Don’t Speak by Katy Regnery

Blurb:

33222262From New York Times bestseller Katy Regnery comes a new twist on a beloved fairytale.

A fisherman’s daughter.

The governor’s son.

Two very different worlds.

In this modern retelling of The Little Mermaid, a fisherman’s daughter from an Outer Banks island untouched by time, meets the son of North Carolina’s governor at a fancy party where she’s working.

Laire, who wants so much more from life than her little island can offer, is swept away by wealthy, sophisticated Erik, who is, in turn, entranced by her naiveté and charm. The two spend a whirlwind summer together that ends on the knife-point of heartbreak and forces them to go their separate ways.

Years later, when fate leads them back to one another, they will discover the terrifying depth of the secrets they kept from each other, and learn that shattered hearts can only be healed by a love that willfully refuses to die.

All novels Katy Regnery’s ~a modern fairytale~ collection are written as fundraisers. 10% of the e-book sales for in March and April 2017 will be donated to P.E.O. International, a non-profit organization that celebrates the advancement of women, awards scholarships and grants, and provides motivation for women to make their dreams come true.

**Contemporary Romance. Due to profanity, adult themes and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.**

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My Review:
3.5 stars — I received a free copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

Well darn.  I just didn’t connect to this book like I was expecting to.  I love Ms. Regnery’s Blueberry Lane novels, but this is the first of her Modern Fairytale stories that I’ve read.  I’ll still give the others a try, but I think I had some expectations for it from seeing people gush about those stories, and so I kind of set up roadblocks against myself if that makes any sense.  I’m not sure how to explain it.  It’s like, I wasn’t sure how the retellings would play out since they are contemporary stories, but I guess I just kept expecting one major plot point in this particular story, and didn’t quite get it.  I can’t really say more without giving minor spoilers.  While I have never read the original Little Mermaid fairytale, I do adore the Disney movie and I do know the basic gist of the original story…and I guess I felt that the absence of that major plot point was disappointing.

And those anticipations and expectations hindered my enjoyment in other ways too.  I kept trying to guess when certain things would happen or how certain parts would play out, and so I was never fully absorbed in the story.  Again, that was my fault.  Perhaps I wasn’t in the right mood for a retelling.  Perhaps the pace of the first half just didn’t work for me, it was a lot longer than I was anticipating, and I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

One of the little things that threw me off were the many subtle references to the Disney film.  It’s funny, b/c while I adored the movie, it felt odd to me that there should be such obvious references (from character names, to subtle song nods).  This is TOTALLY a personal preference thing, but I often found those references, and even some of the ways in which Laire thought of Erik as the “Prince of Utopia Manor”, or Erik thought of Laire as a “little mermaid”, to be kind of forced, or contrived.  That doesn’t mean they were, that’s just how they felt to me.

I spent a lot of my reading time thinking that all the building blocks for a great story were there, but I just couldn’t connect with the characters.  And there weren’t any obvious reasons why, I’m not entirely sure if they were flat or if it was just me.  But while they did most things really right, I didn’t swoon as much as I expected, or get as many tingles, or even bawl in the places where I should have been crying…I didn’t shed a single tear.

I think part of my problem is that I felt a personal disconnect with Laire’s extremely sheltered upbringing, and those conservative views that often result in women being shamed just rub me the wrong way entirely.  It really fit well and made SO MUCH SENSE for how naive the little mermaid is supposed to be.  That was soooo well done (seriously, the set up of a sheltered island girl and a Governor’s son was a perfect way to make the story work in a contemporary setting).  But I didn’t end up feeling ANY good feelings towards her family, and perhaps I needed a little something to love about her father to understand her reactions later on.  But maybe that’s because they made me so angry that I didn’t care for her family at all.

OK, so I know…this review is ridiculously long.  I just…I like to understand what went wrong for me, especially when so many felt differently.  I DID love the romance.  I think I held myself back from Laire because of how naive she was, and so it made it harder to connect to both of them as fully as I might otherwise.  I LOVED that while Erik looked like he would be a party boy or something, he was not what I expected at all.  It was definitely a lot of strong feelings in a short amount of time, but young love can be like that sometimes so it didn’t bother me.  And can I just say that I love that he called her Freckles?  SO CUTE.

And I actually really enjoyed the part after the Interlude.  I felt like that was paced really well, and I adored a certain major character in that part.  I felt a lot more feelings in the second half, and started to connect more.  It definitely started hitting me in the feels more, but of course that part was shorter.

So yeah.  There you have it.  My thoughts.  *sigh*  *shrugs*

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Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram

Blurb:
14495341_10154103515169353_1987216987004450545_nWhat would you do if your anonymous Internet best friend turned out to be Hollywood’s hottest celebrity?

It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her—her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder.

Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement—or his fake fiancée—but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.

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My Review:
ORIGINAL REVIEW: 5 stars — UNPUTDOWNABLE. Seriously. I started reading this b/c I was at the release party for it and there was a part where the author posted a video of her reading the prologue and first chapter of the book. Well, when I started bawling at the end of the prologue, I had to put aside the book I was currently reading and start reading it for myself even though it was after 10pm….ended up being up til 5am glued to my kindle. So does that tell you something? It tells me it was awesome. And then I proceeded to not write my review right away and thus this will not be up to my normal babbling standards….well, maybe.

LOVED the characters. Loved the whole very loose retelling of Cinderella. There was actually more to that than I was expecting. Loved how broken and yet strong Ella was. Loved watching her struggle in her new life, and struggle to survive. LOVED the heartbreaking themes that the story touched on (bullying, grief, survival, depression…I have more but I can’t think of them). Gosh, even Brian was so much more complicated than I was expecting. Ms. Oram’s characters are always so well-developed and three dimensional. Even the side characters were amazing and believable (yes, even Anastasia….I actually had a harder time justifying some of Jennifer’s (the stepmom) behavior from the beginning).

And I kind of wanted The Druid Prince to be real.

ASE is still probably my favourite of Ms. Oram’s, but let me tell you — this put in some amazing competition for top spot.

ON REREAD: 5 OMG OMG OMG stars!  We reread this book as part of a read-a-long in the Kelly Oram Reader Squad in September in preparation for the new cover and 2 year publish-a-versary.  And it was MAGICAL!  Everything I remember this book being.  I then didn’t write up my review YET AGAIN, so it will be lacking.  But I will say that I was reminded of one of my FAVOURITE scenes from a book of ALL TIME (for those who’ve read it, it’s the FantasyCon moment where realizations occur).  I could read that scene OVER AND OVER AND OVER again, kind of like how I could watch the end of Never Been Kissed OVER AND OVER AND OVER again.  It’s *that* good.  Seriously, “say car for me”…it shouldn’t produce chills, but it does.

And the pièce de résistance of the read-a-long?  Having conversations *with* the characters ABOUT the book they are in.  Seriously…made my whole day.

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Hook’s Little Mermaid (The Untold Stories) by Suzanna Lynn

hooks-little-mermaidBlurb: Captain James Hook was once a good man trying to make a somewhat honest living. He is a pirate, after all. However, after getting word that a boy named Peter Pan played a part in the death of a dear loved one, Hook makes it his sole purpose to hunt down and destroy the fiend.

On his journey for vengeance, the captain encounters many new comrades, including a young girl named Red and a fairy called Tinker Bell, and both push him to reconsider his desire for justice.

The accidental rescue of a mermaid leads him on a whirlwind adventure in Neverland. The journey is not a simple one, considering Pan, the Lost Boys, mermaids, and magic all come into play. After several misadventures, Hook must choose between the possibility of a new life with love and his much-desired retaliation against Pan.

Once everything is said and done, will the captain be able to overcome his need for revenge? Will he let compassion steer him toward love? Or will Captain Hook live up to his villainous reputation?

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2 stars

I don’t know what happened but I wasn’t that big a fan of this book as I thought I would be.  Maybe the cover reminded me of Hook from Once Upon A Time and I transferred my feelings of want to this book. Either way, it wasn’t for me. This book was missing some depth and had too much telling, not enough showing. Great potential, poor follow through.

It took too long to get to the point, and if the book had been longer I would have DNF’d it, but it was a short story so I just finished it.  Hook was made out to be the good guy and I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  Also, there isn’t that much action in this book, at least until the very end. I expected more obstacles to get in the way but everything seemed to work out with no real closure.

Maybe I need to be more discriminating when I choose a fairy tale retelling, they are not all created equal.

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The Wolf’s Pursuit (London Fairy Tales #3) by Rachel Van Dyken

The wolfs pursuitBlurb: What happens when one is both Hunter and Wolf?
You know it’s going to be a bad day when you get shot at—twice. Hunter Wolfsbane, Duke of Haverstone, also known as “Wolf” is having exactly one of those days. Things take a turn for the worse when he’s notified that he’ll be acquiring a partner for his newest mission. The rub? He’s kissed her—twice. In his defense, she was already ruined, but it didn’t help matters that she was the sister-in-law to his best friend in the world.

And how does a woman protect her heart from one who has the power to destroy every-thing she holds dear?
Lady Gwendolyn has only one thing on her mind–Finding the Wolf and strangling him where he stands. Unfortunately, she needs him to complete one final mission for the Crown and to keep her family safe. It has absolutely nothing to do with her attraction to him, or his golden eyes, or his wicked smile, or the fact that he’s convinced to keep his heart encased in ice—that is, if he still possesses one.

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Favorite quote: 

It’s easier to believe you’re a failure. So much easier than trying to wrap your mind around the simple truth or perhaps the idea that you are so much more than you choose to be.

4 stars

Another great story in this series.  I’ve been waiting for this one cause I had a feeling it would be my favorite and I was right.  I do love the Little Red Riding Hood re-tellings.

I loved Red’s spunk.  She wasn’t afraid to challenge cultural norms in this era and used her sex to her advantage in her missions.  Her loyalty to her country is steadfast and strong. She just had such a great depth of character.

The wolf was exactly what you expect.  He liked her, obviously, but he resisted temptation and the chance at a happiness because of fear.  He was incredibly vulnerable emotionally but physically strong, a compelling contrast in a historical romance. His loyalty was worth more than anything to him, you will see what I mean when you read the book.

The third book in this series can be read as a stand alone.  They are parallel stories about sisters.

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Dark, Sexy Knight by Katy Regnery

dark sexy nightBlurb: Loosely inspired by the legend of Camelot, Dark Sexy Knight tells the story of dinner theater knight Colt Lane, who meets down-on-her-luck Verity Gwynn on the worst day of her life. Evicted from their home, Verity and her special-needs brother, Ryan, must find jobs or risk being separated. Colt, who is the furthest-possible thing from a white knight in real life, comes to their unlikely rescue, quickly cementing his place in Verity’s heart.

Colt has dark, deeply buried secrets that keep his smile hidden and his eyes down, which has kept people away . . . until he meets Verity, who seems immune to his gruff manners and taciturn ways. The more time Colt spends with her, the more he longs for her sweetness in his life and yearns to be the knight in shining armor she so desperately needs. Certain he will lose her if she learns the truth about his past, he must decide if he can trust her with his yesterday in order to build a beautiful tomorrow.

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2.5 Stars 4557797_orig

This book is loosely based off the legend Camelot. And I don’t really know the legend of Camelot very well.  The only thing I remember is the queen fell in love with the knight and the king found out.  At any rate, this book had a lot of great steamy sex scenes.

I don’t know for some reason the story line for me jumped the shark when they had unprotected sex.  A lot of the things were exaggerated, like his size and her innocence. I just, I mean I liked the sex scenes.  Honestly that’s all I liked was the sex scenes.

Wait, no that’s not true.

I was intrigued with Colt’s chronic impulse control disorder and how he dealt with it, or didn’t deal with it I should say.  And how they both cared for their mentally disabled family members.  I got to see into a different lifestyle that I am unfamiliar with so that was an educating experience for me.

But other than that, the story itself just wasn’t that good for me.  Verity relied on the kindness of others a lot.  It was almost as if she equated someone being kind to her meaning that they loved her.  At least that’s how it came across to me.  Maybe I’m wrong, Maybe I’m just too much of a hard-ass to see the real love story in this book. I just found Verity to be too innocent for my tastes.

Especially with regards to her being a guardian.  As a guardian, I felt that she have been more responsible.  Especially after that first act of harassment at the workplace.  She should have reported him right away and had the appropriate disciplinary action taken.  She should never have allowed him to keep working there.  Her ignorance was just fricking annoying.

And the reasoning behind his falling in love with her just seemed too easy for me.  He seemed to  like the fact that she was vulnerable and that she needed him.  Two things that to me shouldn’t be a reason to be attracted to someone.  It would definitely be a reason you would want to help them.  But it kinda seemed a bit predatory to me.  I just don’t see that attraction.

It didn’t make sense to me at all. He is an asshole to everyone else but you.  that really doesn’t change the fact that he is an asshole. Other than that, the story was kinda one dimensional and flat for me.

The only saving grace of this story are the sex scenes. I’m really disappointed actually. The villian’s were great, the miscommunication was lame.  Her reaction and not trusting him, I thought was incredibly childish and immature. Then her not leaving when she was told to leave was stubborn and irresponsible for a guardian.  Again, she was just too immature for me.  She just wasn’t adult enough to be in relationship where they lived together and she was the responsible for the well being of someone who couldn’t take care of themself.

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Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram

cinder and ellaSynopsis: It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new stepfamily, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her—her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder.

Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement—or his fake fiancée—but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1PeEYII

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22724488-cinder-ella

5 Stars!!!!!

OMG, you guys!  This book was so fecking delicious!  I ate it all up so fast!  I just want to scream at strangers, “YOU ALL NEED TO READ THIS BOOK NOW! NOW I SAY!”

I really liked how real it was with regards to her accident and working through all of her problems both physically and emotionally.  It showed more than just her side, it showed her sisters side too, giving a great contrasting element to Ella’s POV. It was interesting to see the changes that occurred in her as time progressed.

I liked all the issues that it touched on.  Societies idea of beauty, bullying, dealing with someone who may be suicidal.  It wasn’t superficial at all.  I felt her helplessnesss, her hopelessness and her anger toward her father.  The bullying she had to deal with. The pain she felt going through the physical therapy. There was a lot of pain in this book, a lot of pain.

The author’s references to other books and movies were both mainstream and classic.  Great nod to Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, two of my favorite high fantasy authors. And OUAT, one of my favorite shows!   It added a nice layer to the background.  There was also some pretty good diversity in the book.  Her Chilean background was a prominent point in the book with relating to food and language. I really want that recipe!  The two dads as well represented more diverse family units than I usually see in a book as well.

Okay, my favorite part!  Location 3689 people, that scene is the bestest!  I’m leaving it at that.  Muhahahahahahahah.

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Ride the Wind by Starla Huchton

Synopsis:
25417530Once upon a time, I made a promise to a stranger. Though I’d never seen her face, I cared for her above all others.

Once upon a time, I broke my vow. In trying to save the one I loved, I condemned her to a cursed life and stripped her of all freedom in a single, misguided step.

Once upon a time, I set out on a journey. Though it might never earn me forgiveness, I would set her free or die trying.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25417530-ride-the-wind
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1kAsf6A

My Review:
4.5 stars — Well that was utterly enchanting. Oh, and before I go on, I received an ARC from the author for me to review!

I have to admit some truths before I begin:

Truth #1 — while the concept of the Flipped Fairy Tales that Ms. Huchton writes have had me completely intrigued since I met her at UtopYa this year, this is in fact my first book by this author. And it won’t be my last.

Truth #2 — I know NOTHING about the original fairy tale this book is based off of. About halfway through the book I became curious, and started to look it up, but I didn’t want to ruin the story for myself, so I held off.

Truth #3 — this book is so totally out of my wheelhouse, that I’m actually surprised by my thorough enjoyment. What do I mean? I’m a modern setting/writing kind of girl. I tend to steer clear of historical books and high fantasy, and I prefer…I don’t know how to describe it…. I just can get a bit lost and lose interest when the manner of speech and voice is more formal? maybe? I just end up sticking with contemporary settings, or if they’re futuristic settings, then more casual or “normal”. I’m probably bumbling this up, but please tell me you know what I’m talking about? So this book was a little bit outside of the norm for me. I think it’s that usually I find it really hard to relate to the characters if I can’t imagine myself in the story. So I’m desperately trying to figure out what made this story stand apart for me. B/C I couldn’t really see myself in the story, but I was epically immersed all the same.

I think my enchantment starts with the unique and captivating plot. I was telling my husband about the story and mentioned that it was a bit more fantasy like. But one thing that stands apart is that the hero doesn’t have magical powers and this destiny to be a great hero. He’s just a boy who holds strong convictions, has a beautiful heart, and suffers for the mistakes he makes. So he’s kind of an everyman in some ways. He’s so easy to empathize with, and you’re given ample opportunity to get to know him in the first half of the book. And in that way you’re invested in him as a character and so you root for him through the second half of the book. And I just realized I started this paragraph talking about plot and have somehow devolved into talking about my favourite part of a book — characters. (Oops.) It’s not that Lukas is without flaws. But he’s endearing all the same. And the same goes for the Elk and Erata — flawed characters, but with enough heart to make us love them. And it’s not just the main characters that stand out. Lukas meets so many people along his journey, and they all had their own unique voice.

The world building in this story was also strong — we traveled to so many different places, and I could imagine each one. I even feel like I spotted the setting (and a character) for the next Flipped Fairy Tale, so I’m anxious to learn if I’m right about that.

I have but one complaint — and it’s really more about my personal taste than anything. I could have used a smidge more in the romance department. What can I say, I’m a diehard romantic — and I just felt more in the friendship chemistry department than in the romance one….either that or I just wanted MORE. But maybe it wouldn’t have fit in with the story, what do I know?

This was a solid YA adventure. If you’re a fan of fairy tales AT ALL, I definitely recommend this read….you won’t be disappointed, and if you’re like me, you’ll be looking to read the rest in the series to devour a bit more magical awesomeness.

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