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review 2016-08-21 06:57
The Song of Orpheus
The Song of Orpheus: The Greatest Greek Myths You Never Heard - Tracy Barrett

The Song of Orpheus has a fun way of connecting a number of lesser known Greek myths together through the story of Orpheus, who has to tell a lot of stories before the sun sets.

For those readers that are rather unfamiliar with Greek mythology, but would like to read some of the lesser known stories, this is a wonderful book. For those, who like myself, took some classes into Classic Greek -- well, let's just say that Orpheus would still be a stone... Most of the stories though I hadn't heard before, although there were some where it was not hard to discover why they aren't better known nowadays.

Lovely, quick read. Would recommend.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-03-07 20:13
The Stepsister's Tale
The Stepsister's Tale - Tracy Barrett

An interesting retelling of the fairytale classic Cinderella. I very much enjoyed the nods to the original fairytale, such as the prince suggesting the girls cut off their toes to fit in the glass slipper, as well as the classic themes twisted on their heels, such as that the prince is a bratty gold-digging fortune hunter and Isabella (our Cinderella) is a young spoiled girl with an unexpected character arc.

The writing was pretty good, though the descriptions and narration were far better than the dialogue, which was slightly lacking. The book was rather dull for the 160 pages in the middle, because nothing really happens, excepting foraging for food and sewing. Once the ball storyline is mentioned is when the whole book starts to pick up, most of the twists are thrown in and acted upon, and the characters are fleshed out. So that is when I started to enjoy the book and not just tolerate it. Overall, I'd recommend it for a once-over, but beware of the slow beginning.

Two things noted that have no affect on the rating: The cover is waaaaaaaay off concerning the characters and the story. None of the clothes look remotely like what they would be wearing, let alone all the make-up. Jane (the brunette) is 15. That cover model looks to be between 18 and 25. Ella is 13, and her cover model appears to be a bit older than that. Anyways, it is just a bit annoying, is all. And then, in the book, Maude, who is younger than Ella and was even younger than she is now when this event took place, once tried her father's riding boots on and they were too small for her to wear. Now, unless her dad was Tom Thumb, I can't think of a single young and slightly malnourished girl whose feet cannot fit into her father's boots.

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review 2014-07-10 10:10
The Stepsister's Tale - Tracy Barrett

“You’ll still be beautifully yourself when that pretty kitten has grown up to be a nice-enough cat and the wildflower has faded.”

I am one to never pass up a chance to read a fairy tale retelling. So it comes to no surprise that I just had to read The Stepsister’s Tale. A Cinderella story told in the eyes of the “wicked” stepsister? This should be interesting.

The Stepsister’s Tale indeed have quite an intriguing opening; how expectations of high society could push a person to deceive and live in denial.

Jane was a receptive character, it’s not hard to feel compassion for someone who refuses to stick to what is expected of her or what society dictates, and choose to do what it takes to take care of her family. I wouldn’t say the same for Jane’s younger sister, Maude, and her mother though. They felt a bit insignificant unless needed, but I can see that there really isn’t much for their characters to do in the story.

Cinderella – or rather, Isabella in this book – was such a spoiled brat! I’ve always come to love and pity our little heroine in the other stories but I had a sudden change of heart with this one. Goodness! I don’t think I have the patience to watch children such as her.

While I find the beginning of the book to my liking, I felt a little skeptical with the middle of the book. It seemed to have gone through a redundant strain of events with not much excitement. Although I understand the need to show the harshness of Jane and her family’s situation, I have to admit it was kind of boring.

I like the interesting twist to the classic fairy tale. I also highly appreciate the fact that another person was set to be the villain in the story – that was new! However, I feel like it was a little short on closure over some details. For one, whatever happened to the King’s lands? Given the scarcity of food for the village where Jane and her family lived, did the people get the chance to thrive again? What of the fairies rumored to be hiding in the woods? Did they truly exist or was that simply a figment of the imagination?

Although I must say I am happy over how Jane’s story has ended, there were several parts left unrequited, which I would have respected a lot more if given some conclusive answers.

*Thank you, Harlequin Teen and Netgalley for granting my request to view The Stepsister’s Tale.

For more of my reviews, please visit my blog:
The Blair Book Project @ www.theblairbookproject.blogspot.com

Source: theblairbookproject.blogspot.com/2014/07/thestepsisterstale.html
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review 2014-07-09 15:12
Perfect balance of family fairy tale and new twists
The Stepsister's Tale - Tracy Barrett

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Initial Reaction... 
I LOVED this retelling of the classic Cinderella story. The Stepsister's Tale was the perfect balance of the familiar and new! A quick, fun read, I gobbled it up in just one day!

The Characters... 
What I loved most about The Stepsister's Tale was the characters! The story is told from the point of view of the eldest stepsister, Jane Montjoy, and she's nothing like the stepsister that you've come to expect. Her father abandoned her sister Maude, her mother, and Jane -- drinking away their wealth and then dying leaving them with nothing but an aristocratic name. They live in this big house, with a mother who clings to memories rather than reality and Jane has the task of trying to put food on the table and kindling in the fireplace. She doesn't have the resources or energy to worry about being the lady her mother still thinks her daughters should be. She runs around barefooted and in rags, focused on taking care of what has to be done. You can't help but admire the way she cares for her little sister and, when the time comes, her spoiled new step-sister Isabella. 

Maude is a sweet little girl and, like her sister, is more focused on survival than being a lady. When her mother comes home with a new father and sister for her, she feels awkward and uncomfortable. The two girls are very close in age and there's some childhood squabbles. And some misunderstandings that get thrown way out of proportion as things tend to when in situations of increased stress. Isabella (called Ella for short... you see where that's going right?) comes off very bratty - she's been spoiled and she's understandably not too happy with her sudden change of living situations. She's come from the city and suddenly she's living in a broken down home where she's expected to do things she doesn't know how to do. I admit to being very frustrated with her attitude at times and at other times really feeling for her - especially when (as you knew would happen because this is Cinderella after all) her father dies. 

I loved seeing the three girls dealing with situations thrust upon them by their parents and with the struggle to survive with no money and no resources through the harsh winter. They start getting to know neighbors and I loved Jane's interactions with them. It was a really great spin on the story. 

The Story... 
In describing the characters, I've pretty much outlined the story for The Stepsister's Tale already - it's your classic Cinderella story, with a really creative adjustment to the characters and their situation. Misunderstandings not mistreatment lead to problems between the Cinderella and her stepsisters. Hardship and the struggle to survive gives the story a whole different life. 

For me, what made the retelling so great was the way it managed to hold on to so much of what you'd expect in the Cinderella story. And those of you - like me - familiar with the original Grimm won't be disappointed. The Stepsister's Tale has some really great ways of alluding to that original telling of the story, before Disney reshaped it. 

I also really loved that there's a new romance built into this story - you do have the Cinderella & the Prince story (although that's QUITE a bit different - in pretty great ways that I LOVED), but since we're looking at everything form Jane's point of view, we also get her romance - and it was a fun feeling cheering the ugly, wicked stepsister to her HEA. 

Concluding Sentiments... 
If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, I really recommend The Stepsister's Tale. Honestly, I'm not as a big a fan of retellings as some people, but I loved this - so really if you just like a good story about hardship, family, sisterhood, and love, this is a good read too!

Source: fantasyismorefun.com/2014/07/stepsisters-tale-tracy-barrett-coyer-book-review.html
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review 2014-07-01 10:07
MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett
The Stepsister's Tale - Tracy Barrett

While her mother may still have her delusions of grandeur, Jane Montjoy knows that her crumbling estate is now reduced to a has-been. Jane and her sister Maud milk the cow, mend and repair their own now too-tight dresses, and clean the place up to the best of their abilities while their mother pretends that servants are still doing the work for them. But Jane's mother remarries and not too soon, her new husband dies, leaving debt and his own daughter to the care of the Montjoys. 

 

Jane Montjoy and her sister Maude are used to a life of scrubbing floors, and making do with what meager things they have. I like both sisters because while others might moan and complain about having to have a difficult childhood amidst a once-glorious setting, they both take it all in stride and try to survive a day at a time. Their mother, however, is unaccustomed to the hard life, having been born to affluent parents and a place in society. While I surmised that the mother is embarrassed of having to stoop down from her pedestal to do anything around the house, I really felt bad for the sisters for having a mother who instead of contributing anything to their survival, only thought that they might have a better life if she remarried.

 

And thus, we meet Ella - and she is not the angel we all pictured in our heads when we were five years old. This Ella is selfish and a total brat, but I'm guessing that this is stemming from the fact that she is uprooted and suddenly has to call a bunch of strangers her family. Ella, who knows nothing but to make herself look pretty and presentable to society, has to share an apple with other members of the family, because as it turns out, her father is good at keeping up airs. I won't go into the details anymore, as this is a retelling of Cinderella, but I did like how Barrett handled a slew of characters who had minds and personalities of their own. It's quite uncanny how very humanlike they are, as they exhibit flaws and traits that both endear and irk the reader - a huge factor, I think, why this retelling worked out so well. 

 

Forget Grimm's version of Cinderella. Forget Disney's version as well. Barrett's version is much, much better, and it satisfactorily fills in the holes that any skeptical audience of the other versions poked at.

 

Source: thetwinsread.blogspot.com/2014/07/michelles-review-stepsisters-tale-by.html
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