BOOK REVIEW: Meagan Spooner “Sherwood”

81L5mq55HsLTitle: Sherwood

Author: Meagan Spooner

Genre: Action/Re-telling

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

This is Meagan Spooner’s second fairy tale re-telling and I have to say, she hit the nail on the head. This was so sweet!

Maybe “sweet” is the wrong word to describe this gender-bent Robin Hood imagining. But it was! I’ve seen some complaints about this so I’m going to clear a few things up.

This book follows Maid Marian, who’s betrothed to Robin of Locksley until he dies tragically fighting in the Crusades. In this telling, Robin is a nobleman and hasn’t yet become the famed thief. One of Robin’s men is accused of stealing, however, and Marian disguises herself as a man to save him from what she believes is an unjust punishment. Under cover of dark, no one knows who she is; but rumors spread that the hooded figure is Robin’s ghost.

So the legend begins, and Marian is forced to keep up the charade in order to save her friends. Before she knows it, she’s teaming up with a band of thieves to intercept food and supplies in order to save the overtaxed people of their land from starvation. Thus, taking from the rich to give to the poor. *eyebrow waggle*

I love the idea that the legend we all know was a hooded woman. Marian is told to be skilled with the bow, fighting, basically better than her fiance, Robin, at just about everything. It’s not that the original Robin Hood died, so Marian took his place. No, Marian is the original Robin Hood, in her own right. There are some who might not like this, but I found it very clever.

Sherwood has action, strong ladies, humor, heart, and a surprisingly sweet romance. The end was utterly fabulous; so ingenious that I could have cried.

My complaints though, are that this book is definitely slow to start. It takes a bit to get into it, and I admit that it’s a bit longer than necessary. However, I believe that the positives far outweighed the negatives, which is why these things don’t affect my rating nearly as much as it would have had this been any other book.

I thought Marian was a good character; she was compassionate and did her best for those she loved, and even for those she hardly knew. She fought for the hungry, hurting people of Nottingham and to great risks to help them.

Marian was flawed, too. She acted before thinking sometimes, but in these moments she acknowledged her mistakes and often did her best to right any wrongs. I loved the representation of a character that struggles with anxiety. This wasn’t stated outright, but Marian battles feelings of fear and the loss of Robin and is sometimes forced to pause and fight with her mind before continuing.

All in all, another strong read from the author of Hunted. Will absolutely continue to read Spooner’s retellings.

BOOK REVIEW: Alexandra Christo “To Kill a Kingdom”

34499221Title: To Kill a Kingdom

Author: Alexandra Christo

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Goodreads Synopsis

My thoughts: 

This is how you write a retelling, people. It doesn’t have to be the same in every way and it’s okay if it’s a looser portrayal. To Kill a Kingdom is a re-imagining of The Little Mermaid, and I have to say that I loved it even more than the original.

Now truth be told I don’t actually love the original Disney adaptation with Ariel’s insisting “but Daddy, I love him” and claiming she’s “not a child anymore” when she’s 16. (You know you’re getting old when you start to side with the adults in kid’s movies?) I also can’t say that I’m all too familiar with the original original story, except that I know it’s quite sad so I have no interest in it. Happily ever after or bust, man.

Yet Allie Christo’s adaptation was everything I need from a good story: morally grey MCs, hilarious secondary characters, a psycho villain, slow-burn romance, clever banter and action.

I had my doubts about this book considering I have no love for Ariel and Eric, but Lira and Elian are bae and I say this unironically. From the very beginning, I rooted for them both and they were such believable characters. Even though they weren’t likable right of the bat, I connected with them and in turn, grew to love them.

The world that Christo created was fascinating, both on land and in the water. I loved the world of the sirens and mermaids and also loved the different kingdoms and cultures that Elian’s crew encounters. Plus, the dynamics between Lira and Elian were amazing: Lira, siren, Princes’ Bane and Elian, pirate, prince, siren hunter. And yet throughout the book, only Lira knows both of their identities since Elian still believes that she’s human.

Also let’s talk about the writing: it was incredible.

… Oh, I thought I had more to say about that. Moving on.

In conclusion, To Kill a Kingdom was such a fun, satisfying romp and Christo has been added to my list of authors on my auto-buy list. My wallet says thanks.

 

Alexandra Christo: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Ashley Poston “Heart of Iron”

35422236Title: Heart of Iron

Author: Ashley Poston

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Ashley Poston, author of Geekerella, takes us on a science fiction adventure described as Anastasia-meets-Firefly (two of my favorite things). Ana is desperate to fix her best friend/robot/secret love of her life but is missing an essential piece; a piece she is willing to do dangerous things for.

Robb, meanwhile, is going in the same direction, but for very different reasons. He’s trying to find his father who went missing 7 years ago. Ana and Robb’s paths cross on their way to the Tsarina where they hope to find what they’re looking for. Instead, they become fugitives on the run from the empire and are forced to work together.

My thoughts:

This was rough.

Ashley Poston is an amazing person. I loved Geekerella more than words can say, and learning that Heart of Iron was being pitched as an Anastasia retelling made me happier than words can say. Anastasia has been a long-running obsession in my lifetime and there are very few movies/conspiracy theories that I love more.

Anastasia in space? Sign me up. Anastasia meets Firefly? Cue the tears.

Yet this was not at all what I thought it was going to be. And I can’t decide if it’s more mine or Poston’s fault.

I don’t want to say that the book was bad, because it wasn’t. And just because it wasn’t what I expected doesn’t mean that some other Anastasia-loving reader wouldn’t enjoy this. Unfortunately for me, this book just missed the magic of the original Anastasia story, and this made me incredibly sad.

And it sucks, guys, because I’ve been looking forward to this book for months. There’s no one on the planet who was more excited for this book release. It was just missing something.

I tried desperately to find Dimitri in the midst of this star-studded story, yet only found myself confused and conflicted by the human/robot romance. The secondary characters were a fresh inclusion, but the instalove was real and the character development almost nonexistent.

As for the relationship between Ana and her grandmother, I found that to be one of the most beautiful parts of the original story: the family reunion. Yet here, the Grand Duchess was cold and ignorant and insensitive to Ana’s past and there was no heartwarming coming-together.

Ana was revealed to be the lost princess about halfway through the book, which is fine I suppose. Well, it would have been. Yet after we discover Ana’s surprising heritage, it seemed like the rest of the story fell apart.

I struggled hard with this story. I didn’t want to compare it too much with the original Anastasia movie, especially once I realized that Poston’s retelling was much looser than I had anticipated. Yet even after I chose to ignore all the things that I felt didn’t quite meet the mark, the basic story itself seemed weak.

Overall, I wanted so badly to enjoy this book, and I will still continue with the series. However, it definitely wasn’t what I hoped it would be, and the end result fell short.

 

Ashley Poston: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Leonard Durso “Instanbul Days, Instanbul Nights”

51oGTLiumOL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Istanbul Days, Istanbul Nights

Author: Leonard Durso

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 

 

This book was sent to me courtesy of Smith Publicity; thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to read and review this story!

A Shakespeare-like tale of love, loss and life set in Istanbul, this story is one that will punch you in the gut. However, you may also find it healing.

One word of advice: don’t go into this book expecting a Romeo & Juliet retelling, because it’s not really. While described as such, I couldn’t really see the similarities. The characters, mostly all faculty at a school in Istanbul, work to put on a Romeo & Juliet performance with a modern twist to it, but never is this actual story meant to be a re-imagining.

The way this was written was very peculiar; in some ways good and in others bad. The tone was lyrical and everything was described beautifully, yet I felt a disconnect at some points because there was some poor sentence structure. It switches among the massive cast of characters and gives you a good feel for them all, but sometimes it becomes confusing. This also makes it difficult for the reader to really get to know any of the characters fully.

You could tell that the author either did plenty of research or most likely spent some time in Istanbul because Durso’s descriptions were vibrant and alive. I felt like I was there and that’s a really special thing to achieve. The setting was lovely and on paper, poetic.

All in all, this book didn’t connect with me like I hoped it would, but it features a diverse cast in a beautiful setting. Just because I didn’t get as much out of the experience as I’d hoped doesn’t mean that someone else won’t find something meaningful and special about it. If you enjoy rich storytelling, diverse characters and unique writing styles, give this a try!

 

Leonard Durso: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads