Book #51: Alister in Wonderland by KuroKoneko Kamen

GENDERBENT FAIRYTALES COLLECTION 
Alister in Wonderland 
Handsome and the Yeti 
Petra Pan 

A genderbent reimagining of the classic fairytale Alice in Wonderland… 

Alister Kingsley is an eccentric, London artist who is famous for his surreal, fanciful paintings set in a land that only exists in his imagination: Wonderland. 

Alister’s ‘dream girl’ Madeline Hatter wasn’t supposed to be real. But when the White Rabbit shows up at his art expo, and leads him down the rabbit hole Alister comes face-to-face with the Mad Hatter herself when she rescues him from getting barbequed by the King of Heart’s pet: the Jabberwocky. 

As it turns out, Madeline got herself into a pickle, and needs Alister’s help. She has him sign a magical contract that enters him into a tournament to win her hand in marriage. Alister must complete an impossible task, participate in a Wonderland Joust where the rules aren’t exactly normal, and defeat the other contenders: Crimson the King of Hearts, Clover the White King, and Cheshire Cat slave, Chesher. 

Madeline isn’t allowed to help Alister, and Crim keeps sending assassins after his head. Will Alister be able to win the tournament so that Madeline won’t have to marry the sadistic, bloodthirsty King of Hearts? 

Take the blue pill and find out… 

I received an Audible code from the author for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.

I am officially in love with the genderbent fairy tales KuroKoneko Kamen writes. Each book stands well on their own, but are actually a part of a larger universe. I’m not sure if you need to read them in order of publication, but I didn’t and I don’t feel like it took away from any of the stories.

Alister in Wonderland is an Alice in Wonderland retelling with an artist coward as our main hero. Despite his cowardice, he perseveres and learns many things about himself and the world he used to only know in his paintings.

I love that KuroKoneko Kamen weaves pop culture into the stories, but doesn’t let the references overtake the characters. Kamen is able to not only pay homage to the original story source, but also make a unique tale of its own. Not to mention one that reaches into other stories to make a bigger universe. Oh to be a fly on the wall in Kamen’s office and see the universe notes.

All in all, this book is an action-packed read and had me entertained through the whole thing.

Final Rating: 4/5

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Book #43: Theodore Gale in Oz by KuroKoneko Kamen

A genderbent reimagining of the classic fairytale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz… 

Theodore Gale is a twenty-five-year-old, unemployed, playboy cowboy with the propensity for getting into fights. After winning a bronco riding competition he decides to celebrate with a southern belle he sneaks to the barn at the Gale Farm. The following morning should have started with some kinky fun, but instead his life is turned upside down when a green tornado appears and takes Theo’s barn to another world. 

With only his gray horse, Toto, as a companion Theo arrives in Oz. As he tries to make heads or tails out of this strange new world, he ends up liberating various villages from the tyranny of first, the Wicked Warlock of the East, who was killed accidentally when Theo’s barn dropped on top of him, and secondly, the Wicked Warlock of the West, Jadyn, who’d turned an entire village into toys, enslaved them, and was forcing them to brew potions. 

It’s on the outskirts of Toy Village that Theo meets a damsel in distress, who is about to get ripped apart by crows. Her name is Anne Raggedy. She calls herself a Scarecrow, but Theo doesn’t find her very frightening, and actually ends up getting confused boners for the life-size doll. When Theo discovers that Anne used to be human, he decides to travel with her to the Emerald City in order to find a way to break her curse, so he can get laid. Joining them on their quest is a Cowardly Lioness and Cyborg Assassin named Tina Woodcutter. 

Genderbent Fairytales Collection: 
Handsome and the Yeti 
Petra Pan 
Alister in Wonderland 
King of Hearts: A Wonderland Story 
Theodore Gale in Oz 

I received an Audible code from the author via Audiobook Obsession for an honest review. What follows is that review. There was no compensation for what is about to be said.

Okay. This is not my first KuroKoneko Kamen genderbent fairytale and it’s definitely not going to be my last. This is by far the better of the two I’ve read and I can’t wait for the sequel. I’m not joking around.

There is a fine line when you put in pop culture references into your fiction. On one hand, you can inspire the giggles and nostalgia feels. On the other, you can end up dating your book once it hits a certain age. Theodore Gale in Oz straddles that line like Theodore straddles his horse, Toto.

There were great one-liners, awesome pop references, and I found myself rooting for the main characters. Close to the end of the book, my Bug was getting into the story. He doesn’t like me listening to audiobooks in the car, but this kid wasn’t leaving the car until I turned it off. Because, and I quote, “I want to hear this.”

Note. There are sex scenes. I do not advise listening to those scenes with little ears around and I personally didn’t do that.

The writing is well done and pulls the reader in. It is a well-made retelling, following most of the original story, but being its own narrative at the same time. And I have to add that there is definitely a sequel! Which, I’m going to be listening to.

My only complaint is that sometimes the narrator read with an accent and other times not. It did on occasion turn me off of the story, but I was able to jump right back in a few seconds later.

All in all, this is a fun read, the laugh out loud and smile kind.

Final Rating: 4/5

BLOG TOUR: The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

One girl must uncover secrets of the past to save her friend from a terrible curse in this dark and mesmerizing story of love, revenge, and redemption inspired by the myth of Medusa.

Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.

Milla’s whole world is her family’s farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she’s forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.

Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.

Suspenseful and vividly imagined, The Cold Is in Her Bones is a novel about the dark, reverberating power of pain, the yearning to be seen and understood, and the fragile optimism of love.  

Praise for THE COLD IS IN HER BONES

“A dark and enchanting tale about friendship, pain, revenge, and the power of love, The Cold Is in Her Bones is the perfect read for Greek mythology fans and YA readers alike.” ―Bustle

“Fiercely written and beautifully feminist, The Cold is in Her Bones reminds us of the power of loyalty and love in the face of ignorance and fear. I loved this tale of dangerous girls with wild hair and tangled hearts.” ―Lisa Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Magician

“A fresh, eerily compelling tale of betrayal, revenge, and the ties that bind. When van Arsdale paints a world, you can feel the fog against your skin.” ―Elly Blake, New York Times bestselling author of The Frostblood Saga  

MY REVIEW
I received an ARC for an honest review for this blog tour. Everything that follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation made for this review.
There are few books that hit you in the soul. The words and world just somehow sink into you, working its way into your psyche. They remind you of historical events, personal experiences, or even literary works that hit you just as hard.
The Cold is in Her Bones did that to me.
On the surface, this book is labeled as Young Adult, a retelling of the Medusa myth, a story about a group of girls forced out of their homes, feared, and tortured. All of this is true, but it is something more. This book is not just a Medusa retelling, it is the retelling of the witch trials, it is the retelling of the hardships of women who were just too strong-willed, and it is the retelling of the mental patients in past asylums.
All of these real events were going through my mind as I read this book. It makes it hard for me to properly grasp the emotions I’m trying to convey. This book isn’t a typical YA. I honestly feel that this book deserves to be featured in literary courses. It has so many parallels to our own history that I can’t help but think that this book could have some reality inside its pages.
Because of that, let me just describe the stories and events that came to mind with this book.
  • The Salem Witch Trials. This was during a time when people lived in constant fear. Women were supposed to remain docile and obedient. Those who weren’t could have been accused of witchcraft.
  • The short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is about the slow declining mental faculties of a strong-willed woman. It is about how a family member would lock away a female loved one for her “safety”. The story is also a take on postpartum depression.
  • The mental asylums that began in the 1700s and kept going up to 1970s and 1980s. We all have heard stories about the “treatments” these facilities were known for. But did you know that one of the first investigative reporters actually posed insane and went through the process of one of these hospitals was actually a woman? Nellie Bly was ahead of her time and though her experiences helped the system a bit, the system was still not great.

These were just some of the things going through my mind as I was reading. This isn’t a lighthearted book. It’s about inner strength, acceptance, and society’s way of hurting what they are afraid of instead of listening and learning. We are always fighting against one another. We should instead fight the fear and pain and learn from it.

That was the take away I had from this book and if I could rate it higher than a five, I would. I want to thank Peternelle van Arsdale for this book. It is like looking at a painting in an art museum; you have so many different things to look at that just one aspect unfolds another.

The only downside is that I feel all of this might go past some readers. I’m not sure they will see the historical parallels and I’m not sure they will go through the pages and feel a profound moment. This isn’t a journey where a chosen girl goes to find romance and saves the world. This is a girl who just tries to save the one person she was close to and learns to forgive.

Final Rating: 5/5 but so much more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

Peternelle van Arsdale grew up in Newark, New Jersey, where she attended public school through the eighth grade. After that she attended three high schools in three different towns in four years, was deeply unpopular, and counted the seconds until graduation. She majored in English literature at Bryn Mawr College, and then landed in book publishing, thinking it was a good way to be paid to do what she liked to do anyway (she was only partly wrong). She worked her way up from editorial assistant to executive editor of adult fiction and nonfiction, and eventually struck out on her own as an independent editor.

Her first young adult novel, The Beast Is an Animal, is being developed by Amazon Studios for a feature film produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free and directed by Bert & Bertie. Her essays have been published by LitHub, Hypable.com, and Culturefly, and her short fiction has been published by The Whitefish Review.

Her second novel, The Cold is in Her Bones , will be published in January 2019. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she continues to edit and is at work on her third novel.

PHOTO CREDIT: ELENA SEIBERT 

WEBSITE: http://www.peternellevanarsdale.com/

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