Book Review | Cinderella is Dead

Hello lovelies. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on a recent read, Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron.

Here’s a quick blurb about the book:

“It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.”

 

I love the cover (and the UK cover, even more…click here to see it), and I really wanted to love this book…unfortunately I didn’t. It’s probably about a 2.5 star book for me, though I suppose I’ll round up to 3 since that’s not an option. I saw this book praised as a book that uses a fantasy world to critique misogyny and homophobia…and it does. BUT, it didn’t do much more than that, for me. The pacing was slower than I like, the world-building wasn’t the most rich or in-depth, and the characters were on the shallow side.

The two things I struggled with the most were:
1) It felt like everything  (plot, character development, world building, etc.) took a back seat to the story as a platform to bash the aforementioned misogyny and homophobia. I’m all for novels that leave you thinking about issues in the real world, but I want to be so sucked into the story along the way that I get lost in it and can’t stop turning the pages.

2) The romance was a love-at-first-sight trope, while also having an almost love triangle drama, and it wasn’t for me. I mean, Sophia, who we’ve just been told is completely in love with Erin, is running for her life, and stops to lust after a total stranger who could be about to try to kill her, for all she knows. I know some people love this trope, but it made me cringe. And it continued for a long time, and never felt believable for me.

I’m sure this book will be a highly enjoyable read for those who just want to read about queer black girls teaming up to overthrow the patriarchy, especially if they enjoy love-at-fist-sight romance. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

{Thank you so much NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books for a free eARC to review. }

Book Review | Splinters of Scarlet

I absolutely loved Splinters of Scarlet, by Emily Bain Murphy. Here’s a quick description:

“Enchantée meets Downton Abbey in this atmospheric YA historical fantasy set in nineteenth-century Denmark, where secrets can kill and magic is a deadly gift.

For Marit Olsen, magic is all about strategy: it flows freely through her blood, but every use leaves behind a deadly, ice-like build-up within her veins called the Firn. Marit knows how dangerous it is to let too much Firn build up—after all, it killed her sister—and she has vowed never to use her thread magic. But when Eve, a fellow orphan whom Marit views like a little sister, is adopted by the wealthy Helene Vestergaard, Marit will do anything to stay by Eve’s side. She decides to risk the Firn and uses magic to secure a job as a seamstress in the Vestergaard household.

But Marit has a second, hidden agenda: her father died while working in the Vestergaards’ jewel mines—and it might not have been an accident. The closer Marit gets to the truth about the Vestergaard family, the more she realizes she and everyone she’s come to love are in danger. When she finds herself in the middle of a treacherous deception that goes all the way up to the king of Denmark, magic may be the only thing that can save her—if it doesn’t kill her first.”

This book!!! Wow. I LOVED Emily’s first book (The Disappearances), so I was excited to read this, and it absolutely did not disappoint!!! The unique magical system was PERFECT. The main character’s magic allows her to stitch thing up, with just a glance, and the way Emily describes it is utterly enchanting. There are also other characters with magic, each one original and distinctive. The magic flooded the story with whimsy, while making the stakes intense, since the act of using magic eventually kills everyone who uses it, and it absolutely kept me turning pages.

I also loved the rich details of the historical Denmark setting, that were woven in seamlessly without bogging down the story. And as a former dance major, I loved that two of the characters were ballerinas, and the terms used to describe everything they did were perfectly accurate, and dance was described as almost its own kind of magic, which I related to so much.

I loved the themes of found family, and sacrifice, and the writing itself was always lovely without ever being too flowery, or wordy. This one makes it into my top three books that I’ve read so far this year, and I can’t wait for everyone to get a chance to read it! I’d recommend it for fans of Romanov, Woven in Midnight, and Everless, plus anyone who loves unique magic, and found families.

Thank you so much, NetGalley, for the free ebook to review.

Book Review | The Elephant’s Girl

The Elephant’s Girls by Celesta Rimington is a whimsical, wonderful MG. I’m pre-ordering a copy for my ten-year-old elephant loving daughter.

Here’s a quick blurb about the book:

A magical adventure about a girl with a mysterious connection with the elephant who saved her life, for fans of Katherine Applegate and Jennifer Holm.

An elephant never forgets, but Lexington Willow can’t remember what happened before a tornado swept her away when she was a toddler. All she knows is that it landed her near an enclosure in a Nebraska zoo; and there an elephant named Nyah protected her from the storm. With no trace of her birth family, Lex grew up at the zoo with Nyah and her elephant family; her foster father, Roger; her best friend, Fisher; and the wind whispering in her ear.

Now that she’s twelve, Lex is finally old enough to help with the elephants. But during their first training session, Nyah sends her a telepathic image of the woods outside the zoo. Despite the wind’s protests, Lex decides to investigate Nyah’s message and gets wrapped up in an adventure involving ghosts, lost treasure, and a puzzle that might be the key to finding her family. As she hunts for answers, Lex must summon the courage to leave the secure borders of her zoo to discover who she really is–and why the tornado brought her here all those years ago.

I loved watching Lex grow as a character, and the elephant scenes were magical and beautiful. Lex’s relationship wit her foster father was heart-warming. And I love that she’s best friends with a boy her age at the zoo, that is resilient and evolving and doesn’t turn romantic. The bits with a ghost were capricious and fun, and not at all scary, which I enjoyed. All in all this was a delightful, magical adventure and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys uplifting, charming middle grade stories.

What Would You Wish For? | Book Review

Thank you Zonderkidz for a free copy of  What Would You Wish For?  by David Sable and illustrated by Emma Yarlett.

This whimsical, colorful book helps to encourage kids to live for something bigger than their own happiness. As the book begins, the book offers ideas of different wishes you could make, but it’s easy to see that where one child is happy because they got something fun for themselves like a huge pile of presents, their friends are left out and sad. My three-year-old was following along just having fun hearing the different wishes, but on the very last page before it switched from wishes that only benefit yourself, she noticed that the other kids were sad. After that if offers ideas of things you could wish for that would be good for everyone, and then everyone was happy, and that made my three-year-old happy, too.

It’s a cute, fun picture book that my kids enjoyed quite a bit.

 

Artisan Collection Bible for Girls | Book Review

Thank you so much, Zonderkidz, for this free copy of the NIV, Artisan Collection Bible for Girls.

Isn’t it beautiful?! My almost 13 year old daughter literally said she wishes they would make this design on notebooks, and art prints, and novels, and everything. It’s so pretty I can’t say that I disagree. I love that there’s space on all of the pages to journal as you read, too. I would have kept it for myself if she didn’t love it so much.