All Book Reviews by Genre: Retold Fairy Tales

Spinning Silver
Novik, Naomi
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER***

About seven years ago, there seemed to be a renaissance of fairy tale retellings and reimagining that swept through popular culture. From television shows like Once Upon a Time and Grimm to movies like Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and Mirror Mirror (2012) to the books of Melanie Dickerson, it seemed that wherever you turned, you could find someone’s different take on classic fairy tales. While perhaps a little outside this bubble of pop culture, Spinning Silver has the benefit of standing out in a field of genre books that seems to have cooled in recent years.

Based partially on the story of Rumpelstiltskin, author Naomi Novik has masterfully combined elements of Jewish and Russian folklore to reimagine this story from a somewhat more modern perspective while also maintaining its fairytale settings and tropes. If anything, her strong and independent female characters highlight how chauvinistic the original fairy tales seem when compared to the culture we’re living in today. I appreciated how smart the story is, taking the concept of “turning silver into gold” from a merely economical standpoint and turning it on its head by adding in fantastical elements more akin to alchemy.

While the point of view of this book jumped around from a few of the characters, I found the interconnectedness of their stories to be incredibly well done. I probably would have left out the old woman’s POV, since it didn’t add anything other than some unnecessary backstory, but other than that, each character’s storyline had its own tone, challenges, and uniqueness to make the entire plot a well-rounded affair. Writing the story in this way helped to humanize antagonists, provide the terror of poverty, and show plenty of character growth throughout the characters. Even the fact that the “simple” solution of the climax wasn’t the best solution for the characters speaks to the depth of thinking that went into this brilliant plot.

An intelligent and well-written fairy tale reimagining, I give Spinning Silver 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
Fairest
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book "Fairest" by Marissa Meyer is actually a prequel to "The Lunar Chronicles," but (to me) is meant to be read AFTER reading the main four books. This book is all about Queen Levana, the main antagonist of "The Lunar Chronicles." The story shows the reader all the reasons why she is the way she is, and shows us the events that happened to start the series. "Fairest" is about The Evil Queen, who brought the most grief to the "princesses" of the first four books.

Overall, the book is a very good read after reading the main four books. Reading the book before may be confusing. The characterization of Queen Levana is truly amazing, as more often than not, antagonists are not given enough character, and are not explained well. Some aspects of the story are predictable if you have already read the series, but not all scenes are. This book answers many questions about Queen Levana, and is definitely worth the read.

*Do note that "Fairest" was published before "Winter" and that you can read all of the side books in whatever order you like.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Paige P.
Winter
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

As a continuation and last book from "The Lunar Chronicles," "Winter" by Marissa Meyer is truly just as good as the past three books in the series.
This book is another re-imagining of the old fairy tale Snow White, but is written in such a way that it is barely recognize that aspect unless you knew before. Winter, the protagonist of this story, is a lunar who refuses to use her naturally gifted powers, and it is slowly driving her crazy. Many consider her to be the most beautiful lunar there is. As the crazy daughter of the queen, she allowed to live. Well, that's as long as nobody likes her more than the queen.

Overall, the story is very well written, and a great last book. The books answers many unsolved mysteries, and ties up everything nicely. The characters are once again very well characterized, and the ending is as enjoyable as an ending to get. All chapters continue to move the plot, and there aren't too many extra ideas. Truly a great end to "The Lunar Chronicles," which is worth the read.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Paige P.
Cress
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book "Cress" by Marissa Meyer is a big twist of the fairy tale "Rapunzel," where the character Cress Moon Darnel is introduced in a remote satellite that she has lived in for many years of her life. Cress has not left for years, and kept herself sane by programming her own voice into an AI. When she is contacted by Cinder and her crew, she sees not just hope, but also a very attractive pilot named Carswell Thorne. This encounter with Linh Cinder begins Cress' journey to Earth, and her pursuit of saving the other Lunars of the world.

This book is a great read for those who enjoy fantasy, science fiction, action, and well balanced romance. The book, just like its predecessors, is excellently written. The amount of characters have increased significantly since the first book in "The Lunar Chronicles," yet each character from before has grown, and the new characters are just as in-depth. The conflicts are rising, and the stakes are growing higher and higher. As the book pushes the protagonists to the main antagonist, the plot and characters never weaken. Overall, the book was relatively unpredictable, and had many turns that just added to the story. Like in the other books, all of the characters had relatable traits and conflicts, which continued to make the story better.
"Cress" is truly one of the best books for characters and creativity, and continuing "The Lunar Chronicles."

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Paige P.
Scarlet
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book "Scarlet" by Marissa Meyer is a twist of "Little Red Riding Hood," where the main character, Scarlet Benoit, lived with her grandmother until her grandmother disappears. While the police force have given up the search for Scarlet's grandmother, Scarlet is determined to find her, believing that her grandmother was kidnapped rather than ran away. She meets a man named Wolf at work, where her living situation is turned upside down after she pronounces her belief that Linh Cinder was innocent. The road is long and hard, but Scarlet WILL find her grandmother by any means possible.

This book is an amazing read for those who interest in fantasy, a mix of science fiction, action, and romance. Just like the first book "Cinder," "Scarlet" is just as amazingly written as its predecessor. As part of "The Lunar Chronicles," this book continues to show the readers more about the world, and begins showing the secrets of the main characters and antagonist.

The books is exceptional with its characters, chapters, and conflicts. It makes sure that all action is balanced and realistic. Some parts of the story were predictable, such as the romance, but the obstacles the couple faces, along with the conflicts with everyone else are unpredictable enough to make the story interesting. The main characters are relatable, yet so unique. This story, along with the rest of the series, is one of the best books for excellent fantasy and storytelling.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Paige P.
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Cinder" is a twist of the old fairy tale "Cinderella," where the main character, Cinder, has a step-mother, two sisters, and cyborg parts attached to her body (much to the citizens of New Bejing's disgust). Cinder is a mechanic who does work for her step-mother along with her companion Iko, and she has dreams of leaving her step-mother's home, though she stays for her sister Peony.

Cinder meets the prince of New Beijing, Prince Kaito. She finds that Kai is a very attractive person, just as everyone in the city says, but also finds her attention turned toward unfortunate event after unfortunate event. Her world changes when her sister contracts the deadly disease, letumosis.

Overall, this book is truly a wonderful book for both romance and action. While the plot is a twist of the story "Cinderella," Marissa Meyer does an excellent job of making the idea extremely unique to the point that the book hardly seems like a twist of Cinderella. The amount of action; internal and external conflicts; and in-depth relationships are written in an exciting way that makes every chapter worth reading. Since this is the first book in "The Lunar Chronicles," "Cinder" sets up the main conflicts and first main characters for the rest of the series exceptionally well. While the main protagonists are very likable and relatable, the main antagonist is truly twisted and very well written with the knowledge that is given in the first book. The book was rarely predictable, and is an amazing piece of fiction.

This book, along with the rest of the series, is one of the best books for both great characters and a unique story idea.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Paige P.
Scarlet
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer is the thrilling sequel to Cinder. Scarlet is a continuation of Cinder’s story while retelling another fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood. Generally, I feel like the sequels are never as good as the original, but that was not the case for this book. Scarlet was definitely my favorite book in the entire series (besides Winter). I fell completely in love with the new characters (especially Scarlet). Marissa Meyer has a talent for creating likable and relatable characters. She also has a talent for describing the setting. Cinder took place in Beijing while Scarlet took place in France. Meyer illustrated France just as vividly as she illustrated Beijing. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction or anyone who enjoyed Cinder.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a fast-paced and action-packed book that you can't put down. The book is a futuristic and dystopian retelling of the classic fairytale, Cinderella. This is definitely one of my favorite books. You won't find another science fiction book with as many interesting and diverse female characters. The book has a very exciting plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. In addition to that, Cinder has many amazing characters. I couldn't pick my favorite one. All of the characters are lovable and distinct. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was the setting. I loved Meyer’s vision of what the future would look like. She described the setting perfectly. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in science fiction or fantasy genres.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
Book Review: Wolves and Roses
Bauer, Christina
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book Wolves And Roses by Christina Bauer is placed in a similar world to ours, but in this world there is a race known as the Magicorum. The Magicorum are the descendants of shifters, fairies, and witches from fairy tale stories. This book tells the story of Bryar Rose, who has the life template of Sleeping Beauty. Or, in other words, she's destined to live a life similar to Sleeping Beauty. The problem is that Bryar has no interest in living a fairy tale life, all she wants to do is go to a normal school with normal people. Her dream can happen, but she has to convince her guidance counselor, who wants her live the perfect Sleeping Beauty template, to let her go to her dream school. Bryar's plan is to get her counselor to sign the necessary papers for her dream school and live a normal life. But, all her plans are turned upside down when she meets a mysterious boy, who shows her that things aren't what they seem to be and the people she thought she knew are really strangers to her. I would rate this book an five out of five because it was an amazing romance and a great twist on a classic fairy tale.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F
Book Review: Wicked
Gregory Maguire
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Set in the Land of Oz with all of your favorite characters, Wicked by Gregory MaGuire is one for the books. Despite not having written the original book, McGuire is able to captivate the same feelings in his prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Instead of following around Dorthy, we get to see the intriguing side of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. The story follows her life from birth to the end of The Wizard of Oz. In the middle, we see her life and what lead her to be the way that she ended up being. Her struggles and hardships are demonstrated to the reader in almost an attempt to justify her actions. The book details her relationships and experiences with all of the people who have come into her life. The book gradually turns into a book about self-acceptance and ignorance is not always bliss, rather than just a life narrative.
Gregory MaGuire, is one of a kind. He is able to make his audience view one of the most classic books (The Wizard of Oz) in a completely new way. He stays true to the original story, yet changes the whole context that the Wicked Witch is put in. I initially picked up this book because it was recommended to me by a Broadway fanatic, and I will definitely be picking up the next few in the series very soon. The book is addicting and leaves you needing more. It is definitely one of the top three books that I have read this year.

Reviewer's Name: Emma K.
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
Pratchett, Terry
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

For many years, I have heard of Terry Pratchett, but have never read any of his work. This came to light in 2015, when Pratchett died, and many fans of his work came forward to express their condolences. At that point, I hadn’t considered reading any of his work, but the outpouring of love for the recently deceased author made me reconsider. Consequently, I added some Pratchett books to my “to read” list and eventually chose The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents for my first foray into the written world of Terry Pratchett. I certainly picked well, as it won the Carnegie Medal in the year it was written.

I was a little worried that I would be lost coming into the Discworld series at anywhere other than the beginning, but since this book was written for children, it made it simple to ease into the universe Pratchett created. What I found most amusing about The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents was how self-aware and tongue-in-cheek it was. Talking animals are by no means a new concept in children’s literature, but Pratchett managed to show how ridiculous this idea was in the real world while also providing a somewhat solid explanation for how it happened.

The one aspect of this book that stood out the most was how British its humor was. I almost felt like I was listening to a Monty Python skit or an Aardman Animation movie as I worked my way through this audiobook. For those who appreciate British humor (or, I guess humour, as they spell it over there), I would highly recommend this book, as it’s certainly witty and made me chuckle on quite a few occasions. This humor overcomes the fact that the plot is a little confusing to follow in places as it jumps between different characters, but overall it’s a solid story.

An instant children’s classic with loads of British humour, I give The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Hunted
Spooner, Meagan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a fantasy book and twist on Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”.
This is a unpredictable book with all kinds of twists and turns. It does have some romance and mystery in the book too. The book is told in two perspectives and keeps you on your toes. It definitely isn't your average fairytale. It is one of the best books I have read all year.

Reviewer grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth C.
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The idea of Cinder is nothing new; it is a retelling of a fairytale, Cinderella. I picked up this book expecting a rip-off of Ella Enchanted, but I got a very decent dystopian science fiction story instead. The titular Cinder character is easily the best part of this novel. She is clever, witty, and resourceful. I also enjoyed the new spins the author put on the classic fairytale. Instead of a glass slipper, Cinder wears a cybernetic metal foot.
Peony, one of Cinder’s stepsisters, goes out of her way to be kind to Cinder. The main antagonist reminded me more of the evil queen from Snow White than any Cinderella character, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Despite the fact that Cinder regularly ventures out of her home, none of the settings wowed me the way a dystopian story is supposed to. Additionally, the major plot twist is predictable from the second chapter, and by the time it is revealed, the reader has been banged over the head with so much foreshadowing that the moment loses its power.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Caroline J.
The Wishing Spell
Colfer, Chris
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I love the way Chris Colfer holds out the suspense and keeps the story interesting. I enjoy reading about Froggy and Trollbella and all the other characters. It is a great twist on classic fairy tales and some of the stories behind them. I especially like how the authors makes the villains seem less villainous. I love all of the Land of Stories books. This is a must read!

Reviewer's Name: Emi
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

It's not the book's fault that it got 3 stars. I'm just not the target audience. I think that if I read this as a teenager I would give it 4 or 5 stars. That said, it was a good story. It's a dystopian Cinderella story involving a cyborg with a shrouded past, a young emporer, and an evil queen. Not too shabby.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
cress
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The third book to the Lunar Chronicles is long, but totally worth reading!
This book takes Rapunzel and twists it in with the Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella from the first two books. There is tons of action in this novel and a whole lot of planning. They still have to stop Kai's wedding and the risks they are willing to take to get there make the whole book one riveting adventure! I loved it so much and can't wait to read it again! If you enjoyed Meyer's first two books then you'll absolutely fall in love with this one.

Reviewer's Name: Marina G.
scarlet
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book takes Little Red Riding Hood and twists it with a unique Cinderella story. It's a bit confusing at first they way it jumps around between characters, but once you get the hang of it, its hard to put the book down!
There is plenty of action and just enough romance that nobody can resist. I have read this book several times and I still never get bored of it! There is so much information that you discover in this book after reading Cinder, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles, that reading this one is a must!!
Review Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Marina G.
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I have read this book multiple times and it never gets old! There are plenty of Cinderella stories out there, but do they have Lunar cyborgs who can manipulate your thoughts at the drop of a hat? Do they have flying cars and a deadly virus set out on killing every human that contracted it? Cinder is a riveting and unique tale that Meyers wrote incredibly well! She managed to take an ordinary story and turn it into something so unique and amazing. I would 100% recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy!

Reviewer's Name: Marina G.
Heartless
Meyer, Marissa
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In Marissa Meyer's (The Lunar Chronicles) new standalone novel, she explores the Queen of Heart's origin story. Lady Catherine Pinkerton wants nothing more than to open her own bakery with her maid, Mary Ann. But as the Kingdom of Hearts operates in a style similar to that of Victorian England, Catherine finds herself without the money or permission to do so. Worse yet, she's being courted by the king, a silly man that she has little interest in marrying, though she is under constant pressure from her mother to accept his advances. And then, at a royal ball, a hot new court jester with murky motivations appears alongside a Jabberwock and Catherine's life and the Kingdom of Hearts will never be the same.

This was a pretty hotly anticipated read for me, as I adored the Lunar Chronicles. And a lot of the best things about the Lunar Chronicles were present here too: Wonderland and its delightful, sinister, and delightfully sinister characters are definitely a part of the story without overwhelming the character development or seeming trite. It was brilliantly executed. The romance, for me, was just a bit overbearing, and I had a hard time investing in Jest, the love interest. He was introduced as a magician, and then all I could envision whenever he was around was GOB Bluth dancing around to Final Countdown. Decidedly not sexy. We also didn't really learn enough about him for me to ever really care about his fate. I really enjoyed the other parts, though - Catherine's struggles to do right by her parents while preserving her dreams of opening a bakery were realistic and relatable, and her transition from hero to villain was pretty believable in the context of everything that happened. Warning: the food is well described - this book will make you eat any and all baked goods in your house. Oh, and the last 100 pages, the end game, was fantastic. It's a lot of fast paced action laced with emotion, and it's marvelous.

While there was a bit too much romance in this one for my taste, I think those that enjoy a bit more romance in their fantasy reads, or those that love a well-written, somehow inventive fairy tale retelling will love this one. I liked it - 3 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
The Snow Child
Ivey, Eowyn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Set in the 1920’s, this is the story of Jack and Mabel, a childless couple homesteading on the Alaskan frontier. The workload is never-ending, and without children to help with plowing, planting and harvest, they struggle not only to survive, but to avoid losing themselves to despair and disappointment. It is a story not only of survival and grit, but also of the kindness found in a community of like-minded individuals and families. This theme is typical of much historical fiction about western expansion and pioneer life, but this story holds an unexpected and delightful twist, where magic, reality and fairytales intersect. The first snow of the year is met with a playfulness that is not typical of Mabel and Jack. They end their snowball fight by building a snow-child near their cabin, complete with mittens, a hat, and arms made from twigs. The next day, they discover that their snow child was destroyed during the night – likely by wild animals. Their journey from that point is full of hope and expectation. The story has a dream-like, ethereal quality, yet the author maintains the sense of solidity that is required for historical fiction to work. The pace is slow, but fits well with the time and place. I sincerely enjoyed this author’s first novel. It made me think about the importance of accepting others as they are – always an important consideration. I have Eowyn Ivey’s second book in my “to read” stack right now, and will eagerly read her future offerings.

Reviewer's Name: Laura F.

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