Match-Up Monday: East of the Sun, West of the Moon/Beauty & the Beast Retellings

Here’s my first attempt at providing an annotated list of titles for readers looking for something new to try that matches something they’ve already read.  I decided to start with one of the more common fairy tale retellings in the market and plan to make this a recurring category.  Some posts will be longer lists like this one, but others will focus on two or three titles that match on certain strong themes or plot devices.

Today’s list focuses on East of the Sun, West of the Moon (ESWM), more commonly known as Beauty & the Beast.  I prefer the complexity and roundness of the female character portrayed in ESWM as Beauty & the Beast has been too Disneyfied.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney’s Belle and especially Once Upon a Time‘s, but Disney’s story only covers the first half of the original, and I like the juxtaposition of both halves.

If you are unfamiliar with this fairy tale, or would like a refresher, you can find more information about the history and origin of the tale on Wikipedia.  And you can read the full translation in the University of Pittsburgh’s archive.


A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

I loved Sarah Maas’s rendition of the this fairy tale as she combined it with the older version of the fae.  While it does contain graphic sex and torture scenes, they fit the tone of the story and show important characterization.  This is one of the most beautifully written stories I’ve read in the last few years!


East East is a book I read when I was younger and retellings were not as ubiquitous as they are now.  I’m actually hoping to be able to re-read this book this year as it’s been long enough that I don’t remember much about it except that I really liked it.


The Fire Rose (Elemental Masters, #1)

I wanted to include The Fire Rose on the list even though I didn’t finish reading it. (But I think I tried to read this too early in my life.)  Mercedes Lackey is one of my favorite authors, and I prefer her Valdemar series; although, this is the first in a series that is mostly set in the Victorian Era and features distinct characters that loosely follow various fairy tales.











I read Beastly after the movie was released as I felt the movie was lacking something.  Unfortunately, this author’s writing style didn’t quite work for me.  However, the premise still intrigues me.  It’s set in a modern high school and stars teenagers (not much different there), but this story focuses on the young man who was cursed rather than the beauty he forms a relationship with.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

I haven’t read Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow yet, but it’s on my 2016 list of books I’d like to finish.  Jessica George has received many amazing reviews for her fairy tale retellings.  And since this is one of my favorite fairy tales, I’m expecting great times!Hunted (Hunted, #1)










Hunted is not scheduled to be released until sometime in the winter of 2017, but the teaser synopsis claims it is a retelling of both Beauty & the Beast and the Firebird, which is another of my favorite fairy tales from when I was younger.


I hope this list has provided you with some food for thought about your next read.  If I missed one of your favorites, please let me know in the comments!  I’m always looking for great new retellings based on this fairy tale 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday: The Lion by Frederic Brremaud

Love: The Lion

Expected publication: June 21, 2016

Have you ever wondered what a lion does all day?  Or how other animals react to a lion’s presence?  The Lion provides the answers to these questions and more as you read the latest installment of the Love series.  Although reading isn’t the word I would use to describe this experience.  Visual devouring works much better 🙂  There are no words in this graphic novel, but they aren’t necessary for the narrative.  The story is told through cells arranged in such a way that the lion seems to move across the page.

I loved how realistic the art was drawn, but there’s plenty of expression shown on the faces of each animal.  I was reminded of Disney’s Lion King as we follow a male lion on his journey through life with all its confrontations and ups and downs.  But, we also see how lions behave in the wild.  There are some really great conversations to be had in the classroom.  Or, this can be given to anyone interested in animals or learns better through visual storytelling.

Although I enjoyed the first two in this series (Fox and Tiger) more than this volume, I appreciate the stories being told here.  Not just the main animal, but taking a peak at those little animals who may be affected by the actions of the title character.  Those were actually my favorite part of this volume.  I liked seeing their depictions and their view of what was happening around them.  Of course, it helps that they were so cute, except that scorpion…

I look forward to seeing what’s next for this series!


The third volume in the lavishly illustrated series of wildlife graphic novels, each following a single central animal through an adventurous day in their natural environment. Each tale depicts genuine natural behavior through the dramatic lens of Disney-esque storytelling, like a nature documentary in illustration.
Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, this volume focuses on a solitary Lion as it wanders the plains of Africa, handling the daily hunt, and vicious rivalry, without a Pride of its own. The circle of Life takes center stage in a world where predator and prey trade places on a regular basis, and Family is something worth fighting — and dying — for. This exciting tale, written by Frederic Brremaud, is told without narration or dialogue, conveyed entirely through the beautiful illustrations of Federico Bertolucci.
A beautiful, powerful tale of survival in the animal kingdom that explores the all-too-identifiable, universal concepts of Life, Courage, Aging, and ultimately Love.

Advance copy provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

BookCon Saturday: Day 4

The last leg of my book convention adventure!!  I was incredibly exhausted when I returned home, so this post is a bit late 😦

Saturday was full of bright spots but was also cluttered with messy planning and horrible lines.  The system for handing out wristbands for author signings was not well policed, and so I was able to only collect one wristband.  (More on that later though.)


The morning was fairly relaxing as I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be, so I wondered the floor, listening to what people were excited about.  I got into line at the Owlcrate booth (nice long line all day long by the way) and spun the wheel to win an adorable notebook and an Owlcrate tote (so cute!).  Then, I went on a hunt to QuirkECat to enter Quirk Books’ Twitter/Instagram contest and found all four pretty quickly and took my pictures.

At the Anderson’s Bookshop booth, I found a signed copy of Dawn Kurtagich’s The Dead House, which was an amazing story.  The Blue Star Coloring booth was selling their adult coloring books at a discounted price.  There were so many things to see and do.  I sat in on several talks at the Uptown Stage, but my favorite was Truth or Dare with Leigh Bardugo and Marissa Meyer.  They have some awesome chemistry and are a hoot to listen to.


Which brings back to the wristband signing.  So I knew that Sarah J. Maas would run out of space quickly, so I got in line for Victoria Aveyard.  But, she was out by the time I reached the front of the ridiculous line, so I finally got a place in line to see Marissa Meyer and have her sign my bookplates!!


She really is quite sweet, and I can’t wait to read her new novel, Heartless.  Well, first I should probably finish Winter, but I don’t want the series to end.  So soon, I will read it soon.  Immediately after leaving Marissa’s line, I went to join the line for Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufmann.  That line was huge.  It went on for two hours, long past the stated close time.  I guess that was partially because they were signing the sequel to Illuminae, Gemina, but I was completely unaware at just how popular that series had become.  CRAZY!

Once, I collected my signatures, it was far too late to go to the last panel on my list, so I did a little more wandering the show floor.  While doing so, several booths were starting to give away their books as they didn’t want to pack and ship them back to their office.  I collected a few fun titles for other people and a couple for myself.  By then, I was completely wiped out from the whole week’s experience and the crush of people.  And I still wasn’t finished!

Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville was hosting a signing with Sarah J. Maas, and I was going to be there.  Sarah was lovely even as I had her tearing up when I thanked her for writing such genuine representations of hopelessness, PTSD, and depression in A Court of Mist and Fury.  Truly touched my soul, and now I have a fully signed collection of her work up to this point.


The day ended on a great highlight of the week, and I certainly enjoyed learning more about the book industry.  Hopefully, I’ll get to repeat the experience next year in New York 🙂  I wish you all the best!


BEA Friday: Day 3

OK, so Friday was the day of lines.  Waiting in line after line after line after line (short break) after line after line.  It was crazy but productive.  It was also a very long day.  I couldn’t sleep, so I was awake and in the shower around 5 AM, which meant I was ready to go line up for my first wait: ticketed authors.  On Thursday, I was after both Leigh Bardugo and Brandon Mull, but they ran out of Leigh before I reached the front.  Friday, I wanted Marissa Meyer and Danielle Paige.  Unfortunately for me (and many, many other fans), there were definitely not enough tickets for Marissa.  But, I snagged Danielle!  And I met a lovely mother and daughter duo in line.

Then, I went to get breakfast at Starbucks.  Line number three was for the show floor because I didn’t have any morning meetings.  I made a beeline to the Macmillan booth to gather tickets for the signings featuring Leigh Bardugo and Stephanie Garber.  After successfully grabbing those, I went to stand in line for the Black Widow drop at Disney’s booth.  (They had a sampler of the second book from Margaret Stohl, an awesome drawstring bag, and a signed limited edition print.)

Then I had a little bit of a break, so I went on a hunt for the booth with the fun looking book.  When I found it, I was in for a treat and a surprise.IMG_2653

The booth featured this little book called Beneath the Fall by Aaron Safronoff from the series Sunborn Rising.  And not only did they have a book, but they also had Oculus setup to show off an early version of the videogame based directly off the world within the book.  I fell in love (and I hadn’t even read any of it yet).  Did I mention the full-color illustrations throughout?

Then I was ready to wait in more lines.

  • Danielle Paige
  • Leigh Bardugo
  • Stephanie Garber, which I ended up leaving early
  • Laini Taylor


Just before lunch, I sat down to listen to the Hot Fall Fiction 2016 panel, which is when I realized that I hadn’t scheduled time for a bathroom break.  So, on my way to find lunch, I made sure to hit the bathroom and re-fill my water bottle.  I also had to go back to the Sunborn Rising booth to tell them that I couldn’t stop thinking about the book and how much I wanted to share it with everyone.  (Spoiler: I told anyone and everyone who would listen to me that they should go check out the booth!)

After lunch, the lines began again.

  • Gene Luen Yang
  • Kendare Blake

I attended the AAP Annual Librarians Book Buzz Part II and learned about some of the smaller publishers’ fall offerings.  And finally, I went to the Surviving Fictional Worlds panel with Sarah Porter, Kristen Simmons, and Susan Dennard.  In between lines, I was able to pick up a few more books as well as the free signed copies.


That’s all for tonight.  Tune in tomorrow for my exciting adventures at BookCon!

BEA Thursday: Day Two


I honestly have no idea how people have super fun-filled, exhausting days and still find the time to blog at the end of it.  I started this post last night so I could try and stay only one day behind, but my eyes kept drooping and I had no motivation to transfer the all-important pictures from my iPod touch over to my laptop.  (I discovered how much of a pain that was the night before!)  However, I did accomplish a large chunk of my goals, took plenty of notes of the work related things, and managed to collect plenty of books and autographs.  Here are some observations from my panels:

Metadata needs to be consistent and accurate to better help sell books.  Also, the more specific, the better it can be found by the people both looking and not looking for it.

There are quite a few micro-trends happening in YA right now, but we all agree that series are still going strong with no sign of easing.

There are a lot of great books coming out this fall!

I was able to attend the cover unveiling for Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (gorgeous, isn’t it?).  I had the great pleasure of explaining the phenomenon with several passers-by who wanted to know what the small cloud of people was excited about.


My autographing highlights for today included:

  • Brandon Mull-Ticketed autograph line
  • Laini Taylor-Found her roaming around!
  • Shannon & Dean Hale-Had a lovely discussion with them both at the Candlewick Press party
  • Sarah Porter-In-booth signing
  • Eoin Colfer-In-booth signing with portable battery giveaway


My book haul consisted of:

  • The Call from Scholastic (booktalked as similar to A Court of Thorns and Roses)
  • Specail Preview book with pub. date of Feb. 2017
  • The Gauntlet by Eoin Colfer
  • Rat Queens #1 by Kurtis Wiebe
  • Sample coloring pages from Blue Star


Take-aways from today:

Book trade people are very polite and nice.

Publishers can be very helpful if you’ve already done a large chunk of your research or ask very general questions.

People will trample other people to get Marissa Meyer’s newest book!

It never hurts to ask.

Metadata is important to a great many people at various levels.


That’s all for tonight.  I’m sure I forgot something, but I need sleep.  Once I get home tomorrow, I’ll try to finish Friday and Saturday’s adventures.  Hope everyone enjoyed their day. 🙂

Traveling and SLJ Day of Dialog: Day 1

Hey Everyone,

So I definitely overestimated my ability to do everything and still come back to blog about it.  But, I still plan on sharing what I learned for each day, even if they aren’t posted the same day.

My drive up was mostly uneventful.  I did get a little worried when the skyline grew super dark in front of me, but except for some short periods of downpour, I had missed the storms.  YAY!!  Check in went quick, and I had my stuff laid out and ready to go for Day of Dialog.

The next morning shrouded the city of Chicago in mist and fog; it was almost cloying actually.  But it didn’t last past noon.  The keynote speakers for the School Library Journal’s Day of Dialog were Richard Peck and Laini Taylor.

They were fantastic!  Both of these people were a joy to listen to, and it’s no wonder that they are awesome storytellers.  I could have listened to them all day.  BUT, the day was super filled with publisher pitches and authors/illustrators speaking on several different topics.

Here’s some of my favorite moments and quotes:

  • Richard Peck attended school in Decatur, IL, the same school my husband’s aunt teaches at currently (Dennis Lab School)
  • Peck is amazingly funny
  • “Writing is introducing readers to characters they might want to be.”–Richard Peck
  • Illustrations can’t be purely nonfiction
  • Illustrations support not just decorate the story
  • “Memory and imagination are the same”–Kelly Barnhill
  • Authenticity, being true to yourself, and universal truths appeal to middle grade readers
  • Art school is the worst backup plan ever–for writers
  • “We all have this myth-hole that wants to be filled.”–Laini Taylor
  • Call to retire the adjectives strong and feisty to describe female characters
  • We just need to write human characters
  • Respect your characters and your readers
  • Kids are better at pacing stories than adults
  • Illustrators bring their storytelling to the story as well


I’m quite sure that I learned and laughed at more than just these bullet points, but this gives you an overview of what happened at the event.  And after all the talking was done, we had a chance to talk with the presenters and collect signatures.  Almost all the presenters were available to sign either galleys or finished copies of their upcoming works that were discussed throughout the day.  I, personally, tried not to be too grabby, knowing that there were more days of books to come.  But that didn’t stop me from speaking with authors and collecting signatures for friends and co-workers (and a certain third grade class).

It was a great day of exploration, learning, and sharing.  This was definitely a fun day!  Tune in tomorrow for my run down of today, my first day at BookExpo America.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, #1)

Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: May 17th 2016 by Balzer + Bray
I really enjoyed this book.  It was a bit different from the usual fantasy young adult fare in that the setting is Russia.  But not only is it set in an Asian country, it’s also set back in time.  I enjoyed reading something different, and the Russian setting worked extremely well with both the plot and the characters.  The world building painted a lush picture of several aspects of the country, including the imperial family, lower nobility, peasants, and the differences between city life and country life.
The magic presented in the narrative felt natural and surrealistic at the same time.  We’re given just enough description of the magic system that it fits within the world but there are still plenty of questions that the mystery and intrigue furthers the plot.  I was a little confused by some of the stated magical rules that were later broken without explanation.  However, I expect some of these issues may be resolved or addressed in the sequel, which I am excited to read.
Normally, I latch onto the characters more than the setting, but while I did find the characters to be interesting, I was more compelled to continue as I wanted to know more about the magical competition than the enchanters and their friends.  The love triangles also didn’t seem necessary to make the story better.  Despite these small downsides, I was impressed by this story and would definitely recommend it to all my friends.  Especially if you are looking for more diverse books 🙂
This review is based on an uncorrected proof.


Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love… or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear… the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

And so it begins…

Today, I start my journey to America’s largest book convention

But first, I have to finish out most of my work day.  And then, traveling!!!  Since I’m only four hours away, I decided to drive.  Most people have told me I’m crazy for this decision, but I’ve planned it out and have very few worries about driving in Chicago.

I double and triple checked all my lists.  Packed extra socks and underwear, because you never know.  And loaded up my car before work, so I wouldn’t waste any time when I clock out.  I even decided to pack my laptop so I can blog about each day of the event (with apologies in advance for any typos or grammar mistakes as I’m sure to be dead tired at the end of every day).

Here’s a quick look at what to look forward to this week:

  • School Library Journal’s Day of Dialog on Wednesday
  • BookExpo America on Thursday and Friday
  • Candlewick Press party Thursday evening
  • Blogger dinner Friday evening
  • Nebulas mass signing Friday night
  • BookCon on Saturday

After all that, I want to do a final wrap-up Sunday night when I return home.  That’s it for now.  Hope to meet lots of new people in Chicago and maybe make some new friends.

April Reads-New Releases I’m Excited to Read

SO many books, so little time.  Here’s what came out in April that I haven’t quite gotten time to read.  They all look amazing, but adulting is hard and keeps getting in the way of reading.  Which of the following are on your list?

The Star-Touched Queen

I’ve been noticing a pattern in the titles coming out this year that involve royalty, both queen and king have been used pretty heavily, but it’s all about the adjectives.  This story promises both diversity and a whole lot of fun.

The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath & the Dawn, #2)

I heard great things about the first book, but I also heard that the ending was heart-wrenching, so I decided to wait until the second book came out before I read this series.

The Darkest Corners

I unexpectedly received an ARC of this title through one of my subscription boxes, Fanmail.  It was not on my radar before that, but the description sounded fun.

Every Heart a Doorway

Seanan McGuire has been on my TBR for quite some time now, and I really need to dig into it and binge-read all the wonderful titles.  Maybe I’ll start with this fun look into what happens to children once they return from their magical adventures.

The Glittering Court (The Glittering Court, #1)

Although I wasn’t fond of the Vampire Academy books, Soundless has been great so far.  And, the title fits in with my theme of royalty reads this year. 😉

Daughters of Ruin

Another title that features royalty, but this one is focusing on the relationships between four rival princesses who were raised as sisters, whose countries are now on the brink of war.

Once Upon a Dream (A Twisted Tale, #2)

I’m intrigued by the concept that Disney is letting an author play with their iconic stories by mixing them up with their original fairy tales and letting something be fractured.  Also, I’ve heard great things about A Whole New World.


Have any of you read these books yet?  What were some of your favorite reads from April’s releases?  Let me know in the comments below!