2019 Retellings I Read & Loved

Hey all, I’ve felt in a retelling mood lately, maybe because I read so many fantastic ones last year. Here are the ones that debuted last year that I read and reviewed [except I haven’t reviewed Stepsister yet. Click on the picture to be taken to my review post, click on the link under to be taken to the GoodReads page!

 

The Boy Next Story (Bookish Boyfriends, #2)

Retelling of/Based off of: Little Women

 

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Retelling of/Based off of: King Arthur

 

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)

Retelling of/Based off of: Mulan

 

The Return of King Lillian

Retelling of/Based off of: The Emperor’s New Clothes

 

House of Salt and Sorrows

Retelling of/Based off of : The Twelve Dancing Princesses

 

A House of Rage and Sorrow (The Celestial Trilogy, #2)

Retelling of/Based off of: Mahabharata

 

The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, #3)

Retelling of/Based off of: Russian Folktales/lore [Inc. Baba Yaga]

 

The Deathless Girls

Retelling of/Based off of: Dracula [His brides to be specific]

 

Coral

Retelling of/Based off of: The Little Mermaid

 

Blood Heir (Blood Heir, #1)

Retelling of/Based off of: Anastasia

 

Stepsister

Retelling of/Based off of: Cinderella

 

Miss Austen eARC Review

 

Miss Austen

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GoodReads:

1840
: twenty three years after the death of her famous sister Jane, Cassandra Austen returns to the village of Kintbury, and the home of her family’s friends, the Fowles.
She knows that, in some dusty corner of the sprawling vicarage, there is a cache of family letters which hold secrets she is desperate should not be revealed.
As Cassandra recalls her youth and her relationship with her brilliant yet complex sister, she pieces together buried truths about Jane’s history, and her own. And she faces a stark choice: should she act to protect Jane’s reputation? Or leave the contents of the letters to go unguarded into posterity …

Based on a literary mystery that has long puzzled biographers and academics, Miss Austen is a wonderfully original and emotionally complex novel about the loves and lives of Cassandra and Jane Austen.

Book Information:
By: Gill Hornby
Publisher: Century/FlatIron Books
Page Count: 416
Format: Hardback, Paperback, eBook
Release Date: January 23, 2020

 

My Review

This book was deeply moving, the look at sisterhood and family was perfection especially in regards to the family Hornby is writing of. The Austens. A family quite close to each other and within that closeness an even deeper bond between Cassandra and Jane. She takes a bit of a mystery angle in this, trying to give us answers in the gaps Cassandra has left by culling certain correspondences with/regarding Jane. She was the gatekeeper and that is the role she plays in this novel.

This is all from Cassandra’s perspective but fluctuates between the past with Jane and the present, as she struggles to find and get hold of letters that could be harmful to Jane’s writing legacy and reputation.

One of the most beautiful things about this novel was the fact that it highlights the absolute contentment between the sisters. Of course, there were rough times and hardships, heartache, loss, and the wish of something more, but, through it all, they were fine with having each other. It was as if Hornby and Austen are shouting through different times to say ‘it’s okay to be single, to value love of family over romantic love, that it’s not necessary to lead a fulfilled life.’ But, the story and Austen’s novels also say, it’s just as okay to choose/have romantic love. I loved that quite a bit about Hornby’s novel. She’s taken a real-life mystery and made it into a delightful work of historical fiction.

Hornby’s prose is so reminiscent of what you enjoy in an Austen novel if you’re an Austen fan, and it just flourished. There wasn’t too much focus on small details, and the characters were so enjoyable. It was just the pacing which seemed to drag on in the present without aim sometimes that really threw me, but, it paid off in the end as the present did have its own purpose.

There’s also a very Jane Austen-esque story within that concerning some of the Fowle family as I mentioned above it’s the focus of the present. I enjoyed every minute of this book. I just felt at times it could drag which is why I did not give it a higher rating as it really put the story on pause almost by doing the pacing like that. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for my honest review.

If you’re in the U.K. Waterstones has a beautiful edition of this up for preorder, and there’s another signed edition available at Goldsboro, but, there’s also just the regular versions of course which all have the same amazing pages within!

Crown of Feathers Book Tag

 

So I’m on this Street Team with massively talented people, and thanks to them, I can do fun stuff like this because they’re awesome and make these things.

This time I’m basking in the glory of Hollibrarybooks and their creation of this tag!

You can find her original post by clicking here

Hey everyone! I’m continuing to branch out with trying new things on the blog, and since Nicki Pau Preto’s Heart of Flames releases in exactly four weeks I wanted to celebrate! And by celebrate, I mean I wanted to do something fun, and different than anything I’ve done before. And so, behold: a Crown of Feathers themed book tag!

Feel free to participate in the tag, whether you’re tagged by someone or not. Everyone is welcome! I’d love to see everyone’s responses, so please link back to my blog in your post. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to do it on Twitter or Instagram. You can use #COFBookTag, or tag me in your posts (I’m @wordsbyholly on Twitter, and @hollibrarybooks on Instagram).

Intrigued by this book Crown of Feathers? Here’s my review of it and expect the review for the impending book 2, Heart of Flames within the next couple of weeks as this sequel releases on February 11!!

Preorder Campaign Info!
If you preorder Heart of Flames you can send in your receipt to Nicki and get some awesome swag. A Woodmark and 2x Character Cards!
Because Nicki is amazing, she’s also done a gift if you’re new to the series and you’ve bought Crown of Feathers paperback or hardback, you can get a double-sided map and art card.

UPDATE: The Purple Woodmarks are ALL GONE [Already?! Holy cow!]

Click this link for all the information and the form link

The Crown of Feathers Book Tag

1. The cover of Crown of Feathers is absolutely stunning. Pick a book whose cover you fell in love with at first sight.

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1)

2. In Crown of Feathers, Veronyka bonds with a phoenix named Xephyra. Pick an animal from a book that you would love to have by your side.

Faithful
The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce
Faithful is a mysterious sort of cat—and is there any other kind? He might be a bored immortal, a constellation wandering around in a cat-suit, or a messenger from the Great Mother Goddess on a mission—not that these are mutually exclusive, by any means. Whatever he is, he assists Alanna in her quest to become a warrior. He appears as a black cat with violet eyes, and he’s had two incarnations that we know of. His other incarnation, as Pounce in the Provost’s Dog trilogy, helped Beka track down criminals in her work with the Provost’s Guard.

3. Veronyka and Val are sisters, but they have a rather tenuous relationship. Pick a book where the protagonist has a sibling(s)⁠—regardless of whether or not they get along!

Kingdom of Souls (Kingdom of Souls, #1)

4. To join the ranks of the Phoenix Riders, Veronyka has to disguise herself as a boy. Pick a book where a character disguises themselves.

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)

5. Phoenixes play a large role in Crown of Feathers. Pick a book that features mythological creatures.

The Last Namsara (Iskari, #1)

6. Tristan excels as a Phoenix Rider and warrior, despite his fear of fire. Pick a character you’d like by your side in a battle.

Elisabeth, Nathaniel, or Silas would work lol

Sorcery of Thorns

7. Sev is a soldier, trying to escape the army. Pick a character who, no matter how tough they seem, is actually Soft™.

Ramson
Blood Heir (Blood Heir, #1)

8. In Crown of Feathers, each chapter begins with an epigraph, and you’ll also find letters and historical documents between chapters, too. Pick a book with expansive world-building and history.

The Priory of the Orange Tree

9. Val can be ruthless and does some particularly cruel things (no spoilers!). Pick a character who’s a bad b*tch—for better or for worse.

Angel Mage

 

Ahhh that was so much fun!

I tag any of my readers who wish to do this, I know that seems a cop-out but I’m okay with that.

The Cursed Key Blog Tour

 

 

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Blurb:
A forgotten past, a dark mage, and an unyielding curse.
Another team beat free-spirited archaeologist Olivia Perez to the dig of a lifetime, and now she’s left with the choice to wait for scraps or brave a dangerous, dusty tomb in hopes of finding other priceless artifacts. Her reward? A mysterious key she has no idea is cursed. Soon, Olivia realizes she’s brought home more than just an ancient rarity.
Malevolent visions begin to plague her. Unnerved by what they reveal, she casts away the key…unknowingly placing it into the waiting hands of a dark mage bent on destruction. Only when a shifter agent from the Paranormal Intelligence and Tracking Organization arrives searching for the key does Olivia realize what a huge mistake she’s made. 
Forced to team up with the ill-tempered shifter, her journey to reclaim the cursed key leads down a twisting path of dark histories, dangerous magic, and deadly obstacles. But Olivia’s efforts to take back the ancient relic before the dark mage can destroy the lives of humans, shifters, witches, and fae alike are thwarted by her own dark past…and a price steeper than what she’s willing to pay.
Fans of Tomb Raider and Ilona Andrews will love the blend of urban fantasy, magical adventure, and paranormal romance in THE CURSED KEY from Miranda Brock and New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton!
Book Details:
The Cursed Key
by Miranda Brock & Rebecca Hamilton
(The Cursed Key Trilogy #1)
Published by: Evershade Publishing
Publication date: January 14th 2020
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Urban Fantasy
GoodReads

Purchase Link

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

My Review

This was such a fun read! It’s one of those books while it didn’t have anything that ‘blew me away’ it definitely was enjoyable and filled with things I like. Adventure, a hint of romance, paranormal beings, magic, and a very Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider vibe going on.

Olivia is an archaeologist, she has wandered into the jungle, hoping to find something the other excavating teams haven’t yet, and that’s when her world gets turned upside down.

She finds a key, and suddenly I’m reminiscent of the curse of the mummy King Tut, what seems like just plain bad luck is more than that, she’s plagued with visions and it has nothing to do with heat fatigue from the climate as they persist after she returns home.

The whole time Olivia and the reader are unsure of who she is, you know there is something different to her, the mage she runs into proves as much, but, you don’t know what.

Has the key given her magical powers or was she born with them and they’ve been hiding?

I loved the mystery to Olivia and really thought the banter between her and her shifter friend was cute and fun.

The romance is slow burn which is a favorite of mine and though the book did keep me interested I felt that the magic system and worldbuilding could have used more focus. I am hoping that is rectified in book 2 as I definitely intend on reading the next one.

Again, a solid read, nothing incredible, but definitely fun and worth a snoop!

Thank you to Xpresso Tours for an eARC of this to read and review honestly as part of the blog tour.

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Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway (US Only)

A Kindle + $50 Amazon Gift Card
Rafflecopter Link Here

About the Authors

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New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Harlequin, Baste Lübbe, and Evershade. A book addict, registered bone marrow donor, and indian food enthusiast, she often takes to fictional worlds to see what perilous situations her characters will find themselves in next. 
Represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA, Rebecca has been published internationally, in three languages: English, German, and Hungarian.

Author Links
Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

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From an early age Miranda Brock has always loved fantasy and adventure everything. Since she doesn’t live in a world of enchanting powers, mythical beasts, and things unbelievable she has decided to write about them. (Although, if you happen to see a dragon flying around, do tell her.) Born in southern Illinois, where she still resides with her husband and two children, she grew up running through the woods, playing in creeks, and riding horses. What started out as writing poetry grew into short stories and eventually led to her first novel, Souls Discovered. Miranda lives in the country where she finds inspiration in the simplicity and beauty around her. With the help of a ridiculous amount of coffee and some good music she writes whenever she gets a chance.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

The Rest of the Tour

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Holiday Book Haul

Hey guys! Time for me to share what I got during my holiday!

**I didn’t actually get any books for Christmas aside from my amazing gift from Secret Santa, so these are books I bought and had mailed ahead and a couple of giveaways and an ARC as well, the rest are ones we bought with holiday money mostly from used bookstores lol**

**You don’t need to spend money to be a book blogger, so don’t let this haul affect your opinion on that, you’re valid as long as you enjoy reading!**

 

Book Mail

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I bought this off one of the many FB groups I’m on, I bought it when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get my hands on the FairyLoot edition but now I have this beautiful OwlCrate edition and the magnificent FairyLoot edition.

 

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Words cannot express how fortunate and happy I felt to be sent an ARC for one of my absolute favorite releases of 2019. Holding this made me feel like tearing up and then I also bought someone’s OwlCrate edition.

 

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My OwlCrate edition of Crown of Feathers I bought off eBay and again the Owlcrate of House of Salt and Sorrows. ❤

 

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I have the Waterstones Special Signed Edition of Volume II but they no longer had Volume I on sale, so I nabbed this one instead ❤

 

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I’m still a HUGE Tamora Pierce fan and I’ve had the other two books of this trilogy forever, but finally, I now own the third one!

 

Giveaway Books

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I won a couple of books from an Instagram giveaway, Aileen Erin is a new fave author of mine so I was really excited. I asked them to mail them to a certain address and they addressed it to the person who lives there…so…lol they’re personalized but not to me!

 

Presents

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This was my gift from my wonderful Secret Santa ❤ A book off my wishlist that I cannot wait to read!

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My Sister got this for my husband and it cracks me up so I wanted to share it, he really got a kick out of it too!

 

Book Buys!

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I scored this half Price on sale and couldn’t help myself, I loved StepSister and had really wanted to read Call Down the Hawk

 

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I own a signed UK version of this but I really was drawn to this cover so I bought it too.

 

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I scored this one at the Goodwill for 1.00 and I was pretty excited lol I haven’t read any of her books yet! I know, I know, bad Haley.

 

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MEMORY LANE FOLKS, MEMORY LANE. I plan on getting an Aldrea Tattoo, for a long time my username on everything was Aldrea for years lol, also found this at GoodWill.

Join These Bookstagram Challenges

Hey guys!

So, I’m hosting a bookstagram challenge this month in honour of Harley in the Sky as I’m part of the street team for Akemi Dawn Bowman.

The hashtag for this one is #hitsjanchallenge


The other one is for another street team I’m part of but, I’m just one of the cohosts who did like none of the work, the other brilliant people of this team did that. For this bookstagram challenge use #phoenixridersga so we can see your entries! This is also for a giveaway so, keep those eyes peeled, it’s one prompt a week as is my Harley challenge.

View this post on Instagram

Posted @withrepost • @magic.within.pages *Giveaway* Happy Fri-yay book elves! A couple of us from the #firstridersstreetteam have gotten together to bring you a fun photo challenge to get you all excited for the release of Heart of Flames next month! So, the details 👇🏽 *. PRIZES: 🔥One winner will receive a copy of Crown of Feathers and Heart of Flames 🔥Another winner will receive a copy of Heart of Flames (this option is for those that already have crown of feathers and still want a chance to win a book!) *. RULES: 🔥Follow Us, @hollibrarybooks @thecaffeinated.reader @love2dazzle @madamepincers @chapter_break @magic.within.pages @stfusara @bookishbrianna (we are all fun people!) 🔥Comment what prize you would want- This only has to be done on one hosting account’s page (no need to comment on all eight) 🔥Post at least one photo following a weekly prompt using #phoenixridersga *. EXTRA ENTRIES: 🔥Post up to two photos that fit the week's prompt, including the hashtag #phoenixridersga (for up to +8 entries total into the giveaway) 🔥Follow @nickipaupreto and let us know you did this in a comment *. FINE PRINT: 🔥Must be 18 yrs or older, or have a parents permission 🔥Must be willing to give our address so we can ship you the prizes 🔥Must be a public account 🔥Open Internationally, as long as Book Depository must ship to your country 🔥This giveaway is not associated with Instagram, Book Depository, or @nickipaupreto 🔥Winners will be selected by random drawing based on entries 🔥Don't follow to unfollow. If you are not following all hosts by time of drawing, you will be disqualified from this giveaway and future ones *. *. *. #giveaway #heartofflames #crownoffeathers #nickipaupreto #bookcommunity #readingisfundamental #fortheloveofbooks #booklover #2019reads #yabookstagram #yafantasy #wereadfantasy #yabooks #youngadultreads #yalover #bookcommunity #bookstagram #bookworm #booknerd #fantasy #bookobsessed #youngadultbooks #youngadultbook #bookstagramfeatures #cozyreads

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Anyway, it’s Saturday and I have Ikea furniture to put together, so, pray for me/cross fingers/sacrifice a goat, whatever it is you do. Actually not that last one, but either way, I’m sure no matter where you are in the world you’ll hear me cursing at the Ikea instructions.

Someone Close to Home Blog Tour

 

 

Someone Close to Home

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GoodReads:
Talented pianist Megan Youngblood has it all – fame, fortune and Gideon.

But Gideon isn’t good enough for Megan’s ambitious, manipulative mother, whose meddling has devastating repercussions for Megan and for those close to her.

Now, trapped inside her own body, she is unable to communicate her needs or fears as she faces institutional neglect in an inadequate care home.

And she faces Annie. Sadistic Annie who has reason to hate her. Damaged Annie who shouldn’t work with vulnerable people.

Just how far will Annie go?

‘Someone Close To Home’ is a story of love, malice and deadly menace.

Book Information:
Paperback:
252 pages
Publisher: Ashford Carbonel Publishing (9 Dec. 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0995696608
ISBN-13: 978-0995696600
Amazon UK Link

My Review

Content/Trigger Warnings: Rape, sexual, emotional/mental, and physical abuse. Violence/murder, and elder/medical abuse.

This book, this was nothing like I expected! I thought it was going to be more of a thriller, but that’s not to say it’s not, it’s just, so much more than that.

The past and present collide as Megan Youngblood after suffering a stroke is put into a rather low funded care home by her two children. This does give her time to think about her past though, the journey that led her to this moment, especially as she’s left unable to communicate. She is under the mercies of the caregivers, some who are sweet and caring, some who treat it sim[ly as a job, and others. Others who use their position to abuse her and others in the home.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be anything new for Megan, her life has been rife with pain. She’s been under the care of those who would do her harm before, only this time she cannot even protest it if she wanted to.

Each chapter gives us the present and the past, and I was caught up in both timelines and it was almost weird to come upon them joining to just have the present but I’m so happy it was done this way, you see just how much Megan has been through. But I also feel as if she’d been through too much. It was a very hard and heavy read, as much as I loved it, it was not something I expected to make me so emotional; in the best and worst of ways haha, you can’t help but cry for Megan and her life, but I do think the ending made it all worthwhile, but, telling would be spoilers.

The main issue I had with this, and that’s not that it was a hard read, that’s just a warning that you will be probably too invested in Megan’s life, but that it felt disjointed between the ‘scarier’ thriller part and the rest of it.

I expected Annie to be featured more prominently given her role in the book, instead that huge plot of the story doesn’t come in till 70+ % through, so that was a bit of a shock to the system and by that time it made it feel like two different stories, but, the culmination of it all brings it all back on track.

Great, difficult read. Thank you to Anne Cater and the publisher for a chance to read and review this as part of my honest opinion. Four cups from me!

 

About the Author

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Alex Craigie was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and all she can remember about it is that:
  • it was written in pencil in a book with weights and measures on the back
  • the two heroes were Prince Rupert and his brother (whose name was changed to Sam to facilitate the rhyming process.)      
  • as writer, producer and director she ‘bagged’ the part of female lead. 
When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines and since then has fulfilled her ambition to write a novel.
Someone Close to Home has won two ‘Chill with a Book’ awards – The Reader’s Award and the Book of the Month Award.
Alex lives in a small village in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and knows that she and her husband are lucky to have their children and grandchildren living nearby. It’s often chaotic and noisy but these are her most treasured moments and she savours them – even if she’s reduced to an immovable heap after they’ve gone.  
As an independent author, without a big publishing machine behind her, she is very grateful to all the people who have found and bought her first book – and a huge thank you to those who’ve gone out of their way to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. These reviews make a massive difference to ‘Indies’ and the positive ones encourage other readers to risk buying a copy.
What else can she say?  Nothing, really. Writing this personal promotion has been very, very hard and she needs to go away now and lie down in a darkened room, preferably with a big bar of chocolate…  
She looks forward to any contact from fellow lovers of books and any honest feedback is very welcome.

 

The Rest of the Tour

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