Friday, May 16, 2014

Books Like... Once Upon A Time

Have you ever just had a certain type of story you want to read, but have no idea where to start looking? Ever have someone say, "I want to read a book like this or that. Find it for me"? Yeah, me too. After reading a book, watching a movie, playing a video game, whatever, I always find myself craving more of the same, but they're not always easy to find. So, I've decided, I'll ask you guys and see what you have to say, while also providing a few examples I feel fit the bill!

I want to read something similar to Once Upon A Time.

Do you watch Once Upon a Time? It's been one of my favorite shows for the past three years and it just had it's third season finale, so the dreaded summer hiatus has me dying for something to sooth my Captain Hook withdrawal.

You're welcome ;)

I would love to read something with a similar tone to Once Upon a Time. Something that takes everything we think we know about fairytales and their characters and turns it on its head, or just develops those characters into three dimensional people. You know, interesting and intelligent characters with deep backstories and meaningful relationships.

Now, there are plenty of fairytale-ish books out there, but I'm looking for more than just a fairytale retelling. I've read quite a few fairytale retellings, or books that have a fairytale vibe to them, and I love them when they're well written, but more often than not I find myself less than impressed with them. Fairytales are usually shallow stories with a moral lesson to teach. And I appreciate that, but I also want rich, diverse characters that make me feel things! I want intricate stories that leave me wanting more!

Here are a few books that, while not all fairytales, have a definite fairytale tone and are similar to what I'm looking for:

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo:

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

Shadow and Bone might seem more fantasy than fairytale, but I think it still has some similarities. Orphan girl taken in, given a makeover, and shown she's more than she ever could have imagined. It doesn't hurt that there are prophecies and villains and true love. And with the final book coming out on June 17th, now is the perfect time to read, or reread, this incredible story!


The False Princess by Ellis O'Neal:

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.

A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.

It's been awhile since I've read The False Princess, but I still remember how incredible I felt after reading it. I love it when the book transports me to the world I'm reading about, and that's how this one was for me. Again, while not a fairytale, it's got that vibe to it, but in reverse. The main character discover's she's not a princess like she thought and has to find her place in the world all over again.

The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Wynn:

Nadya is a mischievous kitchen girl in a Russian tavern. Having nearly drowned in the Iset River during the turmoil of the Revolution, she has no memory of her past and longs for the life she cannot remember. Then two young men arrive at the tavern and announce that Nadya's long-lost grandmother has sent them to find her. Yearning for family and friendship, she agrees to accompany them to Paris for the joyful reunion. Nadya eagerly embarks on her journey, never dreaming it will be one of laughter, love...and betrayal.

I have a thing about Anastasia. I always have, and I've tried to read dozens of books about her, but this is the only one I've found that I really truly loved. This book is actually part of the Once Upon a Time collection, which retells fairytales, but this was the only one that I really, really liked.


The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani:

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

Friendship, love, and saving the world? Isn't that what fairytales are made of? While this book isn't a fairytale, it's about fairytales and that's just as good! The characters are relatable and the story is intriguing and fun. And I always love it when a girl/girl friendship takes center stage in a novel.

Review • AmazonB&NGoodreads

Beastly by Alex Flinn:

I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright--a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever--ruined--unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

Beastly isn't the deepest, most intricate of the novels on this list, but it's one of my favorite retellings. I think I love it so much because it's told from a male point of view, which does add depth to the characters and story, even if it's not intricately written. We do get to see Kyle's growth and I'm always a sucker for character development. Alex Flinn writes tons of fairytale retellings, but this is the only one I really like.

What do you like in a fairytale and do you have any recommendations that you think would keep me occupied until Once Upon a Time comes back in the fall?


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