Tag «sleeping beauty»

Series Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Wicked Thing (from Goodreads):

Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

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.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

breakdown

Series: A Wicked Thing
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
# of Books: 2 (A Wicked Thing, A Kingdom of Ashes)
Book Order: Chronologocal
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales Retellings
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2015 – 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I’ve said many times before, my favourite fairy tale princess is Sleeping Beauty. Why? I’m not sure because her damsel in distress situation is one I don’t enjoy (I hate when the heroine has to wait for a hero to save her). I think it’s because I love the Disney movie and its beautiful animation.

But in the same breath, I love seeing what other authors will do with the story in various retellings. So I was curious to see what this one was all about; in particular, the focus on HEA.

The Concept / The World:

What I really enjoyed about this story was that it focused on what happens after Aurora wakes up. She finds herself in a world she doesn’t know and one where she is a pawn in schemes she doesn’t fully understand. Watching her navigate this new political world and coming to grips with the fact that everyone she has ever known is dead, was an interesting take. I don’t think it was used to its full advantage but it was an element at play.

And like I say with most retellings: forget the Disney version! You’ll always end up a little disappointed because the Disney version is just a retelling of the origin story and not the source material.

The Plot:

Have you ever read a book where everything seems to be happening around the lead and the lead just seems to sit there and take it? That’s how I felt for 90% of A Wicked Thing. Aurora did absolutely nothing and I get why. She is literally in a world where she knows no one and it’s not like anyone is telling her what is happening either. It’s hard to do anything when you don’t know what is going on yourself. But it was just frustrating as a reader because she’d get these little moments of courage and then they would fizzle out.

This story needed something else to keep it going. I feel like so much time is wasted in both novels rehashing everything we’ve previously encountered. With so many people wanting things from Aurora, it should be a more suspenseful read than it actually is. But it takes Aurora nearly the entire 2 novels to finally get the backbone to do something and by then it is far to late to keep me invested.

The Dialogue:

When I contemplated DNFing A Wicked Thing, I read a few reviews on Goodreads and quite a few mentioned the dialogue. I definitely see where they are coming from after reading this. One of the contributing factors is that they don’t use contractions in the narration. It’s just not the way we talk (I mean look at how many I’ve used in this review so far) so it comes across as stiff.

But Aurora isn’t saying anything inspiring or profound either. No one is. So everything comes across as flat and it does dampen the reading experience at times.

The Characters:

Aurora was extremely dull. Like I said, I get why she lacks the confidence–I would act the same way if I woke up 100 years in the future. But I wish she gained the confidence a hell of a lot earlier than the 90% in A Wicked Thing.

The rest of the cast is kinda “meh”. I didn’t gravitate towards anyone but I think that’s because we don’t get to delve deeper into anyone’s character.

The Romance:

Three love interests is wayyyyy too much for me. And when you have an uninspiring heroine like Aurora, it’s hard to get the appeal of her for the potential suitors. I guess you can say I never picked a “team” to cheer for.

However, I will say that I like that the romance wasn’t the sole focus of this series. Other things are at play and this series could have easily been about Aurora and her “true love” and not the world she lives in.

My Audiobook Experience:

I don’t have anything against the audiobook production because you can only do so much when your source material isn’t fabulous. However, I will say that I found the dialogue delivery to be super slow. See, I’m not one to speed up the audiobook but I had to with a Kingdom of Ashes because it had a glacial pace. I first bumped it up to 1.25X and then 1.5X and the crazy thing is that the dialogue sounded much more natural at this faster pace! It was so much easier to listen to and stopped the awkwardness of the narration.

Series Rating: 2/5

A Wicked Thing 2.5/5 | A Kingdom of Ashes  2/5

overall

I’m still in search of that great Sleeping Beauty retelling. This one was terribly dull and too basic for my tastes.

Read if You Like: sleeping beauty, slow stories
Avoid if You: want action, want more romance
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Series Review: Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles by Katie Hamstead

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Princess of Tyrone (from Goodreads):
Apolline is happy hunting magical creatures on her pirate infested outer-perimeter planet. She is a fantastic shot, and doesn’t flinch at the blood and guts of her kills. Never once did she consider she could be the missing Princess of Tyrone.

All her life, she has heard the story of the Princess, cursed to sleep for eternity, unless her betrothed, the Prince of Oran, gave her true love’s kiss. Although Apolline knows she is betrothed, she thinks her fairy guardians arranged it out of ignorance of human ways. The thought she could be a princess is inconceivable.

Then Allard appears. Handsome, charming—but he’s not hers to have. He’s betrothed, too. Her guardians warn her against her new found friendship, but she and Allard meet in secret anyway. Despite her rough exterior, he sees beyond her gun-slinging bravado, and their love blossoms.

But the deadline for the sleeping curse is approaching. If Apolline falls in love with the wrong person, she could end up sleeping forever.

A quirky, adventurous retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with a less than princess-ly princess!

breakdown

Series: Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles
Author: Katie Hamstead
# of Books: 2 (Princess of Tyrone, Myths of Mish, Dwarves of Calcus)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Dwarves of Calcus, will be published March 2018
Genre: New Adult/Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person & Third Person
Publication Date: March 31, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adore Fairy Tale retellings and reading the Lunar Chronicles earlier this year really reminded me of that. It also reaffirmed my love for Science Fiction reads. So when I saw the Blog Tour sign-ups for Princess of Tyrone–a fairy tale retelling set in another galaxy–I just had to sign up!

The Concept / The World:

Not only is it a retelling of my favourite princess (Sleeping Beauty) but it takes place in space! I love stories told in other galaxies that mirror Earth but have way cooler technology.

This world really reminded me of the one we get in the TV show Once Upon a Time, where the various fairy tales are woven together via their characters. (ie The idea that fairy tales share the same characters) My favourite aspect of this story was learning about the history of the galaxy and how all the different fairy tales fit in with each other. I won’t spoil it, but I really enjoy the path it takes through this.

I’m picky about my magic in my stories but I found this one was straight forward and easy to follow. You have curses at play and fairy godmothers so it could be complicated but I had no problems whatsoever.

The Plot:

I will not lie, I really misread the first part of the synopsis just before I picked this up. I thought Apolline was a pirate not that she lived on a pirate filled planet–so I was expecting a story more like Starflight by Melissa Landers when that really wasn’t the case. Regardless, I figured out pretty quickly I got it wrong and enjoyed the story we got instead.

The plot is definitely more romance and character based for the first half of the book. Apolline and Allard are trying to balance out their new-found relationship and their obligations and it’s cute to watch. I thought they were super adorable together so I didn’t mind the slower pace though I craved a little more to the story.

What I craved makes an appearance in the later half of the book and that was when I couldn’t put the story down. When everything comes together and character pasts and identifies are revealed, it was so much fun to read! This book definitely built itself up and it was worth it!

The Characters:

It may surprise you to hear that Sleeping Beauty is one of my favourite princesses. I know it surprises me. Normally, I like my princesses with a little spunk and Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, Aurora, isn’t that spunky. She is also your classic damsel in distress, so she gives the appearance that she isn’t independent. However, I really like the romance of her story (true love’s kiss) AND I like that she has met and fallen in love with him before everything happens (at least in the Disney Version). I’m a romantic sucker like that.

(I also think the animation is beautiful in that movie)

So I really liked that Apolline could take care of herself. She has a great shot (literally) and doesn’t need someone to save her. Simply put, she kicks major bum. She’s everything you expect in a princess (kind and caring) but there is something so real and genuine that I think girls will like and connect with her.

Allard was a charming and genuine character as well. He was so easy to like as was the rest of the cast. I really grew to like all of these characters and I found myself very invested in their happily ever afters.

The Romance:

This is definitely a romance novel first and foremost with a little action thrown in near the end. I loved watching everything develop before my eyes. In particular, I liked seeing the romance build-up because it let me understand why these characters are draw to each other. I have no complaints here about how the romance worked out. It was everything I expected.

New Adult or Young Adult?

While the characters are definitely of the “New Adult” variety (ie 21), this story read more like a Young Adult novel. Meaning it isn’t some hot, passionate romance that you are watching unfold, rather a tame, emotional connection. I think this is a great novel for those looking to jump into the New Adult world from the YA one or for those who are tired of contemporary NA reads.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to delve deeper into this world. Hamstead has created a truly fascinating world that has my full attention. I can’t wait to see what the next story (which features different characters) has in store!

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall
It took me a while to get into this story, but once I saw the bigger picture and more history and characters were revealed, I was totally on-board. This series has great potential and fans of quirky fairy tale retellings will enjoy this one!

Read if You Like: fairy tale re-tellings, science fiction, non-contemporary NA
Avoid if You: want more than a romance, dislike fairy tales

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Katie Hamstead
Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.
After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.
She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing.
When her debut novel, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, climbed into bestselling status, she believed she was onto something, and now has a slew of novels now available, and is published through Curiosity Quills Press, Soul Mate Publishing, and REUTS Publishing.
Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports, and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an Acquisitions Editor to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Author Links:

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Single Sundays: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Princess of Thorns (from Goodreads):
Game of Thrones meets the Grimm’s fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

breakdown

Author: Stacey Jay
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve enjoyed Stacey Jay’s novels in the past for their original retellings of classic stories, like Romeo & Juliet and Beauty and the Beast. So when I saw the Princess of Thorns novel as an upcoming novel from her, I immediately went to see what it was about. Three things immediately sold me on this book:

  1. “Game of Thrones” meets (I love watching Game of Thrones, I have yet to tackle the books)
  2. “Grimm’s fairy tales” (I love fairy tale retelling stories)
  3. Sleeping Beauty (my favourite Disney princess is Aurora)

This book just seemed to have been made for me and I wasn’t going to do it the disservice of not reading it.

The Concept / The World:

Considering I was reading this book solely for the concept, I was expecting great things and I really did like the setting of Princess of Thorns. It was gritty and intricate which made reading about Aurora’s and Niklaas’ adventure very interesting.

I don’t recommend starting this book when you are tired like I did or else you might be a little lost at the start. It took me a lot longer to understand what was going on because I wasn’t in the right mindset and that dampened my reading experience. But once I understood the elements of the curses I really liked them.

The Plot:

I would say this book is more of an adventure/quest novel than a strict fairy tale retelling. Yes, the fairy tale element is a huge part of the plot but I never felt like I was reading a regurgitation of Sleeping Beauty. When you read it, you clearly understand why they say it is like “Game of Thrones meets Grimm’s fairy tales” because that is the best way to describe it. However, don’t be expecting the politics of Game of Thrones when you read. Rather, expect Aurora to be more like Daenerys Targaryen in the second season (second book) where she struggles to find an army to get back her throne: which means it can be a little boring at times.

I did feel like the book was slow to start and I felt my mind wandering as I was reading. Again, I wasn’t in the right mindset when I was reading it (I had to read it ASAP to return it to the library on time) so I kept waiting for it to get really exciting and it never really did. I found the last half was a lot more interesting to read but it didn’t wow me in any way. I also think Stacey Jay’s writing isn’t totally for me. This is the fourth book by her that I have read and I find her writing style confusing. I’m often rereading lines to make sure I have things clear and I’ve found that to be the case with all her books so far.

The Characters:

I really liked Aurora. She reminded me a lot of Katsa from Graceling in the sense that she could kick some serious ass when needed but was a more reserved heroine (ie not in your face). I liked that she was strong and independent and had some passion for her cause. While she may not be my favourite heroine ever, I did like her and never got annoyed with her.

Niklaas on the other hand took me a while to like. It’s weird because I normally like the suave, charming male heroes but I didn’t instantly love Niklaas like I was expecting. And I think a part of that is the romance…

The Romance:

*sigh* I really have mixed feelings on this romance: the critic in me is battling with the reader in me.

The critical me can appreciate the “friends to lovers” approach this book takes. It’s a classic Shakespeare scenario where the girl disguised as a boy falls in love with the boy she is helping. It even reminds me of the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty where Aurora and Philip meet for the first time and find that connection that saves them later on. I can appreciate the approach, it just doesn’t mean that I liked it.

I wish the romance had a little more of a spark to it. Because once it was there, it was great. I loved the relationship between these two, I just wish it was elaborated on earlier in the book.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I really, really wanted to love this book but it fell flat. To me, it was Princess Aurora’s shot to prove that she isn’t the perfect case of Damsel in Distress and for the most part I truly think she did. I just wish the other elements were up to snuff and the book was 50 pages shorter.

Read if You Like: quest based stories, fairy tale retellings
Avoid if You: want more passionate romance, dislike slower starts

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