Amanda’s Favorite Retellings

Hey, lovelies! I used to read so many retellings, fairytale, folklore, and mythological retellings were a huge favorite genre of mine for a really long time. But I think I’m growing out of that. I’ve noticed that I don’t gravitate toward picking them up anymore. I will say that I do still read mythological retellings, and pretty often, especially now that we’re branching away from the typical Greek and Roman mythologies. I’ve also been discovering retellings other than fairytale and folklore. You will find some of those on this list. So, today I want to share some retellings that I really enjoyed.

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House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
This is a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses which was one of my favorite fairytales as a kid. I’d never read a retelling of this one before, and I think this one was excellent. I don’t know if it’s actually considered horror, but it definitely has some horror elements. Annaleigh is one of twelve siblings. But four of her siblings have died, one at a time, and Annaleigh doesn’t think that they were accidents. I really loved this book. It stayed true to the heart of the 12 Dancing Princesses fairytale and added some really cool horror elements. The setting was creepy and atmospheric.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
This is a Sherlock Holmes retelling, sort of. This is a four book series that follows Charlotte Homes and Jamie Watson. They are the descendents of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Charlotte and Jamie find themselves at the same boarding school and when a student is found murdered, they obviously must solve the mystery. I loved this whole series. There are a lot of hard hitting topics like mental health and drug use. There’s even a little bit of romance. This is one of the books I was talking about when I said I was finding and enjoying retellings outside of fairytales. This is a retelling of an older book series and I thought it was so interesting and I loved all of the characters.

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The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin
We have here a Henry VIII retelling. I actually didn’t know that this was a Shakespeare retelling until after I finished it. I think I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t read it in the description as I’m not a fan of Shakespeare at all. Despite that, I really enjoyed this modern retelling. I thought the mystery was well done and I really liked the characters. We follow Annie, nicknamed “Cleves”, and Henry. They are best friends, but they also briefly dated. Out of all of Henry’s ex-girlfriends, Cleves is the only one that has remained friends with him. She doesn’t think there’s anything suspicious about that, but after talking to some of his ex’s she might be changing her mind. I liked the mystery in this one because I couldn’t decide whether of not Henry was actually guilty right until the end of the book.

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The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis
This one is more inspired by than a true retelling, but I really loved it so I had to add it to this list. Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, this is a dark and gritty story of revenge. In a small town in Ohio lives Tress and Felicity, two girls that used to be best friends. When Tress’s parents went missing, Felicity was with them, but she claims not to remember anything about what happened. Tress doesn’t believe her and she’s determined to get the truth out of Felicity, even if that means sealing her up, brick by brick. This book was weird and dark as hell and I cannot wait for the sequel.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
This series is a pretty popular one, but this first book is my favorite of the series. It’s a historical retelling with a fantasy twist. This one is a bit less retelling than it is fantasy. We follow Lady Jane Grey as she’s about to become queen. But her cousin is determined to see her married. The only problem is that the love interest, G, turns into a horse everyday at dawn. This added some hilarity to the story. I loved this book because it was funny but it also had an interesting historical feel.

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Another popular one, but this is the origin story of the Queen of Hearts. We get to see her childhood and the events that led up to the Queen of Hearts that we know from Alice in Wonderland. There’s lots of baking and love and fun in this book. There’s love and romance, but also betrayal and heartbreak. I thought this was a really great retelling or rather a prequel story.

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
This one is more of an after sort of retelling. In this one, we get to see what happens to Cinderella’s stepsisters after Cinderella meets and marries her Prince Charming. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this one because the main character that we follow, Isabelle. She’s the stepsister that cut off her toes to try and fit in the glass slipper. Isabelle is a pretty unlikeable character, but the way that this story is told really helped that. Instead of just Isabelle’s perspective, we see a point of view from Fate, who is following the map of Isabelle’s life. They’re watching to see what path Isabelle might take and if she will veer away from the path expected for her. I thought this was a really unique retelling about a character that most people don’t think of in the Cinderella story.

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And I Darken by Kiersten White
We have a historical retelling, which surprisingly end up being some of my favorites. I don’t really love historical fiction, but there’s something about a really good historical retelling that keeps me engaged in the story. We follow Lada and Radu. This is a gender bent retelling of Vlad the Impaler. Lada is a vicious and angry girl. She’s determined to prove that she is worthy to her father, but when she and her brother, Radu, are sent as gifts to be raised in the Ottoman courts, she feels nothing but betrayal. This is a really slow moving story, but it’s so worth it. We see Lada grow from a vicious girl into a lethal young woman. I absolutely loved it.

These are some of my favorite retellings. I’ve had so much fun finding new kinds of retellings from alternate historical retellings to retellings of other fiction works, to some more unique fairytale and folklore stories. Do you have any favorite retellings? Leave a comment and share them with me!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

If You Liked This, Then Try That (Series Edition)

Hey, lovelies! One of my favorite types of bookish posts and/or videos is the ‘if you liked this book, then try that book.’ So, last year I tried some of my own and I really had fun picking books to compare to one another. Which is why I’m back today with another one. Let’s get right into it!

If you liked The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, you should try The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.
The Cruel Prince follows Jude. Jude is a human living in the Fairie courts. She is determined to prove herself. So, naturally, she becomes involved in the courts politics and the games that the fey play. She must prove that she belongs there by defying the prince, Cardan. While this wasn’t my favorite series with fey in it, it’s definitely a fun enemies to lovers story. The Iron King follows Meghan Chase as she’s thrust into the world of the Fey. She learns that she is the daughter of Oberon and that the courts are in danger. War is coming and Meghan might just be the person to stop it. These books both follow humans (or half-human for Meghan) that are taken into the world of the Fey. They Fey are a cruel people and that’s shown in both series. But I think it’s done better in The Iron Fey series. Meghan is a little annoying, but she has great growth. Personally, I found The Cruel Prince lacking, especially the final book. But with The Iron King, each book just got better and better.

If you liked The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, you might like Red Rising by Pierce Brown.
The Hunger Games follows Katniss as she volunteers for the Hunger Games to save her sisters life. Each year 12 people are selected to compete in the Hunger Games, a vicious battle to the death. Two people from each district, and when Prim’s name is called, Katniss takes her place. It’s a story of survival in a brutal world. Red Rising follows Darrow. Darrow is a Red, the lowest caste. After the death of his wife, he joins the rebellion and infiltrates the Golds, the highest caste. He’s learned that everything he knew about the world has been a lie and he’s ready to burn it down. Both of these stories are ones of survival. But as the series continue, they both become stories about overthrowing a government that is mistreating its people, that’s keeping them separate, lower. They’re both filled with characters that just want things to change for their people. They see a chance to make that change happen, so they take it.

If you liked Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson, you will probably like A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro.
Truly Devious follows Stevie as she starts attending the well known Ellingham Academy. Shortly after the school was opened the founder’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and never seen again. Stevie has decided that at Ellingham, she is going to solve this unsolved crime, one of the greatest in history. While she’s researching this, mysterious things start happening in the present. Now Stevie may have more than one mystery to solve. A Study in Charlotte is a Sherlock Holmes retelling following Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes who are the descendents of the original Holmes and Watson. They meet at boarding school and quickly have their own mystery to solve. Both of these series follow characters at a boarding school. Both follow characters that are trying to solve a murder. Both also have really great mental health representations. They both have characters that don’t always make the best choice, but you can’t help but root for them anyway.

If you liked The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, you should try For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig.
The Bone Witch follows Tea who has resurrected her brother. She has the gift of necromancy, which means she is a bone witch, a title that isn’t looked upon very nicely. Tea goes to learn to hone her asha abilities, but there is a darkness coming and Tea if forced to make some hard decisions. For a Muse of Fire is the story of Jetta. She and her family are shadow players. They put on a show with puppets behind a scrim. Their show is said to be as if their puppets aren’t being controlled by strings. That is because they’re not. Jetta is a necromancer. This means that with her blood she can bind souls to things. So, she binds them to her puppets. But the rebellion is growing and Jetta doesn’t want to hide her abilities anymore. I compare these two for the obvious reason, their main characters are both necromancers. And necromancers are forbidden or looked down upon. Aside from this, both of these series are set in diverse worlds, with diverse characters, and they talk about heavy, but important, topics. I highly recommend both of these trilogies.

If you liked All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace, you might like Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen.
All the Stars and Teeth is the story of Amora Montara. She’s the princess of Visidia, but to claim the title of heir to the throne she must master soul magic and gain the title of High Animancer. When things don’t go how she’s practiced, she flees the capital. This is when we meet Bastian. This is Amora’s first time seeing the rest of her kingdom and she learns that her father has been hiding things from her. There is unrest and Amora must find a way to fix things before she can claim her place on the throne. Dark Shores tells Teriana’s story. Teriana is the heir to the Maarin Triumvirate, essentially a princess. The Maarin are the only people in the world that know the entirety of the world. The East doesn’t know about the Dark Shores and the Dark Shores doesn’t know about the East, only the Maarin know. But when Maarin ships are being captured and held by the East, Teriana agrees to share what she knows and show Legatus Marcus of the 37th legion how to get to the Dark Shores. These stories are both part pirate stories and part princess stories. Both female leads are trying to figure out what it means to lead when everything around them is falling apart. They also both spend a significant amount of time sailing on ships. They both have really interesting worlds and magic systems. I do have to say that while I did really enjoy All the Stars and Teeth, I am majorly obsessed with the Dark Shores series.

These are the recommendations that I have for you all today. As always, these recommendations go both ways. Let me know if you’re read any of these or what you think of my comparisons?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Eighteen: If You Liked This, Then Read That

Hey, lovelies! I want to start by saying a big thank you to my favorite human, Alana (find her here!), for helping think of this post idea. Today I am going to be recommending some books that are all great for October. I thought it would be fun to recommend books based off of other books. So, this will be a ‘if you liked this book, try that book’ kind of post, but they’re all books that would be great to read during the spooky season.

If you liked Sadie by Courtney Summers then you should try I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan. Sadie is a girl that is trying to find out what happened to her younger sister. At the same time, we get chapters that are written in the format of a podcast (which is why the audiobook is so great). The podcast is several months after Sadie’s chapters and it’s trying to find out what happened to her. I Hope You’re Listening follows Dee. Ten years ago, she saw her best friend abducted. In the present timeline, a new family moved into her best friends old house and the young girl that lives there is kidnapped. Dee is equally horrified and fascinated. One of the thing’s Dee did to move on from seeing her best friend kidnapped was to start a podcast that focuses on current kidnapping cases. She brings awareness to current cases and directs the internet to see if they can find anything that might help solve these cases. These two books both follow young girls that have dealt with loss. They both also have taken to trying to find the truth themselves or with the help of others. Also, both have podcasts. I really enjoyed both of these books and I think you will too.

If you liked Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power you might like The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. Burn Our Bodies Down follows Margot, who has always been desperate for family outside of her mother. So, when she finds out that she has a grandmother she travels to meet her. Things get weird at her grandmothers house. Margot realizes that she is surrounded by secrets and she’s desperate to get to the truth. The Roanoke Girls is about Lane moving in with her grandparents after her mother commits suicide. The women in this family have either left and not been heard from again or they’re dead. This family is full of secrets and Lane can’t help but run when she learns the truth. But she returns when she hears here cousin, Allegra, is now missing. These two books are both full of family secrets and young girls that are determined to learn the truth, but the truths they discover might be more than they bargained for. I loved Burn Our Bodies Down and mostly liked The Roanoke Girls but they definitely have some common elements.

If you liked Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson you will probably like A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. Truly Devious follows Stevie after she’s been accepted to the famous Ellingham Academy in Vermont. Stevie is determined to solve the schools cold case. The founders wife and daughter were kidnapped shortly after the school opened. While she’s working on that, one of her fellow students is murdered. There is more going on at this school that Stevie realizes. A Study in Charlotte is a Sherlock Holmes retelling of sorts. It follows Charlotte and Jamie who are descendants of Holmes and Watson. They end up going to the same boarding school where they are being framed for murder. These two books obviously have the boarding school in common. But they also both are filled with diverse characters and murders that aren’t quite what they seem. They also both have complicated romances that I absolutely adore.

If you liked Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus you should try Little Monsters by Kara Thomas. Two Can Keep a Secret is the story of Ellery moving to her mother’s home town to live with her grandmother. Her aunt went missing years and years ago and five years ago, the homecoming queen was killed. Someone is making threats. Threats that say this will be the most dangerous homecoming season in five years. The threats aren’t taken seriously until a girl goes missing. There are all kinds of secrets in this town and they’re all going to come to light. Little Monsters follows Kacey after she moves to a new town to live with her dad and his new family. She suddenly has a stepmother, a stepbrother, and a half sister. She almost doesn’t trust the calm when she settles into her new life and makes friends with Jade and Bailey. Then Bailey disappears, and everyone is looking to Kacey for answers. She doesn’t know if there is anyone she can trust anymore. So, these two stories both follow girls that have not so great mothers that cause them to move to new towns. In those new towns, things are probably not as perfect as they seem at first look. I liked both of these, but I cannot recommend Little Monsters enough and I wish more people talked about it.

If you liked A Million Junes by Emily Henry you might like We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund. A Million Junes follows June who is dealing with the grief of losing her father. The one rule that’s been instilled in her is to stay away from the Angerts. But when Saul comes back to town, there’s just something about him that she can’t stay away from. The two join together to figure out what the truth behind their family feud is. They find magic, ghosts, and secrets. We Speak in Storms is the story of three characters, Joshua, Brenna, and Callie. It’s been 50 years since the tornado that destroyed the drive-in movie theatre, and on it’s fiftieth anniversary another tornado comes. The three main characters are all outsiders and they’ve been brought together when they don’t know that they need it. They work together to solve their problems and the problems of the past. I chose these two together because they both involve ghosts and history that needs to be righted.

These are the ten books I’ve chosen for my first attempt at ‘if you like this book then try that one’. I hope you agree with my choices because I had so much fun picking out comparisons for some of the more well known books. I tried to highlight books that I don’t often see anyone talking about. I enjoyed these books very much and I hope you will too. Do you have any books that you think would work for these comparisons?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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GoodReads Summary:
The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.
From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.
A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)Review:
I picked this one up as a part of my Contemporaryathon TBR. I’m beyond glad I finally got into this series. I cannot wait to pick up the next book. A Study in Charlotte turned out to be a little bit darker than I had anticipated, but I think all the heavy topics that are mentioned are discussed well and used wisely.
I really was surprised to realize that this book is told from Jamie’s point of view. I really enjoyed that. I thought it was interesting to be in his mind. I thought he was kind of annoying at first, but he mostly grew on me.
I completely adore Charlotte. She has problems and issues and she admits to them and accepts them. But she’s also always right. Seeing her and Jamie meet and grow together was the best part of this book. They have all this family history and are basically bound to one another regardless of what they want.
Overall, this was a captivating mystery with characters to die for. I thought the story was paced well and the writing was interesting. I am very eager to pick up the next book in the series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.