REVIEW : Once Upon A Dream by Liz Braswell

ouadTitle : Once Upon A Dream
Author : Liz Braswell
Published : April 5th, 2016
Publisher : Disney Press
Genre : Fantasy, Retelling
Series : Twisted Tales #2
Goodreads
Amazon

What if the sleeping beauty never woke up? Once Upon a Dream marks the second book in a new YA line that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways.

It should be simple—a dragon defeated, a slumbering maiden, a prince poised to wake her. But when said prince falls asleep as soon as his lips meet the princess’, it is clear that this fairy tale is far from over.

With a desperate fairy’s last curse infiltrating her mind, Princess Aurora will have to navigate a dangerous and magical landscape deep in the depths of her dreams. Soon she stumbles upon Phillip, a charming prince eager to join her quest. But with Maleficent’s agents following her every move, Aurora struggles to discover who her true allies are, and moreover, who she truly is. Time is running out. Will the sleeping beauty be able to wake herself up?

 
Okay, so I love Disney. I love retellings. I love fairy tales. I was really excited for this, despite Sleeping Beauty not being my favorite Disney movie.

Once Upon A Dream starts out as a weird flipped version of Sleeping Beauty. Aurora’s parents were evil and made a deal with the three fairies, who were also evil. Maleficent showed up at Aurora’s first birthday party, intercepted the three fairies, and overthrew her parents, throwing them in the dungeon. She then surrounded the entire castle with vines and thorns, “protecting” everyone inside from the Outside, which was supposedly a desolate landscape.

Aurora continues on with her life in the castle, raised by Maleficent, interacting with all the other people who are also trapped in the castle. They have magnificent themed balls every month, Aurora has a tutor to help her with her schoolwork, they have delicious meals. Until Aurora starts putting two-and-two together and starts figuring out the truth of her world.

I really wanted to like this book. And on some level, I did. It was fast paced, I read it over the course of two days I think. There was a lot of action, sword fights, monster creatures, etc.

But overall, I was kind of let down by this one. Aurora seemed very bland to me. I’m not sure what it was. She just kind of accepted everything that was told to her by Prince Phillip. And, I’m sorry. If a random dude I stumbled onto out of the blue in the middle of the woods told me my whole entire life was a lie, I would most definitely not be trusting that man. Obviously, he ended up being right, but still.

Another thing that really bothered me was how convenient everything seemed to be. Aurora bumped into a stranger who happened to be Prince Phillip, who was her one true love. They, in turn, bumped into the only man who knew anything about the Outside, because he had been banished. That man turned out to be Prince Phillip’s father. There were just a lot of little things like that, that kind of bugged me.

I ended up somewhat enjoying this one, so I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. I’m not sure if I’ll continue the series, but the next one is a Beauty and the Beast retelling which is one of my favorites. So who knows.

Have you read this series before? What are some of your other favorite retellings? Let me know in the comments!

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The Sunday Post [3]

sundaypost
The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

LIFE : Well, this week was eventful. Our internet was having some issues, so everything I had planned to write up and schedule for this week didn’t get posted. Whoops! That’s my life though, unpredictable. We’ve had a lot of transitioning this week with my class, with our group of kids moving up to the next class, and me and my assistant teacher getting almost a whole new class. So that’s been fun, but stressful. We also found out that my little sister, and my nephew (who is three weeks younger than Noah) are moving back to TN from Providence. They get here next weekend. I’m really excited! They moved away about a year ago, and I’ve missed them a lot. Plus it will be good to have Noah and my nephew together again. I’m kind of scared the trouble that they’ll get into, we will definitely have our hands full with them! My brother is coming home for a few days this week since he’s on summer break from college. Oh, AND my next round of classes start on Tuesday. Man, this is going to be a hectic week! Thank goodness I’m a planner!

BLOG : Like I said, this week we were without internet. The horror! I did manage to get out two posts before we lost our service. I reviewed The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins. I also did a Top Ten Tuesday , where I listed my most anticipated books for the rest of 2017. Next week, I’m not sure what I’ll be posting exactly. I have a lot of stuff going on, so I’m going to try and get as much done as possible tomorrow while Noah is visiting his father for a few hours. We’ll see!

BOOKS I BOUGHT BUT PROBABLY SHOULDN’T HAVE : 

I’ve decided this summer I’m going to do an unofficial ‘Summer of Series’ theme. I have lots of series I need to catch up on, lots that I want to read. These are four series that I really want to start so that I can see what the hype is! I’ve actually read City of Bones before, wayyyy back when it first came out, TEN YEARS ago. Whoa. I wasn’t crazy about it then, but I decided to give it another try. We’ll see what I think this go-around!

 

 

And I’m done for the week! What’s going on with you? Have you read any of the books I bought this week? Any other series you recommend? I’m currently working my way through the Throne of Glass series (I’m on Heir of Fire now), what series do you think I should start after this?

Top Ten Tuesday : Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week, the theme is anticipated reads for the rest of 2017. Pretty excited about this one. Because I’ve been out of the reading/blogging loop for so long, I haven’t heard ANY buzz about really any books. Which means I get to look at upcoming releases with brand new, unbiased eyes. These are in no particular order. So here we go!

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Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo. I MEAN COME ON. A Wonder Woman novel!? By Leigh Bardugo!? This should be on every single person’s list.

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Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas. Okay, so to be totally honest, I haven’t even finished Heir of Fire in this series yet. BUT my goal is to binge read the rest of this series until I’m all caught up. I’m reading Heir of Fire now, so hopefully that will happen soon!

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Lucky in Love by Kasie West. I love Kasie West’s contemporary novels. They’re all so cute and such quick reads.

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You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner. This book just looks really, really cool. I’m all about some graffiti art.

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One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus. Okay, so this one is kind of cheating because it comes out today. But as of the day I’m writing this post, it’s not out yet, so I’m including it. YA mystery? Yes, please, sign me up!

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The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano. I really liked her Wither series. And I loved how she talked about her struggles with OCD and mental health while writing, which can be found here.

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Monster by Michael Grant. I AM SO EXCITED. SO FREAKING EXCITED. This has been one of my favorite horror YA series for YEARS. Last I heard, it had ended with the “final” book, Light. But then I found this and I CANNOT wait.

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The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis. Porn addiction in YA is something I have never, ever read before. I’m excited to see how this one turns out.

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Dear Martin by Nic Stone. I feel like this one is going to be paired with The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (who blurbed this book) a lot. I absolutely loved The Hate U Give, and it’s been solidified as one of my favorite books of all time. You can read my review here.

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Brave New Girl by Rachel Vincent. Clones! Yes! I am all about it!

That’s it for me this week. Putting this list together was a lot of fun, but MAN, did I add a lot of books to my TBR! What books are you looking forward to for the rest of 2017?

REVIEW : The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

uinkTitle : The You I’ve Never Known
Author : Ellen Hopkins
Published : January 24th, 2017
Publisher : Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre : Contemporary YA
Series : N/A
Goodreads
Amazon

How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.

Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.

Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations: Ariel wasn’t abandoned. Her father kidnapped her fourteen years ago.

What is Ariel supposed to believe? Is it possible Dad’s woven her entire history into a tapestry of lies? How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who has taken care of her all these years?

In bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s deft hands, Ariel’s emotionally charged journey to find out the truth of who she really is balances beautifully with Maya’s story of loss and redemption. This is a memorable portrait of two young women trying to make sense of their lives and coming face to face with themselves—for both the last and the very first time.

 

I have officially read every single Ellen Hopkins book she has released so far. While The You I’ve Never Known wasn’t my absolute favorite, I did really enjoy it.

The book is written from two viewpoints. Ariel’s parts are written in the verse style Ellen Hopkins is known for. Ariel is a teenage girl who is raised by her Dad. They have lived a pretty irregular lifestyle – constantly moving from one place to another, from town to town, school to school, house to house. This has made it very hard for Ariel to put down roots or make friends. But to her, it’s normal, and just another part of life. Finally though, Ariel and her father have lived long enough in one house that she finally has friends, is starting a relationship, is on the basketball team, and is feeling grounded.

Maya’s chapters, on the other hand, are written as journal entries. She writes about her abusive, Scientologist mother, her pregnancy, her marriage, and the eventual kidnapping of her baby by her abusive husband. She continues writing to her daughter, every year on her birthday, and hopes that one day they will be reunited.

One of the things I liked about this book is the same thing I like in all of Hopkins’ books – the verse writing. This style of writing can be either really good, or really bad. Fortunately, I’ve never had a Hopkins book where it wasn’t done really well. She does a fantastic job of making sure it blends together, and doesn’t feel disjointed, or like you have to pause every few words.

Another thing that really stood out to me with this book was Ariel’s exploration of her sexuality. I thought it was really important that it showed Ariel’s confusion about how she was feeling. First she was processing her emotions about possibly being lesbian, and working through all that entailed. Then she met Gabe, and she realized that she liked men too. It was good to read about a teen figuring out her sexuality where it wasn’t a nice, neat little package. It isn’t always black and white. That was probably my favorite part of the plot.

There were a couple things I didn’t like though, as there is with almost every book I read. Mainly, I was really angered by how Ariel handled what happened with Garrett. I just felt like it was excused away, and the focus was more on Gabe and how he reacted, instead of making sure Garrett was punished.

Another thing I didn’t like, or should I say another person I didn’t like, was Maya. LORD did I not like Maya. I had SO many feelings about her getting pregnant just so she could get away from her mother. Like. SO MANY FEELINGS. I understand, and agree, that her mother was an awful person. But, MAN. Then when she came back, she kind of just bombarded Ariel. That’s a HARD thing to process. Give the girl some space!

Speaking of Maya’s mother, one thing I really, really wish was fleshed out more was the Scientology angle. It was mentioned sporadically, but I wish Hopkins had gone into more detail about the different places she was going that she wanted Maya to go with her. I know that wasn’t the main focus, but I think it would have been a really interesting thing to include.

Overall, the positives in The You I’ve Never Known outweighed the negatives. I will continue to be a fan of Ellen Hopkins’ work, and continue to read more as she releases it.

4/5 stars.

 

The Sunday Post [2]

sundaypost

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

LIFE : Lots going on this week! Work was pretty hectic, Noah was pretty hectic, school was pretty hectic. We had our spring work conference last Friday. I teach preschool, so our conferences are not what you think a normal work conference is. We don’t sit in a board room and watch a slideshow. This conference was all about the power of play. So, we got to play ALL DAY LONG. It was SO much fun! They set up a gigantic preschool classroom, and we got to move around all the centers and play in each one. My favorite was the block center. They had replaced all the blocks with cardboard boxes. I built a robot that was taller than I was. It was a really great day, and I got lots of good ideas to bring back to try in my classroom.

robot

THEN. THEN THEN THEN. I left the conference, and went and picked up Noah from his babysitter. She opened the door and he was standing in the living room and then he WALKED to me. HE WALKED. He has been really, really behind on his walking because he’s had constant issues with his inner ear tubes. He didn’t pull himself to stand until 11-12 months. And he had no interest in walking until yesterday, at 19 months. But he’s been walking everywhere since then! Finally!! I almost cried. He’s not the only kid in his class not walking anymore!

BLOG : I had a really great first week back in the blog world!

This week, I have more reviews coming!

  • I read The You I’ve Never Known, by Ellen Hopkins, so I’ll be reviewing that
  • Top Ten Tuesday : “Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017”
  • Can’t Wait Wednesday
  • Review of Once Upon a Dream, by Liz Braswell

That’s all I have planned for right now, but I’m thinking about possibly adding a giveaway in there. I have some books that have got to go to clear new space on my shelves!

 

BOOKS I GOT BUT PROBABLY SHOULDN’T HAVE : 

I did good this week and only bought one book!

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The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

But then I decided to check out Edelweiss for the first time in forever, and…well…

This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

Monster by Michael Grant

The Memory Trees by Kali Wallace

The Bakersville Dozen by Kristina McBride

Now is Everything by Amy Giles

That’s it for me this week! What news is happening in your life? Let me know in the comments below!

REVIEW : The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

thehateugiveTitle : The Hate U Give

Author : Angie Thomas

Published : February 28th, 2017

Publisher : Balzar & Bray

Genre : Contemporary YA

Series : N/A

Goodreads

Amazon

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

 

Y’ALL. It’s very rare that I say every single person needs to read a book. But seriously, every single person needs to read The Hate U Give. Put down the book you are reading, no matter how good it is, and pick up a copy. I texted my brother, who doesn’t read YA, a screenshot of the book on Goodreads and told him he needed to go buy himself one. It’s that good.

Starr is a 16 year old girl who lives in two worlds – the first, the poor neighborhood she grew up in. The second is the rich private school she attends, where she feels she needs to be a different person to fit in with all her friends, who are mainly white.

One night, she’s at a party in her neighborhood and there are gunshots. She and her friend from childhood, Kalil, run to Kalil’s car and head home. While driving, they get pulled over because Kalil’s tail light is broken. Through a series of events, the police officer ends up shooting and killing Kalil. Kalil is unarmed, and black. The rest of The Hate U Give is the story of how Starr, and her neighborhood, handle the death of Kalil and the investigation that follows.

I have SO many feelings about this book! First off, I finished it in less than a day.  A DAY. Have I mentioned I have an 18 month old? A very active 18 month old? Who needs constant attention and supervision because if there is something he isn’t supposed to touch, he’ll be ALL UP IN IT? That right there should tell you how amazing this book is. I couldn’t put it down. I read two paragraphs, played with my kid, read two more paragraphs, played with my kid…and so on.

Angie Thomas did such a great job with sucking you into the story, with making you feel what Starr felt. I was ANGRY when the outcome of the investigation was revealed. I was scared when Starr was being threatened. I was DEVASTATED when Kalil was shot, and felt like I had been punched in the chest. It has been a very long time since I’ve read a book that made me feel this strongly. And it was a topic I have never, and will never, experience.

Most importantly, and more than anything else, The Hate U Give was a book about race. In a time where people of color are STILL marginalized, made to feel less than, scared of police, angry at white people….The Hate U Give was a book that everyone, especially white people, need to read and reflect on. In the book community, we have been shouting for diverse books for AGES. Well, Angie Thomas delivered. She also solidified herself on my “Must Read Anything This Author Writes Including Grocery Lists” page in my reading journal.

If you only read one book in 2017, make it The Hate U Give. Seriously. Five SOLID stars.

 

Have you read The Hate U Give? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Can’t Wait Wednesday [1]

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. It’s a weekly meme to spotlight new releases.

monster

In the stunning follow-up to the globally bestselling Gone series, Michael Grant continues the story of the teens who morph into superheroes—and supermonsters—when they ingest an alien virus.

Four years after the events of the FAYZ, new meteorites are hitting Earth, and the whole world is exposed to a strange alien virus that gives humans unique superpowers.

As some teens become heroes and others become dangerously out of control with their new powers, the world will become more terrifying than the FAYZ—and only a monstrous battle between good and evil can save them.

 

Monster by Michael Grant

Publish date : October 17, 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books

 

Y’ALL. YOU GUYS. EVERYONE. Y’AAAAAAAALL. I canNOT wait for this book to come out. I totally didn’t even know there was going to be another in this series! If you haven’t read the Gone series by Michael Grant, you need to. It’s kind of a YA version of Under the Dome by Stephen King, and it is one of my favorite series OF. ALL. TIME. *insert Kanye shrug here.* It’s so rare to get a good horror YA book, let alone a series.

 

Have you read the Gone series? What are some of your favorite horror YA novels? And what book can you not wait for? Leave me links in the comments below!