Sunday, December 9, 2018

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay is an intriguing retelling of Beauty and the Beast. In this book a blind princess lives her life as full as she can until the time when she will be required to get married and give herself to her country. She is what's known as a 'Smooth Skin' while the original inhabitants are known as 'Monstrous' because of the odd traits they have which help them live in the harsh climate of the world. A Monstrous named Gem infiltrates the city along with a few other in the hopes of stealing whatever lets the Smooth Skins live so well. However, Gem is caught and Princess Isra keeps him in the hopes that he will be able to give her a cure for those Smooth Skins who have Monstrous traits. However, as Isra's vision, which she lost as a child, begins to return she must also open her heart and mind as she learns not only about herbs from Gem but that the Monstrous aren't monstrous at all. She learns that she must defy tradition to truly save her people from destruction.

This retelling is an AMAZING retelling of Beauty and the Beast, albeit a little dark. There is a curse involved, and there is death. Many things are kept from Isra as she is kept in her tower and taught what the people in power want her to know. Each night Isra escapes and goes to the city's roses which provide protection and ensure the crops thrive. However, whenever Isra allows herself to be pricked by their thorns so they can drink some of her blood they let her see various parts of the city or the area around her. She is engaged in this when Gem and some of his family invade in the hope of stealing whatever makes the city prosper. Gem and the others are captured, but Gem is kept as a hostage. He and Isra begin to work together and learn about each other's misconceptions as well as more about themselves. Gem doesn't know about the sacrifice that Isra will end up having to make, and she avoids telling him the closer they get. In the end, Isra decides to fight her fate, remembering things of her childhood and finding clues to indicate that maybe the current traditions are not what will save her people from the harsh climate of the world their ancestors came to so long ago. She fights for herself, for the love she has for her people, and for her love for Gem.

This book is so good. It challenges conceptions, although it is a little dark. There is death and blood sacrifice in this book so if anyone has an issue with those I wouldn't recommend reading this book.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend for readers of YA Fantasy and retellings of fairy tales.

P.S. I'm so sorry I'm late again ;-; I was in a wedding yesterday and have been so busy and tired that I forgot about this >.< But I'm going to work on stuff today so hopefully next week will be good! Please let me know if you'd rather this posted on a different day or time, I like to try and write a bunch at one time and schedule them so it's not a big deal to me :)

Monday, December 3, 2018

Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip

Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip is a slow-moving but entrancing fantasy about a man who is cursed the people affected by it. The story is told from the perspective of a girl named Rois whose mother died when she was young so despite efforts from her sister and father she runs wild in the woods. She isn't a willful or disobedient person per se, she just feels the need to go outside or explore and she does. This is how Rois' family becomes entangled with Corbet Lynn and how his life is consumed by the supposed curse that no one can seem to remember.

This book was enthralling. It is a bit of a slow read because you need to take in all the details, but I couldn't put it down. I completely lost track of time and actually took a bit longer on lunch than I should have, oops! Rois is such a wonderful character, I love how she is described and how everything is through her point of view. In this book, a young man comes back to the home where his father was cursed but no one can remember the actual curse and there are plenty of strange things around his house and the woods. Rois has to figure what's going on to save Corbet, her sister, and even herself. The imagery is stunning without being too overwhelming and the story is incredibly intriguing. Apparently, it's based on a Tam Lin fairy tale, although I've never read the original myself.

I think the only thing about this book is it is a bit of a slow read. I usually like to dive into my books and speed along, whereas this is more of a pleasant slow stroll. That being said, as I mentioned before I couldn't stop reading it so it obviously wasn't enough to deter my enjoyment.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 stars and recommend it for YA readers of fantasy. Note: It can be a little abstract, so while there isn't any violence or sexual parts in this book I do recommend it for older ages.

P.S. I am so sorry I didn't get this out yesterday! I honestly thought I had one more week and I checked my blog and nothing posted yesterday! I'll make sure to get a few reviews ready to post so it doesn't happen again. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George

Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George continues the story of the twelve dancing princesses and combines it with the classic tale 'Little Red Riding Hood.' In this book the sisters face the evil of the remaining brothers down below along with the men in their lives. Petunia, the youngest, is visiting a lady from when she was traveling and ends up getting accidentally kidnapped.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit, although not as much as the first two for some reason. I like the boy she meets, Eric, and how they work together as they try to keep the girls from becoming prisoners of the King Under Stone yet again. All the sisters are having nightmares sent from the evil king and shadowy presences visit Petunia every night to taunt her. The girls end up having to figure out how to escape them and to permanently seal them underground.

I enjoyed this story but I felt it moved a little faster than the others. I thought the relationship between Petunia and Eric moved a little quicker than I would have expected. I liked how the Duchess was brought in but it would've been nice for the book to be just a little bit longer in my opinion.

I give this book a 7 out of 10 and recommend it for readers of YA Fantasy and retellings of fairy tales.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George is a Cinderella story involving one of the twelve dancing princesses. This is a very clever retelling and it starts out by explaining that in order to spread goodwill after so many bad things had happened the king sent his daughters out to neighboring kingdoms to prove that nothing was going on anymore. Poppy is sent to the kingdom of Breton where she is embroiled in a Cinderella story and more is going on than meets the eye.

Poppy doesn't really want to dance, as she's one of the middle sisters and remembered enough of the times they were forced to dance as not to enjoy it, but she's invited to quite a few balls regardless. She gets caught up in the story of Ella and how the girl seems to have such bad luck. Ella's fortunes change though and Poppy has to figure out how to save not only Ella but the men vying for her attention. She's able to use things she learned from her brother in law to make charms and potions to help with the effects of the spells being cast but in the end only true love is able to save the day.

I love this retelling and I think it's great how Jessica Day George interwove it with the previous story of the twelve dancing princesses. I wouldn't have minded getting a little more development between Christian and Poppy but really it was pretty good.

I give this book an 8 out of 10 and recommend it for readers of YA Fantasy and fairy tale retellings.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George is a retelling of the fairytale classic 'The Twelve Dancing Princesses' where twelve daughters of the king have worn out dancing shoes every night. The traditional story says the king wants to know where they go and so sets up a test where any man can try to guess where the princesses are going. They are all unsuccessful until a soldier who was given a cloak of invisibility for an act of kindness is able to figure out what's going on. The ending differs depending on the story, usually either the soldier asks to marry one of the princesses or asks to let them marry the princes they're dancing with depending on how old he is.

This is an excellent retelling of the classic fairy tale and I love the twist that Jessica Day George puts on it. The girls are basically forced to dance every night with dark princes underground. The princes' father was imprisoned long ago and is using the girls to try and make that happen. This story is how the girls deal with this and their regular lives as they are prevented with magic from talking about it. Their father doesn't understand, and when he sends out the proclamation to invite eligible young men to try they try to plead with him. The church gets involved and the situation is even worse than before. Only a young soldier is willing to take the advice offered to him that allows him to trail the princesses on their evening journeys. In the end, he's the crucial person who helps the princesses and helps the kingdom to be restored.

I really enjoy this book and I can't really think of anything that I would like her to change. It is a bit dark but not overly so and it's well written.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it for readers of YA Fantasy and retellings of fairy tales.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Dream-Maker's Magic by Sharon Shinn

The Dream-Maker's Magic by Sharon Shinn is the final tale of the Safe-Keeper's Secret Trilogy. In this book all sorts of wishes are made, dreams are both granted and crushed, and startling truths come to light throughout the book. In this book you truly get a sense of what it means to be the Dream-Maker and what sacrifices are made while in that position.

This book is about a young girl whose mother believes should be a boy and so treats her as one and a young crippled boy who is abused. Once they meet they become the best of friends and are practically inseparable. They help each other with school and with physical issues as well. Kellen has to reconcile how her mother raised her with the desire to be a girl like she should be and Gryffin has to try to deal with his abuse and his legs being practically unusable. As they grow up together they begin to find places in life they're happy in when a surprising event takes place and they are separated for a bit. Kellen eventually follows Gryffin and they discover their feelings while also helping some people in the city and Kellen is able to learn some new that makes her feel most content with herself for the first time.

This book is wonderful. There is so much to be said for two children who have to use each other for support since the adults around them won't do it. They do have some help, as the teacher of the schoolhouse and some others help them by offering them jobs and things to do, but for the most part they are there for each other in their youth. I really find it amazing out Sharon Shinn can make things so convoluted but unravel them in such a wonderful way. I also enjoy how all the books are connected and have cameos of previous characters.

I give this book an 8 out of 10 and recommend it for readers of YA Fantasy.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Truth-Teller's Tale by Sharon Shinn

The Truth-Teller's Tale by Sharon Shinn is the book that follows The Safe-Keeper's Secret. In this book the world of Truth-Tellers, Safe-Keepers, and the Dream-Maker all overlap and provide an exhilarating adventure full of forbidden love and secrets coming to life.

In this book there is a pair of mirror twins, Adele and Eleda, who are a Safe-Keeper and Truth-Teller respectively. They work at an inn their parents own and come into their powers at a rather young age. This story tells how they figure out how to come to terms with their powers and how it affects those around them. Eleda finds that the truth is not obviously easy to spot and Adele cannot hide the secret of her heart from those closest to her. Their best friend Roelynn, whose father wants her to marry the prince, keeps their lives interesting as she lives her life the way in the way she wants as much as she can with a controlling father. When a dancing instructor and his assistant come into town their lives are thrown into turmoil as forbidden love happens and secrets are revealed.

This story was incredibly well written and is probably my favorite of the three in this series. Having the powers they do really does make them grow up in a certain way more quickly than others, and they have to make decisions that others can't make. There are some hard scenes in this book but they just make the story all the richer.

I give this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it for readers of YA Fantasy.