Hunted – Meagan Spooner

24485589Title: Hunted
Author: Meagan Spooner

Publisher: HarperTeen
Published Date: March 14, 2017

Blurb: 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 baronessas…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?

My Review:
Beauty and the Beast has always been, and likely will always be my favorite fairytale.  I have loved it from the moment the first Disney movie came out back when I was a kid.  I remember being enchanted by the story, and then again when all the reports came out about all the details of on the graphics and all the work that went into the finite details (anyone else remember the over-description of that amazing chandelier?) I was enchanted again by the work that went into making the movie I loved.  As I grew up I came to love the story and it’s many forms.  In fact, recently my family and I were at a bookstore, and naturally they had a display dedicated to Beauty and the Beast, and I pointed out all of the books on that display I had already read.  I’m pretty sure it was 7 out of the 10 options.  At least one of the options was a book that was just a graphic replica of the movie (of which I have no desire to read).  Another of the books was Hunted, and I have now added it to my list…

What I Loved:  While this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, this book was its own story.  So many different elements and theories were poured into this rendition, it was so lovely to see the story through a different lens.  Only the trace outline of the story that is so familiar existed in this rendition.

My absolute favorite part about this book, for the very first time this story opened my eyes to a new reality in all of the Beauty and the Beast tales, and I’m not sure why I haven’t seen it before.  Most (Disney) stories are about a Princess who needs rescued.  And yes, there are many of the newer movies where this reoccurrence has been dropped to have the strong female lead, but I think we all forget to look at Beauty in this light.  In fact, the roles are completely reversed and it has always been Beast that needs rescued. There is a scene in which one of Yeva’s (Beauty’s) sisters point out, [paraphrased quote] “you are not a knight in shining armor riding off to defeat the enemy and rescue the princess,” but is she not?  Does she not break the spell releasing the Beast from his curse…in the many retellings, this is done mostly the same way.  This book is unique in the curse and it’s ways, but the concept is still there.

The conclusion, and Yeva’s self evaluation though, beautifully done.

Not So Much: I felt like it took a little while to really get into the thick of this story.  While most of the first few chapters are story and character building, I felt it moved slow.  But once I got through the beginning the real story, the one I was anxious to get to, reeled me in really quick.

Due to Yeva’s skill sets and the title being “Hunted” and all, I did long for a bit more action as well.

The Verdict: I will be adding a hard-copy of this book to my shelf. I loved it. There are many words I really wanted to share in this review, however so many of the things I wanted to discuss could have been viewed as spoilery, simply because the best part about this book is going in knowing it’s basically a retelling, but not really knowing the story at all.  As all the parts of it start to become clear – THIS is the joy in this book! Hunted is very YA friendly, and a familiar story beautifully re-imaged.

BOOK REVIEW: A Kiss at Midnight – Eloisa James

GENRE: Adult Fiction – Romance – Fairytale
FORM: eBook

SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads):  Miss Kate Daltry doesn’t believe in fairy tales . . . or happily ever after.

Forced by her stepmother to attend a ball, Kate meets a prince . . . and decides he’s anything but charming. A clash of wits and wills ensues, but they both know their irresistible attraction will lead nowhere. For Gabriel is promised to another woman—a princess whose hand in marriage will fulfill his ruthless ambitions.

Gabriel likes his fiancée, which is a welcome turn of events, but he doesn’t love her. Obviously, he should be wooing his bride-to-be, not the witty, impoverished beauty who refuses to fawn over him.

Godmothers and glass slippers notwithstanding, this is one fairy tale in which destiny conspires to destroy any chance that Kate and Gabriel might have a happily ever after.

Unless a prince throws away everything that makes him noble . . .

Unless a dowry of an unruly heart trumps a fortune . . .

Unless one kiss at the stroke of midnight changes everything.

REVIEW:  I do believe I have found a new “favorite author.” A friend of mine was looking for fairy-tale based stories to read when she came across A Kiss at Midnight, and knowing my tendencies suggested the book to me before she was even half-way through. I do love a good fairytale re-tell! And this one is fabulous!

I will say that one, the cover of this book is NOT how I pictured Kate at all, and two – I’m not sure who wrote this synopsis because it doesn’t really do the book justice…so my suggestion is to read and decide for yourself.  The characters are fun, and loveable. While Mariana, the “evil step-mother” is arrogant and snobby and not too bright; she isn’t detestable. Neither is Victoria, the step-sister. I actually kind of like Victoria, even if she got her lip bitten by a dog because she was feeding it meat from her mouth (uh, YUCK!) Kate, our Cinderella, is so brass and funny. She’s clever and quick witted, but she’s also self conscious and unsure of herself.

I love that this is a fairytale retell of Cinderella, but I also love that Eloisa James has slide in references to other books as well. I’ve caught several, and I almost wonder if I’ve missed some. One of the more notable would be Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as Romeo and Juliet (which is mentioned by name more than simply referenced). The storyline doesn’t actually move in that direction at all, it’s just…there. I don’t know if it was purposefully done, but my mind finds similarities between Kate and Gabriel, and Elizabeth and Darcy of the ever famous Pride and Prejudice. The book has also had me laughing out loud at some of the crazy scenes, and funny moments, and witty over-the-top characters.  Henry (aka Henrietta) makes a crazy and atypical fairy godmother.

The chemistry between Kate and Gabriel is notable from the moment they meet, but it is nowhere near the Disney version of love at first sight, however annoyance is very quick to turn into infatuation. The two of them fight it (the attraction) but bringing them together is instant flames, along with sharp tongues. The romance between them is hot and heavy and – a romance lovers dream.

I highly recommend the book! It is very well written, a lovely interpretation, and just plain entertaining!!!

Alice in Zombieland – Lewis Carroll/Nickolas Cook

Alice in ZombielandAlice in Zombieland by Lewis Carroll

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

AUTHOR: Lewis Carrol/Nickolas Cook
GENRE: Classic/Horror Mash-up
FORM: Book – Advance Review Copy

SYNOPSIS: Alice and her sister go out to the graveyard to do her reading lesson when she gets distracted and sees a black rat checking his watch. Curious, Alice follows the black rat into a hole, and finds herself in a land where the creatures are zombies and ruled by an overbearing Red Queen. Alice finds that she herself is becoming more and more zombie-like and desperately seeks a way to go home.

REVIEW: Assuming you like the classic/horror mash-up books that are pretty popular now, or if you just like a good Zombie book – this book is perfect! You get an almost humorous amount of blood, gore and zombies; and of course the crazy mixed up land of Alice’s Wonderland. It probably has been about two years ago now that I read Alice in Wonderland for the first time, and I what I loved about the book was the double meanings and contradictions, which are of course still present in this version. I’m not typically a lover of horror- like books (and I’m trying to use “horror” lightly, it’s not scary really, but I wouldn’t read it to your grade-schooler!), but when I was approached about reading the book, it just had that fun, trendy appeal to it. And really, what could make the tripped out Alice in Wonderland even better? Zombies, of course! While it was funny envisioning all of the characters in Alice as flesh-eating Zombies, there were still parts where I was frowning and a little bit grossed out.

WHAT I LOVED: I loved how Nickolas Cook took Alice’s sunny colorful world, and changed it completely into a very dark cold one, starting right out with changing the happy tree opening setting to a dark damp graveyard. I wasn’t expecting the transition to start out so quickly. I think I was expecting Alice to be her same sunny self, but sucked into this dark world, which I think would have changed the entire book, because instead of “curious-and-calm Alice,” you would have had “seriously-freaked-out-screaming Alice”. Written this way, the Alice’s are literally like day and night copies of the same book.

NOT SO MUCH: Why is the rabbit a rat now? I don’t know why this bothered me so much, because I can see how a rat fits in the book’s theme, but a black zombie rabbit would have been FLIPPEN FREAKY, don’t you think? Just imagine it with red eyes and sharp teeth….

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