Posts Tagged ‘Classic Retelling’

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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Giveaway! Baker Street Academy: Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond

Sam Hearn

John Watson has barely settled into his new school, Baker Street Academy, when his teacher announces a trip to one of London’s top museums, home to the world’s most famous jewel. But it’s been stolen! When police catch the thief it seems the case is closed. Can Sherlock Holmes uncover the mystery behind this extraordinary gem?

We have three copies of this fabulous sounding book to giveaway to our lovely followers!

This is the perfect book for those children who love mysterious books, it’s a graphic novel so it’s also great for those who struggle to read long blocks of text.

It’s exciting and thrilling and will keep them turning the page. Can they figure it out before the great Sherlock Holmes himself?

To enter the giveaway all you need to do is comment below with your favourite mystery book!

Winners will be contacted via e-mail and will have 28 days to respond with their address.

Good luck!

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 2016
Format: Hardback
Pages: 160
Genre: Mystery
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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My Top Ten Secret Gardens

Big Book Little Book is delighted to host author Holly Webb as she shares her top ten secret gardens.
Holly has written a sequel to one of my favourite childhood books, The Secret Garden. Dickon, from the original story, was one of my very first book crushes, before I even knew what a crush was. There was something so wonderful about the walled garden, a secret , special place away from the adults, where the children were in charge, and in the case of Dickon, much more knowledgeable than the adults. I am really looking forward to sharing the story with my children in the future and this exciting follow up.
With out further ado, over to Holly.

Return to the Secret GardenIt’s 1939 and a group of children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall. Emmie is far from happy to have been separated from her cat and sent to a huge old mansion. But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house – a boy crying at night, a diary written by a girl named Mary and a garden. A very secret garden…

1. Great Maytham Hall

Frances Hodgson Burnett lived in this house in Kent from the mid-1890s, and the walled rose garden was her inspiration for The Secret Garden. She wrote in a little summerhouse in the corner of the garden. The garden is open one day a week under the National Gardens Scheme.
Click here learn more about Great Maytham Hall , or here to find a garden

2. Misselthwaite Manor, from The Secret Garden

The site of the secret garden itself – in amongst the kitchen gardens and orchards, surrounded by a high brick walls. Mary first discovers the garden in winter, and the trails of roses look grey and dead. Only the little green points of the bulbs give any clue to the garden that’s waiting to come alive.

3. My childhood garden

I grew up in a Victorian house in South London, with a long, narrow garden. My parents still live in the same house, but strangely, the garden seems much smaller now! I remember it as huge, and full of hiding places…

4. The garden in The Magician’s Nephew

I loved (still love) the Narnia books, and this garden is fascinating – Polly and Digory fly on the winged horse Fledge (possibly my favourite character) to pick an apple from the tree in this walled garden.

5.Miniature gardens

While she’s still living in India, Mary Lennox makes toy gardens, picking flowers and arranging them in the dusty earth. I used to do this too, and I loved making gardens in trays with my children.

6. Kew Gardens

Not a secret at all, of course. But I remember visiting these as a child, and being fascinated by the glass houses, with the enormous water lilies. I loved fairy tales, and Beatrix Potter’s Jeremy Fisher, and I was sure there were secret creatures living in those glass houses.
To learn more about Kew Gardens visit their website here.

7. Thumbelina’s garden

In Hans Christian Andersen’s story, Thumbelina appears inside a flower. After a whole series of adventures, she and her friend the swallow find a meadow full of flowers, and Thumbelina meets a flower fairy prince. I don’t know why, but I’ve always imagined that the flowers were tulips!

8. RHS Wisley

Again, I visited these gardens as a child, but all I remember is a house made out of wisteria. It was a summerhouse, completed surrounded by the purple flowers, and I wanted to live there. The wisteria in my own garden now is one of my favourite things! Looking at photos of Wisley’s long pergolas, I wonder if imagined that the house was round? But I’m sure it was… There’s a wisteria pergola at Great Maytham, too. I changed the idea of the summerhouse slightly for Return to the Secret Garden, my character Emmie imagines herself a house of flowers, but hers is made of roses and honeysuckle. (It would have been wisteria, except in the book it was the wrong time of year!)
Learn more about Wisley here

9. The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Real life secret gardens! Heligan was abandoned during the First World War, and the gardens were rediscovered and recreated in the 1990s.
Discover them for yourself by following this link.

10.The garden next-door, from Moving Molly by Shirley Hughes

One of my favourite books ever. I read it so many times, and I still have my copy. Molly moves house and finds that the garden next door has been abandoned – it’s a paradise for tigerish cats, and full of adventures.

Post by Holly Webb

Holly Webb_RTSG2Holly Webb is the author of Dog Magic, Cat Magic, and Lost in the Snow. She has always loved animals and owns two very spoiled cats. They haven’t said a word to her yet, but she’s always listening, just in case! She lives in England.

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Pan’s Revenge

Anna Katmore

pan's revenge“Are you ready to be kissed?” he breathes against the corner of my mouth.
My knees start to tremble and there are butterflies in my belly now. Way too many. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”
“I think it’s the best idea I had in a long time.”
Desperate to leave Neverland and find his love in this notorious town called London, James Hook makes a grave mistake. He puts his own wishes above those of his half-brother and once-arch-enemy, Peter Pan.
The consequences alter Peter’s life in a way no one could have foreseen. The boy who wouldn’t grow up swears revenge, and what better way than by stealing Hook’s girl?
The first to arrive in London, Peter finds Angel once again without any memory of ever being in Neverland. That gives him time to plant the idea of a ruthless pirate captain in her mind—someone who tried to kill her once and is now on his way to kidnap her again. If only this stubborn girl would stop playing with Peter’s head. He’d completely forgotten how beautiful she was. Or is it only because he sees her through different eyes now?
Through a shower of falling stars, a loop around the moon, and then a hard left at the Clock Tower—when James Hook finally arrives in London, he has to fight with a vengeance for his love and face a boy who grew up after all…

*this is the review of a sequel so inadvertent spoilers may be present*

I delved into this sequel not long after reading Neverland as I had enjoyed it so much, and I have to say it did not disappoint!

Having never really come across a sequel to Peter Pan’s story except for what Disney presented to me as a child, and might I say it did not seem like a likely plot-line option, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The only thing I was certain of was that Peter Pan was going to become darker than before, Angelina had lost her memory and poor Captain James Hook was going to have to prove himself all over again after it had already taken him 300 odd pages the first time!

My hunch was correct and the book delivered more upon that.

The alternate point of views for each chapter once again gave the book a little more depth, and I was pleased to see that Peter Pan himself had a stronger voice this time. Seeing the story unfold from the supposed “good” and “evil” characters is always very interesting and makes for a good read but especially when the latter get a voice as it is so uncommon.

Needless to say romance was a strong theme as poor Jamie was left to prove his love again, restore lost memories and save Neverland. But equally a strong thread of family, trust, betrayal and forgiveness was laced through the book. Infact I would almost dare say that it was as important if not almost more so than the romantic theme, as a reminder that love is familial too and just as important. And although I am a declared sappy and romantic saddo through and through, I will happily admit that I was not at all disappointed or saddened by this. The equal sharing of this made the book that much more of an enjoyable and interesting read.

The pace was initially slow but picked up as the story unravelled and I flew from Neverland to London and back again. Anna Katmore threw several rather unpredictable twists in her plot and left me hanging on the edge off a cliff right until the very end.

Verdict: A sequel that lived up to it’s prequel’s set standards, and that proved to be not only a fun and romantic read, but one with a little more depth and emotion than I expected endearing itself to me that much more.

Reviewed by Prudence

Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: eBook
Pages: 346
Genre: Retelling, fantasy, romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Prudence
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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Neverland

Anna Katmore
neverland“Any last words?”
“Go to hell, you freaking…filthy…godforsaken…”
Our noses almost touch as he dips his head and brushes a strand of my hair behind my ear. “Angel, the word you’re looking for is pirate.”
Why is there a boy who doesn’t want to grow up?
How can an apple start the sweetest romance in fairytale history?
And what does a ruthless pirate have to do with it all?
Although Angelina McFarland loves reading fairytales, she never dreamed of falling right into one herself. But that’s exactly what happens when she slips on her balcony and a flying Peter Pan catches her mid-fall.
Ending up in Neverland where no one seems to age and laws of nature are out of control, Angel has no idea how to get home. Worse, the ruthless Captain Hook captures her and keeps her trapped on his ship, the Jolly Roger, where she gets caught between the lines of a timeless battle. But the more time Angel spends with the captain, the more she sees beneath his ruthless façade. The feelings she’s growing for him are as intense as shocking, and soon she can’t stop thinking about how soft his lips felt on hers when he kissed her under the stars. But Angel and a pirate? That’ll never work. Or can it?
As Angel desperately tries to find a way to return to her real life, she discovers a train ticket to London in her pocket. It won’t be any help in getting off the island, but as her memory fades away the longer she stays, this is all she has left to remind her of her former life and why she can’t give up trying.
Or is staying in Neverland forever the better choice after all?
Grab a happy thought and follow Angel on an adventure that will keep you breathless and smiling long after you read the last page…

We were all once children, and as such I do believe there isn’t a single child who doesn’t know the story of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, as told by J.M. Barrie. And then we grew up. We learnt all about those annoying things called responsibilities, about being mature and sensible, and above all that fairy tales are just for children.

Anna Katmore however had a different opinion. What if Peter Pan wasn’t quite the hero and all round good guy he appears? What if the gift of never growing up was actually a curse in disguise, holding back more than just a gang of orphans? And what if Captain James Hook wasn’t quite the black-hearted pirate our younger selves thought he was?
Having thrown several spanners into my childhood fairy tale I was quick to get my mitts on the book and dive into Mermaid Lagoon and unravel the mystery.

Angelina was a strong and interesting female character, but for once she wasn’t the one stealing all the limelight and I found myself very intrigued by both Peter Pan and Captain Hook too.

The narration was alternated between Angelina and James (Captain Hook) giving the reader even more food for thought as both sides of the tale are depicted. But do not be fooled, if you read Neverland in search for Barrie’s version from a different angle that is not what you will get. Anna Katmore took Peter Pan and his comrades gave the whole story more depth and background than you could imagine. Gone are the gentle themes for children of good and bad within harmless games. Neverland was enriched with the strong emotions of betrayal, hate, love, anger and loss. Feelings that would not mean much to a child too young to comprehend, but that in an adult cause a lot of damage. These emotions transcend time and space wreaking all sorts of havoc across decades.

But that is not all, because just as you think things may be finally over Anna Katmore turns things around one more time. Surely you didn’t think Captain Hook and Peter Pan were left on Neverland and suddenly learned to play nice? Did you?

Verdict: I very much enjoyed the easy read and yet thought provoking tale of Neverland and anxiously await for some fairy dust so that I may follow the second star on the right and fly straight on ‘till morning to land in the sequel Pan’s Revenge.

Reviewed by Prudence

Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: April 2014
Format: eBook
Pages: 301
Genre: retelling, romance br />
Age: YA
Reviewer: Prudence
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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Unhinged

A.G.Howard

unhingedAlyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.
That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.
As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.
If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

Ok before I attempt to review this book I would just like to say that it is 02:00 am, I only finished reading it a few hours ago and am still basking in it’s awesomeness. And to now be asked to try and put all the mixture of amazing thoughts I have running through my head into words is perhaps a little too much. Infact it may be almost impossible and crazy. As netherling crazy as it would be to harness the power of a smile. But hey if our dear Alyssa could do that in Splintered, then who am I to not attempt this task mere human that I am.

I started reading Unhinged and all it took was a few sentences for me to once again tumble down the dark rabbit hole that A.G.Howard created, only this time the fall was darker, deeper, scarier, far more dangerous and by far one of the most thrilling and riveting rides I have ever been on. This fantastic author was quick to throw me back into Alyssa’s reality and into Wonderland.

We left Alyssa with a seemingly temporarily solved situation, with two worlds more or less under control (as much as you can control a world that does not respond to logic), with a choice made as to where she wanted to live her life and who she wanted to spend it with. It has now been a year and all the lines drawn by those choices are beginning to blur, as the dark tendrils of netherling insanity creep through the cracks of broken mirrors and rabbit holes into our light and rule abiding world. The world Alyssa chose, the half of herself that she decided to live by. But can you really choose a half when both are just different sides of the same coin, the same soul? Alyssa is confronted with overwhelming decisions of the heart, the mind and for the kingdom that she can no longer ignore.

Each page, each sentence was laced with bright clashing colours that despite their light showed a darkness and insanity to them but in a non threatening way. Every aspect of this book was perfectly written to suit the characters and the tone of this thrilling read. Every comparison and description was done using the most absurd and yet perfect means delivering at each and every turn just the right picture, feeling and sensation to make me feel on the brink psychosis but without having completely lost track of where I am or what’s going on. The entire book dances and skirts on the edge of pure genius and madness, flirting with one whilst bluffing to be the other, when actually the whole time it was both all along and when you realize it it’s already too late and events have occurred. All the while the bigger picture is one step ahead of you, because to reach it would be to reach pure madness, or genius depending on which side of the line you’re on.

The best way I can depict to you this book is by quoting a line from the book itself: Unhinged is a truly awesome story with it’s “logic wrapped in nonsense”, that only a partially unstable but brilliant mind can unravel.
I fell in love head over heals with the vivdly coloured, darkly mysterious, dangerous and yet enthralling and enrapturing Splintered. And I was afraid that the sequel would fail to reach the very high set standards. But I can draw a sigh of relief and can tell you all that it is just as brilliant as it’s predecessor, and now all I want to do is dive back into this fantastic world and never come back. And you know what? It may be 02:00 am but I just may very well re-read the whole thing because it’s all so delicisouly dark and devious, and I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a little mad. All the best people are 😉

Verdict: I highly recommend this series to you all. Take a tumble down the dark brightly coloured rabbit hole, play with devious and alluring Wonderland creatures and put your mind to the test and see if you want to resurface from this read.

Reviewed by Pruedence

Publisher: Amulet
Publication Date: January 2014
Format: ARC
Pages: 394
Genre: Retelling, Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Pruedence
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Love, Lies and Lizzie

Rosie Rushton

Love, Lies and LizzieWhen Mrs. Bennet inherits enough money to move into the kind of village she has always dreamed of, her daughters find themselves swept up in a glamorous life of partying and country pursuits. However, Lizzie and her sisters soon discover the truth.

I was having a go at reading some Jane Austen books and my librarian said that if I was into those then I might be into this book. It was based on ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen so I thought I should give it a try. So I did. Here goes, so Mrs Bennet and Mr Bennet have 5 daughters (I know! 5!) Jane, Lizzie, Meredith, Katy and Lydia. They move to a posh village with massive fancy houses. Lizzie likes the new house because she can have her own room. Anyway her family get invited to a party to meet some of the people in the village. Lizzie meets Charlie and Caroline Bingley and Charlie’s best friend James Darcy. James has a hate for Lizzie because he grew up in a posh all-boys school and Lizzie says how amazing her State school was. She was showing off and he hated it.

On the other hand though Jane had her eye on Charlie and Charlie quite liked her back. While all this was happening ( it’s a bit hard to follow, can you see why?) Lydia had ran off to a Club with another boy called Danny who was also at the party …and breathe… ok, so all the others went off to find Lydia and Katy (who was a suck up to her twin and liked to follow her around) and when they were at the Club Lizzie overheard James saying to Charlie that he didn’t like her and Lizzie left the Club in anger and everyone had to follow, it annoyed everyone as they didn’t want to go.

Sound familiar to all you Jane Austen lovers out there?

Find out about thrills, spills, make ups, break ups and luuuuurve!

Verdict: Very good book, for ages about 12-16 and girls (or boys who like romance)

Reviewed by Daisy (12)

Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Publication Date: January 2009
Format: Paperback
Pages: 208
Genre: Retelling
Age: YA
Reviewer: Daisy (12)
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British book
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Splintered

A G Howard and Rebecca Gibel (Narrator)

splintered audiobookThis stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Puberty is a difficult time for any girl, your body is changing, you are under the influence of raging hormones and plagued by acne, bloating, cramps, the voices of bugs and plants…. Nope, me neither. For Alyssa, her transition into womanhood also heralds the onset of her families curse. Ever since the Alice Liddel scrabbled out of that rabbit hole her female decendents have be stricken with serious mental health problems and fixations with Wonderland.

Having grown up witnessing her mothers descent in to madness and her resulting treatment within an asylum, Alyssa has learnt to disguise her anxiety about her cruel birthright and ignore the incessant voices. But a shocking incident at the asylum forces Alyssa to reconsider everything she thought she knew about her mothers condition, and instead of hiding from her heritage, Alyssa actively seeks out answers

From the very first paragraph we learn that Alyssa is no wall flower, no bumbling ditzy girl next door. She is fierce, strong, and in the words of her father, level headed and together. Taking creative revenge on her multi-limbed and be-winged tormentors Alyssa isn’t one for sit around bemoaning the hand she has been dealt, hoping that someone will save her. Instead she takes action, throwing herself down the rabbit hole to face her fears and save her family.

It’s not unusual for a YA book to suffer from a glut of love interests, sparking many a team X verses team Y debate, with each group zealously defending their selected beau. Many times I have found myself rooting for a particular outcome or a particular coupling. With Splintered A G Howard has me completely torn, with no clear choice.

On the surface these men couldn’t be any more different in appearance, manners and temperament. Scratch the surface however and our good boy and bad have much more in common than initial appearances would lead us to believe. Both have dark pasts, history with Alyssa, and both see and accept Alyssa for who she truly is, even before she recognises it herself. They even share the same almost paternalistic, over protectiveness of Alyssa, although the motivation and the manifestation of this fault is uniquely their own.

I adored how A G Howard took a world familiar to many of us, and didn’t so much re-imagine the story but create a spin off series to complement the original. I loved layering my experience of Splintered over my knowledge of the original Alice story. Comparing my childhood memories of the books and Disney movie with the naive and innocent recollections of a traumatized young Alice Liddel. Then discovering, along with Alyssa, the darker, uglier truth of Wonderland and its inhabitants. Familiar and yet unique, I couldn’t help listening to just one more chapter, anxious to discover where Howard would take her story next, never foreseeing where the next twist or turn would redirect us.

The record quality was consistent with no skipping, repeats or weird changes in tone or volume. Narrator Rebecca Gibel did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life, capturing the creepiness and otherworldliness of the many supporting characters and performing the main characters consistently, each clearly defined by a unique voice, allowing the conversations to be followed without confusion. I particularly enjoyed the Billy Idol like British accent she created for Morpheus, it certainly added to his mischievous bad boy persona.

Verdict: A book as captivating as its stunning cover.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Audiogo
Publication Date: May 2013
Format: Audiobook (unabridged)
Duration: 11 hrs 20mins
Genre: speculative fiction, fantasy
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Debut Author

The Hardback of Splintered was published in January 2013 by Amulet Books

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Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star

Heather Lynn Rigaud

fitzwilliam Darcy“Darcy’s as hot as he is talented…”
Fast music, powerful beats, and wild reputations-on and off stage-have made virtuoso guitarist Fitzwilliam Darcy’s band into rock’s newest bad boys. But they’ve lost their latest opening act, and their red-hot summer tour is on the fast track to disaster. Now Darcy and bandmates Charles Bingley and Richard Fitzwilliam are about to meet their match…
“But she’s about to rock his world…”
Enter Elizabeth Bennet, fiercely independent star of girl-band Long Borne Suffering. Elizabeth, her sister Jane, and friend Charlotte Lucas have talent to spare and jump at the opening band slot. Elizabeth is sure she’s seen the worst the music industry has to offer. But as the days and nights heat up, it becomes clear that everyone is in for a summer to remember,

If I had to write a list* titled “Caroline’s Perfect romantic read” it would probably look something like:
1) Pride and Prejudice (my favourite book, I re-read it about once a year and re watch the BBC/Firth adaptation just as frequently)
2) Tattooed bad boy musician
3) Feisty independent heroine
4) Contemporary New Adult (and all the steaminess the genre allows *winks*).

So imagine my delight when I came across the blurb for Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, in the bargain book feature Two Pound Tuesday created by fellow UK bloggers Kerrie (read her blog here) and Prudence (click here to view her blog) .

In the authors note, Heather Lynn Rigaud, shares that she first wrote Fitzwilliam Darcy, not with the purpose of publication, but as an Austin fan loving recreating a beloved book, just for fun. It is this sense of fun, which informs the tone of the book and my experience of reading it.

Everything from the girl’s band name, Long Borne Suffering, to a tongue-in-cheek nod to the 1995 BBC adaptation (*pictures a swimming Darcy*) had me grinning like an idiot.

As a P&P fan I loved comparing the characters and situations Rigaud created , to my memory of the original text, however knowledge of the original love story is not necessary to enjoy, Rigaud’s steamy romance.

If you are looking for “adult content”, then you won’t be disappointed with Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star. While very much the “vanilla” variety of sexual content, when it comes to our protagonists indulging the physical side of their relationships, Rigaud certainly doesn’t lack imagination. Those Slurry boys certainly work hard to maintain their rock star reputations.

Aside from the obvious contemporary setting and steamy additions, the most obvious differences between this and the original, which was told predominately from Elizabeth’s perspective, is the inclusion of multiple points of view, allowing us a greater insight, in to Darcy’s behavior and the other developing relationships. This resulted in the expanded role of Charlotte Lucas and Richard Fitzwilliam. While their essential characteristics remain intact, I really enjoyed getting to know these characters in greater depth, and I loved the original storylines Rigaud created for them.

All of the major players from the original book were imaginatively brought to life in the contemporary setting. I would have never considered casting Darcy as a brooding rock star, but now that I’ve experienced him portrayed as such the choice appears obvious. Mr Collins was cast perfectly as a slimy, brown nosed record executive pandering to MD Lady Catherine de Bourgh

My only criticism of the book is that towards the end of the book Darcy becomes very attached to the endearment “Love” and the pattern of his voice suddenly felt very proper. After “hearing” his voice in an American accent for the majority of the book, I suddenly started imagining (Colin Firth) a very British one.

Verdict: Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star was a fun and sexy tribute to my favourite book.

Reviewed by Caroline
*I’m not sure in which circumstances I would be required to write such a list, but given that making and crossing off of list is one of my nerdy little pleasures I don’t think it would require much arm twisting.

Publisher: Sourcebook Landmark
Publication Date: September 2011
Format: eBook
Pages: 432
Genre: Contemporary romance, Retelling
Age: New Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None
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Black Spring

Alison Croggon
black springBlack Spring takes the passionate story of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and re-imagines it in a fantasy nineteenth-century society set in savage lands sustained by wizardry, where its people live by the vengeance code of vendetta. Like Wuthering Heights, it’s a story within a story, featuring the brooding young Damek, who is swept along by his emotions. The object of his affections is Lina, daughter of the village lord, whose magical powers make her a witch and witches are not tolerated in this brutally patriarchal society. When Lina is sent away and forced to become a servant, Damek promises revenge and, like Heathcliff, spends a lifetime securing and refining it.

When I heard that someone had decided to write a re-imaging of Wuthering Heights I wasn’t sure whether to be impressed or horrified! Bronte’s classic is such an iconic book it is a huge step to undertake to look at it in a fresh light. Cathy and Heathcliff have such strength of personality you wonder if anything could expand on that and their tragic, obsessive love is unique in literature. Having said all that, although I can appreciate Wuthering Heights, it is not one of my favourites so I was ready to see what someone else could do with it.

The story in Black Spring sticks pretty closely to the original, particularly in the beginning when Hammel visits the north to escape illness and a broken love affair (just as Lockwood does). He meets Damek (Heathcliff) an embittered and angry man living in an awful household and treating his young wife abominably. When Hammel returns to his rented house Anna (the maid, aka Nelly) tells him the story of Damek and his lost love Lina (Cathy).

Damek comes to live with Lina when they are both children. Until this point Anna has been Lina’s closest friend despite the barrier caused by Anna being the daughter of a servant and Lina having come from the royal line. Damek and Lina spend as much time as they can together, both have a restless and wild nature and they literally run off and leave everyone else behind whenever they can. As they grow up Lina’s father dies and due to the disfavour with the king his house and land is given to Maseko, an awful man who forces Damek to live as a servant and eventually causes Lina to leave when he assaults her. Damek too leaves and Lina then marries and has a daughter. Then Damek returns and the consequences for everyone are devastating.

The biggest departure from the original is the addition of the fantasy element. Lina is a witch and there are wizards who have a lot of control over the villages and land they live in. Wizards have control, witches are often executed. Then there is Vendetta. This was a really fascinating part of the story, Vendetta is mentioned a few times before it is fully explained. When it is explained you get an idea of the full horror of it and of the power of the wizards who declare it or finish it. Simply put if someone is killed in the village their honour must be avenged. This happens through the eldest male in their family killing the perpetrator of the crime. However this means that the death of the next murdered man must also be avenged and so it goes on, effectively killing off the entire male population of villages as they take vengeance on each other through the family line, cousins and so on are all included. It may sound gruesome, and in many ways it is, but there was a whole ritual behind it of doing things in a precise way at certain times. I would really have liked Alison to spend more time on this idea and in developing it, along with the whole witch and wizard scenario. Anna is affected by this as her father has to become a part of it and she subsequently loses him. Her feelings about the matter and its impact on the family are obviously enormous and yet a lot of it remained unexplored. In the end I was more interested in this than in Damek and Lina’s story (possibly because I roughly knew what would happen to them!) I hope Alison will write another novel and focus more on this idea.

The novel is beautifully written. The prose is easy to read but not at all simplistic. Although much more contemporary it had a flavour of a book written longer ago with some of the language that the characters use. As the book is set in a historical time this adds to the gothic darkness that pervades it. In addition Alison captured the brutal quality of Wuthering Heights really well in this tale. The families and some of the additional characters are really barbaric at times. I felt that in this story more of the brutality came from external influences whereas Cathy and Heathcliff’s obsessive love brings about much of the brutality in the original. In fact I think that this, for me, is where this story was lacking. The relationship between Damek and Lina just didn’t have the impact that the original protagonists had. That is not to say that they don’t have a fiery and strong bond, but the punch seemed to be missing.

Verdict: So, after all that (!), I did enjoy this book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of a passionate gothic fantasy. However I think it is better not to think about the connection to Wuthering Heights and just read it as a novel in its own right. I think I would have enjoyed it more reading it that way, and if you want to know about Wuthering Heights just read that!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: January 2013
Format: ARC
Pages: 288
Genre: Fantasy, re-imagined classic
Age: YA
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut Author
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