Fairest Of All: A Tale Of The Wicked Queen By Serena Valentino [Book Review]

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Book Review: Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino | YA | Fairy tale retelling | fantasy | RachelPoli.com

I bought the book.


The tale of the young princess and her evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen, is widely known. Despite a few variations from telling to telling, the story remains the same—the Queen was jealous of the girl’s beauty, and this jealousy culminated in the Queen’s attempt on the sweet, naive girl’s life.

Another tale far less often spoken of is the one that explains what caused the Queen to become so contemptuously vile. Still, some have attempted to guess at the reason. Perhaps the Queen’s true nature was that of a wicked hag and her beautiful, regal appearance a disguise used to fool the King. Others claim that the Queen might have hated the girl for her resemblance to the King’s first wife. Mostly, the Queen is painted as a morally abhorrent woman who never loved another being during the course of her miserable life.

In fact, the theories about exactly what cause the Queen’s obsessive vanity and jealous rage are too numerous to catalog. This book recounts a version of the story that has remained untold until now. It is a tragic tale of love and loss, and it contains a bit of magic. It is a tale of the Wicked Queen…

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

Similar to the covers of the other books in this series, I love how simple it is and also the surprise on the actual book. The jacket is of the Queen and the cover of the book is her old wicked witch self.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I bought this book along with The Beast Within. I love fairy tale retellings and this series sounded good so I picked it up.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

This plot delves a little deeper into the Queen’s backstory with some twists. A little bit of it stayed true to the Disney tale, but for the most part it was as original as it could be. Honestly, it wasn’t the best twist, in my opinion. Though it did work somewhat and even though it took me a while to get through, it was okay.

The tale can get pretty dark and I think that’s what redeemed it a little more for me. There were actual stakes for the characters, unlike The Beast Within, which was the book I read right before this one.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

The witches have returned and are causing trouble once again. They weren’t bad plot fodder, but they still annoyed me quite a bit.

I found the Queen to be a great character. I actually really enjoyed her and wished she wasn’t such an “evil” Queen. The cards were laid out against her from the start and I was rooting for her along the way.

The other characters, such as the king and even Snow White, weren’t that memorable to me. I was disappointed that the only character I cared for was the Queen.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

The writing didn’t do it for me. I felt it was pretty bland and there wasn’t much emotion put into the scenes, the description, or the characters. While the idea was pretty good, I felt as though this could have gone through another round of edits or two to make the words really come alive.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This was better than The Beast Within. Of course, I realized this is technically the first book in the series while the Beast one is the second. Since I liked the first more than the second, I’ll be interested in the third book. Yes, I plan on reading the third book just to see how it is. I’m curious. But first, I need a break from these books.

Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino gets…
Book Review Rating System | 3 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com3 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“I cannot live in fear of losing him, for fear of not living my life at all.” –Serena Valentino, Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen

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Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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A Day Off is a Day of Writing

Remember when I said that Kris and I were going to work on one manuscript each for at least an hour every day for a month? Well, that obviously didn’t happen. September ended up being much more hectic than we thought it would be.

However, October is usually a calm month and nothing really happens until the end (three birthdays and Halloween). So, we decided to work an hour a day during the month of October instead.

We’re ten days into the month and so far it’s been going pretty well. We’re both still pretty busy with work and trying to have a social life on top of writing and blogging, but we’re doing it. We’ve found a good rhythm.

Why am I especially excited to get some work done today? Because I have the day off from work! And because the kids I babysit have the day off from school (and their mother works in a school system so she has it off as well) I don’t even have to babysit.

Yep. Today will be a pajama day (after I head out and get a large hot coffee).

Then it’s writing time.

Kris has had her new job for a while now, but she gets holidays off now too. So, we decided that we’re going to spend the day sifting through all our writing ideas.

This is something that has needed to be done for a while, but when we had the time, it was always just easier to keep writing. No planning involved.

Yet, Kris has a whole universe to figure out for her fantasy series and I have a huge timeline to figure out for my mystery series. Not to mention a lot of research and outlining for both my mystery series and my fairy tale retelling.

A couple of weeks ago we were at our local bookstore having a writing session. While I was writing the beginning of a new mystery thing with George and Lilah (I say “thing” because it was going to be a short story, but I think it’s actually turning into the beginning of another novel) Kris was trying to sort out her thoughts about her own series.

That’s when we decided that October 10th would be the day we would flush everything out (with occasional video game breaks, of course).

So today I’ll be working on multiple things:

1. Flushing out my mystery series: Creating the timeline and then putting all the books in order.
2. Figure out what I need to do for The Lost Girl such as research and other outlining and editing bits.
3. If I have time or need a break from the bigger projects, start brainstorming prompts for Short Story Sunday 2017 for NaNoWriMo.

It’s going to be a busy day, but I plan on Tweeting updates throughout the day. Here’s hoping I get a lot of work done! …And Kris and I don’t get too distracted by video games.

Have you ever had a day to just write and plan all day? How do you usually fit in your writing times around work? Let me know in the comments! 

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The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse book review Rachel Poli
Via Goodreads
Title: The Neverland Wars
Author: Audrey Greathouse
Genre: Fantasy
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary (from Goodreads):

Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

My Review:

This book is not what it seems. No, I’m not talking about the magic. I’m talking about the plot. Or, lack thereof.

While the writing style of this novel was very easy to read and the story flowed well, not too much happened. The summary and the even the title itself was misleading. And when I say misleading, I mean it chalks the story up to be much more than what it was.

Neverland was fun to explore, but that was just about it. There was a lot of worldbuilding, but not too much happened in that world so it seemed to be pointless.

I thought the characters were well done and I enjoyed each and every one of them. However, Gwen, the protagonist, is 16 and acts much younger. She could get slightly annoying at times.

Gwen goes to Neverland to bring her sister, Rosemary home. Rosemary is barely in the story as we focus too much on Gwen. So the ending when Gwen finds out whether Rosemary wants to stay or not, is a little unclear because we didn’t get to know Rosemary at all.

The beginning of the novel was strong. So I got increasingly disappointed as the novel continued. The ending was very abrupt and I don’t know if there will be a sequel or not.

If you know me, you know Peter Pan is my absolute favorite. So while it was fun reading about the author’s interpretation of Neverland, nothing else about the actual story was memorable. 

The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse gets out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“It’s fun to watch how their imaginations run away with them… And how they sometimes end up running away with their imaginations.” –Audrey Greathouse, The Neverland Wars

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Camp Is Coming

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again.

NaNoWriMo is something I look forward to all year long. If they didn’t have two Camp sessions before then, I don’t know what I would do.

Yet each sessions always seems to sneak up on me. I think about it, prepare what I’m going to write, then when prep time actually starts and the actual challenge arrives, I panic.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2016 Banner Rachel Poli

Camp NaNoWriMo is coming.

It’s hard to believe it’s only three weeks away. Do you know what you’re going to write?

I’ve had this idea in my head for a long time and decided to save it for Camp. Now that it’s almost time to write it, I’m excited to finally get started on the project but I’m panicking. I want it to come out as well as I believe it to be.

You all know I’m a planner. I’ve been doing slow research here and there. I’m also going to start outlining it soon. I planned on starting the outline last week, but… Well, you know some other happy news got in the way.

I plugged in everything on my Camper Profile. I updated my profile, my cabin settings, and even added my novel already.

I’m doing something a little different this year. If you go onto my profile, you’ll see the genre of my novel is “Fanfiction.” It’s actually a fairy-tale retelling.

But there will be more on that in a later post.

My goal is the standard 50,000 words. I’ll be trying to get at least 2,000 words a day (or one chapter), which is what I usually try to do. That would be over 50,000, but we’ll see how long the novel actually is.

I can’t wait for Camp to start! I’m so excited!

Are you participating in the April session of Camp? What genre are you writing in? What’s your word goal?

You may also enjoy…
Camp NaNo: What to Write
Camp NaNo: Should You Outline?