(Note: I received a free copy of Once in exchange for my honest review.)
The Mountain of the Wolf by Elisabeth Grace Foley
Elisabeth's story, The Mountain of the Wolf, is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling set in the old west, following the mysterious history behind a lonely young woman named Rosa Jean.
I hate giving any book a one-star review, particularly the first in a collection. Though the writing style was good, it was a little too descriptive for my taste, and I just didn't love it. I also wasn't particularly fond of the plot, or of any of the characters. Sadly, this was a did-not-finish, for me. ☹
She But Sleepeth by Rachel Heffington
Rachel's Sleeping Beauty retelling begins in modern LA, following the determination of a young set designer and her handsome intern as they venture to Romania to study the complex history of Peles Castle.
I must say, though Rachel's writing style is as rich as fudge, there were a few aspects of the story that bothered me.
For one, the amount of sorcery. Though magical content doesn't typically bother me, the way that it was presented made it seem more realistic than fictitious, and it just didn't sit well with me.
Secondly, the swearing and use of God's name in vain. Though She But Sleepeth was not drenched in such words and phrases, the amount used -- by a Christian author -- did not seem appropriate.
The beginning was a bit slow and the ending rather sudden. I also wasn't a huge fan of the romance, and didn't really connect much with any of the characters.
One of the things I did like about the book was the concept... which I would go on about (as well as Queen Elisabeth, because I would've loved to have seen her story expanded more), but... spoilers. 😉
You may want to know: There was violence, swearing, and the usage of God's name in vain, as well as rather strong magical elements.
Rumpled by J. Grace Pennington
Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. (*whispers*) That was amazing.
J. Grace's Rumpled is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin (or The Miller's Daughter, if you'd rather), little tributes to Cinderella and Beauty & the Beast weaved in. It follows the adventure of Amanda, a young woman whose father is determined to secure her future, from the point when a governor -- looking to hire a scientist who can build high-functioning artificial intelligence -- stops at their mill.
Rumpled was wonderful -- intriguing, clever, and unique.
In some ways, it seemed to nod it's head to Marissa Meyer's Cinder, but... I think this is so much better.
Rumpled was a bit like several of my favourite TV shows had a meeting and decided to turn themselves into one single book: There were elements of Once Upon a Time, Poldark, and even Downton Abbey; yet Rumpled remained a story all its own.
The writing was outstanding. J. Grace's voice is musical and refined, with just the right amount of description.
When it came to the characters-- Oh, the characters! They were so real, so alive, so human. The protagonist was very relatable, and what a bundle of fun she was!
The plot was incredible. I'm not a huge fan of Rumpelstiltskin, but J. Grace won me over completely with-- Well, I'm not going to say what. You'll have to find out for yourself. 😉 I highly doubt you'll regret it. 😊
And the romance was awesome-sauce! (*squeals*) It did seem a little unrealistic towards the very end, it was still splendid the rest of the way through, and oh-so-sweet.
The steampunk setting threw me off a little bit at first, but by the second or third chapter I was obsessed. The elements were handled very well, and I thought it very interesting how the early days of the US were recreated!
Overall, it was wonderful (and I've managed to start repeating myself, now 😜 ). So yes. Just yes.
You may want to know: There was mild kissing, very minor implications, and the use of the "d-word" once.
Sweet Remembrance by Emily Ann Putzke
Oh my stars... Where to begin?
Emily's retelling of The Little Match Girl takes place on the streets of Poland during World War II, where a twenty-one-year-old woman struggles to survive.
I'm not even sure how to write this review; there hardly seem adjectives great enough to describe it.
First off: This book captured my heart from the first page. Emily is an amazing writer. She described everything perfectly, so well that I felt the emptiness, the silence, and the love drifting through the pages; so well that I felt I was there.
Secondly: The plot. Wow-sers. Sweet Remembrance was the perfect length, and the romance was absolutely wonderful. And oh, how it tugged at my heartstrings!
Thirdly: The characters. Each character was so unique, so individual, yet meshed together so expertly with the others. It was outstanding.
You may want to know: There was violence and the one-time usage of the "ba-word."
Death Be Not Proud by Suzannah Rowntree
Suzannah's Snow White retelling, Death Be Not Proud, is set in 1920s New Zealand, and is the story of a young woman with a strange connection to another girl... but what if the other girl was dead?
I really wanted to like this story, but I wasn't a huge fan of the setting, the characters, or the plot, though the writing style was good. Sadly, I'd have to say that this is another did-not-finish. ☹
With Blossoms Gold by Hayden Wand
Hayden's story is set in renaissance Italy, a Rapunzel retelling of a young maiden locked in a tower, and a prince who just wants to find and rescue a damsel in distress.
I love Hayden's writing voice; it's so very clear yet so very elegant. In With Blossoms Gold, she delivers a story that's true to the original fairytale, but wanders off just enough.
With Blossoms Gold was witty but sweet. The characters were sensible but still a little headstrong, and I loved the quips and good-natured arguments that went on between the two protagonists.
The plot seemed ever so slightly slow at first, but soon sped up, putting an intriguing new spin on the Rapunzel story.
You may want to know: There is violence and warfare. A family is falsely accused of witchcraft, and there is the implied unfaithfulness of a character's betrothed.