Cover Reveal: Love Me, Love Me Not by Alyxandra Harvey

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Welcome to the cover reveal for

Love Me, Love Me Not by Alyxandra Harvey

presented by Entangled Teen Crave!

YA fantasy / fairytale retelling of The Swan Maiden with a blood feud twist like Romeo & Juliet? Say whaaaat?

LoveMeLoveMeNot_1600

Dating isn’t easy when you’re in the middle of a blood feud.

Anastasia Vila’s family can turn into swans, but just once she’d like them to turn into responsible adults.

After hundreds of years, they still cling to the blood feud with the Renard family. No one remembers how it started in the first place—but foxes and swans just don’t get along.

Vilas can only transform into their swan shape after they have fallen in love for the first time, but between balancing schoolwork, family obligations, and the escalating blood feud, Ana’s got no time for love. The only thing keeping her sane is her best friend, Pierce Kent.

But when Pierce kisses Ana, everything changes.

Is what Pierce feels for her real, or a byproduct of her magic? Can she risk everything for her best friend? And when the family feud spirals out of control, Ana must stop the fight before it takes away everything she loves.

Including, maybe…Pierce.

This Entangled Teen Crave book contains language, violence, and lots of kissing. Warning: it might induce strong feelings of undeniable attraction for your best friend.

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Love Me, Love Me Not by Alyxandra Harvey
Publication Date: February 22, 2016
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crave

About-the-Author2

alyxandra-harvey

Alyxandra Harvey lives in a stone Victorian house in Ontario, Canada with a few resident ghosts who are allowed to stay as long as they keep company manners. She loves medieval dresses, used to be able to recite all of The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson, and has been accused, more than once, of being born in the wrong century. She believes this to be mostly true except for the fact that she really likes running water, women’s rights, and ice cream. Aside from the ghosts, she also lives with her husband and their dogs. She likes cinnamon lattes, tattoos and books.

Connect with the author: Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

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2016 Retelling Challenge

I’m trying something new this year, something I’m both nervous and excited for: I’m participating in a challenge for the very first time. My Bloglovin’ feed has been overflowing with posts about the various challenges my fellow bloggers will be undertaking in 2016, and when I saw that The Daily Prophecy would be hosting a Retelling Challenge, I couldn’t resist signing up.Retelling Challenge button

The challenge is primarily focused on fairy tale retellings, though mythology, legends, and folk tales are fair game as well. I read a ton of retellings in an average year – in 2015 I devoted an entire month to reimagined fairy tales – so the reading itself shouldn’t be too difficult for me.

The real challenge, as embarrassed as I am to admit it, will be the act of participating, period. I’m a relative newbie when it comes to taking part in the blogging community, so I’m hoping that this challenge will help me get out there and start interacting with other readers and bloggers. I’m also hoping it will help me be a more disciplined blogger by requiring me to post regular updates and get used to tweeting with the #fairytaleRC hashtag. Fingers crossed!

For the Retelling Challenge, I’m aspiring to reach the “Evil Queen” level by reading 10-15 retellings in 2016. Here are a few of the titles on my TBR list:

Book cover for The Crystal Heart by Sophie Masson Book cover for Spirited by Nancy Holder

Book cover for Fairytale ConfessionsBook cover for A Curse of Ash and Iron by Christine NorrisBook cover for Valiant by Sarah McGuireBook cover for Daughter of the Forest by Juliet MarillierBook cover for Stitching Snow by R. C. LewisBook cover for The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy Book cover for Rose and Thunder by Lilith Saintcrow

Book cover for Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher

Book cover for Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

Review: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavor Book Cover This Dark Endeavor
Kenneth Oppel

The purest intentions can stir up the darkest obsessions.

In this prequel to Mary Shelley’s gothic classic, Frankenstein, 16-year-old Victor Frankenstein begins a dark journey that will change his life forever. Victor’s twin, Konrad, has fallen ill, and no doctor is able to cure him. Unwilling to give up on his brother, Victor enlists his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and best friend Henry on a treacherous search for the ingredients to create the forbidden Elixir of Life. Impossible odds, dangerous alchemy and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn.

Victor knows he must not fail. But his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science, and love—and how much he is willing to sacrifice.

Review:

Prior to reading This Dark Endeavor, my only knowledge of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein came from watching Frankenweenie and Young Frankenstein. I knew the bare minimum of the plot – a mad “scientist” creates a monster out of spare body parts and uses electricity to bring said monster to life with disastrous results – but that was it. I didn’t really have a desire to learn any more, either, and I never had any real interest in reading Shelley’s iconic work for myself.

All of that changed after I read This Dark Endeavor, a prequel to Frankenstein that shows Viktor Frankenstein taking the first steps on his path to knowledge and power. Even I, knowing as little as I did about the original story, was captivated by Kenneth Oppel’s teenage Frankenstein. Young Viktor is an incendiary combination of inquisitiveness, pride, jealousy, and brilliance, and it was fascinating to see the first sparks of wonder and desperation that would eventually set his world aflame.

Viktor Frankenstein is a memorable character if ever there was one. He’s dramatic, theatrical, and mercurial, with an excitable imagination and a hunger for adventure and renown. He loves his family and friends with all his heart, but darkness and jealously lurk beneath his surface. He simultaneously adores and envies his twin brother Konrad, who is Viktor’s dearest friend as well as his greatest rival.

When Konrad falls ill, Viktor determines to do whatever it takes to keep his brother alive, no matter the cost. Aided by his childhood companions Elizabeth and Henry, Viktor embarks on a dark quest for a cure, a quest that ignites Viktor’s curiosity and lays the groundwork for the events of Shelley’s novel.

This Dark Endeavor has a deliciously gothic feel that made me shiver and grin while reading it. Viktor and his accomplices discover secret passageways, explore hidden libraries housing forbidden tomes, and creep through dank cellars. There are portentous dreams, sleepwalking maidens, and beakers full of organs and fluids. The pages burst with alchemy, magic, and elixirs whose ingredients must be gathered in darkness. It’s not a frightening book, but it is an atmospheric one, and I enjoyed this very much.

Something else that I loved, though it may seem silly, was the precise, specific language in the book. How often does one get to read about characters who use words like “scoundrel,” “apparatus,” “ghoulish,” and “phantasmagorical?” Rather than coming across as tedious and contrived, Oppel’s diction feels authentic and right, and it pleased me greatly.

I may not have had any desire to read Frankenstein previously, but after finishing This Dark Endeavor the first thing I did was high-tail it to Google to search for anything about Frankenstein that I could get my hands on. I applaud Oppel for interesting me in Shelley’s classic at last and can’t wait to find out what I’ve been missing out on all these years.

Review: Jane by April Lindner

Jane Book Cover Jane
April Lindner

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.

But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?

An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.

Review:

This is probably going to send my high school English teachers into convulsions, but I actually liked April Lindner’s Jane more than Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

If you’re not familiar with the story of Jane Eyre, it’s about a young woman – Jane, of course – who comes to work as a governess to the child of a wealthy man, Mr. Rochester. Over time Jane falls in love with Rochester, but because she’s plain, quiet, and modest she holds no hope that he’ll ever return her affections. Jane’s spirit and goodness do eventually captivate Rochester, but just as the two reach the brink of happiness a dark secret is revealed that puts their relationship at risk.

I read Jane Eyre in high school and again for one of my literature classes in college, and I liked it both times. It wasn’t until I read Jane, though, that I felt like I truly connected with the story. Lindner is faithful to Brontë’s masterpiece but freshens it up, making the story more interesting and polishing Brontë’s characters until they shine. All the parts that I found unlikely or boring in the original are changed or gone completely in this retelling, like the tedious opening scene in the Red Room, Jane’s time at school with Helen Burnley, etc. What remains is the heart of the novel: an unlikely romance between a dowdy young girl and her wealthy employer, a love story about being true to yourself no matter what.

Here are just a few of the things I loved about this book:

Mr. Rochester is a rock star. Literally. In Lindner’s adaptation, Mr. Rochester is replaced by Nico Rathburn, a famous musician with a history of drug abuse, trashed hotel rooms, and a string of volatile relationships. Although some die-hard Brontë fans might faint dead away at the thought of a rock star Mr. Rochester, I assure you it works surprisingly well. For one thing, it provides the necessary context for fitting Jane Eyre into the modern world. Nico’s fame explains why he’s so wealthy and sought after, as well as why it’s unexpected for him to be seen with unremarkable, unworldly Jane. The rock star lifestyle also adds all sorts of interesting complications, like paparazzi, groupies, world tours, band mates, and gossiping maids who want to sleep with their boss. And let’s be real – what book doesn’t get more exciting with the addition of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll?

Jane is the epitome of quiet strength. At the beginning of the book, Jane seems like a bit of a weirdo. She rarely smiles, doesn’t approve of swearing, and is completely out of touch with popular culture. She’s never had a boyfriend, is serious and reserved to the point of being somber, and would rather spend her free time listening to classical music than socializing. If you happened to be seated next to her at a dinner party, never having met her, you’d probably be bored to tears within the first five minutes.

And yet…once you get to know her, you realize there’s much more to Jane than meets the eye. She may be odd and quiet and subdued, but her plain exterior hides a strong, passionate spirit. Anything Jane feels, she feels deeply, and she wants to be desired and loved just like anyone else. Jane may not be outgoing and flashy, but Lindner imbues her with a quiet courage and resolve that I really admire and respect.

There’s a strong message about being true to yourself. As already mentioned, Jane is nothing to look at. I don’t mean she just thinks she’s ugly but in reality is just unconventionally beautiful; no, Jane is legitimately not attractive. Many girls would try to change this, spending a ton of money, time, and effort on hair care regimens and beauty products; not Jane. There’s one scene where two of Nico’s band mates’ girlfriends take Jane under their wing and give her a makeover. Jane is amazed at how gorgeous she looks, yet she washes the makeup off before Nico ever sees her. She knows in her heart that the glamorous girl in the mirror isn’t her, and she won’t compromise herself, even if it means missing a chance to impress Nico.

Does it hurt Jane’s feelings when people tease her because she’s plain? Absolutely. Does she wish she were beautiful? Hell, yeah. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to change who she is. This isn’t a novel about a geeky girl who gets a makeover and then gets the guy. It’s a novel about a girl who gets the guy because she DOESN’T get the makeover. Jane’s refusal to be anyone but her herself – plain face and all – is a huge part of what makes her stand out and shine.

Jane and Nico actually build a real relationship. I had no complaints about the romance in Jane Eyre, but it wasn’t until Jane that I really saw why Jane and Rochester, or in this case Jane and Nico, fall for one another. In Brontë’s novel, Jane and Rochester don’t really do much together besides talk and occasionally take a stroll. In Jane, Nico and Jane actually spend time hanging out and establishing a rapport. They go for walks, paint, spend time with Nico’s daughter, and go out for seafood. Nico teaches Jane to swim. They tease one another and bring out each other’s best qualities. For example, Jane has a wonderfully dry sense of humor that only comes out when Nico’s around:

“I’m not even sure I have a bathing suit,” I told him[…].

“What?” He was frowning at me now. “No bathing suit? Are you sure you’re not a nun?”

“Some nuns swim,” I said.

I’m grateful to April Lindner for taking a classic that I liked and retelling it in a way that made me appreciate it even more. It won’t be for all Jane Eyre fans, but it definitely worked for me, and I know I’ll be reading Lindner’s other retelling, a reimagining of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.

Review: The Trouble With Flirting by Claire LaZebnik

The Trouble with Flirting Book Cover The Trouble with Flirting
Claire LaZebnik

Franny's supposed to be working this summer, not flirting. But you can't blame her when guys like Alex and Harry are around. . . .

Franny Pearson never dreamed she'd be attending the prestigious Mansfield Summer Theater Program. And she's not, exactly. She's working for her aunt, the resident costume designer. But sewing her fingers to the bone does give her an opportunity to spend time with her crush, Alex Braverman. If only he were as taken with the girl hemming his trousers as he is with his new leading lady.

When Harry Cartwright, a notorious flirt, shows more than a friendly interest in Franny, she figures it can't hurt to have a little fun. But as their breezy romance grows more complicated, can Franny keep pretending that Harry is just a carefree fling? And why is Alex suddenly giving her those deep, meaningful looks? In this charming tale of mixed messages and romantic near-misses, one thing is clear: Flirting might be more trouble than Franny ever expected.

Review: 

It’s no surprise that I enjoyed The Trouble With Flirting – after all, it’s a retelling of Mansfield Park, my favorite Jane Austen novel. What did come as a shock was just how MUCH I enjoyed it. I love, love, LOVE this book, and I want you to love it too. 

Here are the things you need to know about The Trouble With Flirting:

It’s set at a summer theater camp for high school students. Franny Pearson, our protagonist, is suckered into spending her summer with her stodgy aunt working in Mansfield College’s costume department. As you might imagine, a theater program full of aspiring teen actors has no shortage of colorful characters. The zany kids and the melodrama that they bring are part of what makes this book so much fun; LaZebnik’s portrayal of the theater world is so spot-on that it’s almost comical. There’s the drama of people not getting their coveted roles, or wanting to have a say in their costume design, or being upset that their crush is running lines with their rival. It brought back memories of my own theater days and kept me smiling throughout.

Franny is an utter delight. Hilarious, smart, and entertaining as hell, I couldn’t have asked for a better heroine than Franny Pearson. She’s one of those characters who’s always up for meeting new people and trying new things, which allows her to be drawn into interesting scenarios and relationships. She’s easygoing and fun, and even when she isn’t thrilled about a situation she takes it in stride and tries to make the best of it. She approaches all things with humor and directness and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She’s also flawed, like all great characters, which adds to her believability.

There are great romantic twists and turns. I was positively giddy over the romance in this book. There’s a love triangle with two guys who are each appealing and multi-dimensional; relationships peppered with humor, banter, and actual conversations; and dates that are fun, sweet, and sexy. Best of all, the relationships aren’t predictable. The title, cover, and synopsis may make The Trouble With Flirting sound like light-hearted fluff, but there’s more to this book than summer flings and casual romance. LaZebnik is able to flout clichés and take the plot and characters down unexpected paths, making the romance that much more rewarding.

It’s gut-bustingly funny. Franny has a wicked sense of humor, as does Harry, and in scenes where they play off each other LaZebnik had me laughing so hard I was close to tears. I was so charmed by their exchanges that I couldn’t stop smiling. The little quips, observations, and tongue-in-cheek comments kept me laughing almost constantly; I’m talking giggles, snickers, and even outright guffaws. Here are just a couple of quotes to highlight this point:

“I want to ask the guy up front if he has any antique books about the care and feeding of dogs. My mother collects them.”

“Really?” Isabella says. “My mother collects diamond bracelets.”

“My mother collects headache medications,” I say.

And:

“I’m fairly hopeful you’ll survive this injury, Franny.”

“Unless gangrene sets in.”

“Gangrene always sets in,” he says darkly.

“What are you talking about?” asks Julia as they all gather around us again. “No one gets gangrene anymore.”

“They do in old books. If Franny were a Hemingway heroine or something, gangrene would set in and she’d lose her leg. Or her life.”

“But I’d be very attractive on my deathbed,” I add.

LaZebnik is a master of writing teenage relationships. She excels at capturing the camaraderie of a bunch of theater kids thrown together for the summer. Every scene involving Franny and her friends feels organic and right, whether they’re taking a trip to the beach, eating lunch, or simply hanging out in the student lounge. It’s the little details that make the relationships ring true – the playful nudges, the bickering and teasing, the way Franny’s friends crowd together and sprawl on top of each other on the common room couch.

It’s impossible not to have a great time reading The Trouble With Flirting. I was charmed, delighted, and surprised by this Mansfield Park retelling, and it will be a while before I stop grinning whenever I think about it.