Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made of Snow and Glass: Feminist, Fairy-tale, Fantastic

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Published by Flatiron Books; scheduled for September, 2017

Genre: Fantasy, Re-telling, Fairy-tale

Pages: 400

I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT SO MANY THINGS RIGHT NOW! 1) I get to give a THIRD great review in a row! 2) I managed three reviews in one week! 3) This book is phenomenal and I am still super emotional and maybe gently weeping.

When I heard the premise of Girls Made of Snow and Glass, mainly that it was a feminist re-telling of Snow White, I thought: oh hell yes. Then I thought: that’s going to be crazy, because the premise of Snow White is literally Woman A wants Woman B dead because Woman B is prettier than her. 

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Is amazing! It’s dark, y’all. I LOVE the idea so much. The twists on the Queen’s obsession with mirrors is phenomenal. I was trying to figure out how well it sticks to the Snow White story, and it actually does fairly closely, minus the dwarves. But everything is new and different; the poisoning is so cool, the huntsman is amazing.

The magic! Is so cool! We have one woman with a heart of glass and one girl made of snow and it’s just so unbelievably cool.

I did a review recently of a re-telling that I didn’t love, and a big problem for me was that the re-telling rested on the novelty of the original story in a lot of ways, and it was lazy and didn’t make sense for something new and modern. This is a PERFECT re-telling with the understanding that we don’t want to read a fucking story about women who want each other dead over who’s prettiest, or a girl waiting desperately for a kiss from a prince.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

ARE SO GOOD. And for the record, this is a very character-driven book. We’ll talk about it a little more when we talk about the writing.

This is my favorite part about the story, so I hope I can even do justice to what I want to say without it being a rambling mess.

So we have Lynet, the Snow White character, who is young and dealing with identity issues. Her father had her created to look JUST like her mother, and wants her to behave just like her mother (creepy af, right? Some serious creepy dad shit in this book). Lynet just wants to be her own person. OH YEAH, and she’s queer! Her budding romance with a surgeon named Nadia is so effing cute.

Then we have Mina, the stepmom or “evil queen” character. Now, she’s less likable than Lynet fo sho, but I also think she’s a WAY better character. She, for me, is what makes this book so beautiful. Her father has consistently told her she cannot love or be loved, because her heart is made of glass. Her father AND her husband are obsessed with Lynet, and we watch how it affects her. So we don’t get a tale of hatred or evil, but of resentment. And what is more real than that? We also don’t see Mina mindlessly hating Lynet because she’s beautiful, but because she’s the spitting image of the former queen, the one Mina’s husband will always love, even though he doesn’t love Mina. We get such a clear understanding of why she’s obsessed with mirrors, why she’s crazy about her looks. It’s amazing. I can’t say enough about it.

And again, we have two creepy dads who I thoroughly love hating.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

So! The writing is gorgeous. It alternates timelines, which if you’ve read some of my past reviews, you know I’m weary of. This can be SO hard to pull off, but it works so well in this case! We alternate between the current story, which is third person but following Lynet, and the past timeline, which is also third person and following Mina. The slow reveal of details in the past timeline helps the new timeline make more and more sense, and it’s perfect.

The pacing, I will say, has a couple of issues. This is the ONLY thing in the book I wasn’t totally enamored with, and I gave it five stars anyway. I saw that most reviews are glowing, and the few that DNF’d the book all did so at a slower point that you have to push through to get to the action! Now I will say I never had problems pushing through, I love this book from the first to the last page. But I did notice some slowing in a few areas, and I think it’s worth noting.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Lynet and Nadia being queer is amazing and beautiful and I love f/f romances and how I’m seeing more of them.

Also, we have two (really three) leading ladies who are well-developed, full beings. We get to see friendship and mother/daughter issues and love and all through the eyes of women who are wonderfully varied. They don’t have to give up all things traditionally feminine to be smart, strong women.

Is that I haven’t had a book make me cry in a while. This one did, probably three times. The last line was just, ugh. I mean this as such a big compliment.

I would recommend Girls Made of Snow and Glass to absolutely everyone! Request it on NetGalley, my fellow book bloggers!

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/balloon animal artist. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.



 

4 Middle Grade Series to read with your kids

4 Middle Grade Series to Read with Your Kids

Reading with your kids is an amazing experience that will enrich both of your lives. It should be super fun. A lot can go wrong, though. It’s hard to find kid’s books that are both exciting enough to keep a kid’s attention, and not make you want to gouge your own eyes out.

Here are four series (and two stand alone books) that both you and your kids will love!

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

I know, I know, everyone is talking about these. I promise the rest of the list will be a little more obscure.

The series surrounds the Baudelaire children, who have recently lost their parents. They now bounce from guardian to guardian, while seemingly every aspect of their life goes awry.

These books are hilarious for adults and children alike. The kids are adventurous, intelligent kids (I think we can all agree we’d like our kids to see more protagonists like this). The antagonist, Count Olaf, is also just genuinely great.

The books are super short, and it’s a plus that the show just came out on Netflix. Finish the books, then watch it together! Compare and contrast the differences with your kids.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl II is a 12 year old criminal mastermind. The first book in the series entails his capturing a fairy and holding her ransom to exploit the Fairy People.

These are smart reads, I recommend them for kids in the 10-12 range. They are so fun, and you will love them too.

The covers are also gorgeous, if that matters to you. (No judgement; I appreciate a beautiful cover.)

The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch

The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch

I died the first time I stumbled upon these. No seriously. Pseudonymous Bosch. That kills me. (For everyone who is not a super art history nerd, Hieronymus Bosch was an old school, super weird painter.)

The Secret Series involves three kids in a secret society. Each book is centers around one of the senses. For instance, This Book Is Not Good For You is all about chocolate, which is obviously taste.

The 39 Clues by Rick Riordan (and others)

39 Clues by Rick Riordan

Everyone knows Riordan for the Percy Jackson series, which is also fantastic. This, I think, is aimed at kids a little younger.

The Cahill children, a brother and sister, have been invited to participate in a treasure hunt that their deceased grandmother explained in her will. The children race around the world, looking for the 39 clues.

These books are witty, which is fun for adults. The adventure, travelling, and treasure-hunting is fun for the kids.

 

And two stand-alone novels worth mentioning:

The Egypt Game by by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The Egypt Game by by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The Egypt Game is about two girls who realize they’re both obsessed with Ancient Egypt. The girls set up a meeting place, and hold the Egypt game.

I’m all for any book that can help a kid’s interest in a subject that could be considered educational. My kid did sooo much research on Ancient Egypt after having read this!

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tolbooth by Norton Juster

Milo travels to the Kingdom of Wisdom, and goes on a quest to help two princesses, Rhyme and Reason.

I mean! SO fun. This book is so punny and delightful for everyone involved.

 

What About You?

What books do you like reading with your kids?



 

hexed book by michelle krys

Hexed: Another Teen Witch Story Is Less Than Magical

Hexed by Michelle Krys

Published by Delacorte Press in 2014

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Supernatural

Pages: 384

Let me start by saying it gives me no pleasure to give the kind of review I’m about to give for Hexed. I wish I could love every book. I wish I could say great things about every book. Unfortunately, it’s just not the case.

The Goodreads Description:

If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.

The Characters Are Terrible

Nearly every single one. We have our narrator, Indie, who is every shitty mean girl you normally love to hate. There’s a reason that shitty girl isn’t usually our narrator. We don’t like her. We don’t root for her. She has terrible, bitchy friends who treat her like garbage. Her boyfriend treats her like garbage.

So she opts instead to pine after a literal stalker. (It’s okay to be a stalker if you’re super hot). The stalker, Bishop, get this, treats her like garbage. Are we sensing a pattern, here? Indie surrounds herself with shitty people. Indie is a shitty person.

The one decent person in the story is Indie’s neighbor Paige, whom Indie uses and abuses because she can. The one person who is always there, who treats Indie like a human being worthy of love and friendship, Indie can’t stand. Indie manipulates Paige at every given opportunity, and then Paige all but disappears from the novel once she has given the mean girl everything she has.

The Magic is Mediocre

If I’m reading a book about witches, I want it to be about witches.

We wait over half the book for Indie to find out she’s a witch. Almost the entire other half for her to learn to use magic. Of course, she never learns magic well, (basically she levitates some shit and flies for three seconds), meaning she has to rely on her stalker to be, well, a stalker, and save her ass over and over and over. Which leads me to…

The Painful Plot

The cat and mouse in Hexed is just ever so fucking annoying. We run into the bad guys five, six, seven, eight? times. I’m not even sure. Always Indie and her stalker manage a narrow escape. Always the encounter is anticlimactic. Even the climax is anticlimactic.

I’m hesitant to even call it a climax, even though it involves an actual dragon that had me very briefly but actually excited.

The Writing Leans on the Author’s Wit and Humor

which are pretty engaging. There is no denying that Krys is a funny woman. That was the one upside to a novel I’m realizing should have gone into my DNF list, but I really, really have to hate a book for that to happen.

So, my most important final thought:

WE HAVE TO STOP SELLING STALKING AND VIOLENCE AS LOVE. IT’S DISGUSTING. FUCKING STOP IT.

What About You?

Did you like Hexed more than I did?

What tropes are you just done with?

 

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may hate a book. May want to kill it with fire. I may say a book is the worst thing to happen to me since the Odd Thomas movie adaptation. None of these things mean it is objectively bad. I recognize that. You may like a book I hate. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.

 

 



Fates by Lanie Bross

Fates: YA Urban Fantasy That Manages to Surprise

Fates by Lanie Bross

Published by Delacorte Press in 2014

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal

Pages: 336

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule, Hexed by Michelle Krys, Archetype by M.D. Waters

This book was featured in my earlier post, Dollar Dollar Tree, Y’all! Yes, that’s right, I bought this book at the Dollar Tree. For a dollar. That makes me so. Effing. Happy.

To Give You a Quick Description:

She fell from her tranquil life in Pyralis Terra and found herself exiled to the human world. Her punishment? To make sure people’s fates unfold according to plan. Now, years later, Corinthe has one last assignment: kill Lucas Kaller. His death will be her ticket home.

But for the first time, Corinthe feels a tingle of doubt. It begins as a lump in her throat, then grows toward her heart, and suddenly she feels like she is falling all over again–this time for a boy she knows she can never have. Because it is written: one of them must live, and one of them must die. In a universe where every moment, every second, every fate has already been decided, where does love fit in?

Good, Solid Characters

Corinthe isn’t ultra likable, but as I’ve expressed before, that’s of little import to me. In my opinion, a fallen fate who doesn’t understand humanity probably wouldn’t be likable, so it’s spot on. She doesn’t feel or seem human, and she shouldn’t! Lucas is sweet, though, and easy to root for.

Another thing I liked is that because one of our narrators is tasked with killing the other, it makes it harder to say there is a clear cut antagonist. At least initially.

The Mythology Is Different and Interesting

It’s nice to read an Urban Fantasy from the last few years with no vampires, werewolves, angels, or demons. I liked the concept of a fallen fate, and her desperation to return home felt really authentic.

The Writing is Beautiful

The POV alternates in different chapters, and there is a definite vibe difference between the Corinthe chapters and the Lucas chapters. For a book with alternating POV, that’s really the main thing I’m looking for. I should know which narrator is talking by how they’re talking, and you definitely get that with this. I will say that due to long chapters, and my definite preference for Lucas-view chapters, I had a hard time getting into it at first. Because I didn’t really love Corinthe, it took me a while to get on board. It took about 75 pages for me to become interested, and probably 125 for me to be legit invested in the story.

I’d Recommend

Fates to anyone who digs YA with mythological elements.

Back of the novel Fates by Lanie Bross

What About You?

What’s your favorite Urban Fantasy?

 

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/vampire. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.



Strange Sweet Song book Adi Rule

Strange Sweet Song Is Maybe Not So Sweet

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin in 2014

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal

Pages: 336

This book was featured in my earlier post, Dollar Dollar Tree, Y’all! Yes, that’s right, I bought this book at the Dollar Tree. For a dollar. That makes me so. Effing. Happy.
I want to start by saying I have spent a fair amount of time around theater kids, and I felt the book adequately portrayed how jaded and jealous and bitter kids can become really quickly in this environment. Especially if their parents are, you know, those parents. 
Before someone gets bitchy, I know. This is not about theater kids. This is about music school kids. If there’s a fucking difference in how the kids act/treat each other, please let me know.

To Give You a Quick Description:

Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth—not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians—but as an artist and leading lady in her own right.

Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school’s production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary?

Sing must work with the mysterious Apprentice Nathan Daysmoor as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But Nathan has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there.

The Characters are Pretty Great in That They’re Terrible

Sing, the MC, is mostly unlikable. She is jealous of/rude to her “friends,” (I’m using the term loosely), and for someone who criticizes divas at least 100 separate times, she’s willing—in two alternate timelines, nonetheless—to use her father’s fame to steal a part from another, more deserving singer because why? Because Sing’s crush likes her. For me, this was awesome. I love when an author manages to make me like a book, even when I can’t stand the MC. Plus, as I’ve said above, I only think her behavior made her more realistic. That is exactly how an opera kid with famous parents would act.

The Mythology is Different and Interesting

It’s nice to read an Urban Fantasy from the last few years with no vampires, werewolves, angels, or demons. We get wish granting and animal/human transformations in ways I had not previously seen them. Most importantly, the “monster” (another loose term) in this is like a giant space cat, and I fucking dig it.

The Writing Was, for the Most Part, Gorgeous

Almost musical, which is apt. Which is why it hurts me to say, and this is probably not fair, but the third person, present tense narration really bothered me. I assumed I’d adjust to it at some point, but I never did. It was like reading a stalker’s journal about this girl. “Sing reads. Sing adjusts her necklace. Sing wears knee-socks.”

I’d Recommend

the book to anyone who has experienced the opera/theater/music school lifestyle.

Adi Rule's book, Strange Sweet Song

 

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. I may want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/cat. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.