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.

Blogmas Book Review – My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Summary:
Jane has endured years of hardship and misery and is ready to embark on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. She’s rather poor. She’s rather plain. Also, she has terrible taste in men.
Charlotte is an aspiring novelist. (Yes, she’s that Charlotte.) And she’s determined to capture her friend Jane’s story even if it means worming her way into the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.
Alexander is an agent of the Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits. He’s about to discover something very disturbing going on at a little place called Thornfield…
Reader, there will be murder. Mayhem. Conspiracy. And, of course, romance. Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, and a certain gentleman Mr. Rochester is hiding more than skeletons in his closet
Review:
This is the second installment in The Lady Janies series. I absolutely adored the first book, My Lady Jane, you can read my review here. Because I enjoyed the first book I totally thought I would adore this book too. Especially because my bookish twinny (The Bookish Chick) loved it and is the reason I picked up the series in the first place.
I am very sad to say that I didn’t adore this book as much as I did the first. Maybe because this was a retelling rather than historical fiction, I’m not really sure what exactly it was, maybe a few different things.
First, it was a little confusing at times. I started reading this book under the impression that the story was about Jane Eyre. But by the end of the story, I felt like the book was actually more about Charlotte Bronte. I think another reason I didn’t love it was that I ended up preferring Charlotte’s chapters. Jane was almost annoying until closer to the end of the book. She was so determined to just be a governess and it was honestly so annoying. I think part of my annoyance may be due to the fact that I haven’t actually read the original Jane Eyre so I don’t really even know what the story was trying to imitate from that book and what they changed.
I loved Charlotte. She was funny and curious and really just didn’t take no for an answer. She’s a girl with goals and won’t let anyone stand in her way of achieving them. Her part of the love stories seems the more realistic of the two. It seemed to happen more naturally and just was better than Jane’s.
Alexander was interesting. He made me laugh with all of his denials. He was so bent on solving his own personal mystery he couldn’t let anything distract him from that. He didn’t realize the things in his life that really mattered until they were almost lost to him.
I enjoyed the characters interacting with one another, Their personalities were all so different it was funny to see them be around one another all so strong-willed and determined to get their own way.
I think the pace of the story was another thing that wasn’t my favorite. The story didn’t really pull me into where I couldn’t stop until closer to the end of the book. There were definitely interesting parts right from the beginning, but nothing that really sucked me into where I just couldn’t stop reading.
Overall, I liked the story. I liked the characters. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it like so many others did. I’m definitely going to continue the series when the third is finally released. But I definitely preferred the first book of this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Summary:
You make think you know the story. It goes like this: once upon a time, there was a sixteen-year-old girl named Jane Grey, who was forced to marry a complete stranger (Lord Guildford or Gilford or Gifford-something-or-other), and shortly thereafter found herself ruler of a country. She was queen for nine days. Then she quite literally lost her head.
We have a different tale to tell.
Pay attention. We’ve tweaked some minor details. We’ve completely rearranged major details. Some names have been changed to protect the innocent (or not-so-innocent, or simply because we thought a name was terrible and we liked another name better). And we’ve added a touch of magic to keep things interesting. So really anything could happen.
This is how we think Jane’s story should have gone.
Review:
I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book and it’s second that came out this summer (My Plain Jane). My bookish twin, The Bookish Chick (check her out she’s amazing!) ranted and raved about the audiobook and I knew I had to read it. I couldn’t wait for the audiobook to be available through my library so I bought the book when I saw it available on Book Outlet.
This story does not disappoint in the least. It’s full of hilarious and loveable characters. I knew I was going to love this book after ten pages. I was cracking up pretty much the entire book.
I adored Jane. A fellow bookworm that’s not afraid to speak her mind. She ends up in all kinds of ridiculous situations and manages to get herself out of them as well. She’s smart and clever, funny and sassy, but also kind and loving. She’s incredibly protective over those that she loves and will do anything in her power to make sure they’re safe. I adored everything about Jane.
Gifford, preferred to be called G, was entertaining, but slightly annoying. He doubted Jane for most of the story and it really bugged me. Instead of just talking to Jane and asking her about the things he was assuming, he just let himself stew and feel bad. Other than this, I liked him. He did what he thought was right. He tried to protect Jane, even if that meant causing her to be ridiculously mad at him.
Edward, King of England, was funny and infuriating. He had some really backward ideas for most of the story. Ideas about men being superior to women and such. I liked Edward only because of the wonderful development he did throughout the story. He met a girl that helped him see how wrong all of his ideas really were. I liked that we got to see this change and development. It’s really what made me like him.
Overall this book was hilarious and I just couldn’t get enough. I don’t know too much about the real story of Lady Jane Grey, but I’m sure it wasn’t nearly as entertaining as this book. If you like historical fiction, you’re going to love this story. The characters were wonderful and kept me wanting to get the rest of their story. I also loved that the narrators kept chiming in with little tidbits. It just made the story that much better. I really liked that the narrators (I don’t know if it’s called the same thing as is it with the movies, but I’m going to go with it) broke the fourth wall and addressed the readers directly. It was a really interesting aspect of the story and just added that little extra. I think all different kinds of readers would love this story. I will for sure be recommending this book to many readers.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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I Heart Characters!

I Heart Characters! is a weekly meme hosted by Dani @ Perspective of a Writer to showcase our book blogger love for characters! Each week she’ll supply a topic and we’ll supply the character. Post on whatever day suits you, about characters from whatever media you love (books, movies, K-dramas, television, manga, anime, webtoons, whatever!) and link up on Thursday so we can all blog hop and share the character love.

i heart characters

This weeks topic is Character Who’d Run into a Fire to _____ (Fill in the blank! The sky is the limit… if they’d run into a fire for any reason then they’re who you want to showcase!)

Amanda- This prompt has me super torn between two characters. So I shall briefly mention them both. The first is Stevie Bell from Maureen Johnson’s new series, Truly Devious. Stevie would run into a fire to solve a case. She’s an aspiring Sherlock Holmes and will do anything (including damage every relationship she has) to get to the bottom of a mystery.

The second character is Lady Jane Grey from My Lady Jane by Jodi Meadows,  Brodi Ashton, and Cynthia Hand. Lady Jane Grey would run into a fire to save her books from burning up. She is a true bookworm and is who I thought of first for this prompt because if I were to ever run into a fire it would be to save my husband, baby, dog, and books. Lady Jane would run into a fire to save her horsey husband and her books and I love her for it.

Antonia- I LOVE THIS PROMPT. It has so many amazing possibilities. The first one to pop into my head though was Leo Valdez from The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. He would run into a fire to freak out people who don’t know he’s fireproof. I can absolutely see him in the flames, screaming like he’s being burned alive. I think it’d fit his goofy sense of humor perfectly.

 

WWW Wednesday

Hey, bookworms! It’s that day of the week again where we participate in the wonderful bookish post that was formerly hosted by Should be Reading and was recently taken over by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer three questions to give an update about what you’re currently reading, going to read next and have read recently. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments or link your post!

wwwwww

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows. I’ve heard so many good things about it and so far they’re all true. I’m currently listening to Yes Please by Amy Poehler.

Antonia- Technically I haven’t started it yet, but Amanda and I recently received copies of The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey from the author in exchange for our reviews. I’m really excited to start this dystopian/paranormal; I’d gotten a little sick of dystopians recently because it feels like they keep following the same patterns after awhile but this one sounds so unique (especially when you add in vampires??).

What did you recently finish reading?

Amanda- I recently finished reading Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa. It was super interesting and I liked it very much. Keep an eye out for my review later this month!

Antonia- I just finished The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg. It exceeded my expectations and I’m excited for the rest of the series. My review will post tomorrow.

What do you think you will read next?

Amanda- Next I think I’m going to read Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard. I think I’m also going to start Allies by Bella Forrest on my Kindle in the next few days.

Antonia- I have so many books to read! I think I’ll either start Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones or catch up on The Dragon’s Gift: The Druid series by Linsey Hall.

Thanks for reading the W’s we came up with this week. What are your answers? Feel free to leave them in the comments or leave us a link to your post.

Magical Readathon – O.W.L. Exams TBR

Hi bookworms, Amanda here! I was recently scrolling through Twitter when I saw Books in the Skye share something about a readathon based on the N.E.W.T exams from the Harry Potter books. I did a little more digging and saw that I sadly missed out on the O.W.L exam readathon, hosted over on YouTube by Book Roast, that took place originally in April. I decided that I could either skip the O.W.L.s and just take whatever N.E.W.T.s I felt like doing or I could do the O.W.L. exams anyway. I have decided that I’m going to take the O.W.L. exams anyway. So I will start this challenge tomorrow, August 2nd, and I will try to complete as many exams as I can until the 29th.

owls tbr

The following grades are awarded for the overall OWLs performance:

 

Pass

Outstanding – sit and pass at least 5 OWLs
Exceeded Expectations – sit and pass at least 3 OWLs
Acceptable – sit and pass at least 2 OWLs

Fail

Poor – sit only one OWL
Dreadful – start but not finish any OWLs tasks
Troll – do not show up at your OWLs examinations

Ancient Runes – A book with a symbol on the cover

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw (print book)

the wicked deep

Arithmacy – A Book with a number on the cover or in the title

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti (print book)

zeroes

Astronomy – A science fiction novel

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (print book)

this mortal coil

Care of Magical Creatures – A book that includes magical creatures or features magical creatures on the cover

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by J.K. Rowling (print book)

hp - sorcerers stone

Charms – A fantasy novel

A Darker Shade of Magic  by V.E. Schwab (print book)

ADSOM

Defense Against the Dark Arts – A book about or with a secret society or club

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (print book)

city of bones

Divination – A book featuring prophecies 

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa (ebook)

shadow of the fox

Herbology – A book with a nature-related word in the title 

Air Awakens by Elise Kova (ebook)

air awakens

History of Magic – A historical fiction novel

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (audiobook)

my lady jane

Muggle Studies – A muggle non-fiction novel

Yes Please by Amy Poehler (audiobook)

yes please

Potions – A book with or about alchemy 

Allies by Bella Forrest (ebook)

allies

Transfiguration – A book with transfiguration / shapeshifting or a book with a cat on the cover

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (audiobook)

paranormalcy

I don’t expect to read all of these books but I’m someone that does well with options so I wanted to give myself a variety of books to choose from throughout this reading challenge. I’m going to aim to read at least five of these books. Wish me luck!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.