Monday, June 30, 2014

Title: The Stepsister's Tale
Author: Tracy Barrett
Series: n/a
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 24th, 2014
Source: From Publisher via NetGalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads
What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family-especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane's burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family's struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane's stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire.

When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate...

From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett's stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.

I’ve been drawn to fairytale retellings lately so when I saw The Step Sisters Tale I could not resist. I’ve always loved the story of Cinderella. Though it’s not my favorite retelling, it wasn’t half bad.

The thing I liked the most about this one, was the spin put on it. The stepsisters are always told as these horrible stuck up jealous things, but here it’s the other way around. I really like how all of that was done. It stuck pretty closely to the original story, but shed in a different light. An almost realistic light.

It’s told from Jane’s point of view. She’s one of the “Evil Stepsisters”. She lives in poverty with her sister and mother in a crumbling estate. One day her mother comes home with a husband and his dainty spoiled daughter. As like the original, the Step Father passes and leaves is poor daughter to live with her step mother and new stepsisters. I had no sympathy for Cinderella in this version. Lol. I warmed up to her later on.

There is a romance that blooms between Jane and a boy, but overall, there really isn’t all that much swoon. Some, but nothing to write home about.

My biggest complaint is the middle of the book is so slow. I almost put it down. There were a lot of moments that I feel could have been cut without disturbing the story. After the lull in the middle, it gets interesting again, and keeps you going until the end.

If you like retellings, maybe give this one a try. Even though  it's not a favorite of mine, I’m glad I gave it a try. I’ll forever view Cinderella a little differently now.

Okay, so this gif is not relevant at all, but it made me LOL. 

About the author:

I was born in 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up mostly in New York state. I went to college in New England and graduate school in California.

The first book I ever read by myself was called Little Bobo and His Blue Jacket. I still have it. I learned to read when I was three, but I know now that this doesn't mean much. My brother didn't really read until he was seven, and now he reads more and remembers it better than I do.

I have a husband, a 20-year-old daughter, a 17-year-old son, three Jack Russell terriers, and a cat.

I teach Italian and other subjects at Vanderbilt University and I like to travel, especially to Italy, and especially with my family. I used to skydive (that's how I met my husband, but on the ground, not in the air!) but I haven't jumped out of an airplane in a long time. -Tracy Barrett

Find Tracy:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stacking The Shelves #22

Sunday, June 29, 2014 with 9 comments
Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is a way to share with everyone all the goodies you've received through out the week. 

Just click the covers to be taken to their goodreads pages. 


The paceBreaking Rulesforever ours

This week I got a whole lot of nothing!! But that's good. I have more than enough books to read, but I did grab these three freebies off amazon.

 I hope you are all having a great summer so far!! We are having a great one. I changed my hours at work so I can spend some more time with Aubrey while she's out of school and she's keeping me very busy!

We have been to the pool just about every day. This is her with her friend from school who lives near us. I'm trying to teach her to swim, and those floaties on her arms, we've since ditched those. She's doggie paddling like a pro and I couldn't be more proud. Seriously, my child is afraid of everything so I'm amazed we've made this much progress already.

Now for my other babies!! The Garden is doing pretty awesome. This year we have so many tomatoes already. They are starting to grow out of their cages already. We had to stop at Home Depot today to get some stakes so we can give them more support. Here are a few pics I took the other day. :)

It's starting to look really green inside that fence! :)

Cherry Tomatoes! Yummy.

This is our first year doing celery. I drove out of my way to find these seedlings. And they are looking really great!

A hot pepper off the plant we accidentally bought. This plant has so many freaking baby peppers on it, and I doubt we will eat any of them. They are supposed to be really hot. Our eight year old neighbor has dibs on them though. lol

My husband came home one day with a blueberry bush. We have not found a place to actually plant it yet, but we have it inside the fence and we have our first ripening berry, it's actually just about ready as of today, but the only one so we've discussed how we will be cutting it in half.

Next week I will take a pic of this cluster again, because already half of those blooms are tiny tomatoes!! I may get to try fresh spaghetti sauce this year! :)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Weekend Update - 6.28.14

Saturday, June 28, 2014 with 24 comments
So, since my end-of-the-week post isn't just about what I got in my mailbox or on my Kindle each week -- though that is a big part of it, I won't lie -- I decided to change up the title and intro a bit.  I might tweak the format a bit over the next few weeks, but for the most part, it'll contain the same stuff: stuff I got, stuff I did, and stuff that's coming up on the blog.  Plus, I get to use the awesome GIF you see here and blow kisses to all the people who sent me lovely books and bookish things.  Oh, and I've started linking up to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews since I'm not using a specific meme title anymore.  April's also doing her own Stacking the Shelves posts on Sundays.  Stop by and say hi!  =)

It's been a nice, abnormally rainy week here in North Texas, but that just means I've spent a good amount of time curled up on the couch with a good book. =) I've also been enjoying the unseasonably -- for Texas, anyway, we're usually topping out near 100° by now -- cooler temperatures, and I'm hoping they stick around next week for the Fourth of July holiday. If only there were some way to ensure that the Texas-sized mosquitoes didn't hang around, too, though. *sigh*

In other news, I'm apparently raising a really good kid. Not really news to me, but I thought I'd share this little anecdote. :) So, I go to pick up Katie from daycare on Thursday, and her teacher Miss Dianne pulls me aside, which is usually an indication that the girl got hurt again. (She's very accident-prone.) Instead, she proceeds to tell me how Katie's been playing so well with the new girl who has Down's Syndrome, sharing her toys and spending a lot of time with her. Katie's been talking about the new girl -- I'll call her Cindy for privacy purposes -- for the last two weeks, but not once did she mention that Cindy was any different from her or the rest of her classmates. She just said she was nice and that she had fun playing with her, that she'd made a new friend. So, I wasn't even aware there was a child with special needs at the daycare this summer. But to find out that my daughter treats her with the kindness and fairness that she does everyone else -- even when Miss Dianne tells me other children are not so nice to Cindy -- well, that makes my heart happy and full. Katie's always been a tender-hearted, caring child, but this just reaffirms everything I've ever believed about her. *sniffles*

Anyway, here's what I scored this week:

For Review:

Salt & StormBelzharSinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5)The FallThe Bone Season (The Bone Season, #1)

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper - I am sooooooo unbelievably, ridiculously excited for this book!!!
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer - this just sounds so interesting!
Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater - Cole & Isabel's story!!!!! =)
The Fall by Bethany Griffin - love her Poe retellings!
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon - paperback received from publisher for re-read-along ;) - I read and reviewed the audio last year

Library, Freebies & Deals:

The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-0.5)Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)

Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas - from library for re-read/listen in preparation for Heir of Fire

Catch a Falling StarBroken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend (Broken Hearts & Revenge, #1)To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson - audio from library - missed reviewing my galley but I want to get to it sooner rather than later...feels like cheating, but whatevs ;0)
Broken Hearts, Fences & Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn (aka Morgan Matson) - ditto
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - audio on sale, purchased ebook a couple of weeks ago; all told, I think I spent $5 on both versions, which is quite a steal  =)

So, that's my haul. How about you? What did you get this week?

The Week in Review:


Current Giveaways:

 photo e8f0043c-e8d1-4d4c-9d18-94a038cc6773_zpsa6b59426.jpg

Win an audiobook from our list of favorites!

Promotional/Discussion Posts:  

Jen's Currently Reading/Listening To:

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)WildI had to put I'll Give You the Sun on hold in favor of review books that release early in July, like Wild and Boomerang, both of which I'm enjoying/enjoyed. And both of which I'll be reviewing next week. :)

I'm in the process of re-reading/listening to all of the previous books in the Throne of Glass series so that I can hurry and read Heir of Fire -- for review and hopefully before anyone has a chance to spoil it for me. And it's going splendidly. I just finished the book of five novellas -- my first time reading them -- and I loved getting to know Celaena even better. Dying to get to HoF!!!

Upcoming Reviews:

Mini-reviews of:
Life by CommitteePaper ValentineThe Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-0.5)

And full reviews (hopefully!) of:
Boomerang (Boomerang, #1)WildHaze (The Rephaim, #2)

Follow on BloglovinLike honest reviews & giveaways?  Be sure to follow us on Bloglovin' so you never miss out!

Friday, June 27, 2014

To Listen or Not to Listen

Friday, June 27, 2014 with 18 comments

Jen has been a fan of audiobooks since she first discovered the SYNC program in 2011 and listened to Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, and she's been pushing audio on everyone she knows since. Including April, who's now a big fan of audiobooks, as well. We told you about some of our favorite books on audio earlier this month and even offered up a chance for two of you to win one of them from our list, but we thought we'd continue the discussion since it's one of our favorite topics.

April:  For me I think they have to have a pleasant voice. Annoying voices just won't do. I've only just started listening to audiobooks this year, so I don't have as much experience in this as Jen does, but I really enjoy when they have accents! Accents are fun, like for instance, The Scorpio Races and Cruel Beauty. I can't really read in an accent, so listening to it in narration adds to the story. Narrating with feeling is a major plus, too. If the main character is scared, I want to hear it in his/her voice.

Jen:  To me, a great a narrator makes a story come to life; they're not just reading what's on the page in front of them. Which is one of the reasons I really enjoy when the author narrates the audiobook for their own story. They know what emotions, what feelings to convey because they're the one who wrote it to begin with. And I'm with April on the accents, especially when they feel right for the story, like when it's set in another country, or is a piece of historical fiction, or the author is from another country and you know that they'd speak with an accent. I also enjoy audiobooks narrated by actors I already know and love. Actors are usually already known for having good, clear speaking voices, and they're great at acting out the book using their voice because that's pretty much what they already do for a living. Below are some examples of my favorite types of narrators:

Authors - Neil Gaiman reads most of his own books, Robin Benway reads her Also Known As series, Libba Bray reads Beauty Queens, etc.

Accented Audiobooks - The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is also among my favorites; anything by an Aussie author with an Aussie narrator: Graffiti Moon, Stolen: A Letter to my Captor, Jellicoe Road

Actors - Will Patton narrating Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle, Heather Lind narrating Moira Young's Dust Lands trilogy, Ed Westwick narrating a couple of Cassandra Clare books (Heather Lind also narrates with him on one of those :D)

April:  I've mostly listened to female narrators. A few of my faves are Katie Schorr from The Wells End, Suzy Jackson from Since You've Been Gone, Jennifer Ikeda from Just Listen, and Shannon McManus from Maybe One Day.

I've only listened to one male narrator so far and that was Steve West from The Scorpio Races. His voice was "OMG Hot". When I was talking about accents above, this one was the best. And I have to mention that Fiona Hardingham who narrated along with him was pretty awesome too.

Jen:  I've collected quite a list of favorite narrators over the last few years. =) One of my absolute favorites for the male perspective in a YA novel is MacLeod Andrews, followed closely by Nick Podehl (who read Will Grayson, Will Grayson with MacLeod Andrews - sample below), Dan Bittner (the Shiver series by Maggie Stiefvater), and Kirby Heyborne (Katja Millay's The Sea of Tranquility).

I have too many favorite female narrators to link all of them up, but here are a few of the ones I frequently listen to: Rebecca Soler, Khristine Hvam, Rebecca Lowman, Julia Whelan, and Kate Rudd. Others I really enjoy listening to are Tavia Gilbert, Heather Lind, Caitlin Davies, Shannon McManus, Tara Sands, Cassandra Campbell, Jennifer Ikeda, Katherine Kellgren, Fiona Hardingham, and Gabra Zackman. These ladies are all fabulous at voicing both female and male characters, as well as making each voice sound separate and adding in accents where needed...especially the first two on the list.

April:  Since I haven't listened to many audiobooks yet, I don't have a long list of narrators I avoid. I do have one though, and that is Stina Nielsen. She narrated The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. I was so excited to listen to that book, but I had to return it after about 5 minutes in because you could hear the spit in her mouth while she talked. No lie, talk about nasty. I'm sure I will run into other I don't like but so far I've been pretty lucky with my choices!

Jen:  There aren't many narrators that I just can't stand to listen to, but Justine Eyre is one of them. Which is crazy because I know sooo many people who just love her. And maybe it's just the way she portrayed the books I was listening to at the time (the Fallen series by Lauren Kate and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman), but I haven't given her another chance to ruin a book for me since. It's sad, though, because she narrated The Winner's Curse, which I read and loved, and I'd like to listen to the audio just to try it out because I've heard it's really awesome. But I'm scared. Anyone want to vouch for her and tell me that the TWC audiobook is phenomenal?

Another narrator that I thought I disliked is Kirby Heyborne. Until I listened to The Sea of Tranquility and realized that I must have been thinking of another male narrator because I lovedlovedloved his portrayal of Josh Fucking Bennett. Mayhap I was thinking of Todd Haberkorn? The last names are kinda similar, I guess.

All I know is, I'm glad I don't have all that many narrators to avoid at this point. Sure, there are some that don't quite do the book justice, but those are far and few between. :D

Are you an audiobook aficionado? Tell us your thoughts below on audiobooks:  your favorites, the best narrators, the narrators you avoid, etc. And then don't forget to stop by our giveaway to enter to win one of our favorite audiobooks...the contest ends on Monday night! Happy listening!

 photo e8f0043c-e8d1-4d4c-9d18-94a038cc6773_zpsa6b59426.jpg

Win an audiobook from our list of favorites!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...