Friday YA: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

I love a fairy tale re-telling when I don’t remember the exact details of that fairy tale. It helps me get lost in the story instead of making comparisons to the original. Spinning Silver was a new take on the story Rumplestiltskin and about all I could remember from that story was that there was a girl that spun straw into gold and got her some unwanted attention. Our heroine Miryem has a talent for turning things into gold but it’s not by spinning straw. She is the daughter of a family of moneylenders, and while her father is horrible at collecting those dollars owed, Miryem excels at remaining cold to their customers excuses and keeps her hand out until it is filled. While walking home through the forest one day, she makes an off hand remark about being able to turn anything into gold and the Staryk overhear. The Staryk are a race of (for lack of a better term) ice people. They live in winter 24/7 and are the boogeymen of Miryem’s world. When she catches their attention she does what she does best. She gets them results and gets some unwanted attention in return.

Miryem is not the only main character of this book. It’s actually told through multiple POV’s and I’ll admit that that got a little confusing. Especially when a new POV was introduced and you spent a few paragraphs reading to try to figure out whose eyes you were seeing through this time. Each character had their own plot that spun and twisted together to combine into a satisfying conclusion to all of their storylines. I’ll admit to liking Miryem’s story the best, but maybe that’s because her POV was easy to spot.

The pace of this story helped the overall feeling that you were reading a fairy tale and the writing was well done. However, there was a lack of warmth for these characters. I so wanted to like them but something seemed to be missing. They were all so determined in their lives, but nothing seemed to make them very happy. Overall, even though there was a happy ending, I felt kind of unhappy about it all. That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate the writing, the story had twists and turns that I didn’t expect and I certainly appreciated the craftsmanship of the author, but for me it lacked heart.

I have read nothing but great reviews for this novel, but because of that lack of warmth I could only give it a 3.5 rating. Sorry Naomi! However, as with all books reading is subjective and all of you may LOVE this book. Even though I am always right (not really), if you are interested in reading this book, please do! I would love to hear what you think. ❤️❤️❤️❣️

Spinning Silver

Click this link to purchase!* Spinning Silver: A Novel

Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Uppercase Box Reveal October ’18

It’s time for another Uppercase Box YA monthly subscription reveal! As I opened the bag this time it was nice and cushy and I was really curious as to what was creating that pillowy look and feel.

My first winter snow hat! In maroon and gold, reading Ex Libris. I’ll admit, I knew Libris meant book, but wasn’t sure the exact meaning of this Latin saying. Here’s what I found:

Ex LIbris

There’s almost always a couple of bookish stickers inside the bag, which I’ll admit, are not my favorite bookish gifts. I’m a little past the sticker age, but can pass them along to some friends with small children… This box was no exception.

Uppercase Oct 4

The next gifty item is actually a clue to this month’s book. A pair of swan earrings, one white, one black.  Hmmmm. Guess yet?

Uppercase Oct 3

NO? Me neither. So, let’s reveal this months book!

Uppercase Oct 5

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.

The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.

But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.

I’ve read that this is a re-telling of Snow White and Rose Red, but I’m definitely getting a Swan Lake type vibe as well. This sounds kind of interesting!

Has anyone read this book? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next Sunday!

Deb

Uppercase Oct 6

Friday YA: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

When her father goes bankrupt, Yeva, her father, and her sisters have to sell off all of their wealth and move back in to the rundown hunting cabin he owned prior to marrying their mother. He is determined to build back up their wealth by tracking and hunting the fantastical creatures of the forest he taught Yeva about in her childhood. Instead on of those beasts ends up killing him instead. Yeva, nicknamed beauty by her father, goes off on a hunt of her own finding much more than she’d bargained for.

As you can guess, this is a fairy-tale retelling of the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast- but with a twist. Meagan Spooner sets her Beauty in Russia and fills her tale with Russian folk tales that embodies this tale with life beyond a Beauty falling in love with her Beast in a broken down castle. In her captivity, Yeva keeps herself sane by telling her captor every story she can remember turning her dark and dank cell into multi-hued world, if just for a moment. As she spends more time with her Beast, she see’s through his outer appearance to see the humanity within him, realizing he may be one of her tales turned to life.

I am not sure why it took me so long to read this book other than I had a ton of fairy-tale re-tellings on my list and even though I’d heard this one was very good, I thought I knew the story of Beauty and the Beast. However, the Russian folk stories gave life to this Beauty and the Beast and I really liked the world Meagan Spooner built for the setting. I liked the Beast’s origin story and the journey Yeva had to take, both internal and external, to save him from becoming a true Beast gave more meat to the romantic musical that Disney made popular. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

IMG_2555

Click this link to purchase!* Hunted

Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

Friday YA: The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

As the daughter of a Raja, Maya should’ve had a life of privilege and love. She did live in the lap of luxury within the harem where she was born, but because of her horoscope she has always been hated and feared. When her father arranges a political marriage, she must choose a husband who will help save her kingdom from war. She does not choose a husband from the suitor’s her father put in front of her and instead chooses Amar. a masked stranger, who sweeps her off to his kingdom.

This novel deserves to be set to music, it’s words are like lyrics, but despite the pretty prose, the first half of the novel seemed a little slow. However, when Amar arrived on scene the pace of the novel picked up and my interest peaked. Who was this masked man and why wasn’t he scared of her horoscope of death and destruction? You knew there was more to his story than a handsome prince rescuing her from the brink of war and an unhappy marriage. When they arrive in his kingdom, Maya finds his kingdom was a land of mystery, loneliness and darkness and she starts to doubt her decision. Fear not, fair readers, there is a happy ending, but just like all great fairy tales there are roads that must be traveled and hearts to mend before our King and Queen find their HEA.

I love traveling to different countries and exploring a culture that might be very different from my own. The Star Touched Queen was an adventure into Indian folklore and it made me want to explore. I’ll admit that my knowledge of India is limited to their food and Bollywood movies and has always been painted in a faded shade of romance, but The Star Touched Queen with it’s fairy tale like pace and language made those romantic colors more rich and bright. It made me itch to explore more mythology from this fascinating country and see what else I can learn.

If you are like me and love to travel to new places within your imagination, then you need to read The Star Touched Queen. This novel will take you places you’ve never seen and expand your horizon.

Star Touched

Click this link to purchase! The Star-Touched Queen

Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

On a side note. I met Roshani Chokshi at a book signing a year or so ago. I couldn’t help picturing her face when I read about Maya. They were both so lovely. (She is the lady on the left)

Roshani

This Chick Read: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Alice and her mother were always a step ahead of bad luck until one day it caught up to them. Living in New York, Alice’s mother had married a wealthy man and seemed to have stopped believe in their bad luck. Working in a coffee shop, Alice see’s a familiar face from her childhood. A man who had kidnapped her to take her back to her grandmother, a famous author of dark fairy tales, at her home in the Hazel Wood. When she spots this man, he doesn’t look a day older than he did ten years ago, so she doesn’t believe her instincts. When she gets home and finds her mother has been kidnapped by the people they had been running from, Alice has to find her grandmother’s estate, hoping that is where her mother is being taken. This is a story of adventure and self discovery for Alice and like the dark fairy tale’s her grandmother wrote, her journey also follows a dark path.

As I started reading The Hazel Wood I loved the world that Melissa Albert had created. Alice, like Alice in Wonderland, seemed to have fallen down a dark hole and as Alice and I learned more about the fairy tale’s that her grandmother wrote it became hard to second guess where the story was leading. When Alice got to the Hazel Wood and her existence was revealed I’ll admit that it became harder for me to like. This was not a Disneyland fairy tale and even though there was a happy ending I didn’t feel very happy at the end.

I had mixed feelings about this novel. The writing was excellent and it was a unique story but in the end I felt “meh”. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

The Hazel Wood

Click this link to purchase! The Hazel Wood: A Novel

Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

This Chick Read: Ever the Hunted (A Clash of Kingdoms #1) by Erin Summerill

Britta Flannery is the daughter of a Bounty Hunter to the King. She grows up learning how to hunt and catch not only animals but criminals alongside Cohen who is apprenticing with her father. As they grow up, she falls in love with Cohen but he is destined to replace her father in the privileged spot as Bounty Hunter. When her father is off on a job, he is murdered, leaving Britta alone in the cabin she lived in with her father. Starving, she illegally hunts on the King’s land and is caught. Thrown in the dungeon, she is given a choice. Die for poaching or hunt her father’s killer. It sounds like an easy choice, but Britta wavers because she is told all evidence points to her one time friend Cohen. Believing their evidence she begins the hunt, which turns into a journey of discovery and learns more about herself than what she’d imagined.

Ever the Hunted was beautiful on the outside and on the inside. Seriously, the cover is gorgeous and the book was gorgeously written. The story felt like a hybrid Fairy Tale – Fantasy novel and the words on the page were written lyrically helping create that feel. Taking place mostly in a forest the story had elements of Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White, however it was not a copy or re-imagining of any of those novels, but a unique story with only the feeling of a fairy tale element. As with other  fairy-tale and fantasy novels I’ve really enjoyed, this was more than just a love story, it was an action adventure novel with magical realism. Our heroine, Britta, comes to a realization about her feelings for Cohen, but also discovers the depths of power hidden within herself.

Having said all of these wonderful things, was the book perfect? It was perfect up to a point. I will not spoil the ending, but I will say that there was an unexpected twist that I still can’t decide if I liked or not. It felt like the author decided at the very end to turn this into a series when it could’ve very easily been a stand alone novel. That one twist took me out of the world this author created and made me go.. Huh. So because of that, I’m only giving this novel 4 hearts. Until that twist, I was enraptured by the story and world and would’ve given it a higher rating. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Ever the Hunted

Click this link to purchase! Ever the Hunted (A Clash of Kingdoms Novel)

Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

This Chick Read: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

An Enchantment of Ravens is a fairy-tale fantasy about a girl named Isobel who is a portrait artist to the fair folk. In the town of Whimsy, the fair folk come and purchase craft from the artisans. In return they exact payment in the form of spells. Isobel has learned at the tender age of seventeen to be very exact in her negotiations because the fair folk are not honest in their negotiations and what seems an innocent wish for true love may become an obsessive infatuation. When Rook, the Prince of the Autumn lands comes to have his portrait painted Isobel see’s something in his eyes that she must paint on canvas. Unfortunately what she paints is a humanity that the fair folk do not wish to see, and Rook spirits her away to stand trial for her error. During this journey she and Rook come to an understanding finding friendship and love which is against the fair folk’s laws.

I was captured by the charm and spirit of this novel. The author painted her words so they flowed lyrically across the page. The melding of commonly heard folk tales such as the fae can’t speak a lie, with a new fair folk history made the story both familiar and foreign, making it easy to huddle into my blanket on the couch and immerse myself into this enchanted land.

Isobel for being a seventeen year old girl, was wise beyond her years. She was essentially the adult in her household, responsible for her two sisters and her aunt. When she is spirited away by Rook, she gives in to the adventure, worrying about her family, but also seeing new shapes and colors in every hill and tree opening her eyes to the world as a whole rather than Whimsy’s summer colors and sounds. I loved how her emotions were painted in colors.

Rook was an interesting hero. He was one of the fair folk and his glamour was beautiful, but underneath that glamour was a reality that contrasted with that beauty they all wanted to portray. That contrast between fae reality and glamour was found throughout the story giving this a real fairy tale feel, more Grimm than Disney. He and Isobel’s love ran a similar juxtaposition from her innocent first love to gritty heart wrenching pain. I loved how this novel ran from one spectrum to the other in a rainbow of colors from light to dark and back again. The story and the feelings all those colors imbued captured me completely.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase! An Enchantment of Ravens Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

This Chick Read: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer is about a Lost City named Weep, a young Librarian named Lazlo Strange, and a journey of self discovery. Lazlo Strange is the first hero that Is normal. He doesn’t have any super powers, he just has big dreams. Dreams that he wants to make a reality. He has that chance when citizens of a lost city, now named Weep, search for people who can help them, and they arrive in the city where Lazlo resides. Lazlo almost doesn’t go on this journey, as he is not seen as important enough by his own people, to have anything to offer. However, Lazlo has been dreaming of, and researching this city for years, and he speaks up offering his services as an apprentice or secretary and they accept.

Lazlo’s journey begins when he arrives in the land of Weep. The story of each character unfolds and through Lazlo, we find understanding of what has come to pass. Through Lazlo, we dream, we love, and we find heartbreak. Las LI finds within himself the strength to dream a little bigger. 

This book took a little while to get into. Lazlo was just so ordinary. I am so used to reading magical realism fantasy novels where the hero or heroine has a power of some sort that I kind of set myself up to expect the same from this book. Strange the Dreamer is not a fantasy novel, it is a fairy tale of the Grimm variety. The monsters revealed in this book are Gods, and these Gods did horrible things to this city and its inhabitants. As the story unfolds more conflict is revealed and my expectations of Lazlo became so great, I impatiently turned the pages hoping for a solution to be revealed, for him to become my hero with a capital H.

This was such a good story, but so hard to read! Laini Taylor did an amazing job of creating a world that was alien to the reader and also the characters in this book. I think at times I was confused at what I was reading. It’s a good thing Lazlo was there to provide a solidity and strength to carry me through to its conclusion. ❤️❤️❤️❤️


Buy it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo!

Copyright 2017 Deborah Kehoe A Chick Who Reads All Rights Reserved

This Chick Read: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

If I had read the cover of this book more thoroughly before picking it up, I would’ve realized that this novel is a modernized version of the Russian folktale Vassillissa the Light.  Since I did not, I spent the majority of the novel going WTF!!?  Luckily, I have some minor knowledge of Baba Yaga, who is a witch in the Russian folktale, and I kind of remembered that she was evil, and so, got partially clued in that this was a modern retelling of a folktale.  Even knowing that I still would have to say WTF!!?  HOWEVER, the story was well written and strangely fascinating.  Enough that I kept reading, and enjoyed the experience. Continue reading “This Chick Read: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter”

Blog Tour: The Forgotten Tale (The Accidental Turn book 2) by J.M. Frey

I am excited to be a part of this blog tour for The Forgotten Tale!  This is a truly unique series, told in a hybrid modern and fairy tale voice.


EXCERPT:

Forsyth Turn has finally become a hero—however reluctantly. But now that Lucy Piper has married him and they’ve started a family in her world, his adventuring days are behind him. Yet not all is as it should be. Beloved novels are disappearing at an alarming rate, not just from the minds of readers like Pip, but from bookshelves as well. Almost as if they had never been. Almost like magic.

Forsyth fears that it is his fault—that Pip’s childhood tales are vanishing because he, a book character, has escaped his pages. But when he and Pip are sucked back into The Tales of Kintyre Turn against their will, they realize that something much more deadly and dire is happening. The stories are vanishing from Forsyth’s world too. So Forsyth sets out on a desperate journey across Hain to discover how, and why, the stories are disappearing… before their own world vanishes forever.

 In this clever follow-up to The Untold Tale, The Forgotten Tale questions what it means to create a legacy, and what we owe to those who come after us.

Buy it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo!

About Author J.M. Frey:
Toronto-based J.M Frey (pronounced “fry”) is a science fiction and fantasy author, as well as a fanthropologist and pop culture scholar who appears in podcasts, documentaries, and on television to discuss all things geeky through the lens of academia. Her debut novel TRIPTYCH has been nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards, won the San Francisco Book Festival award for SF/F, was nominated for a 2011 CBC Bookie, was named one of The Advocate’s Best Overlooked Books of 2011, and garnered both a starred review and a place among the Best Books of 2011 from Publishers Weekly.

J. M. Frey author page