Hello, today I will be reviewing Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly, the newest book by the author of Sea Spell, A Northern Light, and more. I hope you enjoy!
Though the book does have a few slower points, I still believe that this has the potential to be enjoyed by most YA fantasy fans looking for a twist on the genre. Release date: May 14, 2019
Hardcover Page Count: 352
My rating: 4/5 stars
Disclaimer: I received this ARC as part of Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program. That said, everything featured in this review is based upon my honest opinion and not influenced at all in anyway. Enjoy!
Not every story is as it seems. For Isabelle, it’s the fact that she should finally be winning the heart of the handsome prince…but she’s not. Instead of being 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. After the price discovers her deception, she's sentenced to a life of shame for the fact that is just too plain and twisted for anyone to love. When given the chance to alter her destiny and finally prove her worth as more than just an ugly stepsister, Isabelle takes it knowing full well that this is finally her time to shine. Because just because she was told to follow a certain path, doesn’t have to follow it.
When most people say that a book was unlike any others that they have read before, they typically mean because of its character or particular twist. But for Stepsister, it is unique because of what it fundamentally is. In the beginning of the book, we are greeted by a small group of women creating maps, maps that instead of charting an area, create a person’s storyline. Through the scene that unfolds we are shown that these women are the Fates, and that they have decided that Isabelle’s life will not be that of pleasure, but of pain. And yet, someone wants to change that. Well at least, someone wants to attempt to change that.
I thought that this introduction of the idea of our lives being so plainly “mapped” out for us was an interesting one, especially since the very act of writing a book makes authors do the same as what the Fates do in Stepsister. Writers create roles and fill them however they feel the need to, something which might seem fairly typically. But in Stepsister, Donnelly will show us the absurdity of it all. Though roles are a necessary evil, she explains through Isabelle, it doesn’t mean that they must rule us. With this, Donnelly made Stepsister on of the first books I have read in a while that don’t just exist to entertain, but to make readers think.
Readers will find Isabelle’s journey through this realization to be one both empowering and thought provoking as Isabelle is quite far from the typically YA heroine these days. Not exactly pretty and far from well-mannered, she is a girl that most would stay away from. Still, she feels more life-like then any other character that I have read recently. This will provide readers a chance to bond with her through her escapades as she discovers not a long-lost kingdom or uncovers a murder plot, but the meaning of her freedom as a whole.
Perfect for fans of Damsel and other not-so-typical fairytale retellings, Stepsister is a book that will take readers both on a fun and exciting adventure but will also make them question their own paths. I would recommend this book for readers ages 12 and up because of mild violence.
I hope that you enjoyed this review! I really enjoyed the unique storytelling of this book and I was glad that I got the chance to read it. I would like to say a special thank you to Emma who runs the Miss Print blog! Emma is such an amazing blogger and bookstagramer and you definitely have to check her out if you haven't already. Both librarian and reviewer, Emma always seems to know what books are best so if you are looking for some quality reviews (besides mine of course :) ) you should check her blog out! If you are a blogger with little to no access to arcs, check out her arc adoption program too! Not only does she help the blogging community with this, but she helps authors by generating more reviews for them (which is the best thing you can do for an author).
Until next time,
Hey everyone, today I am going to be reviewing Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy. I am so excited to review this book, because I thoroughly enjoyed all of it. From the characters to the diversity, to the plot itself, I couldn't think of a better way to begin a series. Now, let's get right to it!
Release Date: March 26, 2019
Hardcover Page Count: 369 pages
My Rating: 5/5
A refugee from a planet controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, all Ari Helix wants is to survive. But when she crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword, Excalibur, from an ancient tree, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Together with Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and her friends, they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back while doing something she never thought possible: defeat Mercer and bring peace and equality to all humankind.
Packed full of LGBTQ+ characters, epic adventures, an ancient wizard, and immersive world-building, Once and Future is definitely a book unlike any other. Because of this, it is hard to truly capture its essence in just a short review. One of the things that makes this most challenging is the world the authors establish from the first page. This includes one of the best versions of the ‘evil corporation’ trope that I have ever seen. To describe them as omnipresent and ruthless would be doing the Mercer corporation a wrong as it wouldn’t quite capture the power behind their actions. To back this up, the authors create offense after offense for them to commit. Though going into details might spoil the story, I found myself completely and utterly agreeing with the characters that Mercer must go, truly understanding how a corporation can be evil. The authors create different aspects of their world like this throughout the book, writing some of the best world-building I have ever read.
This type of world-building is seen most prominently in the story of King Arthur, and how the authors find a way to expand it while sticking true to the original story. This is done through the knights, well their futuristic counterparts, maintaining the original relationships/betrayals, and the dark aspects that the story holds. What I liked the most about this is how the authors maintain these original characters while introducing a twist of their own: each character is written, in some sense, to bypass typical gender/romance restrictions in order to give each of them their own LGBTQ+ twist. I was beyond excited when I heard that this book will be having a twist like this, and I was not let down in the slightest. The way that the authors played with gender stereotypes in a story such as King Arthur was something which I never thought I would see in YA. If you are at all interested in seeing representation in a YA space opera/retelling, I would highly recommend this book to you for this exact reason.
Besides wishing that the book was a bit longer, I don’t think that there was a single thing I did not like with this book. With characters such as Ari, who truly embody the character of Arthur with her ferocious leadership and yearning for peace, and Merlin, who is literally the most perfect wizard I think I have ever met in my life, there was little that the authors could have gotten wrong. Filled with intense emotion, kick-ass characters, lush world building, and a twist unlike any other, Once and Future is a book that any sci-fi or fantasy lover would like. I recommend this for ages 13+ because of extremely light cursing, mild violence, and some ‘dark’ themes.
I hope that you enjoyed this review! Like I said before, I had an amazing time reading this book and I'm glad that I was able to share my love for it with you here! I was able to meet the two authors at YALLWEST earlier this month and they were both so sweet. They also just got engaged, so I would like to say a big congratulations to them!
I also would like to announce that I will begin having a monthly post where I update everyone on me and my life! This will be both so I can tell you guys more about me but also so I could open myself up a bit more. If you have any questions for me, let me know down below! Also, if you have any books that you would like me to review next, let me know in the comments as well!
Until next time,
Welcome to the Book Enigma! I review different genres of books from young adult fiction to sci-fi. Enjoy!
Aspiring author who, along with reading YA and with other genres, also fosters kittens, and play the piano and cello!
“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”