My Favorite Fairy Tale Retellings: Inspired by Sea Witch Rising

With the colder weather, aka cozy season, approaching, I always find myself reaching for more fantasy this time of year. Fairy tale retellings are among my favorite genres in fantasy, and we fortunately have had some amazing retellings in the YA world over the past few years. I am currently reading the sequel to Sarah Henning’s Sea Witch, Sea Witch Rising. With major The Little Mermaid vibes, Sea Witch Rising continues  Sea Witch’s villainous origin story and emphasizes sisterhood, love, and magic.

Inspired by Sarah Henning’s Sea Witch Rising, today I’ll be discussing my favorite YA fairytale retellings.

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Geekerella and The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston (Once Upon a Con series #1 & #2)- Most fairy tale retellings take place in fantasy books, so I really love how Ashley Poston’s Once Upon a Con companion series takes on the contemporary genre. The series follows a set of characters who are fans of the fictional Starfield franchise and attend the fandom’s annual convention. Geekerella takes on Cinderella, while the Princess and the Fangirl is a Princess and the Pauper retelling. I’m so excited that there is going to be a third book in the series out in 2020 inspired by Beauty and the Beast!

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer- Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles series is deservedly everyone’s go-to recommendation for YA fairy tale retellings with its sci-fi twist. The four main books in the series, Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter, each introduce a new fairy tale heroine while also featuring the cast from the previous installment. Cress (aka the Rapunzel-inspired retelling) is my absolute favorite out of the series because I love the title character so much ,and this installment really brought the world-building and politics (and all the twists and turns) together.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas- I think a few readers, myself included, often forget that ACOTAR was inspired by Beauty and the Beast! While ACOTAR isn’t my favorite in the series (helloooo A Court of Mist and Fury), it’s such a solid first installment and it’s actually one of my favorite books to reread (I think I’m at three times) given how the plot and romance interest changes in ACOMAF.

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely & A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #1 & #2) by Brigid Kemmerer- Another Beauty and the Beast inspired story, A Curse So Dark and Lonely has received much love in the YA community. While I really enjoyed the first book, I have even more love for the upcoming sequel, A Heart So Fierce and Broken, thanks to its plot and character development and world-building.

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer- Marissa Meyer is seriously the queen of retellings, not to mention villainous origin stories. Following the future Queen of Hearts, Heartless takes place in Wonderland and features ALL the delicious-sounding treats. I still need to learn how to make Cath’s lemon tarts!

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About Sea Witch Rising:81wovwScRVL.jpg

Runa will not let her twin sister die. Alia traded her voice to the Sea Witch for a shot at happiness with a prince who doesn’t love her. And his rejection will literally kill her—unless Runa intervenes.

Under the sea, Evie craves her own freedom—but liberation from her role as Sea Witch will require an exchange she may not be willing to make. With their hearts’ desires at odds, what will Runa and Evie be willing to sacrifice to save their worlds?

Told from alternating perspectives, this epic fairy tale retelling is a romantic and heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic, and the cost of redemption.

 

I received a copy of Sea Witch Rising from the publisher. By no means did receiving this book affect my thoughts or opinions.

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What are some of your favorite fairy tale retellings? Have you read Sea Witch or Sea Witch Rising? Share in the comments!

HOLIDAY MOOD: 10 Blind Dates Review & Most Anticipated Christmas Movies 2019

Summary (from the publisher): Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.10

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever… or is it? 

 

 My Rating: 4/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

 Ashley Elston’s 10 Blind Dates made my TBR radar earlier in 2019 thanks to its holidays-inspired premise. As many as you know, I love when books incorporate one of my non-bookish faves. And Christmas is definitely a favorite interest of mine. I am proud to admit though that I have been fully embracing fall and Halloween this year by decorating my dorm room and purposely buying a Halloween costume. But never fear, my Christmas decorations are at the ready. Anyway, I also wanted to read 10 Blind Dates because I wanted to read more of Ashley Elston’s work. Although I enjoyed it, I wasn’t a super fan of her This Is Our Story as much as I hoped to be given the hype. However, I was really excited to embrace her first true contemporary story.

10 Blind Dates follows Sophie’s holiday break at her grandparents’ house in the next town over, after deciding to stay home while her parents visit her very pregnant sister three hours away in South Louisiana. Sophie couldn’t wait to get some alone time with her long-time boyfriend, Griffin- until she’s overhears him talking at a party about breaking up with her. With a big family who wants nothing but happiness for Sophie, her cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles set Sophie set her up on ten blind dates.

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One of my favorite parts of 10 Blind Dates was of course Sophie’s crazy extended family. There are a lot of family members, but Ashley Elston does a really nice job of reminding readers who is who and focusing on the ones who are most central to the plot. Sophie’s Nonna was my favorite family member, creating the blind date idea and having homemade cannolis ready at the go. Living with her grandparents also allows Sophie to reconnect with her childhood best friends and cousins Charlie and Olivia (not to mention their best friend and neighbor, Wes).

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BOOKS, TV, & FALL THINGS: October 2019 Wrap Up

October was a month filled with so many (good) things and moments in my academic and personal life. That being said, my life was more busy and honestly hectic than it’s ever been before. October often marks midterm season in the college world, which meant a few papers and writing assignments on my end, including having to start drafting my first of two senior research papers. I know I haven’t been too specific about my senior project for my English major (honestly I’m still working out my subtopics and arguments even with my 15-20 page draft in the works), but I can reveal that I’m talking about Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give! I’ve luckily read a decent amount of contemporary literature in my English courses, but this is my first time studying YA.

Between also balancing my course-load alongside my jobs and social time (trying to make the most of my last year living with all of my best friends), my brain has been feeling fried and not exactly in the mood to read at the end of the day. Probably also not helping my reading life, I watched so many great new TV shows this month.

I really wish I was reading more, but I’m at the point where I have to dedicate my free time to the aforementioned things. However, I 100% admit that my senioritis is definitely kicking in and I’ve been finding myself drifting  to blogging and reading when I should probably be doing school work. I think it’s also because it’s almost (!!!) the end of the year and I’ve been working on my favorites, yearly wrap-up, and holiday-themed posts, but I’ve been so in the mood to read lately because of all the new books coming out still this year (I’m looking at you, The Toll and The Queen of Nothing.

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The Chase by Elle Kennedy | 4/5 Stars

I was so excited to jump back into the Off-Campus world with The Chase. Although it’s not my favorite Elle Kennedy book, I loved having Fitz as one of the protagonists.

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The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh | 4/5

The most Halloween-esque book that I read in October, I enjoyed The Beautiful for its atmospheric setting and for the fact that it broke my usual reading habits with its paranormal and mysterious story.

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston (ARC) | 4/5

October marks Christmas season prep in the Fangirl Fury handbook, which further encouraged me to pick up 10 Blind Dates. 10 Blind Dates was a fun holiday mood read. I really enjoyed its family focus.

 

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A 2019 FAVORITE FANTASY: Crier’s War Review

Summary (from the publisher): Set in a universe after the War of Kinds destroyed criers warthe land of Old Zulla, the man-made beings known as the Automa species have risen to power, forcing their inferior human counterparts into living lives of service and suffering. When Ayla’s family is murdered under Sovereign Hesod’s reign, she vows to seek revenge by killing his daughter, Lady Crier. However, once Ayla and Crier start spending more time together, Ayla’s blood-thirsty rage and burning desire to kill Crier quickly shifts into a different kind of desire. Turns out, the feelings are mutual and Crier is just as confused and curious about her attraction to Ayla when unexpected feelings of love and longing begin to surface. While their seemingly inconvenient, romantic feelings for one another continue to grow stronger, so do the intense political divisions and tensions throughout the land.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Blame it on the fact that I haven’t been reading as much as I usually do this fall, but lately I haven’t been head-over-heels in love with my past few reads. That soon changed when I picked up Nina Varela’s debut novel, Crier’s War. I didn’t think I’d be adding too many more fantasy books to my favorites list year, but Crier’s War is hands-down one of the best books and best debuts I’ve read this year!

Crier’s War takes place in a world where people are divided into two categories, humans and Automae, or humans that are ‘Made.’ The daughter of the kingdom’s sovereign, Crier is an Automa. Although she looks human and acts like one, Crier isn’t supposed to have human feelings like passion- until she sees her blue prints and discovers that she isn’t the flawless creation she is meant to be. Meanwhile, ever since her family was murdered during one of the sovereign’s raids, Ayla has always had vengeance on her mind. Her goal? Murder Lady Crier. However, Ayla’s plans are complicated when she begins to work for Crier and her feelings of hatred turn into something more.

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The book has received much attention for featuring a female/female romance, Crier and Ayla. The execution of their relationship, as well as the enemies to lovers trope, was done really well. While their relationship was well-developed, Crier’s War is so much more than the romance. Crier’s War is told both from Ayla and Crier’s perspectives, which allowed Nina Varela to expand upon the world of Zulla and all the political inner-workings even further. Out of the two, I’d argue that Crier experiences the most character development and while I want book #2 for a ton of reasons, I’m especially excited to see her grow in the next installment. I would’ve loved to see Crier’s War go even further, but nevertheless, I’m really excited to see this story expand into a series.

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BEST NERDY ROMANCE: Comics Will Break Your Heart Review

91rMd4ffzqLSummary (from the publisher):

Miriam’s family should be rich. After all, her grandfather was the co-creator of smash-hit comics series The TomorrowMen. But he sold his rights to the series to his co-creator in the 1960s for practically nothing, and now that’s what Miriam has: practically nothing. And practically nothing to look forward to either-how can she afford college when her family can barely keep a roof above their heads? As if she didn’t have enough to worry about, Miriam’s life gets much more complicated when a cute boy shows up in town . . . and turns out to be the grandson of the man who defrauded Miriam’s grandfather, and heir to the TomorrowMen fortune.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Everyone knows that I absolute love contemporary books having anything to do with characters who love nerdy and fangirl things. Enter Faith Erin Hick’s Comics Will Break Your Heart, one of my most anticipated contemporary releases of 2019. Miriam’s grandfather was the co-creator of the hit comic series, TomorrowMen. But after selling his rights to the comic for practically nothing, Mir’s family is left with practically nothing, stressing Mir even more as she thinks about paying for university. Things in Mir’s life get even more complicated when a cute boy shows up in her town for the summer. It might not sound so complicated, except that Weldon Warrick happens to be the grandson of the other TomorrowMen co-creator. The book is told from the third person perspectives of Mir and Weldon.

Comics Will Break Your Heart has almost all of the things I crave in YA contemporary: romance, self-discovery, family, and in this book’s case, fandom. On that first element, I really enjoyed Mir and Weldon’s relationship. There are some slight Romeo and Juliet vibes, as Mir and Weldon’s family history gets in the way of them being friends, let alone having feelings for one another. Mir and Weldon’s families are complicated as it is, with Mir’s family having financial struggles and Weldon’s family torn apart over the massive success of the TomorrowMen franchise. While their family struggles added to the characters’ individual story arc, I was really invested in how the TomorrowMen past affected Weldon and Mir. In light of the family tension, I really liked the progress of their relationship. There are plenty of swoon-worthy and nerdy moments between the pair.

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Top Five Wednesday: Most Halloweenish Books on My TBR

Some of you may know that I am not the biggest fan a scary movie fan. I can’t even try to pretend that I enjoy them—and yes, I am that person who jumps and screams at the slightly jump scare. Even though I haven’t read a ton of them, I luckily have a better time reading horror or gothic/horror-esque thriller books. I’m also here to admit that I don’t have a ton of them on my TBR either, choosing to go down the mystery and spooky route instead.

With Halloween approaching, I wanted to do a holiday-themed evaluation of my TBR and talk about the most mysterious or scariest books on my TBR. The following books have something to do with mysteries, paranormal happenings, and darker themes & atmospheres.

The Archived by Victoria Schwab – I think I keep putting off reading Victoria Schwab’s The Archived in hopes that one day she’ll be able to publish the third book. True to Victoria Schwab, The Archived falls into the spooky/creepy category. I’ve heard that this is the quintessential Halloween read, as the main character’s job is to prevent the stories of the dead from wrecking havoc on the living.

Now Entering Adamsville by Francesca Zappia – I have much love for Francesca Zappia’s Eliza and Her Monsters and Made You Up, so I couldn’t be more excited to pick up her latest release, Now Entering Adamsville. The book screams mystery, as Zora must clear her name after being accused of starting a fire that results in a death. With the help of her cousin, Zora finds herself following ghost stories and uncovering a string of fires that left others in her Indianan town dead.

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody – Another mystery-esque read, Amanda Foody’s Ace of Shades has a darker, mysterious & fantastical setting. After her mother goes missing, Enne is forced to enter the City of Sin and a world of magic and violence.

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STAR-CROSSED SWOON: Twice in a Blue Moon Review

Summary (from the publisher):
During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in 45186670only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

 

 My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

 Many of my fellow bloggers absolutely love Christina Lauren’s books. This author duo is much loved by both YA and adult book audiences. That being said, I knew it was time to finally pick up one of their books when I was able to get their latest release, Twice in a Blue Moon, at Book Expo 2019.

Twice in a Blue Moon has the perfect crossover appeal for YA and adult readers. This book is all about the love-to-hate-to-maybe-back-to-love trope (watching out for spoilers as always). During a vacation abroad in London, Sam and Tate experience first love.  Tate is one of the first people Sam feels that she can share all her hopes, dreams, and secrets with- including that her estranged father is one of the world’s most famous movie stars. When it is clear that Tate’s trust has been betrayed, her world and first love fall apart. The book then transports readers fourteen years later, when now up-and-coming movie star Tate runs into Sam on a movie set.

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