What Once Was Mine – Liz Braswell
Rapunzel, retelling, young adult, fiction.
Rapunzel’s mother drank a potion to save her life and it was what they thought was the sundrop flower. When Rapunzel was born she had silver hair that was proven deadly. The King and Queen had to face a decision that all new parents would fear is giving up their child or sending their child away. The Queen made it her quest to find a caregiver for Rapunzel and found Mother Gothel who promised to care for Rapunzel. Mother Gothel had other plans that led to Rapunzel being afraid of her hair’s powers. Rapunzel asked Mother Gothel if she could leave the tower to see the floating lanterns that happen every year on a specific date that correlated to her birthday and was told a firm no. She can’t have Rapunzel kill another person like what she had done to her parents long ago. She asks her mother to go get her something and when the coast is clear Rapunzel leaves the tower out of curiosity of what this strange man left behind to find a crown of some sort. Rapunzel goes on a quest to find someone to take her to the floating lights and has a prize for whomever. She finds Flynn Rider and Gina, both outlaws in trouble, and agrees to help Rapunzel. Along the way Rapunzel finds out the truth about her origin and the reality of her origin.
I’m a huge fan of Tangled and this twisted tale was by far the best presentation of the story being twisted. Rapunzel has magical hair that destroys or rather takes the life of whoever touches it. This blew my mind because I wasn’t expecting Gina to be included into the mix. Overall I enjoyed the characters in this form too. The plot was intriguing and kept me always on my toes. What I loved a lot about this novel was the way that it felt like The Princess Bride storytelling of someone sitting down and telling this story to someone young and in need of a good story. This story was being told by a man named Brendan to his twin sister Daniella who loves Tangled a lot and often requested to rewatch the movie. I nearly cried throughout this novel as well as laughing and going ‘aw’ a lot. This was utterly sweet and I highly recommend that one go get this novel to read. I couldn’t help but to savor this novel so I finished it within a week. I didn’t want to rush reading it because of how well it was written.
Caraval – Stephanie Garber
Young adult, games, survival, fiction.
Scarlett writes to this Legend who is in charge of the infamous Caraval. It is a game where people compete for a prize at the end. Scarlett is about to be married off to a suitor her dad chose for her and doesn’t really want to do it other than take her sister away from their very abusive father. Scarlett was given tickets to go to the Caraval and at the same time her sister, Tella, went missing. Scarlett decides to go with Julian, a man who her sister was seeing, into the game to find her sister or else something bad will happen to her sister. This game makes everyone question if it is just a game or reality.
I saw this book on book tok, a part of tiktok that is dedicated to bibliophiles, and was intrigued by the plot. I didn’t put this book down because of how it kept me intrigued with the story of how Scarlett was trying to survive Caraval plus saving her sister. There was simplicity and yet complexities to this novel. I couldn’t help but to finish this book in one sitting. This is sort of like the Hunger Games meets circus minus the teenagers being thrown into a fight but rather fleshing out parts of people and sides of people that they themselves didn’t know existed. Overall this was a small book and easy to indulge.
The Infinity Courts – Akemi Dawn Bowman
Young adult, fantasy, death, afterlife, computers, science fiction, fiction.
Nami was ready for her future until she was murdered. She died when the bank robber at the liquor store shot her. She finds herself in Infinity where the mind is alive but her body is dead. The people who greet her tell her about the war against Ophelia who has taken over the Infinity and hates humanity. Nami is the only one to help save them from disaster or their world from actually ending.
This young adult novel was one of the trendy books I saw and was instantly interested. However, the chosen one trope was what got to me but besides that everything else is really good. The storyline and plot goes smoothly. The characters and their interactions with each other were alright but the chosen one trope kept getting more annoying as the characters kept telling Nami she is the chosen one and that she should train for the ultimate fight. I was expecting better for this novel but then again the chosen one trope is heavily in most young adult novels as it is popular among that demographic. It sells right off the shelves.
Blood & Honey – Shelby Mahurin
Young adult, witches, witch hunters, romance, fantasy, fiction.
After being reunited, Lou and Reid make a plan. They must stop Lou’s mother from enacting her devious plan. Not only that but the two are being hunted by all in the land. One of the important things they need to do is make and form alliances which isn’t an easy thing given that they are in a dangerous game. Reid is still trying to accept magic into his life for the sake of his wife and to follow his marital duties to stay by Lou’s side. The battle for peace and for love has just begun.
I was waiting a long time for this novel to come out. I had been enthralled by the first book and couldn’t help but wonder about the sequel. This was phenomenally written just like the first book where I was taken on a roller coaster of feelings. I couldn’t help but to try to read this in one sitting because of the way the narrative was written I didn’t want to set this book down not once. I feel for Reid because he was taught to hate witches and magic but he loves this woman who became his wife. I just don’t like some choices that Lou had made that were deeply questionable in this book and I fear for the third book that is coming out later this year. I simply hate the fact that TikTok made me buy the first book and I got so invested in this because the whole trope of witch and witch hunter/ enemies to lovers romance story never got me interested before having read this book. I definitely recommend this series. It is a whole trip and a roller coaster of feels.
Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune – Rick Riordan
Greek gods and goddesses, roman gods and goddesses, mythical, fantasy, children’s, fiction.
Percy wakes up with no memory other than he is a demigod and the name Annabeth. He finds himself going to Camp Jupiter and Juno, a goddess, announces that he is to be an important addition to the camp. Hazel is hiding a secret of her origin as well as the fact that she walks among the living for a reason. Frank doesn’t know who his parentage is, or rather which God he comes from. The three of them are the key to fulfilling the quest. The quest begins and frees Thantantos, or God of Death, from being imprisoned. Each of them learn more about what is going on and how Gaea is obtaining more and more power each day.
I found that this was really interesting and there was a map. I wished that there was a map for Camp Half-Blood. Sadly there is only one for Camp Jupiter. A lot of world building and lore was explained in this novel that helped explain the previous book. I’m not too sure how to feel about the amnesia aspect because without the memories, this tends to cause a lot more issues for these demigods. I understand that it serves a purpose but it is annoying. Drives the plot unfortunately. Either way I did love this second book of the series.
Wolfsbane – Andrea Cremer
Wolves, supernatural, fiction, young adults, identity, interpersonal relationships.
Calla was captured by the enemy. Only to find out the truth and that Shay was telling the truth of the reality she is now faced with. She has to work with them to fight her true enemy. In order to go back to rescue her pack, she must train and be prepared. She has to protect Shay as he is the key to the future. Even though she turned him into the wolf so he can give her pack blood in order to save his life, he is still in need of protection. She has to trust her own heart to make the right decision.
I, of course, couldn’t resist getting the entire trilogy of this series. I loved this series as a teenager and even love them more as an adult. The synopsis is short because most of the book has a lot of details and I wouldn’t want to spoil. Andrea Cremer does such a good job world building and making lovable, as well as hateable, characters. This book was fairly paced and well written. A bit shorter than the first novel but definitely action packed. Calla going through the whole identity and purpose crisis was really character building and has made her better. I still find it funny that her other love interest, Shay, is now a werewolf. He hasn’t fully adjusted and it’s quite humoring. I might hold off reading the final book, BloodRose because I want to enjoy this series and relish the moments. I will also work on getting the prequel series that goes along with this book that gives background information of the history behind all what is going on in this series which I also had read back in middle school when I had that werewolf witch phase. I wasn’t on the team Edward lol. I was on the werewolf team. Go find this book series and read it if one is into werewolves and witches.
Nightshade – Andrea Cremer
Wolves, supernatural, fiction, young adults, identity, interpersonal relationships.
While patrolling, Calla and her friend Bryn come across a bear attacking a human. Calla and Bryn fight off the bear and she tells Brynn to go. Calla goes up to the hiker and heals him then takes him to the car. They don’t speak of what happened. Calla is the alpha of her pack, Nightshades, and this year for her would be life changing since she is being paired to one of the Banes, Renier, as her alpha equal. This hasn’t been done before where a new pack is formed. When they go to school, they are introduced to Shay, a new student, and Calla recognizes the human, he was the hiker. As he is mixing with the pack and them having to protect him, Calla spends time with him dissecting texts that allude to her lineage and his lineage. Confused by what she wants and what is a part of her life, she now questions everything that she ever was taught and decides to do what is right.
I read this novel in middle school and I can’t get over how good this was. I had to buy new copies of the entire series to reread because it has been so long. I was never a twilight person because vampires are not cool Werewolves and witches are cooler. This is a really in depth explanation with a lot of world building. It isn’t overwhelming but it helps create the rest of the world and the following novels to come. I love Calla as she is the scariest and more fierce. This book will take the reader, like myself, on a roller coaster of feelings. I felt sad, happy, excited, and angry all the time because there are duties that Calla has to do but she doesn’t want to follow all the rules. She tries to please others and she never is able to enjoy herself and life. I loved this novel as a teenager when I first read it and love it even more as an adult.
Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo
Fantasy, magic, abilities, monsters, orphan, young adult, fiction.
Soldier and orphan Alina goes with her fellow soldiers into the Fold to discover and take down some of the monsters. She discovers that she has powers of a very powerful Grisha. She is taken to the King and enters his court. Not only that but she was an apprentice to The Darkling. She starts training and learning about how to use her powers. Not only that but she learns more about the new world she is in but she misses the simple life before this extravagant life she was forced into. The Darkling wants Alina to help him destroy the Fold. Something darker and sinister is brewing and Alina tries to decide what to do that is right.
I saw that this book had a lot of hype and I didn’t understand. I read it and still don’t understand. I love writing and world building. Some of the characters seemed too cliched for my taste and I felt that I had read this before. Even though it’s fairly new, I read the trope before and didn’t really care for it. I know this is a part of a series but I will not continue the series as this didn’t get my attention that much.
Go The Distance: A Twisted Tale – Jen Calonita
Retellings, Hercules, Megara, gods, goddesses, young adult, fiction.
Megara and Hercules go to Mount Olympus together after he defeats the Titans and rescues her from the River of Souls. As he has a family reunion she doubts that she would be welcomed up here. Zeus tells Hercules he can’t go back to earth and he has to stay up on Mount Olympus. However, Hera makes an offer to Megara that if she can retrieve Athena’s double flute that she would give more and further instructions to help her become a God. Megara, wanting to be with Hercules, agrees. She goes and manages to retrieve the flute and Phil plus Pegasus helped her along the way. Now she has to make a choice of going to save her ex-boyfriend’s wife from the Underworld or never be able to be at Hercules’ side. Her heart and guts guide her to the right choice she must make and the trials she must face to gain Godhood.
The moment that this book was announced and was available for preorder I had to get it. I love Hercules and Meg from the Disney movie. They were so adorably cute and in this one they are still adorable and cute. I loved this book because there was an intriguing plot and purpose for Megara that she also learned about herself along the way. As well as what truly happened about her ex-boyfriend and how Hades deceived and lied to Megara. The bad person there was Hades for being a manipulative God. Every time I read any parts that had Phil talking, I read it with Danny DeVito’s voice which was ironically funny. I hope if they should come out with a sequel to Hercules, Disney should use this book because it’s an excellent idea. The writing is phenomenal and feels really immersive as well. I HIGHLY recommend going and getting this book to read.
Where Dreams Descend – Janella Angeles
Young adult, retelling, burlesque, magic, shows, competition, mystery, fiction.
Kallia has been training and using her magic for basic tasks but she wants a challenge. Jack, her Master, doesn’t want her to leave where she resides even though he can’t really stop her from entering the competition for the Conquering Circus. She arrives at the audition when accidents and other people who are magicians go missing. Marco doesn’t like how Kallia is effortlessly skilled and tends to have chaotic control of her magic. This doesn’t stop her from wanting to compete.
This was pretty good overall for a retellingish novel. I could tell it was inspired by Phantom of the Opera but this was fresh with a woman of color that added diversity and representation. I loved it. I loved the world that the author created and just wished that the pacing was a bit faster. It was slow at first and then it picked up some speed. The world building was excellently paced and enjoyed the characters. Can’t say more than that because otherwise it will spoil the good stuff.