Book Recommendations: Retellings

Top Ten Tuesday(76)

Hello fellow book lovers!

Time for a couple more book recommendations! Woohoo! I absolutely love giving out book recommendations but unfortunately I don’t have a ton to ever recommend usually since I read so many different genres and sometimes I don’t like the book! However, I have a decent amount of retellings that I adored so I wanted to share a couple of them with all of you!

I will provide links to my full reviews of each book if you want some more details!

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Alice (The Chronicles of Alice #1) by Christina Henry

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This is one of my most favorite books of all time and definitely one of the top retellings! This is a very, very dark, horrific, and graphic version of “Alice in Wonderland” where the characters we all know and love are twisted versions of themselves. I have to say it’s one of the most unique retellings I’ve ever come across since it takes elements of the original story and does so many different things with them including making them absolutely horrifying.

So if you’re a fan of Alice retellings and aren’t afraid to see the darkest side of it then definitely check this one out!

You can read my full review of “Alice” here.


Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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Another wonderful “Alice in Wonderland” retelling that is also an origin story for the Queen of Hearts character. While the beginning half of the book was pretty slow and filled with descriptions of food and moony eyes, the end half was full of action and plot twists! It was really fun getting to see all of the different characters come into play as well!

You can read my full review of “Heartless” here.


The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

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This is an AMAZING “Aladdin” retelling where the genie is a female and falls in love with Aladdin. However, there is plenty of action and great world building so this isn’t just a romance focused story! On top of the unique plot there is Khoury’s beautiful writing, seriously it’s just so gorgeous and made reading this book such a breeze! There is also some kickass feminist themes as well since Princess Caspida and her Watchmaidens are basically Robin Hood and are super badass.

You can read my full review of “The Forbidden Wish” here.


Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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A “Peter Pan” retelling that centeralizes around the character of Tiger Lily, it’s narrated by Tinkerbell as she watches Tiger Lily grow and eventually watches the romance the develops between her and Peter Pan. It’s a very warped version of Neverland that we see in this story it’s dark and very saddening. Overall I highly recommend reading this one just for the unique take on Neverland as well as the story of Tiger Lily but be warned you’re probably going to cry!

You can read my full review of “Tiger Lily” here.


Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry

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Another “Peter Pan” retelling but, as the title states, it’s the origin story of Captain Hook. Like with “Alice” Christina Henry takes the Neverland we all know and love and flips it upside down, this is a dark and very gritty version filled with many horrors both monstrous and more realistic. Trust me when I say you probably won’t be the biggest fan of Peter anymore……

You can read my full review of “Lost Boy” here.


Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

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This is it’s own unique story but it also weaves in four other retellings throughout as well. That’s right, four! We get to see Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hua Mulan, and Jane Austen’s Emma and while I can’t really speak for the Emma retelling I can tell you the other three are well represented within the main story line. I recommend checking this book out for the great story and world building alongside the retellings too!

You can read my full review of “Kingdom of Ash and Briars” here.


The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

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This is a “Little Mermaid” retelling with a F/F romance and quite a bit of Norse mythology weaved in as well. While I did have a couple problems with this book I generally did really enjoy it and thought it was a really unique take on the “Little Mermaid” story as well as adding in a bunch of original elements as well.

You can read my full review of “The Seafarer’s Kiss” here.

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Have you read any of these books yet? What did you think?

What are some of your favorite retellings?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

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ARC Review: Alice (The Wanderland Chronicles #1) by J.M. Sullivan

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description

Ever since the outbreak of the Plague, life hasn’t been easy, and for seventeen-year-old Alice Carroll, it just got worse. Her sister, Dinah, has contracted the ‘un-deadly’ Momerath Virus and without a cure, will soon be worse than dead. She’ll be momerath.

Alice must leave the safety of the Sector and venture into Momerath Territory to find the antidote – if it exists. Chasing a rumor about a mysterious doctor with the cure, Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wanderland, where ravenous momerath aren’t the only danger lurking.

review

****Big thank you to Pen Name Publishing for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!****

I’d also just like to quickly say the only reason I picked this book up was because of my blogger buddy Ariana @ The Quirk Book Nerd’s review! Please go check it out because it’s much more convincing than mine!

So this is a horror/dystopian/zombie-filled Alice in Wonderland retelling, did that grab your attention? If you like any of those things than seriously check this book out because it has all of those things and more! I know I personally love all of those things and I definitely thought this book was such a fun, entertaining read.

PLOT

As I said this is an Alice in Wonderland retelling that is combined with a post apocalyptic world filled with zombie-esque plague victims. It’s sort of a wide variety of genres all mashed together and it WORKS! The pacing is very fast and there is a ton of action, it’s practically non-stop action and it sucks you in completely!

Another factor that helped contribute to the immersive-ness of the story was the writing, I was actually really impressed with this considering it’s Sullivan’s debut novel. Her writing is very descriptive and just gave you such a REAL feel of the action, suspense, and terror of things happening throughout the book. However, I did have some moments where I felt it was TOO descriptive since I’m the type of person that relies heavily on dialogue, but I did still like all of the action scenes!

I also really loved the unique twist on the “zombies” which are called Momeraths and are sort of a combination between zombies and mutated humans (very reminiscent of the Fallout video game series actually). What the plague and Momeraths reminded me of a lot though was the Resident Evil franchise, I could not help but think of that series the entire time while reading plus it helps that both heroines are named Alice…… So if you’re a fan then you’ll definitely enjoy this story!

The world building was also really great and unique while also still retaining elements of the original Wonderland story. It was a TON of fun finding all of the allusions to the original and getting to journey through this darker, grittier version! I would have maybe liked a bit more world building overall but I’m hoping I’ll get that in the sequel.

characters

I did enjoy a lot of the characters and they actually had quite a bit of personality and development throughout the book. I was definitely impressed with them! I wasn’t fully convinced by Alice’s character immediately but by the end of the book I was fully persuaded to LOVE her! I loved watching her grow from being a more fearful girl to this total badass, which like I said really shows the great character development. She felt very real as well with fears and weaknesses, it made her more relatable in my opinion.

Some of my other favorite characters would have to be Dr. Abbot, Chess, and the Red Queen they also played really true to their Wonderland characters and were just so much fun to read about! I really love when secondary characters have this much personality!

romance

I was actually very surprised that there wasn’t a super prominent romance in this book, and it was a PLEASANT surprise! While there is a bit of a love triangle feel to it since there are two potential suitors for Alice I really liked how she never really let any feelings distract her from her main goal: saving her sister. Seriously, what a relief that we have a YA heroine not letting boys get in the way of the main plot-line!

I also really enjoy both love interests too…..

in conclusion

I was overall VERY impressed with how thrilling, fun, unique, and interesting “Alice” was! I’m such a sucker for darker retellings though so it’s not too much of a surprsie that I really liked this one.

What I Loved:

  • The setting/world building with dark “Wonderland” and zombies
  • The writing was very descriptive
  • Lots of fast pacing and action scenes!
  • Loved the characters and how well they developed throughout
  • Very fun to pick out the allusions to the original Alice in Wonderland

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Felt a little too descriptive at times, could have used more dialogue
  • The world could have been a little more developed

I definitely recommend giving this book a try especially if you’re a fan of retellings with dark, gritty twists and anything reminiscent of the Resident Evil franchise!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon 

ARC Review: Red Queen (The Chronicles of Alice #2) by Christina Henry

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description

The land outside of the Old City was supposed to be green, lush, hopeful. A place where Alice could finally rest, no longer the plaything of the Rabbit, the pawn of Cheshire, or the prey of the Jabberwocky. But the verdant fields are nothing but ash—and hope is nowhere to be found.

Still, Alice and Hatcher are on a mission to find his daughter, a quest they will not forsake even as it takes them deep into the clutches of the mad White Queen and her goblin or into the realm of the twisted and cruel Black King.

The pieces are set and the game has already begun. Each move brings Alice closer to her destiny. But, to win, she will need to harness her newfound abilities and ally herself with someone even more powerful—the mysterious and vengeful Red Queen…

review

**** Thank you to Ace Books and Netgalley for sending me an ARC as well as a finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review****

“There were monsters in the night but there were monsters in the day too, and monsters inside people who smiled and showed you all their teeth like they were nice.”

“Alice” was a five star read for me, it was so completely engrossing and horrific that I couldn’t stop reading or thinking about it once I had finished. So of course I could not wait to get my hands on the sequel! Unfortunately I wasn’t as captivated by it as I was with the first book, however, it has the same compelling writing and a few of the characters I loved from “Alice”. So I’m more than a little conflicted about how I feel about “Red Queen”.

PLOT

The story picks up exactly where it left off in “Alice”, with Alice and Hatcher leaving the Old City to venture off into the East to find Hatcher’s daughter Jenny. So while the plot starts out strongly enough my interest really began to dwindle as it proceeded, I found that the pacing was extremely uneven and was slow more often then not.

The overall atmosphere in this book also felt completely different than its predecessor, it wasn’t as horrific or suspenseful. Where did the horror go? Reading through “Alice” I constantly felt creeped out and disturbed about the things that would occur but in “Red Queen” there wasn’t really any of that it was almost too lighthearted compared to “Alice”. I wanted to be shocked and horrified while reading but it fell a bit short.

I also found there to be less Alice in Wonderland references, while “Alice” had numerous twisted versions of our favorite Wonderland characters “Red Queen” only had a few. With retellings I feel the comparisons are half the fun, right?

 There seemed to be a lot more romance in this book than the first, don’t get me wrong, I love Alice and Hatcher together they make a fantastic team but I felt that Alice spent over half the book just thinking about Hatcher. Not exactly plot relevant thoughts about Hatcher either, just lovey dovey thoughts that felt a little unnecessary.

We also spend a lot more time in Alice’s headspace, in fact the entire book is comprised mostly of her thoughts. Whether it’s her daydreaming or trying to solve a problem I felt we were inside her head more than we were outside of it interacting with other characters. Because of this there was little to no action at all in “Red Queen”. There wasn’t much going on and Alice didn’t have to go through many trials this time around.

Henry’s writing is still the same though and by that I mean it’s excellent, it really grabs your attention and propels the story along. Even if the story didn’t have much going for it this time around I still loved the writing.

So overall with the story it had a strong start and a very slow, dragging middle. It picked up again towards the end of the book with a few surprising plot twists and everything was wrapped up neatly and resolved and left a satisfying ending.

characters

We of course have the same old Alice and Hatcher we know and love as well as a bit of Cheshire (even though I wanted more! He’s my favorite!) but aside from that we don’t see too many other characters. There is the addition of the White Queen, Red Queen, Black King, a goblin, some giants, and a few villagers. Not exactly the slew of twisted Wonderland characters I was expecting, it felt almost like Henry used them all up in “Alice”.

While I would have liked just the teeniest bit more depth to all of the new characters I was still very happy with them and they were the best part about “Red Queen”. Alice is still brave and kind-hearted, Hatcher is still murderously insane, and Cheshire is still as conniving as ever. The new characters had their fair share of interesting back story as well and aren’t quite what you expected, in a good way!

While the White Queen and Black King weren’t exactly the most good-natured characters I still found the Queen’s goblin to be the most villainous and horrifying. I was happy with that inclusion of horror reminiscent of “Alice”.

in conclusion

This may seem like a lot of negative things but I really did like this book, I just didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.

Overall there wasn’t enough horror or action for me to have enjoyed it as much as I did “Alice”, I wanted that shock factor and I wanted that more disturbingly horrific content and I just didn’t get it. For me the characters were really the most redeeming quality of this book along with the writing.

RECOMMEND

Of course, especially if you read and liked “Alice”. However, I wouldn’t get your expectations up too high like I did or you may end up being disappointed.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

If you want to read my review of the first book “Alice” I’ll just leave the link right here…

The Sassy

Book Review: Alice by Christina Henry

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description

In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…

Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

review

“Beware the jaws that bite, the claws that snatch….”

This is one hell of a book and it’s nothing like anything I’ve ever read before. If I could rate it and give it a thousand starts I would do it in a heartbeat, that’s how amazing it was.

Although I will say it’s not a book for the faint of heart, there is much disturbing content such as torture and rape and overall violence. It gets pretty hard to swallow so if you’re strongly against reading about any of those things I would skip this book.

Honestly this whole review will be me gushing over how great of a read this was because I don’t have a single bad thing to say about it.

PLOT

This is a very dark retelling of “Alice in Wonderland” but it’s also an extremely entertaining one. Even the mildest of fans will love how Christina Henry tied the many familiar faces into her story.

I have only seen movies based on the adventures of Alice and I wasn’t lost for a second, so if you’re worried that you haven’t read the original book, don’t be.

So the story revolves around Alice (obviously) and Hatcher who reside in an asylum together in the New City. One night destiny presents to them an opportunity to escape the asylum and disappear into the Old City, but this opportunity also releases an ancient and terrible evil, the Jabberwock. It is now Alice and Hatcher’s job to destroy the Jabberwock and to do so they must travel through the streets of the Old City where they encounter many of our favorite “Wonderland” characters – Cheshire, the Caterpillar, the Walrus, & the Rabbit.

There isn’t really a cliffhanger ending, but you will be left craving the next (and last) book in this duology. That ending was damn perfect and it was completely satisfying, but I really need to read the continuing adventures of Alice and Hatcher. Now…please.

The world building is superb throughout the story, it makes you feel dirty and gritty whilst reading and that’s exactly how you’re supposed to feel. The Old City is a dirty and gritty place after all, full of atrocious crimes and people. Bad things happen in the world, but fortunately we don’t get that messaged shoved into our faces and forced down our throats. Yes, bad things happen in this book but there’s also some sort of justice in it as well….or vengeance whichever you prefer.

The pacing is fast as well, I predict that you’ll have a hard time putting this one down just like I did. Also the writing is perfect, it makes you FEEL everything and trust me with this kind of story you’re going to feel all sorts of emotions .To me, that’s a perfect book when it makes you emotional.

characters

How do I even do the characters justice? They were all so well written, even the villains were well portrayed. You will hate the villains but you will admit that they’re damn good at being VERY bad.

Alice and Hatcher are the definition of a dynamic duo. Together they can pretty much do ANYTHING and I put emphasis on the together part. It’s true one wouldn’t succeed without the other. They’re so different yet they fit together so well. They’re both completely mad but also clever and they’re on the path of vengeance. Who doesn’t love some badass, vengeance-driven, crazy people?

Cheshire, of course, is and always will be my absolute favorite character in ANY Wonderland retelling. This book was no exception either, he’s exceedingly clever and very helpful while also not so helpful at the same time. I can’t help but love him though, such a little shit…..

Of course as mentioned all of our villains are exceptionally…villainous. Trust me they are bad, bad, and worse. They’re absolutely sickening but they’re as well written as any of the other characters. They’re monumental to the story, without characters like the Walrus, Caterpillar, and Rabbit, it would be very dull indeed.

in conclusion

I absolutely adored this book and to me it was perfection, I haven’t a single complaint about anything. I will be (not so patiently) waiting for the next book “Red Queen”.

This is a fantastic piece of work and I raise my teacup and salute you Christina Henry you mad, mad genius!

In the mean time I think I’ll go have a tea party…or maybe just watch the Tim Burton movie…probably safer….

RECOMMEND

Hells to the yes!

I recommend this to any “Alice in Wonderland” fan and to anyone who loves dark retellings.

However as I mentioned earlier there’s a lot of sexual violence in this book so if you can’t stomach this then I don’t recommend reading it.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy