Review of Enchant: Beauty and the Beast Retold by Demelza Carlton

Synopsis (from Amazon):
A beastly prince. An enchanting beauty. Only love can break the spell.
Once upon a time…
The wicked King Thorn forced the enchantress Zuleika to cast a terrible curse. She fled his court to travel the world, helping those who need her magic most. Until a search for her merchant father’s lost ships leads her to an enchanted island, where Prince Vardan, the island’s ruler, is afflicted by the most powerful curse Zuleika has ever encountered. She’s not sure she can reverse the spell, but she’s determined to try. After all, a prince who fights pirates can’t be all bad…no matter how beastly his appearance.
Together, can the enchanting beauty and the beastly prince break the spell?

Review:
I loved this take on Beauty and the Beast. The premise was unique and refreshing. I did have some issues with the heroine’s name, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. I quite liked Zuleika’s growth and humility throughout the novel, as well as Vardan’s, however, instead of speaking and troubleshooting feelings and emotions verbally, Vardan brushes off Zuleika’s issues and essentially says “It’ll be great because I’m great.”

Unlike most versions of the story, Zuleika knows from the beginning that Vardan is cursed, so instead of being railroaded to liking him and spending time with him by his servants, she understands and wants to help. What irritated me was how long it took Zuleika to realize what had happened to Vardan, considering how intelligent and knowing in magic she is supposed to be by the time she meets him.

Most Amazon reviews seem to have a problem with the sexual mindset of the male protagonist, as well as the sexual parts of the story. I had downloaded this book knowing it was a fairy tale retelling, and that it had been on my list of ones I wanted to eventually read, picking it at random to read from the titles on my kindle. While it is a fairy tale retelling, it likely should be listed under romance first. Though not as carnal as Lidya Foxglove’s Fairy Tale Heat, with only a few instances, there is still a sexual mindset that if one isn’t expecting, might be found irritating.

**WARNING** BOOK BEGINS WITH GRAPHIC (SEXUAL) VIOLENCE

Star Rating: 

Review of Bellamy and the Brute by Alicia Michaels

Synopsis (from Amazon):

A fresh twist on a classic story, Bellamy and the Brute proves true love really is blind.

When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she’s reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill―including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin’s eldest son, Tate. The former football star and golden boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness―one that causes deformity and turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she’s told that if she takes the job, she must promise to never, ever visit the third floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth hidden there.

Tate’s condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin House. There are gaps in the family’s financial history that don’t add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3 rd floor, past the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go…

As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head… in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?

Review:
This story felt like it went on forever, and I never wanted to set it down. There are twists and turns everywhere, both supernatural and common teenage problems to see and deal with, and all of it very relatable. Bellamy’s father is known for being crazy, and people worry or laugh suggesting she’ll be the same, so already, Bellamy has to deal with being ostracized and belittled, even if just for being smart at times.

With supernatural uncertainties, Tate and Bellamy find themselves having to figure out a mystery, while also learning about each other and how to associate with someone physically disabled. All in all, I thought the situations, and their reactions to them, were very realistic, and the story was gripping and quite wonderful. I certainly recommend, especially to those who enjoy Beauty and the Beast.

Star Rating: 

Review of Fractured Beauty by Adrienne Monson, Angela Corbett, Angela Brimhall, Lehua Parker

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Beauty and the Beast may be a tale as old as time, but in this collection by the Fairy Tale Ink you’ll meet five newly imagined Belles and the Beasts they love.

Angela Brimhall’s beast is a terrifying sea monster cursed by a scorned gypsy. He must risk all to save the strong-willed princess before losing his last chance at love and redemption, becoming forever damned to the briny deep.

Lehua Parker’s Nani is trapped by Indian and Hawaiian traditions and a fiancé locked in stasis in a medi-mod. Cultures and expectations collide in this sci-fi futuristic world where nano-bot tattoos and dreams reveal the secret of Nani’s heart.

Angela Corbett’s Ledger is determined to find out more about the mysterious woman who saved him from certain death and uncover the secrets of  Withering Woods, but some beasts are better left caged.

Adrienne Monson’s Arabella rushes to an enchanted castle to pay her father’s debt, but is met with a burly beast with a mysterious past. It’s a howling paranormal regency romp that will keep you turning pages well past your bedtime.

Review:
Brimhall’s– Quite enjoyed this story, the way that it twisted and curved, with everything twined together.

Parker’s- I loved this story. I didn’t necessarily think of it as Beauty and the Beast, but it was brilliant, unique, and I quite enjoyed it.

Corbett’s– It was an alright short story, but I didn’t quite see a big Beauty and the Beast theme, except for one character’s appearance. My least favourite of the stories.

Monson’s– I quite enjoyed the way she delivered an enchanted castle, and the way the romance developed. I also really enjoyed why Arabella’s father was sent away, and what it meant to and for her, and the Beast, ultimately.

All in all, an alright compilation, but most would have been better if allowed to shine on their own, without being considered a “Beauty and the Beast” novel.

Star Rating: 

Review of Bleeding Heart by Allana Knight

Bleeding Heart: A Reimagining of Beauty and the Beast

The Baroque Fae Series Book 1
By Allana Knight

 

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 175
Winter 2018

Synopsis: (From Amazon) 
Magic is dangerous in seventeenth-century Venice. Fairies are outlawed. No one can quite remember why. Mirabelle is what the city folk call sangua de fata, tainted — a girl with fairy blood. Abandoned on the streets of Paris, Mirabelle has come to live with a merchant’s family on the outskirts of Venice. Brought up as one of their own, still she is daily reminded that she doesn’t belong. Cursed with the power of fairy blood as well as its beauty, experience has taught her that magic, especially hers, comes with a terrible price. As her family’s fortunes dwindle each day, the people of Venice mutter that Mirabelle is cursed. And when her father returns from a fateful journey with a magic rose, Mirabelle will have to face her worst fears if she wants to save him from a fae curse. She will have to enter Ombre Mondiale, the Faerie Realm, and become the wife… of a beast.

Bleeding Heart is a reimagining of Beauty and the Beast, the first in a series of fairytale retellings set in an alternate version of seventeenth-century Europe, where magic is common and the fairy kingdom is one of many world powers striving for domination.

Review:
While this story is a reimagining predominately of Beauty and the Beast, there are various other fairy tale story elements. I did like the connection between the Beast and the faeries, and thought that was a quite ingenious way to connect an “enchantress” in. I loved Mirabelle’s reason for feeling comfortable with leaving home to be with the beast as well as the role of the rose. I loved how Mirabelle’s parentage played into the story, especially with her connection to her father.

This was certainly a decent read that I would definitely recommend.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Allana Knight is the pseudonym of a Southern author and educator who enjoys fantasy, fairy tales, and young adult fiction. She is a reader by day and an author by night. She only accepts authentic reviews, and it is her policy not to solicit reviews or recommendations of her work.

Review of The Unbreakable Curse by Jenna Thatcher

The Unbreakable Curse: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling
By Jenna Thatcher

 

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 210
Winter 2018

Synopsis: (From Amazon) 
When Helen is kidnapped from her home, she enters a life of horror where lies are woven as she slowly begins to fall apart. For centuries, a great Beast hides in his castle, the forgotten story of his curse now a bedtime fable. A powerful Witch is certain her curse will hold, and as time passes, it seems inevitable. Until one day a young girl is given a choice; to live or die. Magic, adventure, and romance come together in this beautifully reimagined tale where Beauty and the Beast meets the tales of Scheherazade.

Review:
A nice, unique retelling while still maintaining a lot of the original fairy tale’s elements. It was neat how Helen’s love for stories developed a connection between she and the Beast, and it was even more ingenious how her “stories” were true things that had happened in their world during the time that the Beast had been removed from society.

The way magic works, or presents itself, to the humans in this world is quite unique. I like that while the magic powers give people a heads up, it doesn’t necessarily save them from danger even if they knew to be wary.

I quite enjoyed this novel, including the ending. I’d definitely recommend it to those who like fairy tale retellings.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Jenna Thatcher lives in a quiet little valley surrounded by mountains. She has been to every state in the US (except Alaska), and has a soft spot for volcanoes. Her favorite job ever was as a children’s librarian where she ordered the 500s – 600s. Three kids and a smart-mouth cat keep her busy, but thankfully she has an amazing husband to juggle them all (not literally). You can find Jenna on Goodreads and at her website; jennathatcherauthor.wordpress.com

Review of Spellbound by Sara Celi

Spellbound
By Sara Celi

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 248
Winter 2018

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
This beauty is a real beast… High school senior Holly Kent has everything she could ever want perched at the top of Eastside Country Day’s social structure. She’s one of the most gorgeous girls in school. She wins every award. All the boys want to date her. And all the girls want to be her. But when a jealous rival casts a spell and ends Holly’s reign as queen bee overnight, she loses it all—including her beauty. Forbidden to reveal her situation to anyone,  Holly must adjust to a new life and find out if she has the strength to change her heart before it’s too late. Carson Isaac lives on the fringe of Eastside’s social scene. He never quite fit in, but an education at one of the city’s best schools could help jumpstart his future. Then, one fateful winter day, he sees his secret crush—the real Holly Kent—for the first time. Nothing will ever be the same. As romance blossoms, can Holly and Carson navigate their new reality in time? Or will they be bound by the evil spell forever?

Review:
While some part of this novel were a little flat (Holly’s relationships with her parents) it did well to show how fake people can be, and how they care very much for appearances. In that regard, the novel reminded me of the book Beastly by Alex Flinn (which is also a great book). There were great lessons to be learned, and depth to our protagonists.

This book left me with so many questions though! Did they ever become cordial with her old best friend again? What did she decide to do after high school? How did her relationships with her parents change?

Looking for a nice YA fairytale retelling: read this book!

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Amazon Top 100 and Barnes & Noble Bestselling Author, Sara Celi, has lived all over the United States. She calls the Greater Cincinnati area home.

Sara has spent more than a decade working in journalism and broadcasting, with jobs both on-air and off-air at TV stations in Louisiana, Ohio, and Oklahoma. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications, magazines and newspapers, and she is a contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive. Since the release of her debut novel, The Undesirable, in 2013, she has authored several other works, including Hollywood Nights, Natural Love, Prince Charming, and The Palms.

Sara graduated cum laude from Western Kentucky University in 2004.

In her spare time, she likes to read, shop, write, travel, run long distances, and volunteer her time to local charities.

Want more of Sara Celi’s books? Stay up to date at http://www.saraceli.com, or sign up for her mailing list using this link: http://saraceli.com/?page_id=446

Review of A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier

A Tale of Beauty and Beast: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
Beyond the Four Kingdoms Book 2
By Melanie Cellier

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 295

Date Started: December 1, 2017
Date Finished: December 6, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Princess Sophia has helped her twin sister Lily save the duchy of Marin. But now Sophie faces an even greater threat when she sets out to free the cursed kingdom of Palinar from its beastly prince. Alone, and with danger on every side, Sophie must navigate a magical castle and its even more mysterious master to discover the secret to breaking the curse.

Except the more time she spends with Prince Dominic, the more she starts to question who exactly she’s supposed to be saving. With time running out for the trapped inhabitants, and the reappearance of an old enemy, Sophie may have to choose between saving the kingdom and following her heart.

In this reimagining of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, Beauty will have to use all of her strength and intelligence if she is to outwit her enemies, break a curse and find true love.

Review:
The relationship between the Beast and Sophie slowly develops, and that’s probably one of my favourite parts of this book. In many retellings the beauty feels sorry for him, or suddenly has feelings for him without knowing him at all, so this was a pleasant change from that. I loved that in order for the curse to be broken, both needed to change and grow. While I was heartbroken with Sophie to be torn from Lily, it was great to see her learn to stand on her own.

I enjoyed that the various servants had names and personalities. My favourite was Gordon. Both of her maids and the stable master were also quite well done, and deeper than one would expect for a secondary character. The way Sophie treated the servants was a good insight into the type of person she is.

While this is a story the reader already knows, the ingenious twists and turns of the curse and the townspeople are unique and draw you in further. Unique enough that you can’t guess exactly what is going on, this is definitely a good read.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Melanie Cellier grew up on a staple diet of books, books and more books. And although she got older she never stopped loving children’s and young adult novels. She always wanted to write one herself but it took three careers and three different continents before she actually managed it.

She now feels incredibly fortunate to spend her time writing from her home in Canberra, Australia where they don’t have a beach but they do have kangaroos hopping down the streets. Her staple diet hasn’t changed much, although she’s added choc mint Rooibos tea and Chicken Crimpies to the list.

She is currently working on The Four Kingdoms, a series of young adult fairy tale retellings.

Visit Melanie at her website: http://www.melaniecellier.com or follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Melanie-Cellier-689002674569364/ for all the latest news on The Princess Companion and other upcoming Four Kingdoms stories.

Review of Fausta Borja’s Beauty and the Beast by Fausta Borja

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance
Number of Pages: 296
Season Read: Fall

Synopsis: (From Amazon) 
Folks wonder what sort of woman I am, that I would sell myself to The Beast.

Cursed with a hideous form, the mysterious La Bête never leaves his enchanted castle. No matter: his riches are as endless as the steady stream of women willing to serve him. Those women say his appetites are as monstrous as his visage.

I may be young and innocent, but I am also practical. Five chests of gold for one year of servitude seems fair. Especially when my family is desperate for money.

When La Bête needs a new woman and offers for one of my father’s daughters, my family accepts his terms.

I am the willing sacrifice.

But La Bête is unlike any man I’ve ever known.

And I am about to learn what it means to love a beast.

Review:
Beauty in this novel comes from a very large family, that isn’t doing so well. With a couple of sisters and a couple of brothers, as the eldest sister she’s expected to do her part to help gain the family fortune. Despite what she’s willing to do for her family, it is obvious that they see her as many see others–the ends to a means, which is, for what they can get from her. This makes for an interesting dynamic as she meets and gets to know the Beast.

I do like that Beauty is smart, and has interests, however, there was quite a bit of backstory shoved in with the regular story. In some parts, it is told in a way that flows well with the story, but in others it is haphazardly thrown together in more of a tell instead of show way.  While the past is very important, it did feel as if she was reciting the same things again and again, which while that may be a realistic thing to do, it got grating after a while.

I loved the beggar woman she met in town. She was well done, and it was neat to have one person on Beauty and the Beast’s side. The other secondary characters, unfortunately, were mostly stock characters.

The reason the Beast became the Beast was interesting and well thought out, and I thought it flowed well with the rest of the story.  Getting to learn the tale was quite satisfying after reading for so long–it did not disappoint.

Overall, I thought this was a fairly decent book. It was over a bit soon, the conflict resolved a bit too easily, and some character depth for secondary characters would have been nice, but altogether it was a good tale.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
There is no info on Fausta Borja on Amazon.

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 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.