Amanda’s Favorite Retellings

Hey, lovelies! I used to read so many retellings, fairytale, folklore, and mythological retellings were a huge favorite genre of mine for a really long time. But I think I’m growing out of that. I’ve noticed that I don’t gravitate toward picking them up anymore. I will say that I do still read mythological retellings, and pretty often, especially now that we’re branching away from the typical Greek and Roman mythologies. I’ve also been discovering retellings other than fairytale and folklore. You will find some of those on this list. So, today I want to share some retellings that I really enjoyed.

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House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
This is a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses which was one of my favorite fairytales as a kid. I’d never read a retelling of this one before, and I think this one was excellent. I don’t know if it’s actually considered horror, but it definitely has some horror elements. Annaleigh is one of twelve siblings. But four of her siblings have died, one at a time, and Annaleigh doesn’t think that they were accidents. I really loved this book. It stayed true to the heart of the 12 Dancing Princesses fairytale and added some really cool horror elements. The setting was creepy and atmospheric.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
This is a Sherlock Holmes retelling, sort of. This is a four book series that follows Charlotte Homes and Jamie Watson. They are the descendents of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Charlotte and Jamie find themselves at the same boarding school and when a student is found murdered, they obviously must solve the mystery. I loved this whole series. There are a lot of hard hitting topics like mental health and drug use. There’s even a little bit of romance. This is one of the books I was talking about when I said I was finding and enjoying retellings outside of fairytales. This is a retelling of an older book series and I thought it was so interesting and I loved all of the characters.

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The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin
We have here a Henry VIII retelling. I actually didn’t know that this was a Shakespeare retelling until after I finished it. I think I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t read it in the description as I’m not a fan of Shakespeare at all. Despite that, I really enjoyed this modern retelling. I thought the mystery was well done and I really liked the characters. We follow Annie, nicknamed “Cleves”, and Henry. They are best friends, but they also briefly dated. Out of all of Henry’s ex-girlfriends, Cleves is the only one that has remained friends with him. She doesn’t think there’s anything suspicious about that, but after talking to some of his ex’s she might be changing her mind. I liked the mystery in this one because I couldn’t decide whether of not Henry was actually guilty right until the end of the book.

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The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis
This one is more inspired by than a true retelling, but I really loved it so I had to add it to this list. Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, this is a dark and gritty story of revenge. In a small town in Ohio lives Tress and Felicity, two girls that used to be best friends. When Tress’s parents went missing, Felicity was with them, but she claims not to remember anything about what happened. Tress doesn’t believe her and she’s determined to get the truth out of Felicity, even if that means sealing her up, brick by brick. This book was weird and dark as hell and I cannot wait for the sequel.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
This series is a pretty popular one, but this first book is my favorite of the series. It’s a historical retelling with a fantasy twist. This one is a bit less retelling than it is fantasy. We follow Lady Jane Grey as she’s about to become queen. But her cousin is determined to see her married. The only problem is that the love interest, G, turns into a horse everyday at dawn. This added some hilarity to the story. I loved this book because it was funny but it also had an interesting historical feel.

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Another popular one, but this is the origin story of the Queen of Hearts. We get to see her childhood and the events that led up to the Queen of Hearts that we know from Alice in Wonderland. There’s lots of baking and love and fun in this book. There’s love and romance, but also betrayal and heartbreak. I thought this was a really great retelling or rather a prequel story.

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
This one is more of an after sort of retelling. In this one, we get to see what happens to Cinderella’s stepsisters after Cinderella meets and marries her Prince Charming. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this one because the main character that we follow, Isabelle. She’s the stepsister that cut off her toes to try and fit in the glass slipper. Isabelle is a pretty unlikeable character, but the way that this story is told really helped that. Instead of just Isabelle’s perspective, we see a point of view from Fate, who is following the map of Isabelle’s life. They’re watching to see what path Isabelle might take and if she will veer away from the path expected for her. I thought this was a really unique retelling about a character that most people don’t think of in the Cinderella story.

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And I Darken by Kiersten White
We have a historical retelling, which surprisingly end up being some of my favorites. I don’t really love historical fiction, but there’s something about a really good historical retelling that keeps me engaged in the story. We follow Lada and Radu. This is a gender bent retelling of Vlad the Impaler. Lada is a vicious and angry girl. She’s determined to prove that she is worthy to her father, but when she and her brother, Radu, are sent as gifts to be raised in the Ottoman courts, she feels nothing but betrayal. This is a really slow moving story, but it’s so worth it. We see Lada grow from a vicious girl into a lethal young woman. I absolutely loved it.

These are some of my favorite retellings. I’ve had so much fun finding new kinds of retellings from alternate historical retellings to retellings of other fiction works, to some more unique fairytale and folklore stories. Do you have any favorite retellings? Leave a comment and share them with me!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Chosen by Kiersten White

Summary:
Nina continues to learn how to use her slayer powers against enemies old and new in this second novel in the New York Times bestselling series from Kiersten White, set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Now that Nina has turned the Watcher’s Castle into a utopia for hurt and lonely demons, she’s still waiting for the utopia part to kick in. With her sister Artemis gone and only a few people remaining at the castle—including her still-distant mother—Nina has her hands full. Plus, though she gained back her Slayer powers from Leo, they’re not feeling quite right after being held by the seriously evil succubus Eve, a.k.a. fake Watcher’s Council member and Leo’s mom.
And while Nina is dealing with the darkness inside, there’s also a new threat on the outside, portended by an odd triangle symbol that seems to be popping up everywhere, in connection with Sean’s demon drug ring as well as someone a bit closer to home. Because one near-apocalypse just isn’t enough, right?
The darkness always finds you. And once again, it’s coming for the Slayer.
Review:Chosen (Slayer, #2)
Chosen
is the sequel to Slayer. It’s White’s continuation of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer world. You can find my review for the first book here. I was never huge into the Buffy show, but I’m a sucker for vampire books. I also really enjoy White’s books and this series is no different.
Nina is dealing with a lot when this book opens. Her sister has left, the guy she had a crush on died, and life at the Watcher’s Castle has changed. They have changed their mission of killing demons indiscriminately and instead have been working on making the castle a sanctuary. Now, I feel like that’s all I can say about the plot so that I don’t spoil things.
Nina is struggling emotionally, but also physically because of her Slayer abilities. Much of this book was Nina trying to internally work through her emotions and the things she went through in the first book. I think Nina showed a lot of growth by the end of this book. I don’t know how to get into it without giving anything away. But she doesn’t always make the best choices, she’s reckless, and sometimes that leads to her learning things that will hurt her. But she grows from that and I really liked that.
Overall, this was a fun story, but it also covered important things, like mental health and how family relationships can change. I definitely wanted to watch Buffy again after reading this book. I really enjoyed all the lore and fantasy elements (like the demons). The friendships were also enjoyable. There were a few things that I predicted before they were revealed, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White

GoodReads Summary:
The second book in a new fantasy trilogy from New York Timesbestselling author Kiersten White, exploring the nature of self, the inevitable cost of progress, and, of course, magic and romance and betrayal so epic Queen Guinevere remains the most famous queen who never lived.
EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE IN CAMELOT: King Arthur is expanding his kingdom’s influence with Queen Guinevere at his side. Yet every night, dreams of darkness and unknowable power plague her.
Guinevere might have accepted her role, but she still cannot find a place for herself in all of it. The closer she gets to Brangien, pining for her lost love Isolde, Lancelot, fighting to prove her worth as Queen’s knight, and Arthur, everything to everyone and thus never quite enough for Guinevere–the more she realizes how empty she is. She has no sense of who she truly was before she was Guinevere. The more she tries to claim herself as queen, the more she wonders if Mordred was right: she doesn’t belong. She never will.
When a rescue goes awry and results in the death of something precious, a devastated Guinevere returns to Camelot to find the greatest threat yet has arrived. Not in the form of the Dark Queen or an invading army, but in the form of the real Guinevere’s younger sister. Is her deception at an end? And who is she really deceiving–Camelot, or herself?
The Camelot Betrayal (Camelot Rising, #2)Review:
Big thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. The Camelot Betrayal is the second book in the Camelot Rising trilogy. I loved this book just as much as I loved the first (find my review here!) As I said in the review for the first book, this is a retelling of the myth of King Arthur and Camelot, but it is focused instead on Guinevere. I still know little to nothing about the original mythology, but this was fun for me. I think it was more fun for me because I didn’t know anything about the mythology. I didn’t have anything to compare it to other than the vague idea of the story that Arthur claimed Excalibur.
We follow Guinevere after the events of the first book. She’s trying to figure out who she is. She has little to no memories of her childhood and she’s confused. She’s supposed to be playing the part of Guinevere the Queen and finally feels like she might be figuring out how to do that. I really liked that Guinevere was trying to figure things out for herself. I think this made for a really interesting emotional journey. She has several important relationships, with her lady’s maid, her knight, and with Arthur. Relationships are always changing and growing, and that’s clear in this story. I liked this aspect of the story too. Guinevere’s still trying to figure out the right thing for her and for the people around her. She becomes more aware throughout the story that she might not be doing what’s best for her friends and she tries to change that. I liked Guinevere. She’s kind, but strong. She wants to do the right thing, and tries to, and feels guilt when there are consequences from her actions that she did not expect. I just really liked her.
I also really liked the development of her and Arthur’s relationship. It’s slow and sweet. They both want similar things, but Arthur feels guilt for how and why Guinevere came be to in Camelot. I liked seeing their relationship change from the first book. I don’t like the love triangle aspect. I’m team Arthur all the way, though the other choice is certainly intriguing.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the series so far. I’m very excited for the conclusion. I love all the character, main and supporting. I think my favorite part of the story though is the intrigue of the secrets that Guinevere thinks she is figuring out. I can’t tell what’s true and what isn’t. There’s so much that she doesn’t know and it really kept me wanting more. I loved how little pieces were tied together through the characters. I’m very eager to get all of the answers to the questions that I have from this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

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GoodReads Summary:
Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it?
Lada’s rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won’t rest until everyone knows that her country’s borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed’s peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.
But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister’s indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before–including her relationships–can Lada truly build the country she wants.
Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.
Bright We Burn (The Conqueror's Saga, #3)Review:
Wow, this finale was a wild ride. Like the second book, Lada somehow managed to be even more savage. If you read this, the scene where she’s meeting with all the boyars and that’s all I have to say about it. I still loved her. She was fierce and absolutely apologetic about it. Though, I was very sad about all of her friends. I mentioned in my review for book two that her friends and fellow soldiers were some of the best parts of her chapters and that was slowly lost in this book. Knowing Lada as well as we do in this book, I wasn’t surprised by her choices but they definitely made me sad for her.
Radu is the best soft boy there ever was. He really struggles with the choices he’s made in the past, but he’s working toward being better and making more choices for himself rather than for others. I really loved the way that Radu’s story ended. He did the best he could with what he had and he managed to make a beautiful family from it. I’m not sure that I mentioned it in my previous reviews, but Radu is gay. This is something he struggles with within the first two books. But he manages to find another love, after finally making the choice to move on from his feelings for Mehmed. He married a woman who was a lesbian and the three of them lived together, but when Radu’s love finally came to him I was so happy. Radu deserves all the happiness in the world.
Overall, I loved this book and I loved this series. I thought this was a mostly satisfying conclusion to such an incredible series. I’m left with questions that are mostly to do with how Lada’s story played out and the in-between bits we didn’t get to see before jumping to the epilogue, but as a whole, this was an incredible conclusion. I cannot recommend this series enough.

Quotes:

“That is the thing with giving your heart. You never wait for someone to ask. You hold it out and hope they want it.”

“Lada had always known exactly what shape she would take. She had never let it be determined by the people around her. But Radu could not escape the need for love, the need for people in his life to help him see what he should—and could—be. Lada shaped herself in spite of her environment. Radu shaped himself because of it.”

“She drummed her fingers on the arms of the throne, looking out at the empty room. She was not stupid enough to think men would stop trying to take it from her. They would always be there, waiting for weakness, waiting for her to fall. They wanted what she had because she had it. And one day, eventually, someone would defeat her. But until that day she would fight with tooth and nail, with all the fire and blood that had formed her into who she was. She was a dragon. She was a prince. She was a woman. It was the last that scared them most of all.”

“There was something to be said for having his heart broken so many times. Broken things healed thicker and stronger than they were before. Assuming one survived long enough to heal.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

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GoodReads Summary:
Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.
What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?
As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.
Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga, #2)Review:
Where to start? If I thought Lada was savage and fierce in the first book, she is ten times that in this second book. She basically kills her way to the throne and I loved every single page of it. I love her friends and fellow soldiers that she takes with her on her path back to the Wallachian throne. I love that, while she is their leader, she listens to them and considers them friends. She takes their advice into consideration. She really cares about them and them about her. They make her more likable because it’s clear that she loves them all.
Radu is off in a completely different part of the world than his sister and with his own mission. Radu’s part of the story honestly just made me sad. Both siblings struggle with their feelings for their childhood friend, Mehmed. But with Radu, it’s worse because he’s doing things he never would have if not for Mehmed, while Lada has proven, again and again, she’ll do anything to get her throne. Radu does things he is very ashamed of but continues doing them all because of his love for Mehmed. It made me sad because of the life that he could have had. But he made his choices. It’s made very clear that everything he does is a choice that he’s thought about.
I thought it was very interesting to see how the siblings both handled the struggle that was their love for Mehmed. Honestly, I was hoping Mehmed would die most of the book so they could both be free. I also liked that we got both Radu’s and Lada’s stories even though they were both in different countries. Though it did make me sad they weren’t together. I’m hoping they get to reunite in the final book.
Overall, just like book one, I was blown away by Kiersten White’s writing. The history was fascinating, but the way that White brought these characters to life, made me care about them even though they’re both pretty terrible was amazing. I’m typing this on my phone so that I can continue on to the final book right now and not worry about mixing details up for whichever book. Please go read this series if you like historical fiction, savage female leads, and soft boys doing terrible things for love.

Quotes:

“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge. Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”

“I cannot imagine a god who hates anything that is love, any way we find to take tender care of each other. I want you to find that same love, and I never want you to hate yourself for any love that is in you.”

“I think if you had been born a boy, perhaps you would have been satisfied with what the world offered you. That is how we are alike. We saw everything that was not ours, and we hungered. Do not lose that hunger. You will always have to fight for everything. Even when you already have it, you will have to keep fighting to maintain it. You will have to be more ruthless, more brutal, more everything. Any weakness will undo everything you have accomplished. They will see any crack as evidence that they were right that a woman cannot do what you do.”

“He was no longer a lost little boy in a strange new city. Now he was a lost man in a broken old city, and no amount of prayers and kindness could undo what had been done.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

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GoodReads Summary:
NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga, #1)Review:
This is an alternate historical fiction retelling of the story of Vlad the Impaler. In Kiersten White’s story, Vlad is a girl named Lada. And damn is she fierce. She is vicious and unforgiving. She cares for no one and nothing except for her home country Wallachia (and sometimes her younger brother, Radu). But being a girl in the 1400s her father doesn’t care much about her at all. She lives to prove her worth and to get his attention. Her life changes forever when her father leaves Lada and Radu with the Ottoman Empire as a sort of collateral to ensure that he sticks to their treaty.
This story was tough because it follows Lada from her birth to her later teenage years. So, there are slower parts of the story and more fast-paced parts. But throughout, you can’t help but like Lada because she doesn’t want to be just another girl to be used to secure a politically advantageous marriage. She wants to be a ruler. She will be in charge of her life. I liked that she was supposed to be unlikable and ugly. I’m definitely excited to see where the next book in the series will go for her.
Now, sweet Radu. I loved and pitied him. It wasn’t hard to feel sorry for him for the first 100 pages or so. He was horribly bullied for being small and sensitive. Lada and her childhood friend were pretty horrible to him, but Lada occasionally stuck up for him against others. It was a confusing relationship. I liked the sibling aspect of the story even though it was certainly not a traditional sibling dynamic. I really enjoyed Radu’s story once he learned more about Islam. I thought that was a great addition to the story as we got to learn a bit about it alongside him. And it’s obvious how he changes after finding faith.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There were diverse characters, Radu is in love with his and Lada’s closest friend in the Ottoman Empire (but Lada loves him too which makes it a little weird) and there is another character that’s friends with Radu that mentions being with both genders. There is also a lesbian couple (in hiding because it’s the 1400s, but it’s there). I liked that even though it’s not a time period that these things were generally accepted, White still included them. These relationships would have existed whether out in the open or not. The story was well written and interesting. The characters were both likable and unlikable at the same time (which was weird for me to flip back and forth so many times). I cannot wait to continue onto the next book in the series.

Quotes:

“The last time she was up here, she had been… staring up at the sky and dreaming of stars. Now, she looked down and plotted flames.”

“So the question becomes, Daughter of the Dragon, what will you sacrifice? What will you let be taken away so that you, too, can have power?”

“And that is why you become a dealer of death. You feed death as many people as you can to keep it full and content so its eye stays off you.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

GoodReads Summary:
Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.
Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.
Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.
As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…
But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.
One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.
Slayer (Slayer, #1)Review:
I’ve really enjoyed most of White’s books, but I was never a huge Buffy fangirl. I’ve watched and liked it well enough, but I’m not wild for it like some people are. So, I wasn’t super excited about this book when it was released like some people were. I definitely wanted to read it (obviously, because I bought it). I actually really enjoyed this book.
The story follows Nina. She’s training to be a medic for the Watchers. The supernatural world isn’t what it once was. Buffy has done something that has eliminated magic, and also changed the way that Slayers come into their power. There’s a rift between the Slayers and the Watchers, so when Nina realizes that she is the last Slayer that will ever be chosen, she really struggles with it. Nina’s dad was Buffy’s first Watcher. He died, and Nina really holds a grudge against Buffy for it. She doesn’t particularly care for any of the Slayers. So, when she learns that she is one, she has some really mixed feelings. She’s impressed and excited about her new abilities, but she doesn’t want to be a Slayer.
Eventually, Nina realizes that it isn’t about what she wants. It’s about what she’s supposed to do. There are complications in the form of Nina’s relationships. Her mother has been trying to keep Nina from realizing that she’s a potential Slayer for Nina’s entire life. Nina’s twin, Artemis, is also a complication because they’ve always been close but Artemis has always been the one to look out for Nina and protect her. But Nina doesn’t need protection anymore and this changes their relationship dynamic.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There were really interesting and complicated relationships. There were demons and monsters. There were teenagers doing their best to save the world. And there were also some moments where we got to see Buffy. I sort of hope she makes an appearance in the second book, even if it’s just for a minute. I loved the action, but most of all, I loved the characters and their friendships.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

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GoodReads Summary:
There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.
Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.
To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.
Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?
The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)Review:
I have to start this review off by sending a thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest (and very late) review. I’m glad to have gotten this one, even if it was approved only days before the release date because I don’t know how long it would have taken me to get around to buying it. Now that I’ve already read (and loved!) it, I’m planning to go buy my own copy this weekend.
The Guinevere Deception is a retelling of the myth of King Arthur and Camelot, but with a more feminist focus. We follow Guinevere instead of Arthur. I know little to nothing about the original mythology (which I will talk about a bit later in the review), so for me, this was a fun and fantastical read with characters I vaguely knew of.
I loved Guinevere. She’s sent to Camelot to protect Arthur from something, but Merlin hasn’t told her what that something is. She has magic, which has been banned from Camelot. So she must keep her magic a secret. Of course, she doesn’t. But the few she entrusts her secret to are characters I really like. Guinevere is determined not to let Arthur down and even might fancy him a bit. But though she is his Queen, it is not real. Honestly, I was rooting for a little more romance between Arthur and Guinevere. I totally ship them and didn’t particularly care for the almost love triangle that was going on for a bit.
I loved all of the supporting characters too. Guinevere’s lady’s maid, Brangien. She was more than just a maid and I really liked that. She supported Guinevere and helped her with everything she was supposed to already know. Also, Brangien’s love interest and how Guinevere helps them see one another melted my little heart.
Now, the patchwork knight was my favorite. The mystery of their identity and whether or not they were involved in nefarious things was excellent. And I was more than pleased when we do finally figure out who the patchwork knight was.
I even liked Arthur, even though he wasn’t really center stage in this book. I’m hoping we get more of him with Guinevere in the next book because I totally want these two to love each other forever and ever.
I thought the writing was beautiful and the characters were loveable. So when I went to mark this book finished on goodreads I was more than surprised to see that it has almost a 3.5-star average. I think that has to do with how well-loved the original myth of King Arthur is. As I said above, I’m not overly familiar with it, so I wouldn’t know one way or the other how close it stayed to the original or didn’t. Many of the reviews I read that spoke negatively of this book were readers that pointed out they love the original mythology. But that wasn’t something that was a factor for me.
So, maybe don’t pick this one up if you’re a huge fan of the story of King Arthur, but if you’re like me and vaguely know it. You might love this one like I did.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Supernaturally by Kiersten White

GoodReads Summary:
Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.
But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.
So much for normal.
Review:
I previously read this series and remember enjoying it quite a bit. I’m not sure if it’s the time that’s passed or that I’ve matured but I’m not loving this series as I once did. Maybe my reading taste is maturing.
I found Evie just as annoying as the first book (check out my thoughts on Paranormalcy here.) She’s childish and has some pretty whack priorities. She does all the wrong things for most of this book even once the truth has come out, she continues to hide things from Lend. It’s annoying and shows that she really hasn’t matured at all. I think this is also because I’m older and more mature but I’m super done with the “I’m keeping this secret to protect you” trope. I think it can be done well in certain cases, but this wasn’t one of them. I’m hoping to see some more significant character growth and development in the third and final book.
As for Lend, he was a lot less present in this book. But the parts he was present for he was mostly just fighting with Evie. While she is immature and hiding things from him, I don’t know that I blame her that much. He tries to tell her what she can and cannot do and that’s something I don’t like. Evie is her own person and if she wants to do something Lend should be the first person to say, “I don’t think that’s a good idea but if it’s what you want I support you and your decisions.”Anyone in your life that is trying to tell you what to do can GTFO immediately.
Jack was the most entertaining part of Supernaturally. He was funny and mischievous. He brought a new and fresh aspect to this story. He was the life of the party. I liked the mystery surrounding him. Where did he come from? How did he know how to walk the fairy paths? What’s his story?
As I said, Jack was the most exciting part of this story because the plot was lacking. What was the point of this story? For Evie to learn this big surprise toward the end, I think this book was mostly filler to get us through to the big to do that is inevitably coming in the third and final book.
There were some things that I did like about this book. I liked the uniqueness of the characters. This is a story filled with paranormals but they’re not your typical vampires and what not. The vampire’s attractiveness is only glamour; their real faces are grotesque and corpse-like. There are all kinds of tree sprites and elementals that are not very common in other paranormal stories. I liked this creative side of the story, it made things a little bit more interesting.
There was a little excitement here and there and we did learn some more about Evie’s backstory, but it was lacking overall as far as the plot. I didn’t love the characters. Evie was a bit immature and could have used some more development and Lend just seemed to create conflict. Jack was the entertainment of the story and had me intrigued. I’m definitely going to finish the series and read the third book because I have hope that Evie will mature and things will be concluded all around. I think this series would do better with a younger audience.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

WWW Wednesday

Hey, bookworms! It’s that day of the week again where we participate in the wonderful bookish post that was formerly hosted by Should be Reading and was recently taken over by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer three questions to give an update about what you’re currently reading, going to read next and have read recently. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments or link your post!

wwwwww

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently listening to The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I’m currently reading Watch You Burn by Amanda Searcy on my Kindle (thanks to NetGalley!) I’m also reading Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard.

Antonia- I’m currently reading Captured By Magic by Linsey Hall.

What did you recently finish reading?

Amanda- I recently finished listening to Supernaturally by Kiersten White. I also recently finished reading Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Keep an eye out for my reviews!

Antonia- Most recently, I finished Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. Check out my review here.

What do you think you will read next?

Amanda- Next I’ll be reading Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. Also possibly City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare.

Antonia- I’m thinking I’ll read The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. I’ve had my eye on this one for awhile; it sounds like such an interesting story.

Thanks for reading our W’s this week. What are yours? Leave them in the comments or leave us a link to your post.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

GoodReads Summary:
Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.
But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.

Review:
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White is a book that I read years ago when the whole series was first released. I remember liking this book so much more than I did this time. Though last time I read the books and this time I listened to the audiobook via my library.
I loved the audiobook honestly. I loved the narrator. She did a great job differentiating between the various characters. She was an excellent voice for Evie. She really kept me interested in the story even when Evie’s actions and some of the things she said had me rolling my eyes.
The story and plot was super interesting. I liked the uniqueness of the paranormals characters. This wasn’t just another supernatural story with the same old characters. There were obviously the usual vampire and werewolves, but they weren’t the typical beautiful vampires and big macho wolves. I like that White made these popular kinds of characters unique and different.
I adored our love interest, Lend. He’s a shapeshifter so he can be whatever hunk we want him to be. He’s also fiercely loyal to those that are part of his circle. He’s funny and sarcastic and sweet. I just loved Lend. I loved how he wanted to look out for Evie and do everything he could to help her in whatever way she wanted, even if that way was getting to spend a day in high school.
As for our main character, Evie.  Honestly, she annoyed me a little. She’s kind of super immature and I can’t remember if that changes in the next books, but I’m hoping that it does. She was super boy crazy until she met Lend. Then she was Lend crazy. She was so focused on wanting to have a ‘normal teenage life’ getting to go to high school and prom and all of the things she would see on her favorite high school drama TV show. I understand it a bit because she’s never had a normal life. She craves the normalcy that she sees on her favorite show, but she just talks and thinks about it to the point where it’s a little annoying. Even after her situation changes, but she’s still getting new information that could help with the craziness that’s part of the story, she doesn’t do anything to help or share her information at first. She tries to just pretend she’s not a part of it anymore and give up any sort of responsibility. She drove me a little nuts for a decent amount of this book, but she got a bit better at the end. She made the right choices and accepted responsibility, her part in all of everything going on.
Overall, I really liked the unique plot. I liked the interesting twists on the typical paranormal sorts of characters. I loved Lend and I grew to love Evie. I’m excited to see where the second book goes. This book was one that I picked for the Transfiguration (a book with a shapeshifter) requirement during the Magical Readathon – O.W.L.s.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

WWW Wednesday

Hey, bookworms! It’s that day of the week again where we participate in the wonderful bookish post that was formerly hosted by Should be Reading and was recently taken over by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer three questions to give an update about what you’re currently reading, going to read next and have read recently. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments or link your post!

WWW wednesday

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare in a print book. I’m doing a reread of all of Cassie’s books before Queen of Air and Darkness is released this December. I’m currently listening to Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. I’ve heard so many book bloggers rant and rave about this book and I’m excited to be listening to it.

Antonia- I just started the Air Awakens series by Elise Kova. Amanda absolutely loved this series and she’s talked about it so much that I had to give it a try.

What did you recently finish reading?

Amanda- I recently finished listening to Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. It was a great listen and I will be posting my review later this month. I also recently finished Allies by Bella Forrest (book six in the Hotbloods series) and will be posting a complete series review once I’ve finished the last two books.

Antonia- I just finished Celtic Magic by Linsey Hall. I love all of these books so much and can’t wait for the next one. Expect to see a review soon.

What do you think you will read next?

Amanda- My next audiobook with be Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxaum. I started listening to this a few weeks ago and then got distracted by other stories. I will be reading Stargazers by Bella Forrest – the final book in the Hotbloods series – on my Kindle. I’m not sure what print book I’ll pick up next, but I have a small stack that I’d like to get through this month.

Antonia- I’m really not sure. I’m moving next week so all my books are currently in boxes and I’m stuck with my Kindle for a bit. I might continue the Air Awakens series or The Paper Magician series by Charlie N. Holmberg.

Thanks for reading. These are our W’s for this week! What are your answers? Feel free to leave them in the comments or a link to your post.

Magical Readathon – O.W.L. Exams TBR

Hi bookworms, Amanda here! I was recently scrolling through Twitter when I saw Books in the Skye share something about a readathon based on the N.E.W.T exams from the Harry Potter books. I did a little more digging and saw that I sadly missed out on the O.W.L exam readathon, hosted over on YouTube by Book Roast, that took place originally in April. I decided that I could either skip the O.W.L.s and just take whatever N.E.W.T.s I felt like doing or I could do the O.W.L. exams anyway. I have decided that I’m going to take the O.W.L. exams anyway. So I will start this challenge tomorrow, August 2nd, and I will try to complete as many exams as I can until the 29th.

owls tbr

The following grades are awarded for the overall OWLs performance:

 

Pass

Outstanding – sit and pass at least 5 OWLs
Exceeded Expectations – sit and pass at least 3 OWLs
Acceptable – sit and pass at least 2 OWLs

Fail

Poor – sit only one OWL
Dreadful – start but not finish any OWLs tasks
Troll – do not show up at your OWLs examinations

Ancient Runes – A book with a symbol on the cover

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw (print book)

the wicked deep

Arithmacy – A Book with a number on the cover or in the title

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti (print book)

zeroes

Astronomy – A science fiction novel

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (print book)

this mortal coil

Care of Magical Creatures – A book that includes magical creatures or features magical creatures on the cover

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by J.K. Rowling (print book)

hp - sorcerers stone

Charms – A fantasy novel

A Darker Shade of Magic  by V.E. Schwab (print book)

ADSOM

Defense Against the Dark Arts – A book about or with a secret society or club

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (print book)

city of bones

Divination – A book featuring prophecies 

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa (ebook)

shadow of the fox

Herbology – A book with a nature-related word in the title 

Air Awakens by Elise Kova (ebook)

air awakens

History of Magic – A historical fiction novel

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (audiobook)

my lady jane

Muggle Studies – A muggle non-fiction novel

Yes Please by Amy Poehler (audiobook)

yes please

Potions – A book with or about alchemy 

Allies by Bella Forrest (ebook)

allies

Transfiguration – A book with transfiguration / shapeshifting or a book with a cat on the cover

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (audiobook)

paranormalcy

I don’t expect to read all of these books but I’m someone that does well with options so I wanted to give myself a variety of books to choose from throughout this reading challenge. I’m going to aim to read at least five of these books. Wish me luck!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.