2018 Book #34 – All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

61NMINqPepLTitle: All the Ever Afters
Author: Danielle Teller
Date finished: 4/26/18
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, fairy-tale retelling
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Pages in book: 373
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss and Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss and Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In the vein of Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s “evil” stepmother.

We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.

Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of “happily ever after.”

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have recently enjoyed the influx of fairy-tale retellings and the tales that are told from a different point of view. I loved the movie that came out a few years ago, Maleficient, and of course one of my all time favorites in this vein was the musical, Wicked. From these stories we learn that evil is not born but made, and truthfully is decided by the story-teller. Tales are exaggerated and told to paint the story teller in a sympathetic tone so that the reader will empathize with their plight. Agnes as a character was much easier to empathize with than I expected, especially considering how well the Cinderella story was ingrained in my mind prior to reading this book. Agnes as a character though was so strong-willed and determined to find a better life both for herself and for her daughters that it was easy to root for her success. And while many things in her life could be defined as “unfair,” her logical approach never let that fact weigh her down and instead she persevered in spite of the unfairness of her circumstances. At first I found the narration to be a tad overly wordy but after a little bit of adjustment it was easy to read, and the words painted such a vivid portrait that infused the text with emotions and feeling. I enjoyed this book immensely and I love that by reading it the reader is made to re-think the truths of good and evil. This was truly an enjoyable novel and I would definitely recommend it, especially for fans of the Cinderella story.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #106 – When a Laird Finds a Lass by Lecia Cornwall

61uerdfwrolTitle: When a Laird Finds a Lass
Author: Lecia Cornwall
Date finished: 11/11/16
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Pages in book: 283
Stand alone or series: Highland Fairy Tales series #2
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

She is his greatest enemy and his only salvation.
Malcolm MacDonald, a lawyer in Edinburgh, unexpectedly inherits his father’s title of Laird of Dunbronach, forcing him to return to a place he hasn’t seen since he was a small child. To gain the trust of a wary clan, Malcolm must act upon their insistence that he cast aside his English betrothed and marry a Highlander.
However, they have one condition—no lasses of the barbaric clan MacLeod.
When he finds an unconscious woman in the sea, he brings her back to his clan but not before doing the one thing that could save her life—hiding her all too telling MacLeod plaid. When she wakes with no memory of who she is, Malcolm vows to keep the little he knows about her identity a secret. As new dangers threaten his clan, the mysterious lass teaches Malcolm some very important lessons about how to be a Highlander and a laird.
But secrets never stay secret for long, and when she finds her plaid, her memory returns and she flees. Malcolm is forced to make a difficult choice to win her back, facing his darkest fears and his worst enemy for a chance at true love.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Malcolm MacDonald and Marcail MacLeod. Marcail thinks herself in love with a young fan in her clan but when she learns how fickle love can truly be, she makes a rash decision that ends with her nearly drowning in the ocean. She washes up on the shores of the MacDonald clan’s land with no memory of who she is, and the clan’s new laird finds her half-dead on the beach. Malcolm was a lawyer from Edinburgh and doesn’t really fit into the Highland clan. But he is determined to do his best for everyone and restore the clan’s financial health before returning to Edinburgh to resume his normal life. But Marcail’s arrival changes things, as Malcolm finds himself wanting things he never though of before, and finds himself starting to believe in magic. But while Marcail doesn’t remember who she is, Malcolm at least knows she’s a MacLeod, the enemy of the MacDonald’s. Can he convince her to stay? Is she even really free to do so? Or is someone waiting for her at home?
faroese_stamp_585_the_seal_womanOverall I liked this book a lot. I thought Malcolm’s character progression was very well done. I started the book thinking there was no way he’d end up a convincingly rugged Highlander but he in fact did. And his relationship with Marcail was very sweet and romantic. I thought the magical interwoven pieces were especially interesting, I had never even heard of a selkie before reading this book but it made the book that much more interesting to learn about it. I thought the story line for this book was well-paced and interesting throughout and had a great cast of characters. The MacLeods are a great base for a family series and I’m hoping for more books about the other daughters in the family.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, it was a good story and I liked the magical fairy tale back story. I like this series as a whole so far and I’m interested to learn more about the other sisters. I would love to have a documented list though so I could keep track of which ones share which mothers and the order they were born in!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #106 – Wendy Darling by Colleen Oakes

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Title: Wendy Darling
Author: Colleen Oakes
Date finished: 10/10/15
Genre: YA
Publisher: SparkPress
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Pages in book: 324
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Wendy Darling series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller’s son. But one night, while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children’s nursery, and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning into Neverland, an intoxicating island of freedom.
As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy’s paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter’s grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her, have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.

My rating: 2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Wendy Darling, a name familiar to many as the girl from the tale of Peter Pan. This book is the first in a series delving into Wendy’s life and her adventures and travels in London and Neverland. Wendy and her two brothers, John and Michael, live with their parents in London, England. Wendy is in love with the book seller’s son, Booth, from down the street. Once night a strange young man appears at the Darling childrens’ bedroom window, a young man who can fly and promises them a world of adventure if they will come on a journey with him. And he promises that their parents won’t even miss them, won’t even know they’re gone, and that they can return home whenever they wish.
And then the Darlings are in Neverland! Neverland is a magical place where all the landscapes are gorgeous, the sky is always blue, and you always feel right at home. After spending just one day in Neverland, Wendy can’t remember where it is she used to live, or who she used to live with. And whenever she kisses Peter, she can’t understand why she feels a pang of guilt. And then she meets the murderously jealous Tink, a fairy who is very possessive of Peter and will do whatever it takes to get Wendy out of the way.
Overall this was an ok book. It was a little wordy to me in some of the descriptions but the plot was interesting. Also, to be honest the story was a little dark/violent for me but I could definitely understand how people would get hooked on the story, especially with the cliffhanger at the end. I don’t know if I personally am interested enough to read the second book (again it was a little dark for my tastes) but I was hoping to find out what happens to Wendy and her family and Booth in the end so I might just have to continue with the series. I have to say though I wanted to freaking punch John in the face pretty badly, and I found it to be a little weak that Wendy was constantly apologizing to John when he was such an ass to her. Hopefully Wendy stands up for herself a little more in the next book in the series.

The bottom line: I didn’t particularly love this book. It was a little dark/violent for me, but it had a really interesting story line and I would recommend it to fans of Peter Pan who can handle the darkness.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #41 – Seduced by a Pirate by Eloisa James

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Title: Seduced by a Pirate
Author: Eloisa James
Date finished: 5/1/15
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
Pages in book: 136
Stand alone or series: #4.5 Fairy Tale series

Blurb from the cover:

Seduced by a Pirate is an original, RITA-award winning e-novella from New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James. Sir Griffin Barry is one of the most feared pirates on the high seas, piloting the Flying Poppy, a ship he named after the wife whom he fondly (if vaguely) remembers, since they were together only a matter of hours.
What happens when a pirate decides to come home to his wife…if she is his wife, given that the marriage was never consummated? And what happens when that pirate strolls through his front door and is met by…
Well, that’s a surprise!

My rating: 1.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This was a short story which in the sequence of events comes after The Ugly Duchess. The hero from that book ends up being a pirate/privateer with Sir Griffin Barry for 7 years,though Barry was actually out there for fourteen years. He technically was kidnapped and woke up on a boat but still he could’ve escaped and come home any time in the FOURTEEN YEARS he was gone. But no, instead he decided to leave his wife alone in England. For fourteen years. I obviously just couldn’t get past that. Anyways so the hero comes home after he becomes crippled and decides he’d like a wife now. After fourteen years. And his wife, who is kind of used to living on her own at this point, says no thanks. And he just doesn’t take no for an answer. He was obnoxiously forceful. It really turned me off to the whole story because it wasn’t romantic, it was scary and creepy. I didn’t like this really at all.

The bottom line: I would not recommend.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #40 – The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

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Title: The Ugly Duchess
Author: Eloisa James
Date finished: 4/30/15
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Pages in book: 334
Stand alone or series: #4 Fairy Tale series

Blurb from the cover:

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James gives the classic Hans Christian Andersen story of “The Ugly Duckling” a wonderful, witty, and delightfully passionate twist. The Ugly Duchess is another fairytale inspired romance from the unparalleled storyteller whose writing, author Teresa Medieros raves, “is truly scrumptious.” A sexy and fun historical romance, James’s winning tale of a glorious reawakening does not feature ducks and swans—rather it’s a charming story of a young woman unaware of her own beauty, suddenly duty-bound to wed the dashing gentleman who has always been her platonic best friend…until now.

My rating: 2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet” check box because so far I had loved her Fairy Tale series. To be honest I was not thrilled with this one though. I just couldn’t get in touch with the characters. The heroine at the beginning never really grew on me. He was demanding and overbearing whenever dealing with the heroine. And the way he just ignores all her requests once he got home from being a pirate I found very disrespectful. I personally would not have forgiven a husband who disappeared for seven years, never once sent word that he was ok, and had intercourse with three different women and kept them as mistresses while he was gone for the seven years. I mean I realize that is unrealistic to think that a man would be celibate for seven years but he supposedly loves Theo and then he describes about how one of his mistresses liked to “pray horizontally.” Just freaking awful.
And Theo was honestly so cold and rigid that I had trouble even liking her as a character. She finds out that James’ father convinced James to marry her and she says, Oh I never want to see you again? What the shit is that. When you’re married and you have a fight, you say Oh I need some time alone and hen you think about it and get over it. She’s the reason that the dude was gone for seven years in the first place. The whole thing was just awful. And then after he gets back James tricks her into staying in the house and muscles his way back into her bed and then they’re all peachy? The spent the last quarter of their lives apart, grew into completely different people, and all of a sudden their fine? I don’t know, I just couldn’t let a lot of things go. When James found out that his father had died, he should have come home and that should have been the end of this pirate / privateer business. Both of you just grow up. Ugh.
So I guess the story and the characters just didn’t work for me this time, which I found a bit surprising since I’ve been a fan of the Fairy Tale series up until now. That being said, there were a couple things that I did like about this book. I like the description of the fashions. And as much as Theo was a hard person to like, I appreciated how she grew into her own person during the seven years apart from James. I liked that Theo was able to save the estate through her keen business sense and lucrative ideas. And finally, I know this is weird, but there was a scene in the book when James first came back and he was manhandling Theo in front of the butler and he told the butler to scram and the butler basically said I don’t work for you, I work for her and I will stay to make sure you don’t hurt her. It was so unusual to see a servant stand up to a nobleman (and honestly I would’ve punched James myself if I had been present at that moment) so I wanted to give the butler a nice pat on the back, job well done.

The bottom line: Hero was way too overbearing. I would probably not recommend.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #13 – Winning the Wallflower by Eloisa James

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Title: Winning the Wallflower
Author: Eloisa James
Date finished: 2/15/15
Genre: Historical romance / fairy-tale retelling
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: December 6, 2011
Pages in book: 170
Stand alone or series: #2.5 in Fairy Tale series

Blurb from the cover:

A delightful ebook original novella from New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James. Winning the Wallflower introduces Lady Lucy Towerton, who is plain, tall, and considered very lucky to be betrothed to a man who lauds her irreproachable propriety. When she unexpectedly becomes an heiress—and belle of the ball—she breaks her engagement and makes up her mind to never be proper again.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will count towards my “Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Romance” square. I ended up reading this book slightly out of order, it is actually a prequel to The Duke is Mine. In this story, Lucy Towerton (friend to Olivia Lytton from The Duke is Mine) becomes an heiress, and her mother decides that Lucy could do better than her current fiance, Mr. Ravensthorpe. Lucy doesn’t care that Cyrus doesn’t have a title. She thinks that he is the most handsome man she’s ever seen. But she also refuses to marry someone who doesn’t love her. And since Cyrus has barely paid any attention to her even after they became engaged, she doesn’t think that Cyrus is necessarily the one for her. I liked this book. It was cute and even though it was short, it was interesting and I found the plot to be well paced for a novella.

The bottom line:  I thought this was a cute book. It was short but it was a sweet story. I would say its worth the read, I thought it was cool that Olivia (from the third book in the series) is introduced in this story as the friend of the heroine.

Author website
Link to Amazon

2015 Book #12 – The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

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Title: The Duke is Mine
Author: Eloisa James
Date finished: 2/13/15
Genre: Historical romance / fairy-tale retelling
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Pages in book: 367
Stand alone or series: #3 in Fairy Tale series

Blurb from the cover:

Tarquin, the powerful Duke of Sconce, knows perfectly well that the decorous and fashionably slender Georgiana Lytton will make him a proper duchess. So why can’t he stop thinking about her twin sister, the curvy, headstrong, and altogether unconventional Olivia? Not only is Olivia betrothed to another man, but their improper, albeit intoxicating, flirtation makes her unsuitability all the more clear.
Determined to make a perfect match, he methodically cuts Olivia from his thoughts, allowing logic and duty to triumph over passion…Until, in his darkest hour, Quin begins to question whether perfection has anything to do with love.
To win Olivia’s hand he would have to give up all the beliefs he holds most dear, and surrender heart, body and soul…
Unless it’s already too late.
Don’t miss a new version of The Princess & the Pea, asking an age-old question: What is a perfect princess?

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will count towards my “Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Fairy Tale Retelling” square. I have read the previous two books in the Fairy Tales series by Eloisa James and I have to say I really have enjoyed the series thus far overall. I loved fairy tales growing up and reading James’ interpretations of them in a historical romance novel setting are really interesting. There were many things that I liked about this novel, including the heroine’s less than slender figure (which I myself unfortunately suffer with as well) and how fiercely loyal Olivia is to her twin, Georgiana, even when it may mean turning her back on the only man she’s ever loved. I also liked that there was a happy ending for Georgiana that didn’t necessarily involve marrying someone else, this specifically I enjoyed mostly because I found it to be out of the norm from what you usually find in the historical romance genre. Which is another thing I liked about this book, I found it to be a little more unpredictable than most. Even towards the middle of the story, I knew there would be a happy ending but I had no idea where it would come from. And then it seemed like the happy ever after came like 100 pages before the end of the book and I thought to myself, what are we going to do with the next 100 pages, bask int heir happiness? But nope! Turns out there is another adventure on the horizon.

The bottom line:  I really liked this book. I think it would be great read on its own or especially as part of the series. I would recommend it!

Author website
Link to Amazon

2014 – Book #79

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The seventy-ninth book I read in 2014 was When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James. This is the second book in the Fairy Tales series by this author. I finished this book on 9/6/14. I rated this book 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This book is about Linnet Thrynne and a man aptly named “the Beast” in polite society, Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant. 

Linnet finds herself in an interesting situation. Due to an unfortunate encounter with Prince Augustus at a party, she is now ruined even though all she did was kiss him. Her mother’s reputation proceeds her though and so in society’s mind she is just as ruined as if she were caught in bed with the prince. Linnet’s father and aunt try to think of a way out of this sticky situation. So they set her up with a duke that needs an already impregnated wife-to-be for his son who is thought to be incapable of getting it up. So Linnet travels to Wales and meets the most surly, insensitive creature she has ever encountered. 

And obviously she falls in love with him. Linnet is a raving beauty. Men follow her around just to see her smile at them. So when she finally meets someone who is seemingly impervious to her charms (Piers) it is refreshing to not have to deal with a slobbering fool. Thinking him incapable of lustful desires, she relaxes with Piers and an odd friendship of sorts forms. Obviously Piers isn’t really incapable though, otherwise this would be a very unusual romance novel. 

Just when things are developing between Piers and Linnet though, a scarlet fever epidemic breaks out in the castle. Piers knows he must send Linnet away in order to protect her. What he doesn’t know though is that she’s already contracted the fever before he sends her away. Linnet ends up in some inn in the middle of nowhere deliriously sick with no one to take care of her. Piers finally realizes somehow that he had to go after  Linnet and save her. 

Overall I thought this was a really good book. I really liked Linnet’s character and how intelligent she was. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales (mostly due to the MASSIVE library in the Beast’s house and how much of a reader Belle is. Probably also because my husband can be slightly beast-like at times.) and this story was a great version of this story. So in light of that, here’s to hoping all us readers get our own dream library. 

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Link to author website: http://www.eloisajames.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Beauty-Tamed-Beast-Fairy-Tales/dp/0062021273/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1410051384&sr=8-1-spell

2014 – Book #63

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The sixty-third book I read in 2014 was the novella Storming the Castle by Eloisa James. This novella is book 1.5 in the Fairy Tales series by this author. I finished this book on 7/29/14. I rated this book 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This book tells the story of Jonas Berwick (illegitimate brother of Prince Gabriel from book #1 in the series A Kiss at Midnight) and Miss Philippa Damson.

Phillipa is betrothed to a man that she realizes is just awful. Fleeing the confines of her betrothal, she finds freedom at Pomeroy Castle where she becomes a nursemaid to Princess Kate’s newborn son, little Jonas. The baby cries and cries and looks so sickly that everyone in the castle is worried he will soon die. Phillipa recognizes these symptoms to be from colic due to the knowledge she gained while helping her uncle. Phillipa helps Kate and Gabriel bring their son back to good health, all the while becoming more and more infatuated with the castle’s majordomo, Wick.

Jonas Berwick has always been treated as part of the royal family even though he is really only the bastard son of Gabriel’s father. Now that he is living in England and has become a servant to his brother (by choice) he can not offer for Miss Phillipa’s hand in marriage without bringing her down to the level of a servant as well. So he must formulate a way to be more than just a servant so he can spend the rest of his life with her.

Overall this novella was ok. I was very interested in hearing Wick’s story after being introduced to his character in the first book in the series and it was a quick read. It only ended up being about 125 pages and was well-paced for the length. While some of the plot was a bit choppy to accomodate a faster paced, it was a sweet story and a good addition to the series.

Link to other novels in the Fairy Tales series: https://rebeccabookreview.wordpress.com/category/book-reviews/book-series-book-reviews/fairy-tales-series/

Link to author website: http://eloisajames.com/index.php

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Storming-Castle-Original-Short-Content-ebook/dp/B00486UF6G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406749186&sr=8-1&keywords=storming+the+castle