Review: Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison

10th Oct 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan MorrisonDisenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison
Series: Tyme #2
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books
Pub Date: October 11th 2016
Pages: 416
Format: ARC | Source: Author
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Retelling
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Ella Coach has one wish: revolution. Her mother died working in a sweatshop, and Ella wants every laborer in the Blue Kingdom to receive fairer treatment. But to make that happen, she'll need some high-level support . . .

Prince Dash Charming has one wish: evolution. The Charming Curse forced generations of Charming men to lie, cheat, and break hearts -- but with the witch Envearia's death, the curse has ended. Now Dash wants to be a better person, but he doesn't know where to start . . .

Serge can grant any wish -- and has: As an executive fairy godfather, he's catered to the wildest whims of spoiled teenagers from the richest, most entitled families in Blue. But now a new name has come up on his list, someone nobody's ever heard of . . . Ella Coach.

I loved this book SO much for many different reasons! And I’m going to try something new and format my review in bullet points to really drive home my thoughts on Disenchanted.

-This book has all of the adventure, humor, and heart of Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel but still manages to feel completely different, which I think is incredible; the land of Tyme is so huge that each land truly feels like a different kingdom! They have their own cultures, histories, and landscapes, and it’s exciting to get to experience various parts of Tyme. Plus there are two maps!

-There are three POVs (Ella, Dash, Serge) that alternate in various lengths instead of chapters, and it was satisfying to see them begin to interweave while also getting the full scope of the story.

-I loved Ella! She was an amazing, well-realized main character: passionate, brilliant, and while she sometimes spoke too quickly or out of anger, her heart was always in the right place.

-I loved what Megan Morrison did with Ella’s family- it’s not the typical evil stepmother and stepsisters. Ella’s dad is alive and remarried, and she has a stepbrother and stepsister. It’s also more a case of growing pains and misunderstandings rather than them being “evil”. I really loved watching the evolution of their relationships.

-I loved Prince Dash! He was handsome but awkward, and his relationship with Ella (and his kingdom) really grows and flourishes. He takes the time to listen to her, even if he doesn’t agree. Plus there are well earned swoons ;) I loved Dash’s mother too. And the fairy godfathers Serge and Jasper, who I TOTALLY SHIP (and yes, it’s a legit ship!). Also, the head godmother Jules reminded me of the fairy godmother from Shrek 2. What a piece of work.

-I loved everything about the Blue Kingdom: the boarding school, the castle, the Glass Slipper, and the focus on the workshops and business class. It was unexpected and very dark and Dickensian at times, including one particularly harrowing sequence. I really appreciate that Megan Morrison never talks down to her readers. These are mature (but not inappropriate) books and deal with tough subjects much like the Harry Potter books did- through a fantasy lens.

Disenchanted does a wonderful job of capturing a diverse group of characters within its pages, everything from race to culture to class. There are hints of an LGBT relationship too. The world feels multicultural and racially diverse, and the differences in custom and culture between each kingdom is illustrated nicely. Even the groups of fairies vary with regard to their own customs.

-At the crux of Disenchanted, however, is the issue of class and ethical dilemmas. Would you rather buy quality goods for cheap if the workers are treated abysmally or pay more for better goods if you know that the workers are treated fairly? This is what Ella is fighting for, for very personal reasons.

-The book made me emotional at different points- I laughed, I gasped, I almost cried- but last 60 pages are particularly fantastic. I love a good courtroom scene!

-Most of all, I loved all the small details. This world feels lived in, with a rich history that I’m dying to know more about. It’s timeless but modern and I love all the allusions and details from the first book and from fairy tales. I can’t wait to see what else is in store in the land of Tyme!

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

27th Jun 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Published by Delacorte Press
Pub Date: June 28th 2016
Pages: 496
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, LGBT, Retelling, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. 

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

And I Darken was incredible. I thought this was amazing alternate history because it felt SO real. Kiersten White took details of real countries, people, religions, and politics and twisted them just so. And the characters! Oh my god. From the opening pages, you are painted a very stark picture of brutal Lada and her scared little brother Radu. They ensnared me immediately. But as with any good story there are layers and twists in every relationship. It’s all so complicated in the best way, sometimes loving and sometimes toxic. 

The story is definitely slower paced but not boring; this is a long haul kind of story and we’re setting the scene. The political machinations, the attention paid to religion, and the moral grayness of characters, the sometimes Machiavellian attitudes, really do bring A Game of Thrones to mind. Every action has a reaction. I also loved the diversity in every aspect, from culture (Turkish/Wallachian/Ottoman/etc) to religion (I learned a lot about Islam!) to sexuality (an unexpected but very welcome surprise). Everything was woven into the story seamlessly. I can’t say enough about the writing, I thought it was wonderful. White really knows how to weave a complicated web.

There are also some excellent kisses, a few ships, and some complicated romances, though not in the ways you might expect (no spoilers here!). It was also interesting to watch how Lada and Radu’s characters shifted over time, learning to soften and strengthen in turn.

The book faltered slightly in the middle just because it is a looong book and it can’t keep up the pacing the whole time. And it some ways I expected plots that happened later in Lada/Vlad’s life. But where the story leaves you is perfect and I can’t wait to follow Lada, Radu, and Mehmed to see how their lives intertwine; loyalty (to family, to yourself, to your country) are big themes throughout. If you love historical fiction, and a lot of political cleverness mixed with action, violence, and romance in a non-Western setting, you should read And I Darken.

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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