Monday, April 28, 2014

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!


  1. I went in and put a request for Sweetly at my local library. I'm ready to read some fairy tales now. I'm currently read Swan Sister which is a anthology of fairy tales. It is pretty good so far. it is my March random read.

  2. Thanks. I bought The Sweetest Spell a year ago, but I never had the chance to read it. I appreciate this review.

  3. Fantastic short reviews Debz! I have a book withdrawal for two months now so I am behind my reading schedule. Sweetly sounds like a book I wanted to start reading after my book withdrawal ends. I do like retellings :)


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