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,
Hello, today I will be reviewing The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten
White! This is actually the first book that I have read from her, and it is fair to say that I loved it. The relationship I had with this book was actually kind of weird because I went in expecting one thing, and got something else entirely, but still loved it regardless. Let me know how you feel about this book in the comments once you read my review, and if you think it is different from what you thought it would be like!
Hardcover release: September 25, 2018
Hardcover page count: 304
My rating: 5/5 stars
Ever since she was young, Elizabeth has been in the care of the Frankenstein family. Sold by a woman who beat and starved her, Elizabeth knows she will be returned to her horrid existence if she fails at her task: becoming the friend of the solitary and strange Victor Frankenstein. And she succeeds, soon becoming his closest friend and is forever glued by his side. But as the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on her ability to manage Victor’s temper and satisfy his every whim, no matter the price.
This book was not at all what I was expecting but was still very interesting. Diving into it, the reader expects to be taken through the life of Elizabeth as she grows up but, they are actually brought in when Elizabeth is older and in the middle of looking for Victor. But this does not mean that you never get to see their relationship as it grows. The author shows glimpses of the past several times throughout the book, allowing the reader to watch their growing relationship while growing uneasy as they see the disturbing actions of Victor as a young boy. Including these bits of the past also worked great in building Elizabeth’s character. Though it might be revealing too much to say exactly what happened in these flashbacks, I loved how much insight they gave into Elizabeth. The reader is able to see exactly what motivations she has and why she makes the decisions she does.
Another amazing part of this part was the setting. Set in an 19th century Europe, the author took us through many of the places characters go to in Frankenstein. Through the murky slums of Ingolstadt to the vast mansion Geneva and the harsh winters of Northern Russia, the reader in instantly immersed in the scenery flowing from the author’s pen. Reading the book, I felt shivers down my spine as the characters as they went through each of the locations. These places were also true to the original book which I thought was pretty cool.
Lastly, the main part of the book that I enjoyed the most was the tone. Dark and mysterious throughout the book, it rang true to the original insanity that was such a big part of the classic. Elizabeth, for example, constantly ignores the evils of Victor in order to stay with him and live a peaceful life. Even when he cuts open animals to examine them, she doesn’t say a thing so he can remain happy. I enjoyed parts of the book that discuss this because it almost felt like a psychological analysis of the character of Elizabeth. As I said, this was only one example of it, but as we see Elizabeth do crazy things at great lengths just to please Victor, we are able to see more of her psyche then we were able to in Frankenstein. Originally, Shelly wrote her as more of a side character in love with Victor. But in this book, we are able to dive further into what makes her, her. There was even a mention later on about how Victor kept a diary where he wrote his own version of the events that happened between him and Elizabeth. Readers who have read the original will be happy about this because it connects the two works in a whole new way.
If you love dark, psychological thrillers, this book is for you. For those who have never read Frankenstein, no worries because you need no prior knowledge in order to read this. Much like how the Penelopiad was too the Odyssey, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is to Frankenstein. It brings to light the woman’s part of the story that is often given less attention too in great works like this. I would recommend this book for readers 13/14 and up because of numerous mentions of maiming and violence throughout the book.
I hope that you enjoyed this review! I loved this book so much despite how I originally did not. I also loved how this is a retelling of a story that is not really retold, and how it was from Elizabeth's perspective instead of Victor's.
Are there any books that you would like me to review? If so, let me know in the comments below!
Until next time!
Original Review Posted on: http://teenreaderscouncil.blogspot.com/2018/09/review-dark-descent-of-elizabeth.html
Hello everyone! Today, I will be reviewing UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn. It is also a self-published book which I think is super cool. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
Release date: April 18, 2012
Paperback page count: 234
My rating: 3/5
Mina Grime has always been the unpopular girl at school, but when she saves the life of the boy of her dreams, that all seems to change. But soon her new found happiness is taken away as she discovers that by saving her crush, she has awakened her family curse. Quickly discovering that she is actually a descendant of the Brothers Grimm and that each of their stories comes with a terrible price, she must now outwit the ever present Story and complete each tale before it is too late.
Let's begin with the good of this book. Though it started out a tad slow, the story itself seemed to turn into something amazing by the end of the book. It being the only real reason why I continued to read the book, I am happy that I stuck around to the end of this tale even when there was several things that bugged me. In fact, I believe that with certain motivation, I might want to actually finish this series as the story was actually quiet enjoyable.
Another thing that the author did well was supporting characters. Yes, that does mean that the main character was not the best, but the side characters definitely were. Each with their own personalities and motivations, they reached seemed to be a bit different from the regular characters that you see nowadays in YA. The author also tried to create her own type of humor through these characters, for example a girl who is incredibly addicted to her phone like a lot of people these days, and yet they were at times over played, they were still enjoyable.
Now onto what I have been dreading; the bad. When I said that the good was the story, I meant that the only good was the story. Riddled with at times terrible writing and overdramatic (main) characters, the author seemed like she still had a draft or two before the book could truly be done. Not only that, but the author seemed to over describe things that needed no description, under explain things that the reader actually wants to know about, and has a tendency to make the main character cry and act like a "quirky girl" at random moments. One example of this is when she wrote the girl to have a mute brother who won't talk because of a past trauma, yet she never writes about what that trauma is and seems to completely forget about him by the end of the book. Other examples like this happened throughout the book but seemed to significantly lessen as it went on. Where it be because the author simply got better with her story of because she just grew out of it, it was still pretty annoying at the beginning.
Though it did start out pretty slow, I can see that this book has a lot of potential. Already with much progress from the beginning of the book to the end in terms of writing and story, I can sense that the rest of the series will be unlike this first one. As Sarah J. Maas did with Throne of Glass where the first book merely set up the story and her writing plot significantly blossomed from there, I have a feeling that this series will be like that too.
If you enjoy retelling-like books with a great plot, I would definitely recommend this book for you. Slow at first with a pretty good ending, (hopefully) you won't be disappointed. If you have read this book before, please let me know down in the comments! Also, if there are any books that you would like me to review or you are simply looking for recommendations, don't be afraid to write me.
Until next time!
Hey guys, this week I will be reviewing Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas! I hope that you guys enjoy this review.
Release date: August 7, 2012
Hardcover page count: 416
My rating: 4/5
Throne of Glass follows the story of Celena, an assassin who has been sent to a slave labor camp to rot. But, when the Crown Prince comes knocking at her door to pull her out of prison and into the fierce competition to become the King's Champion, she knows that she must go. Fighting her way to the top, the only thing standing between her and freedom is twenty two other opponents and the four years she would have to serve as the king's personal assassin if she wins. But, it will not be as straight forwards as she thinks it will be. Princesses from enemy kingdoms, handsome princes, and of course a hint of deadly magic stands in her way. Will she be able to survive?
This is actually my second time reading this book. When I originally read it, I thought nothing of it and put it away. But this time, I read it deeper, hoping that I can finally get a glimpse at what all the hype is about. So let's begin on the pros. For one, Maas creates a beautiful world with world building like no other. She constantly hints at magic, but keeps it scarce. She has created a large and powerful kingdom, filled with revolts and terrible kings. And she has created beautiful locations, one being the castle of glass itself and other's being the fabulous libraries and mysterious hallways.
Now on to her characters. I love how each of her characters have personalities of their own. For example, the princess Nehemia is first seen as just a pretty foreign princess, but then is revealed to be a kind friend. But throughout the book, even more layers are revealed. Maas does this with many of her characters, making us engaged with them as we dig into them.
Her plot was was a lot like this too, seeming to be simple and straight forwards at first, but soon turning into something deeper and more serious as the book went on.
So, I am only giving this book a four out of five for one reason, the writing style. Now don't get my wrong, Sarah J. Maas's writing style is a gift from a literal goddess which you would know if you have read A Court of Thrones and Roses. So, I am only saying this because Throne of Glass is her first book and obviously her oldest, her writing style has obviously since evolved. So, what is wrong with the writing in this book you may ask? For one thing, Maas has done a few things in the book to over exaggerate her characters and their actions. The one that I can give the best example of is Celaena, who seems to fully take on the book trope of an assassin. For one, she starts the book with only one though in her head being kill, kill, kill. And as the novel goes on, she takes on even more tropes like intense sarcasm and the strange ability to still regain most of her strength and be almost the same kick ass assassin that she was before being sent to a slave labor camp for a year. And yes, people do describe her as looking like a skeleton, but then why is she still so damn strong?
And secondly, my other complaint with her writing style in this book is the exclamation points. Yes, I am complaining about the the punctuation. Though it is mainly just in the first half, Maas begins the novel with a whole mess of over use through these exclamation marks. And while I understand that they are used to convey a point, I just find them super annoying. Though, this might be because I am currently working on the second draft of this book I am writing where I am finding the same over use of exclamation points and over exaggeration of the broody kick ass yet out of shape assassin type, I find that other people might be able to notice them too.
Anyway, this book was still amazing. I am currently reading the sequel and will hopefully have a review for it next week. I have read Sarah J. Maas's other series A Court of Thrones and Roses, and have fallen in instant love with them, so I hope that I can experience the same with this series. And hopefully, I will be able to follow my slow obsession with this series through these posts.
So, I would like to recommend this book for anyone looking for a fantasy book set in a different place and time with only a hint of magic. If you are looking for lush worlds and dangerous political plots, this book is definitely the one for you. And, this book is even VERY loosely based on Cinderella so if you are into re-tellings I would recommend this book as well.
I hope that you have enjoyed this review. If there are any other books that you would like me to review, please let me know down in the comments!
Until next time!
Hey guys! Today, in my conclusion of my retelling review series, I will be reviewing Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Release date: March 7, 2017
Hardcover page count: 320
My rating: 5/5 stars
Geekerella tells the story of Elle, a young fangirl who’s obsessed with Starfield, a Star Trek like show filled with romance and adventure. Although she doesn’t like the choice for the main actor in the reboot, she still hopes to win ExcelsiCon’s costume contest so she can meet him… get the tickets to L.A so she can finally get away from her stepmother and step sisters. Meanwhile, Darien is the new main actor for Starfield, and while it is his dream role; he is written off as just a teenage heartthrob with no respect for the fandom. Now having to go judge a costume contest at ExcelsiCon, the place he used to love before he was famous, he begins to feel more like a fake, until he meets a girl who makes him think otherwise. I honestly picked this book up expecting it to be horrible. But surprisingly, it wasn’t. I loved it’s developed characters and jokes, and how it very much was a Cinderella story, yet wasn’t. I also loved how it had the true essence of a fandom book, which will make all fandom obsessed readers relate It is very much one of those books that is super cheesy, yet addictive. And while it is just one of those feel-good books that you finish in a day, the characters and overall essence will stick with you.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick and fun read to brighten up their day. And even if you are not in a fandom, you’ll wish you were after reading this.
I hope that you guys enjoyed this review! This will be the end of my retelling review series, but that doesn't mean I will stop reviewing all retellings. Let me know what you think down in the comments below!
Original review posted on: http://teenreaderscouncil.blogspot.com/2017/04/review-geekerella.html
Hey guys! Today I will be reviewing A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro! This will be the next book in my retellings series. I hope that you guys enjoy this review.
Hardcover page count: 336
My rating: 5/5
A Study in Charlotte is a modern day retelling of Sherlock Holmes. The main characters are Charlotte Holmes and James Watson, the great, great, great grandchildren of the original Sherlock and Watson. Both Charlotte and James go to the same school, and while they usually aren’t friends, a sudden murder brings them together and inspire them to be much like the original Holmes and Watson, and solve it.
One of my favorite parts of this book is how it is filled with Sherlock references. And while it might be obvious that a Sherlock Holmes retelling would be full of those, this novel encompasses many subtle references, such as Sherlock’s drug problem, into the novel. And with the series of murders themed to resemble those of the original Sherlock books, what’s not to like?
Charlotte and James's relationship is also much like that of Sherlock and John’s, while it might sometimes get a bit messy, they will work it out in the end.
This novel is a great modern day embodiment of the original books, but also follows a new track, that is different than the books. It introduces romance to the story, which was the one thing that the original stories were lacking. And while some people might be weary about this addition to the story, it actually flows quite well with the overall story, and makes you love the story even more.
I am a big fan of the Sherlock TV show, and when I was reading this book and read the word ‘Moriarty’ I absolutely freaked out. Fans of the original books, and the new TV show would absolutely go crazy for this retelling. I absolutely recommend this book for any Sherlock fans, along with any mystery fans looking for a fresh read!
I hope that you guys enjoyed this review! This is another addition to my retellings series, so check out my other reviews if you are interested in reading about more retellings!
Until next time,
Hey guys! This week I will be reviewing A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas. This will be the first in a series of reviews on various retellings! I hope you guys enjoy!
Hardcover page count: 352
My rating: 2/5 stars
A Wicked Thing is a retelling of the tale of Sleeping Beauty, the story of a young girl who is cursed and when pokes her finger on a needle after her 18th birthday, falls into a deep sleep. In the original story, Aurora is awakened shortly after by a prince’s kiss then lives happily ever after, but that is not at all what happens in this story.
Instead of waking up a few weeks later, it takes one hundred years to awaken her, but her world is far from what she hoped it to be. Her family is long dead, she is forcefully engaged to the prince who awoke her, and she is little more than a figurehead to win the people’s favor. What’s worse, is that the curse that the evil witch put in place, has left it’s mark on her. So, with her wedding day drawing closer, Aurora must decide, marry the prince to save the kingdom, or run to escape her pre-planned fate.
I originally was very excited for this book, but I lost some of that once I began. While the book started out promising, it is seriously lacking in those sudden plot changes and the end of chapters that make you gasp and having a main character that you actually root for. Don’t get me wrong, Aurora could be quite interesting when she wants to be, but instead of rebelling against her commands (for example, being locked into her room), she just let’s it happen and accepts it. She has a very interesting story, but I feel like the best part about her was the back story.
The book also sports a secret rebellion, and members, which are actually quite interesting. But for some reason, the author only lightly touches on this which is a bit of a disappointment because one of it’s members actually interacts with Aurora, yet is only seen in the beginning of the book.
I feel like this book has a lot of untapped potential, in which the author seriously lacked in touching. And the author’s style of putting plot twists in the middle of chapters, or nowhere at all, makes the reader feel unsatisfied for most of the book. And, if you have heard of Mrs. Thomas’s other book Long May She Reign, you will notice that a lot of the plot in this one is almost exactly like that in that book.
I would recommend this book for anyone that is looking for a very feminist read, or just a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, which is rare. The beginning of the book is pretty good, and some might decide to give the sequel a shot too.
I hope that you guys enjoyed this review! Like I said before, this is the first in a series of retelling-reviews, so I hope that you guys will enjoy.
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.”