Review: Happily || Chauncey Rogers

Author : Chauncey Rogers
Genre : MG / YA Fairy-tale retelling
No. of Pages : 299
Publisher : Independently published
Published on: April 3, 2018
My Rating : ★★★★ / 5

synopsis

If the shoe fits, wear it.
If it doesn’t, 
make it.

Laure is a teenage street urchin just trying to get away. Where the rest of the world sees an enchanting love story, Laure sees royal incompetence and an opportunity to exploit it. She’ll have wealth and a way out of a life she detests if she can only manage to hoodwink the royal family and survive to tell the tale.

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I’ll be honest, I was a little skeptical when I first saw that HAPPILY is YET another Cinderella retelling. I had felt the same way about Geekerella which I read last year, and it had pleasantly surprised me (← sly plug of my review) Now, history has repeated itself with this book. While Geekerella is a straightforward modern retelling, Happily by Chauncey Rogers is an entirely fresh take with original characters.

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When it’s announced that ANYONE who fits into the glass shoes can marry the prince, surely the ugly stepsisters couldn’t be the only ones scheming, in the ENTIRE kingdom?

That’s where our protagonist Laure comes in. Laure is a poor street urchin living off whatever she steals on that day and she realises that the simple task of getting into those shoes can be her ticket out of poverty, and hopefully this kingdom that she hates so much. She decides to grab the chance by any means. Life is not so simple and straightforward of course. Luc, a poor, young merchant, is out for Laure looking for revenge for upsetting his business (…his cart. read the book, you’ll know what I mean 😀 ) and thereby leaving his family hungry. Our girl Laure is smart, she convinces him to team up with her and help her fit into the glass slipper and and get to the throne so that both of them get what they want. This sets off an entertaining chain of (mis)adventures involving looted riches, bandits, fights, a rival kingdom and much more! I enjoyed Laure’s biting snark and her cynical world view. Luc, in contrast, was a friendly, warm, precious bean who could bring upon a change of heart on someone like Laure even.

Has it ever bothered you that, in the original fairy tale, the prince could have just identified the girl he danced with by her face rather than her foot size? yeah, that little plot hole is tied up in this book, I really liked that. 😀

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There wasn’t much I didn’t like about the book but while it was nice to read about the kingdom and its quaint markets, the horse carriages, its merchants, the palace etc, I didn’t really get a “feel” of it, you know what I mean? I wasn’t really “transported” to Éclatant. Other than that, the setting of a kingdom struggling under an incompetent king was perfect for the story.

If I had to be reaaaally unfair, I’d say this: the ending was too perfect, too happy for me. I know…that’s a new low, even for me especially seeing how it’s a fairytale retelling and the book is titled Happily for Hades’ sake. It’s not the book ok? it’s just me that’s a sucker for heart breaks and tragic endings.

If you like your heart getting all gooey and hot chocolate-warm, you should definitely read this book. Like I mentioned earlier, Happily is a wonderfully fresh take on Cinderella with a generous dash of originality.

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Thank a tonne to the author for entrusting me with a copy of his book for my honest opinion.

Happily releases on April 3, 2018 (one day before my birthday, just saying 😀 )

You can buy the book on Amazon here — Happily By Chauncey Rogers (this is not an affiliate link)

About The Author:

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Chauncey Rogers was born in Arizona, and since then has hopped back and forth between the mid-western and western United States. He married in 2012 while attending school in Utah. His favorite movie since he was three is Jurassic Park, and he wishes very badly that Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster were real, though he doesn’t believe in them as much as he used to.
In March 2017, he published his first novel, Home To Roost. In October 2017, he published Cleaving Souls.
He currently lives in Kansas City with his wife and two children.
Author website: http://chaunceyrogers.com
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Does this book sound like something you would like to check out?
Do let me know in the comments! 🙂
~ Mathangi
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Review: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic || Leigh Bardugo

Author : Leigh Bardugo
Genre : Fantasy/Fairy-tale retelling
No. of Pages : 288
Publisher : Imprint
My Rating : ★★★★ / 5

I think I’ve cracked it, guys: Leigh Bardugo is actual Grisha. I mean…there can be no other explanation for the magic she weaves with her words. She must be a Fabricator of Words or something? Must be.

I completely fell in love with the Grisha-verse after reading the Six of Crows duology and was only too happy to pick up this book as my first read of 2018. Best. decision. ever.

Here’s the thing: The classic, watered-down version of fairytales we were fed on always did seem awfully tame to me, with their gold-hearted princes and predictable, happy endings. Bleh and more bleh. Give me more of THESE atmospheric tales with deliciously dark, unpredictable twists!

I urge you, parents, to chuck the ol’ Cinderella and read these tales to your impressionable, young offsprings. These stories will teach one to never take anyone at face value, never underestimate someone, nor trust a person easily, and the dangers of hope. Actual survival skills.

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Ayama and the Thornwood – This story puts a very interesting spin on the Beauty and Beast story and it was slightly reminiscent of the Greek myth about King Minos and the Minotaur too. Ayama, a girl who is constantly overlooked and taken advantage of is forced to confront a monster in the woods and in the pursuit, she ends up learning more about herself and what she wants from her life. Yes and yes! Rating: ★★★★★

“You see, some people are born with a piece of night inside, and that hollow place can never be filled – not with all the good food or sunshine in the world. That emptiness cannot be banished, and so some days we wake with the feeling of the wind blowing through, and we must simply endure it as the boy did.”

The Witch of the Duva: If you take unpredictability and multiply by 75 times and you get this story. I suppose it was a spin on the Hansel and Gretel tale with a witch in the woods and all. I thought I knew where this was going but by Holy Mother of Tardis, I didn’t. Not by a long shot.  Rating: ★★★★

The Too-clever fox: This was a story about a fox who was the Ugly Duckling of the family but builds a good rep in the woods solely through his smarts. It was an entertaining story, albeit a predictable one. Rating: ★★★

The Soldier Prince: I haven’t read the classic fairytale version of this story so I had no idea what I was getting into but nothing could have prepared me for this. It was terrifying and I loved it. Rating: ★★★★

The Little Knife: Okay this one started out like a regular story of a beautiful girl and her greedy father trying to make money off her under the guise of finding her a suitable man. To be honest, I was a little bored in the beginning but then Bardugo hits you with a whoop-ass twist in the end. I am thoroughly whoop-assed (ass-whooped?) Rating: ★★★★

When Water Sang Fire: I’m confused about how I feel because I thought this was a gorgeous story, I absolutely loved Ulla but something felt amiss. Incomplete. I didn’t quite get what happened to Ulla at the end of it all. Highlight for potential spoiler: I think I’m still sad about Ulla and Signy not ending up together? I mean, how can they not? what happened to the whole We were not made to please princes?

“But hope rises like water trapped by a dam, higher and higher, in increments that mean nothing until you face the flood.”

So the average rating comes up to a 4 but you see, the stars don’t matter at all. Irrespective of my rating, the point stands that I’ll read basically anything Leigh Bardugo writes, including my own obituary.

Have you read this book? Do share your thoughts in the comments! 🙂

Happy Reading!

~ Mathangi.

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Review : Geekerella || Ashley Poston

Author : Ashley Poston
Genre : YA / Retellings
No. of Pages : 320
Publisher : Quirk Books
My Rating : ★★★★ out of 5.

 

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I picked up Geekerella purely because I was bored. I’m stuck in this weird – not quite in a book slump but not eating my way through books – limbo right now. I wanted an easy read for instant gratification and this book provided me exactly that. I do not regret picking this one up, in fact I’m glad.

As it’s apparent from the title itself, Geekerella is a geeky re-telling of the oft retold fairy tale Cinderella. Seriously, the amount of times fairy tales like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast have been retold, I feel like they will be permanently singed into our DNA, leading to future babies being born with these stories pre-loaded in their brains. Because it’s yet another Cinderella story, I jumped in headfirst into the book – didn’t even read the blurb – I expected nothing at all. I’m happy to say that the book surprised me in a very good way.

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I would begin by saying Danielle Wittimer or Elle is a 17-year old who lives with her stepmother and her step-stepsisters (?) in a miserable household. but what defines Elle the most is that she is a Stargunner or a fan of the widely popular Sci-fi series Starfield. Her late father – her hero – was a huge fan of the series and got her into it early on so Elle practically grew up a huge fan. She runs a successful Starfield blog where she interacts with fellow Stargunners. Her father had founded a convention called the Excelsicon which grows to be really popular and successful but Elle could not be a part of it because Evil Stepmother.

I loved Elle’s bordering-on-obsession love for Starfield. To her, the series has taught everything about love and friendship but also it makes her feel close to her late parents who were great fans and cosplayers complete with their own costume and everything.

On the other hand, we have Darien Freeman who is an 18-year-old rising movie star, also a huge nerd who adores Starfield like Elle. Darien’s dorkiness, his struggle with identity crisis, loneliness, all this was well done. I liked his characterization. I felt for the boy just as I did for Elle. They both feel they are alone in a crowded world where people don’t see them for what they really are. Elle is just a friendless weirdo and Darien is just an up-and-coming movie star whose every move is supposed to be a publicity stunt. But they both take refuge in the universe of Starfield and that right there is the essence of fandoms.

Geekerella is not just a retelling, it’s also a love letter to fans and fandoms and pretty much anyone who’s ever loved any fictional world with all their heart and may be got made fun of because “it’s not real” – It is. I know that the TARDIS will never land in my backyard ever, but I will always continue to derive happiness and hope from Doctor Who, that is very much real even if it is just a TV show.

The book had SO many sci-fi / fantasy / popculture references that blended in seamlessly with the story, it just warmed my heart. I ADORED the parts that involved the Excelsicon convention, because I feel like I lived vicariously through the characters for a few pages – being present at a big convention, nailing the cosplay of a favourite character, meet and greet etc.

(…It is my dream to attend the San Diego Comic-Con at least once in my life. I would need a miracle to pull it off, but I’m hoping for one anyway. *double thumbs up*)

I really liked this quote by Darien — sums up the definition of fandoms pretty well. We’re all in this together.

We might all be different – we may ship different things or be in different fandoms – when we become those characters, pieces of ourselves light up like glow sticks in the night. They shine. We Shine. Together.

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I did not like the way Elle acts all superior and bratty because she’s such a serious fan, especially in the beginning. I actually considered abandoning the book because her narrative was very annoying (it did get better though) Also, she was extremely prejudiced towards Darien just because he did not fit her idea of the Federation Prince Carmindor. I get it, it’s pretty common for an artist to get cast just for their star power even if they are not a fan of old series / comics. There are fans who get pissed when that happens so I think this could be a good example of how we needn’t and shouldn’t jump into conclusions without giving an artist their chance to prove themselves playing the character.

Another thing I didn’t enjoy was : Insta-love, but via text. This was basically straight out of Hilary Duff’s Cinderella movie. I have never liked insta-love which unfortunately is commonplace in YA books, so I didn’t love it in this book either. It was utterly impossible too. You don’t just fall in love with a stranger via text just because they love the same sci-fi series as you!!? I just…

BUT. but. Geekerella talks a lot about “impossible” – impossible things happening in an impossible universe…just a whole lot of impossible-ness – because this is a retelling of an unrealistic fairy tale. So I’m going to cut this impossible insta-love some serious slack. This along with some other eye-roll worthy romance portions.

All things considered, I’m impressed with the speed at which I went from *I’m going to abandon this book* to *I’m giving it 4 freaking stars*

The more I kept reading, the more it felt like a tribute, a love letter to fandoms – I would feel guilty if I give a lower rating. I would recommend this book definitely for that reason, even if you’re not into fairy tale retellings.

Look to the stars. Aim. Ignite.

My Rating : ★★★★ out of 5.

~ Mathangi

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