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

5 Books I Basically Consumed

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately. I have a hundred things going on and when I finally have a minute to myself, my brain is SO not in a place to engage with words on a page. So I decided this week to reflect back on some books that sucked me in and that I finished in less than one day. Sometimes I’m able to do that simply because I have the time to spare, while others involve me burning the midnight oil with zero regrets. Here are 5 books that I read so quickly that I may as well have devoured them.

It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

I think what connected for me so well with this book was how different it was from anything else I’d been reading at that time. This book’s main character, Tatum, is SO REAL that the storyline just flowed and I was deeply rooting for her. I just had to know how the conflict played out and whether or not it would all fall in place. Click HERE for my full review!

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

This was the last book I read in 2016 and I read it on the LAST day. I started it while I was alone at my parent’s house around 6 PM and was on the last page before midnight. I was SO hooked in by this premise and the gripping characters. This is a book that you should read about before diving in. The conflict and the world are both pretty complex, so it’s good to kind of know where it’s going. Click HERE for my full review! Girl power! The second book comes out this year and is titled One Dark Crown…I. Can’t. Wait.

My Lady Jane by C. Hand, B. Ashton, J. Meadows

This book is SO GREAT. The longer I sit here and think about it, the more I want to start back at page 1 and give it another go. Magical elements that make sense, a fun twist on a sad bit of history, and good use of parenthesis…oh my! Read my full review HERE! If you like the style and humor in The Princess Bride, then you’ll enjoy the way this story is told.

The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

I picked up this book at a time when none of the books on my shelf were calling to me. I couldn’t figure out what genre I was in the mood for. Did I want romance? Fantasy? Classics? I was coming up empty. So I went to the book store and was drawn in by this book’s cover. When I read the synopsis, it left me with a lot of questions…so it was perfect. All throughout this book, I wondered what the author would do with the ending. Would there be a magical cure-all happy ending? Or would it be sad and real? I was really satisfied with this story! My full review is HERE.

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

When this book came out, I decided to re-read the previous two books. Since this was the last book in the trilogy, I wanted to be able to pick up on everything and really enjoy it. I was worried that reading 3 books in a row would burn me out, but it didn’t. This book energized me! The author pulled out all the stops and didn’t do anything the way I expected her to and I LOVED it. This may be one of my top favorite series ending books ever. That’s saying something! I downed it. Then I wanted to have my memory erased so I could do it all over again. My full review for this book is HERE.

What are some books that you flew through? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Reading Challenge Update #1

Hey friends! This week, I wanted to update you on my reading challenge. In case you missed it, I decided to shake up my reading goals for this year. I usually create a list of challenges and then force books to fit the list by the end of the year and that totally defeats the point.

My goal this year is to travel in my reading. I want to learn about other cultures and perspectives and to also just experience life somewhere else. Reading is a great way to accomplish this. I’ve also decided to not limit myself to one year. I’ll reach this goal when I reach it! You can also keep track with me on the tab above. I track places my reading takes me that actually exist. I do read a lot of fantasy, so unless these stories start out in the real world somehow, they won’t count.

Here are where my reading travels have taken me so far this year!

Travels Completed: 8/80

Africa

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (South Africa)

Asia

– Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai (Vietnam)

The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen (Bombay, India; Modern Day Mumbai)

Europe

London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton (London, England)

– May I Have Your Attention, Please? by James Corden (London, England)

North America

– March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (Washington, D.C.; Troy, Alabama)

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer (Brooklyn, New York)

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June (Alexandria, Virginia)

Do you have any books to recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen

india-orchid

Synopsis from GoodreadsAnthony Blake is in love with his best friend’s sister, Sophia Elliot. But his plans to court her are put on hold when he is forced to resume his role as an undercover spy for the Crown. A secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies-including his own-has been stolen. To protect Sophia, Anthony cuts off all ties to her and exchanges his life as an honorable earl for the façade of a flirtatious playboy.

Heartbroken and confused, Sophia travels to India, hoping to find healing in one of the most exotic regions of the British Empire. But the exotic land isn’t as restful as she had hoped. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery of a missing sea captain, a possible murder, and a plot that could involve the prince of India. And when Anthony appears at the British Residency, asking questions and keeping his distance from her, she is stunned.

She still loves him, and, in her heart, she knows he loves her too. But how can she rebuild her relationship with him if he won’t confide in her? Does she dare offer her heart to him a second time, or will their love be lost under the India sun?

Feelings:  One thing I really appreciated about this book were the cultural spotlights. She gave us a base – the British expectations and values – something most of us have a loose understanding of. Then as the story developed, she layered in the traditions and cultural norms of India. She compared the two worlds and showed how they impacted each other.

The author somehow managed to teach me about a culture I didn’t know much about, draw me in with a murder mystery, and keep me hoping for our two protagonists. There was a lot going on, to be sure, but I don’t think it was too much. I believe it was well balanced.

With murder mysteries, my main concern is usually that I’ll have it all figured out long before the final pages. With this story, I had some guesses, but I never could have predicted exactly how it would play out.

Issues: The ending felt a little too rushed for me. We spent so much time building up to who the murderer was and their motivations, then the truth comes out pretty quickly and it’s over. The epilogue helped the story to feel like it had a satisfying ending. Without it, I really wouldn’t have been thrilled.

While there’s a lot going on in this story, there were a few times where I felt like…nothing…was going on. About a third of the way through, I started to lose interest. Then I just resolved to finish reading it and finished the other two thirds in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down! I think it was because we’d met our protagonists, a change in scenery had occurred, and then someone was murdered. I hadn’t really dug my heels into it yet; it didn’t feel like there was anything solid to hold onto. But then the story picks up and it sucked me in! So stay with it.

Characters: I thought the two main characters, Anthony and Sophia, were really sweet. I was worried that the tension would drag on too long, but it ended up being just right. They complimented each other well and I loved the way they understood one another. Because of the way the author paced the story, we got to know our main characters in doses. There wasn’t a major introductory information dump. In fact, for a while I had some questions, but the author had answered them all by the end. I like that because it forces me to pay better attention and look for specific things.

The minor characters added some value to the plot and gave us some more cultural insights. They included a wide range of individuals from different backgrounds and levels of society, which added some depth to the overall story.

Final thoughts: The setting was beautiful and totally jumped off the pages, the romance was clean and sweet, and the mystery wasn’t too predictable. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style and felt like I was reading some classic Austen, from time to time. This book was a great change of pace from what I’ve been reading lately and I’d recommend it to my historical fiction and mystery loving friends!

Pick this up if you liked:

My Fair Gentleman by Nancy Campbell Allen

Goodreads rating: 4.67/5

My rating: 4/5

*This book will be out August 1 of this year. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Books I Read Because of Hype

I’m one of those readers who runs on recommendations. I’m always looking for the latest craze or hype-inducing storyline. I want to know what I’m talking about when I join the conversation, so I always fall prey to hype. These are 5 books that I read because of all the conversations they started amongst the blogosphere and Goodreads threads.

anna and the french kiss

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

SO MANY people told me to read this book. I was skeptical because I hadn’t really gotten into the contemporary scene at that point. But I finally decided to dive in on a sick day and I’m so glad that I did. Since I finished reading about Anna and Etienne, I’ve read the next two books in this companion story trio and I loved them. This book is the reason I reach for a contemporary romance. Plus that cover art. *Swoon*

throne

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I love high fantasy. I’m always interested in new worlds and innovative magic systems. I’d heard a lot of people talk about this series after the sequel came out, but the cover threw me off. It seemed weird, I’ll be honest. But I watched a spoiler-free review of the first book and the vlogger was SO into it. I love fangirling, so I wanted what she was having. And now? I freaking love this series. I always pre-order the new books long in advance and anxiously await their arrival, even clearing my schedule for them. These stories consume me. There are so many characters and so much world building that I’m too invested to stop now.

outlander

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Everyone and their cat’s mom has talked about this series. I’m all about historical fiction and time travel, plus romance and Scotland…hubba hubba. But then, the romance also made me hesitated. I’m not one of those people who just LOVES blush inducing love scenes, call me crazy. Once the TV show started airing, I wanted to be part of the conversation, so I picked up the first book. I actually read it as I watched the episodes, which was pretty interesting. Then I watched the second season of the show and haven’t read the book. I AM glad that I read it. I thought the writing was powerful and the world was engaging. I would like to continue the series, but I haven’t settled on whether it’ll be print or TV, or both.

wrath

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

I read a few blog posts and watched some booktube videos of readers raving about this story, so I picked it up. I sat down and read it cover to cover in one sitting. Not necessarily because it was a work of genius, but because it hooked me in and I had the time. Since then, the sequel has been released and I have yet to read it. I don’t really remember what happened in the first book, probably because I read it TOO quickly. I don’t know that I’ll pick up the second book any time soon. I already have it on my Kindle, staring at me, longing to be given a chance. Maybe the hype sucked me in TOO much the first time around.

all the light

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Again I say, I love me some historical fiction. Last year, I was on a major WWII kick and read book after book about that time period. I was also teaching The Diary of Anne Frank along with a WWII unit, so I was thirsty for more information. Everyone kept telling me that I should read this book, but the page count was daunting. Once I finally decided to give it a chance, I flew through it. The characters lept off the page and I was so emotionally invested in their fictional little lives. I love this book. It’ll forever be one of my favorites.

What books has hype made you read? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

November 2016 Wrap Up

My goal on Goodreads was to read 75 books this year and I reached it this month! When the month started, I still had a ways to go. Then I heard about the app comiXology and read a bunch of graphic novels and comics. Now I’m all set! I got into quite a kick! They upped my wrap up numbers for the month because they’re just so easy and quick to read.

This is what I was able to read in November…I read 4 books, finished 1 audiobook, and read 10 graphic novels and comic books, for a grand total of: 15!

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

  • Hamilton fans. American Revolution. Daughter of a president.
  • My rating: 5 stars

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

  • Great picture of history. Strong writing. Eye opening.
  • My rating: 3.5 stars

Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala

  • Had potential. Interesting art. Quick read.
  • My rating: 2 stars

Boxers by Gene Luen Yang

  • New to me. Chinese history. Mystical.
  • My rating: 4 stars

Saints by Gene Luen Yang

  • Companion to Boxers. Captivating. Tragic.
  • My rating: 4.5 stars

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

  • Alice in Wonderland prequel. Anti-hero. Made me hungry.
  • My rating: 4 stars

Lumberjanes, Vol.1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen

  • So sassy. Fun cast. Second read.
  • My rating: 4 stars

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (audiobook) by JK Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale

  • Better than the movie. Remember Cedric.
  • My rating: 5 stars

Red Sonja, Vol. 1: Queen of Plagues by Gail Simone

  • Warrior in a bikini. Comic book. Pretty ok.
  • My rating: 3.5 stars

Saga, Volumes 2-6 by Brian K. Vaughan

  • Kindle book sale. For adults. Wild storyline.
  • My rating(s): Vol. 1-4 & 6: 4 stars, Vol. 5: 3 stars

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

  • For fans of the show. Eye opening. Really interesting.
  • My rating: 4.5 stars

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

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Books I’m Thankful For

I love Thanksgiving. I love November and December in general, really. I just love holidays and pumpkin spice lattes and Christmas joy. There are so many things that I’m thankful for: my family and friends, my job and education, breath every morning and a safe place to sleep every night…the list could go on and on. I’m thankful for a family that encourages learning and reading. I’m thankful for the chance to travel to new worlds or dive into history, just by reading pages from the comfort of my own home. Books have given me so much over the course of my life. Some books have given me a new level of understanding, some have given me courage and confidence, while others have given me moments of peace. These are 5 books that I’m particularly thankful for.

harry_potter_and_the_sorcerers_stone

I’m trying really hard to think outside the box and reach beyond the first thing to pop in my head, but listen…there’s no denying the impact that Hogwarts and Co have had on my life. The first book came out when I was 6 years old and it was just a couple of years later that I finally convinced my mom to let me read it. I can honestly say that this series is one of the reason I love books so much today. I felt a plethora of emotions over the years of being engaged in this world: anxiety, joy, fear, hope, friendship, safety, and more. I’m thankful for Harry Potter and for having stories that feel like home.

crazy-love

Non-fiction and I are not usually friends. However, there was a season in my life where a friend literally put this book into my hands and I started reading. I didn’t want to, but I caved. I’m a sucker. This is the one non-fiction book that I keep coming back to. Sometimes it’s just to reread a chapter or a paragraph, while other times it’s to start at page 1 and see what happens. Francis Chan has a way of helping me understand who God is and how He loves. This is a love that I couldn’t wrap my head around…until I read this book. I’m thankful for Francis Chan and the new eyes that I see the world through.

anne of green

I was late to the Anne of Green Gables game, I’ll admit. My mom told me over the years that I should read it and that the main character reminded her of herself. I think that’s the reason I resisted reading it. Typical teen. Ha! I randomly decided to give it a chance just a couple of years ago and now I’m obsessed. It’s like Anne and I have always been friends. (Maybe that has something to do with my mom, too…) This series is so full of hope and joy, laughter and love. I know that I can open any one of these books or turn on the audiobook and I’ll crack at least one smile. I’m thankful for Anne Shirley and for reminders that beauty is all around us.

lineage-of-grace

Francine Rivers is one of those rare individuals that I would do untold things to meet. You know those basketball game half-time half-court contests? I’d do that for a chance to meet her. And I once had the chance to do that for a cool prize and vehemently refused. So…trust me when I tell you that means something. When I think about how much I love her books and honestly, I’m thankful for all of them, this one sticks out. This book includes 5 stories about Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary from the Bible. Rivers has a way of taking what we know about them from God’s word, and turns them into full fledged stories. She gives them voices, ambitions, and humanizes them in a way that I hadn’t pictured before. I’m thankful for this book and the way it helped me to read the Bible.

fangirl

Man, I love this book. When I read the last page, I felt this overwhelming sense of understanding. I felt seen and known by these characters and the author. Rainbow Rowell always writes books that are poignant and funny, while also being complex and surprising. This Rowell book in particular really spoke to me. I’ve read it twice now and I’m sure I’ll read it again when I need a reminder that it’s ok to be myself and that in fact, that’s what makes me awesome – no one else is 100% like me. I’m thankful for Fangirl and I’m thankful to be me.

What books are you thankful for this holiday season? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn