Step Sister by Jennifer Donnelly #ReadersFirst1 #Review

I am delighted to share my review for Step Sister by Jennifer Donnelly. I won a copy of this book from Readers First so my huge thanks to them.

As a child I loved fairy tales, especially Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm. They told of magical adventures and whisked me off to far away lands to meet all sorts of people and beasts. Step Sister is the story of what happened after Ella was found to be the owner of the glass slipper.

‘In an ancient city by the sea, three sisters – a maiden, a mother, and a crone – are drawing maps by candlelight. Sombre, with piercing grey eyes, they are the three Fates, and every map is a human life . . .’

Stepsister takes up where Cinderella’s tale ends. We meet Isabelle, the younger of Cinderella’s two stepsisters. Ella is considered beautiful; stepsister Isabelle is not. Isabelle is fearless, brave, and strong-willed. She fences better than any boy, and takes her stallion over jumps that grown men fear to attempt. It doesn’t matter, though; these qualities are not valued in a girl. Others have determined what is beautiful, and Isabelle does not fit their definition. Isabelle must face down the demons that drove her cruel treatment of Ella, challenge her own fate and maybe even redefine the very notion of beauty . . .

Cinderella is about a girl who was bullied; Stepsister is about the bully. We all root for the victims, we want to see them triumph. But what about the bullies? Is there hope for them? Can a mean girl change? Can she find her own happily ever after?

This is the story of Isabella, one-half of the “ugly sisters”, the other being Octavia. I was really interested to see how or where the author would go with this story. The author took a route that included Fate and Chance, it wasn’t the story I thought it would be. Instead, it was so much better than I could imagine.

I immediately got the fairy tale vibe as I started this story, and I was so glad of that. I think it is important to have this as it follows on from such a famous one. The main focus is Isabella and I learned of her childhood and growing up. More importantly, I discovered what the turning point was in her life for her to turn ugly.

The way the author portrayed the character and showed things from Isabella’s perspective was interesting and became very compelling. Instead of the flippant, high-maintenance and demanding girl instead, I found someone very different. A girl who so much wanted for her mother to be proud of her. A girl who was expected to become someone she didn’t want to be. A girl caught in an endless circle.

As this tale unfolded I was drawn deeper into the lives of the sisters. The story made me think about them in a different way as a new light had been shone on them. The author has given the sisters something different and for me, it worked really well. There was more of a feminism flare to the story, and as this strain started to make itself felt the fairy tale started to fade. There is still the magical feel but it just feels more grown up.

If like me, you still like fairy tales then Step Sister is one you should really take a look at. It has darkness that has been balanced with the various other threads of the story. For me, this version of what happened after is very good and makes for brilliant reading.

It has strong characters, a wonderful storyline and gives great escapism. It gets a Definitely Recommended from Me!

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx

My Week In Books w/e 30th April #MeAndMyBooks

Well hello once again! I was going to post this yesterday but as I was taking part in the Publication Day Review for Jaded by Rob Ashman I decided I would change the day for My Week In Books rather than have two posts on one day 🙂

Another month gone!!! April has been a mix of sunshine and showers and a bit windy thanks to Storm Hannah, but my garden survived pretty unscathed, thank goodness.

This week has been a better one as far as my reading has gone and I have managed to read a five books.

So let me share the books I have read this week…

The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson.

I have several books by this author and, do you know what? I have never actually read one! I saw a review post by the fabulous Linda at Linda’s Book Bag for one of this Authors books. As I had just finished reading one book and deciding which to pick up next, Linda’s enthusiasm for Milly Johnson made me go to my TBR and pick up The Queen of Wishful Thinking.

This is a good sized book at just short of 500 pages. I will tell you it was so good that I read it in one sitting! Yes it was a brilliant read that captivated me completely. I am really looking forward to reading the other 7-8 that I have and obviously buying the ones I am missing.


Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

If you are a Book Blogger then I am sure you have seen Dead Inside by fellow Book Blogger and now Debut Author Noelle. Check out Noelle’s Blog at Crime Book Junkie I have been excited to read this book and I had been hearing so many amazing things about Dead Inside.

If you like your crime thriller reads to be hard hitting, emotional deeply intriguing and want a real belter of a read then you seriously NEED to pick this book up when it is published. As soon as I had finished Dead Inside I immediately nipped over to Amazon to pre-order the next book in the Maggie Jamieson series. A fabulous debut and one that I would Absolutely and Most Definitely recommend.


Spring at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green

I was mooching around on my kindle not quite sure what I wanted to read next when I came across this gorgeous cover. It is the first instalment in the Little Duck Pond Cafe series. It is a short read at 127 pages but it is a wonderful intro to a wonderful sounding community that Ellie finds herself drawn to. I am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of this one.


Step Sister by Jennifer Donnelly

I was a lucky recipient of this paperback book via Readers First. When it arrived I immediately picked it up to read, one of those right books at the right time things…

This is the story of what happened to the Ugly Sisters after Ella was whisked away by her Prince. I love a chance to remember childhood fairy tales and I do admit that Cinderella was one I really liked. The author has done a fabulous job of keeping the magical fairy tale feel in her story but also injecting moral aspect that I really, really enjoyed. This was a fabulous escapism read on a rainy April afternoon.


The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

When I read a Hardback book I always take off the cover so it doesn’t get damaged and also so I can see if there is any other details hidden underneath…I love these Magpies on a white cover. The significance of the Magpies are part of the story in this fabulous read, I have had this book since last year and I am so pleased I have finally managed to read it. It is one of those books that has a sad almost bleak style to it, this is not a criticism at all in fact it is this style that really draws a reader in, it plays on the emotional ties that you start to build with the character. This is a fabulously atmospheric and creepy feeling read that I thoroughly enjoyed.


Books In The Post

I have been very lucky with books this week. I enter a few giveaways, yes it is a bonus to win but I do it to help share the #BookLove it is my way of helping the promotions and Blog Tours in the hope that my tweets will help other readers find “new to them authors”. So, as well as winning a copy of Step Sister by Jennifer Donnelly, I also won a paperback copy of…

A Sister’s Sorrow by Kitty Neale

My copy came from the wonderful Avon Books in a Twitter Giveaway, I have seen but as yet not read any books by this author and I am really looking forward to starting this one.


The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

I recieved my copy of this Hardback, and I have to say it is gorgeous, from Penguin Random House. I entered a Giveaway on Cathy’s blog and you can find her wonderful Blog at What Cathy Read Next. I had seen many wonderful reviews about this book and I am looking forward to reading this so much.


Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

This is another book I had got on my reading radar, and this paperback copy is one that might just be my next read! Many thanks to Anne who has an amazing Blog at Random Things Through My Letterbox. If I say that Anne has said that she ” adored it” and also that she “adore this author.” I think this is one I will also enjoy!


Well, that’s me rounded up for the week. My total books read for the month of April was 15 taking my Goodreads tally to 72 out of my planned 200 for the year, so still on target.

My Netgalley tally is 18 on my shelf with 2 of those slipping into the older than 3 months, but with my 88% Feedback Ratio I think I can live with that for the moment, but I do hope to get them read soon!


The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross @HodderBooks #NetGalley #BookReview

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Today I am sharing my thoughts on The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross. This is a book aimed at a YA or Teen reader and is a retelling of the Beauty and The Beast Story. My thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for my eBook that I recieved via NetGalley. This book is avaliable in paperback, hardback and eBook format and available from AMAZON UK

I just love the cover of this book…..

Synopsis:

A sumptuously magical, brand new take on a tale as old as time—read the Beast’s side of the story at long last.

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time.

My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded.

My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again.

And now I might lose her forever.

Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast’s heart.

My Thoughts:

Beauty and the Beast is a story many are aware of from film, musical and animation. Leife Shallcross has retold the story from the perspective of the Beast himself.

There are various things that remain a constant from the various versions of this classic children’s story. A man cursed to live his day as a beast until he finds someone who loves him for what is on the inside rather than what we see on the out. There are also the gardens, the magic and for all bibliophiles THE LIBRARY……….

While this is a very good read and sticks to my memories of the story I read as a child, I did find there where parts that did feel a little bit repetitive. Now as an adult it may be that I am being overly picky with a book aimed at younger readers, so I am now wondering if this is actually a way of showing a younger reader the time that the two characters spend together in each others company, building up a friendship and also the trust.

I did like this story and from the point of view of the Beast, it gave this character a chance to say his piece and express his feeling and thoughts as well as expressing the hope that Isabeau (Beauty) is the one to break the curse.

As well as the Beast and Isabeau’s story there is also the story of the family that Isabeau left behind while she stays with the Beast. I did really enjoy this section of the story as it went into how the family left behind had to deal with this change to the family, and adjustments to be made.

This is a book that I do think younger readers and also early Teens would enjoy. It is the perfect story for readers who like the traditional “once upon a time…happily ever after” fairy tale.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or a share would be amazing 🙂 xx

#BookReview : The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert @mimi_albert @penguinrandom @NetGalley #PublicationDay

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I am so delighted to be bringing you my thoughts on “The Hazel Wood” by Melissa Albert, it is due for publication today and available in various formats.  Published by Penguin it can be purchased from Amazon UK

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD.

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .

My Thoughts:

When you think of fairy tales it is often woods, wolves, castles, princes and princesses with a happy ever after.  The Hazel Wood is nothing like that, it contains fairy tales but they are darker with an underlying feeling of dread to them.  The reclusive and mysterious author Althea Prosperine published her only novel Tales of the Hinterland.  Her granddaughter Ella has never met Althea, never read the book, but is aware of it.  In fact not many have met Althea or even have a copy of the book.  Ella and her mum Alice have to move around a lot, they keep their heads down, always try to keep ahead of the bad luck that seems to shadow them.  This story is how Ella and the reader learns about The Hazel Wood, the book and the bad luck.

This is a brilliantly woven story using the basic premise of a fairy tales.  Twisting them into a dark and brooding journey for the reader.  As we follow Ella and Alice there are things that are seen out of the corner of an eye that gives feeling of the supernatural that have mysterious darker undertones, shadows that linger, people that don’t quite fit in, this all adds to a feeling of tense suspense.  As the story unfolds there are several twists that I didn’t expect, they are clever and make this an extremely addictive read. There are several characters in this story and they are easily remembered and play their parts well, they have good backstories, and while I didn’t like all the characters I found them intriguing.

Once I started this story I could not put it down, the descriptions give a vivid and imaginative picture.  I loved the style of the writing, at times it had the fairy tale feel you would expect, but also a darker much more intense feel that was far removed from fairy tales.  I would like to see follow on from this book as there were several characters that I would like to know more about, and some that left me with questions. But overall it has been beautifully put together and is one I would absolutely recommend.

So if you like a dark and twisty fantasy read that has some roots in magical fairy tales then this is a book for you.  It is a young adult read, that an older adult loved.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for my eARC of this wonderful book, my thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

About the Author:

You can visit the author in Twitter and also find all the links to purchase the books HERE

 

Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it please give it a share.  Or go and grab yourself a copy of this brilliant book 🙂 xx