Monday, February 27, 2017

January Book Tree

Hello devoted fans! And people who accidentally clicked on this post. ;) I'm sharing my first ever monthly book tree. We'll see how faithfully I stick to it, cause we know how I can be, or at least I know how I can be.

It'll be a short and sweet post that shares my best reads of the month and a thought on them. I absolutely LOVE reading. Like, stick me in a tower for a year and as long as there's a never-ending supply of books I'll be happy. So this is another way for me to share my love for reading and maybe even help you discover your next book.

Now for the grand unveiling! *tugs on sheet hanging over large frame* Oh come on! RIIIIPPPP. Meant to do that! *tosses sheet aside*

Yes, this is what you get when I write blog posts in the middle of the night.

Ta-da!!!

























Please, please, hold your applause. I know, my skills at creating pictures stacked on pictures is impressive.

Okay, okay, down to business. So why a tree? Kristen, that looks NOTHING like a tree! You're right, it doesn't. But see, my beautiful mind picture imagined them tiered like a gorgeous pine tree shape. I then realized that I better only read six books if I ever want that to be feasible. That or find some freaking huge picture. Vision didn't become a reality, but I'm still calling it a tree because I'm stubborn!!! Pretend I'm a three year old showing off their picture of a dragon eating the sun while mommy is making dinner.

The top row would be the five star books and then the second row is the four star ones. (my ratings) Due to space reasons, I decided not to include my 1-3 stars, but I may in the future find a way to better illustrate my reading that'll include all the monthly books.

Top Row
(five stars)
  • Katya's War - The second in the series, Katya's war is a futuristic sci-fi novel that revolves around the planet of Russalka. Colonists from Russia settled the planet long ago and after a long silence between Russalka and Earth, the planet governs itself. But things are not as they seem and there's lots of danger to be had on the ocean-covered planet.



    I love Katya and her story. It's great to see a YA story with a strong female lead who doesn't fall into all of the cliche traps of trying to prove she's a stronge female character. There's also ZERO romance in this series. How many YA novels starring a FMC have zero romance nowadays? I recommend both books in this series as they're really undiscovered gems.
  • From the Stories of Old - An anthology of fairytale retellings that recently debuted. There's a good mix of everything in here. Urban, medieval, and even a futuristic setting. Some romances, some not. Happily ever afters and bittersweet endings. A fresh spin on a variety of favorite fairy tales, and a couple from some lesser known tales as well.


  • Slave - No sun. No moon. Hannah's world is a perpetual hopeless grey as clouds mask all light every day. The Workers work, and then return to their dreary homes. And somewhere, someone is profiting.



    A dystopian read that's like a breath of fresh air. Easily one of the best dystopians I've read in a long time.

  • Prince of Malorn - Korram's a young prince whose regent wants to kill him in order to snatch permanent power. In a desperate attempt to gather allies from the mountain people in his kingdom, Korram's simple quest to find fighters turns into a far different journey.



    A wonderful story that had so much vibrance and happenings that I felt like I'd been granted three books instead of one. The realness to this story, the depth of characters, and the plot had me fighting to put this one down.

  • The Midsummer Captives - Princess Gwen's given up on love for herself, but she's determined to help her sister to their happily ever afters. But when a journey to a neighboring kingdom goes awry(can you say stone dragon?) and the party scatters inside a mysterious forest, Gwen finds herself in a dilapidated old castle that's been partially enchanted. The two residents are equally strange.



    This book is a stand alone in a series that starts off with what was my #1 read for last year. Another great addition that makes me anxious for the nest!

Bottom Row
(4 stars)
  • Queen's Lady - A fun romp through the Elizabethan era that breaks some norms for what we expect with characters. Romance, prejudice, redemption, and people who aren't always as they seem.

  • Firebird - A futuristic sci-fi/fantasy based around the idea of what if three thousand years in the future the Messiah still hadn't been born yet. Firebird's planet has isolated itself from the galaxy and has developed some rather disturbing traditions. Firebird is one of the "extra" children that nobility have just in case, but who will be ordered to commit suicide once she's bumped down to a certain place in line for the title.

    Takes a bit to get into because of the huge amount of information I had to absorb on the culture, planet, galaxy, people, etc.

  • Charming Academy - In a fantasy world there exist two academies. One for princesses and one for princes. They're evaluated and assigned a princess/prince from the other school. Until they turn 18, the students are given classes that relate to the quest they'll be put on after they graduate. First in the series, Charming Academy sets ups all the characters for their quests which the rest of the novels explore.

  • The Orphan Queen - Wilhemina is a princess without a kingdom. Long after the one night war that saw her parents and the rest of the nobility slaughtered, Wil and the other noble children are now hiding in the enemy kingdom. They're planning, and plotting, and doing everything they can to not only stay alive and hidden, but also to regain what they lost.

  • Prince of Alasia - Jaymin is the young prince of Alasia who finds himself rushed into hiding when his kingdom is invaded. Somehow he must find a way to free his kingdom from the clutches of the neighboring kingdom and regain the throne. A companion novel to Prince of Malorn that takes place near the same time, with different main characters in different kingdoms. This is a MG novel while Prince of  Malorn was YA.

  • Ender's Game - A somewhat disturbing, and absorbing tale of a sci-fi world where children are recruited to be trained for a battle that may or may not happen. After two invasions, the people of Earth aren't taking any chances. Ender may be a kid, but he's like no kid you've ever met. A bit scary in its idea, graphic at times, but overall well-written and engaging. You may not like what's happening or the characters, but it made me think.

  • Finding Prince Charming (not pictured) - Hey, I ran out of room on my tree! This is the second book in the Charming Academy series and follows Adrian(who's been cursed!) and Allegra. There roles have been swapped and now it's Allegra who must find Adrian, break his curse, and rescue him. Adrian's got problems of his own. Add in a purple-haired mermaid, a witch with a vendetta, and a hopeless romantic frog, he's hoping Allegra hurries before he ends up trapped forever.

Overall, I had a great January! There were three books that fell into the okay category and two that made me want to slaughter pinatas. But I had an overwhelming number of AWESOME READS! That's what I call a good month in reading.

What was some of your favorite reads for January?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Where Carpets Fly Blog Tour


Hey everyone! Today I'm super excited to share a book release and an interview from newly minted YA fantasy author, Elise Edmonds. 

Elise and I met about three years ago when we were both starting out on our writing journey. I was working on what is now my first published novel and she was doing the same. It's been a blast to grow as writers together and to now be on the author path together.

Today she is here to share details on her novel Where Carpets Fly and answer some questions. First a little about the book.


Elina Faramar finally leaves her family's flying carpet shop when her father reluctantly agrees she can take magic lessons in nearby Kamikan. Urban life promises adventure, and new friend Kara shows her the sights.

However, Elina soon sees a darker side of life: a foreigner arrested at the circus, forbidden schoolhouse rooms with odd comings and goings, and unsociable pupil Simeon's shady deals at the docks. Everything seems connected to the volatile neighbouring country of Pallexon, but no one will tell her why.

When Elina and Simeon develop a magical mind link, he seems close to confiding in her. But an unexpected voyage takes Elina and Kara away from answers and towards unknown danger in Pallexon.

Alone in a strange country, with no identity papers, the situation rapidly turns into a nightmare when Kara is mistaken for a spy. With her own freedom at stake, Elina must rely on her wits and magic to save her friend and unravel the secrets of Pallexon.


You can get Where Carpets Fly on Amazon(available in paperback and ebook).

And now the interview!

Kristen - Elise! I've been waiting for what seems like forever to see Carpets in its finished form. I'm so excited to have you here.

Elise - Hi, Kristen! Thanks for having me.

Kristen - Let's get started. One of the things that makes Where Carpets Fly so unique is its setting. Often when creating fantasy worlds, we use a lot of Western European/Medieval influences, but you went a different route. How did you decide on a setting and what influenced the world that your main character, Elina, lives in?

Elise - I knew I wanted to create a complete fantasy world, so I did some research on worldbuilding and just started drawing a map. I wanted to include flying carpets, and they always seem to have an Arabian setting, so I knew I wanted to have a warm country on the map. In the end, Elina's country, Tamarin, was influenced by my love of Moroccan/Spanish food and Mediterranean/Persian lifestyle and architecture. It takes aspects of all those cultures and blends them into something new. I'm also conscious that it's good to have diversity in fantasy settings, and I wanted to get away from using the standard medieval European type setting.

Kristen - A nice warm country sounds amazing right about now. To completely switch gears here(just to keep things interesting), can you share something special about where you live? Any interesting facts, sights, or history? Maybe a picture?

Elise - Wow, I could be here all day! For the last twenty years, I've lived in or near the city of Bristol. An awful lot of the history here, unfortunately, is connected to either the slave trade or the tobacco industry. However, the city is also famous for its 19th century engineering. The most famous engineer is Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who built the Great Western Railway, many ships including the SS Great Britain (a popular current tourist attraction following its fairly recent renovation), and the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. The bridge is probably my favourite thing in the city – I attach one of my husband's photos for you. And of course, Bristol is home to Aardman Animations: of Wallace and Gromit fame.

Kristen - I love Wallace and Gromit! I remember watching those when I was a kid. The Wrong Trousers one was my favorite. Great picture too! Here's a sorta book question for you. If your characters had a pet, which would each of them choose?

Elise - Mmm... that's a tough one.

In one of the early drafts, I had Janni (a sailor lad) trying to tame a seagull. It didn't make the final cut though! I think his older brother Niels would have preferred a ship's cat, to get rid of all the pesky rats.


And Elina would have liked a pet bird too, but something smaller than a seagull: a canary or a finch maybe, so she could practice her Biological Magic (which allows her to communicate with plants and small animals).



Kristen - I'm sure Batman would love to learn that skill! It'd certainly make his namesakes better partners! What was the toughest thing to write for this book? Any research you hadn't expected to do?


Elise - I think the hardest chapter research-wise was the one where Elina gets to see over a large ship for the first time. I suddenly realised I had to describe the ship in quite a bit of detail. But not only did I have to learn about the ship, because the book is from Elina's point of view, I had to use terms that she would be familiar with.

In general, I didn't have much idea of structuring a plot when I first wrote the book. It's been a huge learning curve, and I had numerous great critique partners on the website Scribophile who helped me out and made it what it is today.


Kristen - Ha, yes, I remember that chapter because I was going through a similar situation at the time. I also had a character on a ship for the first time and was trying to dredge up any lingering memories on the subject. I believe we discussed how we'd both be doing ship research in the near future. What are your future writing plans? Do you have any more novels for this series planned?

Elise - Yes, I hope to have several more books in the series! Book two is already well underway and I hope to make good progress on it this year. Aside from this series, I have various half-started projects, as all good writers do, and it remains to be seen what will become of them! But book two is my main focus right now.

Kristen - I can't wait to read it! Thank you again for stopping by and good luck on your novel!


Born in Staffordshire in England, Elise Edmonds has always been an avid reader, especially of fantasy and young adult books. Elise moved to Bristol in her teens, to attend university, and undertook a career in the finance world. Now living in a quiet South Gloucestershire village, she spends her free time with her husband and two cats, and enjoys attending local fitness classes, watching movies, and playing the piano. Pursuing writing in her spare time as a creative outlet is a way to bring the magic back into her everyday life.

You can keep up with Elise and see what's next for her and Elina on her social media.

Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter
Instagram

Friday, February 17, 2017

Fairy Tales: Timeless Tales (Retellings Part 2)

This week I resume my list of suggested retellings! If you missed it, the first half of retellings is here. Without further ado, we'll kick off with . . .

Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey


Heavy is the head--and the eyelids--of the princess who wears the crown...In Rosamund's realm, happiness hinges on a few simple beliefs:

For every princess there's a prince.

The king has ultimate power.

Stepmothers should never be trusted.

And bad things come to those who break with Tradition....

The moral of the story? Sometimes a princess has to create her own happy endings....


The Five Hundred Kingdom series consists of six adult retellings. As a whole, the series is hit or miss, but I love the premise. What if fairy tales happen a certain way because some mythological force called Tradition dictates that certain things have to be that way. The seventh son has to be foolish, lucky, and the least favored child. The girl with a step-family has to marry the prince, etc.

Those who are aware of the Tradition can try to manipulate it, but those who aren't can get caught up in a disastrous tale. The Fairy Godmother starts off the series, and I'd recommend that because it sets up how the Tradition works, even though it's not my favorite book. All-in-all each book can be read as a stand-alone.

This story is what happens when a little kingdom finds itself so full of fairy tale aspects that it requires a fairy godmother all to itself. Both the fairy godmother and Rosamund shine out as strong female characters who are determined to make their own fate and use the Tradition for them, not be used by it. The two male main characters provide humor and the final elements for an amazing story.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads

The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey


Aleksia, Queen of the Northern Lights, is mysterious, beautiful and widely known to have a heart of ice. No one would seek her wisdom except as a last resort. But when she's falsely accused of unleashing evil on nearby villages, she realizes there's an impostor out there far more heartless than she could ever be.

And when a young warrior following the Tradition disappears, leaving his sweetheart and mother to fear the worst, Aleksia's powers are needed as never before.

Now, on a journey through a realm of perpetual winter, it will take all her skills, a mother's faith and a little magic to face down an enemy more formidable than any she has ever known.


Another one from the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. This one is my favorite of the series and also my favorite retelling of the Snow Queen. (Creating unique titles clearly isn't Lackey's strength)

The Snow Queen starts off near the end of the traditional tale and it's told from the Snow Queen's point of view. This story twists the roles of the characters and gives the Snow Queen a new motivation for her actions. Her personality and how well she plays her role made me instantly love her. The rest of the story is brand new.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


The Goose Girl

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale


Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her. 

Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.


This is another book that's made its way into my library and I've read it at least twice. There's two stand out things for me in this tale. The first is the addition of Ani having magic. There are different forms of "speaking" in Ani's world and she has one of those forms. The second is that this book feels very much like the original tale only fleshed out.

The talking blood and horse head are absent(unless I'm forgetting), but otherwise this feels like Hale took the original story and expanded it and filled in all the blanks. Most retelling are tweaking the plot in some way, but this stands out as unique because so much was the same.

I the rest of the series(which are not retellings, but stories from other characters in the world) was okay, but they failed in my mind to measure up to this one and I didn't even add the last two books to my collection. This can be read as a standalone and though I have a friend who'll shoot me for saying so, I'd have been happy stopping with this one.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


The Princess and the Pea

Violet Eyes by Debbie ViguiƩ


When a storm brings the dashing Prince Richard to her family's farm, Violet falls in love at first sight. Richard also gives Violet his heart, but he knows his marriage is destined to be an affair of state, not of passion. For the king and queen have devised a contest to determine who will win their son's hand in marriage.

To be reunited with her prince, Violet must compete against princesses from across the land. It will take all of her wits - and a little help from an unexpected source - if Violet is to demonstrate the depth of her character and become Richard's bride.


The Princess and the Pea is not a popular tale to be retold, but even if adaptions abounded, I think this one would still snag the number one spot. There's never any doubt as to who the main couple are, but the path to try and be together is still an interesting one.

There are two especially interesting qualities about this story. I don't want to give out any spoilers, so excuse me for being a little vague. The first awesome thing about this book is that there's a whole host of princesses trying to win the prince. The author takes the time to develop quite a few of these other princesses and gives them such unique personalities, that it's hard to imagine they weren't always part of this fairy tale.

The second thing is the tests. I can't say more, but I absolutely LOVED the tests.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


Blended retellings

These two books are both combined retellings. They're both middle grade, but I enjoyed them as an adult.

A True Princess (Snow Queen/Princess and the Pea) by Diane Zahler

\
Twelve-year-old Lilia is not a very good servant. In fact, she's terrible! She daydreams, she breaks dishes, and her cooking is awful. Still, she hardly deserves to be sold off to the mean-spirited miller and his family. Refusing to accept that dreadful fate, she decides to flee. With her best friend, Kai, and his sister, Karina, beside her, Lilia heads north to find the family she's never known. But danger awaits. . . .

As their quest leads the threesome through the mysterious and sinister Bitra Forest, they suddenly realize they are lost in the elves' domain. To Lilia's horror, Kai falls under an enchantment cast by the Elf King's beautiful daughter. The only way for Lilia to break the spell and save Kai is to find a jewel of ancient power that lies somewhere in the North Kingdoms. Yet the jewel will not be easy to find. The castle where it is hidden has been overrun with princess hopefuls trying to pass a magical test that will determine the prince's new bride. Lilia has only a few days to search every inch of the castle and find the jewel—or Kai will be lost to her forever.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads

The Princess Curse (12 Dancing Princesses/Beauty and the Beast) by Merrie Haskell


Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling (if silly) curse, and anyone who ends it will win a reward. Reveka, a sharp-witted and irreverent apprentice herbalist, wants that reward. But her investigations lead to deeper mysteries and a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?

I've never once contacted an author to ask if they'd write a sequel for something. Until this book. Yes, I'm way above the target age range. This was simply a brilliant book that combined two awesome stories to create a deep tale with fascinating characters. I dearly hope there'll be a sequel, and I'd love for it to be YA targetted.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


There are a few more recommendations I'd like to put out there and didn't really have a category to put them in. The first is a fairy tale anthology that has various retellings of different stories

From the Stories of Old A JL Anthology



In this international collection, new life is given to fairy tales, both classic and obscure.

Mythical creatures put the fairy in Fairy Tale. Mermaids, selkies, and ocean guardians experience the best and worst of humanity; sisters encounter an unusually friendly bear; a brave bride meets a silly goose; and a spinner of gold sets the record straight.

Urban fantasies modernize classics: a Frenchman learns the truth about magic, his past, and his girlfriend; a girl sets out to find love but receives a curse; and today’s naughty list makes Old Saint Nick not-so-jolly.

New worlds bring a fresh sense of wonder! In the future, a young woman fights for her people and herself; a bastard son finds acceptance in a world ruled by women; and a farmer’s wits win the heart of a frosty king.

Discover unexpected twists on old favorites, and fall in love with new tales and worlds to explore!

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


The second is a series where the first book is about the characters attending fantasy schools for princes and princesses. The sequential books are all retellings using those characters.


Growing up is hard enough for anyone, but for a boy destined to be the Prince Charming of a fairy tale it's an absolute nightmare. Attending Charming Academy you not only deal with the normal aspects of youth, but there are sarcastic dragons, vindictive witches and your princess hates you. Will Lucian survive school and become the prince his parents believe him to be? Join him and his friends as they learn the art of being a Prince Charming.

The following books in the series are the tales of The Princess and the Frog, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and two more that I've yet to get to. (I'm in the middle of the 4th book)

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads

Last up is a series where I've read all the books, but it's been so long and stories tend to blend in my head that I couldn't accurately pick out which ones I enjoyed enough to recommend. Violet Eyes is one of the books in this series. The rest are all pictured below and as they're by different authors, the best route to finding all the links is to pull up one on Amazon or Goodreads and find the linked list or also bought. (Yes, I'm too lazy to pull up that many myself)



And that is all for retellings! I read a lot of retellings and have a lot that I still want to read. So hopefully I've been able to pass along some interesting titles you haven't added to your list yet. 

What are your favorite retellings? What do you look for in a retelling?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Valentine's Day Book Sale!



This Valentine's Day, the awesome authors at Fellowship of Fantasy have banded together to provide an awesome selection of free and discount Fantasy and Speculative Fiction stories. Browse the titles, select as many as your heart desires, and discover your next favorite author!

All Fellowship of Fantasy titles are author rated with a guaranteed content level no higher than PG-13, so you shouldn't encounter graphic sex, gratuitous violence, or excessive language.

As pricing can be subject to the whims of the vendors, please verify that the deals are, in fact, still active before purchasing. Thank you!


Bargain Books (priced at 99 cents)

Fellowship of  Fantasy
Rebirth—Frank B. Luke-Amazon
Seven Deadly Tales—Frank B. Luke-Amazon
The Hidden Level—AJ Bakke-Amazon
To Save Two Worlds—AJ Bakke-Amazon
The Regency Shifter Series—KM Carroll-AmazoniTunesBarnes and Noble
Academy of Secrets—Michael Carney-Author Website
Sunbolt—Intisar Khanani-AmazonBarnes and NobleKobo
Wyndano's Cloak—A. R. Silverberry AmazonBarnes and Noble
The Stream—A. R. Silverberry -AmazonBarnes and Noble
Rainbird—Rabia Gale-AmazonBarnes and NobleKobo
Reality Break—Jennifer Kibble-Amazon
Battle for the Throne—EJ Willis-Amazon
Nyssa Glass's Clockwork Christmas—H. L. Burke-Amazon
The True Bride and the Shoemaker—L. Palmer-Author WebsiteAmazon
Cry of the Sea—D. G. Driver-Amazon
Foxtails—Erica Laurie-Amazon
Eun Na and the Phantom—Erica Laurie-Amazon

Free Books




The Buick Eight—Frank B. Luke-Amazon

Cora and the Nurse Dragon—H. L. Burke-Amazon
Lands of Ash—H. L. Burke-Amazon
Prince of Alasia—Annie Douglass Lima-Amazon
Awakening—Julie C. Gilbert-Amazon
Leandra's Enchanted Flute—Katy Huth Jones-Amazon
Mercy's Prince—Katy Huth Jones-Amazon
Woe for a Faerie—B. Brumley-AmazoniTunesBarnes and Noble
Chasing Lady Midnight—C. L. Ragsdale-Amazon
Jin In Time Part One —Karin De Havin-AmazoniTunesBarnes and Noble
Nyssa Glass and the Caper Crisis—H. L. Burke-Amazon



Fellowship of Fantasy

Friday, February 10, 2017

Fairy Tales: Timeless Tales (Retellings Part 1)

Readers everywhere have fallen in love with retellings. Old tales are spun into new. They've grown longer and have added depths to them. What makes a great retelling?



The most obvious qualification is a recognizable plot. Perhaps the names are the same, or similar to the original. Ex. Cinderella might be Eleanor, Ella, or Ellie. Belle might be Bella, Gabriella, Annabelle, etc.

More than the names, you need to hit familiar plot points and aspects of the story. What would Snow White be without some form of the seven dwarves? What about Sleeping Beauty? She most definitely needs to be under a form of sleeping curse at some point.

The goal is to have readers be able to say, "Hey, this is a retelling of blah blah." And know that even if they hadn't been informed ahead of time(by blurb or shelf).

New twists are a must. If the story is the same, it'll be lackluster. Retellings are taking the old and spinning them into something new. Maybe Rumplestiltskin was trying to rescue the child from two horrible people, or the Little Mermaid needed to get legs to find her captured sister.

Magical storytelling and engaging characters are good things to have in any genre. I think it's important to highlight them. Characters need to pull emotion from us. Whether we hate them, love them, or find them amusing, emotion is good. We need to cheer for the heroes and rant against the villains. Often character development in the original tales was lacking and shoring up that weakness now that we are taking novel-lengths to retell the story is important.



Storytelling should still remind us of a fairy tale. It should sweep us away, it should be vibrant, it should make us feel like we're in some fantasy world.

Lastly, the pixie dust touch. This is the special something that each author can bring with their version. It defies a set formula and can't be captured to repeat. It's the thing that will grip readers.

I love reading retellings, so today I'm going to share some of my favorites with you. I expect the list to get long! Any books I've read recently or read multiple times where I can remember details of what I loved(more than a memory that I did love it), I'll attempt to do a short "why I loved this" segment.

We'll start with one of my favorite tales that gets retold. Now I'm not overly fond of the original 12 Dancing Princesses story, but I find it's retellings are often my favorite.


12 Dancing Princesses


The Firethorn Crown By Lea Doue
Princess Lily, the eldest of twelve sisters and heir to a mighty kingdom, desperately seeks a break from her mother's matchmaking. Tradition forbids marriage with the man Lily loves, so she would rather rule alone than marry someone who only wants the crown.
Fleeing an overzealous suitor, Lily stumbles into a secret underground kingdom where she and her sisters encounter a mysterious sorcerer-prince and become entangled in a curse that threatens the safety of her family and her people. Lily can free them, but the price for freedom may be more than she's willing to pay.

The Firethorn crown is an amazing story that really rounds out the charcters more than the original. It also takes the love interest from a different quarter, as well as having more male characters than just the "failed princes" and the love interest. There's lots of potential for more stories and some of the best descriptions I've ever seen in any book.
Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it's taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.


Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

A tale of twelve princesses doomed to dance until dawn…
Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above.

This has been my favorite retelling of this story for years. It's now tied with number one on my list. I've read this a couple of times and I love it for a lot of the reason I love The Firethorn Crown, good development of the princesses, a unique love interest, and room for each princess to have her own story. Unlike most TDP stories, this one gives a good bit of the story from Galen's pov and having the male main character take a turn in the spotlight was a good move on Jessica's part.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


Cinderella

I actually am not a big Cinderella fan. This boils down to my issue with Cinderella staying. Her parents are dead, she's a slave in her own house where she's mistreated. Yet she stays! That drives me crazy! If you're okay with that kind of labor, then at least go somewhere that pays you and treats you better.

The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett


What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family-especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane's burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family's struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane's stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire.

When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate...


This tale decides to take things from the Stepsister's point of view. Imagine if Cinderella was a spoiled brat who believed being asked to do anything was a hardship? Imagine if the stepsister was the one doing all the work and trying to navigate around a spoiled new sister and a mother with her own basket if issues.

A really unique twist that showed characters in a new light and showed what happens when bad nurturing is involved.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix


"Princess, nobody can stop those rumors. People would rather believe in fairy godmothers...than think that you took charge of your own destiny."Like every commoner in the land, Ella dreams of going to the ball and marrying Prince Charming. But after she is chosen to marry the prince, life with the royal family is not the "happily ever after" that Ella imagined. Pitiless and cold, the royals try to mold her into their vision of a princess. Ella's life becomes a meaningless schedule of protocol, which she fears she will never grasp. And Prince Charming's beautiful face hides a vacant soul.

Even as her life turns to misery, the stories persist that Ella's fairy godmother sent her to the ball: How else could the poor girl wear a beautiful gown, arrive in a coach, and dance in those glass slippers? But there is no fairy godmother to help Ella escape the deadening life of the castle. Can she do it on her own?

As a kid, this was one of my favorite retellings. I've read it many times, though not in recent years. My favorite part is the twist. What if Cinderella won the prince and then afterwards realized he and the palace life weren't her HEA? This takes place after Cinderella has come to the palace and before the wedding. You meet a guy one night at a ball and then you fall and love and get married? Uh-huh, that was always a problem with Cinderella's tale, but no more. We see what happens when you up and choose a guy you just met.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine


At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally." When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella's life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you'll ever read.

Another childhood favorite, Ella Enchanted puts a curse on Cinderella that compels her to obedience. At last there was a reason for why Cinderella was stuck in her position. With a father who failed as a parent, a wicked step-family who realizes that for some reason their sister HAS to obey them, this book is a recipe for success. The prince is no longer a strange figure that Ella doesn't meet until the ball and there's plenty of magic and other things going on. Ella Enchanted has withstood many contenders to still remain my favorite retelling of Cinderella.

(and you most certainly should NOT watch the movie. I know what movies do to books, so I've never seen it. But I have heard the wailing from fellow lovers of the book that it was a special kind of bad.)

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson


Happily Ever After...Or Happily Nevermore? 

Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela meets the duke's son, Valten--the boy she has daydreamed about for years--and learns he is throwing a ball, she vows to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.


Captive Maiden is one book in the Hagenheim series which are all medieval fairy tales with a Christian slant and no magic. Very rarely do I see retellings without the use of magic, so this is a fun series that I've mostly enjoyed that feels more like historical fiction than fantasy.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is one of my top two favorite fairy tales(based on the original). In light of that, I find it very strange that I do not really enjoy retellings of this tale. I was actually shocked to find only ONE book that retells this story to my complete satisfaction.

Rose of Prophecy by Hope Ann


She is afraid. Not because she is alone. Not because thick roiling clouds obscure the moon. Not because the wind rushes through the forest like a wild dragon. She is afraid because she is late. And to be late means death.

Despite the destruction wreaked by Tauscher, traitor to the King. Despite the distant war led by the Prince and fought with the help of her three brothers. Despite her own poorly-chosen nickname of Beauty, she'd enjoyed life.

But now...now, in a flash of light, Beauty finally glimpses the truth. And the cost. The price which must be paid, or the sacrifice which must be made.

It is a curse which even love alone may not be able to break. 

This story is the only novella on my list and as mentioned, the only retelling of BatB. I've had some middling reads for this tale, but most retellings for this have crashed and burned. 

Like Cinderella, there is a plot point that's always bugged the crap out of me. The father . . . Usually portrayed as a kind and loving parent, I struggle with a good father allowing his daughter to take his place. Or even telling her about the deal!!!

Rose of Prophecy was simply amazing. For the first time, I actually read a retelling where the father didn't tell Beauty! He hid it from her. He was willing to die for her. He wasn't going to allow her to go. He wasn't even going to pitch it as an option. He wasn't going to tell her and have her forever after blame his fate on herself. I could've just hugged the author. 

A combination of dealing with that aspect and a host of other amazing attributes made this one a winner.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


Peter Pan

Peter and The Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson


Don't even think of starting this book unless you're sitting in a comfortable chair and have lots of time. A fast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk in its cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger. 

Discover richly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary but familiar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles with pirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses the reader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries of the beloved Peter Pan.

That seriously is the blurb. Whoever wrote that thing should be made to walk the plank. Peter and the Starcatchers is a series based on Peter Pan(a story I've never really cared for in any of its variations) and though it's a middle-grade book, the dark edge and depth of the plot and characters renders it just right for young adult and adult audiences.

I highly recommend this series(the first 2 books are the best). Both my husband and I read it and it now graces our library. The first three books would be prequels to the original tale and show us the story of how everything came to be, while introducing some terribly wicked villains and leaving you with the feeling that somehow this really all could've happened.

Book Links: Amazon and Goodreads


That wraps up the first part of the retelling section! The second part will be posted on Feb. 24th, so keep an eye out for that! If you missed the intro post, you can find it here.

What are your favorite retellings based on these four tales? (Cinderella, The 12 Dancing Princesses, Beauty and the Beast, and Peter Pan.)