Tag Archives: fairytale retelling

Once Upon A Dream

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Once Upon A Dream

Once Upon A Dream was going to be a book I passed on.  Sleeping Beauty is my favorite princess, but I’ve read several retellings, and, honestly, I wasn’t impressed by the first book in this series (A Whole New World).  I’m so glad I gave it a chance because this book was so much more than I expected.  Characters, plot, and tone all added up to a pretty fierce read.

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Goodreads Summary

What if the sleeping beauty never woke up? Once Upon a Dream marks the second book in a new YA line that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways.

It should be simple–a dragon defeated, a slumbering maiden, a prince poised to wake her. But when said prince falls asleep as soon as his lips meet the princess’s, it is clear that this fairy tale is far from over.

With a desperate fairy’s last curse infiltrating her mind, Princess Aurora will have to navigate a dangerous and magical landscape deep in the depths of her dreams. Soon she stumbles upon Phillip, a charming prince eager to join her quest. But with Maleficent’s agents following her every move, Aurora struggles to discover who her true allies are, and moreover, who she truly is. Time is running out. Will the sleeping beauty be able to wake herself up?

My Thoughts

I am most impressed by the presentation of Aurora in this book because she really comes into her own, but not before she battles a few personal demons that added real depth to her journey. Questions of personal identity plague her throughout the story, which makes her relevant to the YA audience and manages to make her stand out in the sea of would-be revamped princesses that have flooded the YA book scene the last few years. Prince Phillip, on the other hand, fell a little flat for me.  Don’t get me wrong – he is definitely the prince you want for a journey like this and he is swoon-worthy in a generic sense, but except for a few hilarious moments that show his vulnerable side, he feels like he could be replaced by Eric or Beast or Prince Charming.  I wanted him to really shine because he has always been my favorite, but I understand why he played second string.

I thought the first third of the book was a little draggy, and it felt overlong as a whole, but the plot was otherwise pretty awesome.  The conflicts are unexpected and innovative and I didn’t feel like I was slogging through a too familiar story – this was almost all new to me, and I think it will be a nice surprise to Sleeping Beauty fans, particularly those who have read other reimaginings of this story and think they know exactly how this book is going to go down.

My biggest complaints with the first book of the series were that it felt too derivative of the film and it read like a middle school read rather than a YA book.  Once Upon A Dream avoids both of those pitfalls, and while it is completely appropriate for middle school readers, the darker tone and the deeper themes are probably going to be most appreciated by grades 9+ and adult readers of YA.  I’m adding it to my high school classroom library wish list and recommending it to fans of a books like Cinder, Stitching Snow, and Princess of  Thorns.  I’m also looking forward to more books in this series.  Crack the whip, Disney – I want a Belle to rival this Aurora!

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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E.K. Johnston’s A Thousand Nights – The Most Beautiful YA You’ll Encounter This Year, and Maybe This Decade

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E.K. Johnston’s A Thousand Nights – The Most Beautiful YA You’ll Encounter This Year, and Maybe This Decade

This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever encountered.  If you don’t have it at the top of your wishlist, you need to put it there now.  The prose is so hypnotically ethereal that it is like reading a dream.  While A Thousand Nights is based on the idea of Arabian Nights, it isn’t focused on the short stories that keep a woman alive. This story focuses on the narrator, the humble desert girl who throws herself into the fire to save her beloved sister. It is a story about sisterly love so deep that it creates magic strong enough to thwart evil.  It is a story about a man who went into the desert and came back changed and twisted beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings.  It is the story of a mother clinging to the memory of a son whom she believes still resides inside of the monster he has become.  It is amazing.  There are still stories inside of stories, but they are the tales of desert dwelling caravans and the secrets of women who keep the hearth and home. Paced to enthrall, crafted to enchant, this is one book I can’t wait to share with my high school students and my friends.  I think it will appeal to a diverse set, and while it is very different from anything I have ever read, I think fans of The Night Circus will adore the dreamlike prose, and fans of The Raven Boys will like the magical concepts.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+, but the elevated prose style will appeal most to mature high school readers and adults.  This might be my top pick for 2015.

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Goodreads Summary

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.  But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Snow White Can Kick Your Butt in a Cage Fight! Well, this one can, anyway.

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Snow White Can Kick Your Butt in a Cage Fight!  Well, this one can, anyway.

In a YA literary landscape littered with fairytale rewrites, it is hard to decide which ones are worth your time, but this is one of my new favorites. A loose retelling of Snow White, this was nothing like I expected. I could almost picture it as an episode of Firefly. The futuristic setting included worker drones instead of dwarves and a princess laying low as a computer engineering genius. This book wasn’t perfect, but it had enough action, innovation, and heart to keep me engaged. Kids went hungry when this one downloaded onto my kindle (Not really. There were totally pop tarts and goldfish in the pantry, and I was done in about three hours. But someone might have had to wear febreezed jeans the next day.). If you liked The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlett, and Cress )by Marissa Meyer, you will enjoy this — not exactly the same, but a similar vibe, except this gal gets stuff done!

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Stitching Snow
R.C Lewis
ebook, 338 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion

Goodreads Summary
Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

Stitching SnowStitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Stitching Snow is true to the premise presented. Essie is hiding out on another planet, content to fix her mining android friends and to compete in prize fights at the local bar when she needs a new, pricey component. A stranger crash lands and Essie feels compelled to help him get off planet asap, setting off a chain of events that will draw her back to a life she fled long ago. Strong female protagonist and interesting storyline. Very light sensuality and appropriate language for all ages. This is a darker read. The antagonists are real threats to Essie in different but horrifying ways. It is going in my class library and I can’t wait to start handing it off to my eager readers! Solid purchase.

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