Review: Hood by Jenny Elder Moke

HoodHood by Jenny Elder Moke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

What happened after Robin Hood and Maid Marian rode off into the sunset together?

They had a daughter, Isabelle. This is her story.

Finding herself on the wrong side of the law, Isabelle is forced to flee the village of Kirklees and the priory where her mother, Marian, is Prioress.

With her mother’s aide, she sets out with a destination in mind, where dwells one of her mother’s old friends who can help her hide from the King’s men.

After a fearful journey, over many days, she reaches the Inn her mother advised her to go to.

It’s there she joins up with the Merry Men, learns the truth of her parentage and grows ever closer to meeting the infamous, Robin Hood.

This was an action-packed, super fun story, full of adventure and close calls.

I enjoyed where Moke took this, finding out how Robin and Marian’s ‘happily ever after’ went.

While I had fun reading this, it was quick and light, I wasn’t necessarily blown away by anything here.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good story, and if you are a fan of the Disney animated version, you should definitely check it out, but I can’t help but wish it would have been built out further.

Moke has a very pleasing writing style and all the bones were here, but I just wanted more.

I believe this is a standalone, but I sort of wish it was going to be a duology. I started to feel very connected with Isabelle towards the end, and the rest of the Merry Men. Personally, I would really enjoy following them on further adventures.

While I wasn’t crazy about some of the content of the conclusion to this tale, I do believe there is a lot more story to tell and Moke is the perfect person to tell it.

Give me more Isabelle. She is just starting to come into her own!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to reading more from Jenny Elder Moke!

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Review: Conceal, Don’t Feel (Twisted Tales #6) by Jen Calonita

Conceal, Don't Feel (Twisted Tale)Conceal, Don’t Feel by Jen Calonita
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Meg’s ratings for The Twisted Tale series:

1. Reflection (Mulan): 4-stars
2. As Old As Time (Beauty & the Beast): 3.5-stars rounded up
3. Mirror, Mirror (Snow White): 3.5-stars rounded up
4. Conceal, Don’t Feel (Frozen): 3.5-stars
5. A Whole New World (Aladdin): 3-stars
6. Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid): 2-stars

I was greatly anticipating the release of Conceal, Don’t Feel, the Frozen retelling of my dreams!

I love the story of Anna and Elsa. There’s so much about being true to yourself and being who you are no matter what others think.

The loads and loads of humor and fantastic side characters is another strong selling point for this story.

In this installment of Disney’s Twisted Tale series, we are proposed the twist of Anna and Elsa never knowing one another.

In this version, after Elsa’s magic harms Anna, their parents give Anna away to a family in the village to raise her. The girl’s memories are wiped and they grow up with no knowledge that they even have a sister.

It started out a little slow for me, but did pick up towards the middle and the conclusion was lovely.

Although slightly underwhelming, most likely because I had hyped it up so much for myself, this is still a good book. It was fun to spend some time with all of these dynamic characters again.

After this though, I am very happy the girls grew up the way they did in the movie and not some other version. That was sad enough!

Am I right?!

If you enjoyed the movie version of Frozen, you should definitely give this one a shot! Let Anna, Elsa, Olaf and all the rest, take your mind off the world for a while.

You won’t regret it!

I love the whole concept behind this series. I am always checking to see what tale Disney is going to twist next!

I am looking forward to continuing on with the rest of the books!

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Review: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Foul Is Fair (Foul Is Fair #1)Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a modern retelling of Macbeth, this is absolute genius.

‘For one fleeting second I’m proud of every bruise and every scratch–
the dark handprints on my arms and my neck and my ribs–
my broken claws–
the slash across my cheek–
–because every mark they left, everything they did, didn’t even get close to breaking me.’

On the night of her sweet sixteen, high schooler, Elle, along with her best friends, Mads, Summer and Jenny, plan to crash a St. Andrews Prep party.

They are in the highest of spirits, dressed to the nines, feeling like queens of their world. Nothing can touch them. That’s what they think anyway.

Then the golden boys, the wolf pack, of St. Andrews selects Elle as their next victim.

They chose the wrong girl.

After drugging her drink and raping her, she is left for her friends to rescue. From that moment she vows, she will not play their victim.

They have stolen her power, but she will stop at nothing to get it back.

Recreating herself, Elle, now Jade, enrolls at St. Andrews, infiltrates the golden boy’s world and plots their downfall.

She will reign, in her own world, as well as the world of St. Andrews Prep.

Seducing golden boy, Mack, he becomes her greatest pawn. She puffs his ego and works with his ambition to rattle the St. Andrews hierarchy to its core.

She promises her best friends, her coven, that she is not falling for him, but their mutual interests lie within one another. A Queen needs her King.

Y’all, I think you can tell how much I loved this book. I was so impressed with the courage it would take to write this story.

A revenge story that doesn’t apologize for going all the way. This is about a girl, stripped of her power, fighting tooth and claw to wrest back that power from those who stole it from her.

I speak from the heart when I say this is one of the most empowering stories I have ever read.

Don’t let them define you. Your role in the world is defined by you, no one else.

I fully understand that this will not be for everybody. The writing is extremely unique. I found it to be lyrical and raw.

The homage it plays to the original story of Macbeth was nothing short of brilliant, in my opinion.

So impressed with this. Will read anything else Hannah Capin chooses to write. Brava!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I have no doubt this will be on my favorites list of 2020.

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Review: As Old As Time (Twisted Tales #3) by Liz Braswell

As Old As Time (Twisted Tales, #3)As Old As Time by Liz Braswell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

An imaginative twist on the ‘tale as old as time’ that we all know and love!

As Old As Time, the third installment in Disney’s Twisted Tales series puts forth the question, what if Belle’s mom was the one to curse the Beast?

Following the parameters of a fairly strict retelling, this story has bonus content!

Music to any fan’s ears. We get a back and forth timeline here, one following Belle in the present part of the story we are familiar with, and the other telling of Belle’s parents before she was born.

The Belle we know is without a mother, living with her father, an inventor, on the outskirts of town.

But of course Belle once had a mother. This reimagining tells who she was, the Enchantress that cursed the Beast.

We learn about the kingdom at a time when magic was still present, as well as about the Beast’s parents and their unkind rule over their kingdom.

There is a plague and a fairly harsh ‘witch hunt’, for lack of a better term, that all ultimately leads to the Beast’s curse.

As I mentioned earlier, this felt like bonus content to the Disney animated version from 1991 because a good portion of this stuck so true to that original.

The rest was icing on the cake, filling in the back story of the time before the movie kicks off. I really appreciated that.

Some retellings you want to be wildly creative and unique (e.g. Hunted by Meagan Spooner or Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust), but for this series, the point is to have the original story with one twist that affects the outcome.

I thought that was well done here by Braswell.

I’m a sucker for this series and will continue to pick them up. This is definitely one of my favorites!

If you love the original animated Beauty and the Beast as much as I do, you should definitely give this one a try!

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Review: Coral by Sara Ella

CoralCoral by Sara Ella
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Coral, through the platform of a Little Mermaid reimagining, follows three perspectives through their struggles with mental illness.

Coral: A little mermaid who lost her oldest sister to Red Tide, a condition that mirrors depression.

Estranged and misunderstood by the rest of her family, Coral sets out to find the Prince she blames for her older sister’s demise.

Merrick: A young man whose controlling father is definitely the villain of his story.

After his little sister attempts suicide, and their mother runs off, unable to cope, he blames his father for the entire situation.

When his father announces that he is planning to send his sister, Amaya, to a residential treatment program, Merrick disagrees. He thinks she should be with family and essentially kidnaps her to avoid her going into treatment.

Brooke: The most mysterious of the perspectives, Brooke is struggling with depression and anxiety and currently residing in a treatment center. She is the most challenging to decipher.

As a reader, you can tell all three perspectives are related somehow, as the storylines begin to run parallel but you don’t know exactly how.

Once all is revealed, it makes sense and is a very heavy story to take in.

While I understand how important the topics tackled in this book are, I personally had a hard time connecting with the story.

The writing is strong and I know for the right person, read at the right time, this book could mean so, so much.

For me, the perspectives began to run into one another and I just never felt fully engrossed in the story. With this being said, I am still glad that I read this.

I think it is a completely unique way of exploring very serious mental health issues.

I urge you to read the author, Sara Ella‘s, review for this book as she includes a full list of trigger warnings. I definitely think that is important for this one.

Tread cautiously if you are at all worried that something may be harmful to your mental state.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I do consider this a heartbreakingly beautiful tale and appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

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Review: Geekerella (Once Upon a Con #1) by Ashley Poston

Geekerella (Once Upon a Con, #1)Geekerella by Ashley Poston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say?

I am a geek and I loved this book.

My last completed book of 2019.
What a great reading year.

During the course of my holiday 2019 travels, I found myself alone in the car, A LOT. I wanted a little romance to keep me alert during my drive.

Not for me exactly but on audio. I had been putting this book off forever, for unknown and totally irrelevant reasons, and on a whim decided to download it.

The stars had blessed me on that day, as I found so much more in this story than romance. It touched my nerdy soul.

I felt filled to capacity with acceptance and understanding whilst listening to this modern-day Cinderella retelling. At its heart, a story about embracing your passions and never apologizing for who you are or what you love.

Our protagonist, Elle Wittimer, is a teen living with her Step-Mother and two Step-Sisters in South Carolina, and yes, you guessed it, the Steps are wicked!

Elle tries to stay out of their way at home. She spends her summer days working in a food truck called the Magic Pumpkin and her nights blogging about her favorite fandom.

Starfield, a classic scifi show that she has loved her whole life is her drug of choice. It’s the one thing that makes her still feel connected to her deceased parents, both huge fans.

When it is announced that Starfield is soon to get a movie reboot, Elle can’t wait to see who they cast. As any superfan though, she’s worried they are going to ruin it.

Do reboots or adaptations ever truly do justice for our loves?

After teen heartthrob, Darien Freeman, is announced to be playing the pivotal Federation Prince Carmindor, Elle knows it is going to suck.

What would he possibly know about Starfield? All he knows are abs workouts and alarmingly charming smiles, right?

Fueled by anger, she takes to the web and blogs what a travesty it is.

Darien Freeman is a fan however. Being cast as Carmindor has been a life-long dream for him but he’s been cast to play a role, not just in the movie but in life. Bubble-headed playboy is his image and he is forced to stick with him.

Written off by the Starfield fandom as a faker of the highest order, Darien finds himself frustrated and misunderstood. But what can he possibly do about it? He’s trapped.

Under the same stars, Elle is trapped as well. Her Steps are downright cruel to her but she has no means of retaliation or true escape. She feels powerless against them.

To promote the new movie, the Starfield execs plan a cosplay contest to be held at ExcelsiCon; the very same Con created by Elle’s late father. She can’t believe her luck and sees the grand prize, tickets to L.A., as her means of escape.

Darien is not pleased when he discovers he will be forced to attend the Con. He used to love attending Cons but to have to go and not be able to proclaim his love as a true fan feels stifling.

Reaching out to a phone number listed as info for ExcelsiCon he ends up getting in touch with Elle but neither knows who the other is. Thus begins their relationship, via texts, and their means of finding escape through one another.

From the very first chapter, I fell for Elle and her story, hook, line and sinker. The homage to the original tale of Cinderella, while bringing it fully into the 21st-century, was beautifully crafted. I loved all the little details and connections throughout the book.

As the synopsis states, this is also a love letter to nerd culture and for many of us, that means a lot. To feel that we aren’t alone and there are legions of people out there just like us, who love the same things and accept us and don’t call us weird. It feels good.

Overall, I was really damn impressed with this and hope to be picking up the next, Once Upon a Con installment soon!

Thank you, Ashley Poston, for writing this. It was absolutely wonderful!

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Review: Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars, #1)Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

…no one left in the world to love her…only the promise of retribution.

On the debtor’s ship, The Brackish, young Silverfish, once known as Amaya, spends her days diving for pearls and counting down the moments until she can regain her freedom.

Things aboard the ship are far from smooth sailing. The Captain is cruel and treats his young prisoners with an iron fist.

When Amaya rescues a man from drowning, she fears she may be punished by further time added to her sentence.

And although that may be true, she’s taken with this mysterious stranger wrangled from the depths. When she begins to interact with him, Boon promises her unimaginable riches and the possibility of returning to the city of her birth.

With his help, she’ll be able to find out the truth about the cause of the downfall of her family, and in turn, seek revenge of her own.

Through an exciting series of events, Amaya is able to flee the ship and does indeed return to her hometown of Moray, a port-city with an even mix of old-world opulence and new-world problems.

Set up by Boon, she poses as a wealthy Countess in order to infiltrate polite society and bring down the man Boon feels responsible for his problems.

The man he seeks is Kamon Mercado, a high-society businessman, who has secretly fallen into hard times of his own.

His son, Cayo, once involved heavily in the Vice Sector, gambling, drinking and carousing, is trying to stay clean but definitely played his part in dragging the family name through the mud.

Amaya is directed to befriend Cayo and use him to get access to his father. Once she does however, she finds all may not be as easy as it once seemed.

This story is a gender-flipped retelling of the adventure classic, The Count of Monte Cristo, and I definitely felt the themes of that woven throughout.

I loved the back and forth between Amaya’s and Cayo’s perspectives, as they both pieced together the darkness and mysteries surrounding their lives.

I enjoyed so much watching their relationship grow and am definitely interested to see where it will go in the second book.

The setting of Moray reminded me quite a bit of New Reynes, from Amanda Foody’s, Ace of Shades. So, if you enjoyed those books, you should definitely pick this one up.

The Vice Sector, with it’s gambling dens and ruling Slum King, was steeped in danger and underhand dealings. Corruption is a major theme in this book, as is deception and individuals being used as pawns for other’s gains.

Additionally, I enjoyed the pacing and felt it was cleverly plotted, although some of the reveals felt a tad convenient. I did ultimately like the way it all came together. The conclusion was an nice set up going into the final portion of this duology.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this and look forward to continuing with the story!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to get my hands on it early!

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Review: Reflection (A Twisted Tales Story) by Elizabeth Lim

ReflectionReflection by Elizabeth Lim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Any Mulan fan knows well the battle scene versus Shan Yu and his army high in the mountain pass. But what if Captain Shang ended up mortally wounded during the course of that fight?

What would Mulan do in order to save him?

This story tackles that very question. In this recent addition to the Twisted Tales series, we follow Mulan, still posing as the solider Ping, as she travels to the Underworld, Diyu, to try to save Captain Shang.

King Yama, ruler of the Underworld, has agreed to a deal with Mulan. If she can navigate through the different levels of Diyu by sunset, facing numerous challenging obstacles along the way, Shang will be revived and she will be released.

If she fails, however, she will remained trapped in the Underworld as Yama’s prisoner forever.

So, no pressure.

Accompanying her into Diyu is Shang’s lion guardian, ShiShi. Like Mushu in the original version of Mulan, he added a great deal of humor to the story. Although a bit tougher on Mulan than Mushu, I just adored his character.

I really enjoyed in this one. It was such a fun and interesting twist. Following Mulan into Diyu had a very Alice in Wonderland dreamlike quality to it. The obstacles she faced were genuinely terrifying at times and I loved the dark atmosphere to the entire tale.

This is now officially my favorite book in the Twisted Tales series, out of the ones I have read thus far. I truly enjoyed Elizabeth Lim’s take on this classic tale and look forward to reading more from her in the future.

If you love Mulan, you should definitely give this one a shot!

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Review: The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is a magic within her, a power, that even she doesn’t know the limits of.

In its opening pages, we find young Princess Guinevere arriving in Camelot for the first time. Sent there to marry King Arthur, all she knows of him are what the legends tell. For he is a great man, the greatest, the one to pull the sword from the stone.

While it is true, he is a great King, one who strives to make the kingdom a better place, there are those outside the kingdom who threaten his reign.

Unbeknownst to anyone but themselves, Guinevere hasn’t actually been sent from a royal family in the South to marry Arthur, she has been sent there to protect him.

You see, there is more to Guinevere than meets the eye, much more than a fragile Princess desiring a life of luxury. She holds secrets so dark they are even unclear to herself.

It has been a long time since I have consumed any media revolving around the Arthurian legend. I had a wonderful time reading this and thought it was splendidly done. I felt very connected to Guinevere’s character and enjoyed following her on her journey of self-discovery.

I think if you have any interest in the story of Arthur and Guinevere, you should definitely give this book a shot. I think it was a nice twist to hear the story from her perspective, which is much darker and more convoluted, in this case, than I anticipated. In fact, it was intense at times trying to piece it all together.

She is confused about a lot of things, her past, which she doesn’t remember, her purpose and her heart. I think she experienced a lot of growth over the course of the book and although not all of her choices were the best, I think she was doing the best she could.

The supporting cast of characters were also fantastic. I love Arthur and am hoping for a deeper connection between them for the second book. This left off in an incredible spot and I know the next book is going to take the story up a whole other notch!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press and Random House Children’s, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. This was a highly anticipated book for me and it did not disappoint. I look forward to continuing with this series!

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Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

House of Salt and SorrowsHouse of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

…and the award for Exceptional New Voice in YA Horror goes to…

ERIN A. CRAIG!!!!

Love this. Not at all what I expected but so damned pleased with what I got!

Annaleigh lives at Highmoor, a remote manor on the sea with her father, stepmother and sisters. Where once there were twelve sisters, at the start of our story only nine remain.

The most recent to die, Eulalie, plunged to her death after falling from a cliff into the sea. It is rumored she was out to meet a lover and run away with him.

Tragedy has struck the family so many times, in fact, the villagers whisper that they are cursed. While some of her sisters buy into the curse, Annaleigh has other ideas. She doesn’t believe Eulalie’s death was an accident. Perhaps her other sister’s deaths weren’t accidental either?

Teaming up with a handsome and mysterious stranger, Annaleigh begins to investigate what is truly happening at Highmoor.

As many of you may know, House of Salt and Sorrows is a retelling of a fairy tale known as The Shoes That Were Danced To Pieces, or The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Going into this, I expected a typical YA fairy tale retelling. Fortunately, there was nothing typical about this!

Truth be told, parts of this story creeped me the heck out.

There was one night, I was up late, reading this on my kindle with all the lights turned off, I got to a section where there is a particularly lucid scene involving one of Annaleigh’s dead sisters and I legit almost put that thing in the freezer! I had to switch to something fluffy just to be able to go to sleep that night.

As someone who is a great fan of the dark and macabre, I must say, I was beyond impressed with Craig’s writing. Her ability to conjure truly terrifying moments and atmosphere is absolutely fantastic.

I am calling this a YA Horror, because even though the story isn’t exactly a Horror story, I am calling out Erin A. Craig as a Horror writer!

I really hope she continues more in that vein with her future stories. There was an ominous feeling surrounding this whole story. (view spoiler), it was all incredibly visceral.

I have never read the original source material, so I cannot weigh in on the merits of this as a retelling but I imagine, most folks who have read the original will be impressed by this. In my opinion, this book has it all and if you are a fan of gothic-feeling stories, you CANNOT miss this one. Pick it up, you won’t regret it!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I cannot wait to see what Craig comes up with next! You better believe I will be buying it!

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