Tag Archives: Retelling

First Impressions

First Impressions

A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

By Debra White Smith

The Story

In an attempt to get to know the people of London, Texas–the small town that lawyer Eddi Boswick now calls home–she tries out for a local theater group’s production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. She’s thrilled to get the role of lively Elizabeth Bennet . . . until she meets the arrogant–and eligible–rancher playing her leading man.

Dave Davidson chose London, Texas, as the perfect place to live under the radar. Here, no one knows his past, and he can live a quiet, peaceful life with his elderly aunt, who also happens to own the local theater. Dave doesn’t even try out for the play, but suddenly he is thrust into the role of Mr. Darcy and forced to spend the entire summer with Eddi, who clearly despises him.

Sparks fly every time Eddi and Dave meet, whether on the stage or off. But when Eddi discovers Dave’s secret, she has to admit there might be more to him than she thought. Maybe even enough to change her mind . . . and win her heart.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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I’ve long been a fan of Pride and Prejudice—the movies at least. I’m sad to say that I have not yet finished the original novel, but I’m working on it! Now, I won’t get started on which movie version I like the best, but I will say that length is a big factor for me. 😉

First Impressions is a sweet retelling of this classic story, this time set in London, Texas. The characters that Ms. Smith creates harken back to the original story, but each has a bit of a twist. I loved getting to know these beloved characters in new ways, and I felt that Ms. Smith did justice to the story.

I enjoyed watching as Eddi and Dave got to know each other better, and seeing the sparks fly as misunderstandings arose. There were times where I felt the story lagged a bit, but I did appreciate that Ms. Smith stayed true to the major plot points key to the book. I definitely would have been disappointed to see any missing. I liked the portrayal of the sisters in particular.

Overall, I enjoyed First Impressions, but it didn’t grip my attention as much as I would have liked. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen or Pride and Prejudice and looking for something a little different, I would definitely suggest First Impressions.

About the Author

Debra White Smith is a seasoned author, speaker, and media personality who has fifty-four books to her credit, both fiction and nonfiction, with more than one million copies in print. Her work has appeared on various bestseller lists, and she has repeatedly been voted a reader favorite. She holds a BA and MA in English and lives in Texas. Visit her at http://www.debrawhitesmith.com for more information.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

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The Golden Braid

_225_350_Book.1770.coverBook Review: The Golden Braid

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Book Look Bloggers’ website description of The Golden Braid:

The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.

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I have been a huge fan of Melanie Dickerson and her books since I first read The Healer’s Apprentice when I was a teenager. I have always loved fairytales, and Melanie has a way of taking well-known stories and twisting them into a new, beautiful tale.

The Golden Braid was so much fun to read, from the somewhat arrogant Sir Gerek, to the overbearing and slightly insane Mother Gothel, to Rapunzel herself, in all her misconceptions and quiet strength. The characters in this book were just as interesting and infuriating as in Melanie’s other books. And, as always, the setting is crafted in such a way that it shines through as almost a character unto itself. I enjoyed how the plot touched on those from previous books, allowing us to see beloved characters from another angle.

As usual, I loved Melanie’s latest book, and I eagerly anticipate her next release. She has one more book in the same medieval fairytale vein as The Golden Braid, but she has a new book releasing in February that is a Regency novel, which I am beyond excited to read! What I love about Melanie’s books, is that they are perfect for a teen reader, but they are also well-suited and interesting for an older reader as well. If you’ve never read anything by Melanie, but enjoy books that retell old stories, with romance, adventure, and mystery, then you have got to pick up one of her books!

About the Author

Biography from Book Look Bloggers’ website: Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her on line at melaniedickerson.com, Facebook: MelanieDickersonBooks, and Twitter @melanieauthor.

I was given a review copy of The Golden Braid from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Five Enchanted Roses

FiveEnchantedRosesFinalCoverBook Review: Five Enchanted Roses

Authors: Kaycee Browning, Savannah Jezowski, Jenelle Schmidt, Dorian Tsukioka, and Hayden Wand

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Amazon’s website description of Five Enchanted Roses:

Rediscover the Enchantment!

A ship bearing the souls of sinful sailors drifts upon a ghostly sea. An abbey looms as the final defense between mortals and ghouls of the underworld. In the stillness of a throne room, statues stand forever frozen in a moment of terror. Monsters and men stalk their prey deep in the jungle’s shadows. A rose blooms in the dead of winter, sheltered in the ruins of an ancient Scottish castle.

And only true love can free the Beast from his prison.

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I try to read two or three novella collections every year, simply because I love the flow of a shorter story and the creativity that can be used in such a collection. After reading the Five Glass Slippers collection from last year, I knew that Five Enchanted Roses would need to be on my to be read list. Beauty and the Beast is my all-time favorite fairy tale, though I know it is also one of the most debated. So, let’s get right into it and I’ll tell you what I thought of this collection.

Esprit De La Rose was fascinating and confusing as I scrambled to keep up with what was going on, just like Cecilia, the heroine had to do. I loved the element of pirates and the amazing creativity the author had to come up with to form the unique story world for the novella. It’s a great start to the collection, one that will press you to keep reading until the end.

Wither was…spell bounding. I couldn’t predict a single thing that would happen in this novella. The Beast of this tale was complicated and who he ends up being was a surprise for me. I liked the heroine’s spunk and the hero’s noble cause. It’s a story that will give you chills, yet also manages to attain the elements of Beauty and the Beast.

Stone Curse twists the original tale on its side and views the story from a new angle, one that kept me guessing and had me intrigued. Rather than have the ‘beauty’ come to the castle, we see that character already there and the beast is not entirely expected. Redemption would be the key word for this tale, for more than one character.

Rosara and the Jungle King was so much fun to read! The setting of the Amazon rainforest was awesome, the villain was truly terrible, and the beast intriguing. I wasn’t quite sure how a happy ending would be attained, or if it would be, but the ending is satisfying and definitely worth the read.

The Wulver’s Rose, the final novella in the collection, sticks closest to the original story yet still has its own unique elements to make it a good read. The use of the prologue and epilogue was excellent, and the motivation of Bonnie was well-done. I felt for the poor girl, as well as for the beast. In all, a good ending to the collection.

Rooglewood Press puts out another great fairy tale retelling collection, again bringing stories bursting with creativity that will keep the reader delighted and entertained, challenged and satisfied. I highly recommend this collection to lovers of fairy tales and the Beauty and the Beast story. In this collection, you’ll find the story as you’ve never read it before.

About the Authors

Biography from Rooglewood Press’s Website: Kaycee Browning is a homeschooled teenager living in North Carolina. She wrote her first novel when she was thirteen and published a novel at age fifteen. When not writing, she is most likely amusing herself by reading, fangirling, hanging out with friends, or (occasionally) doing her schoolwork. She resides with her two amazing parents, her three awesome siblings, and her two bossy dachshunds.To find out more about Kaycee and her work, visit: www.KayceeBrowning.com

Savannah Jezowski lives in a drafty farmhouse in Amish country with her Knight in Shining Armor, who is no less shiny after eight years of matrimony, and a loyal brigade of kitties, who may or may not sleep on the job. Her work has been published in Ray Gun Revival, Mindflights, and in the student publication of Fountains at Pensacola Christian College. She likes books, faeries, writing hats, and having tea with her imaginary friends. To learn more about Savannah and her work, visit: www.SavannahJaysWorkshop.blogspot.com

Jenelle Schmidt grew up in the northern-midwest. She now resides with her husband and their three adorable children in North Carolina where the summers are too hot and there is never enough snow. Jenelle fell in love with reading at a young age during family storytimes. To this day she enjoys creating exciting adventure tales filled with poignant themes and compelling characters in the fantasy and sci-fi genres.To learn more about Jenelle and her work, visit: www.JenelleSchmidt.com

Dorian Tsukioka writes fairy tale retellings, young adult fantasy, and science fiction with just a dash of romance thrown in to keep things spicy. When she’s not writing, Dorian teaches 5th graders in Kansas City, MO, or she can be found chasing after her two, pixie-esque daughters. She has a love of learning and teaching, and loves to talk about books with anyone who will listen, especially if the conversation includes cinnamon-chip scones and caramel lattes.To learn more about Dorian and her work, visit: www.DorianWrites.blogspot.com

Hayden Wand is a Christian and a homeschool graduate who has loved the classic story of Beauty and the Beast since the age of three, when she saw the Disney movie for the first time. When she’s not writing, reading, or bribing her siblings to read the classics, you can find her baking, crafting, practicing her archery skills, or watching her favorite shows on the BBC. She lives in South Carolina with her parents and four energetic younger siblings. To learn more about Hayden and her work, visit: www.everystory-storygirl.blogspot.com

I was given a review copy of Five Enchanted Roses from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Captive Maiden

Book Review: The Captive Maiden

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Review by Grace Olson 

Yay! At long last, I was able to get my hands on a copy of Melanie Dickerson’s latest fairytale retelling, The Captive Maiden. A Cinderella/Ivanhoe mesh, this latest novel lived up to the standard set by Dickerson’s other books. So what did I think? Keep reading. 🙂

The Story

Taken from Amazon’s website synopsis of The Captive Maiden:

Happily Ever After …Or Happily Nevermore?

Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten—the boy she has daydreamed about for years—is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

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Since the first time I picked up Dickerson’s first novel, The Healer’s Apprentice, I’ve been hooked. So I wasn’t surprised when The Captive Maiden was another good read. The setting, as usual, was vivid and I had no trouble imagining myself walking the streets of medieval Hagenheim. But the real gems in this book are the characters.

The Hero: Remember Valten? The macho older brother from The Fairest Beauty? He’s back, and he’s still not overjoyed that his younger brother one-upped him with his fiancee. But when he sees Gisela, his disgruntlement towards his brother starts to fade. There is another issue he’s been struggling with lately, however. Valten has always been a fighter. He’s won almost every tournament he’s entered, in all the categories, but he’s found that that kind of life is losing its appeal. But if he’s not destined to be a tournament fighter, then what is he supposed to do? Could God have a plan for him other than what Valten has been pursuing for so long? As the story unfolds, we get to see a side of Valten that was not revealed before, a softer, kinder side that appears when Gisela is around and endears him to the reader and to the heroine. Valten is also the perfect hero. Strong, dedicated to protecting the heroine, and chivalrous. What’s not to like?

The Heroine: Gisela knows the life of near-slavery she’s been living with her cruel stepmother and stepsisters is not how her life is destined to be, and she is determined to escape. There is only one problem. Though she’s tried to cease caring about anything so that her stepmother cannot hurt her, she has one weak link in her armor. Her father’s horses. When a tournament is held in Hagenheim, Gisela sneaks off to attend. There she is singled out by Valten, and her life becomes forever changed. But her stepmother and Valten’s sworn enemy, Ruexner, are both determined to keep the two apart.

I loved how Dickerson spun out the story of Cinderella. Evfemia, the stepmother, made me want to slap her every time she opened her mouth. It was also fun to get to know Valten’s other siblings, such as Margaretha. I believe, if the rumors can be trusted, that Margaretha will be having a story of her own soon, and after getting a glimpse of her character, I can tell you, I can’t wait!

Both Gisela and Valten wonder whether God has a plan for their lives. Gisela isn’t sure, since she is a woman. And Valten has doubts because he wonders if God would truly answer him. Neither of them expect the answer they’re given.

About the Author 

Biography from Amazon’s website: Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice and The Merchant’s Daughter, both Christy Award finalists, winner of The National Reader’s Choice Award for 2010’s Best First Book, and winner of the 2012 Carol Award in Young Adult fiction. She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee, and English to adults in Germany and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama. ~ To learn more about Melanie and her other books, visit her web page: http://www.melaniedickerson.com/

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I was given The Captive Maiden this past Christmas, and though I’m just reviewing it now, I’ve been done with it for nearly a month. It only took me a few days to fly through this read, a usual occurrence whenever I read anything by Melanie Dickerson. Though it is not my favorite of her novels, I still would highly recommend this book, especially to lovers of sweet romance, medieval historical fiction, and young adult novels.

The Captive Maiden is available for download, check-out, or paper copy.