Tag Archives: fairytale challenge

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh
Published in 2015 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased for Kindle.

Genre: YA fairytale retelling.

My rating:

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

srcek

Lovely people, please be aware that this review will contain SPOILERS (like major spoilers, not just tiny unimportant ones), so if you haven’t read this book, you should probably stay away. Just sayin’. I wanted to write a normal review but then I decided that I wanted to rant a bit and I can’t do that without discussing some plot points that happen later in the book. Also, if you’re feeling very protective about this novel, you should probably skip this as well. I won’t be posting this to any of the usual sites like Goodreads, I don’t want to spread misery around, but this is my place and I think I can safely express my opinion here.

This was actually the first book I read after my son was born earlier this month, so I was a hormonal mess at the time, which – if you think about it – should make me more lenient in my criticism. But I just didn’t like this story that much. I know I’m a black sheep in this case, the majority of the reviews I’ve seen around the blogosphere were very favourable, so I’m guessing I had the misfortune of encountering a huge number of my pet peeves in a single book. Eh.

I tend to dislike a novel when I dislike the characters. And I just didn’t connect with Shahrzad like I was supposed to. The girl was forever crumbling to the floor, worrying about her dresses and makeup while in mortal danger, and making silly decisions. Let me just ask you something: if you found out you had a latent magical ability, would you calmly go about your business like nothing had happened? NO. You’d demand someone teach you how to use it, for fuck’s sake. Ditto with the magic carpet. How can you own a flying carpet and not give it a spin? The fact that she volunteered to become Khalid’s next wife and went in with the half-assed plan of telling him a story and killing him without a weapon also made me roll my eyes. As did the teensy problem that she fell in love with her would-be killer (Stockholm Syndrome, anyone?). See, it pushes my buttons, this story.

Then there’s the love triangle. The boys of this story, the Caliph (= king) Khalid and Tariq, Shazi’s childhood fancy/fiancé, were… bland. I was rooting for Tariq up until the moment when he decided that Shazi certainly couldn’t know her own damn mind and decided to remove her from the palace against her will. Khalid was so unsure about his decision to keep her alive that she nearly got choked to death before he changed his mind yet again and beat the guard who was charged with killing her – even though the guy was just doing his job. *sigh* Add the sexy girl from Khalid’s past and a heavy dose of jealousy on Shazi’s part and you get a nice picture of the romantic situation in that palace. Ugh.

I didn’t even like the writing. I’m sure it’s accomplished and all but it just seemed like too much. Okay, so I enjoyed reading about the food, especially since I was eating hospital food at the time (as I said, this was just after my kid was born), but the flowery language just didn’t do it for me.

Nevertheless, I’m still debating reading the sequel. First of all, it’s a duology, so I’m in no danger of tackling a six-part series, which is good. I also want to see if Shazi will step up and own her power – she might redeem herself yet. I don’t know. I wanted to like this story so badly, it has everything I usually want in a book, but the execution was just not for me. I’m in no rush to go and buy The Rose and the Dagger but I might pick it up at some point.

srcek

Have you read The Wrath and the Dawn? What did you think?

Will I have to defend myself against a hail of stones for my crappy review? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Challenges and Resolutions Update #1

challenges-update

People, this is less of an actual update and more of a blogger’s walk of shame. I know (I know) that blogging challenges and resolutions are made at the beginning of each year in order to have more fun but I can’t help but be disappointed in myself when I look at how I’m doing. Okay, so not all of my goals are a complete bust and I still have most of the year to catch up but I’ll need to change my tactics if I want to achieve at least a half of these.

srcek

Resolutions

  • I want to succeed at my reading challenges. Hah.
  • I want to read more classics. Abysmal. I read one Little Black Classic which hardly counts because it has 40 pages, I think (it was Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market, a really great poem – accompanied with several more of her poems that I never read before and I really liked them).
  • I want to finish more series. Okay so I’m not doing too bad with this one. I’ll consider this a good work in progress.
  • I want to get better at using Instagram. Er, no. Nope.
  • I want to read more non-English books. This isn’t too bad. I have already read three non-English titles (though one was an English translation of a Finnish book).
  • I want to keep up-to-date with my ARCs. YES! I am doing great at this. Woop! :) My NetGalley ratio is currently 82% and I am not requesting many books, only those I’m genuinely interested in. YAY!
  • I want to post more of my reviews to Goodreads. I have started making some progress with this, so let’s consider it a work in progress.
  • I want to buy less books and read more of the ones I already own. I’m not QUITE keeping to my 3-to-1 ratio but let’s say I’m making some progress.
  • I want to post at least twice a week. Yep, doing okay with this most of the time!

So let’s see: 3 resolutions on track, 3 mediocre ones and 3 fails. Eh, it’s not as bad as you’d think, right?

srcek

Challenges

As I said, I am doing very poorly with the Back to the Classics Challenge (hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate). My goal was to read six books and so far I can’t even say I’ve read one. I want to change that soon.

2016-Discussion-Challenge

The 2016 Discussion Challenge is hosted by Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It Starts at Midnight, and it’s the only challenge I’m acing so far. My goal is to write at least 13 discussions this year.

You can see my discussions here: Supernatural Love Interests, Should Romance Be Realistic?Are Bloggers Really Introverts?, How Are You?, All the Hype and High Expectations.

And I’m participating in the Fairytale Retelling Challenge 2016 again. It is hosted by Mel at The Daily Prophecy. I am failing miserably at this one since I haven’t read a single book to make progress – though I’m waiting for my copy of A Court of Mist and Fury to arrive in the mail.

So. One in three challenges – it seems everything is going in thirds today.

srcek

How are your challenges and resolutions coming along?

Do you feel guilty if you aren’t succeeding at them?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Challenges and Resolutions 2016

Challenges2016

In 2015, I did fairly well with my challenges and resolutions. I would have liked to complete/keep all of them, but I think we all know when we’re setting these that it’s a useless wish. So this year’s list of resolutions isn’t as different from the one I made last year – but I’m only keeping one challenge (the fairy tale one) and trying out two others. We’ll see how that goes!

My resolutions

  • I want to succeed at my reading challenges. Obviously.
  • I want to read more classics. This is also one of last year’s goals and since I failed miserably I now also found a challenge to go with that – hopefully, this will kick me into classics-reading mode. Hopefully.
  • I want to finish more series. Oh man. This is probably one of those never-ending resolutions that will always make it to my list because I’m horrible at this. But I’ll put it this way: I have to finish 3 series before I start a new one (this is where I sort of keep track of the series I’m reading). I’m counting a series as “finished” if I’ve read all published books so far (even if we’re still waiting for new parts – so basically I have to be up to date with a series for it to count).
  • I want to get better at using Instagram. I really like it (here’s my account) and I want to go from posting every once in a while to a more regular routine.
  • I want to read more non-English books. Again, a repeat from last year when I pretty much failed at it. I want to read at least 10 – either Slovenian or French originals or translated books from other languages.
  • I want to keep up-to-date with my ARCs. I did really well during the summer and then completely fell behind when I had my mini-hiatus in the fall. So here’s the rule: I have to review 3 ARCs before I request a new one.
  • I want to post more of my reviews to Goodreads. Especially with the ARCs, that’s so important.
  • I want to buy less books and read more of the ones I already own. Ugh. Let’s go with the 3 to 1 ratio again because both my physical and e-tbr lists are becoming unmanageable.
  • I want to post at least twice a week. I wrote “three times” last year and I did pretty well with that, but I can tell you now, 2016 is going to be one crazy, crazy year (I can’t share everything with you yet, but I start hyperventilating every time I think of what’s to come). So I’m keeping it down to two posts a week, maybe I’ll schedule ahead and see if that takes some pressure off things, I want this place to stay a sanctuary where I have fun and chat about great books with great people.

Aaand that’s it. I think. Now, for the challenges!

BackToTheClassics2016

This is the Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate. It has categories you have to fulfill – so books have to be specific and you can’t count a book in more that one category but I did a bit of thinking and I think it will work. I think I’m going to go with SIX books, which is the minimum, as far as I can tell, and if I reach that early on, I’ll see if I can read more, but let’s start small, shall we? Here’s one of my classics tbr lists – I’m fairly certain I can find six appropriate books here to fill the categories. I might even read a French classic or two for this, it’s been a while…

2016-Discussion-Challenge

I did really well with discussions last year, but I decided to participate in this challenge anyway – more to discover other cool discussions (they are the type of posts I like reading on other blogs, especially on blogs I just discovered). The 2016 Discussion Challenge is hosted by Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It Starts at Midnight, two very lovely ladies. Since I wrote more than 12 discussions last year, I’m going for the second category, the Creative Conversationalist (13-24 discussions). We’ll see how that goes.

retelling-challenge-2016

And I’m participating in the Fairytale Retelling Challenge 2016 again. It is hosted by Mel at The Daily Prophecy. I completed it in 2015 (I was just lousy at linking up my reviews) and I’m going with the Goose Girl level (5-9 books), which I think is more than enough to start.

Apart from that, you all probably know by now that DJ and I are hosting The Bastard Read-along, so this is another challenge for me, as I have to finish re-reading the books on time. I don’t think this will be a problem because they’re freaking amazing, but I thought I should mention it here, too.

srcek

What are your resolutions and challenges for 2016?

Do you ever bite off more than you can chew? Does it bother you if you fail at resolutions and challenges? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Challenges and Resolutions 2.0

As the end of 2015 draws close, I thought I should look at how I did with my challenges and resolutions – the verdict is: very well with some, terrible with others. I suspected this would be the case when I made them, but perhaps I’ll do better next year, who knows. I did a similar post back in August and I like the progress I’ve made since then, even if I haven’t been blogging a lot. I’ll be writing another post on challenges and resolutions for 2016 – this one is simply intended as a general overview of what I’ve done this year. I really think it was a good one!

nimona-noelle-stevensonFlights of Fantasy (info): I reviewed (favourites are starred) Hounded, Shadow Scale, World After, The Thief, *A Darker Shade of Magic, *Half the World, Angelfall, *Stardust, *Heir of Fire, Gates of Thread and Stone, *Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, *Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, *Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, *The Accident Season, Perfect Ruin, *White CatEnd of Days, *Uprooted, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Hidden Huntress, Soulless, Kiss of Deception, Half a War, *Nice Dragons Finish Last, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Night Circus, *Daughter of the Forestand I also read *Carry On, The BFG, Shadows, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Ruby Circle, and *Nimona, most of which I intend to review soon(ish). This means I COMPLETED THIS CHALLENGE (I set myself a 24 book goal and read 34, I think)!

Dusting Off the Shelves (info): I read AllegiantEleanor & Park, Eleven on Top, Twelve Sharp, My Sister Lives on the MantelpieceThe Mad Ship, Looking for Alaska, Lady Thief, To Kill a Mockingbird and Daughter of the Forest. I set myself a 12 book goal, so I’m one book behind – I might make it, though, we’ll see. I like to think I am insanely competitive – and I mostly try to beat myself at things, so yeah. Here’s my physical tbr list, incomplete, of course, but still hefty. I update it as I go…

lady-thief-gaughenFairytale Retelling (info): I reviewed ScarletUprooted, A Court of Thorns and Roses and Lady Thief and I also read Thorn and Daughter of the Forest, so I made it! (I set myself a 5-9 book challenge). I also wrote about why I love fairy tales and about the same old story.

Re-reading (info): I re-read half of the Sweep series but I haven’t written any reviews yet. I’m counting Sweep as one book, they’re so short. I wrote a mini review for How to Entice and Enchantress. Here are the others: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and I also re-read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as well as Silver Shadows and The Ruby Circle (for translation purposes). I’m currently re-reading both Uprooted and The Lies of Locke Lamora, both of which I should be done with by the end of the year. If I manage that, I’ll be at 13 books, which means I completed this challenge (I set myself a 12 book goal).

In terms of Classics – which was my self-imposed challenge – I read The Handmaid’s Tale and To Kill a Mockingbird, which is pretty damn miserable as far as challenges go. I didn’t set a number on this one, but I’m pretty sure I failed anyway. Ugh.

srcek

Resolutions

  1. I want to succeed at my reading challenges. I’m going to cross this one off because I think I did good, overall.
  2. classics-spin-2I want to read more classics. Oops. I’m keeping this resolution for next year for sure.
  3. I want to finish more series. Again, oops – and I wrote a post about it. I was actually doing okay with this in the summer but now I started so many new series I don’t know how I’ll finish them all. *sigh*
  4. I want to update my blog design. YES! I did that! And I still love how it turned out.
  5. I want to comment more on other blogs, interact more and use social media to their full potential. I don’t know about the social media part and the full potential part but I have been commenting more on blogs and I love interacting with other bloggers!
  6. I want to read more non-English books. Ahh nope. I read 35 Kilos d’espoir which was short but sweet. I’ll definitely be keeping this resolution for 2016.
  7. I want to be better at managing my ARCs. I crossed this one out in August, but I’ve fallen behind again. My ratio should be higher, I think, and I’ll keep working towards it.
  8. I want to read less fluff. Weeeelll… I have been reading more YA fantasy, but I really should try to read less romance. This really depends on my mood. I didn’t read a single romance for a month and then I had a week-long binge when I read 5, I think. Oh, well.
  9. discussionI want to continue posting three times a week. Mostly done, some weeks I do 2 posts, but I think I’m pretty consistent! – This was my update in August before my life got even crazier than before. I had two or three very slow months, but I think I can keep up a 2-posts-per-week schedule for now. That gives me enough time to answer comments as well.
  10. I want to write more discussion postsAaah, this is the one I’m really proud of! I’ve written several discussion posts that drew really nice reactions from my readers! <3 I also enjoy writing these the most. Here they are: Why I Love Fairytales, Reading Fantasy in a Tiny Country, The Same Old Story, Are You Into Safe Sex?, Finishing Series, Sh*t Just Got Real: My Physical TBR Pile, On Jazz (And Maybe Modern Art), Fan Fic (+ A Ramble On Harry Potter and Sex), Just Another Love Triangle, In Defence of Good Guys, Reading Translations, Let’s Talk Spoilers, Comfort Reads, and Second Chances. YAY!

srcek

Author Addiction

Becky and I did a whole year of Author Addiction posts together, I enjoyed these a lot. We had some freebie months where we picked our own authors, but I really liked the months when we had a common person to write about – it’s so cool to read the different perspectives. We’re putting this feature on the back burner for now and we’re discussing a new one for 2016 but I don’t have any particulars yet, so stay tuned! :)

The Bastard Read-along

DJ and I are hosting a read-along of the Gentleman Bastards sequence by Scott Lynch in 2016. The reviews for The Lies of Locke Lamora will go up on January 5, so join us if you wish! All the details are in the link. I’ve already read the books and am re-reading them – I’ve already started on The Lies and it’s just as good as I remember. If you need me to convince you some more: this is one of my all-time favourite series and Locke Lamora is probably my favourite character ever.

srcek

Whew! This post was a pain to write (all the links!) but I like looking back.

How did you do with your challenges? Are you picking any new ones for 2016?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1) by Juliet Marillier
Published in 2002 by Tor Books.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: historical fantasy/retelling.

My rating:

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift – by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all…

zmaj-desno

Daughter of the Forest is one of those books that comes highly recommended and doesn’t disappoint. The recommendations I got (from at least three people) were enthusiastic and insistent but different from your usual sort of hype – Marillier isn’t an author that has received as much hype as Neil Gaiman or Patrick Rothfuss, for example, but she does seem to have very devoted readers. So if you ever recommended this book to me: thank you. I’m glad I listened!

The story has a very Old World feel to it. It’s set in medieval Ireland, where the people of Sevenwaters still cling to the old druidic traditions while Ireland is slowly being Christianised. But it goes beyond that. The plot itself is a retelling of The Six Swans fairy tale, but I’ve read retellings that have a very modern style, for example. Daughter of the Forest is OLD in the sense that it felt like I was reading an old text, or was listening to a storyteller from ages past. It’s really hard to explain, but I loved it.

The writing was denser than usual, perhaps, and more difficult to follow (the tiny print of the mass market paperback did not help), but it dragged me in and hooked its claws into my heart and took a chunk of it when it was finished. Am I being overly dramatic? Perhaps. But I loved the form of this story, its language, and mood (I have to add a trigger warning here, but I’m putting it in white because it is a spoiler, a rather big one but still – you’ve been warned: *spoiler in white* Sorcha gets raped and it’s pretty graphic but this does not overwhelm the story. I dislike it when authors use rape as a plot device to add drama but I felt this was well done. *end spoiler*.

I also have to mention the characters. Since this is a Six Swans retelling, we have the usual players: one sister – Sorcha, who tells the story – and six brothers (she’s the youngest), an evil stepmother, and a bewitched father. But while I loved these Sevenwaters people (Finbar especially, his story … hurts), it was Red, a Saxon man who saves her life (and is saved by her in return), who made this story for me. Look, I won’t go into details because I’m bound to spoil something for you, but he was pretty damn amazing.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series though I’m confused – I thought this was a trilogy, but Goodreads lists 6 titles or more? Anyway, I already made my husband read this and he liked it as well, so it’s man-tested, too (this came out horrible, but you know what I mean). I highly recommend this series to fantasy lovers, especially if you’re looking for something deeper, by which I mean there aren’t many loud bangs or epic fights here (though Sorcha can usually hold her own!), but there are lots of wonderful people.

zmaj-levo

Have you read Daughter of the Forest? What did you think?

Do you like “old” books or do you prefer a more transparent, modern style?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Top Ten Tuesday: Fairytale Retellings

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a hugely popular weekly meme hosted by the lovely people of The Broke and the Bookish. Go check out the crazy number of other bloggers joining in the fun! :) I sometimes participate in this wonderful list-making (you know me, I can hardly resist making new lists!) and this week’s topic (FAIRYTALE RETELLINGS) is especially cool since I’m participating in the Fairytale Retelling Challenge!

I’ve written about my love of fairytales before so I’m not going to repeat myself except to add that I’m still amazed by all the great retellings I’ve read and seen around the blogosphere. I decided to split my list into two fives – the first for the retellings I’ve read and would recommend to anyone, not just fairytale lovers; and the second for the retellings I want to get to soon (both as part of my challenge and for myself).

zmaj-desno

My Top Five Fairytale Retellings:

  1. uprooted-naomi-novikUprooted by Naomi Novik. This is a recent title (I reviewed it here) and definitely my favourite from this week’s list. It’s a very loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast intertwined with some cool Polish folklore but it’s a great fantasy novel in its own right.
  2. Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen. This is more of a legend than fairytale – the story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men (or women!). I reviewed it here if you want a closer look!
  3. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. Nyx was a really nice change from the swooning heroines of Disney films, so I liked her a lot, naturally! :)
  4. The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle. I can’t seem to stop recommending this book. It’s not a fairytale retelling per se but it’s full of folklore and mystery and has this old vibe going on (my review here).
  5. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab. Again, it’s not a retelling but definitely a fairytale! It’s the first book I ever read by Schwab and the reason I fell in love with her writing.

Honorable mention goes to Laini Taylor’s novella collection, Lips Touch, which features three really gorgeously written fairytales or fairytale-inspired stories.

zmaj-levo

The Top Five Fairytale Retellings I Want to Read Soon:

  1. thorn-intisar-khananiDaughter of the Forest (and other retellings) by Juliet Marillier. By all accounts it’s a wonderful story, albeit a tough one. Marillier has re-written a number of fairytales, apparently, which makes my reluctance to start her books completely irrational.
  2. Thorn by Intisar Khanani. I already have a copy of this one and I need to get around to reading it soon! It was recommended by Becky.
  3. Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge. It’s not a sequel to Cruel Beauty as such but it seems to have a similar vibe.
  4. Beauty by Robin McKinley. Her books are fantasy classics and I want to read them soon!
  5. Wicked Lovely by Marissa Marr. I came across this one a while ago on some other lists and it looks really interesting! Several bloggers I like appear to have enjoyed it, too.

See also: these two posts (1 and 2) by Read at Midnight for more inspiration!

zmaj-desno

What are your favourite fairytale retellings? Which ones do you want to read next?

Do you prefer the retelling to stick to the story or veer off into the unknown?

I’d love to hear from you! :)