Hidden: Rapunzel's Story Review (Destined #2)

Hidden: Rapunzel's Story (Destined, #2)

Zel is a mage with the Touch. If she touches someone, she can drain the life out of them. She has been under the control of an evil witch for years, and she can’t leave because the witch holds her True Name. Anything her mistress tells her to do, she has to do it. Every time she tries to escape she is caught and punished for it. When she isn’t trapped in her Tower, she is forced to murder people at her mistress’ demands.

When a man randomly climbs up to her tower, Zel knows she will be punished when he is found. But she just can’t force him to go away when he is willing to help her. No one has shown her kindness in years, but he wants to help her escape.

I have to be honest, I never felt much towards the Rapunzel story as a child. It was one of my least favorite tales, some girl up in a castle all her life and then BAM prince to take her away. I didn’t even like Tangled when it came out! But I definitely gained a fondness for the story after reading this retelling of the book.

Zel can take care of herself, and she would leave the castle if her mistress ever gave the chance. She has tried to escape multiple times, but she just can’t break free of her true name being used. The man who comes into her castle can help her create a plan to escape, but she still has to be the one to do it herself. She has to be able to build up the strength to fight back. She has to think of herself as worthy of being saved before she can save herself. Eventually, the man isn’t even helping her to escape much, but instead he is more like the princess in the castle, waiting for Zel to return from another one of her expeditions.

This book also explains a lot of the things that made Zel act the way she did in Fated. I never really understood why Zel was so scared of being caught at the bakery, but once you see her body count in Hidden, you know the danger. There are entire clans after Zel who would want to do to her family what she did to theirs, they do not care that Zel wasn’t even in control of her body as she killed people.

This book moved smoothly, and I was excited to keep reading as I was in the thick of it. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen to Zel next, and I finished both books 2 and 3 in the same day while commuting to work! This Destined series will draw you in and will not let you go until you hear the stories of all these girls.

I would recommend this series to anyone looking for a new fairytale retelling series.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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Fated: Cinderella's Story Review (Destined #1)

Fated: Cinderella's Story (Destined, #1)

Ella is the only non-mage in her household. Her stepmother Zel has to stay hidden because she is a powerful mage. She was under the control of someone who held her True Name and was forced to kill many with her powers in the past, so she has many enemies. Now that Zel has two twin daughters who are also mages, she has to make sure that she and her girls stay hidden. If Zel is arrested, the family will be torn apart. So Ella does all in her power to keep the bakery running to support her family. She is also studying at the Royal Academy to try to get a better job to move her family out of the small apartment at the bakery. A mage named Weslan shows up at the bakery looking for protection, and his staying at the bakery threatens Ella’s family’s safety. When a bomb goes off during her final exam and she is hurt, her chance for graduation goes out the window. Ella has to pick up the pieces of her life and find a new way to protect her family.

I have run this blog for 3 years now, and I have read countless fairytales and fairytale retellings throughout my entire life. Something just always draws me to these stories of love and fantasy. I can say, hands down, that this is the best fairy tale retelling series I have ever read. At first I was thinking it would be second only to Court of Thorns and Roses, but the other books in this series continued the fairy tale retelling theme, and it quickly bumped its way up to first place for that category.

Ella isn’t your typical Cinderalla. Zel isn’t cruel to her. She isn’t forced to work for her stepsisters. She does all the work that she does simply because she loves her family and would do anything for them. She wants to get a job by graduating from the Royal Academy so that they can live more comfortably. She would work every day that she lived if it meant that they were safe, and she wouldn’t let anyone get in between her and her family. This is what made her so admirable to me. Family came first, in everything, and she was willing to work hard to keep them safe, even if it stressed her out.

I would also say that this fairy tale retelling deviates some from the original story, which I enjoyed a lot. There is an entire story about Mages versus those with no powers. Those who hold the True names of mages can force them to do their bidding, which means that the Mage population is greatly oppressed in this world. This story is woven delicately in and out of the original Cinderella tale, to make a unique and powerful one of its own. This is what made it my favorite fairytale retelling of all time, and that’s how this book dragged me out of my reading slump.

This story flows perfectly from scene to scene. I don’t believe that the POV ever shifted from Ella, but if it did, it wasn’t confusing in any way and fit right into the rest of the story. There were no dead points in the story or characters that I found to be irritating, so everything made for a very pleasant read.

I won’t spoil anything else as this book was a quick read for me and I don’t want to give any major plot points away. I would recommend this series to anyone who loves fantasy novels or who wants to read a fairytale retelling. This entire series is free through Kindle Unlimited, and book 6 is coming out this year, so I am extra excited to see what Kaylin Lee has in store!

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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Jaclyn and the Beanstalk Blog Tour Plus Review

Jaclyn and the BeanstalkSYNOPSIS

What fate awaits a girl who hears monsters at night…

Sixteen-year-old Jaclyn looks up to her father. An honest man who once fought for the king, he now teaches Jaclyn how to use her wits—and her sword.

But he has a secret. And his secret may have a connection to the one thing Jaclyn is hiding from him.

Upon hearing “monsters” are terrorizing the small villages around Black Mountain, Jaclyn’s father and his friends head out to hunt them … but they don’t return.

Armed only with her sword and three magic beans—a gift from a mysterious old woman—Jaclyn sets out for Black Mountain to save her father.

On her climb, one bean drops and grows into a beanstalk, catching her when she falls.

She isn’t the only one that takes the ride. Jack, her childhood friend and secret crush, is following her.

Jaclyn and Jack will have to work together to save not only their fathers, but the townspeople the beasts plan to lay waste to before it’s too late.

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Jaclyn loves both of her parents, but she won’t tell them that she has dreams about monsters. These dreams attack her, cause her to see things that she never wanted to see and cause her immense pain. She doesn’t know why she has these dreams though and just asks her father to teach her how to fight in case something happens. Then, her father and his friends are taken by the monsters, and it is up to Jaclyn to save them.
Even though Jaclyn was sixteen years old, this book could still relate to younger YA readers. Some parts of the story were a bit suggestive, but other than that, she actually acted more 13 or 14 to me than 16. I especially thought this when she was so connected to her parents, and obeyed them in almost everything, even when she wanted to go out and see the world. This was a great fantasy novel, but I would recommend that if you read it, just age the character down a few years in certain scenes to make it more realistic.
I love how Jaclyn’s father never babied her for being a girl. He was willing to teach his only daughter how to fight, and Jaclyn is willing to learn. The only person who wasn’t completely on board with the plan was Jaclyn’s mother, but even she gave in eventually.
I also liked Jack and Jaclyn’s small romance in the story. It wasn’t the main focus of the story, but it was sweet, and I am a sucker for childhood friends-to-lovers books. This was definitely a good romance for Jaclyn’s type of character! Jack was just the right amount of assertive and caring, even though they hadn’t met for many years.
Overall, this book had great characters and a great plot, even though the plot felt a bit rushed. Jaclyn was a unique main character who had a healthy teenage romance, and I only wish to have been able to learn a bit more about her without flashing from scene to scene. This might have eliminated the small issue with her seeming a tad younger than her age in certain scenes. I can’t wait to read the next book in this retold fairy tales series!
I would recommend this book to lovers of YA fantasy novels.
I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 books
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Praise for JACLYN AND THE BEANSTALK

A mash-up of “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Lord of the Rings” … RECOMMENDED ―School Library Journal

“Keenly descriptive and eloquently written with touches of sixteenth-century language, the story takes the reader into the world of monsters controlled by a diabolical villain, and into a land of mystery and magic beans.” ―Readers’ Favorite Review

Mary Ting managed to surprise me at every turn, even though I must have read this story a million times as a kid. The most impressive surprise was the creation of a girl protagonist who is so much better than the original Jack. Then she brings in the boy, Jack, as the love interest. Sheer genius and a great idea. The writing is great. The plot is good, and the various themes woven throughout the story make it a very compelling tale.” ―Readers’ Favorite Review

Mary Ting writes with an adventurous heart, a clever pen, introducing young readers to a classic that meets fantasy, shedding light on the family devotion and a love story that buds to completion by the end. This short novel comes as a highly recommended read for parents and young adults that prefer fantasy fiction with a Christian-based theme and a creative perspective. Mary Ting is one of those writers to notice and watch. ―Kingdom’s Review  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Tingis an international bestselling, award-winning author. She writes soulful, spellbinding stories that excite the imagination and captivate readers around the world. Her books span a wide range of genres, and her storytelling talents have earned a devoted legion of fans, as well as garnered critical praise.

Becoming an author happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she had in high school. After realizing she wanted to become a full-time author, Mary retired from teaching after twenty years. She also had the privilege of touring with the Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book: No Bullies Allowed.

Mary resides in Southern California with her husband, two children, and two little dogs, Mochi and Mocha. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Being a huge Twilight fan, Mary was inspired to make book-themed jewelry and occasionally gives it away as prizes to her fans.

PHOTO CONTENT FROM MARY TING

WEBSITE: http://www.tangledtalesofting.com/
TWITTER: 
@MaryTing
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4388953.Mary_Ting
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMaryTing
INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/authormaryting

 
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Dark Water ARC Review

Dark Water: A Little Mermaid Reverse Fairytale (Reverse Fairytales Book 4)I love J.A. Armitage’s fairy tale retellings, and this one was just as good as the others! It is in another world, so even though it says Book 4, it is really Book 1 of the new section. You can read this one without reading the others, but I suggest reading them all.

Princess Erica received a boat for her eighteenth birthday, and she decides to take a ride on it. Her mother doesn’t want her to, and her fears are confirmed as a storm pops up out of nowhere and wrecks the ship. She was saved by a strange man, but when she came to in the castle, no one remembered seeing him. Then, he shows up at her birthday ball, and her attraction to him is undeniable. Even though an engagement is sprung on her, and she is banned from going close to the sea where he is, she is determined to see him. Little does she know what world she is truly getting herself into.

Let me just say that Ari was such an amazing book boyfriend! I have loved many of the guys that have been in these reverse fairytale novels, but he is definitely my favorite.

Erica was definitely stubborn in this novel, which can be annoying for some characters, but it fit her in some ways. She was determined to be with Ari, no matter what it took. Even if it meant spending time with him on land, even when he couldn’t speak, she would do it. It was love at first sight for them, and they ran with it.

She did go through a lot of character development, especially with the engagement storyline. She doesn’t want to hurt her family or her best friend, but she can’t get her mind off of Ari. This is an interesting dynamic that is explored even more throughout the entire story. She learns more about her own past and learns about why her mom is so afraid of her being in the water. I won’t spoil too much, but the personal discoveries are some of the most important parts of this story.

The plot pace is always perfect in these reverse fairy tale retellings. It was suspenseful and did not drag, but I didn’t feel as if I was being dragged along for the entirety of the story.

I can’t wait for the next retelling that Armitage releases!

I would recommend this book to lovers of romance novels and fairy tale retellings!

I received an advance copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 stars

Owl Eyes Review

Owl Eyes: A Fairy TaleNora is an orphaned servant who lives with her adoptive family in the kitchen house. Then, she discovers that her father has been living in the house with her the entire time, but when she asks about him, she is thrown in an ash-covered room. The only object she has from her mother is a silver-bladed knife, and she wants to know what really happened to her. After a royal ball is announced, Nora needs to decide whether to claim her birthright or stay with her family.

 

I have to admit, the first part of this novel was a little bit slow for me. It took a bit longer than I would have liked for things to get started, and I almost DNF’ed it. I thought that I would NEVER be able to connect to the characters. However, about halfway through the novel, everything changed. I was finally able to connect with the characters, and the storyline seemed to pick up. The closer the story gets the ball, the more things started to pick up. Overall, the pacing was off but then it fixed itself.

The world building left a bit to be desired, Some aspects of the novel were great, such as the description of the magic, while others just seemed to be left up to the imagination. For example, the ash room of punishment is never really explained. How does the ash even get into the room? I definitely wish that this had been expanded upon.

To me, this story ended a bit abruptly. I wish that there had either been a sequel to the novel, or a longer ending. The book was rather short overall, but there definitely could have been a bit more to the ending.

Other than these small gripes, the overall story was entertaining and enjoyable. Nora was a fun main character to read about, and the story wasn’t completely focused on romance. I definitely love dark fairytale retellings. I mean, the original Cinderella was pretty dark anyway, but this one was still darker so I liked it. One of my favorite characters was Jack, but I don’t want to spoil too much about him.

Overall, this story was a fun read, and I would definitely recommend it to lovers of dark fantasy/dark fairy-tale retellings. My only advice would be to just understand that even if the beginning is slow, it definitely picks up around halfway through.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Don’t Look At Me Release Blitz Plus Review

Don’t Look at Me
J.P. Grider
Publication date: March 29th 2018
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Suspense

Haven:

A diligent hand carved this hole in my face.

It stole my confidence, my identity, and ended my short-lived career as a broadcast journalist.

I am now unemployed. Alone. Ugly.

And expected to get over it and move on.

Go on living life as usual—as if the world doesn’t judge the grotesquely unattractive.

Quest:

It’s been three years since I was kicked out of the Army for nearly killing the opposition’s militia commander with my bare hands.

I am now unemployed. Alone. Angry.

And expected to forget the nightmares that hold me hostage and move on.

Go on living life as usual—as if the world doesn’t judge a dishonorably discharged ex-soldier.

Don’t Look at Me is a modern-day Beauty and the Beast tale—reversed and twisted. Because even the ugly need a good story, and even the beautiful are ugly deep down.

My Review:

Haven wanted to be a news reporter and she was on the right track. She already had a job at a local news station and she was doing a story about a local slasher who had been attacking local girls, leaving two distinct marks on their faces. Everything is going well for her. When the owner of a local bookstore that she frequented passes away, she is told to go to the house of his grandson in order to discuss the will. Apparently, he has given her a book collection worth half a million dollars. She might have a problem claiming her books though, because the grandfather is forcing his grandson to keep the bookstore open for 5 years before allowing her to claim the books. The grandson, Quest, has no interest in owning this bookstore and simply wants to go back to wallowing in the sorrow of his military discharge.

When Haven is attacked by the slasher, her face seems to be even more ruined than the other girls. She knows that her career as a news reporter is over, and she doesn’t want to face the Quest again. She simply wants to disappear, but the people around her keep pushing her to go back to her normal life.

This has officially been the best Beauty and the Beast retelling that I have ever read before! In fact, it helped me out of the book slump I had started to go into recently. It is simply so addictive and the storyline is slightly dark but definitely realistic. Haven truly learns to accept herself, which she had never really done even before having her beauty taken from her. Quest learns to accept himself and come to terms with being discharged from the military. I won’t say why, even though it is technically in the summary, simply because it is a big reveal of the book that I personally enjoyed reading on my own. All I will say is that it really added to his character.

The plot flows well and the worldbuilding is good for a book that is supposed to take place in the “real world” I find that realistic books sometimes forget about worldbuilding, which can really take me out of a story. This book succeeds at that.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fairytale retellings or anyone who likes a romance novel in general. This book is amazing and y’all should definitely check it out.

I received a free advanced copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

(I know all too well that transitions are difficult)

When I moved to Jersey from California, I had no idea that days would go by where I wouldn’t think of the incident that led to my being other-than-honorably discharged. For me, the events of that night have been branded into my brain—the consistent nightmares the hot iron that won’t let the scars heal. But since finding out about Haven’s attack, I find myself thinking about her more and more—why was she walking alone in the middle of the night? What was going through her mind when she was so viciously attacked? What is going through her mind now? Was she raped? It isn’t part of the slasher’s modus operandi to sexually assault his attackers, but he also doesn’t carve out whole sections of skin in the faces of his victims. According to reports I’ve read over and over online since learning of Haven’s attack, his approach is to leave two parallel slash marks down the right side of his victims’ cheek. From what I could see in the dark, the heft of Haven’s lacerations are on the left side of her face. It doesn’t make sense. The Stratford Slasher has only attacked each of his victims once, but if Haven’s wounds weren’t inflicted by this same man, could the one that did hurt her return to finish the job? I wish she’d take me up on my offer to help me in the store. Then I could keep an eye on her and make sure that doesn’t happen. But she barely stays on the phone with me for two minutes when I call her to ask. And the only time she’s ever called me was to thank me for the supplies she very much needed during the storm two weeks ago. I know she has a lot to work through since her attack, but I wish she’d let me help her to get through this transition from on-air personality to whatever she needs to do next. Because I know all too well that transitions are difficult. Especially when that transition requires living an entirely different life than before.

With Haven at the forefront of my mind, I can’t help but blurt out a question during one of our group sessions. “How can I help a friend who doesn’t seem to want my help?”

“You don’t,” Warren says at the same time Mary asks, “What kind of help does your friend need?”

“She needs help getting her life back. It was pretty much taken from her when some loser used her face as a canvas to do with as he pleased.”

“Poor girl,” Mary says while the others mumble something similar.

“And now she won’t go out in public. She has her food delivered to her. She only goes out in the middle of the night, wearing a getup she thinks hides her face.”

“Does she trust you to help her, Quest?” Mary leans forward, crossing her hands over her lap. Mary’s name suits her. She’s kind, soft-spoken, and nurturing. The Virgin Mary, my mother would say. The Mother of all mothers.

I answer honestly. “She hasn’t known me long enough.”

“Until she can trust you, I don’t think she’s going to accept your help. Is she getting counseling?”

“I don’t think so.”

“It sounds like she could use some professional counseling, but would she be open-minded about giving this group a chance? To get her headed in the right direction?”

My eyes go to the fluorescent lights on the ceiling. “I doubt it.”

“Then, just be her friend. Don’t try to help her overcome this, just be there for her until she finds her way.”

So, that’s what I resolve to do. Be her friend.

 

Author Bio:

J.P. Grider is a New Adult/Young Adult author who is a sucker for a good love story—whether it’s reading one or writing one. And when she’s not reading or writing a fairy tale, she’s living one with her husband, four children, and her little Auggie Doggie.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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