No fairy godmother. No magic pumpkin. Just one grumpy girl and a glass slipper.

If the shoe fits, wear it.
If it doesn’t, make it.


Happily is a fairy-tale retelling by author Chauncey Rogers. This fantasy retelling will be published April 3, 2018. I received advance reader copy of the book in exchange for honest review.

This is not your typical happily ever after kind of story. It does not even begin with once upon a time….

“Ten days ago, the weather was nice. I suppose I’m obligated to tell you about the weather fist, right? It seems that’s what they always do. Either that or that awful cliché of “once upon a time.” Only this wasn’t once upon a time. It was just ten days ago.” ― Chauncey Rogers, Happily

Guess what happened? Well ten days ago, the prince fell in love with a girl whose name and face he didn’t even know and then lost her. And now? Well, a shoe was their best approach to finding her…
Meet Laure. Laure is a teenage street urchin just trying to get away. Where the rest of the world sees an enchanting love story, Laure sees royal incompetence and an opportunity to exploit it. She’ll have wealth and a way out of a life she detests, if she can only manage to hoodwink the royal family and survive to tell the tale.

I was very positively surprised by Happily. By surprised, I mean that I don’t usually set very high expectations for self-published books. Happily exceeded my expectations by millions of miles… First, just look at the cover. Let’s start with that. It’s perfection, I adore it. Glass slipper, title and tagline and the ambitious “If the shoe fits…” …there’s no confusion to what the book is about. You kind of want to turn it around and see what’s it about. Next, I loved the humor in the book. I guess whenever authors lighten up the mood by supposedly funny/ sarcastic descriptions, it always wins me over. I liked the characters. Laure was an interesting main character. She seems a bit rebellious and that might annoy you at first but then her bravery wins you over. And friendship…between Laure and Luc was adorable because Luc is in many ways opposite of Laure.

“Yep”, Luc said. “See, what I did was called work. That”, he said, reaching up and grabbing the coin from my hand, “is called payment. A lot of people do it every day ― both the working and the paying.” He put the coin back down in the bag and said, “Maybe someday you’ll experience it yourself.”
“Very funny.”
(…)
“Nah, not really. I mean, I suppose some work is funny. Most of it is just a part of life, though.” ― Chauncey Rogers, Happily

There were some plot twists that were a bit weird before I thought about them so I didn’t like that. Moreover, I didn’t quite like the ending (although no one likes coming to an end of a good book) because it felt a bit rushed. All in all, though, this was a lovely read and I warmly recommend it if you have a passion for retellings.

4/5 stars

Tips:
1.
If you are a reviewer, you can get free e-book copy of the book up to March 26.
2. 
Fast-paced and sweetly humorous adventure. I would read this to my kids if I had ones. According to the foreword of the book, Rogers was working on his last book ‘Cleaving Souls’ when his three-year-old asked what was he doing. He replied that he was writing and his daughter asked whether he could read it to her. At a time, Rogers was working on thriller so he declined but promising he would write the next story for her. 
3.
300 pages but honestly it feels like one hundred, not lacking anything in the plot and there’s never a dull moment.

Do you like retellings? How does this sound to you?

/Anastasia

Eragon

“First, let no one rule your mind or body. Take special care that your thoughts remain unfettered… . Give men your ear, but not your heart. Show respect for those in power, but don’t follow them blindly. Judge with logic and reason, but comment not. Consider none your superior whatever their rank or station in life. Treat all fairly, or they will seek revenge. Be careful with your money. Hold fast to your beliefs and others will listen.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Eragon is the first novel in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. Shortly about the plot, the book tells the story of a farm boy named Eragon who lives in a small village in the kingdom of Alagaësia. In the very beginning of the book, Eragon finds a mysterious stone. Or so it appears until Eragon realizes it’s not a stone but an egg. A dragon egg which should not be possible as dragons have long disappeared from Alagaësia. The reason for their extinction is a dragon rider Galbatorix who killed all the dragon riders and their dragons and crowned himself king. Of course, Galbatorix soon finds out about Eragon and Saphira and wants to hunt them down.

“The greatest enemy is one that has nothing to lose.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

I first read Eragon when I was 13 and back then I was immediately hooked by this story and it’s just impossible not to adore Saphira. I was so enamored with her, that I used her name + some characters as my first nickname in various internet pages. Reading and reviewing Eragon now, ten years later, is harder than I expected. There are issues with Eragon and you have to keep in mind that Christopher was only 15 when he wrote Eragon (I was so jealous of that fact). Sometimes the pace of the book is very fast and sometimes one event seems to go on for tens of pages. Writing is a bit clumsy and there are grammatical errors.

“It’s amazing that a man who is dead can talk to people through these pages. As long as this books survives, his ideas live.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Where the magic of Eragon lies, is the interaction between Eragon and Saphira.  Their relationship is everything you want a creature and a human to have. And I love how they’re similar, yet different in many aspects and how they grow in the story.

5/5 stars

How-To Read Eragon
1.
If you love Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance or Earthsea series, I’m sure you’ll adore the Inheritance Cycle. There are similarities between this one and LotR that may annoy some readers, yet I think that if you read enough of books, you’ll see that there are nothing but similarities everywhere. 
2.
This is a wonderful read for fantasy lovers and especially for dragon lovers. Though the length of the book is not very easy.
3.
You can read a sample chapter of the book by clicking here.
4.
There’s a movie adaptation yay. The movie got mostly unfavorable reviews. I just don’t get why they always fail with movie adaptations of great books like this.
5.
 Eragon is the first part of the Inheritance Cycle, so if you liked this, you’ll have 3 more books to go.

“Books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Have you read Eragon? Who is your favorite dragon in literature?

How-To Catch a Falling Star

“A philosopher once asked, “Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?” Pointless, really…”Do the stars gaze back?” Now, that’s a question.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

Stardust is a novel by British writer Neil Gaiman, published with illustrations by Charles Vess in 1999. It tells a story Tristran Thorn who promises to bring back a fallen star for his beloved and crosses the wall that divides his English country town from a dangerous world of lords and witches, all of them in search of the star. And Tristran soon discovers that stars are not how he imagined them to be.

“He stared up at the stars: and it seemed to him then that they were dancers, stately and graceful, performing a dance almost infinite in its complexity. He imagined he could see the very faces of the stars; pale, they were, and smiling gently, as if they had spent so much time above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, that they could not help being amused every time another little human believed itself the center of its world, as each of us does.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

Stardust was I think the second book I read by Neil Gaiman, first one being Neverwhere. I adore his writing and have to agree with Stephen King when he said that “Gaiman is a treasure-house of story and we are lucky to have him”. Stardust is a beautiful fairytale targeted more to adult readers, and it’s a wonderful thing that someone writes fairytales for adults.

“It’s not hard to own something. Or everything. You just have to know that it’s yours, and then be willing to let it go.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

“Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at the stars because we are human?”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

I’d rate this book 4/5 stars. I’d give more but the problem here lies in me loving  Neverwhere and  American Gods even more.

Tips
1.
You´ll adore Stardust if you love fantasy and if you like books like The Princess Bride or works of Lord Dunsany.
2. It’s a quick read because it’s a short read, under 250 pages and because Gaiman writes so brilliantly.
3.
If you love reading fairytales, here’s one you should read.
4.
You can read an excerpt of Stardust here.
5.
There is a  good film adaptation of the book from 2007.

Have you read Neil Gaiman’s books? Have you read this?

“You have to believe. Otherwise, it will never happen.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

How an Angel And a Devil Fell in Love

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.
It did not end well.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a fantasy novel written by Laini Taylor. It was published in 2011.  The story follows Karou, a seventeen-year-old Prague art student. Karou has bright blue hair and she was raised by chimera, or creatures that have attributes of different animals and humans. The chimera she lives with demand teeth in exchange for wishes and send Karou to fetch these teeth for them. In the beginning, Karou has yet to discover what the teeth are eventually used for. While on one of these missions, Karou meets a seraph named Akiva, and seemingly this is not the first time the two of them meet.

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

I read this book for the first time almost four years ago. First of all, I adore the covers of this book. The feathers and the mask really put you in the right mood. Moreover, I enjoyed the little passages like the one above. There is the classic Once Upon a time beginning, however after that something is different. Something goes wrong. And clearly it will not end in happily ever after. Then, I really loved the setting of this book. Prague is such a gorgeous city and it has that air of mystery about it. You never know what kind of creatures might hide there.

“It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry ‘Monster!’ and looked behind him.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

What I didn’t like was perhaps the romance. It didn’t exactly bother me but the concept of forbidden love and angels falling in love with devils is kind of very worn out in young adult literature. I do think, however that Taylor realized it in an expert manner.

“Once upon a time, a little girl was raised by monsters.
But angels burned the doorways to their world, and she was all alone.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

All in all, Daugher of Smoke and Bone is incredibly smart, surprising, funny and unforgettable. (I mean here I am reviewing it  four years after I first read it.
I’d rate this book 4/5 stars.

Tips

1.I warmly recommend this book to all lovers of fantasy and paranormal.
2. There are two more books in this trilogy called  Days of Blood and Starlight & Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I plan to review those two on my blog soon so heads up.
3. If you’re even tiny bit interested of this book, I really recommend visiting the official Tumblr site for Laini Taylor’s series. Because there you can find this amazing art such as this one here below:

Source: http://thenovl.com

4. A perfect book to take with you to Prague. So basically you should buy this book and book a flight there.
5. There might be a film adaptation in the future.

Have you read this? Thoughts?

~Anastasia

“Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

How-To Go There & Back Again

“Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not Today. Good morning! But please come to tea -any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Good bye!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Hobbit is classic you must read at least once. It is highly charming story of adventure.  It teases and gives you a hint that something greater is ahead. It also instructs and lectures without it being too obvious. Tolkien tells the story well. Hobbit is fantastic mix of humor and adventure. You’ll also notice that writing is of high quality and that author knows how to pull you in new world.

Characters in Hobbit are  attractive. Bilbo Baggins is not the hero you’d expect…He is very simple and doesn’t possess any magical powers. Adventure might be in his blood, but it’s not really his thing. He’d much rather stay in his home. Thorin Oakenshield is stubborn occasionally brave and occasionally greedy but my most favorite character after Bilbo. Fíli and Kíli are are humorous and loyal to their uncle Thorin. Gandalf mostly protects the company being the wizard and Gandalf also has his own kind of gentle humour.

“Voiceless it cries,
Wingless flutters,
Toothless bites,
Mouthless mutters.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Great book, yet sometimes you might find it difficult to read long chapters in the forest. I suppose it’s Tolkiens way to even the pace of the story and make the enjoyment of reading last longer. Ending of Hobbit was sad.

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

I’d give this book 9/10

How-To Read Hobbit or There and Back Again
1.
Go with low expectations, this book is very hypedFind the one with illustrations. Book in the pictures is illustrated by  Alan Lee.
2. Don’t miss this if you really enjoyed reading Lord of the Rings. You might not like Hobbit but it gives a lot of background to LoTR.
3. Gollum’s riddles are cool. Try to solve them yourself.
4. Bilbo might be a bit frustrating sometimes. It’s also nice book to read out loud.
5. Hobbits, Elves, Trolls, Goblins, Dwarves, Wargs…
6. Movies are definitely worth watching but they are really stretching the events that take place in the book. Ed Sheeran’s I See Fire is just perfect to listen to when you read this book.

What is your favorite Tolkien book? What did you think of the movies?