Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top Ten Books If You Like Once Upon a Time

A weekly meme hosted by the
Broke and the Bookish

  As it is Fairy Tale Fortnight, I'm taking this weeks topic Top Ten Books If You Like X and running with it, filling in our X with the TV Show, Once Upon a Time.


I don't watch TV, with the exception of Once Upon a Time. I actually think the acting and writing is terrible, but the story keeps me coming back!


Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

I had a lot of problems with this book, but the town of Beau Rivage is so reminiscent of Storybrooke, and the way the characters are all fairy tale characters but not quite is similar, but also distinctly different.

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Living in a fairytale isn't all it's cracked up to be. This book is light and fluffy, but also surprisingly deep. Those more emotional moments in Once Upon a Time that make your heart fly are a perfect match.

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Enchanted is a brilliant mash-up of so many fairy tales. My favorite part of Once Upon a Time is seeing how the tie all the fairy tales together, and Alethea Kontis does the same thing.
(BONUS: She stopped by last year to rant about Rumpelstiltskin!)

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

This book is something special. So, so special. It's a darker Neverland than most of us are familiar with, similar to Once's Neverland. The entire book is deep and dark and painful and beautiful.

Splintered by A.G. Howard

I never got into Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. But we do venture into Wonderland a bit in Once. Splintered's Wonderland is very different, but it still captures that odd sense of mystery that can be found in Once Upon a Time.

Beastly by Alex Flinn

All of Alex Flinn's books are pretty great, but I think Beastly especially captures that sort of magic we find in Once. It has the unconventional romance between a monster of a man, and a beautiful bookworm that we all love.

Doon by Carie Corp and Lorie Langdon

The premise is that special characters are able to venture into magical town trapped in time. Sound familiar? Doon is not based on a fairy tale, but instead the awesome classic musical, Brigadoon.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty is just what it sounds like. Cruel and Beautiful. The puzzles, the romance, the magic—they are all amazing! Nyx is similar to Emma, strong and complicated.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

I love love love Sisters Red. Fierce heroines, magical creatures, and a plot so good you can't believe are just a few of the things these stories have in common.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Meyer is a master when it comes to tying fairytales into each other, and making us see these stories in a completely new way. She and the creators of Once Upon a Time are some of the best in this business!

What are some of your favorite fairytale books?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Blogger Summer Reading Program


The always awesome Katie of Katie's Book Blog has just announced the coolest thing ever! A Summer Reading Program (like you used to do as kids at the library) for us Book Bloggers!

The rules are simple. Set a reading goal, read like crazy, and win prizes!

It goes from the beginning of May to beginning of September, which is basically four months. With that time frame, I'm going to set my goal for 25 books, since I have a pretty crazy summer ahead of me! (Camp, Road Trip, Job, College-ish stuff, Family Reunion, and a bunch of other crazy stuff!) Ideally I could read closer to 40 books, but I'm going to be practical.

What are your summer reading goals?

Bite Sized Reviews: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce & The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors

   Bite Sized Reviews at Debz BookshelfI think it only fitting that we have two such SWEET bite-sized reviews today!


Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: August 23rd, 2011
Genre: Paranormal Fairy Tale Retelling
Source: Purchased eBook
Find it: Amazon | Goodreads

As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch's forest threatening to make them disappear, too.

Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They're invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.

Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past -- until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn't gone -- it's lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak's infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen its next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.

Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.

Hansel and Gretel has become a fairly popular fairy tale to retell in the middle-grade section, but a YA Hansel and Gretel? Really? Sounds sort of weird to me. Turns out maybe I’m not the best judge, because Sweetly blew me away.

Sweetly is set in the same universe as the first in the series, Sisters Red. Ansel and Gretchen find themselves convinced to take a short stay with the sweet candy-maker Sophia, and before they know it, they’re beginning to make themselves at home in a tiny town in South Carolina.

I loved all the characters. They had so much depth. Gretchen in particular, as our lead character, stood out as a strong character. The supporting characters were equally complex, though, and that consistency in character development really impressed me.

Everything about this book shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s all so brilliant in its execution. The plot was thrilling and surprising and outstanding in every way. I wish I could accurately put my feelings into words.

Publisher: Walker Children's
Release Date: August 21st, 2012
Genre: Fantasy Fairy Tale Retelling
Source: Purchased
Find it: Amazon | Goodreads

Emmeline Thistle, a dirt-scratcher's daughter, has escaped death twice-first, on the night she was born, and second, on the day her entire village was swept away by flood. Left with nothing and no one, Emmeline discovers her rare and mysterious ability-she can churn milk into chocolate, a delicacy more precious than gold.

Suddenly, the most unwanted girl in Anglund finds herself desired by all. But Emmeline only wants one-Owen Oak, a dairyman's son, whose slow smiles and lingering glances once tempted her to believe she might someday be loved for herself. But others will stop at nothing to use her gift for their own gains-no matter what the cost to Emmeline.

Magic and romance entwine in this fantastical world where true love and chocolate conquer all.

Remember last Fairy Tale Fortnight when I read this book? And then never reviewed it for an entire year? Yeah, I didn't either, until I was digging through my old Goodreads reviews and realized I NEVER reviewed it. Better late than never, right?

The Sweetest Spell has an awesome premise (remember the original one that was hilariously bad? It has been preserved in early reviews like Misty's) with magical powers involving cows and chocolate, but also the promise of something deeper. That is just what it delivered. On the outside it seems like a fluffy fairytale, and it's exactly that. But it's also a story of acceptance, independence, love, and discovery.

The mythology and fantastical world were a little bit far fetched (doesn't chocolate come from cocoa beans? In South America?) and admittedly funny, but in the context of the plot, I could understand and accept them.

I initally didn't love Emmeline, but by the end she had grown on me, along with all the other characters (whose names are fuzzy…)

Definitely a lighthearted book, but not one without purpose. It paints The Ugly Duckling into an enchanting new story that may be even more charming than the original.

See my other Fairy Tale Fortnight posts!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Discussing Into the Woods… (Part One)

Into_the_Woods_posterI was going to have a cheesy, dramatic opening paragraph, but then I decided to just cut to the chase. Into the Woods is the most brilliant story to grace the Broadway stage in the history of forever (sorry Les Mis!) It tells the stories of our favorite fairy tale characters, interweaving their individual stories into a beautiful mess of magic. But it's not really about the fairy tales. It examines the power of making decisions, and their subsequent consequences. It's about growing up, and relationships, and love, and power, and death, and pain, and life.

I love Stephen Sondheim (not in a weird way—he's 84!) because he understands the power of words and music. When he talks about his work it is absolutely fascinating. And the work itself is a masterpiece. Out of all of his shows, I think Into the Woods is the most universal, both in appeal and the message itself (not that we don't love Sweeney Todd, but…) The amazing thing is that each word of lyric holds so much meaning.

broadway buttonHonestly I'm doing a horrible job describing them, and I CAN'T FIND A GOOD VIDEO ON YOUTUBE, so instead I'm FORCING you to go to Netflix and watch it right now! Go! Then come back two and a half hours later to thank me.

Lucky for you I'll be returning into the woods (ha ha!) at least two more times for more in depth discussions before Fairy Tale Fortnight is through. And I'll probably do so again at least twice this year as part of the Book to Broadway Challenge. Or, y'know, life.

See my other Fairy Tale Fortnight posts!

Book Review: Towering by Alex Flinn

   Stop by The Book Rat today to see my Top Ten Retellings of Unfamiliar Tales!

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 14th 2013
Genre: Contemporary Fairy Tale Retelling
Source: Library
Find it: Amazon | Goodreads

Rachel is trapped in a tower, held hostage by a woman she’s always called Mama. Her golden hair is growing rapidly, and to pass the time, she watches the snow fall and sings songs from her childhood, hoping someone, anyone, will hear her.

Wyatt needs time to reflect or, better yet, forget about what happened to his best friend, Tyler. That’s why he’s been shipped off to the Adirondacks in the dead of winter to live with the oldest lady in town. Either that, or no one he knows ever wants to see him again.

Dani disappeared seventeen years ago without a trace, but she left behind a journal that’s never been read, not even by her overbearing mother…until now.

A #1 New York Times bestselling author, Alex Flinn knows her fairy tales, and Towering is her most mind-bending interpretation yet. Dark and mysterious, this reimagining of Rapunzel will have readers on the edge of their seats wondering where Alex will take them next!

I have a lot of mixed feelings about Towering. Alex Flinn has written several brilliant modern fairy tale retellings, and so when Towering is compared to those (which is something that can’t be helped) it falls flat. A modern Rapunzel tale has so much potential, and unfortunately this just couldn’t deliver.

My biggest problem with the entire book was the remarkably dull characters. They were all pretty two-dimensional. I felt like they were cardboard cut-outs that have had fragments of personality quirks pinned onto them. I wanted to feel for the characters and their plights, but there was no character there! They were also just so slow. There are a handful of mysteries that need solving in the book, and I had them all solved within the first few chapters. It took all the characters the entirety of the book before they even started putting the pieces together. If the answer is staring you in the face and you can’t figure it out, then don’t be surprised if I don’t understand you.

Of course there has to be romance in any Rapunzel story, but the nature of this particular romance was fairly close to the original tale, and that isn’t a good thing in this case. It was just completely dripping  in insta-love. Talk of how they were meant for each other and couldn’t live without each other began after only their first meeting. Really? You can feel a special connection and attraction, but don’t go around labeling it love and making rash, dangerous decisions based on something you don’t even know is real yet.

Despite all that, I did genuinely enjoy the book. It was well-paced and the integration of Rapunzel’s original elements was wonderfully done. Flinn obviously has experience in writing an enjoyable story, and despite its flaws it is a memorable and entertaining story.

See my other Fairy Tale Fortnight posts!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Write On Review-a-Thon {3}

Write On Review-a-Thon


The Write On review-a-thon is a monthly event created and hosted by Brianna at The Book Vixen. It’s 2 days dedicated to getting reviews done, whether you have one review to write or 30+. This edition of the review-a-thon takes place all day Friday, April 25th and Saturday, April 26th. Let’s get those reviews done!

We’re in the midst of Fairy Tale Fortnight right now, and while I’ve been having a blast, you may have noticed I haven’t been posting all those reviews I’ve been talking about. That may be because they haven’t been written yet… whether or not that’s the case, I’m joining Briana’s review-a-thon this month because I desperately need to.

My life has been pretty crazy, but my weekend looks empty enough that I can hopefully squeeze in the rest of my FTF reviews so I can spend all next week sitting back and watching all the fun instead of stressing over writing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wishing on Wednesday: Fairy Tale Edition

Wishing on Wednesday @ Debz Bookshelf

Wishing on Wednesday is a weekly meme to feature recent and upcoming releases that I’m wishing for!

With Fairy Tale Fortnight (and the fact that I’ve been inconsistent with this meme), both this week and next I’ll be going crazy into overdrive featuring all the amazing fairy tale books being released in the coming months!









All four of these books look super amazing!
Stitching Snow is a sci-fi retelling of Snow White. Sci-fi retellings are becoming more and more popular thanks to The Lunar Chronicles, which I love. The premise sounds absolutely amazing!

The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince is unique in that we get to see Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast through the eyes of the Beast. It looks really great!

The Castle Behind Thorns is by Merrie Haskell, whose books I’ve previously enjoyed. This is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, one of my favorite fairy tales, so you can bet I’m excited!

I don’t believe Stray is a direct retelling of anything, but it is inspired by several fairytales. In stalking researching the author, I learned that she loved Into the Woods. That alone is enough to make me love her and this book. (And don’t worry, the ItW raving has only just begun this FTF.)

What are you Wishing for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

#FairyTaleFortnight #GIVEAWAY: Scarlet (SIGNED!), Cruel Beauty, and Second Star! (US only)

Fairy Tale Hop

Thank you to Kathy, Misty, and Bonnie for hosting this giveaway hop!

If you’re an old visitor, you know that I’m obsessed with fairy tales and I’ve been with Fairy Tale Fortnight since the start. If you’re a new visitor…well, now you know!

Today I will be offering the choice of one of three fairy tale retellings. All three are ARCs.

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel (May 2014!)
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (Worn cover)
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (No cover art, SIGNED!)

Second StarCruel BeautyScarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)


  • ONE winner will receive ONE of the three books listed above
  • Entrants must have a valid email address
  • The winner must respond to email within 48 hours to claim their prize
  • Must be 13 or older, or have a parent’s permission
  • Must have a valid US mailing address.
  • Giveaway runs from April 22th to May 3rd
  • DO NOT leave your email in the comments!
  • I am not responsible if the prize is lost, stolen, or damaged.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you want even more fairy tale fun, join the 2014 Fairy Tales Retold Reading Challenge, hosted by none other than moi!

Be sure to visit all the other blogs on this hop to find more magical prizes!

Bite Sized Reviews: Whatever After: Fairest of All & If the Shoe Fits by Sarah Mlynowski

   Bite Sized Reviews at Debz Bookshelf
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: May 1st 2012
Genre: MG Fairy Tale Retelling
Source: Purchased
Find it: Amazon | Goodreads

Mirror, Mirror on the basement wall...

Once upon a time my brother and I were normal kids. The next minute? The mirror in our basement slurped us up and magically transported us inside Snow White's fairy tale.

I know it sounds crazy, but it's true.

But hey — we're heroes! We stopped Snow White from eating the poisoned apple. Hooray! Or not. If Snow White doesn't die she won't get to meet her prince. And then she won't get her happy ending. Oops.

Now it's up to us to:
*Avoid getting poisoned
*Sneak into a castle
*Fix Snow White's story
And then, fingers crossed, find our way home.

This book is so ridiculously cute! It’s such an enjoyable, fluffy twist on Snow White. Our main characters Abby and Jonah accidentally end up in a fairy tale kingdom after discovering a magic mirror conveniently placed in their basement. Then they accidentally interfere in Snow White’s life just long enough to prevent her from being poisoned. Good, right? Well, apparently not so good.

These books require a good amount of suspended disbelief, so as long as you don’t take it seriously, then you’re in for a treat. It was an interesting premise, and it’s adequately executed. Some of the humor got old after the same joke was used 10 times, but I still had a smile on my face as I finished.

Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: January 1st 2013
Genre: MG Fairy Tale Retelling
Source: NetGalley
Find it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Once upon a time my brother and I found a magic mirror...

Tonight the mirror swept us into Cinderella's fairy tale. Now, we are NOT messing this story up. No way. Cinderella is going to marry her prince just like she's supposed to.


Cinderella broke her foot, and there's massive swelling. The glass slipper won't fit, the prince won't know she's the one for him, and they won't live happily ever after. And it's all our fault!

To save the day we'll need to:
*Learn how to use a dustpan
*Stay out of jail
*Find Cinderella a job
*Make sure true love finds its way

We just have to get it all done before the clock strikes twelve and the chance for a happy ending is gone . . . forever!

This book was even better than the first. By some magical coincidence Abby and Jonah find themselves in a fairy tale world again, this time encountering another fairy tale heroine. Determined to see this fairy tale through to it’s happily ever after, they work with Cinderella, helping her start up her own brownie-baking business and become self-reliant so she can take control of her own happily ever after!

I enjoyed this book so much. It was just as cheesy and sarcastic as the first, but if you’re in the right mindset for that sort of book, then chances are you’ll be charmed by these stories. There is no depth at all, but still has something of value to offer. I highly recommend the Whatever After series to readers of all ages, both young and young at heart.

See my other Fairy Tale Fortnight posts!

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