Top 5 Cinderella Retellings

You guys, I really love fairy tales. I’m not necessarily one of those Disney fairy tale crazy fans, but I just love the genre in general. Give me a set of prince and princess characters, a talking pet sidekick, and a happily ever after any day.

I also really get into fairy tale adaptations and retellings. There’s something really fun about reading a reimagination of a classic story and finding ways that they parallel. I’ve seen and read all kinds of adaptations over the years – Snow White, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood – but I think most often, I’ve read Cinderella retellings, so that’s what I’ll focus on today. These are 5 of my favorite Cinderella retellings.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

This is the most recent Cinderella adaption that I’ve read and I really enjoyed it. We have a science fiction fandom twist to the classic story, which parallels the film “Ever After” more so than the original tale. It’s witty and chalk full of references to bigger fandoms. The love story is a little different from a classic fairy tale and their meet cute is unique. We’ve got a fun cast of characters here for this modern take on a classic – plus it’s a quick read!

 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I couldn’t leave out my favorite of them all! I remember seeing this book around for a couple of years before actually picking it up and I’m SO glad that I did. Cinder takes us on a galactic journey with this fairy tale twist and throughout this series, we see other adaptations as well, including Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White. The connections to Cinderella are pretty prominent in this first book and it’s a gripping, hilarious story.

It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

This is another modern adaptation of Cinderella, with some looser connections. Our main character lives with her stepmother and stepsister and has a fairy godmother in her abuela. This retelling focuses less on the dynamic between the main protagonist and her “Prince Charming” character and moves it more towards family and friendship. The characters are all VERY real, which is great for a fairy tale adaptation!

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Time for a classic retelling of Cinderella! You may be thinking about the movie, but I’m just going to stop you right there. Don’t even. This is a classic case of the book being significantly better than the movie. It doesn’t even come close. This author is one of my favorites when it comes to fairy tales. All the elements are there – magic, friendship, self-discovery, hope, and a happy ending. Plus, a prince. Got to have a prince! If you haven’t ever read this book, give it a go. You won’t regret it!

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Another throwback example! I remember reading this in middle school. It was one of the first fairy tale adaptations I’d read and is probably the reason I love them so much today. This book gives us a look at the aftermath of Cinderella’s class tale – post-ball and post-wedding life. The twist with this retelling is that there’s no magical anything, it’s a more realistic take. This is a more empowering tale, as Ella didn’t go to the ball in search of a prince, but of a way out of her miserable life. Definitely a different take!

What’s your favorite Cinderella retelling? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

*If you haven’t finished The Lunar Chronicles, then this review will contain some spoilers.*

stars above

Synopsis from GoodreadsThe universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies? With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

Below, I included my rating and wrote a mini-review for each of the novellas:

  1. The Keeper – 5 stars [I loved this! It was great to see things from Michelle’s POV and to get a glimpse of what it was like when Scarlet was younger. This was a great way to start this collection!]
  2. Glitches – 4.5 stars [Peony! *insert cry face* I thought this story was really interesting! I’d wondered what it was like for Cinder when she first arrived with the Linh family and this story fit that bill, answering all my questions.]
  3. The Queen’s Army – 4.5 stars [Wolf! i love how these stories are giving me a little more face time with some of my favorite characters. Getting a little bit more of his background info was helpful to really round out his character.]
  4. Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky – 5 stars [Thorne! Young Thorne, you dog, you. He’s so clever and determined, this story telling us just how far back that part of him goes. I remembered something from one of the previous books where Thorne said he’d defended a girl in high school and been suspended, so it was like AHA! to read about that.]
  5. After Sunshine Passes By – 5 stars [Cress! (are you sensing a trend, here?) I love Cress. She’s so naive and innocent, going along for the ride, seeing the best in everyone around her. This story shows us how she ended up on the satellite and gives us a glimpse of her early relationship with her Mistress Sybil.]
  6. The Princess and the Guard – 5 stars [Jacin ended up being a surprise favorite for me when I finished reading Winter. I loved his devotion and patience to/with Winter and enjoyed seeing their relationship develop. This story gave us a sweet picture of their friendship at a younger age and gave us insight into what made Winter decide to suppress her gift.]
  7. The Little Android – 4 stars [I’d heard ahead of time that this was a retelling of The Little Mermaid. I wouldn’t have guessed that, if I hadn’t known it before I even started reading. I saw the connections in that she saved the guy, and there was a necklace, and she couldn’t speak…but beyond that, I don’t see the similarities. I didn’t love this story, but it was interesting, even though the ending confused me a little. I liked the little Cinder cameo!]
  8. The Mechanic -4 stars [Kai! I really liked seeing Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from his POV. I wasn’t sure how he felt about her in the beginning, so it was really telling to have his thoughts and feelings right there, written out. It wasn’t terribly thrilling, but it was short and cute.]
  9. Something Old, Something New  – 5 stars [I picked up on the whole wedding thing pretty quickly, but it was not the wedding I expected! This should have been the epilogue to Winter, honestly. I was kind of frustrated with how that book ended and this novella made me feel better about Cinder’s decision regarding her political future. Plus, Scarlet & Wolf 5Ever!]

Final thoughts: I’m so glad I read these novellas! I love Meyer’s writing style and I so enjoyed getting some more time with so many beloved characters! If you’re a fan of The Lunar Chronicles, you should definitely read this collection!

Goodreads rating: 4.41/5 stars

Amazon.com rating: 4.8/5 stars

My overall rating: 4.5/5 stars

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

April 2016 Wrap Up

Within the first few days of this month, I’d finished off a few books. I was already more than halfway done with the first book by the end of March, so that was kind of cheating. The next 2, I gobbled up during a stay-in weekend. (Oh, you know those…the ones where you make excuses so you don’t have to see other people and stay in your PJs all weekend? Introverts unite.) Then I had an ear infection and was basically glued to my bed for 2 days. So much reading time!

This month, I managed to read a total of TEN books! Wow! I’m impressed by myself, but I also realize how badly I need to get a life…ahh nah. I’m good. This month isn’t even over, yet! I can still squeeze a book in. However, I predict that next month, I’ll read like 2 or 3 books because that’s how reading rollercoasters roll.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (Technically, I finished this on March 31, but my March Wrap Up had already been posted! I’m not counting it for April, though. I’ll be fair!)

  • Novellas. Variety. Favorite characters.
  • Rating: 4.5 stars

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

  • Better than the first. Spies. Intrigue.
  • Rating: 4.5 stars

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

  • Music. Compelling. Unique.
  • Rating: 4.75 stars

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

  • Perfection. Addicting. Action packed.
  • Rating: 5 stars

Wolf by Wolf  by Ryan Graudin

  • Truly unique. Action packed. WWII alterate ending.
  • Rating: 4.5 stars

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

  • Second read. Book club. Music.
  • Rating: 4.25 stars

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

  • Audiobook. Lin-Manuel Miranda. Need I say more?
  • Rating: 4.25 stars

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

  • Second read. Uneventful. Meh characters.
  • Rating: 2.5 stars

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

  • Friendship. Great lead characters. Real talk.
  • Rating: 4.75 stars

The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright

  • Prince & Me vibes. Quirky. Easy read.
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

  • Friendship. Self-confidence. Beach.
  • Rating: 4.25 stars

What books did you read this month? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 of My 5-Star Favorites

If you haven’t ever noticed my rating descriptions over on the right hand side of my blog, take a minute to check that out. If you’re new here to Rhodes of Reading, first of all – HAAY! Now, feel free to check out my rating descriptions. Take your time. I can wait.

I’m not one of those people that rips books apart and expects perfection. I’m not a reviewer that rarely doles out a 5 star review. When a book thrills me, forces me to finish it in one day, or gives me the majority of the feels, you best believe I’mma give it 5 stars. When I love something, I love it and I believe it deserves all of the stars.

Here are five books that I awarded 5 star ratings to! You may or may not agree with my reviews and that’s okay. That’s what reading is all about – your interpretation. Sometimes a book just hits me at a certain time in my life and it meets me where I am. I may love a book 10x more because of the time that I read it than if I’d read it any other time. Does that make sense?

crows

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

The first 5 star book that popped into my head was this work of art. Everything about it is brilliant, from the book jacket to the page color – everything. I really enjoyed Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy and this book takes place in the same world. You don’t have to have read her previous books to enjoy this one – the world and it’s magical elements are all explained. There may be a few references that you don’t understand, but it doesn’t impact your understanding of the plot in any way. I loved the writing style and the entire cast of characters. This was such a fun ride and I can’t wait for the sequel! (read my full review HERE)

wrath

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

This book is a perfect example of me reading a book at just the right time to love it. Other people I know that have read this book maybe enjoyed it, but didn’t love it the way I did. It was just what I needed to pull me out of a reading slump and I finished it in a day. I raved about it and forced friends to read it, but they didn’t love it as much as me. I’m okay with that. (read my full review HERE)

wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

This is a book that deserves all the stars and awards and accolades and everything. This book is wonder-ful because it is completely necessary. As a teacher, this book spoke to me on a level that a non-teacher may not connect with. But I strongly believe everyone can make a connection to these characters and this storyline – students, parents, teacher, general human beings. It’s a story of reality, hope, and joy, and I will forever love it. (read my full review HERE)

cress

Cress by Marissa Meyer

If you’re not new here, you know that I always talk about The Lunar Chronicles. I know you’re probably tired of it, but I certainly am not. Of the series, Cress may just be my favorite. This book had more heart and substance than the other books in the series did and the tone was a bit different, as well. I enjoyed every second of this book. I laughed, I cried, I tensed up, I relaxed – it’s the whole package. (read my full review HERE)

for darkness

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy this book when I first picked it up, but I was quickly drawn in. The world building is so beautiful and a little bit different from all the other dystopian options out there. I found it to be unpredictable and totally engrossing. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. I haven’t read the second book, yet, but I’d like to! (read my full review HERE)

What are some of your 5 star favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Favorite Fictional Couples – Valentine’s Day

It’s almost here, people. It’s almost time for flowers, boxed chocolates, and romantic movies…or for some of us, it’s time for the single woman’s spirit animal: Bridget Jones. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve come up with my top 5 favorite fictional couples that give me that lovey-dovey feeling.

scarlet

Scarlet and Wolf from The Lunar Chronicles

When I first met Scarlet and Wolf, my thoughts were along the lines of meh. As the series went on, however, I fell more and more in love. They are such a perfect pair – both strong and courageous, vulnerable and only trusting towards each other. They balance each other out so seamlessly, you can’t help but love them, together and apart. Out of all the couples in this series (and there are a lot of them), these two were my favorite. Especially when Wolf was nervously eating tinned tomatoes because he missed Scarlet. *swoon* (Doesn’t sound swoon-worthy, unless you understand the importance of tomatoes for Wolf.) If you’re in the mood for slow burning love that turns into a forest fire – read about these two!

anne of green

Anne and Gilbert from the Anne of Green Gables series

Anne and Gilbert don’t have a quick burning, passionate love story. Theirs is more patient, kind, and based on a strong friendship. I quickly read the first 3 books in this series because I was desperate to see how their relationship would progress. Their story is sweet and old-fashioned, which I’m all about. Plus, because this is a long-term series, you get to see what happens with them at multiples stages of their lives.

fangirl

Cath and Levi from Fangirl

Cath and Levi are quirky, sarcastic, and perfection. If you want to read about a relationship full of laughs and “aww, that’s so precious” moments, then this is the book for you. I feel like there’s something about these two that everybody longs for – the camaraderie and level of understanding seems so ideal, when you read about how it plays out for this couple. They both learn more about themselves and each other as their love story develops and I want more. I need a sequel, Rowell!

smoke and bone

Karou and Akiva from Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy

If you’re looking for passionate, sexy kind of a read…look no further. This is a blush-worthy series. The setting is in Prague and Taylor’s writing is beautiful and captivating. You’ll become completely immersed in this series and the relationship of Karou and Akiva. It’d be great if they were just two regular Joe’s that met at an art gallery, but no…it gets kicked up a supernatural notch because Akiva is an angel and Karous is…not exactly human. I read this trilogy super quickly because I was completely immersed in their love story.

redeeming love

Angel and Michael from Redeeming Love

I love Francine Rivers. She is easily one of my auto-buy authors, meaning I’ll purchase whatever she gets published. This love story between Angel and Michael is full of struggle, grit, and honesty. If you want to read about two people who have an obstacle course to defeat before they can truly be together, then this is the one for you. The ending is full of so much triumph and hope for yourself…it’s one of the best ever, ever, ever.

Honorable Mention:

p and p

Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride & Prejudice

I mean, no list of great loves is complete without a little Elizabeth and Darcy action! If you’re one of those rare specimen that haven’t read this book…I highly recommend it. If only because you’ll finally understand about a thousand references in dignified conversations, there’s something about Austen’s ability to capture the human spirit, flaws and all.

Who are your favorite fictional couples? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

*This review does contain spoilers, especially if you haven’t read the other books in the Lunar Chronicles.*

“Maybe the princess could save herself.”
“That sounds like a pretty good story too.”

fairest

Synopsis from GoodreadsIn this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told. Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Feelings: Now, you have to understand that this is technically a novella. It’s numbered as 3.5 in the series, which I find odd. In publication order, that number is correct, but the story itself is most definitely a prequel to the entire series. It was 220 pages long, so I don’t think that’s technically a novella. So it’s really just a full length prequel, and this series desperately needed some background information. This book nailed it right on the head. When I heard this book was coming out, I was afraid it was just going to be a bunch of justifications for why Levana acts the way that she does and that I’d end up feeling sorry for her. I felt pity towards her for about 10 pages, then the Levana I know and hate reared her ugly head again and knocked some sense into me.

Issues: I didn’t love how it was just one, long narrative. It really needed some separate chapters. Also, I was really missing the humor that the other books had. Since I’m marathoning the series, it was really hard for me to transition from Cress, which is really funny, to this serious kind of tone. It just felt a little off, but I know that’s because our narrator is not the humorous type that our heroes from the other books are.

Characters: Don’t worry folks, Levana is still bat crap crazy. I mean, seriously. 1) She likes the idea of infecting Earthens with a deadly disease, then holding an antidote over their heads. 2) She’s at the hospital with Evret, wondering how long he’ll wait after Solstice’s death until he goes after her. 3) She tells Evret after Sol’s death that his wife had “served her purpose.” 4) She’s annoyed that he’d take 2 weeks off work to mourn and get his affairs in order. 5) When she saw the results of the nursery fire, her first thought was on how she would be queen. Those are just 5 of like 142 examples of how cruel she really was. It seemed like she wasn’t so bad at first because her sister, Channary, was a freaking lunatic…but nope. They’re both crazy and evil and selfish and horrible. One major piece of this novel was the glamouring/mind control element. While this explains why Levana wears a veil during her appearances, it just felt like a huge chance to touch on themes of identity and self-worth. But, Levana doesn’t have either of those things, so it was like this weird, antagonistic POV thing that I didn’t love.

Evret Hayle, you poor fella. Part of me really pitied him, but then the other part was like dude…you’re married to a queen…chill the heck out and be happy. He totally could have left after Channary died. Levana wouldn’t have killed him and I think he knew that. So instead, he tortured himself and stuck around.

I loved the plugin of Jacin Clay. I assume we’ll see much more of him in Winter, so it was interesting to see how he fits into this whole Lunar dynamic. It was also different to see Dr. Tanner’s role in Selene’s “death” and Dr. Darnel’s disappearance from Luna after his daughter, the Shell, was taken away.

Final thoughts: Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was fast paced and packed in a lot of information that readers need, going forward in the series. I suppose you could read this book first in the series, but I highly recommend going in publication order: CinderScarletCressFairest, then Winter. Next week, I’ll finally get to my review of Winter, which was one of my most anticipated books of 2015!

My reviews for the other books in the series:

Book 1: Cinder

Book 2: Scarlet

Book 3: Cress

Book 4: Winter (coming next week!)

Goodreads rating: 4.04/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.2/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Cress by Marissa Meyer

*This review does contain spoilers, considering it’s the third book in the series.*

“Maybe there isn’t such a thing as fate. Maybe it’s just the opportunities we’re given, and what we do with them.”

cress

Synopsis from Goodreads:  Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker; unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Feelings: This is my third week in a row to review a book from the Lunar Chronicles. I really enjoyed Cinder and Scarlet, but I freaking LOVED Cress. This book had a whole different tone than the other two. Cinder was focused on world-building and setting the platform that the rest of the series would jump off from. Scarlet was a little more gritty and intense with a lot of action packed into those pages. Cress, however, had a little more substance. We spent more time with Thorne, who adds that lighter balance to Cinder’s struggle and Wolf’s rage. We met a couple of new characters, Jacin and Cress, who added mystery and innocence, respectively. Cress, herself, is dramatic and naive, adding a sprinkle of wonder to this (now) well rounded troupe.

Characters: Thorne & Cress – Thorne is the best. I liked him in Scarlet, but he was a pretty minor character. In this book, though, he was a beautiful, shining star. His dialogue with Cress was pure gold. He picks on her a little and is almost always sarcastic, but he’s never hateful or mean-spirited. I have to give him props for that, because Cress is like a small child he’s having to drag around. She’s so very naive and innocent, understandably so considering she lived in a satellite for 7 years…talking to a younger, computerized version of herself. I was concerned at first that their pairing would be an annoying insta-love situation, but it wasn’t. Cress had a huge crush on him, yes, but then they journey across the Sahara together, Thorne lost his sight, and he survived meeting her dad. Their partnership is turning into something refreshing and real. I’m all for that.

Wolf & Scarlet – I need more of these two together! When he basically said he loved her, I died. When she was gone and he was sleeping in her bed and hugging canned tomatoes, I died. Scarlet’s hanging out with freaking crazy Princess Winter and I need Wolf to rescue her STAT. I need more character development for Wolf because he’s kind of plateaued. Scarlet cannot catch a break. It wasn’t enough that her grandma was kidnapped and killed, then she got kidnapped and torn away from the only person that makes her feel safe…now she’s had to part ways with a finger and is in a menagerie run by a psycho Lunar princess. No biggie.

Cinder & Kai – Kai continues to grow and develop into a world leader. When he got rid of the cyborg draft, it was like he was standing up and saying, “I’m accepting, now. I may even be willing to forgive Cinder.” That was a big move for him, a game changer. I can totally see why he would think that Scarlet is the missing Princess Selene – all his evidence pointed to her. Now that he knows Cinder is Princess Selene, I want to see what his role will be in all of this. Will he help their rag-tag bunch of misfit toys to make the galaxy safe again? Or will he return to Earth and play ignorant to their antics? Time will tell! I was really happy to see Cinder step into her destiny in this book. It wasn’t until the end of Scarlet when she really decided to accept who she really is. Now, she’s literally fighting for all the people of Earth AND Luna, ready to step into her role as Queen. She has no idea what that’ll entail, but she knows it’s better than Levana being Queen any longer. Rock on, Cinder.

Comparisons: In my opinion, Cress had the most interesting fairytale retelling elements of the bunch. I loved it so much that I’m going to dedicate a huge paragraph to it. Ha! Here we go: The original Rapunzel story is very similar to the one depicted in the musical “Into the Woods”, as opposed to the one in “Tangled.” There’s a young woman who’s obsessed with her neighbor’s Rapunzel leaves from her garden. (Another name for the Rapunzel plant is RAMPION, like Thorne’s ship.) The young woman’s husband jumps the neighboring witch’s fence in order to get the plant for his wife. When the witch catches him, she makes him promise his first born child, a child she names Rapunzel. Classic Rapunzel, she is locked in a tall tower and the witch has to climb the girl’s long hair up to get to her. A prince hears Rapunzel singing and watches how the witch gets up to her, then copies her. (Thorne likes Cress’s singing voice, as she hums and sings a lot.) The witch tricks the prince by cutting off Rapunzel’s hair and tossing it out the window, pulling him up the tower. In Cress, “Mistress” Sybil glamours herself to look like Cress, tricking Thorne into coming aboard the satellite. In the original story, the witch finds out the prince has been visiting Rapunzel and cuts off her hair, but in our book Thorne cuts it himself. Then the prince falls from the tower and is blinded by the thorns at the bottom. (Kind of like how THORNE falls to Earth in the satellite with Cress, hitting his head and becomes blind.) Then in the fairytale, the prince finds Rapunzel and the…twins…she’s given birth to (I mean, he visited her a lot up in that tower) and they live happily ever after, after her tears of joy restore his sight, that is.

Final thoughts: I’m going to reread Fairest before I dive into the new, last book in the series: Winter. That book is just staring at me…waiting to be read. I’m coming for you, Winter! I give Cress all of the stars! I really, really loved this book a lot. It was so funny, action packed, heart warming and it’s all leading up to something wonderful…I can feel it, friends!

Pick this up if you liked:

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (see my review here)

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Goodreads rating: 4.49/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.8/5

My rating: 5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn