Beauty’s Rose by Shonna Slayton

Set in the 1980’s, Beauty’s Rose tells the story of Margot visiting an Aunt in France. Aunt Suzette owns a cozy bookshop in a small French town steeped in traditional tourist attractions, royalty, knights, jousting, and festivals. Margot meets several people her age and enjoys the scenery of Chapais. Burke is an aloof mystery to the town and Sylvain seems to be a player. When Margot starts having dreams involving conversations with a beast, she thinks she’s losing her mind. Aunt Suzette’s friends, who are actually fairies (Clove, Sage, and Thyme), let Margot in on the curse that’s taking over the local prince’s life. Burke and Margot become friends and end up trapped in a hidden mansion together as he transforms into the beast. I was saddened when the story ended because I wanted more! A gentle, contemporary 1980’s fairytale retelling about love, loyalty, and sacrifice.

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

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I love this cover!

Sea Witch, by Sarah Henning, opens as three young children play together and one ends up gravely injured. The story jumps to their teen years, the present time in this setting, when the Prince turns sixteen and the kingdom celebrates. Prince Nik and his best friend Evie dance and remember their third friend that is no longer with them. I like the alternating between the present time, and four years earlier around the time tragedy strikes, because it gives insight into the characters and their backgrounds and builds suspense. As the village prepares to celebrate, a young woman named Annamette appears. She confides in Evie her secrets and deepest wishes. This is where complications begin. With magic, royalty and the sea, problems brew and lives change drastically. Sea Witch is the beginning of transformation and the ending of innocence and freedom for Evie, 5 stars!

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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Mysterious happenings in the past!
Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert!
Alice and her mom have led a transient lifestyle and they’re the only people that they trust and feel close to. That changes when Ella, Alice’s mom goes missing. Alice needs help finding her, so she asks rich boy, Ellery Finch, for help. Little by little, Alice confides in Ellery and he’s there for her one hundred percent. Ellery is a huge fan of Althea Proserpine, Alice’s grandmother and famous, mysterious author. So Ellery helps as a friend but also out of curiosity and awe. Together they discover the danger surrounding Althea’s writings and the truth behind them. The closer Alice and Ellery get to the Hazel Wood, the more the stories come to life. Both of them get sucked in to the Hinterland and its tales, changing their lives and who they are. The Hazel Wood weaves a mysterious, fantastic story, 4 stars!

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

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Introspective retelling!
Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White!
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a fresh and unique retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic story. I love the female protagonist, Elizabeth. Her background has been lonely and she’s always struggling to secure her place in the world, much like women of the time period the story takes place in. The mystery intrigued me and after Elizabeth’s background was set, the action and mystery picked up the story’s pace. Tragedy seems to strike all too often around the Frankenstein manor where Elizabeth was taken in as a young girl. Her favorite companion has always been Victor Frankenstein and he claims ownership and complete companionship of Elizabeth. The story becomes darker as it progresses, which makes it even more interesting to read. Historical fiction, horror, and a retelling earn 5 stars! Kudos to Kiersten White for her remarkable retelling!

The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine

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The Wish Granter by C. J. Redwine is a fun and suspenseful retelling of Rumpelstiltskin!
Ari treats everything with humor and Thad is feeling the pressure from his granted wish. Thad has suddenly become king after he made a deal with the Wish Granter ensuring his sister will be taken care of. Little did he know that the Wish Granter always tricks and gets more out of the bargain than the people he makes deals with. Sebastian has been hired as the kingdom’s new weapons master. He’s grateful for this chance to better his life and get away from his violent father and to help his drug-addicted mother. Ari asks Sebastian to make weapons out of iron for her so she can protect Thad from the Wish Granter. Ari has also asked Sebastian to train her to use weapons to protect herself and her brother, through this the two of them become close friends. Teague discovers that Thad is working to get out of his contract, so Teague comes to collect Thad’s soul but he takes Ari prisoner instead. Sebastian braves everything that’s horribly traumatic and difficult for him, so he can get to Ari. Teague shares his background story with Ari and he tells her what his beautiful pipe is made of and it shocks her to the core. The author’s writing adds suspense, charm and intensity to the story. The Wishgranter is the second book in the Ravenspire series and it’s just as good as the first book, The Shadow Queen! 5 stars for this fairytale about Rumpelstiltskin!

The Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix

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Intelligent and creative retelling!
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao tells the story of Jade. Jade lives with and has been raised by the monks, being prepared to accept her rightful place as Empress. Jade is summoned to the Empire by soldiers and she meets Xifeng, the Empress that holds Jade’s fate in her hands. Xifeng is cruel and self-absorbed to the point that she’s the only person that matters. Jade makes saving the kingdom from Xifeng her mission and she’s sent on an adventure that takes her through the mythical stories she was raised on, learning how helpful the tales truly are. Julie C. Dao has created an interesting series, with the transformation of Xifeng, that I want to binge read so I can get the most out of everything the characters experience in both books. Intelligent writing, a mythical atmosphere and charming characters earn 5 stars!

 

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

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A science fiction retelling of Jane Eyre!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne! A science fiction retelling of “Jane Eyre”, Stella is an orphan unloved by her relatives and an engineer dreaming of being a governess. She’s an engineer on a derelict ship, Stalwart, that’s on its last leg. Stella receives notification of being hired on another ship and is on her way to her future. The Rochester holds many mysteries from Stella- a young captain, a possible ghost and ship sabotage. Brightly Burning is one science fiction story that I love! Normally, science fiction is not my favorite but this story has surprises and mysterious happenings that kept me thoroughly interested. Stella is a great heroine, not overbearing or a simpering damsel. A lengthier book would have allowed more character depth but I enjoyed Brightly Burning as is too, 4 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!

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

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Thanks to NetGalley and Amulet Books for the opportunity to read and review RoseBlood by A.G. Howard! Roseblood. Rune is being taken to an elite school in France and wonders what the motives of her relatives are by helping her have access to this expensive school and paying for everything she needs from tuition to uniforms, when they haven’t been kind or close in the past. Her father passed away years ago and his relations are the ones helping Rune with acceptance to the school. Her mother has traveled from Harmony, Texas with Rune to take her to the school. For some reason, Rune needed to leave her hometown because of some kind of trouble she caused. Her father shared a musical talent with Rune and without him, this talent is taking a toll on her health and life. As I read, I became more engrossed in this interesting twist on “The Phantom of the Opera”. Chapter four intrigued me with it’s foreshadowing and I couldn’t stop reading after that! Magic is somehow involved with this story along with a bit of the supernatural. Each chapter begins with a literary quote that applies to the chapter content and, as always, I appreciate and enjoyed the author’s note at the end of the book which explains A. G. Howard’s research into the truth behind the Phantom. A supernatural fantasy retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, told with imagination and complex, multidimensional characters, 5 stars!

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

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Thanks to NetGalley and Philomel Books for the opportunity to read and review Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao. Xifeng lives with and under the control of her Aunt Guma in a poverty-stricken kingdom where the king forces young women to be his concubines. Guma uses magic that makes others suspicious and cautious. She’s reading cards for Xifeng’s future and the cards state that Xifeng is going to be Empress someday. Xifeng and her boyfriend Wei leave the village for their freedom and their futures. They each discover something new about themselves and each other. This debut novel contains unique elements. The protagonist also seems to be the antagonist and as the story unfolds the theme seems to change. I’m fascinated with Xifeng and her reasoning with all of her actions as well as the beautiful relationship she has with Wei. An impressive, entertaining first novel by Julie C. Dao! 5 stars!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.