Saturday, September 12, 2015

Book Review: Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: January 2015
Pages: 336
Source: Library
For: Fun!

Summary (from goodreads):
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
Things I Liked:
Holly Black has serious skills in writing. I got sucked into this gorgeous tale right from the start.  I enjoyed seeing Ben and Hazel.  The story was very complicated and I felt at times I lost my grasp on what was happening.  I did really love the presence of the fey throughout the story and I loved Hazel's story.  The romance was kind of meh for me, like it took second stage to the action and the fairy world.

Things I Didn't Like:
As I mentioned the romance was not so great for me.  Also, some of the action near the end was a bit too confusing to understand.  It almost felt like the whole story (before the end) took its sweet time, but then the end rushed past.

The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan
Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

s-factor: !@#
some, a few f-bombs

mrg-factor: X
a few scenes that made me uncomfortable

v-factor: ->->
rather a lot

Overall rating: ****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, September 4, 2015

New and Upcoming Retellings, 2015-2016

It's been like a year since I've listed some new and upcoming retellings! (For a more complete listing of retellings, check out my classic retellings and fairy tale retellings lists.)  I've noticed some trends lately, though I didn't list all the books that fit these as several don't have covers yet.  We have lots of Sherlock Holmes tales (not surprising, since the copyright is up), a handful of Frankenstein tales (some not out until 2017), as well as some lovely obscure fairy tale retellings.  Here are some newly released and upcoming retellings I've discovered.

Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross
This is a companion to her other book, Kill Me Softly (a sleeping beauty retelling).  It came out in January of this year and is a retelling of Snow White.

One Witch at a Time by Stacy DeKeyser
This one is also a companion book; the first one is The Brixen Witch (the Pied Piper).  This one is a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, not one that's seen a lot of retellings.  It came out in February of this year. 

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, about the beast (a girl) and the curse that follows her family.  It came out in February of this year as well.

The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville
As you can probably tell from the cover, this is a retelling of the Goldilocks story, but from the point of view of the bears.  Definitely not many of this fairy tale that I've read.  I'm intrigued!  It came out in February this year.

Valiant by Sarah McGuire
Another unusual fairy tale retelling, this one tackles the Brave Little Taylor.  I've yet to get my hands on it, but I'm interested enough to pick it up.  Arrived in April of this year.

Rook by Sharon Cameron
There have been a handful of Scarlet Pimpernel retellings lately, and here's another that's set in the future.  I'm pretty much a sucker for anything retelling that story, cause it's one of my faves.  Came out in April 2015.

Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany A. Schmidt
This one says it's loosely based on the Princess and the Pea, and it's first in a series called Once Upon a Crime Family.  I'm sold! Came out in May 2015.

Lock & Mori by Heather Petty
One of several Sherlock retellings that's come out recently.  This one looks intriguing as an origin story, and Moriarty is a girl (obviously).  Coming out September 2015.

The Beast of Cretacea by Todd Strasser
I'm not sure if this is a straight up retelling of Moby Dick or not, but based solely on the characters of Ishmael and a Captain Ahab, I'm putting it in there.  This is a futuristic tale, set in space.  Coming October 2015.

Winter by Marissa Meyer
If you haven't heard about this one, you've been living under a rock.  Yeah! I'm so excited for it to finally come out - in November. Also, in case you didn't know, a retelling of Snow White.

Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker
I'm gonna let you guess which book this one is based on. :)  It's first in a new series called High School Horror, with plans to tackle Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Phantom of the Opera in the next books. This one comes out in January 2016.

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
This one is a retelling of the tale of Blackbeard, also not something that there's much of (though, I might just be ignorant of others).  It's coming in February of 2016- and I LOVE that cover!

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
And here is another Snow White retelling, there are so many!  Coming in February of 2016.

The Great Hunt Wendy Higgins
And for another unusual retelling, this one is based on the Singing Bone, a Grimm brothers fairy tale that I know nothing about. Coming in March 2016.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Not your typical retelling I believe, as this one "riffs on Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale," and it sounds rather interesting.  Coming next March.

Tru and Nelle by G. Neri
This is also not a straight up kind of retelling, as it's "inspired by the friendship between Truman Capote and Harper Lee."  It sounds rather interesting, nonetheless.  Coming in March 2016.

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff
This is the third in Shurtliff's series, the first two retelling Rumplestiltskin and Jack and the Beanstalk.  I've enjoyed both of them, so I'm eager to try this one as well.  Coming in April next year.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
And one more unusual retelling, this one is based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story “Rappaccini's Daughter,” which I've never heard of.  Sounds rather interesting and makes me want to find that short story.  Coming in April 2016.

Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake
And to round things out, we have a contemporary retelling of Romeo and Juliet.  This one comes out in May 2016.

Any favorites? Any that I missed?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Review: The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
Publisher: Random House Children's
Publication date: July 2014
Pages: 304
Source: Library
For: Award winners :)

Summary (from goodreads):
Here is the tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs—at once an intimate portrait of Russia's last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing. Using captivating photos and compelling first person accounts, award-winning author Candace Fleming (Amelia Lost; The Lincolns) deftly maneuvers between the imperial family’s extravagant lives and the plight of Russia's poor masses, making this an utterly mesmerizing read
Things I Liked:
I thought this book was really well written and researched. I was fascinated with the details and especially with the glimpses outside the family. They were so painfully unaware of all that went on in their country, it's hard to believe. It is amazing what lengths people will go to to retain power, even if they "don't want it," as Nicholas said several times. I remember going to an exhibit on Nicholas and Alexandra when I was a teen and being super fascinated by their story. It is just so horrifying and the history of the Russian people at this time (and during a number of other times) is so sad that I can't get it out of my head. I know I read a biography (or two) of the Romanovs, but I still felt like I knew almost nothing about the time period and the lower classes. Great book to introduce this period of time to young people!

Things I Didn't Like:
Nothing I can think of!

Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie (this is one of the books I read about them quite a while ago)

s-factor: none
well, maybe one or two incidental ones

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
considering their violent demise, this was expected

Overall rating: *****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mini Reviews 19

Here are a couple of mini reviews; I didn't have much to say about these ones (or forgot what I wanted to say).

Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George
This is second in the Castle Glower series, first one was Tuesdays at the Castle, which I really enjoyed.  This one was sweet and rollicky good fun. I like the griffin most of all. The book did, however, seem to kind of lose its way a bit in the middle. I felt like it didn't move us forward a lot in the series until much later and lots of things happen right near the end that aren't entirely clear. But I might read more in the series later.

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger
This is book 3 of the Finishing School Series by Carriger.  Honestly, I wish it was the last.  I tire of the series. I'm ready for it to be over (and expected it to be the last, what with trilogies being the Thing), but there's another book.  Some stuff actually happened in this one, though I can't seem to remember much of it. It's definitely as quirky and weird as the others, if that's your thing.

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
This book is super weird, but in a good way.  It is a crazy interesting story of reincarnation and enduring love. I was very much swept away in its atmospheric feeling and the beautiful writing. I did spend a lot of time wondering what was going on. I think that was on purpose.  I read this for the Printz award, and can see why it was chosen.  Still, very strange.  It reminded me of the strange in Chime by Franny Billingsley, which I also really liked.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
I read this because, Neil Gaiman.  Also, I got a review copy in the mail.  Yes!  This is such a fun book.  What a great read-aloud this would be with your kids or in school.  I loved how funny and cheeky and just downright wacky it got.  Will definitely get laughs out of your grade school kids (and older). I only wished there was more when it ended.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
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