The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine

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Perfect mix of action, loyalty and humor.
The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine is the first book of the Ravenspire series. Lorelai’s mother, the Queen, died when Lorelai was very young. The King, Lorelai and her brother Leo suffered with sadness and nightmares. Lorelai’s and Leo’s maternal aunt, Irina, married the King and seemed to brighten and cheer everyone up until she decided she wanted power. Irina placed a spell over the King and Royal guards so they would do her bidding. Lorelai tried to use a spell against Irina but her father was killed and Leo and Lorelai ran away with Gabril, a Royal guard. Years later, Kol enters the story after being expelled from his school. He’s throwing a party and trying to keep his younger sister, Bryg, from drinking. Kol is called by his headmaster and assumes that he will be punished for being expelled. Instead, he’s told that his father, mother and older brother have been killed by ogres. Kol becomes King and fully responsible for his kingdom. Lorelai and Leo meet Kol and his friends when they help them out of an angry mob. Queen Irina hears rumors about the mob and the rescue and she becomes suspicious that maybe Lorelai and Leo might be alive. Kol seals a blood oath with the evil queen Irina. He has to bring the missing princess to her and then Irina will save Kol’s kingdom from the ogres in exchange. Kol has no idea that the princess is the one who saved him from the mob. The relationship between Kol and Lorelai grows more complicated as the story continues. The Shadow Queen is a fresh and wonderful retelling of the Snow White fairytale, full of action, loyalty and a dash of humor, 5 stars!

Snow White’s Mirror by Shonna Slayton

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Snow White’s Mirror by Shonna Slayton is another wonderful fairytale creation! Shonna Slayton perfects historical fiction. Now she’s combining historical fiction with fantasy to create fun and intelligent fairytale stories. Billie has traveled with her uncle to secure her inheritance after her father’s death due to heart failure. She believes that her uncle is keeping things from her as well as gambling away her father’s estate. They stop at a mining town and meet cousin Lou. She oversees a mine with beautiful turquoise veins running through and she does all of the work by herself. Uncle Dale tells Billie that he’s searching for a special mirror that will grant wishes. Billie wants to help her ailing mother, so she wants to find the mirror also. The character pool grows to include Winn, an interesting local young man; Matron, a kind but questionable local businesswoman and Fremont, a relative with dwarfism that has also been missing for a while. Billie discovers more about cousin Lou and stumbles upon an odd window that seems somewhat like a mirror inside Lou’s shack. Billie’s life grows much more complicated than she ever thought it could. I love this book and highly recommend it to fairytale and historical fiction readers, 5 stars!

Legend of Me by Rebekah L. Purdy

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Legend of Me by Rebekah L. Purdy is a twist on a beloved fairy tale.
The prologue grabbed me with shock and fright and built my interest in the book, even more than the synopsis already had. Brielle lives with her grandmother, who’s a healer and is training Brielle to be a healer also. A few deaths have occurred and the victims have been horribly mutilated. Brielle has been having dreams about gruesome murders and when she discovers that those same victims actually have been killed, she begins to suspect that her dreams are visions. Knights have come to capture the beast that’s been killing people and the villagers are sure that the knights can rid them of this horrible beast. In the meantime, Raul (a wanderer) and Kenrick (a knight) show their feelings for Brielle and she reciprocates their feelings without even realizing and then she wonders how she can care for both of them. The tale twists and turns and grows as everything comes to light. An interesting play on a beauty and the beast type story, 4 stars!

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

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Magical historical fiction!
Cinderella is the Queen and is in possession of the dress that holds magic. Her stepsisters have married into a rival kingdom and Cinderella sends her most trusted servant on a mission to protect the dress. Time moves forward to the servant’s descendant granddaughter during World War II, Kate Allen. Kate Allen lives with her brother Floyd and their mother. Mr. Allen is in Europe, during the war, protecting art. Floyd joins up and goes to basic training and eventually over to Europe after the war is over. Their great aunt and uncle arrive at the Allen’s apartment with a mysterious trunk that holds a precious secret. I love Shonna Slayton’s writing style and how she mixes true historical facts into a fairytale story. The complicated story line brings many dynamic characters together to tell a Cinderella tale within the awesome World War II setting. I am anxious to read Cinderella’s Shoes, the sequel to this book worth a magical 5 stars!

The Tower Princess by Shonna Slayton

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The Tower Princess by Shonna Slayton is a tale of a kingdom split in half by two warring rivals. A wall is built and a treaty of peace is made; while these two rivals rule, there will be no war. A prince is born on one side and a princess on the other. Both kings are afraid of the two heirs falling in love when they are older, so the two children are hidden away. Without knowing about each other, the heirs discover the hidden space in the wall where they meet for the first time and become friends. Little do they know of the underlying intrigue and plot to rid the kingdoms of both of the heirs. The Tower Princess is a wonderfully told fairy tale that is the beginning of a collection by Shonna Slayton. Strong main characters brought the story to life and an imaginative magical place and Rowan king made it special, 5 stars!

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson

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Dark breaks the dawn by Sara B. Larson is a fairytale retelling of Swan Lake. It’s Princess Evelayn’s 18th birthday and she’s gotten her full powers like she’s supposed to. They are more amazing than she expected. She is happy when her mother, Queen Ilaria, makes it home on the night of her birthday. Only too soon, her mother leaves for battle once again. When the queen is struck down in battle, the kingdom is devastated. Evelayn vows to do whatever it takes to restore peace to her people. The complex world building and character descriptions are amazing and beautiful. I love the colors of skin, hair and eyes and the endless combinations of those attributes on the people of the kingdoms. I was rooting for Evelayn and Tanvir throughout the whole book. An adventure fantasy and a fairytale retelling all in one. 5 stars!

Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson

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I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson. The sinister prologue spooked me and made me curious at the same time. Perrie is an only child living with her single father, since her mother left years ago. Her best friends are her next door neighbor and cousin, Maisie, and August, the teenage boy she has more than just friend feelings for. There’s an odd mystery about the breakup with her ex-boyfriend, Neven. One day, on their way home from school, Perrie, Maisie and August see a large building that they’ve never seen before, Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault. A sign stating there are job openings is hanging on the door. Curiously, Maisie has a job there by the next day. The characters are charming and the humor is refreshing, while something creepy lurks in the background. People are disappearing from their community and August and Perrie enter the Glass Vault when Maisie can’t be found. I don’t want to give anything away, but the twists floored me! A wonderful supernatural horror story full of fairy tale and historical retellings, worthy of 5 stars! Look closely at the cover for hints of retellings in this story!

Weariland by Mary Shotwell

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to YA Bound Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review Weariland by Mary Shotwell! This fairy tale retelling of Alice in Wonderland kept me riveted. The suspense, danger, mystery and riddles pulled me in so strongly that I wanted to read the book in one sitting. Lason (like Jason with an L) is a descendant of the first Alice that fell into Wonderland (now called Weariland because of the dreariness) many generations ago. The author’s creative imagination changed Wonderland in many ways that I could have never dreamed of, such as the changing of the execution style. Instead of “off with their heads”, the Queen devised a horrible simple machine to take the prisoners feet off. We get to see more of the White Rabbit’s home and family and there is deception from the past in Lason’s family. Her grandmother disappears and Lason dives right into Weariland to solve the mystery and has to figure out everything on her own. I’m glad that Lason’s mother became stronger for her daughter as the story progressed. I grew to care for her as much as I cared for Lason. The danger and suspense kept me hooked – 4 stars!

Spindle by E.K. Johnston

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review Spindle by E.K. Johnston! Spindle is book two of the series, A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston, but it can be read as a stand-alone book. The story is told in a young man’s point of view, Yaasha. His mother is ill and wants him to leave her and travel onward. Yaasha travels with a few of his close acquaintances. He rescues Little Rose from a tower that she was locked in. The group tries to keep their freedom but are eventually captured. They grow very close and create strong bonds of friendship. The tone is dark and the evil Storyteller Queen is a demon who wants to destroy Little Rose; 4 stars for this fairy tale fantasy containing suspense, loyalty and the bonds of friendship!

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. Marina dies after giving birth to Vasya, who is supposed to be special and mysterious in the same way Marina’s mother was. Years later, when Vasya is a young girl, she wanders into the forest and gets lost. She meets two strangers. The first one is told to sleep by the second man. Vasya bolts and is found by her brother, Sasha. Vasya’s father decides to find a new wife so Vasya can have a mother to raise her. Pyotr returns from Moscow with his new wife, Anna. Anna sees strangers just as Vasya does, but she treats Vasya cruelly even though they have this in common. Vasya’s nurse, Dunya, loves Vasya unconditionally. When Dunya dies, Vasya asks for the help of her brother Alyosha. Alyosha truly believes Vasya and helps her to rid the village of evil. After Vasya was threatened with being sent to a convent, Anna bargains with her. If Vasya will venture into the frozen woods and gather snowdrop flowers for Anna’s daughter, Irina, then Anna will let Vasya stay home. While Vasya is in the woods, she’s saved and taken by the stranger, Morozko the Frost Demon, on the white horse. Set in the Russian wilderness and based on Russian history and folklore, this debut novel is beautifully written and imagined. I give it 5 stars because this is the perfect book to read in the middle of a snowy winter.