Review of Troll by Ashley C. Harris

Troll
Book 1 of 2 in Troll
By Ashley C. Harris

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Number of Pages: 482

Date Started: April 29, 2017
Date Finished: April 30, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
At the age of sixteen, Abby is undergoing major household changes. Her mom is getting ready to remarry and her new step-brother is driving her insane. She is just trying to keep herself busy with school and her part-time job when a most deliciously handsome stranger moves to her little seaside town and won’t leave her alone.

New arrival Wilhelm is unlike any other student at Abby’s school. His emerald eyes and tattooed body don’t truly reveal what he really is: a creature emerged from thousands of miles underground, seeking revenge, treasure, and a key that once belonged to an old enemy – a key Abby wears suspended from a chain around her neck. Why she has it is a mystery that Wilhelm will need to solve, and fast, in order to defeat a powerful mortal adversary.

As an attraction between Abby and Wilhelm develops, more creatures like Wilhelm are drawn from beneath the ground to Abby’s town; wreaking havoc as they offer Abby’s classmates the fulfillment of their deepest desires. Will Abby and her new family survive as a game of magical warfare is unleashed? Her ability to reverse Wilhelm’s bargain depends on it.

Review:
I really enjoyed this book. It was quite original, and fairly deep with interlocking past and present pieces. It’s impossible not to love Abby, our fantastic and down to earth heroine who refuses to believe that anything so outlandish and supernatural could be anything but a dream.

I quite liked Harris’s interpretation of trolls, and I especially like how they are born. The use of jewels was quite ingenious and ties in well with the old treasure trolls people that grew up in the 90s remember. I enjoyed the trolls having magical powers of persuasion, being able to manipulate earthen things to resemble what someone wants most.

The one thing that I really disliked about this novel, and almost caused me to drop down the star rating to a three, was that there were many errors that could have and should have been caught by an editor. Usually it was merely a dropped word, but in a few cases the wrong word was used. If it had been one or two, it wouldn’t have detracted from the novel, yet this was often enough that I had to keep pushing through because I needed to know what happened next, even though I kept being jarred from the story.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Author and film director Ashley C. Harris resides in Florida. Ashley was first recognized for her edgy writing and unique film work when she wrote and directed the teenage film “Lines”. Lines was the first feature film in the world captured using only Mac Laptops.
In 2013 she teamed up with Barclay Publicity to release the first in a new young adult novel series, “Shock Me”. Ashley then went on to author eight other titles, in multiple genres, as she also worked behind-the-scenes on a morning news show that aired on ABC. In 2014, four of Ashley’s books landed on the Amazon’s Best Selling Top-Ten-List. In 2015, she received her first publishing deal for “Troll”, a KindleScout novel winner.When Ashley is not dreaming up new manuscripts and working on film sets, she loves spending time with her family, obsessing about biblical mysteries, and watching lots of Doctor Who. Keep an eye out for her newest releases!

Review of Twice Upon a Time by Aya Ling

Twice Upon a Time
Unfinished Fairy Tales 2
By Aya Ling

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 462

Date Started: April 27, 2017
Date Finished: April 29, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Seven years have passed since Kat left Athelia. Through the intervention of the goblin king’s baby daughter, the book is re-opened and Kat is transported back to Story World. Upon learning she is given a second chance, Edward is determined not to let her go this time. His chance of succeeding, however, seems like nil. Kat doesn’t remember anything of their past, she loathes life at court, and she’s anxious to return to the modern world. Not to mention that there’s a price to pay for tampering with the book again…

Review:
Half of the book was stupendous, where we anxiously sit on the edge of our seats, wanting nothing more than for Kat to remember who she was, and to be happy finally being with Edward again. While Edward and Kat anxiously fight to have their happily ever after, having gotten to know each other deeply, Bianca threatens to spoil everything for them.

Edward and Kat worked together to lead a new life for the people of Athelia, based greatly upon Kat’s views of modern day American society. Through working together, and getting to know how the other things, and their interests, they became far more intimate than they had in the previous full length novel, something I had mentioned wanting to see. Although I really liked the opening of the novel, it seemed quite harsh to leave Kat and Edward as they were in the end.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Aya is from Taiwan, where she struggles daily to contain her obsession with mouthwatering and unhealthy foods. Often she will devour a good book instead. Her favorite books include martial arts romances, fairy tale retellings, high fantasy, cozy mysteries, and manga.
She is currently working on Ever After, Book 3 in the Unfinished Fairy Tales series, to be released in 2017. For exclusive bonus scenes, giveaways, and new release info, visit ayaling.com

Review of Princess of Athelia by Aya Ling

Princess of Athelia
Unfinished Fairy Tales Novella
By Aya Ling

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 88

Date Started: April 26, 2017
Date Finished: April 27, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Kat has now moved into the palace, determined to make the most of her time with her beloved prince. Being princess, however, is no bed of roses. She must learn how to behave like a royal, prepare for the upcoming engagement, and defend herself against hostile relatives. And knowing that her time with Edward is limited, Kat isn’t so certain that she wants to be princess anymore…

Review:
This was a cute little short story, but unfortunately it really seemed like it could have been summarized in a few short sentences. While it was nice getting to see Kat and Edward together again, the tale was simply too short, and over far too quickly.

I did like that Kat was willing to showcase her average modern skills, which were far superior to anything women were allowed to learn in Athelia.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Aya is from Taiwan, where she struggles daily to contain her obsession with mouthwatering and unhealthy foods. Often she will devour a good book instead. Her favorite books include martial arts romances, fairy tale retellings, high fantasy, cozy mysteries, and manga.
She is currently working on Ever After, Book 3 in the Unfinished Fairy Tales series, to be released in 2017. For exclusive bonus scenes, giveaways, and new release info, visit ayaling.com

Review of The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling

The Ugly Stepsister
Unfinished Fairy Tales
By Aya Ling

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 452

Date Started: April 25, 2017
Date Finished: April 26, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?

Review:
Last night I thought I’d begin a book, not realizing that I would become glued to this novel and not want to put it down. This is the second Cinderella retelling series that I’ve read this month and it was just as amazing as the last, in different ways.

Firstly, Kat joins the story of Cinderella begrudgingly, that is to say, completely against her will. It’s amusing and quite interesting seeing how she tries to combat the old fashioned world she ended up in. All of Kat’s reactions to clothes, as someone who has worn the full effect in Renaissance style clothing, was spot on (do NOT try to have a corset or bodice done up tightly– it IS quite difficult to breathe in!)

Kat is quite the relatable heroine: a girl who isn’t quite comfortable talking to guys, who slowly begins to realize that while things might be seen as the correct way to act in society, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the way one should act. Kat also discovers that when one isn’t as good at something as another, it is far better to move on and not dwell on it.

Kat has the advantage of coming to understand several different types of relationships while she’s in the fairy tale world. She and her “real” family have unconditional love: they want what is best for each other, and want each other to be happy, even if what they do to be happy doesn’t necessarily make sense to each other. Kat and her fairy tale family have more of a “I love what you can do for me” relationship, which, while quite unpleasant, everyone experiences at least once in their life.

Five stars, would totally recommend.

SLIGHT SPOILER:
I absolutely adore how Kat and the prince come to meet and learn about each other. While they have a lot in common, between their need to get away from everything and everyone to escape sometimes, and their desire to help the people, it would have been nice to see them take an interest in each other’s hobbies. Who knows… maybe we’ll see something in book 2?

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Aya is from Taiwan, where she struggles daily to contain her obsession with mouthwatering and unhealthy foods. Often she will devour a good book instead. Her favorite books include martial arts romances, fairy tale retellings, high fantasy, cozy mysteries, and manga.

She is currently working on Ever After, Book 3 in the Unfinished Fairy Tales series, to be released in 2017. For exclusive bonus scenes, giveaways, and new release info, visit ayaling.com

Review of Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde

Cloaked in Red
By Vivian Vande Velde

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult, Young People
Number of Pages: 128
Date Started: April 21, 2017
Date Finished: April 25, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
So you think you know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl with the unfortunate name and the inability to tell the difference between her grandmother and a member of a different species? Well, then, try your hand at answering these questions: Which character (not including Little Red herself) is the most fashion challenged? Who (not including the wolf) is the scariest? Who (not including Granny) is the most easily scared? Who is the strangest (notice we’re not “not including” anyone, because they’re all a little off.)? Who (no fair saying “the author”) has stuffing for brains? Master storyteller Vivian Vande Velde crafts eight new stories involving one of the world’s most beloved (and mixed-up) characters in literature. You may never look at fairy tales in quite the same way again.

Review:
Firstly, I could have sworn I had read something by this author before, which was part of why I was so excited to pick this up, and yet looking through the author’s list of published works, I hadn’t seen one that I have previously read. That being said, this book was a quick, fun read of small Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale retellings.

I loved that each story had its own little moral. My favourites were probably The Red Cloak, which is the first story, Little Red Riding Hood’s Family, Deems the Wood Gatherer, and Why Willy and His Brother Won’t Ever Amount to Anything. There are 8 stories total in the book.

The Red Cloak was my absolute favourite, in which our main character, Meg, has personality and intelligence, even if she is at that age where she is just beginning to mature. She acts responsibly, and admirably, and by the end learns that although her parents might not act as wise as she wises, they still might know a thing or two.

Little Red Riding Hood’s Family showcases a rather childish couple, and their very interesting matriarch. Deems the Wood Gatherer features many stories mashed together, with an oblivious and amusing main character. Why Willy and His Brother Won’t Ever Amount to Anything is amusing due to the sheer meta nature that one realizes at the end.

All in all, if you have Prime Reading and like fairy tales– go for it!

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
There is nothing listed about this author on Amazon, so I suppose one could picture her however they wish.

Review of Happily Ever After by Kelly Oram

Happily Ever After
Cinder & Ella book 2
By Kelly Oram

Star Rating: 
Genre: YA, NA (New Adult)
Number of Pages: 454

Date Started: April 17, 2017
Date Finished: April 18, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
The end of one story is often the beginning of another. Hollywood heartthrob Brian Oliver and his Cinderella princess Ellamara Rodriguez have finally found love outside the digital world. But leaving their anonymity behind creates a whole new set of obstacles for the nation’s new favorite sweethearts. With the stress of Brian’s fame, Ella’s disapproving family, and the pressures of a new relationship weighing down on them, the It Couple quickly begins to wonder if they can hold on to their newfound joy, or if maybe happily ever after is only a fairy tale.

Review:
Bought this book as soon as I finished the first. I was so excited that Cinder & Ella’s story got to continue, and that we would see more growth, and that everything wasn’t simply perfect because they finally were together again.

I love that Ella doesn’t find suddenly having the ability to do and be whatever she wants the fairy tale ending. She wants to find something to DO, something she can enjoy and still make money doing (something we can all relate to). She wants to make sure she is capable of taking care of herself, doing things without always having Brian there instead of relying on him for everything. What a fabulous role model. Her personal issues with her appearance, given, she is far more scarred than most, will resonate with most teenagers and young adults. It takes a while to find confidence in one’s self and how to dress, what one wants to be. It’s even harder reinventing oneself, but totally possible.

This novel, like the first, completely gripped me from the beginning and I love it. The relationships, while sometimes harsh, are quite realistic. Seeing that no matter how rich and famous one is doesn’t mean that everything in their life is perfect is a great message for young people who might believe that life would be perfect if only….

I would absolutely love a novella with Ella’s next planned fairy tale–mentioned to Brian towards the end.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat, Mr. Darcy.

Review of Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram

Cinder & Ella
Cinder & Ella book 1
By Kelly Oram

Star Rating: 
Genre: YA, NA (New Adult)
Number of Pages: 322

Date Started: April 16, 2017
Date Finished: April 17, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her-her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder. … Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement-or his fake fiancée-but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.

Review:
There is absolutely too much to say about this novel. I’m sure I’ll forget something, because there is SO MUCH that makes this novel amazing.

Firstly, I’ll start off with the fairy tale aspect: the elements of Cinderella are all there, but with an amazing fresh twist. Ella has a lot to worry about, and while she does try to be polite and nice to people, she still has flaws. Ella is stuck with her family, and in this retelling, she simply can’t leave like many likely believe the original Cinderella should have. Brian is every bit a prince with the power to completely change Ella’s life, but things don’t magically fall into place where he sweeps her off her feet– that’s not how the real world works.

This novel does a great job of showcasing how attached two people can become without ever having physically met, how you can come to rely on your friends, no matter how new or old. I absolutely love that this novel shows that meeting people with like interests and not just because you’re in the same general social sphere can give you a much deeper connection.

Written from the perfect perspective, instantly you feel for the protagonists and want them to succeed in life. It’s a book that’s very hard to put down, and I found myself getting quite angry when real life got in the way of my reading.

The story within a story aspect was absolutely thrilling. It’s a great step to acknowledge that nowadays most people form connections with others with similar interests, and loving one particular book series or movie could be the one thing that draws you to someone, forming an irrevocable bond.

Knowing that you should be yourself and do what’s best for you, even if it’s scary, is an amazing lesson I think everyone can learn from.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat, Mr. Darcy.