Archive for the ‘YA’ Category

Five Fabulous Beauty and the Beast Re-imaginings

fab-five-logo-e1397403514389Five Fabulous Books is an original feature here at Big Book Little Book. The aim of the feature is to showcase fabulous books and bookish things, with connecting themes, there by promoting reads we have enjoyed and sharing recommendations for similar books. We love to share contributions from fellow bibliophiles, bloggers, vloggers and twitter users. We love to hear from you too, so don’t forget to comment with your favourite themed books. You are very welcome to use the Five Fabulous feature on your own blog just be sure to link back to Big Book Little Book and leave your link in the comments below so we can check out your recommendations! Feel free to copy and paste our Fabulou5 graphic or create one of your own.

I’m a huge fan of Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast. It is my favorite Disney animation and the Disney film I related too most growing up. Not only is Belle a brunette and a bookworm, she was the first Disney “princess” I recall who seemed to have a choice about who she would go on to marry.

I loved that the beast and her developed a relationship rather than being victims of the insta love- I’ve met you once, you’ve saved me and now ill marry you- that Disney’s early incarnations had suffered from. While its wonderful to see Disney developing more realistic relationships and fewer teen brides, for me it started with belle. Even now I can’t get enough of the slow burning misunderstanding and dislike to love and respect romance trope.

Of course my daughter and I just had to go and see the movie on opening weekend and I have to say that we did not leave disappointed. If you are reluctant to see the movie as a big fan of the animation, let me reassure you that the story line pretty much follows its animated predecessor with the exception of clearing up the large plot holes from the original. Add to that some original songs, beautiful costumes and ensemble dance numbers, it reminded my of my childhood curled up on the sofa with my mum on a Sunday afternoon watching elaborate Technicolor musicals. I loved sharing the experience with my own daughter.

I have to admit that I’ve never actually read the original story, my love for all things Beauty and the Beast originates from the Disney classics, never the less this love has led to a passion of one of my favorite sub genres- the fairytale retelling- and today oday I would like to share with you five of my favorite Beauty and the beast reimagines.

Beastly by Alex Flinn
I am a beast.
A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L Jensen
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.
Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…
But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for…

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…
In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.
Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.
As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Wish List
My obsession doesn’t stop there. I have many Beauty and the Beast inspired titles on my wish list. At the top of the list is Hunted by Meagan Spooner which is being released on the 20th April in hardback
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.
So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronesses…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Posted by Caroline

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Blog Tour: Wing Jones Path to Publication

We are delighted to be hosts on this visually stimulating and interesting Photo tour of Wing Jones and author Katherine Webber’s inspiration.
25909375Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.
23_KW-1
While living in Hong Kong, I was lucky enough not only to travel all over Asia, but even take a trip to Africa. Wing has an imaginary dragon and lioness who comfort her and guide her, and seeing lions up close in the wild absolutely inspired that—and gave me a better idea of how to write about how a lion moves and acts. I still haven’t seen a dragon, but maybe one day 😉
Posted by Katherine Webber

Katherine Webber was born in Southern California in 1987. She has lived in Hong Kong, Hawaii, and Atlanta. She currently lives in London with her husband.
She loves an adventure, whether it is found in a book or in real life. She has climbed the Great Wall of China, ridden camels in the Sahara Desert, camped in the Serengeti, visited sacred temples in Bhutan, trekked to Machu Picchu, and eaten her way through Italy. Travel, books, and eating out are her favourite indulgences.
Katherine studied Comparative Literature at the University of California, Davis and Chinese literature and language at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She has worked at an international translation company, a technology startup, and, most recently, a London based reading charity.
Wing Jones is her first novel.

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Songs About a Girl

Chris Russell
songs girlCharlie Bloom never wanted to be ‘with the band’. She’s happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she’s asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band Fire&Lights, she can’t pass up the chance.
Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman, Gabriel West, and his boy-next-door bandmate Olly Samson. Then, as the boys’ rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mind-blowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs…

This book follows Charlie Bloom, a budding photographer who is asked to take behind the scene pictures of the biggest teen boy band in the world – Fire and Lights. Charlie finds herself in the unfamiliar world of paparazzi, celebrities and tabloid gossip and soon becomes caught up with the gorgeous lead singer and teen heartthrob, Gabriel West and his incredibly sweet band mate, Olly Samson. Her newfound celebrity status sends shock waves through her everyday life as Charlie discovers a shocking message hidden within the bands new album – Songs About a Girl.

Above all this is a book about growing up and dealing with friends and family. It not only explores relationship dynamics but also looks at bullying and a variety of issues present in everyday life. Not to mention the very exciting and swoon worthy romance that captivates the reader from page one and had me squealing intermittently throughout the book.

Chris Russell successfully creates a very likeable protagonist- Charlie – who is an ordinary yet real character and whose qualities made the narrative that bit more relatable whilst contributing to the light nature of the novel. The characters of Olly and Gabriel had considerable depth for a novel of this nature, although at times their angst came across as quite forced and somewhat clichéd.

I did, however, think the plot was interesting and constantly evolved throughout the novel. The twists and turns in the storyline kept me constantly engaged whilst the cliffhanger at the end definitely ensured I will purchase the second instalment of this series. Additionally, I thought the book was surprisingly hilarious whilst delightfully heart-warming and Chris Russell’s love for music oozed from every page – making the narrative have a somewhat authentic vibe.

Although this was by no means the most well written book I have ever read, I did find it wonderfully uplifting and immensely satisfying. I found the plot to be of a great rhythm that had me glued to every page whilst the writing style was incredibly easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable.

Verdict: To put it simply this was an addictive story that I would recommend to everyone who is looking for a light and extremely fun read. Chris Russell has created a truly loveable world with a captivating plot and relatable characters. I would recommend this if you enjoyed Open Road Summer by Emery Lord and I think it is suitable for 10+ readers as there is little to no mature content

Reviewed by Evie (14)

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication Date: July 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 496
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Music
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie (14)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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Am I Normal Yet?

Holly Bourne

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…
But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

What were your initial thoughts on the book?
Taken from my Litsy Profile: This book was incredible. Honestly. As someone who suffers with OCD, I found the representation of it in this book to be so spot on. But on top of that I also loved the storyline, the emphasis on friendship and feminism, and just how strong and powerful the book is. I would highly recommend this book and I am cursing myself for not reading it sooner!

What was your favourite aspect of the book?
In all honesty, the complete and utterly wonderful portrayal of OCD. It shows just how difficult it is to have the mental illness and how it isn’t just about being a perfectionist. I feel that Holly Bourne has really created a character who can create a lot of empathy in people who do not have the illness and do not completely understand it.

Two of my favourite quotes about this in the book are:

“Me and my problems, they only existed because I wasn’t strong enough. Because I was weak and couldn’t pull myself together like everyone else did.”

These words – words like OCD and bipolar – are not words to use lightly. And yet now they’re everywhere. There are TV programmes that actually pun on them. People smile and is them, proud of themselves for learning them, like they should get a sticker or something. Not realizing that if those words are said to you by a medical health professional, as a diagnosis of something you’ll probably have for ever, they’re words you don’t appreciate being misused every single day by someone who likes to keep their house quite clean.”

Who was your favourite character and why?
Without question of a doubt, my favourite character was Evie. I related to her so much and it was wonderful to see her struggles and her strength right there on the page. I loved her so much and I thought she was a really interesting character to read about as well. I did feel a little put off by some of her actions but this was a personal thing on my part and was not enough to make me fall out of love with her!

Would you recommend this book?
100% yes. This book is marvellous. It is a treat for the eyes and the soul. It is educational, entertaining, and will fill your heart with so many wonderful emotions. It is a brilliant book that I will, myself, be re-reading for sure and wish that everyone falls in love with it too.

Summarize the book in one sentence. (Verdict)
A powerful, strong, and unique book that has a wonderful portrayal of OCD, Friendship and Feminism.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Publication Date: August 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 434
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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Accidental Superstar

Marianne Levy

If I’d known that two million people were going to be watching, I’d probably have done a bit of tidying up.
Katie Cox is used to going unnoticed, by her mum, her dad, even her best friend. But when a video of her singing in her bedroom goes viral, she becomes a superstar overnight. As the views skyrocket and a recording contract beckons, the real world starts to feel very far away.
And now Katie’s riding high on her newfound fame. But the higher she goes, the further there is to fall…
Accidental Superstar by Marianne Levy is the first in a hilarious series about a girl who accidentally finds fame singing online.

What were your initial thoughts of the book?
I thought this book was one of those really lovely and uplifting books that fills you with hope and happiness. I ended the book feeling just that little bit better about the world. The rest of the book is emotional and addictive. The perfect combination to make this book a quick, heartwarming and cute book that is sure to make you happy by the end of it.

What was your favourite aspect of the book?
I think my favourite aspect was the way that Katie learnt so much from her viral video. It took her on a very intriguing journey that she certainly wasn’t expecting and she didn’t deal with very well but I loved that by the end of it, she seemed to grow so much as a person. I would actually love to read a sequel to the book just to see where she took the rest of her life.

Who was your favourite character and why?
My favourite character was probably Mad Jaz, which is surprising but I loved how much of a surprising character she was in the book. She was edgy, different and unique but deep down she also cared, seemed lonely and just wanted to fit in. I thought she really made the book that little bit more exciting and fascinating to read.

Would you recommend this book?
Definitely. Especially if you’re looking for a real pick me up kind of book where everything sort of fits together by the end of it. I will say that if you’re really struggling with Katie at the beginning to preserve as it is definitely worth the journey by the end.

Summarize the book in one sentence. (Verdict)
A surprisingly emotional and uplifting story about a girl who has a lot of lessons to learn about what is important in life.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Macmillan
Publication Date: January 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Borrowed
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Unboxed

Non Pratt

Unboxed is about four teenagers who come together after several months apart. In previous years, they had put together a time capsule about their best summer with a friend who was dying. Now that their friend has passed, they reunite to open the box.

I went into this book with high expectations. Having heard of many people who had read the book and really enjoyed it, I expected it to be a good read. Fortunately, I am here to report that I really liked the book. It was a short book so I was a little worried that I would not have a chance to fully connect to the characters but I need not have worried at all. All of the characters were well grounded, well thought-out and easy to imagine and like. I especially connected with Alix who is our main protagonist. I loved how you could really get inside her head not only to understand more about her but also to understand more about this small group of teenagers and the lives that they live.

It was wonderful getting to know each of the different characters and this small brief part of their lives. I loved that it felt like you were witnessing something magical as they delved into their past and what it was that essentially brought them all together before tearing them all apart again. It was beautiful in so many ways and the book ends in such a hopeful and bright way that you can’t help but imagine that from now on, these four will not let anything get in the way of their friendship. It’s just such a perfect short but poignant story that I would highly recommend to others.

Verdict:This is essentially a very emotional and magical book that will touch your heart when you least expect it.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Publication Date: August 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 140
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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The Graces

Laure Eve
the gracesEveryone said the Graces were witches.
They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.
They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.
All I had to do was show them that person was me.
Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

The Graces follows (you guessed it) the Grace family, but more specifically River. The rich, beautiful and powerful Graces captivate River, as they do with every one in her town. Why? – Because everyone believes Summer, Thalia and Fenrin Grace can do magic. So when the family seem to take River under their wing, welcoming her to where everyone has tried but failed to be, she commits herself to being a Grace. However, as River grows closer to the family she learns that becoming a Grace has a price and carries consequences she could have never imagined.

I went into this hoping it would either be a twilight-esque frustrating romance but nevertheless an unput-a-downable read or a kickass witch book with mind-blowing magic. Unfortunately though, this book was neither and all in all I found it rather underwhelming.

Although beautifully began I found the latter stages of the novel painfully slow and lacking clear direction. I felt the main character was very depressing and just not an enjoyable narrator. Additionally, I felt her obsession with the Graces was disturbing and to be honest I didn’t really want to learn more about them.
My main problem with the book was the lack of plot; it read like it hadn’t been planned and lacked any real climax. I also felt it was quite forced in trying to be dark and mysterious and therefore didn’t really create the atmosphere I was looking for.

One thing I did quite enjoy was the dialogue, which at times was sharp and easily read. Furthermore, I did like Summer’s character as I thought Lauren Eve had constructed her well, with her dimension being well written.

To conclude, I did find the beginning of the book quite enjoyable but once we were past the opening stages the plot lost most of it’s intrigue and thus failed to captivate me.

Verdict: What disappointed me the most was how much potential it had, the synopsis sounded so intriguing and I therefore went in with high expectations only to be let down.

Reviewed by Evie (14)

Publisher: Faber and Faber
Publication Date: August 2016
Format: eBook
Pages: 352
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie (14)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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13 Minutes

Sarah Pinborough
27802575I was dead for 13 minutes.
I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

*Please note that due to the nature of this novel I am not going to go into too much depth whilst giving a synopsis as I think it is best to go into this one with limited knowledge of what might unfold.*

13 Minutes is a young adult psychological thriller that follows the on going twists of a gripping murder mystery involving a group of seemingly normal teenage girls.
The novel opens with the lucky discovery of Natasha’s close to dead body in a local river. She is revived at the scene, having been technically dead for 13 minutes (hence the title), but is left in a state of amnesia in that she can’t remember the days leading up to the incident including how she ended up in the river.

Natasha happens to be the leader of the popular girls (or ‘Barbies’) at her sixth form and her near-death experience sends shock waves through the community – ultimately triggering a series of rippling events that threaten to destroy anyone and everyone involved.

Right from the beginning of this novel I was absolutely hooked and the vast variety of perspectives and formats, including text messages and transcripts, lead the way for a story full of intrigue and deception I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. The vast majority of the book is told from Becca’s perspective, Natasha’s ex-best friend, who sheds light on the history of herself and the so-called ‘Barbies’ in a way that adds a depth I haven’t seen in many YA books. I especially loved Sarah’s use of doctors reports that were placed perfectly throughout and allowed us to delve beneath the surface of the characters actions in order to grasp a sense of who they truly are and thus created layer upon layer of character development.

This novel is more than just a murder mystery, though a great one it is, it is a book that highlights the pressures of the modern day and offers an insight into teenage friendships and social structures. It provides a constantly evolving plot that spirals into something I never ever would have predicted when I first picked up this book. I love the vast spectrum of characters that Sarah uses to create a complex and colourful plot she weaves so perfectly to create a story that left me utterly speechless. The story line slots together with a loud and vastly satisfying click right at the end but up until that point I had no idea where it was going and Sarah had me constantly guessing from the very beginning.

Verdict: Sarah Pinborough utterly delighted me. I cannot stress enough how skilfully plotted this book was – I will for sure be purchasing many more of her books. I would definitely recommend this for lovers of Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard, Torn by Cat Clarke or just anyone looking for a really great and well-crafted quick read. Just keep in mind this book is not suited for young readers due to the nature of the plot and some sexual content.

Reviewed by Evie

Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: February 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 405
Genre: Thriller, Crime
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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What’s A Girl Gotta Do?

Holly Bourne
29740718HOW TO START A FEMINIST REVOLUTION:
1. Call out anything that is unfair on one gender
2. Don’t call out the same thing twice (so you can sleep and breathe)
3. Always try to keep it funny
4. Don’t let anything slide. Even when you start to break…
Lottie’s determined to change the world with her #Vagilante vlog. Shame the trolls have other ideas…

What’s a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne is the third in a series that revolves around three English teenagers – Evie (who of course has the best name!), Amber and Lottie. Each character is relatable and likeable in their own way as is the book that follows each of them. In this much anticipated sequel we follow Lottie as she embarks on a month long project to call out every act of sexism she encounters, with the hopes of enlightening some of her more unaware peers of the ever present issue. We get to see Lottie as she prepares for her looming Cambridge interview, how she handles expectations inflicted by her parents and how she deals with the reverberations of her project throughout the public. Having read and devoured every one of Holly Bourne’s books I had high expectations going into this one and I am pleased to say it didn’t disappoint.

The story opens with Lottie experiencing sexual assault on her way to school; this, and an array of other events, trigger Lottie’s project – called the ‘Vagilante’ (!). Lottie, alongside the Feminist Society at her school, highlight everyday acts of sexism, from objectifying movie posters and unreasonable marketing, that ultimately lay the bricks for those much larger and life changing acts of sexism like domestic abuse and rape. Although the topics touched in this novel are very serious Holly Bourne manages to retain humour by creating a multitude of intertwining plot lines alongside witty and sassy dialogue.

Holly Bourne’s energetic and emotive writing style captivates the reader and makes it incredibly easy to submerge yourself in the world of Lottie. What makes this such an enjoyable read is the three dimensional characters Holly creates that you can’t help but love and root for. The author constructs an intricate world of kick-ass feminism, humor and romance that provides a satisfying and quick read that I believe many would find thoroughly enjoyable. The diverse range of topics touched in this novel, the varying emotions and constantly changing pace contributed to a refreshing read that is a must have for young feminists everywhere.

I have only one minor criticism of this book. Having read the other books that follow Evie and Amber I am accustomed to Holly’s use of swoon worthy romance but I have to say the romance in this particular novel didn’t quite do it for me. The main love interest is the handsome yet extremely arrogant cameraman, Will, who – compared to the previous male protagonist, Kyle, in Amber’s installment – was rather disappointing. I felt the relationship was rather rushed and therefore lacked the emotional attachment that I am so used to seeing in Holly’s books. Not only was it sort of ‘insta-lovey’ but at times I felt some of Lottie’s attitudes regarding Will were verging on the hypocritical, but I guess the story redeemed itself in that Lottie on several occasions acknowledged her cognitive dissonance and that the book had such a heavy emphasis on female friendships and the importance of them.

Overall I would defiantly recommend this book and the accompanying installments for anybody looking for a fun and vastly empowering read that is light hearted whilst tackling very many serious and topical issues.

Verdict: After reading all of Holly’s books, I have concluded that this is not my favourite but it is, nevertheless, a strong read full of sass and kick-assery that I would not hesitate to recommend to those above the age of 12 (purely due to mature content).

Reviewed by Evie

Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Publication Date: August 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 432
Genre: Contemporary, Feminism
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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Barefoot On The Wind

Zoe Marriott
29235197There is a monster in the forest…
Everyone in Hana’s remote village on the mountain knows that straying too far into the woods is a death sentence. When Hana’s father goes missing, she is the only one who dares try to save him. Taking up her hunting gear, she goes in search of the beast, determined to kill it – or be killed herself. But the forest contains more secrets, more magic and more darkness than Hana could ever have imagined, and the beast is not at all what she expects…

Before I begin to tell you my thoughts and feelings about this lovely book I have a big fat and horrible secret to admit to you all…. this is my first Zoe Marriott read.
Yes I know shock horror and I should probably be burned at the stake for this treachery and massive YA offence; but before you get your pitchforks let me tell you what I thought, and let me solemnly promise that I will be making amends to right this terrible wrong!

Barefoot on the Wind is a wonderful and clever retelling of one of the best (in my humble opinion) fairy tales: Beauty and the Beast.
As with many retellings Zoe Marriott put her own imprint on this story. The transposition and adaptation of the original story line to a Japanese environment, lay out and way of life was incredibly faithfully done. The village, the villagers, the rules and regulations of that period in time down to the Japanese denominations for each member of society and status were respected, making me feel like I’d actually stepped into a Japanese mountain village that was being plagued by a beast and I was about to witness the unfurling of this story.
I was all geared up with my cup of green tea to sit back and enjoy what I thought was merely a transcribed and slightly altered fairy tale to suit the new set up, when Zoe decided that actually she hadn’t quite finished with her adaptation.
It soon became clear that from the original tale, all that was taken were the bare bones, in a manner of speaking.
Now before I go any further I should tell you all that I am a massive fairy tale fan, and will happily read any retelling and any new story that comes my way, but what I came across here was pretty wonderful and a very original take on fairy tales with a pinch of modern thinking.
Although you will catch a glimpse of Belle in Hana-San’s kindness and love for her family, and you will perceive some of the Beast’s hard earned humility in Itsuki, these two sets of characters are as different as they are alike. Zoe Marriott’s Belle is a fighter, a hunter and does not fear the dangerous dark woods that have claimed many a life. She is proud and strong and although her hierarchical society does not approve, she holds her ground steadfast and fights for what she believes is right even if that means going into the beast’s lair alone. Zoe’s Beast, that Hana dubs Itsuki, is the gentlest creature you will ever meet. He cares for all those that are harmed regardless of by whom and why. He has a big heart and has worked hard to learn what patience, humility, true love and respect mean.
Although initially perplexed I soon came to love these two characters and how their interactions were so similar and yet so different from those that I have loved and grown up with.

As I mentioned before Zoe merely used the bare bones of the classic and then built her own story giving it flesh and thoughts to shape it differently and make us readers reflect.

As per all fairy tales there is a lesson to be learned, and whilst deconstructing and recreating her tale our lovely author did not forget this vital part. Whilst the Disney we all know and love focused on romance and the signature happily ever after, Zoe Marriott decided to centre her story around Hana-San, her journey to self discovery, forgiveness and its ripple effect on the surrounding characters and, indeed, the story. Although romance and love is undoubtedly a main thread to it, Zoe Marriott reminds us that the types of love that can change someone also include the love between a family, siblings and friends. She reminds us that love’s close counterpart and partner in crime is hate and the line between these two at times has been known to be thin, thin and full of its own emotions ranging from anger to sorrow.

You might ask be asking yourself what else is different aside from the characters, the set up, the nature of the beast, the strength of the belle and the society whose rules they live by?

Well I will let you figure that one out for yourself, but what I will tell you is that this is a very cleverly constructed Japanese fairy tale retelling, and that like Hana-San you will have to walk into the dark woods and tread lightly on the dark magic that has cursed more than just a man, and you will have to heed the advice of the trees and the wind that blows through them because a monster, a beast roams the woods but the two are not always one and the same and every individual is capable of monstrous things.

Barefoot on the Wind proved to be more than just a simple fairy tale with a different back drop. Zoe Marriott brought with it her own set of characters and morales to teach us. Despite the simplistic story, she managed to build into it new thoughts and feelings giving it a new dimension and complexity that I had not previously appreciated.

Verdict: I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this tale and will happily be getting lost in these dark woods again with Hana-San and Itsuki.

Reviewed by Pruedence

Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: September 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 313
Genre: Retelling, Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Pruedence
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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