Reviews

Review: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Book Review

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
Fantasy, Mythology, Retelling

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Synopsis
As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.

What I thought
Thank you Macmillan Audio and Netgalley for giving me an ARC copy of this book for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings expressed are my own.

I have always enjoyed mythology, but I have to say I love that we are getting retellings that focus on the mostly forgotten women of the original myths.  They were briefly mentioned and usually, the context around them was not good.   I took a mythology class in high school (no one needs to know how long ago that was) and we studied the Greek myths.  So when the only thing I could remember about Ariadne was that she liked to dance I knew I was in for a treat.  The original story focused on Theseus and the Minotaur and little was said about the Minotaur’s sisters.  Also, the original story used the mother as a lesson to be learned.  So I really enjoy that this story dives into the fact that the mother is used by the gods to punish her husband and it shows her trama.  In many ways, this story gives back to all the women that were just brushed over.   And it does help that some of the men do get what is coming to them.  

I found the writing to be lovely and I was pulled into the story from the beginning.  This is a wonderful book for anyone that loves retellings or is a fan of Madeline Miller’s Circe.  

My Rating: /5

Have you read this book? If so what did you think? Tell me in the comments below.

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Reviews

Review: The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh by Molly Greeley

Book Review

The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh by Molly Greeley
Historical Fiction, Retelling

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Synopsis
In this gorgeously written and spellbinding historical novel based on Pride and Prejudice, the author of The Clergyman’s Wife combines the knowing eye of Jane Austen with the eroticism and Gothic intrigue of Sarah Waters to reimagine the life of the mysterious Anne de Bourgh.


As a fussy baby, Anne de Bourgh’s doctor prescribed laudanum to quiet her, and now the young woman must take the opium-heavy tincture every day. Growing up sheltered and confined, removed from sunshine and fresh air, the pale and overly slender Anne grew up with few companions except her cousins, including Fitzwilliam Darcy. Throughout their childhoods, it was understood that Darcy and Anne would marry and combine their vast estates of Pemberley and Rosings. But Darcy does not love Anne or want her.

After her father dies unexpectedly, leaving her his vast fortune, Anne has a moment of clarity: what if her life of fragility and illness isn’t truly real? What if she could free herself from the medicine that clouds her sharp mind and leaves her body weak and lethargic? Might there be a better life without the medicine she has been told she cannot live without?

In a frenzy of desperation, Anne discards her laudanum and flees to the London home of her cousin, Colonel John Fitzwilliam, who helps her through her painful recovery. Yet once she returns to health, new challenges await. Shy and utterly inexperienced, the wealthy heiress must forge a new identity for herself, learning to navigate a “season” in society and the complexities of love and passion. The once wan, passive Anne gives way to a braver woman with a keen edge—leading to a powerful reckoning with the domineering mother determined to control Anne’s fortune . . . and her life.

An extraordinary tale of one woman’s liberation, The Heiress reveals both the darkness and light in Austen’s world, with wit, sensuality, and a deeply compassionate understanding of the human heart. 

What I thought
Have you ever stumbled upon a book and realized that you really needed this story? And that story is based on a side character from a beloved book?  Well, here is that book for me.

There are a lot of people who don’t remember who  Anne de Bourgh is in Pride and Prejudice.  I will be honest I had to think about it for a moment too.  She is a side character you only see maybe once twice and it’s her mother that ends up overshadowing her character in the book.  This book is her life story and I loved it so much.  You are never really told anything about her other than she is sicky and I think that even Austen would like this telling of her.  Please do note that this is a slow-paced book from the perspective of Anne who is sometimes drugged. 

For anyone who has not read Pride and Prejudice (P&P) or does not really remember Anne, she is the cousin that was promised from birth to Darcy.  Neither Darcy nor Anne are supposed to have a choice in the matter because it was their mother’s wishes.  So I guess we all should be thankful that it does not appear that anything formal was set up.  Due to Anne’s father’s estate set up, it can be inherited by a woman which is very rare for that time.  So yes the sisters were thinking about how large an estate this would pull together if their children married, and not about the happiness of those children. 

In this book we follow Anne throughout her life and as sheltered as she is you really get to see her spirit as you go through this book.  I loved that we get to see her take her life into her own hands and finally come into her own.   Anne proves she doesn’t need a man to run her estate and I loved her for that.  

We all knew from P&P that Anne’s mother Catherine was a piece of work but drugging your baby just so they wouldn’t cry and would act well behaved is a whole new low.  As a mother I am appalled but I am sadly not surprised.  However, at this time Laudanum was the magic fix all and they were just beginning to realize how bad it was.  

I think my favorite part of this book is how Darcy and Elizabeth are brought back into Anne’s story later in life.  It really warmed my heart. 

I think that whether or not you are a P&P fan you would like this if you enjoy a good historical book set in Regency England.

My Rating: /5

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Reviews

Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Book Review

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

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Synopsis
A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

What I thought
Thank you Macmillan Audio and Netgalley for giving me an audio copy of this book for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When I picked up this book all that I knew about it was that it was a YA fantasy inspired by Persian mythology and a Rappaccini’s Daughter retelling. I was sold by that concept alone. Oh and it’s a standalone. I had not read anything by this author before so I was amazed at the beautifully enchanting writing of this book. This book was very atmospheric, I had no issues imagining every aspect of the story.

This is the story of Soraya, a girl that was cursed as a baby to be poisonous. The only living thing that she can interact with is flowers. I found Soraya to be a very frustrating character due to her making a lot of really bad decisions and could be very naive; however, what do you expect from someone that was forced to hide away with little to no interaction for her entire life.

The heart of this story is Soraya’s journey of self-love and acceptance. Soraya has spent her life not liking herself due to the way that she is. During this story she is able to see that what made her so different is also what makes her special. Which is a wonderful theme for a YA book.

I really enjoyed the narrator of this book. The way that she read the story pulled me in. She was able create the voices that seemed to fit each character.

My Rating: /5

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Review: Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz

Book Review

Jo & Laurie
by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz
Young Adult, Retelling, Romance

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Synopsis
1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration—museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!

But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo’s desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart’s desire or lose the love of her life forever?

What I thought
I was sent a copy of this book from Megan Beatie Communications through Net Galley for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I feel the need to state that this review is coming from someone that has not read Little Women nor have I watched the movie. I feel this is important to point out because I think that if you have read Little Women or even watched the movie you would already have some connection with these characters from the beginning.

I am a fan of Melissa de la Cruz’s books and this one did not disappoint.

This story takes place between the publication of Little Women and Good Wives. This book is first and foremost a love story between Joe and Laurie. But another bonus is that this book shows how a whole everyone in a family can deal with grief differently. I do not think this was meant to be a main plot point but I think it was displayed well.

This book took me about 100 pages to really get into it but I really think its because I did not know the original story.
I loved watching Joe and Laurie’s relationship. Everyone in the story knew that those two were meant to be together except Joe. She had a lot to work through to discover that she is allowed to be happy too. I liked the portrayal of grief and depression in this story and seeing how it was worked through. I felt so many feelings while reading this book that I did not expect to feel.

I recommend this book to anyone that thinks that the story sounds interesting. Just note if you have not read Little Women it will take a little bit to connect with these characters.

My Rating: /5

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Reviews

Review: The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen

Book Review

The Lady in the Coppergate Tower
by Nancy Campbell Allen
(Steampunk Proper Romance #3)
Fantasy, Steampunk, Retelling
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Synopsis
Hazel Hughes has spent her life believing she is a Medium—someone who can talk to ghosts. But as of yet, that skill has remained frustratingly elusive. She is also suffering from a reoccurring childhood dream of someone who looks almost exactly like Hazel, but this dream version of herself is slowly going mad.

Sam MacInnes is a talented surgeon who runs in the highest social circles thanks to his family’s position and history. When Sam hires Hazel to assist him with his medical practice, he is immediately drawn to her intelligence, wit, and beauty.

Their potential relationship is derailed one evening when a mysterious count arrives in London and reveals to Hazel the truth about her past: she was abducted at birth and her twin sister has fallen dangerously ill.

Hazel agrees to travel to Romania with Count Petrescu in order to save her sister, and Sam insists on accompanying her. The count has secrets, though, and the journey grows more sinister with every mile that draws Hazel closer to her homeland. Even as her feelings for Sam become deeper and more complicated, she fears she might not survive the quest to save her sister with her heart intact, not to mention her life. She must learn to draw on gifts she doesn’t know she has if they are going to ever return home again.

Hazel and Sam must fight their way past dark magic, clockwork beasts, and their own insecurities as they try to reach her sister in the impenetrable Coppergate Tower before time runs out.

What I thought
This story is a Steampunk Rapunzel retelling. This is also a proper romance novel. I love Nancy Campbell Allen’s Proper Romance Steampunk Fairy Tale retellings. Even though this is the third part to this series these books can be read as stand-alones.

I really enjoyed watching Hazel and Sam together. Hazel believes her gift is being a Medium however she finds that she is a healer. Since Hazel works for Sam he knew that the balance of power was his so he was so very careful to not cross lines. My absolute favorite character from this book had to be Eugene. When things got tense you could count on him being the balance. He made me laugh so many times.

I guessed Count Petrescu’s big secret shortly after meeting him but there were sometimes when I doubted what I thought I knew. Even knowing what/who he was did not take away from this story for me. I was left guessing what I thought I knew enough times to keep me on my toes.

If you like a good character driven story than this is a great one for you.

My Rating: /5

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Review: Curiouser and Curiouser by Melanie Karsak

Book Review

Curiouser and Curiouser by Melanie Karsak
(Steampunk Fairy Tales #1)
Fantasy, Steampunk, Retelling
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Synopsis
To save the Hatter, Alice must work with the one man she despises so much that she might still love him.

Alice thought she’d turned over a new leaf. No more working for Jabberwocky. No more making deals with the ruthless Queen of Hearts. No more hanging around The Mushroom with tinkers, tarts, scoundrels, and thieves in London’s criminal underbelly. But she’d been bonkers to dream.

Hatter’s reckless behavior leads Alice back to the one person she never wanted to see again, Caterpillar. Pulled into Caterpillar’s mad schemes, Alice must steal a very big diamond from a very royal lady. The heist is no problem for this Bandersnatch. But protecting her heart from the man she once loved? Impossible.

Sometimes love is mad.

See how NY Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak reimagines Lewis Carroll’s classic fairy tale, Alice in Wonderland, with a steampunk twist! Join us at The Mushroom in gaslamp Victorian London.

What I thought
I received a copy of this book from the Author, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I was sold when I heard that this was a Steampunk version of Alice in Wonderland. I have read other books by this author in her steampunk world and I loved them so when I saw that there was a Alice and Wonderland one I couldn’t sign up fast enough.

I am really picky about my Alice in Wonderland retellings. There are a lot of them and I have found that not a lot of them put a new twist on the story. I really enjoyed this twist on Alice in Wonderland. This whole story takes place in Victorian London and all of your players are there. Following the white rabbit down the rabbit hole has a new twist. One thing that I did appreciate is that you not only get your classic characters but you get to see Alice’s sister and Dinah their cat.

There is enough room for Melanie to expand Alice’s story if she wanted to write another book following her.

This story isn’t very long so I do not want to spoil the story for you. But do know that if you like the world that she has created then you are in for a treat because all of her steampunk books take place in the world.

My Rating: /5

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Review: Howls and Hallows by Melanie Karsak

Book Review

Howls and Hallows
Howls and Hallows
by Melanie Karsak
(Steampunk Red Riding Hood #5)
Fantasy, Retelling, Steampunk
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Synopsis
You’re invited to the All Hallows Ball.
*Werewolves prohibited.

Busy tracking down thieving werewolves in London, Clemeny is surprised when Edwin asks her to lead a new case in the Fenlands of east England.

The Cabell family is haunted by a curse. Something in the misty moors surrounding Cabell Manor has come howling just days before the exclusive All Hallows Ball. How gauche. But London’s best agent is on the case.

Clemeny soon finds herself learning the ropes of polite society while hunting an apparition on the foggy fens. She’ll need to solve the case quickly if she hopes to be the belle–not the bruiser–of the ball.

Continue Clemeny’s adventures in Howls and Hallows , a Halloween-themed tale. Journey to gaslamp London in the 19th century in this steampunk retelling of the classic Red Riding Hood fairy tale by New York Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak.

What I thought
This is the 5th book in the series.  This may not have been one of my favorite in this series but I really like how it ends.  I am so happy that Clemeny is finally taking charge of her heart and not letting other disctiate how she should feel.  I really liked the old Celtic God aspect that this book focuses around.  It just did not grab me like the others in the series have.  This book is definitely setting up the conclusion to this story and I am so pumped for where this is heading.

This whole series is available through Kindle Unliminated.

My Rating: /53.5 stars

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