ARC Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

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Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale.

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

review

****Big thank you to Flatiron Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!****

This was a very unique and creative take on Snow White and one that I really did enjoy especially with the minor F/F romance and feminist themes! However, there was just something not there for me to rate this any higher than 3.5 unfortunately.

PLOT

My biggest complaint about this book is the extremely uneven pacing because it would have me turning pages eager to know more or I’d set the book down and not pick it up for days it was so slow. This is a problem for me since it’s harder for me to want to finish a book when it gets super slow after being so good! I have to say the end  and the middle is where it slowed down significantly for me and thought the first 40%-50% was much better.

The story is told in two different POVs one is Mina, the Queen and stepmother, and Lynet, the princess. In this way Mina is the “evil Queen” and Lynet is “Snow White”. The story revolves around Mina wanting to keep her power as Queen so she can be loved even though her heart is made of glass and Lynet is supposed to take her place but would rather spend her time climbing the castle walls and spending time with the new surgeon. Personally I found Mina’s chapters to be much more interesting.

As I already mentioned this book is a little slower with the pacing since it’s a very character driven story and doesn’t have an action packed plot by any means. I really loved the overall themes of feminism, family not being only blood, and being accepted for you who are and not who you “should” be. I also thought the general retelling of the Snow White fairy tale was done very well here, very creative and unique, and I loved seeing the twists on certain elements such as the enchanted mirror, huntsman, and poison apple!

The writing was also very well done and compelling…just saying. It really was wonderfully written and helped set the atmosphere for a fairy tale retelling.

I kind of stated already that I loved the themes in this book and I really appreciated that this is a book that focuses on female empowerment and women helping and supporting other women. Instead of Mina and Lynet fighting each other for the sake of power and the whims of oppressive men they stood against that and helped and supported each other. And that’s awesome.

characters

Now to the characters which were the best part and what drove the story forward!

Mina was by far my favorite character, I really thought her chapters and flashbacks were the most interesting parts of this story. Her character had so much depth and development throughout the book and we really see so many layers to her. She was raised motherless and by a father who constantly tells her that with her glass heart she cannot love or be loved. In her desperation for love she makes some bad choices but ultimately she is a very sympathetic character.

Lynet is the main character overall but she wasn’t as interesting to me as Mina, probably since she’s younger and there isn’t as much complexity to her character. She is constantly being compared to her late mother and instead of allowing herself to be groomed for the throne she would rather spend her time climbing and getting into mischief. I found myself really sympathizing with her though since she just wants to be her own person and not be a version of her mother like everyone wants. Lynet does grow over the course of the story significantly though as she learns she can use her power as queen to help people and help her kingdom.

The only other characters of any importance in the story would be King Nicholas, Mina’s father Gregory, Nadia the surgeon, and Felix the huntsman. King Nicholas and Gregory the magician were probably my least favorite characters since they’re both men trying to rule over and pressure our female characters Lynet and Mina (their daughters respectively). Sure King Nicholas doesn’t go about ruling over his daughter Lynet in an abusive way like Gregory rules over Mina, but he still tries to force her mother’s image on her. As for Gregory….he is straight up an asshole….just saying.

Nadia’s character was very interesting and she does play the love interest for Lynet which was a very slow-burn and sweet romance. Nadia actually develops quite a bit over the story even though she doesn’t play a huge role in it.

Felix plays the role of the huntsman and he is….adorable. I thought the take on his character was very, very creative and he actually grew a lot considering he’s more of a minor character.

romance

The romance does not play a central role in this book at all but it is there! It’s an F/F romance between Lynet, our Snow White character, and Nadia. I really loved the romance here since it didn’t overtake the main plot line and it was a nice slow burn romance, it was also very adorable!

in conclusion

I did really enjoy this book and think it’s a very creative take on the Snow White fairy tale but the pacing was something I had a hard time looking past while reading. There wasn’t much action which I understand but it would have been nice to have a little more and a few more complex side characters as well! Minor complaints those last two though.

What I Loved:

  • F/F, slow burn romance
  • Great feminist themes
  • Fantastic characters that were well developed
  • The writing was done well
  • Creative take on Snow White

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Not a whole lot of action
  • Very uneven pacing (most of the time a little on the slow side)
  • Would have liked a few more complex characters

RECOMMEND

I do recommend checking this book out especially if you’re looking for a good Snow White retelling or even just a book that has some great feminist themes!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

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ARC Review: Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

 

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description

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

review

**** I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

First off, let me say this: Who doesn’t wish they could enter their own imagined worlds? To interact with characters of your very own making?

Sounds great doesn’t it? But what would it cost you?

That is the set up for “Worlds of Ink and Shadow” and it did not disappoint.

PLOT

As you read in the blurb this is a story about the very REAL literary family the Brontes. Not familiar with their history? Neither am I and that in no way affected my reading of this book. So now you can’t use that as an excuse to not read this wonderful book.

Now anyways, the plot was very well executed it gave everything it promised. It was very engaging and moderately fast paced, there was never a moment where I felt reading the book was tedious or boring. Absolutely everything in the story was interesting, every time I put the book down I couldn’t wait to pick it back up again!

Also the world building was fantastic, it was everything I’d expect from a good YA fantasy novel. We learned everything about the parsonage the Brontes lived in as well as the ins and outs of their created world Verdopolis. Pretty much nothing was left to the imagination, everything was well thought out and we were kept well informed.

I really loved the folklore/mythology element the book brought in, it was completely unexpected but the effect it had on the story was very intriguing.

This book IS a stand alone and therefore at the end everything is neatly wrapped up and there was nothing left unanswered. It was very satisfying!

Another thing I loved was how beautiful the writing was, it was wonderfully descriptive. I can’t gush enough about how much I liked Coakley’s writing style.

characters

Every single one was well developed, complex, and interesting.  They were also all easy to sympathize with, I felt myself  getting quite attached to them throughout the story. For me personally, getting attached to characters means that they’re well written.

Charlotte – by far my favorite of the characters and Bronte siblings, she was strong and extremely dedicated to her family, as well as passionate about her writing and her characters.

Emily – probably the most frustrating character because she’s a little too emotional and wild. Absolutely unpredictable and chaotic and therefore one of the more interesting characters because of that. You never know what she’ll do next. She kind of…made some problems which is why she’s so frustrating but you’ll still love her!

Anne – very clever and honest she’s the most sensible of the 4 Bronte siblings. If something happened or one of the others got themselves into trouble, mostly it’d be Anne helping them out. She’s a very sweet and endearing character.

Branwell – not my favorite character actually, he was a little too arrogant for my tastes even though he means well. He’s passionate over his work almost to the point of obsession, he might be a little crazy too, nevertheless he’s a good brother to his 3 sisters and still a very strong character.

All four of our main characters were well written but possibly my favorite characters were the “fictional” ones the Brontes created. Zamorna the dashing hero and Rogue the wicked villain, they’re developed and quite complex on their own. I’d reread this book just for them!

romance

There is one and isn’t one at the same time, but it’s possibly one of my favorite elements in this book. Which is saying a lot since I don’t really enjoy romance in my books.

I can’t go into detail without spoilers so all I will say is it’s a favorite of mine because we can all relate (as readers) to falling for the heroes in our books, right? Or maybe even the villains?

(**hint hint** Villain love am I right?)

THAT’S what I liked about this semi-romance and thankfully there are no love triangles and there is no insta-love.

One point about it that did make me uncomfortable though, is the kind of age gap between the couple. Just a little awkward.

in conclusion

This was definitely a great book and I enjoyed it immensely. I loved it’s magical, fantastical, and folklorist elements. It’s a very well told story and I’ll be looking forward to reading more by Lena Coakley!

RECOMMEND

Absolutely! Especially if you’re a fan of books about  books or stories within stories. If you’re a fan of books then you’ll be a fan of this one! I would also highly recommend this to anyone who enjoyed the Inkworld Trilogy by Cornelia Funke since they share a similar theme.

 The Sassy