and the added bonus was Robin Hood of course.

My Review of Scarlet:

However, when I finished the book, I couldn’t quite give it that 5/5 rating. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book! It had great action, a bit of mystery and suspense thrown in so that was fantastic. I also liked all of the characters and the plot line overall was exciting and kept my attention.

Where this book failed to deliver was in two ways: 1) the romance and 2) it was way too short.

Let’s tackle #1–the romance. While there was some chemistry and sexual tension between Robin and Scarlet it never reached the level I wanted it to go in the book. Maybe I just read too much into the synopsis (sometimes I fear I pick up on one section of the synopsis and twist it in my mind to be what I want it to be) because now that I look back on it, it doesn’t particularly scream romance story. And to be clear, I wasn’t expecting a full out romance novel–I knew going in it would be more action than anything; but I would have appreciated more romance when all is said and done.

Which leads me into #2–it is way too short! I would have loved another 50 or so pages. It felt like right when we were getting to the good parts it ended. Also, part of the reason for my disappointment was that at the time I read the book, the sequel novels hadn’t been slated for publication so I felt like I was left at the start of a tunnel waiting to see where it would go. For the most part the story wraps up nicely but I just felt like there was so much more to expand upon so I am super glad that there will be two more books!

updates

–July 23, 2015– Book 2: Lady Thief

Well I definitely got my wish for more romance fulfilled with this one! Perhaps a little too much romance? Now don’t think that means it is only romance by that statement; I just mean that there didn’t seem to be too much going on besides the romantic developments. There definitely was plot development but this book didn’t seem as fast paced in terms of action and I missed that a little. However, at the same time, it’s been nearly 3 years since I read this and I felt very out of touch with the series. I highly recommend you read this right after Scarlet to keep the momentum going. Overall, it was a solid sequel and I’m excited for the finale!

–October 22, 2017– Book 3: Lion Heart

This book was slower than I anticipated. I thought there would be more action and heist-like plans but it was more politics and waiting to make a move. I also felt like the romance was the main focus for a solid chunk of the novel. Which is totally fine–there is a lot of this that has to be resolved–I just found it wasn’t keeping my attention all that much. Also, the writing style seemed different than the other novels; not as old fashioned English as Scarlet.

Series Rating: 4/5

Scarlet 4/5 | Lady Thief 3.5/5 | Lion Heart 3/5

overall

The writing style may not be for everyone so be warned (though I felt it improved as the books progressed). It took me a few chapters to get past that. Great for those who want a strong heroine, like Robin Hood stories and love action! Just don’t going into Scarlet hoping for some great love story because that really doesn’t happen until later in the series (ie book 2)!

Read if You Like: Robin Hood, medieval stories, kick ass heroines
Avoid if You: dislike stories with old English, want more romance (at least in book 1)

similarreads

  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Trilogy #1)
  • Ransom my Heart by Meg Cabot

Synopsis for Scarlet (from Goodreads):
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

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Book Review: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Macguire

NOTE: I feel it is important to clarify that this book is actually part of the “Wicked Years” series. However, I have never read, nor do I plan to read, the rest of the books in this series. As such, I have decided to review Wicked as a stand-alone novel.

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
In Baum’s land of Oz, animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. Green-skinned Elphaba, future Wicked Witch of the West, is smart, prickly and misunderstood; she challenges our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

Review:

I have never watched the musical Wicked; however, it is on my bucket list and has been on my “MUST SEE” play list for YEARS. It just never fails that when it comes to my area that I can’t make it to the show and I won’t be going to Broadway anytime soon so I decided to read the book in the hopes it would satisfy my craving.

Yeah, that was my first mistake.

I really feel like I should have read the book reviews about this book before I decided to read this book. If I had, I probably would have saved myself the hours it took me to drag myself through this book :S

I just didn’t enjoy this book. It was boring, and just plain weird at times. I also feel like it didn’t answer any of my questions about why the Wicked Witch becomes “Wicked” in the first place. I can see why the events Elphaba has gone through in life would make her “wicked” but it wasn’t enough to convince me. I felt like I should finish the book and sympathize with her character but when I finished, I was indifferent to her. I think the recent Disney movie, Oz, does a WAY better job at explaining the pre-story to the Wizard of Oz than this does.

I only finished this book for the sake of my pride and in the hopes that it would get better. I think for the most part it got a little more interesting for Elphaba once she reaches university but it still wasn’t enough to make me happy that I continued to read the book. I really should have put it down.

From what I have learned, this book is nothing like the musical and thank goodness or else I would be very concerned and curious about how it is so successful!

Conclusion:

This book is definitely more for adults, but I still wouldn’t recommend it for anyone unless they enjoy reading bizarre stories. If you want an interesting prequel for the Wizard of Oz, I highly recommend watching Oz: The Great and Powerful recently released by Disney–much more enjoyable and makes much more sense!

Rating: 1/5
Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Adult, Prequel, Fantasy,
Recommended for: no one, but it is geared more for the 18+ crowd