Review of The Frog Prince by A. G. Marshall

The Frog Prince
Fairy Tale Adventures 2
By A. G. Marshall

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 391

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
All she needs is a clue

After a disastrous Princess Test, Carina tries to pick up the pieces and prove she is still a trustworthy spy. But all her evidence points to magical interference, and her father won’t believe such preposterous theories without proof. She’ll have to solve this mystery fast to salvage her reputation, but can she do it alone?

All he needs is a kiss

When Carina refuses to attend his brother’s wedding, Prince Stefan crosses the ocean to change her mind. But the perfect surprise turns into a perfect disaster when a witch transforms him into a frog. Only a kiss from Princess Carina can break the curse, and she doesn’t seem inclined to kiss anyone. Can Stefan win her heart before it’s too late?

Or will dark magic sweep them all away?

Review:
I was inclined to like this book given how much I loved The Princess and the Pea by the same author and I was not disappointed!

As I read I realized just how amazing this series is. There is a damsel, there is distress, but there isn’t the typical damsel in distress. This series focuses on the abilities of women and how capable and underestimated they can be, something that most can resonate with.

Unlike typical fairy tale stories where you wonder how characters gained feelings for each other so fast, this was gradual. You could understand how indispensable the characters become to each other, and why. All of the characters have great depth.

Can’t wait to read more from the same author!

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
A.G. Marshall loves fairy tales and has been writing stories since she could hold a pencil. She is a professional pianist and perfected her storytelling by writing college papers about music (which is more similar to magic than you might think).

She fills each book she writes with magic, adventure, clean romance, humor and other random things she loves. Her stories are designed to sweep you away to magical places and make you laugh on the journey.

Get the exclusive short story “Gemstones and Gremlins” for free by joining her newsletter at: http://www.angelagmarshall.com/email-signup

And be sure to check out all the other free bonus content on her website!
http://www.angelagmarshall.com/freebies

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Review of Unsightly: A Modern- Day Retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Amber Garza

Star Rating: 
Genre: YA Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 222

Date Started: October 22, 2017
Date Finished: October 24, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Layla has grown up hearing the rumors of the beastly boy who lives in the forest on the edge of town, but she knows there is no such person. It’s nothing more than an urban legend. On the night of her high school graduation she drives through the forest to get home from a party when her tire hits water on the road, sending her car spinning into the trees. She slams her head and is out cold. Fortunately, a mysterious stranger shows up to help her. Hours later she wakes up in an old abandoned house, her savior shrouded in darkness. Over the next couple of days, he nurses her back to health, but she never sees his face. He wears a mask and refuses to take if off. In the final minutes before her departure, curiosity gets the better of her and she yanks his mask off. Immediately, she is horrified. His face is deformed and unsightly. Angry, he tells her that she’s made a terrible mistake, and now she can’t leave. While held prisoner, her captor waffles between cold and kind. It’s in those kind moments that Layla feels drawn to him in a way she’s never been to anyone before. As days morph into weeks, the coldness melts away and the two grow closer. She realizes that the stories the town has heard about the beastly boy are false. He’s not the monster they’ve made him out to be. But Layla knows better than anyone that their love will never survive in the outside world. Therefore, she has a choice to make. One that she fears will end badly either way. This modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast reminds us that love is powerful, and it truly can conquer all.

Review:
Layla is superficial. You can’t exactly blame her, given how she grew up. Unfortunately, most of the characters within the book are superficial stereotypes and don’t seem fleshed out as real people, more like stock characters. Layla and the Beastly Boy are fairly well developed, but there seems to be a lack of reality– everyone seems as if the author has just dreamt them, without any real depth. There are a lot of instances of things being told instead of shown, especially in regards to how Layla was brought up, and her past in general.

As much as the author tries, even within the book, to claim that Layla isn’t feeling Stockholm Syndrome, there is a depth missing to the story. All in all, it’s an interesting take on beauty being only skin deep. I especially enjoyed that the book was not over when most are used to the story closing. Although the story was very beauty and the beast inspired, it isn’t exactly a retelling. Keeping that in mind, you could still enjoy this novel.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Amber Garza is the author of the Playing for Keeps series as well as many contemporary romance titles, including Star Struck, Tripping Me Up and Break Free. She has had a passion for the written word since she was a child making books out of notebook paper and staples. Her hobbies include reading and singing. Coffee and wine are her drinks of choice (not necessarily in that order). She writes while blaring music, and talks about her characters like they’re real people. She currently lives in California with her amazing husband, and two hilarious children who provide her with enough material to keep her writing for years.

Amber loves to connect with her readers. You can visit her at ambergarza.com, or find her on facebook or on twitter @ambermg1.

Why I’ve Been So Silent/Catch Up

I went rather silent over the summer, and in part, it was because I was busy. Through my literary adventures, I was inspired to take up a few hobbies. I began playing the electric guitar, thanks in part to the book Confessions of a Serial Kisser (review here). I also got rather addicted to the television series Heartland, based on the books by Lauren Brooke.

That being said, meet Magic. Magic is an amazing black Percheron gelding that I’m leasing from a lovely lady, and I’ve been spending a lot of time with him. Magic is very clumsy and lazy, but he’s a sweetheart.

As wonderful as Magic is, I have continued to read, and have caught up with the books that I missed reviewing in the meantime. As for my personal writing… I’m sure you’ll see more from me in the future!

Review of The Spinner and the Slipper by Camryn Lockhart

The Spinner and the Slipper
By Camryn Lockhart

Star Rating: 
Genre: YA Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 222

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
A Romantic Retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin” and “Cinderella.” Eliana, a humble miller’s daughter, never sought the king’s attention. Now her stepmother’s thoughtless lie has placed her in danger, for if Eliana cannot spin a roomful of straw into gold by dawn, the greedy king will order her execution. One glimmer of hope lights this dire situation when a mysterious stranger magically appears in Eliana’s prison cell. A series of bargains might be enough to secure Eliana’s freedom. But unfriendly powers observe the doings of faeries and mortals alike. Can Eliana and her nameless champion surmount the odds piling up against them . . . even the wrath of mighty King Oberon himself?

Review:
One of the absolute best combination fairy tales I have ever read. Eliana lives a relatively normal life, trying to be good and never asking for anything special. When she’s in danger, the mysterious stranger can save her. She wants to understand the stranger and why it is that he might help her, instead of instantly agreeing to the help– not something you see from just any miller’s daughter.

In combining the two stories, I thought it was a really neat approach to do so by adding in the fairy realm, and that of Titania and Oberon. It added a depth, puzzlement, uncertainty, and amusement that isn’t usually seen in fairy tales.

This certainly is a fairy tale of its own and I definitely recommend you read it!

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
There is no information about the author listed.

Review of Rumpelstiltskin by K. M. Shea

Rumpelstiltskin
Timeless Fairy Tales 4
By K. M. Shea

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 236

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Things look grim for Gemma, a seamstress, when she is ordered under the threat of death by the insane King Torgen to spin straw into gold. Unwilling to forfeit her life, Gemma tries to escape her royal prison, earning her the respect of the mysterious mage, Stil. Stil offers to complete the impossible task…for a price.

Review:
My goodness. This is probably one of my favourite fairy tale retellings of Rumpelstiltskin.

Gemma is well developed and talented, but she also is very empathetic towards others. Stil, though we are uncertain of him for a while, is kind and helpful. The reader likely realizes what is going on long before Gemma, and the most annoying thing is Gemma’s absolute denial. Does it come from her inability to think of herself as worthy of attention because she is not a noble or because she thinks poorly of herself? The reader doesn’t know. What is shown is how intelligent and resilient Gemma is.

The depth of this story is amazing. The reason why no one stands up to the king, the reason why Stil is willing to help her, everything comes together to make this an amazing retelling. While he is not the Rumpelstiltskin you would remember, he is so much better! The underlying politics really add to the novel, and I absolutely adored the ending.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
K. M. Shea is a fantasy-romance author who never quite grew out of adventure books or fairy tales, and still searches closets in hopes of stumbling into Narnia. She is addicted to sweet romances, witty characters, and happy endings.

She is also extremely committed to her readers—who have set up their base camp at kmshea.com—and lives in the idyllic Midwest with her furry pet, Perfect Dog.

Review of A Witch’s Demon by N. E. Conneely

A Witch’s Demon
Book 6 in A Witch’s Path series
By N. E. Conneely

Star Rating: 
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 304
Season Read: Fall

Synopsis:(From Amazon)
For months Michelle has known another demon would come after her. What she doesn’t know is that it’s already stalking her friends, hunting her colleagues. Instead, her attention has been focused on learning all she can about witch clans, the engagement ring on her finger, and why Elron won’t set a wedding date.

Elron has a secret, one he’s afraid could ruin his relationship with Michelle. He knows the demon has arrived. He knows it’s only a matter of time before it strikes.

When a detective from a neighboring town calls Michelle, some secrets will be revealed, but will she discover the demon in time to protect the people she loves? Will she survive a fight not just for her life but for her very identity, the core of what makes her a witch?

Review:
I felt like this novel was really a turning point in the series, from fun and sometimes serious to tragedy. So many odd things happen in this novel and while Michelle is trying to piece everything together there’s a lot of “I could have saved them” moments. While the price of what might work is steep, Michelle thinks it is worth it.

One can’t help but worry about the end “gift” may end up as more of a curse…

All in all, looking forward to reading more.

61P034pMUPL._UX250_Author Bio: (From Amazon)
I live in North Georgia with my dog and a mountain of books. We sweat through the summer and freeze through the winter. Life as we know it comes to an end when so much as a single snowflake falls out of the sky.

For fun, I play with my dog, read, knit, crochet, paint, tie-dye, and do origami. I make a great pizza. I’m negotiating with my roommate over sea monkeys and working on a vegetable garden.

Black tea and water are my favorite beverages. I’m a huge fan of the Big Bang Theory, Castle, and Arrow.  A few of my favorite authors are Ann Bishop, Mercedes Lackey, Patricia Briggs, Tamora Pierce, Raymond E. Feist, and Christine Feehan.

Also check out N. E. Conneely’s Amazon page.

Review of The Rose and the Mask by Victoria Leybourne

The Rose and the Mask
Fairy Tale Masquerades 1
By Victoria Leybourne

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 340

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
A thieving beauty. A glass rose. A monstrous curse. Among the glittering masks of Venice, is anything quite what it seems?

Faustina is a beauty and a thief, not necessarily in that order. She doesn’t believe in magic, just luck, and hers has run out. The last thing she needs is to get roped into a ridiculous revenge plot by her brother—especially when that brother is Giacomo Casanova, Venice’s most notorious libertine.

Benedetto Bellini has never been particularly lucky. The fact that he’s under a beastly curse proves that. Now he’s got a second problem, one that’s washed up on his island in its undergarments and attempted to steal his silverware. He finds Faustina intriguing and infuriating in equal measure. And, thanks to the curse, he’s stuck with her.

Review:
The name “Faustina” can’t possibly be by chance. That was the first thing I thought of when reading. Foreshadowing? Perhaps.

Now, I love the absolute beginning of the novel. It’s so deep, such an amazing connection, and… unfortunately, it seems lost in the background for the majority of the book.

What I do enjoy is that Faustina is not the type of girl to just do something because she’s told, or to follow the heeding of any man. While she might nod and smile, she has purpose to keep herself safe. Benedetto, unfortunately, seems to be far closer to someone who has always been a hermit. He lacks confidence and it’s rather unbecoming.

The setting and addition of Casanova were interesting. The take on the rose was two fold and I thought well done. Wasn’t particularly pleased with the Deus ex Machina at the ed, but perhaps it was in part because I had already thought it might be the case before it was revealed. I feel that this story was different enough from the original that it really could make a niche of its own without using the Beauty and the Beast theme.

I would read another novel by the same author.

 

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Victoria Leybourne is an author, blogger and tea-drinker who was born in England but grew up on the internet. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her vigorously making excuses for not writing while watching animated movies, belting out showtunes and/or attempting to pet every cat within a three-mile radius.

You can learn more than you are likely to want to know about Victoria by visiting her blog, oppositeofpopular.com, where she exaggerates for comic effect and hopes one day to amass a small following of regular readers who will let her call them OOPsies. You can also follow her on Twitter, where she goes by @fluxcapacitory.