What I’m Reading: Belle by Cameron Dokey

 

 

The story of Beauty and the Beast finds new life in this magical and imaginative retelling that’s filled with romance and adventure.

By the time her sixteenth birthday comes around, Belle feels more convinced than ever that she is being called by the wrong name. Unlike her older sisters Celeste and April, whose names suit them perfectly, Belle knows that she is not beautiful. She begs to be called by her given name, Annabelle—or even Anna for short—but to no avail. Her solace is her wood-carving hobby, and she longs to find the Heartwood tree: Legend has it that, when carved by the right hands, it can reveal the face of one’s true love.

One day, during a fierce storm, Belle’s father stumbles upon the fabled tree—only to become ensnarled by it and come face-to-face with a terrifying and lonely Beast, who will set him free on one condition: that Belle carves the Heartwood. Belle agrees, never dreaming that she and the Beast have the same wish: to be seen not with the eyes of the mind, but of the heart.

 

There is nothing I like more than an intriguing fairy tale retelling that is fresh and original… even though the story holds more similarities to the original story than the most frequently told story these days.

One of the best parts about a retelling is how much more involved you get with the main characters. In the original fairy tales, the story focused on the middle and the end. With a retelling, you can explore the beginning.

Belle does that and it’s wonderful. We have a chance to become very attached to Belle and her family, get a look into who she really is and what makes her tick. It makes the middle of the story that much more exciting and intense.

I’m looking forward to checking out the rest of the books in this series, and I’m glad to discover that I’ve not started in the middle since most of the books seem to be stand-alones.

If you haven’t read them, you should check them out HERE.

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

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NEW feature | What I’m reading: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Welcome to week one of this fun NEW feature!

This week I am thrilled to present a personal favorite: CINDER

I read this book for the first time about eighteen months ago. I missed the boat when the book released initially, but I finally caved and read book 1. Thankfully, books 2 and 3 were already out at that point and I didn’t have to wait very long for book 4.

A forbidden romance.

A deadly plague.

Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget. 

I highly recommend this story for anyone who enjoys fairy tales, fantasy romance, steampunk, technopunk or dieselpunk, futuristic cities, or cyborgs

 

Review © JCMorrows 2018

Book Review | The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

I have never been much a fan of the Princess and the Pea fairy tale . . . NEVER.

Melanie Dickerson has changed all of that for me!

 . . . because I LOVE LOVE LOVE this story!

Of course, if you’ve ever read one of my reviews of Melanie’s books, you’ll know I am flat-out IN LOVE with each and every story she writes!

Aside from her AMAZING writing talent, there is the fact that she writes fairy tale re-tellings! And since I LOVE fairy tales, what more could a girl ask for in a favorite novel!

Also, Melanie writes her books with no magic needed! God has blessed her with such ability that she is able to craft a magnificent story using all of the most important elements of the original story – and yet present the reader with a conclusion that is solved through faith, hard work, skill or pure and simple determination.

No magic required!

Each and every one of these stories is a masterful retelling of our most cherished tales of olde – and in my opinion, these are the books we should introduce to our daughters . . . not some silly tale about a witch of a fairy godmother who gives the hero/heroine whatever their hearts desire without an ounce of reason or work behind it.

But that’s just my opinion. . .

A Beautiful Pretender is all of that and MORE!

Melanie has taken the best elements of the “Princess and the Pea” tale and woven them together with the exceptional characters she introduced in The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest – and taken us on another lively adventure where heroes are just the way you always hoped they would be and there is always more than meets the eye where our lovely heroine is concerned.

Forbidden love . . . Danger . . . Excitement . . . And an ending that no one could ever see coming . . . What more could you ask for in a medieval fairy tale re-telling!

And hey – just look at the BEAUTIFUL cover! Can you think of a more fitting cover for this book? I think not.

LOVE IT!

 

Review © JCMorrows 2016

More about The Beautiful Pretender:

What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

 

GOD BLESS!

AND

HAPPY READING!

 

I received the book free in exchange for an honest review.

 

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

Book Review | The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

OK… I have to do this one differently because it just has to lead with Melanie’s opening line:

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. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.

Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again—this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.

The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight—Sir Gerek—Rapunzel, in turn, rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to him than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?

As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery are about to be revealed after seventeen years. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?


OK… now for my thoughts about this fantastic book.

Am I the only one or did anyone else find themself humming the theme from“Tangled” while reading the blurb for this book?

I know the blurb says “like no other” and that is true, but there are definitely bits of it that are reminiscent of Disney’s long-haired heroine. And – for me – those little tidbits just added to an already fantastic story!

Speaking of similarities… I LOVE… LOVE LOVE LOVE that Melanie makes her characters enamored with books and reading. Not only is it a wonderful addition to each story, it’s so very realistic – especially given that it’s usually her female characters who want to learn or have found a way, even though they really shouldn’t…

Now we just have to wait until May for her next awesome fairy tale retelling. And I’ll tell you a little secret. In February, Melanie is releasing a Regency Intrigue Romance! Exciting!

Review © JCMorrows 2015

 

 

GOD BLESS!

AND

HAPPY READING!

 

I received the book free in exchange for an honest review.

 

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis | Not your typical fairy tale…

 

There is a twist to “The Word Changers” that I did not see coming.

The blurb does not make it clear that the King is also the director/dictator of “the plot”. That’s quite a twist!

And it’s the only spoiler you’ll get out of me…

 

I don’t believe I’ve ever read this type of idea in a story. They say there are no new ideas – but with this story… I don’t know, it sounds original to me!

What reader doesn’t dream about getting sucked into their favorite book!

Now, when I say I’ve never read about this specific idea – I should mention that I have read/watched other books/movies about getting sucked into a book.

However, in those stories, the characters had no idea they were inside the covers of a book. They just participated in the story as it was written.

This story is very different. The characters in this book are very much aware of the fact that they are in a book. They all act and react according to “the plot”. And that is what makes the book unique.

So I suppose the above statement is at least half true… the story is a new twist on an old idea.

Ashlee does a wonderful job with her descriptions. The settings come alive, the story line is exceptionally vivid – holding your attention to the very end, and her characters are believable, growing with the story – as characters should.

 

4 Stars

Here is a bit more about “The Word Changers” from Conquest Publishers:

Her parents’ marriage is falling apart. Fifteen-year-old Posy feels her life is falling apart with it. Posy retreats to an old library down the street, where she selects a mysterious book in a secluded corner and is magically drawn into its story.

Posy finds herself in a kingdom ruled by a cruel and manipulative king and queen who have attempted to usurp the role that belongs only to the Author of their story. With the princess having fled and the kingdom teetering toward rebellion, Posy is joined by Prince Kyran as they fight against their slavery to the Plot.

Posy and the prince search beyond the borders of the story for the runaway princess. They encounter mysterious places, horrifying monsters, and fierce battles. They make both friends and enemies as their journey leads them into many dangers. But some of the worst dangers, Posy soon finds, lie deep within her own heart. Will she be able to find the courage and forgiveness needed, not only to save the story, but to heal the heartache she knew in her own world?

 

You can find more information and/or buy the book from these popular sites.

GOODREADS   CONQUEST PUBLISHERS   SMASHWORDS   ASHLEE’S WEBSITE

AMAZON   BARNES & NOBLE   ITUNES   KOBO

 

GOD BLESS

and

HAPPY READING!

 

I received this book free in exchange for an
honest review from the BookCrash reviewer program.

 

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

A Look Back at “The Captive Maiden” by Melanie Dickerson | The BEST Cinderella story I have ever read!

The Captive Maiden 300

Yes I did. I went back and read “The Captive Maiden” again!

And it was JUST as wonderful the second time through!

Even knowing what to expect did not detract from the romance and excitement of the story.

From my original review:

This is a wonderful story! Melanie Dickerson did a great job of molding a popular fairy tale into an inspirational story for teens that, I think, will appeal to adults as well.

It’s also an answer to a prayer since I am hesitant about letting my daughter read more traditional fairy tales – which focus so much on magic. Now I can collect the previous 3 books Melanie has written and any more that are yet to come.

Melanie Dickerson has taken out the magic and weaved God into every part of this story. So instead of confusing teens, Melanie Dickerson offers hope and truth.

What a blessing!

And it truly is! It is such a blessing to read a real fairy tale. It is also incredibly refreshing to read about heroes and villains who are clearly just human. The villains of Cinderella are famous – evil stepmother, evil stepsisters, being poor… But Melanie Dickerson added an extra villain to this wonderful story and I was so relieved to see that he was all too human – with human weaknesses and flaws.

And speaking of human flaws – it is beyond refreshing to read about a big strong knight who is absolutely unnerved by tears. There are quite a few men who suffer from this particular flaw and young girls need to know about this sort of thing.

The story itself is an absolute gem. In “The Fairest Beauty”, we watched a handsome young man who was clever with words win the maiden’s heart and then, when she met her betrothed – she found him frightening and overwhelming…she even thought he was somewhat of a bully. But she was seeing him through the eyes of his brother and her perspective was most likely due to her love for him.

In “The Captive Maiden”, we see another young maiden’s reaction to that same brother and it could not be more different. It’s a prime example of seeing someone through the eyes of love – any young lady who is not in love with him would see only the rough battles scars, be intimidated by his size and feel put off by his lack of finesse when it comes to words. However, these are the very things that should endear him to the woman who loves him. That should be how love works and traditional fairy tales simply don’t get that point across. – in my humble opinion.

Melanie Dickerson does!

 

5star

 

Here’s a further look at the story from Zondervan:

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.

And you can click HERE to go to the book page on Zondervan

HERE for ChristianBook.com HERE for GoodReads

And HERE for Melanie Dickerson’s website.

Disclaimer: I won a free copy of this book from Grace Thorson | A Paradise of Colors. THANK YOU Grace! I was not required to review the book but I have to share thoughts on such a wonderful book!

HAPPY READING! 

And

GOD BLESS!

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

“The Fairest Beauty” | A retelling of Snow White by Melanie Dickerson

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I find myself wishing I were a slower reader… Because now I have come to the end and I must wait until November to read the next story.

How will I survive?

Well I suppose I can always read “The Captive Maiden” again so there’s that. And I’m certain I can find some other books to help me pass the time.

But I want to know what happens next!

Absolutely no insult is intended to “The Captive Maiden” or “The Healer’s Apprentice” or “The Merchant’s Daughter”… but I do believe “The Fairest Beauty” is the absolute BEST book Melanie Dickerson has written yet!

“The Fairest Beauty” has everything you would expect to find in a fairy tale – A damsel in distress, mistaken identity, exaggerated rumors of the Princess’s death, an evil “Queen” – in this case a Duchess, a hired assassin and a hero!

It’s just an all-around GREAT story!

And the real-life fairy tale is so much more  appealing in my opinion! These are real people with real emotions and real flaws! – not some perfect, flawless combination of all the best traits and none of the worst that we see in the traditional fairy tales. Even the “bad guys” are clearly human, with flaws and weakness – not just a villain that’s purely evil who does nasty things simply because they can.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
I LOVE the way Melanie Dickerson writes fairy tales!

She doesn’t put the focus on the wrong things – magic and rebellion. She makes certain the focus is on how important it is to marry for love – which is Biblical (Marriage is meant to be forever… do you really want to be in a loveless marriage forever?). And she draws your attention to how important it is to remain pure and innocent – saving yourself for the man you marry.

This story especially – shows how important it is to understand the difference between love and lust.

It’s a difficult subject and not always a popular one in the world we live in today but it is an important one and I am very impressed to see an author taking a stand!

BRAVO MELANIE!

I wish these were the fairy tales I had grown up with. I can only imagine how different my outlook on life might be if I had not started with the ridiculous world view traditional fairy tales present.

All the more reason that these will be the fairy tales I give MY daughter to read!

All little girls need to know – while fairy tales can be real – they are not all about magic and luck!

5star

Here is a bit about the book from Zondervan:

A daring rescue. A difficult choice.

Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie’s one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl’s inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.

When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.

 

Click HERE for the page on Zondervan

HERE for the page on ChristianBooks.com

HERE for GoodReads

And HERE is Melanie Dickerson’s website

 

GOD BLESS

and

HAPPY READING!

 

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

Beauty and the Beast as seen by Melanie Dickerson | “The Merchant’s Daughter”

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Melanie Dickerson has done it again!

These books truly are the absolute BEST versions I’ve ever seen of the classic fairy tales!

Melanie Dickerson brings together the romance of fairy tale and the harsh reality of life – blending them together seamlessly to tell a beautiful tale of Love, Healing and Forgiveness.

You think you know where the story is going and you think you know precisely how it’s all going to end up because the stories are following the classic fairy tale we all know… Right?

No.

Melanie Dickerson has surprising twists and turns all through the book that you will never see coming, all the while still weaving in bits from the original fairy tale. And you will find yourself so entranced with the story, you may not even realize it until later.

“The Merchant’s Daughter” once again deals with some hard-core themes. And once again Melanie Dickerson does so with class and diplomacy. There is no sugar coating but the descriptions are done in the best possible taste.

I recommend these books to anyone and everyone! In fact, I plan to introduce them to my daughter, instead of the more traditional fairy tales!

Personally I never understood how such tales became so very popular – especially in a time where magic and witchcraft was so suspect. People from the times described originally in these tales did not delight in magic and sorcery, they hunted down anyone suspected of it and dealt them a quick and harsh death. So why tales filled with such magic would ever have become popular, I have no idea. Unless it was simply the temptation of the forbidden – we humans do seem to have a particular weakness for wanting those things that we cannot have.

Melanie Dickerson has told these stories in such a realistic way – retaining the romance and excitement but adding in truth. And in my opinion, it makes them that much more appealing! I would rather my daughter have realistic fairy tales to grow up with and not ridiculous stories that could not possibly have happened – that I will one day have to tell her are entirely false and quite impossible.

Any woman would greatly enjoy these stories of adventure, love and danger.

And with Melanie Dickerson at the helm, you may know where you’ll end up but you can never accuse her of being predictable.

 

5star

 

Here is what Zondervan has to say about “The Merchant’s Daughter”:

An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice.

Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf’s bailiff—a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.

Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff’s vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf.

As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf’s future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

 

Here is the book page on Zondervan

HERE for ChristianBooks.com

HERE for GoodReads

And HERE for Melanie Dickerson’s website

 

GOD BLESS

and

HAPPY READING!

 

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.

Melanie Dickerson’s tale of the classic story – Sleeping Beauty – “The Healer’s Apprentice”

To think that I almost missed this series…image

I have to admit that I only read this book because my 10 year old son (who is now 11) told me that I had to read “The Captive Maiden”.

Now you’re wondering why…

Once upon a time, I signed up to win a copy of Melanie Dickerson’s “The Captive Maiden” and I won. I was surprised because I don’t usually win when I sign up for giveaways. I do it to show support for the author.

But apparently God meant for me to read this series!

I was not impressed when I started reading the book. The cruelty was almost too much for me and I stopped reading. Then my son picked up the book, looked at the cover and read the back. After that, he demanded that I read it. This was such a rare occurrence (usually he ignores the books I buy or teases me about it) that I knew I had to give it a try.

And again, it must have been God’s leading.

These books are the absolute BEST versions I’ve ever seen of what are typically know of as “classic” fairy tales!

I’ve read reviews that complain about the strong themes in these books and I’ve read reviews that say they wish more from the original tales had been incorporated. And I am here to tell you that, in my opinion, they are wrong.

Melanie Dickerson deals with hard-core themes, yes. But she does it in a way that is honest and realistic while maintaining, what some may feel are ridiculously, high standards of modesty and decency – but I find refreshing in a world of bared bodies and brutish language. Our children need to be aware of these things and how to deal with them, especially since they are very much a part of the world we live in today. As much as I would like to shelter them from everything bad or wrong in the world, they have to know that evil exists and they have to know how to confront it!

I feel that Melanie Dickerson presents these harsh issues with grace and discretion.

And as for having more from the original tales, I think it is amazing how well Melanie weaves the pieces of the classic fairy tales through her own stories – using them to help tell the story and reveal the hidden truths slowly throughout.

“The Healer’s Apprentice” is a masterpiece of reality blended flawlessly with fairy tale!

Melanie Dickerson’s characters are simply astonishing – well written, colorful and embodying the very same values and flaws of the heroes and villains that inspired them. And, as much as I would love to say that she always paints the bad guys as bad – it would not be true to life if that were the case.

Evil is deceptive and tricky and it is not always easy to see it for what it really is.

The plot is so well-conceived, it is difficult to believe this is the first book she wrote after fifteen years of not writing. It flows beautifully and there is absolutely nothing I can think that would add to it.

Amazing!

And now I have three more books to look forward to – “The Merchant’s Daughter” and “The Fairest Beauty” right now and “The Princess Spy” releases soon!

Exciting!

 

5star

Just in case you’re still not convinced…

Here is what Zondervan says about the series

 Two Hearts. One Hope.

Rose has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter’s daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her—a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.

When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she’s never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding.

As Rose’s life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.

HERE is the book page on Zondervan

HERE is the page on ChristianBooks

HERE is the page on GoodReads

And HERE is Melanie Dickerson’s website

 

GOD BLESS

and

HAPPY READING!

 

Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below.
I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.