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

Advertisements

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.

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 The Princess and the Pea by A. G. Marshall

The Princess and the Pea
Fairy Tale Adventures 1
By A. G. Marshall

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 334

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
True worth can only be measured by the heart…     

After a century of bloodshed leads his family to the throne, Prince Alaric of Aeonia will do anything to preserve peace and protect his people. He knows only one way to prevent further conflict and refute the enemies questioning his bloodline: marriage. Torn between his duty to his country and his own happiness, Alaric calls for a Princess Test. This ancient matchmaking tradition will silence his critics and protect his future with a wife of noble birth, but…

Perhaps not all the girls are noble after all.

Over a century has passed since Evangelina Shadow-Storm accepted the cold embrace of enchanted sleep to seal away the goblin hordes. But the seal binds them no longer. Forced to face the goblins without her family or weapons, Lina seeks the aid of the Council of Kings by pretending she’s a princess. But the only way to claim such a status is to prove her worth in the one tradition that survived her slumber: the Princess Test.

Review:
This book was masterfully done. It is a fairy tale wrapped in a fairy tale of the world you’re reading about. No matter what you think of the original fairy tale, forget it, and give this one a read. From the beginning the reader is completely brought into the world, uncertain what is happening, but feeling very deeply for the protagonist.

As with any story of contending for a prince’s hand in marriage, there are the women we care about, as well as the people that no one can stand. The princesses are well developed and even those we dislike have good reasoning for acting as they do. Of course, like any fairy tale, not everyone is as they seem.

I enjoy the way in which the story within the novel had evolved through time, with misunderstandings and uncertainties. Reduced to a fairy tale, it takes a strong heroine to step up and force her way in to try to keep her kingdom safe.

I definitely recommend this book, and look forward to reading more by the 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

Review of Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond

Girl in the Shadows

Cirque American
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: YA Fantasy
Number of Pages: 380

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Eighteen-year-old Moira Mitchell grew up in the shadows of Vegas’s stage lights while her father’s career as a magician soared. More than anything, Moira wants to be a magician too, but her father is dead set against her pursuing magic.

When an invitation to join the Cirque American mistakenly falls into Moira’s possession, she takes action. Instead of giving the highly coveted invitation to its intended recipient, Raleigh, her father’s handsome and worldly former apprentice, Moira takes off to join the Cirque. If she can perform alongside its world-famous acts, she knows she’ll be able to convince her dad that magic is her future.

But when Moira arrives, things take on an intensity she can’t control as her stage magic suddenly feels like…real magic. To further distract her, Raleigh shows up none too pleased at Moira’s presence, all while the Cirque’s cocky and intriguing knife thrower, Dez, seems to have it out for her. As tensions mount and Moira’s abilities come into question, she must decide what’s real and what’s an illusion. If she doesn’t sort it out in time, she may forever remain a girl in the shadows.

Review:
I was really excited when I found this book, since I had quite liked Girl on a Wire. While I didn’t hate this book, it wasn’t as amazing as the first in the series. Moira is a likeable protagonist and seems to have a solid plan in place to secure her future in the magic business. While Raleigh appears totally capable and ready to look out for her, given that she doesn’t try to take over his stage, she seems far too easily smitten with Dez.

Dez is too undeveloped, and it’s hard to like him or his connection with Moira, even when you realize just how much is on the line. I found this book a little too two dimensional and the females were too powerless. For the type of energy supposedly there, much of the book seems to be a damsel in distress story, which is the opposite of what the first book in the series was.

Nonetheless, I would read another book if it came out, and do like this author.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Gwenda Bond writes YA and children’s fiction. Her novels include the Lois Lane series (Fallout, Double Down), which bring the iconic comic book character front and center in her own YA novels, and the Cirque American series (Girl on a Wire, Girl Over Paris, Girl in the Shadows), about daredevil heroines who discover magic and mystery lurking under the big top. She and her husband author Christopher Rowe will launch a middle grade series, the Supernormal Sleuthing Service, in 2017, and Lois Lane: Triple Threat will be released.

Her nonfiction writing has appeared in Publishers Weekly, Locus Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. She has an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband and their unruly pets. There are rumors she escaped from a screwball comedy, and she might have a journalism degree because of her childhood love of Lois Lane. She writes a weekly letter you can sign up for at http://www.tinyletter.com/gwenda. Visit her online at http://www.gwendabond.com or @gwenda on Twitter.

Review of Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Strange and Ever After
Something Strange and Deadly Book 3
By Susan Dennard

Star Rating:  
Genre: Young Adult Steampunk
Number of Pages: 400
Summer 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
It has been a tumultuous time for Eleanor Fitt since life as she knew it in Philadelphia came abruptly to an end. Although the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and Daniel—have helped her survive, Eleanor has lost just about everything.

And now, Jie is missing—taken by the evil necromancer Marcus. Eleanor is determined not only to get her back but to finally end this nightmare. To do so, she must navigate the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt amid the rising Dead, her unresolved feelings for Daniel, and her volatile relationships with Joseph and Oliver, her demon. And it won’t be easy. Because Allison, her friend from Philadelphia, has tagged along, becoming strangely entangled in Eleanor’s mission.

It will take all of Eleanor’s powers of black magic, and all of Daniel’s and Joseph’s trust, to succeed. But there will be a price.

Review:
How do you continue forward when you feel like you have nothing, and no one trusts you? Eleanor has no choice but to try doing just that. Relying on instincts is never a horrible idea, as she learns perhaps too late. In order to defeat Marcus, there are many twists and turns and the cost of success is astronomical.

This book was amazing, and I quite enjoyed the ending, even though I had somewhat suspected something similar might occur. Eleanor went on quite the journey, and she grew comfortable with herself, which is all any of us can hope for in life, really.

 

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. With a masters degree in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series (from HarperTeen) as well as the forthcoming Witchlands Series (Tor, 2015). When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or earning bruises at the dojo.

Review of Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Spell Bound
Hex Hall 3
By Rachel Hawkins

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult/Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 337
Summer 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident. Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Review:
This book I both looked forward to and dreaded. I very much hate the end of a series, don’t you?

While Sophie did grow quite a bit throughout the series, in the end I was disappointed by what happened to some of her allies (one in particular) even though I had thought what would happen was rather obvious from the beginning.

I am quite pleased with the ending of the series, though I am sure that I, like many others, would love to see what happens to Sophie beyond the scope of the series.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Rachel Hawkins (www.rachel-hawkins.com) was a high school English teacher before becoming a full-time writer. She lives with her family in Alabama. To the best of her knowledge, Rachel is not a witch, though some of her former students may disagree….