Book Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

My Rating: 4_5_StarRating

Goodreads Description:

First, there were ten – a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal – and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

My Review:

This was my first Agatha Christie book and I really enjoyed it. Believe it or not, I hadn’t known who Agatha Christie was until I saw the screen adaptation of Murder On The Orient Express. The movie was very fun to watch and after learning more about Agatha, I wanted to pick up one of her books. I got this one from a Book of the Month box.

While reading this, I didn’t want to put it down. It was so gripping and I got completely wrapped up in the Who Dunnit of the story.

As you can see from the top, I gave this a 4.5 out of 5 stars. The only reason that this didn’t get 5 stars from me was that halfway through the book, I came up with a theory of how I wanted it to end and it ended a different way. I know what you’re thinking…not the best reason to take away half a star, but hear me out. It was basically only for personal reasons.

I’m not saying that it ended badly, the ending was quite clever, however, I was so caught up in how I wanted it to end that I was a little disappointed. I really really liked my idea for the ending and I thought it would have been even more clever. I’m not going to write what my idea actually was though because who knows…. maybe I could incorporate it into something that I write in the future…

The idea of having a bunch of strangers on a mysterious island with no idea who keeps killing them off one by one is so creative and spooky. Honestly, while reading this, my heart was pounding and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

I would definitely recommend this book to someone in a reading slump (it helped me out of mine). It was a quick read (264 pgs) and something that is hard to put down considering the constant shock factors. In fact, I think it would be really fun to read this in one sitting on a dark and rainy day (just a suggestion).

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Book Review: The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

A book review of The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

My Rating 3-out-of-5

Goodreads Description:

In the spirit of Station Eleven and Never Let Me Go, this dazzling and ambitious literary debut follows three generations of beekeepers from the past, present, and future, weaving a spellbinding story of their relationship to the bees and to their children and one another against the backdrop of an urgent, global crisis.

England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive one that will give both him and his children honor and fame.

United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming but hopes that his son can be their salvation.

China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao’s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out on a grueling journey to find out what happened to him.

Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees joins these three very different narratives into one gripping and thought-provoking story that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity. 

My Review:

I was really excited to read this book when I won it in a giveaway. It sounded like it was going to be a super interesting historical fiction read and that genre is one that always tends to keep my interest. I was also hoping that this book would teach me a lot more about bees and their disappearances (a phenomenon happening in our world today).

Both of those things turned out to be true, but not quite in the way that I had expected.

The book was an interesting historical read, however, it was just too slow for me. At the time that I read this, I think that I needed something a bit more fast-paced considering I just finished up reading a lot of textbooks at University. I found myself not wanting to pick it up, not because the story or writing wasn’t good, but because it wasn’t the pace that I wanted to be reading. This is one of the main reasons that the book got a 3 out of 5 stars from me.

Nonetheless, the story taught me a lot about bees and was a really creative take on the past, present, and future relationship between bees and humans. I loved that the story was told from three different perspectives and I think that is what made it work. Maja would not have been able to tell the whole story without the three different time periods.

The characters in this book were all parents and the story centered very strongly on their relationships with their kids. For this reason, it was hard for me to connect strongly with their narratives because I have never been a parent. I’m not saying that they weren’t at all relatable, but I do think that this story might resonate stronger with parents and people who know what it feels like to have a strong relationship with a child.

Lastly, I would like to say that the ending of this book was very beautiful. All three narratives were tied together quite nicely.

If you are at all interested in reading this, I don’t want to discourage you from picking it up. However, you should know whether or not you are truly interested in the story and be aware that it can get slow at times. Overall, it’s a pretty informative read.

Favorite Books Of 2017

2017 was a big reading year for me. I started this blog in August of 2017 and since then, I have gotten so much out of being able to share my thoughts with other people. Who would’ve thought that this blogging thing would be so much fun!

2017 was also the year that I started my first semester of college and went through a lot of change. That means that I didn’t read as much as I wish I could have. Nonetheless, I know that life happens and it’s not a big deal because it’s important to not make reading a chore; it should be fun!

I don’t have a definitive number of books I read this year, but I’m going to be better at keeping track of my reading in 2018.

Looking back, here are some of the books that stood out to me the most this year. They aren’t in any particular order.

The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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This has turned into one of my all-time favorite books. It is a wonderful story about a young boy named Daniel who picks out a book called, The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax, from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. He realizes that someone is out to destroy all of Carax’s books and is brought into an intense journey of figuring out who it is and stopping them. This is a magical, historical, thriller set in 1945 Barcelona, Spain.

Here is my full book review: The Shadow of the Wind

 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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Read this book if you are struggling to deal with your grief over someone you lost. A Monster Calls hit me so hard in the gut and I know I will have to pick it up again. It’s not an easy read, but it’s a worthwhile one. It follows a little boy named Conor and his seriously ill mother. Conor has had a monster outside of his window ever since his mother’s treatments started and it won’t leave until it gets what it wants.

 

The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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This is a magical, Russian, fairytale, story about an independent girl named Vasilisa. The stories told by the fireside are real and there are spirits all around that only Vasilisa and her mean stepmother are able to see. Vasilisa must use her special gifts and courage to go against her loved ones to stop the threat that could harm them all. It’s best to go into this world a bit oblivious, but I promise you won’t come out of it without feeling mystified.

Here is my full book review: The Bear and the Nightingale

 

A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving

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This is a heartwarming tale of friendship and faith. It is about a little boy named Owen Meany who hits a foul ball that kills his best friend Johnny’s mom. However, Owen believes that he is God’s instrument and that everything happens for a reason. This story follows Owen as he becomes a heartfelt hero. The characters in this book are written so in depth that they won’t ever leave you. This book caught me by surprise, but it was truly beautiful.

 

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie

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This book follows Ifemelu and Obinze, two lovers who leave Nigeria because of a military dictatorship. Ifemeulu goes to America and Obinze goes to the UK. The story recounts their journeys as they deal with the hardships of being in a new country and being apart from each other. I loved the sections with Ifemelu because of how clever and witty she is and Chimamanda’s writing in this book is so easy and fun to read. I am without a doubt going to pick up more of her books.

Here is my full book review: Americanah

 

The Nightingale by Kirstin Hannah

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This is a historical fiction book that takes place in France during World War 2. It follows two polar opposite sisters and everything they do to fight against the Nazi’s during the war. I liked this book because most World War 2 books are about the men in battle, but not many recount the hardships that the women had to face on the homefront. The reason this book made the list was because of how blown away I was at the challenges the two women face. I couldn’t put this one down.

 

The 12 Days Of Christmas Book Tag

Merry Christmas!

The holidays are always such a festive and nice time. Since I am on break now, I’ve been trying to do all things Christmas to get ready for the holidays. Therefore, this tag is perfect!

I was tagged by Jenna over at Bookmark Your Thoughts. Click on the link to go to her blog and check out all of her great answers for this tag.

I’d also like to give credit to the original creator of this book tag, Ashley at Falling Down The Book Hole.


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On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: a partridge in a pear tree.

THE PARTRIDGE STOOD ALONE IN THE PEAR TREE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE STAND ALONE?

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I read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee during my freshman year of high school and I haven’t forgotten about it since.


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On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: two turtle doves.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR! WHO IS YOUR ONE TRUE PAIRING?

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To be honest, I’m a little confused what this question is asking for, so I’m just going to say Johnny and Owen from A Prayer For Owen Meany because their friendship was unbreakable.


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On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Three French Hens.

IN THE SPIRIT OF THREES, WHAT IS THE BEST TRILOGY YOU HAVE READ?

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I have to go with The Infernal Devices Trilogy by Cassandra Clare. I first read these books when I was in middle school and I couldn’t put them down.

Also, I heard that she is writing a spinoff series about Will and Tessa’s children and I can’t wait!


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On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: four calling birds.

SINCE SERIES USUALLY CONSIST OF FOUR OR MORE BOOKS, WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SERIES?

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I know saying Harry Potter may be a cliche answer, but I have to because it’s true.


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On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: five golden rings.

ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL! WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE VILLAIN/ANTAGONIST?

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This one is hard because I’ve never really thought about it. I guess I’ll say Captain Hook from Peter Pan because he seems like a classic and I like pirates.


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On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: six geese a laying.

CREATION IS A BEAUTIFUL THING. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE WORLD/WORLD-BUILDING?

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Other than Hogwarts, I would say The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern because everything felt so dark and magical. I felt like I was in the circus while reading this book.


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On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: seven swans a swimming.

WHO NEEDS SEVEN SWANS WHEN ALL IT TAKES IS ONE GOOD ANIMAL SIDEKICK? WHO’S YOUR FAVOURITE ANIMAL SIDEKICK?

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Dustfinger’s ferret, Gwin, in Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.


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On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: eight maids a milking.

MILK IS SO 18TH CENTURY. WHICH BOOK OR SERIES TAKES BEVERAGES/FOOD TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL?

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I have to copy Ashley and Jenna’s answer for this one as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I can’t think of any other book that puts sweets on such a huge scale.


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On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: nine ladies dancing.

DANCING IS JUST ONE SKILL OF A LADY! WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE KICKASS FEMALE LEAD?

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Hermione Granger because of how intelligent, brave, and kind she is. Hermione will always be a strong female role model to me.


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On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: ten lords a leaping.

HOW ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE LEADING LAD?

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I think Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices will always be my favorite romantic lead. However, in terms of character development, Owen from A Prayer For Owen Meany is such a good character.


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On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: eleven pipers piping.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK OR BOOKISH THING WITH MUSICAL INFLUENCE? (IT CAN BE ABOUT MUSIC, REFERENCE MUSIC A LOT ETC.)

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This one’s really hard….. but Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell could probably fit the bill. Park gives Eleanor his favorite music on cassette tapes and the bands are what they bond over on the bus. This was a really cute book.


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On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: 12 drummers drumming.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE…WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE READ OF THIS YEAR?

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Definitely the Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I could go on and on about how good this book was, but if you want to read my full thoughts, then here is the link to my book review of it.


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Tag, You’re It!

Anyone who wants to do this tag is tagged!

Books About Strong Women For Strong Women

Christmas is coming up very soon and if you are trying to find a last minute gift idea for a strong woman in your life, then why not get her a book? When I think about strong women in my life, I think about my mom and my grandma because they inspire me to work hard. I’m sure whoever you think of in your life, would love to read about inspirational women like themselves.

Here is a list of books with a strong female character that is brave, resilient, and everything in between. This list contains nonfiction and fiction because even fictional women characters can be inspirational. I have read some of these, but not all of them. Some of them are ones I hope to read in the future.

Books I’ve Read

1. I am Malala- Malala Yousafzai

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This is a powerful biography about Malala’s life before and after she was shot by the Taliban for speaking out for girls’ education. I got a lot out of this book and learned a lot about Malala’s activism and about the history of Pakistan. Malala was the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate at age sixteen and continues to advocate for the right for girls to get an education. She also has a movie called I am Malala that was very good.

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” ~Malala Yousafzai

2. Americanah- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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This is a story about two Nigerians named Obinze and Ifemelu who are in love. It chronicles each of their journeys as they leave a military dictatorship in Nigeria. Ifemelu heads to America, while Obinze goes to England. In Ifemelu’s part of the story, we are able to see her adjustment to life in America as an immigrant and the adversity that she faces. Ifemelu’s dialogue throughout the story is smart and witty and she is a very lovable character. I love Chimamanda’s writing style and will definitely read more of her books. She has also given some great TedTalks that I will link here…

The Danger of a Single Story

We Should All Be Feminists

“How easy it was to lie to strangers, to create with strangers the versions of our lives we imagined.”~Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

3. Wild- Cheryl Strayed

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This is Cheryl Strayed’s story about how she hiked The Pacific Crest Trail alone in order to deal with her mother’s death. This book chronicles all of the challenges that she faced on her hike and how it ultimately healed her. I actually watched the movie before reading this and it made me want to pick the book up so I would definitely recommend the movie as well.

” The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.” ~Cheryl Strayed

Books I Want to Read

1. A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khaled Hosseini

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This is about two women living in Kabul, Afghanistan who form a close fond. It deals with their struggles with family, war, and loss. I have seen a lot of really good reviews for this, so I’m expecting to like it a lot. I also read Hosseini’s other book, The Kite Runner, and loved it.

“One could not count the moons that shiver on her roofs or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.” ~Khaled Hosseini

2. The Diary of A Young Girl- Anne Frank

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This one is pretty obvious. I think everyone has heard of Anne Frank and at least a little bit of her story with the Holocaust. I feel like it’s about time that I finally read her diary. She was definitely very inspirational.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”~Anne Frank

3. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou

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This book follows the life and struggles of a girl named Maya who has to deal with the feeling of abandonment from her mother and an attack from a man much older than her. This is a story of personal growth and how Maya learns to love herself. This would be the perfect gift for any Maya Angelou fans.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” ~Maya Angelou

Hopefully, this list gave you some good ideas about what to gift someone in your life who has inspired you!

7 Gripping Historical Fiction Books

Thanksgiving Break is here and that means more free time. If you’re a book nerd like me, then that free time will probably be largely taken up by reading. One of my favorite genres of book is historical fiction, and I think it is the perfect genre to read in autumn. Here are some of my favorites. Hopefully, they will help you find a good story to settle into over break.

1. City of Thieves by David Benioff

This book is set during the siege of Leningrad in World War 2. It follows two boys, Lev and Kolya, as they journey through the lawless and dangerous Leningrad to deliver a dozen eggs to a powerful Soviet colonel in exchange for their lives.

I could not put this one down. I didn’t go into it knowing that much, except that it sounded interesting and odd at the same time (delivering eggs?). The story was intense and eye opening to just how bad the situation in Leningrad was. If you want something quick and engrossing pick this up.

2. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This book takes place in Nazi-occupied France and follows two completely opposite sisters. They struggle to survive and resist the Germans who have taken over their homes. This book was a good representation of the hardships women during the war had to face. A lot of the time, their stories are overpowered by the stories of men in battle, so it was nice to read about their hardships and how they persevered.

If you like reading about strong and empowered women, then this is the book for you. Also, I don’t have a sister, but I feel like this book would be very relatable to someone who does. I will admit that at the beginning of the story, I was convinced that I wouldn’t like it, but as I got to the end, I changed my mind and ended up really enjoying it. It was quite inspirational in a lot of ways.

Side note: I just learned that this is being turned into a movie, so definitely read the book before watching the film!

3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This book also takes place in France during World War II. It follows the journeys of two very different children and a couple of other interesting side characters. One of the main characters is a blind girl name Marie Laure who lives in Paris but flees to Saint Malo with her father. The other character is a boy named Werner who is a Hitler youth. Their paths end up colliding in an intricate and well-planned way.

This book is so detailed and great that I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to write. The author, Anthony Doerr, won a lot of awards for this novel. You should read it if you want something that will make you think a lot about human nature and technology.

4. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I would describe this as a historical fiction thriller. It is good to go into this not knowing too much, but I will tell you the very basic plot. It takes place in 1945 Barcelona and follows a boy named Daniel. On Daniel’s eleventh birthday, his dad takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and Daniel picks out a book called the Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. Daniel is tasked with protecting this book, but there is someone trying to systematically destroy all of Carax’s work. Strange and dark things continue to happen and the mystery is drawn out in an epic tale.

This is one of my very favorite books. As I was reading this one, I knew it was going to turn into my favorite and it’s very hard to put into words how I feel about something I liked so much. I find it much easier to talk about a book I either hated or kind of liked. The writing was beautiful, the plot was unguessable, and the characters were very real. It was a very dark and epic adventure. This was originally written in Spanish, so if the book was this good translated, then it must be even better in its native language (sometimes things can get lost in translation).

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I would be very surprised if you haven’t heard of this wonderful book yet, but if you haven’t, then here is the synopsis. This story takes place in 1939 Nazi Germany and is narrated by death (coolest concept ever). It follows a foster girl named Liesel Meminger as she steals books, learns to love reading, and takes care of a Jewish man in her basement.

This is one of those books that you will never forget. It gives you all of the feels and leaves you gutless. The Book Thief is a classic that everyone should read.

6. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

This book takes place 1941 is about a Lithuanian girl named Lina, who is forced, with her mother and brother, onto a dirty Soviet train car and shipped to the Arctic Circle to work in a labor camp. This book shows what life was like for Lithuanians who were forced by Stalin to toil in extreme cold and cruel conditions.

I cried the first time I read this and chances are, you will too. It is so heartbreaking, but it is a story that needs to be told. I had no idea about this part of history before reading this book. This is a quick read that you won’t be able to put down.

7. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys likes to write books about historical events that have been lost to history, and this is another great one of hers. I think I liked this one even better than Between Shades of Gray. It is about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during World War II. Most people know about the Titanic, but not so many know about the Wilhelm Gustloff. This is odd considering it was the worst maritime tragedy in history.

Ruta is so good at writing amazing characters. Their stories and personalities seem so real. In this book, we follow four main characters, but there are also great side characters as well. The layout of this book reminds me a lot of All The Light We Cannot See because of how well all of the characters’ stories intertwined. She even brings in characters from Between Shades of Gray.

When I finished this book, I could not stop thinking about what I had read for the longest time. I think that’s a sign of a good book.

Top 5 Tuesday: Retellings

I have decided to participate in the Top 5 Tuesday posts that Bionic Book Worm puts on over at her blog. They look like so much fun! Here are the Top 5 Tuesday August Topics.

This week’s topic is retellings and as I was thinking about what to put, I realized that I haven’t actually read that many retellings. However, I really wanted to participate, so I decided to switch things up just a little bit. In my top 5, I will have 3 retellings that I have read and 2 that I really want to read. I know this isn’t exactly how it is supposed to be done, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do….

Three Retellings I Have Actually Read

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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This is a retelling of Russian fairytales and honestly, that phrase is what immediatly drew me to reading this book. It follows the main character, Vasya, as she struggles to protect her family from threats that only she can comprehend. In this book, demons and creatures from fairytales that are told during the cold Russian winters actually come alive. I loved this book! I have a full review on it here if you want to read it…. Book Review: The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

 The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley

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When I was little, I used to be obsessed with this series. I remember that when I was reading it, they hadn’t all been released yet, so I would get super excited when a new one would come out and would beg my mom to rush me to the book store so that I could buy it. I managed to find three of the copies that I own (they are in the picture). This is about two sisters whose ancestors are the Brothers Grimm. They are sent to live with their grandma and thrust into a world full of the creatures/people from the Grimm fairytales. The sisters must take over the family business of being fairytale detectives and keeping the villains at bay. I would definitely recommend this book to an elementary school aged child who loves fairytales. The books are so fun and adventurous.

 Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

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This is a fairytale retelling of both Snow White and Frozen, which is such a great idea! It is a feminist version of these tales and it has a queer relationship involving one of the main characters. If you want a unique and creative retelling story, then this book is for you. I read the ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of this book very recently and I did generally enjoy it even though I had a few issues with it. Here is the link to my full review of the ARC– ARC Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. This book comes out September 5th 2017, so keep a lookout for it!

Two Retellings I Really Want to Read (well…maybe 4… I went a little overboard)

Alice (The Chronicles of Alice, #1) and Lost Boy by Christina Henry

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This is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland and since I used to love the original book as a kid, I think reading a retelling of it would be really fun. I think this book deals with the grownup Alice which sounds interesting. I also know that she has another book called Lost Boy that is a retelling of Peter Pan. I would love to pick that one up too.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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This is another Peter Pan retelling except this one is from the point of view of Tiger Lily, the Native Chiefs daughter who lives in Neverland. I’ve been reading other people’s reviews of this one and it’s making me want to read it even more!

 

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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This is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights. I have seen it everywhere and have heard really good things. It has been on my TBR for such a long time and hopefully I will be able to get to it sometime soon.

 

 

Have you read of any of these or are wanting to read them? Also, do you have any other retellings that you would recommend?