Review: Water Song: A Retelling of “The Frog Prince” by Suzanne Weyn

725806Blurb from Goodreads

Young, beautiful, and wealthy, Emma Pennington is accustomed to a very comfortable life. Although war rages abroad, she hardly feels its effect. She and her mother travel from their home in Britain to the family estate in Belgium, never imagining that the war could reach them there. But it does.

Soon Emma finds herself stranded in a war-torn country, utterly alone. Enemy troops fight to take over her estate, leaving her with no way to reach her family, and no way out.

With all of her attention focused on survival and escape, Emma hardly expects to find love. But the war will teach her that life is unpredictable, people aren’t always what they seem, and magic is lurking everywhere.

Paperback, 194 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Simon Pulse
edition language: English
genre: Historical, Retelling, Young Adult
My Thoughts
I never read nor watch the movie of The Frog Prince before, but I get the idea of what it is all about. When I picked this book up, I wonder how the author will tell and transform the hero into the frog. To be honest, reading a frog prince is not that appealing for me. I’m more curious of the way the author retells it, which brings me to this book.I really like how it feels like a new story for me, despite that I’ve already known (a bit) the story. I also liked the historical setting which takes place during the WWI. It feels like the fairytale isn’t that far away with our world. And the author provides the historical background quite well, I think.I liked the main characters, Emma and Jack, they are strong will and brave in their own way. Although at first there is prejudice between them, I cannot help not to love their banter and wit. It’s so good reading their dialogues, they can make me smile or even laugh with their wit.

However, I want more about Jack’s magic. I think it doesn’t describe well, at least not as descriptive as I want to. It’s like it’s so natural for Jack he hopes I, as a reader, can understand it without him describing it. And there are also things that I think too easy for the characters. Jack’s magic that feels too convenience for their own good.

All in all, as my first The Frog Prince retelling I think it’s a good and enjoyable story. It feels too short though. I wish there is more story about Emma’s father, Jack’s family and his magic.
Result: 3 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenge:
– GoodReads: Book #18
– YA Buddy Readers’ Corner ♥: Read books I never thought I’ll read.
– Popsugar: A book set in a different country (in Belgium)

Review: Stolen Empire #1, Queen of Someday by Sherry D. Ficklin

22745279Blurb from Goodreads


Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.

Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?

Kindle Edition
Published October 7th 2014
edition language: English
series: Stolen Empire
genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

Three words. A Page-turner reading. I still undecided whether it’s good or not, though. Honestly, I didn’t expect much with this book. I requested it because the blurb was intriguing and I like reading historical fiction. Then enter a 15 years old Sophie with her bravery and naivety, I just seem couldn’t stop reading her story. I even felt in some chapters the story happened too fast. Sophie doesn’t described her days in the court in detail, sometimes she only recap it into one paragraph. In one way I think it’s a good thing, to avoid the boredom and slow-pace story but I also think the author can “dig” deeper into it so that it doesn’t feel in a rush. I don’t know whether it’s because I want Sophie tells her story in more details or because I want to know more about the characters. Either way, I quite enjoyed reading it, especially in the last few chapters, where Sophie has to put her likeliness aside for the safety of her and the people she loves.

Unfortunately, this book is also as cliché as most YA books. Sophie and the male characters couldn’t help not to fall in an insta-love. They are so easy declared their forever love only after a couple minutes encounter. And reading Sophie’s infatuation over them made me rolling my eyes, quite annoying.

As I reached the last page, the author told me that this is loosely based on Catherine the Great. I didn’t know anything about her. In fact, I never heard of her before I read this book. I think it made me see it as a new story which is a good thing. But I also think that there’s something miss in the setting that didn’t portrait wisely. In most of historical stories I read, there’s a strict common rule regarding people relationship and their mannerism. In this book, it seems fade away. Sophie and her male friends are too comfortable to touch, hug and kiss each other freely. They are in first-name basis right after they are introduced. There is no chaperone for her that tails her, not even when she goes with one male company. She also can meet her male friends and the empress just in her nightgown. And her lady-in-waiting can speak so boldly to her and to other characters without having any consequences. I understand the author doesn’t mean the book to be a historically accurate, as she stated in her note at the end of the book. But I also want it accurate enough, not just a flight of fancy, that I bought that it’s indeed a historical story. But in the end it made me cringe and questioning myself whether it supposed to happen in historical period of time or sometime else. Or maybe there’s no such rule and what I read in historical romance books were wrong? I don’t think so.

Result: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Review: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

17333319Blurb from Goodreads

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

Kindle edition
Published September 10th 2013 by Little, Brown and Company
language edition: English
genre: Historical Fiction, Adult

My Thoughts

I think this is a very good debut. It has an interesting-unique story, beautiful written with great plot and characters. The story itself is a fictional but mix with true event and real person, Agnes Magnusdottir. I always like this kind of book. Book where fictional mix with real life person. Thus, liking this book is an easy thing to do.

Although most of the story is told from third person, there are also Agnes’s POV here. I usually don’t like this kind of narrative. I prefer reading in either third person or first person, but not both of them at the same time because it usually doesn’t work well for me. But this is not the case. Third person and Agnes’s POV alternate telling their story and is delivered nicely. There are things that Agnes tells also are told by third person but somehow it doesn’t overlap, in fact they complement each other.

My only thing I didn’t quite like is it is too slow for my taste and in some part it couldn’t make me engage to it. I need a week to finish it while I usually only need 2 to 3 days to finish a page-turning book. Although I love the way it’s written, it couldn’t make me be in the story with the characters. It’s like I only watch them and listen to them from the sideline, am not a part them.

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

7824322Blurb from Goodreads

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Kindle Edition, 355 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Speak (first published January 1st 2011)
edition language: English
genre: Historical Fiction, Teen
My Thoughts
To be honest, I didn’t know much about the Soviet Union occupied the Baltic countries and the way Stalin ruled. Reading this book is like opening my eyes and my mind of what happened to many countries and their citizen under the Soviet annexation. I know this is a fictional story with fictional characters but knowing that what happened to the characters were really happened in real life makes me wondering why I didn’t know much about it, at least not as much as I know about German, Hitler and Nazi.

Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.

I loved this book from the first chapter. It’s beautifully written and was delivered in short chapter, the kind that I like because that way I feel like I can read faster than when I read longer chapter, if you know what I mean. The more I read it the more I felt it so sad and depressing. At some point I wanted to just stop reading it because it was too painful to read. Hence, the author did a great job describing and capturing all the emotions in it, through characters and setting. It was so vivid I felt like I was there with Lina, the narrator of the story.

I also love all of the characters, including the bad guys from Lina’s POV, of course. All of them have their own role and the fact that they sometimes being in gray areas made me wondering how I should feel about them. Are they really bad characters or good one?

But there are also things that keep me from giving it a perfect 5 stars. First, second part of the story was kind of dragging out.
And a tiny little thing regarding of the ending which I didn’t quite satisfied. It wasn’t a cliffhanger, it was more an open ending, I think. I don’t mind to either of them but in this story I felt like it ended in abruptly, like the author suddenly decided that it’s time for Lina to stop telling her story. However it was just a little thing compare to all the good this book has. In the end, although I felt sorry and sad while reading this book, it taught me a lot of important things about life and human being. And it surely a worth reading book.

Result: 4 out of 5 stars