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.

Blogtober Book Review: Bewitching by Alex Flinn

GoodReads Summary:
Bewitching can be a beast. . . .
Once, I put a curse on a beastly and arrogant high school boy. That one turned out all right. Others didn’t.
I go to a new school now—one where no one knows that I should have graduated long ago. I’m not still here because I’m stupid; I just don’t age.
You see, I’m immortal. And I pretty much know everything after hundreds of years—except for when to take my powers and butt out.
I want to help, but things just go awry in ways I could never predict. Like when I tried to free some children from a gingerbread house and ended up being hanged. After I came back from the dead (immortal, remember?), I tried to play matchmaker for a French prince and ended up banished from France forever. And that little mermaid I found in the Titanic lifeboat? I don’t even want to think about it.
Now a girl named Emma needs me. I probably shouldn’t get involved, but her gorgeous stepsister is conniving to the core. I think I have just the thing to fix that girl—and it isn’t an enchanted pumpkin. Although you never know what will happen when I start… bewitching.
Bewitching (Kendra Chronicles, #2)Review:
I’ve been working my way through Flinn’s backlist that I haven’t read yet. So, Bewitching was next up on the list. I really liked parts of this story and not so much some other parts. I think going into this, I assumed it was going to more of Kendra’s story. We do get a bit of Kendra’s history at the beginning, and tidbits of things she’s done in the past, but I wanted more I guess.
The story mostly follows Emma. She lives with her mom and her step-father. Her parents married when she was three, so her step-dad is really the only father she’s ever known and she loves him dearly. But it turns out that he has another daughter around Emma’s age. Lisette’s mom dies and so Lisette comes to live with Emma. Emma is excited to gain a sister, but her mom puts doubts in her head about Lisette’s intentions. And Emma starts to realize that her mom was right all along. I really liked Emma. She was so excited to have a sister. She wanted someone to share things with and really tried to give Lisette the benefit of the doubt until that just wasn’t possible anymore. I liked how her story ended too. She never stooped to Lisette’s level.
Lisette on the other hand was completely horrible. She’s the Cinderella in this retelling, but instead of being kind and sweet, she was conniving and devious. She took away everything from Emma one piece at a time. I understood her backstory, it was sad, but no excuse to be the terrible girl she was.
There were also three stories outside of Emma’s story. In the beginning, we get a bit of Kendra’s story, her family, when she learned she was a witch, and all that. But we also get two stories aside from Emma’s (and a brief mention of Beastly) where Kendra intervened to help people. One is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea and the other was The Little Mermaid and I just didn’t care about either if them at all. They really completely took me out of my enjoyment of Emma’s story. I almost DNF’d this book because the little mermaid story was almost 100 pages and I just didn’t care about it at all.
I’m still going to push through and try to finish this series because I do enjoy Flinn’s fairytale retellings and Kendra is still a pretty interesting character.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Wicked as You Wish by Rin Chupeco

GoodReads Review:
When a hidden prince, a girl with secrets, a ragtag group of unlikely heroes, and a legendary firebird come together…something wicked is going down.
Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left encased in ice when the Snow Queen waged war. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.
Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them.
A new hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala must unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.
Wicked As You Wish (A Hundred Names for Magic, #1)Review:
Rin Chupeco became an auto-buy author for me after I read the first two books of the Bone Witch series. I didn’t love the first book in that series, but I’ve loved everything of hers I’ve read since. So, when I didn’t love this, I was a bit disappointed. I want to say that I did enjoy this book, but I felt similarly about this that I did with The Bone Witch.
For the first 50-100 pages, the story pretty much dumps history and world-building into the story. I understood little because we’re coming into this story many years after the Kingdom of Avalon was encased in ice. So, there’s so much the reader needs to know before we can actually get to the part of the book where the characters try to get their kingdom back. But it was a bit too much for me. The backstory was just dumped in there and left me a little confused rather than over informing me. The confusing part of this story was that while it’s sort of set in modern times, it’s not set in the world as we know it. In this world, all the fairytales exist in the world in their own kingdoms. Every story from Snow White to Alice in Wonderland. I thought this was really creative and interesting, but it was a bit confusing at first.
Despite my trouble with the start of the book, I pushed through and was really here for the characters. Our main character Tala was the best. She has the ability to negate magic and I thought that was so freaking cool. I liked watching her develop and test her ability, including the times she accidentally negated magic and it had negative effects.
Then there’s the crown prince, Alex. I didn’t like him very much. I did at first, but after they leave Arizona, he’s kind of a dick to everyone around him and I really didn’t appreciate that. I guess we will wait and see if he’s better in the second book.
Then there are the bandersnatches. I’m not going to name them all but they were the friend group/guards of this story. I loved them. They added diversity and excellence to the story. They have unique abilities and personalities. Their histories are different, but some of them went to the same school. I really loved them as a group.
Overall, this wasn’t my favorite book by Chupeco (that honor goes to The Never Tilting World) but I still enjoyed it enough that I’ll be continuing the series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

GoodReads Summary:
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course, that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
Review:
My brain is definitely still processing everything that happened in this book. I tried to sort out my feelings by reading other reviews and that failed because I found out that there were quite a lot of readers that didn’t like this story at all. That really surprised me because I enjoyed this story. I think that’s because I tend to look at the positive things rather than zeroing in on the negatives.
I liked this story. I thought I’d give it a try because I’ve seen such rave reviews for Novik’s newest book, Spinning Silver. Uprooted was available through my library so I was excited to see what everyone was so excited about.
At the beginning of the book, I was a little unsure as to where this story was going to take me. Hearing about this mysterious man that takes a girl from one of the villages every ten years made me wonder what exactly was going to happen. And then learning about the unknown evil that is “The Wood.” The farther I got into this book the more I enjoyed it. There was a darkness within it that I wasn’t expecting from reading the synopsis. I think this darkness made me like it just that much more. I liked the interesting aspect of “The Wood” being this unknown evil and the fights or battles leading up to the crazy climax of Uprooted. This was a fairytale sort of book so the darkness was an interesting twist. I think this darkness is what kept me so interested in the book. I needed to know what was going to happen.
As for the characters, our female lead wasn’t anything to write home about. She was a messy, plain girl that can’t seem to do anything right. Suddenly she finds out that she’s special and has magical powers, but of course, she’s not magical in the traditional way. Her powers don’t work in the usual way so her mentor’s attempts to teach her fall short and he makes her life much harder than it needs to be. Really the only special thing about her is her complete lack of sense, she’s headstrong and has no regard for her own safety. She does show how much she cares for her loved ones. Saving those she cares for is usually the reason she’s running into danger that she knows she may not survive. She’s brave and a little outrageous and I liked seeing it come out of her as the story progressed and she really grew into herself. She started to gain confidence and care less that she was sort of a hot mess. I liked that about her. I also like where the story left her. It was an excellent conclusion to this crazy story.
The Dragon was a character that I really wasn’t sure how to feel about. I’m still not sure how to feel about him. Somehow we’re supposed to see him as a love interest but his relationship with our female lead was pretty aggressive. He spends most of the beginning of the book insulting her for being sloppy, for not being able to do magic the way he wants her to, for being outspoken and caring too much about the people from her village she’s had to leave behind. I understand why he felt that he needed to be such a jerk the whole time, but by the end of the book, he totally should have changed his attitude a bit more. He definitely could have lightened up a bit. I think he overplayed the jerk role just a little bit.
Overall I enjoyed this story. Uprooted was a story that grabbed me and wouldn’t spit me out until the last page. There was darkness within these pages that I didn’t anticipate but it really just made the story even better. Most fairytale type stories don’t have darkness aside from the villain and this story was full of twists and turns that were unexpected that definitely left me needing some time to comprehend what I’d read. The characters could have been better developed. There wasn’t a whole lot of character development in regards to them changing and growing for the better, but they did what the needed to. I would definitely read this story again and I’m excited to read the other works that Novik has written.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson

Summary:
Some see it… Some don’t…

People in the town of Deer Park, Texas are vanishing. There is a strange museum, known as Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, that appears overnight. Perrie Madeline’s best friend and ex-boyfriend are among the missing. Perrie and her friend August go on a pursuit for them in the mysterious museum. Could the elusive Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault have anything to do with the disappearances?

Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault is the start of a thrilling duology full of magic, danger, and romance.

glass vault
Review:
I received this book as an e-book version advanced readers copy (my first ARC ever!) from Parliament House Press. I was interested in the summary of this book along with the fact that it’s a horror/fairytale retelling – oh, and the cover. How cool is this cover? I’m trying to expand my reading tastes and horror books are not usually high up on my tbr list, but I’m glad I went out of my usual books and requested this book.
This story follows our main character, Perrie (I love this name.) while she’s trying to figure out what the hell is going on in her town. We get to meet her cousin/best friend Maisie, who was probably my favorite character in the entire book. Maisie wears eye patches that she designs and wears for fun. She doesn’t give a hoot what anyone thinks and knows that she’s an oddball. I love that she’s super enthusiastically her own person and doesn’t let anyone tell her she should behave differently. Though her silly, oddball personality ends up getting her into trouble.
Now, our main character, Perrie, she’s a total band geek who just wants to finish high school and figure out what she wants to do with her life. She has some mommy issues because her mother left when she was younger. Perrie is a super relatable character and I liked her, mostly. She seems to be trying to move forward from a hard breakup. Neven used to be one of her best friends as well as her boyfriend. The circumstances of their breakup are not revealed until a decent way into the story. This was a little annoying to me and I don’t know that it was entirely necessary to create so much suspense and mystery around the reason that Perrie broke up with him.
The last character I want to mention is August. There’s so much I’d like to say about him that I can’t because it would be a spoiler, but I will say what I can. I love August. I love his friendship with Perrie – even through the plot twist that I totally did not see coming. He was funny and charming and seems to be a great friend. He played an interesting part in the friend group. The three of them together, Perrie, Maisie, and August were entertaining to read about. They were relatable high school kids.
There were a few things that I didn’t like about this book. The writing was a bit awkward here and there. There were just a few places that the writing was awkward and things could have been written a bit better. At the beginning of the story, Perrie and Maisie say things like, “Oh darn.” But then later they’re swearing up a storm. They seemed to go from super innocent to mostly normal high school kids; it was just a weird change. The start of this story was a bit slow. It took me a few days and reading sessions to get into it, but once I got into the story I stayed up way too late to finish it. Much to my dismay, CLIFFHANGER. Oh, how I hate cliffhangers.
I enjoyed the storyline once I got fifty or so pages into the book. It’s a very unique and creative fairytale retelling. And not a retelling of just one tale, there are several different fairytales involved in Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault and I was definitely entertained by the horror aspect that the author used.
Ultimately, I liked this book. The writing could have been a bit better, but the story was interesting and creative enough for me to look past that. I really enjoyed the characters. They were relatable and entertaining. I especially enjoyed the plot twist because I did not see it coming at all. Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault was a fascinating mix of horror with the traditional fairytales. I would recommend this book to the older end of young adult readers because of the horror aspect. I would also really like to know when the second book is being released because the cliffhanger ending was killer and I need to know what happens next.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.