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!

my page divider

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

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51r8cQtAfyL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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

Image result for heartless book cover

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

Image result for forbidden wish book cover

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

Image result for tiger lily book cover

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

Image result for lost boy christina henry

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

Image result for kingdom of ash and briars

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

Image result for the seafarer's kiss

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.

my page divider

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

Advertisements

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

a title here(73)description

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.

Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.

Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.

review

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

(This was a buddy read with Ariana @ The Quirky Book Nerd! I will be linking up her review when she has it up here and keep a look out for our buddy read discussion and Q&A!)

As you all probably know by now I was a HUGE fan of Christina Henry’s “Alice” and “Red Queen” which were horror retellings of Alice in Wonderland. On top of that I “Peter Pan” is my all time favorite fairy tale so a Christina Henry retelling was going to be right up my alley……and it was!

(For those of you who are interested my reviews for “Alice” and “Red Queen” can be found here!)

PLOT

“This isn’t a wonderful place for boys to play and have adventures and stay young for always. It’s a killing place, and we’re all just soldiers in Peter’s war.”

While this story is a retelling of “Peter Pan” it’s also an origin/redemption story for the character of Captain Hook/James Hook where we get to see his side of the story and here he is a boy known as Jamie who was whisked away to Neverland by Peter. He is the first and favorite Lost Boy who watches over all of the other Lost Boys because while in Peter’s mind the island is nothing but fun and games…..it’s quite the opposite for the boys.

Enter the horror aspect of the story.

Jamie has watched countless other Lost Boys succumb to the horrors of the island: pirates, the Many-Eyed, crocodiles, disease, and battles aka arena fights to the death. After so many years of this it starts to weigh on Jamie and it starts bothering him how Peter doesn’t seem to care about the well being of anyone but himself.

The pacing is a tiny bit slow to start but once the plot picks up you won’t be able to put this book down. There’s plenty of twists and turns you most definitely will not see coming.

I was absolutely blown away by how unique and twisted Christina Henry made the world we all know as Neverland. It was almost as if I was reading an entirely new story! Trust me when I say twisted too, this book is DARK and full of carnage, it’s almost like watching a slasher movie play out. She took the tale of “Peter Pan” and completely flipped it on its head and took us to its darkest depths.

I also loved the world building that was given, it wasn’t a whole lot but more and more was revealed as the story went on. Could it have used more? Definitely. Did I still enjoy it? Of course! All of the allusions to the original tale were fun to pick out as well because they all had their own dark twists such as why Hook is missing his right hand and of course why Peter and he are sworn enemies.

Be prepared for a very emotional ride because the things that happen to Jamie and the other Lost Boys can not only be terrifying but also extremely heart-breaking. You have been warned!

characters

Of course the characters were fantastic since they are the driving force of the story here the main characters, Jamie and Peter, were incredibly complex.

I really enjoyed these versions of Hook and Pan, plain and simple. Jamie is a bit of a mother hen, always looking out and caring for the other boys while Peter is selfish, jealous, and doesn’t show any remorse.

Jamie is a very easy character to sympathize with as he is very caring towards the younger, inexperienced boys always helping them out and even burying them when they perish. He gets upset and angry with Peter over their deaths as Peter could care less and always goes off to get more boys as replacements.

Peter on the other hand was easy to dislike, he’s the true villain of this story. He only cares about playing games and having the boys adore and worship him, he grows very jealous if anyone is getting more attention than he is. However, even though he needs the constant attention of his Lost Boys he is very careless about looking after them and shows no guilt when one of them dies.

I have to say it was truly horrifying to see such a twisted, sick version of Peter Pan but I also loved every second of it. However, I can say my childhood may be ruined and I don’t know if I’ll ever look at Peter Pan the same ever again!

As for the secondary characters they didn’t really get a lot of depth but this makes sense as most of them are fodder for the island anyways……However, notable Lost Boys that I absolutely adored were Nod and Fog, Sal, and Charlie.

in conclusion

I need to scream my love of this book to the heavens! It was perfection! It was everything I was hoping for!

What I Loved:

  • Unique, horrifying twists on the original story (and just in general)
  • Complexity of Jamie and Peter
  • Great allusions to the original story
  • Even to fast pacing
  • Horror, carnage, and shockers! (this may not be a plus to some people but it was to me!)

What I Didn’t Love:

  • The world building could have been a little more fleshed out
  • (Other than that it was FANTASTIC!)

RECOMMEND

I highly, highly, highly recommend reading this book if not just checking it out! If you love “Peter Pan”, fairy tale/classic story retellings, or even just horror stories then you most certainly will find something to love with “Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook”!

This book goes on sale July 4th, 2017!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

 

a title here(6)

description

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

review

Let me get this out first: Peter Pan is one of my all time favorite fairy tales and definitely one of my favorite Disney movies. So of course I had to buy “Unhooked” when I found out it was a darker retelling of Peter Pan, unfortunately it fell pretty short for me and I was ultimately disappointed with it. Sure there were a few interesting parts but they weren’t good enough to distract me from this book’s flaws.

This got really confusing by the end of the book and therefore my thoughts are also quite confused, I apologize in advance if some of my points get a little tangled. It’s hard not to rant about my issues with this book!

PLOT

 It starts off pretty solid and interesting we get a little background on Gwen and we find out her and her mom have been on the run their whole lives from “monsters” right before Gwen and her friend Olivia are kidnapped and smuggled off to Neverland. So there’s some little tidbits here and there that piqued my curiosity and kept me reading such as: why was Gwen’s mom always running from these monsters? Who was Gwen’s dad and where did he go? etc. That kind of stuff. Gwen then lands herself on Captain Hook’s ship and the story goes from there.

However, as the story proceeds the plot gets messier and more confusing with many, many things not getting answered. The only thing this book has in common with the Peter Pan story are the names of Captain Hook and Peter Pan himself and that it’s set in Neverland. That’s about it. I know that retellings take elements of the originals and then twist it and such but I wanted MORE with this book. Really the entire book is a romance between Gwen and “Captain Hook” with other plot elements being used to make the book seem like it’s about other things when it actually isn’t. It’s all about that romance.

The world building of this twisted version of Neverland was extremely lacking as were any explanations about events that took place in it. I was asking myself, “Yeah…but why?” way more than I should have.

The thing that pissed me off about this book the most was the ending. It was waaaaaay too rushed, confusing, and messy. When I say rushed I mean rushed, it was like Maxwell was told to end this entire story with one page out of nowhere. If you’re going to write a standalone then don’t wait until the last 10 pages to suddenly bring an unsatisfying conclusion to your story. Maybe if there was less time spent building a slow burn romance then we would have had an actual ending that made sense.

However, the number one reason I thought the ending to “Unhooked” was a disaster was because the romance took precedence over the friendship. Gwen got kidnapped with her best (and only) friend Olivia remember? What does she do the whole time she’s there? Look for her best friend, right? Kind of, when Gwen isn’t too busy making goo-goo eyes at Hook. Since I don’t want to actually spoil the ending though, I can’t say the whys or hows. Just know that in this book friendship gets trumped and that’s not something I enjoy in my books.

Also when you want to market your book as a “dark” retelling you need to add a little more than a few monsters. When you say dark I want dark, evil, and downright twisted.

So what did I actually like about the book? I enjoyed some of the darker twists to Neverland and the inclusion of Dark and Light Fae, also this book was very fast-paced which is one of the few reasons I could read through it. Short of all that though I wasn’t too happy.

characters

Gwen was just….okay. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Is it a good thing? Not really. I want MORE from my characters than just okay-ness. Gwen was a pretty passive character and wasn’t as complex as I would have liked she sort of just let things happen and never really took charge herself. Gwen was one of those characters you yell at through the entire book telling her to do stuff or quit doing certain things, you know the drill. One of the few things I liked about her was her loyalty to her friend Olivia, however that really wanes by the end of the book. Overall she was sort of just a dull main character that I didn’t relate to at all.

Besides Gwen the only other important characters were Hook and Pan. I actually really liked Hook’s character in this book because he’s clever, calculating, and a bit snarky. The twist with his character is that he isn’t as bad as our original Hook.This Hook is actually quite compassionate and it’s very endearing, he really loves the boys that are under is care. Thus making him by far my favorite character in this book.

As far as Pan’s character though, I didn’t like him and that was very disappointing since of course my favorite Peter Pan character is Peter Pan. He was just a really flat character for me and of course since this is a twisted retelling Pan isn’t exactly our original hero, however, I didn’t buy it. He wasn’t bad and he wasn’t good, he was boring. This Pan just doesn’t do the original any justice even for a twisted version.

There were some very minuscule secondary characters and as with the main ones, weren’t all that interesting. There’s a few named “lost boys” and some other Fae but honestly if they were all cut from the story I don’t think it would change too much. Even Olivia, the main BFF, isn’t as important as one might think. She’s easily forgotten in the tangle of the romantic plot line.

romance

Want to know another big reason I picked this book up? The hint of a love triangle between Gwen and Hook and Pan. I’m not gonna lie, I got very excited by the thought of that since I’ve always loved the story of Peter Pan and having a YA version with a cute Hook and Pan with a love triangle was a dream come true. I usually hate love triangles but come on this sounded great! Unfortunately this was not the case at all…..

The romance is pretty much strictly between Gwen and Hook, color me disappointed. It’s a pretty slow-burn romance which I liked but I just didn’t feel a lot of chemistry and I didn’t like how it continued after certain plot points at the end of the story, I can’t really elaborate without spoilers so I just won’t. The entire story had to change and evolve to make the romance work and that’s something I don’t like in my books, there should be a good, solid story that shouldn’t revolve completely around the romance.

As I mentioned early too, the romance trumps the friendship. Not my style.

in conclusion

Ultimately this book was disappointing and it was disappointing that it was disappointing. That all adds up to a lot of general disappointment, right?

The plot was a complete mess and terribly confusing, the romance outdid the friendship factor, and none of the reasons I love the original Peter Pan story were apparent here even for a darker retelling, the main character was bland and passive.

Overall, this is not the Peter Pan retelling you’re looking for.

RECOMMEND

Nope, especially if you’re a big Peter Pan fan and definitely not if you’re looking for a good love triangle with a hot Hook and Pan. You will find none of that here and if you’re looking for a dark, twisted Neverland you could look in better places than in “Unhooked”. For example I’ve heard GREAT things about “The Child Thief” by Brom, that’s supposedly a very dark version of Peter Pan and has nothing but great reviews. I have yet to read it but I think it’s safe to recommend that in place of this.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy