This post today is a two-fer! I was lucky enough to get free copies via Xpresso Book Tours in order to provide an honest review. And I have to say that both were fantastic! Read below for both reviews, as well as buy links.
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For starters, I am annoyed at myself for not realizing that this book was published two years ago. Clearly, I was living under a rock. At the same time, I am ecstatic that I can run off and read the second book as soon as I finish writing this review. It lessens the pain of knowing I could have enjoyed this book way earlier than now. The book is amazing - I would put it on the level of books written by Charlie N. Holmberg, though on a less complicated scale. It's a young adult novel, so it's easy to read for a high-school age student, but perhaps a bit complex for a younger audience. Being 24, I was quite content with the content and storytelling, and I was extremely irritated when I had to put my book down. So irritated, in fact, that I honked at no less than five cars on the way home from work today so that I could finish the book. I think I yelled "MOVE!" at the same time my brain was saying I must finish the book and find out how it ends - why don't these people understand that?
Norah Hart and her sister have been shipped off to boarding school, while their father trapezes off to Russia for his job. Almost immediately, Norah realizes this is not just any boarding school. She finds herself going to classes like "Royal Policies and Procedures" and "What Not To Do: Sidekick 101", and learning the status quo, or classifications that include heroes, royalty, villains, and future animal friends. Her roommate is none other than Cinderella herself, although she is nothing like how Disney portrayed her, and there's a boy who keeps following her named Wolf, a.k.a. The Big Bad Wolf. With all of this going on around her, she discovers that she has no classification, and that is when things get interesting. Now Cinderella has turned into a villain, and Norah must find a way to save her friends and ensure they find their own happily ever afters.
Although I really want to jump right into how much I adore the relationship between Norah and Wolf, I want to briefly touch on all of the fun characters you get to meet in this book. We have Beth and Adam (Beauty and the Beast), Pearl and Finn (Ariel and Eric), Kate (Goldilocks), and James (Prince Charming). The book's title, The Forgotten Fairytales, is an interesting reference to the original fairytales. These aren't your Disney-cloaked happy endings but rather the reality of who the fairytale heroes and heroines actually are. In a way, the forgotten fairytales make you think that perhaps your destiny is a bit overrated, and happily ever after can be found anywhere, not just in the obvious places.
Norah is a gem, though she is a bit naive in how she handles her sister. I loved how she and Wolf came together, and she never allowed Danielle (a.k.a. Cinderella) to come between them. She fought for what she wanted, and she never gave up on Wolf even when he tried to save her from himself. Wolf is a misunderstood cutie pie. And I mean that in the manliest sense. He's huge, gruff, and doesn't care what others think, but he feels a connection to Norah and works to protect her at all times. Even when he seems like a jerk, he's always acting with the intention to prevent hurt later on. Despite his size, he's gentle with Norah, and their love is adorable. That is what fairytales should be written about, not some snot-nosed Cinderella with a shoe obsession.
Okay, I am off to read the second book! I'm eager to see what is in store for the group of friends. Angela Parkhurst is an amazing storyteller, and I'm so glad I was able to get the chance to read both of her books.
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If you haven't read the first book, stop right now and go read it. This series is really not the type where you can just jump in and start reading from the second book.
If you have read the first book, then you will completely understand the love-hate relationship I have with the second book. While I thought the storytelling was, once again, amazing, the love triangle was quite annoying. One of my pet peeves in reading romance novels is when the leading lady just can't seem to go a day without being adored by multiple guys. This is, I'm sure, realistic for some people, but I find it difficult to believe that someone is just that irresistible. I enjoyed seeing Norah's journey progress, but the teenage angst was just flowing off the pages, and this made it a bit more of a struggle to enjoy (though I did finish in only a few hours).
This book picks up with Norah Hart as the head honcho at the school, now that Danielle has been locked up for attempted murder. She and Wolf aren't doing so well, though, and when one of his exes shows up from another school, things get even more rocky. A disaster threatens further when Jaxson Forester (a.k.a. Robin Hood), arrives, and he creates more strife between the formerly happy couple. As Norah and Wolf grow farther apart, Norah and Jaxson grow closer, and they find that their lives are even more entwined than previously imagined. Top that off with an accidental pregnancy (not Norah's) and more attempted murders, and it's business as usual at the fairytale boarding school.
I don't know how to start explaining my frustration without getting into spoilers, which I hate doing. Wolf is extremely irritating in this book, as he shows a weak side of himself that I found unattractive. Of course, my anger with him was quickly coupled with Norah for being so hypocritical. Both of them kept secrets from each other, and this only added to their already tumultuous relationship. Add in Venessa (a.k.a. Ursula), and I wanted to tear my hair out. When I start wanting to throw the book, or in this case, Kindle, across the room, that is either a really good sign or a really bad sign. Considering I finished the book, I guess it's a good sign, but I sincerely hope the third book is more satisfying. My favorite characters were perhaps the seven dwarves...and they were an extremely small part of the story.
About halfway through this book, you will either be Team Wolf or Team Jaxson. You will probably enjoy this book more if you're Team Jaxson. I wasn't really on either team, which is why my review is mixed. However, I think this is still a great book, and I encourage you to read it and learn more about the world Angela Parkhurst has created. Hopefully the third book will be published soon, and my heart can receive a satisfying conclusion to the series.