Because Time Travel, I Guess: No Good Deed by Kara Connoly

32766757

Fans of Dorothy Must Die will love this reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood. Girl power rules supreme when a modern girl finds herself in the middle of a medieval mess with only her smart mouth and her Olympic-archer aim to get her home.

Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

Source: GoodReads

I picked up this book, despite its hideous cover because the author has written some of my favorite books (under a different name-Rosemary Clement Moore).  I didn’t particularly like No Good Deed though.  While there were occasional glimpses of the wit that I loved in the author’s other novels,  it was overall a very meh book for me.

It probably didn’t help that I kept comparing it to all of those medieval Disney movies of the week that aired back in the 90’s.

giphy1

Seriously, what was it?  Did Disney like get a good idea on sets and medieval themed costumes?

Regardless, you can’t deny that they tried to style the MC to look like Kiera Knightly on Princess of Thieves.   Which actually came out in 2001, not the late 90’s but whatever.  It’s odd that they decided to style the book as such since the Ellie in my head looked fairly androgynous.

After all, she’s mistaken for male  for a good chunk of the novel without even trying to hide her gender at the beginning of the book-she’s wearing a sweater and relatively form fitting  jeans.  The chick whose posing on the cover, wouldn’t be mistaken as a guy.  And it is mentioned that Ellie has enough of a chest to later have to masker a makeshift sports bra so…maybe they thought her version of Robin Hood had moobs?

giphy3

But digressing…

But seriously, I think it’s one of the worst covers I’ve seen this year.

But this book isn’t about dissecting book covers (well, most of the time).  It’s about talking about the contents of the book and I’m afraid there’s not much to say.  At the beginning of the story, there seemed to be some interesting storylines-Ellie clearly had issues with her father, her brother was missing, and she somehow travels in time.

giphy2

 

Seriously, the time travel itself is never explained it just randomly happens.  ’cause you know, time travel just randomly happens.

I honestly, even wondered why she traveled in time because she kept saying how she wasn’t going to change history.

Trope Rant Time: Why the fuck have a time travel book, if you’re not going to change history.  I’m sorry, I know that some good time traveling adventures where they avoid changing the past (Back to the Future) BUT it just seems like it’s become an unnecessary cliche.

I mean seriously, you traveled through time.  You’re going to change history just by freaking being there.    Besides, how do you know that the history you live in is the right one.  Like, for instance, if I could go back in time before say the election from hell of last year I would be changing history you can bet you ass so that we wouldn’t have the Russian-phile  orange doofus in office and the US wouldn’t currently be the laughing stock of the world right now.

I digress though…it’s just one of those annoying trope that I’ll never get used to. And in this book, when the character is like, “I can’t change history.”

giphy4

I’m like, well, you are by pretending to be freaking Robin Hood, dearie.  I mean, think about it.

Anyway, I’ll never get used to that trope especially since the whole point in freaking time travel is to fuck things about.  But I seriously, don’t think much was changed.  Pretty much the only thing that was changed was the character’s clothes at the end.

I wouldn’t say the book was a complete loss though, not if you liked history.  There was some nice use of historical detail here and there.  I can tell that Connolly researched the novel.  But that’s not really that much of a surprise concerning her other books.  However, and I can’t stress this enough, if you are going to write a book about medieval England be aware that they did not speak modern English.

Modern English did not exist until Shakespeare’s day.  While Connolly acknowledges that it’s difficult for the characters to understand Ellie (but ultimately they do end up understanding her) it should be next for impossible for them to understand her.  Don’t believe me, take a semester of early Brit Lit and then we’ll talk.

After reading Chaucer and all that shit (which by the way was written about a hundred and fifty or so years after this book took place give or take a few decades) I can tell you that I’d have a hard time speaking that shit even then.

What bothered me more though was the  the lack of characterization.

It was just pathetic.  I could care less about these characters as the book progressed.  There’s one guy that I sort of think was suppose to be a love interest, but things never really developed that far and at the end we just sort of have the future look alike trope which I absolutely despise.

Trope Rant: Just because there’s a guy in the future that looks eerily similar to a past love interest does NOT mean that they are the same person.  Ever heard of identical twins, authors.  Thought so, considering everyone and their mother uses the evil twin trope.  But I guess a thousand years of time travel doesn’t mean that genetics randomly made a person look alike a long ago dead relative. No, it means they must share the same soul especially if they share the same name…

giphy5

And honestly, this trope wouldn’t have bothered me as much if there was an actual relationship.  But there wasn’t a relationship.  There was just a hint of one, and it was so small you had to literally do a squint bend and snap to see it.  In this case, I feel like it would’ve been better for the novel to go sans romance all together.

The other characters were merely there to serve a purpose to the plot.  I hate to say this, but when I read this book, I actually was thinking that Scarlet did a better job at telling the Robin Hood story, and we all know I had issues with that series.  But no, this book made me want to pick up that series again just because you know even though the characterization sucked, the characters actually served more than means to an end.

Really, the only character who had any development at all was Queen Eleanor (and FYI, YA authors I wouldn’t mind a retelling of a young Eleanor story she is bad ass on multiple levels even though her kids and husband ended up kind of sucking).

It pains me to say that I can’t recommend this one.  I love the author’s other books (in fact, I am tempted to do a reread of some of her stuff soon), but this book doesn’t work for me.   Had it spent more time developing the characters actually explaining why the character went back in time and exploring her life with the characters a bit more, I might’ve cared for it more.  As it stood though, it could’ve very easily been the blah Disney movie of the week.

Overall Review: A C.  It’s not horrible, per say, but I hardly recommend it.  At best it is average.

Nothing Special But OK: The Wish Granter by CJ Redwine

30255943

An epic, romantic, and action-packed fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from C. J. Redwine, the New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen. Perfect for fans of Graceling and the Lunar Chronicles.

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.

Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.

So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.

But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.

Source: GoodReads

I think a part of my reading experience was ruined by Robert Carlyle’s portrayal of Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon Time.  While the writing of the show has gone down the tubes a la Charmed by having black and white morality on the show Carlyle can still make his now demonized character seem complex.  And to be fair, the writing in the first two seasons and half made the character complex before they decided to give everyone on the show 1D morality .  I think it’s why I expected more from the Rumpelstiltskin character than I got.  To be fair, the book description made it seem more interesting to than it really was.

Which was really more or less a Rumpelstiltskin retelling where we get a bland peasant helping a princess who likes to eat pie.

We’re reminded that Ari likes to eat pie every other page of the book which is why I even bring that up.

giphy4

It’s really annoying since I just read about another pie loving princess a few months ago in Heartless.

To be fair though, I give props to Redwine for having a full figured MC it’s just that it annoyed me how we reminded of the fact she wasn’t the size of a twig every other page.  In fact, the villain states she’s fat at one point of the book and I just…I don’t know, I just wish that there wasn’t so much emphasis on her size.  Though, on a positive note Ari seems comfortable with her body so the fact that everyone is talking about the size of her butt isn’t really bothering her.

Then again, she has her mind on a lot of other things. So there’s really no time to focus on hateful vitriol.

When I first started reading this book, I thought it was eerily similar to Shadow Queen in its set up.  Two kids on the run from their stepmother, but then it changes.  The thing is like Shadow Queen it never reaches its fullest potential and never veered far enough from the source material to make it original.

The Rumpelstiltskin character, for instance, was as evil as they come.  About three quarters of the way through the novel, after he has done despicable after despicable thing Redwine tries to give him some backstory to humanize him BUT it doesn’t really work.  Maybe it would’ve been if it was a TV show (maybe).  But as it was, there just seemed no evolution for this character or his motives.

giphy3

The reason the Rumple character works on Once Upon a Time in the early seasons  is that they had spent time developing him throughout the series.  Here, the Rumpelstiltskin character is pretty much the stereotypical evil character.   Much like everyone else in this book is stereotyped to their specific role.

Aria besides liking pie is the princess who gets things done.

Sebastian is the handsome noble peasant with a sad backstory that helped her.

Thad is the douche brother who gets them in the bad situation from the get go, because his name is Thad and he’s an idiot.

Most of the world building here is loosely done.  Sure, there’s some stuff about fae but nothing out of the ordinary or interesting enough to keep you really that engaged.  And some of the stuff, about how the magic worked (specifically with the souls) was never really fully explained.  Like, can anyone remove someone soul?  Becuase it only seemed like a fae thing at first and then…

Yeah, complication not explained.  Just like the whole servant’s backstory.  The stupid brother who still gets to be king even though his sister and her peasant hero boyfriend save the day.

giphy1

It’s just a little ridiculous.

I think if you can look past the faults, this one is okay.  Great no, but okay.    Harmless would probably be the perfect word to describe it.  I mean, I don’t think it’s one I’m  really going to remember one way or the other.

Overall Rating: C+

 

Super Slow Start But Overall Good: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

24485589

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Source: GoodReads

The Beauty and the Beast remake came out this week (haven’t seen it yet, but I’m hoping to next week) so of course a YA retelling of the fairytale had to come out around the same time.

To be fair to Spooner though, there’s a lot of YA B&B retellings.  I think there’s just something about the fairytale that begs itself to be retold.  Perhaps, it’s the whole fact that author’s keep trying to explain why this fairytale about Stockholm syndrome is romantic even though it really shouldn’t be.  Regardless, it’s a perennial favorite of YA authors everywhere and Spooner’s retelling adds nicely to the collection of retellings out there but it’s not perfect.

The biggest problem is the first third of this book.  Oh, God, it is slow.  So freaking slow.  I almost DNF’d it.  That’s how slow it is, but I kept pressing on.  I don’t know what compelled me to, but I’m glad I did.  Once the book gets started its good.

Not great, but good and I did enjoy it.  Spooner has an interesting twist on the story.  One I’m glad that is addressed because the whole “more” aspect of the movie always did annoy me.

giphy

Here, though it’s a fundamental part of the story affecting Beast and Beauty and I’m glad it had a point in the story, besides being just a way Beauty views herself as an outsider.

I also liked the atmosphere that Spooner created.  I really felt like the world was unique, and I later learnt was inspired by some Russian fairytales which I was unfamiliar with.  It worked really well.

As far as Beauty’s relationship with the Beast in this one I was sort of meh about.  Sure, it’s the familiar love story but the chemistry never reached the levels that some other YA retellings-I’m thinking of Cruel Beauty and ACOTR and even Uprooted.  Honestly, I really didn’t feel the romantic tension between the two characters for most of the book and instead thought how unhealthy the relationship was.

Never a good thing, but still there are far worse YA couples out there.  And for what it is worth the twists that Spooner added to the story almost remedied the awkwardness of the ship and the bad beginning.

So overall, while there were some neat things about Hunted it is hardly the best YA adaptation of Beauty and the Beast out there.  Still, if you are a Beauty and the Beast fan and/or want to look at a retelling with an interesting twist, you might want to give this one a try.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

 

Never Ever Will I Finish This: Never Ever by Sara Saedi

Wylie Dalton didn’t believe in fairy tales or love at first sight.

Then she met a real-life Peter Pan.

When Wylie encounters Phinn—confident, mature, and devastatingly handsome—at a party the night before her brother goes to juvie, she can’t believe how fast she falls for him. And that’s before he shows her how to fly.

Soon Wylie and her brothers find themselves whisked away to a mysterious tropical island off the coast of New York City where nobody ages beyond seventeen and life is a constant party. Wylie’s in heaven: now her brother won’t go to jail and she can escape her over-scheduled life with all its woes and responsibilities—permanently.

But the deeper Wylie falls for Phinn, the more she begins to discover has been kept from her and her brothers. Somebody on the island has been lying to her, but the truth can’t stay hidden forever.

Source: GoodReads

I DNF’d this book within 40 pages.

It just wasn’t for me.

I am going to bullet point this review and it’s probably going to be really short.  If you want a more thorough review of this book I suggest you check out other reviews because honestly I gave up on it so soon that I don’t even know if this review is worth a shit.

Anyway, here’s the reasons I DNF’d it.

  • Stiff Style: It was one of those hard to connect to styles that just kind of hard to get into.  This might not bother a lot of people, but it bothered me.
  • Another Evil Peter Pan.  At least there’s no sexy Hook (so far) so it’s not a complete Once Upon a Time rip off yet.
  • A MC who gives a rat’s ass about anything else other than her love life even though she claims to care about her family.
  • Note, she treats her family like crap.
  • Usual sullen teenager dealing with divorce trope.
  • Modernization of the characters names from the original because you know you can’t name characters Wendy, John, and Michael anymore.  Wylie, Joshua, and Micha sound better and Phinn sounds better than fucking Peter Pan.
  • Because everyone has a party on a roof top in New York.
  • That whole going into Neverland drug induced scene-yeah, I stopped after that because that was just so stupid.

Like I said, not really a lot to go off of here if you’re really interested in the book, but just for you to know, it didn’t work for me.  It was just really bad and cliche…and when it’s only redeeming feature is not having the obligatory Sexy Hook! (or at least as far as I know, he still might’ve popped in there after the thirty or so pages I read).

Overall Rating: A mother fucking DNF.

The First Five Star Book of 2017: Every Move by Ellie Marney

Rachel Watts is suffering from recurring nightmares about her near-death experience in London. She just wants to forget the whole ordeal, but her boyfriend, James Mycroft, is obsessed with piecing the puzzle together and anticipating the next move of the mysterious Mr Wild – his own personal Moriarty.

So when Rachel’s brother, Mike, suggests a trip back to their old home in Five Mile, Rachel can’t wait to get away. Unfortunately it’s not the quiet weekend she was hoping for with the unexpected company of Mike’s old school buddy, the wildly unreliable Harris Derwent.

Things get worse for Rachel when Harris returns to Melbourne with them – but could Harris be the only person who can help her move forward? Then a series of murders suggests that Mr Wild is still hot on their tails and that Mycroft has something Wild wants – something Wild is prepared to kill for.

Can Watts and Mycroft stay one step ahead of the smartest of all criminal masterminds? The stage is set for a showdown of legendary proportions… 

Source: GoodReads

Okay, so this book was actually released way back in 2015 (in Australia) but I only now bought a copy because I vainly hoped the US would get off it’s fat ass and publish it so that I could have a matching hardback set-I am OCD about these sorts of things.  Really, I will often buy an extra copy of a book just to have either a matching copy or hardback, I’m too hard of a reader for paperbacks.  But alas…the US decided to be a dumb ass about the publication of this one, and I had to get over my matching books/hardback and buy the Aussie edition.  And I’m glad I did.

I freaking loved the book.

Not that I didn’t expect I wouldn’t.  The past two Marney books-from this series have gotten five freaking stars (or A to A+ ratings)  from me.  So, it was a safe bet when I decided to read this one it would get five stars as well.

There are so many things about this book that work.  From a retelling standpoint, what works is while here are nods/homages/parallels to the original Sherlock stories  but was its own thing at the same time.  Honestly, I have my own little fan fantasy in my head where they could actually fit Marney’s series into the BBC series  or make a spinoff series with only some minor changes I think it could work.  That  aside though, I like the approach she took because it allowed the characters to do their own thing and it made the Mycroft/Watts relationship more likely than it would’ve been had they stayed purely in Watson and Holmes territory.

This installment, isn’t really so much as a who done it-though there is a mystery to some degree but not near to the extent of the earlier books.  There is, however, a lot of character growth that I appreciate.  Both leads have to come to terms with what happened to them in London, and they both deal with it differently.  I have to say the aspects of PTSD felt fairly realistic to me, and I liked Watts’ interactions with her mother.

I also really like Marney’s version of Sherlock.  Often the Sherlock character can come off as cartoonish, butJames isn’t.  This character I don’t think is a functioning sociopath like other Sherlock’s, but a complex human who is dealing with a lot.

I also really liked the portrayal of the two characters’ relationship.  It felt realistic as far as teen YA relationships do.  Watts and Mycroft have their ups and downs, but overall the relationship is fairly healthy and their interactions felt realistic.  Even awkward at times, which is always a joy to read about in YA.  To say the least, I ship the hell out of these two.

Much like I ship the hell out of Sherlolly even though I know it's probably not going to happen.

Much like I ship the hell out of Sherlolly even though I know it’s probably not going to happen.

Now, there is a bit of a love triangle in this one, but it’s not really a love triangle.  More like one sided love triangle where one of the other characters at least acknowledges that the potential love interest is attractive.  It’s not though a back and fourth psychological torture Twilight triangle so I’ll give it props for that.

I felt like the series wrapped itself up nicely here.  Am I glad to see it gone, no…but I thought it was a good place to stop and I did think Marney did a nice job wrapping things up.  It was a really good book and I will be reading pretty much anything that she publishes again soon-just won’t be wasting my time for American publishers to get some common sense and publish the shit out of her books like they should.

And really, American publisher, it’s just cruel for you not to let me have my matching set of books.

Overall Rating: An A+ a great book to start off the year.

Does the DTPA Work for Blurbs: Alterations by Stephanie Scott

If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they’d think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn’t know that all the plans she’s made for them are just dreams, and that she’s the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family.

When Amelia’s abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can’t imagine leaving Miami–and Ethan–for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan’s awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app.

As Liam and Amelia get closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The “new and improved” Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and choice she never dreamed she’d have to make. 

Source: GoodReads

I was really excited for Alterations mainly because it was pitched as a Sabrina retelling.  Which is one of my favorite movie(s).  I like the old one for Audrey Hepburn, though I can’t stand Bogey and I like the new one for Harrison Ford.  The point is, it’s a movie I’m always watching when I have a bad day and I was excited to see how a YA adaption would be.

This one…calling it a Sabrina retelling was a stretch.  Some people will like it better than me, but I really didn’t care for this one for multiple reasons.

The first and main one dealt with the lead, Amelia.

Ugh.

Ugh.

Ugh.

While Sabrina-the character-was annoying in the beginning of the movie, she quickly finds her own footing.  Yet, Amelia flounders for a good chunk of the book AND even though she grows up at the end it’s more of a half hearted attempt at growing up than it should’ve been.

True, we’re dealing with a YA protagonist but still this girl…

She does so many bone headed moves, that I just want to slap her.  So many freaking times.

Like the whole thing at the fashion camp.  The lies, I just–I just couldn’t.  It was like watching a bad ABC sitcom in the 90’s.  You know the ones with the lessons of the week whose stars careers ended up into doing just Hallmark movie.

And for that matter, way too much time was spent on the fashion camp stuff if this was supposed to be a Sabrina retelling.  Most of the movie(s) explored the relationship between Sabrina and Linus-or here Amelia and Liam.  Yeah, we got that a little bit but the whole set up and wooing surrounding it was completely changed.

Yes, that’s going to happen with with retelling.  Plot elements are going to be change and such, but this was one of those cases where really the only resemblance I saw to Sabrina was that there was a working class girl who fell in love with her parents’ employer’s two sons.  It really didn’t do it for me.

The crux of Sabrina the whole David (or in this instance Ethan) notices Sabrina (Amelia) was completely missing.  The whole Linus has to seduce Sabrina but finds himself falling in love with her was missing.  Again, I was like WTF why are we even calling this a Sabrina retelling. Anyway,  besides the very disappointing blurb comparison-seriously, I feel like there needs to be some sort of DTPA-Deceptive Trade Practices Act-for false blurbs and the annoying YA protagonist who falls for the wrong person, this one is okay.

Yeah, there are some things that really bother me besides the two major cruxes that I pointed out.  Like, the fact that the book seemed to try to make itself sound “hip”  Writing that sounds so weird because it’s trying to ID with it’s intended audience not realizing that hey younger people aren’t so different than older people.  FYI, it’s probably not the smartest thing to have fifty some odd references to Project Runway and Tim Gunn.  Just saying.

So, Alterations, do I recommend it…not really.  It has more than it’s fair share of issues.  But I could see people liking this one and that’s totally okay.  It just has a heinous blurb comparison.

Overall Rating: A C-.  Yeah, not my cuppa BUT if you like contemporary romance and you’re not a die hard Sabrina fan and won’t be annoyed with how this book doesn’t live up to those fabulous movies then go for it.

It’s Like if Princess Mia Got With that Creep Josh and Bonus Regency Outfits: The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet by Natasha Farrant

In the tradition of Longbourn, Mr. Darcy’s Diary, and Prom and Prejudice…

Lydia is the youngest of the five Bennet girls. She’s stubborn, never listens, and can’t seem to keep her mouth shut–not that she would want to anyway. She’s bored with her country life and wishes her older sisters would pay her attention . . . for once!

Luckily, the handsome Wickham arrives at Longbourn to sweep her off her feet. Lydia’s not going to let him know THAT, of course, especially since he only seems to be interested in friendship. But when they both decide to summer in the fasionable seaside town of Brighton, their paths become entangled again.

At the seaside, Lydia also finds exciting new ways of life and a pair of friends who offer her a future she never dreamed of. Lydia finally understands what she really wants. But can she get it?

A fresh, funny, and spirited reimagining of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet brings the voice of the wildest Bennet sister alive and center stage like never before. 

Source: GoodReads

Another Jane Austen retelling?

Insert disappointment.

I know, I know. I should know better. I have been through so many of these retellings at this point I should be able to know instantly that 9/10 times I’m not going to like them The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennett was no exception.

Full disclosure, I bought this book thinking it was somehow related to the web series that everyone has bemoaning about for the past few years with a slight recover design. It’s not though. I don’t know why I thought it was. Lydia is wearing full on regency regalia on the cover and that series is a modern retelling.

It’s not. Pretty much it’s one of those retellings where the only thing that is different is that this book takes place in Lydia’s POV. Sure, I bet it deviates once she runs off with Wickham but the seventy pages that I read pretty much regurgitated the story.   And that’s the sort of thing that annoys me

Plus, it didn’t help that Lydia’s tone read really, really, young and even though I know she was young in the original and that partly made the ickiness with Wickham it was still ick. And I was hoping that well, there would be some twist with how Lydia’s story worked out but I flipped to the end and—

Nope. Nope. Nope.  From what it read like it was like if in Princess Diaries if Mia would’ve stayed with Creepy Josh.  Just ew.  And that’s how young Lydia seemed like first book Mia.  That’s way too young for Wickham who has to be like at least in his mid twenties but whatever.

Look, if you want to read Pride and Prejudice I suggest you read the real things. If you want to read a retelling, you need to find one with a better twist than this. Switching view points, is a notorious fan fic trope. While it is true that there have been retellings done in alternative view points that have been awesome, this is not one of them. It didn’t add anything to Jane Austen’s story and the fact that Lydia read so young just made the Lydia/Wickham ship even ickier.

Overall Rating: DNF

 

 

If Bella Swan Was Insane and Went to Narnia: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

First kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters.

Mine broke Bale.

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent.

Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.

Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.

Source: GoodReads

I have been waiting for a Snow Queen retelling in YA pretty much after they released Frozen. It was sort of something I knew was going to be inedible since YA does tend to like to cash out trends—see vampires, post apocalyptic worlds, and epic fantasies with the same fucking stories. But up until Stealing Snow, I’ve only heard/read of one other Snow Queen retelling in YA and it sort of sucked so I promptly forgot about it.

To be honest, the actual Snow Queen is a hard fairytale to retell. I think it’s because Hans Christian Anderson tales tend to be on the depressing side, and unless you Disney-fy them or find a way to tap into that darkness and use it to your advantage it’s going to fail.

By the premises of Stealing Snow alone, I thought it was going to tap into this darkness. I mean, our main character is in an asylum there are a lot of directions you can go there. Unfortunately, I really didn’t see why she was in an asylum as long as she was.   This is one of those times when having a legal education makes me a party pooper when it comes to reading.

But I digress.

It wasn’t even really the legalities that bothered me about the asylum section of this book, it was the character. If I have a character who is locked up for being bat shit insane, she better act bat shit insane. I wanted to see Snow question reality more than she did and her escape from her room, hiding the fact that she hadn’t taken her pills was a little bit on the easy side.

Honestly, the whole duct taping the lock thing probably would’ve never worked in real life. The transition into the fantasy world was just as bad, and random.   Full disclosure, I didn’t finish this book because everything felt too easy and the transitions were rather horrible.

Also, what was it with everyone having a weird name in this book? You have Snow, Magpie, Bale, etc. The most common name I saw in this book was Vern and that’s saying something.

Yeah, I get it. Some YA authors go for the Hollywood odd ass name tropes, but it gets a little too much when everyone in the book has a name that only an A-lister kid can pull off.

Whatever. That’s just a pet peeve of mine; you might not find the names as jarring as I did. Though, you will undoubtedly find the relationships as upsetting as I did. Throughout a good chunk of the portion of the book that I read—120 pages—Snow is obsessed over Bale, who broke her arm, just because they kissed and now they can’t talk (re breaking her arm).

I wanted to scream at Snow because this guy broke her arm and all, and hey there are probably impressionable kids/teens reading this who are learning what makes a healthy relationship. Having your arm broken does not make for a healthy relationship.

Anyway, I didn’t finish this. This book wasn’t what I was wanting. I was expecting a darker, creepier retelling with an unreliable heroine. What I got was Bella Swan is locked up in an insane asylum and somehow figures out a way to get to Narnia.

Overall Rating: DNF

Another Pride and Prejudice Retelling: The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day

Together is somewhere they long to be.

Ash Gupta has a life full of possibility. His senior year is going exactly as he’s always wanted– he’s admired by his peers, enjoying his classes and getting the kind of grades that his wealthy, immigrant parents expect. There’s only one obstacle in Ash’s path: Eden Moore—the senior most likely to become class valedictorian. How could this unpopular, sharp-tongued girl from the wrong side of the tracks stand in his way?

All Eden’s ever wanted was a way out. Her perfect GPA should be enough to guarantee her a free ride to college — and an exit from her trailer-park existence for good. The last thing she needs is a bitter rivalry with Ash, who wants a prized scholarship for his own selfish reasons. Or so she thinks. . . When Eden ends up working with Ash on a class project, she discovers that the two have more in common than either of them could have imagined. They’re both in pursuit of a dream — one that feels within reach thanks to their new connection. But what does the future hold for two passionate souls from totally different worlds? 

Source: GoodReads

So, here’s the thing there are a lot of nice things to say about this book, but overall it’s one I’ll forget in probably two weeks or less.

I’ll discuss what I like about because there are some themes about it that I do like.  I like the fact that we get a person of color as our hero.  That there are candid issues concerning race and class discussed.  I like that our main character didn’t have the money to afford a Porsche and even though she was smart, she had to think out of the box to get into college.

What I didn’t like…well, a lot of things other than that.

The book is a very loose Pride and Prejudice retelling, with several heavy handed winking Pride and Prejudice scenes that include actually referencing the book.

You can stop cringing now, it’s not that painful.  For the most part.

Though honestly, I hate how the book had to remind us that it was a Pride and Prejudice retelling.  Other than the love/hate relationship and the class issue romance, there really wasn’t anything that similar.  Because I don’t remember Mr. Bennet being a racist, child beater, douchebag.

Oh, God, the parents in this book.  They all needed to be socked and then some.  Save for Eden’s adopted mom who was the only parent who I thought was actually fit to raise a kid.  Well, the single mom who Eden babysat for wasn’t too bad.  But Eden’s dad.

What an awful person.  Racist, selfish, just an all around douche bag I have no words for this guy other than he’s a little bit better than Eden’s bio mom who ran off to Hawaii to be with some random guy.

I think the sheer awfulness of the parents in this book was in part what turned me off.  Yes, I know there are awful people out there but most of them have redeeming features.

Eden’s dad does not.

I do appreciate the fact that Day did try to address class issues, but I feel like a lot of the class issues were muddled because Eden’s dad was such a douchebag.  I honestly felt that had the father’s attitude been tempered somehow-shown that he was a redeemable person rather than the POS he was- maybe the class issues would’ve shined more.  As it was though, it seemed a little ridiculous.

As for the rest of the book, I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance and I think that was partially Eden’s fault.  The character is very withdrawn and cold to some degree, and while it’s understandable giving her upbringing it just makes her a bit unlikable.  I think Day tried to get her to open up with the Mundy character, but this sort of worked against the book since Mundy became rather one note and once her purpose was served she literally leaves the book.

In the end, it just wasn’t a very good Pride and Prejudice retelling but it was a decent book.  Like I said, I liked the fact that Eden wasn’t a member of the 1%.  I enjoyed her interactions with her babysitting charges.  I just didn’t enjoy this book as a romance and Eden could be closed off and just unlikable at times.

Overall Rating: A B- it wasn’t bad but it’s not the most memorable book I’ve ever read.  And while I love all the stars on the cover, you know in reality unless the characters were in the absolute wilderness-which they aren’t-they wouldn’t be seeing them.

We Can’t All be Lizzies: The Girl From Summer Hill by Jude Devereaux

The first book of a new contemporary romance series set in the mountains of Virginia in a town with full of family legends, romance, and secrets from New York Times bestselling author of the Nantucket Brides trilogy.

Sparks fly as fiery Casey Reddick and brooding Hollywood actor Tate Landers clash in the Virginia summer heat. A chef who puts her career first and her love life second, Casey doesn’t see what every girl in town is swooning over. She made up her mind the moment she met Tate—he’s gorgeous, but stuck-up, nothing like his ex-brother-in-law, Devlin who’s playing the Wickham to Tate’s Darcy in local production of Pride & Prejudice. Casey makes the perfect Elizabeth Bennett—how could she be star-struck when she’s heard Devlin’s damning stories about Tate? As they rehearse together, however, Casey finds herself attracted to Tate—he’s much more down-to-earth than she expected and any physical contact between the two of them literally gives her a tingling, electric shock. As opening night draws near, Casey has some difficult decisions to make. Whom should she believe? The seemingly sincere, slighted Devlin or Tate, whose rough, arrogant exterior may only be skin deep. She’s come to love that jolt she gets when they touch—but will she get burned?

Source: GoodReads

The Girl From Summer Hill is a book that I’m not sure would’ve been published if its author wouldn’t had already been a very successful romance novelist—the book’s by Jude Devereaux.   To be fair, the book isn’t a bad book per say, but it’s yet another Pride and Prejudice retelling and not a very clever one.

Full disclosure, I’ve only read a few Devereaux books before, The Summer House and one of them that involved reincarnation—not the knight one that she’s famous for, but another one (can’t remember what it was). They weren’t bad, but the style was a little stilted for my taste. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I really like to get to know the characters I’m reading about. I feel with Devereaux books you only really see the superficial traits of the leads. And yeah, sometimes plot can make up for it but when you’re doing a Pride and Prejudice retelling you sort of have to nail your Lizzy and Darcy.

The set up, guys, wasn’t there. Oh, the opening scene was interesting. Casey (Lizzy) a successful chef spies Tate taking a bath outside naked. That can get the reader, reading it just—I don’t know—faltered after that.   I was hoping we’d get to know these characters. Because the barebones of them seemed interesting. The world of gourmet cooking isn’t an easy career, especially for a woman chef so I thought it could be interesting seeing how Casey dealt with the sexism that comes with such a career path.

However, other than listing the various jams, chutneys, and honestly banal sounding pies in the house that she’s staying out….we never hear anything about her apparently messed up work situation.

Same with Tate, he’s a movie star. But other than this so obviously giving him the part of Darcy at a community theater production of all things?!?!?!?!?!?

Community theater.

That’s right, I said community theater because a big movie star is going to want to star in a Podunk-ville production of Pride and Prejudice with green actors—not to mention that said big shot chef is going to be like the perfect person for Lizzy with no acting experience and…well, you can see where I lost it.

Yes, I know believability is something you don’t often see with these books but sometimes there needs to be a bit of a reality check and having the chef world versus the Hollywood world in my opinion would’ve been enough.

It would’ve also helped if the plot wasn’t as slow as molasses and I think that’s why I DNF’d it. Which is a shame because I have a signed copy of the book—Books a Million was selling them.

Anyway, if you’re a die hard Pride and Prejudice or Devereaux fan, you might like this better than me. But I’m just going to skip ahead to the next read.

Overall Rating: DNF.  Just not my style, and it really didn’t hold my interest.