Posts Tagged: Retelling

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Great World Building But A Little Slow: The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas

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Great World Building But A Little Slow: The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas
The Magnolia Sword
Sherry Thomas
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Romance, YA
Publication date: September 10th, 2019
by Tu Books

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CHINA, 484 A.D.

A Warrior in Disguise
All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan's father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

A War for a Dynasty
Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling--the royal duke's son, who is also the handsomest man she's ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan's life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it's too late.

Inspired by wuxia martial-arts dramas as well as the centuries-old ballad of Mulan, The Magnolia Sword is perfect for fans of Renee Ahdieh, Marie Lu, or Kristin Cashore--a thrilling, romantic, and sharp-edged novel that lives up to its beloved heroine.
-A copy was provided by Tu Books for review-

With the upcoming release of the live action Mulan, there has been an upsurge in Mulan retellings and I whole-heartedly welcome it. I fell in love with Spin the Dawn so I was pretty excited to dive into The Magnolia Sword. I went into it hoping that I would be blown away the same way I was with Spin the Dawn but I was not. Having said that, I loved the world building SO SO MUCH and enjoyed the building romantic tension between the main characters.

Let me clear, I am not trying to compare The Magnolia Sword to Spin the Dawn. I only mention the latter because both these stories adapt Mulan and I love Mulan (I’ve only been exposed to the Disney version of this story.)  They may both be drawing inspiration from the same source but they do vastly different things.

The strength of The Magnolia Sword lies in its world building. It is evident from both the author’s note and the actual story that Sherry Thomas has done a LOT of research. I am struggling to find words that aptly describe the level of detail we are given. From social structures of physical landscapes, everything is incredibly well thought out. There are so many discussions about constrictive social structures, interactions between different ethnic groups, IT’S ALL VERY WONDERFUL.

The romance is also such a wonderful slow burn. I screamed when Mulan and the Prince’s eyes met after a night shift together. It was great. Also, the fact that the romance is top-notch should be no surprise to anyone given that Sherry Thomas also writes delightful romance levels.

Clearly, I am a fan of a lot of things but the reason why The Magnolia Sword fell a little short for me was that I struggled with connecting to the plot and the characters themselves. I think the pacing was a bit on the slower side too which made it harder for me to connect. I’d have to go back and reread scenes because something would be mentioned and I would have no memory of that happening.

My issues with the book aside, I KNOW that many people will love The Magnolia Sword. All those people excited for the Disney live-action because they are excited about an adaptation that stays true to the OG should read this book instead. There are journeys, sword fighting, betrayal and slow burn romance to be had. PLUS, amazing world building.

3.5 Stars
3.5 Hot Espressos

Potentially the best Pride and Prejudice Adaptation: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Potentially the best Pride and Prejudice Adaptation: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Posted by on 07/02/2019 • 7 Comments

I’ve been going through a reading slump lately and starting a book takes a lot more effort than I would like. When, I picked up Ayesha a couple days ago, I was really sad I couldn’t get into it so I put it down and continued binging Brooklyn Nine Nine. Because I had it for review though, I decided to pick it up again  and push through. I ended up going to bed at 5:30 AM because I legitimately did not want to put Ayesha at Last down.

I first read P&P in 10th grade and watched the BBC adaptation alongside reading it. I thought the Colin Firth adaptation was the peak of P&P adaptations. Reading Ayesha at Last has made me completely reevaluate that opinion. This thoughtful, creative retelling…

Not the Persuasion Retelling My Heart Desires: The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

Not the Persuasion Retelling My Heart Desires: The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

Posted by on 08/24/2017 • 1 Comment

I’ve always regarded Persuasion as my favorite Jane Austen novel so when I heard about The One That Got Away, I was immediately intrigued. There is something about the angst of a second chance romance that always draws me in and I love seeing the various takes on the classic novel. I dove into The One That Got Away expecting to enjoy it and I am not sure I did? I am also not sure I didn’t.

Retellings don’t have to follow the original storyline word for word but in my opinion a good retelling is at least very aware of the word for word storyline and has a fun take on that story. I felt like The One That Got Away didn’t really do that? It’s biggest tribute to the novel was essentially…

Blog Tour: Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker (High School Horror #1) Review and Guest Post

Blog Tour: Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker (High School Horror #1) Review and Guest Post

Posted by on 01/18/2016 • 3 Comments

Hello everyone!! I am happy to be participating in the blog tour for this book. Right when I read the synopsis, I knew that I had to read the book. So I will be doing my review and I have a great guest post with a real life high school horror story from Charlotte Huang, a friend of the author who is also an author.

To start, I really liked the characters. They were great. Especially Tor and her best friend Owen. They really were what pulled me into the story. I did enjoy this book, but had to ignore all of the things that just didn’t make sense to me. As with all things fiction, not everything has to make sense or be logical right? I can’t go into…

Review: YOLO Juliet by William Shakespeare and Brett Wright

Review: YOLO Juliet by William Shakespeare and Brett Wright

Posted by on 06/23/2015 • 5 Comments

I admit, I loved reading the original Romeo and Juliet in school, but I know that for some people it isn’t something they enjoyed. I think that this was a fun way to get people interested in the basics of the story in a modern way. I thought the group texts and messages were entertaining. I especially loved all the emojis in it. I do have to say though, this is not a replacement for the original, but it was fun to read.

Everyone knows how the story goes. Star-crossed lovers ending in tragic death, but this book tells the story in a less morbid way. This is a kind of hard review to write since it’s not a typical book. I do think that for kids in school who…

Review: Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly

Review: Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly

Posted by on 02/19/2015 • 8 Comments

This was a book that I was really excited to read. I didn’t like it quite as much as I had hoped, but it was really enjoyable. The characters were wonderful, especially Kymera. It was a bit predictable and long, but it was interesting so it kept me from getting bored with it. Even at its slow pace, the way things all came together was great and it was easy to get lost in.

Kym is a creation intended for the purpose of saving the sick girls from the wizard. She is very naive and only knows what her father has told her. She is happy with her mission and truly has a huge heart. She wants to do what is right and she wants to save everyone. She…

Review: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

Review: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

Posted by on 01/22/2015 • 2 Comments

I am always up for a fairytale retelling, so of course I had to read this book. Especially since it has a dark twist to it. This was a book that was so easy to get into and get lost in. I loved uncovering all the secrets and find out how everything would end up. This is middle grade, but it the writing was very mature. the characters were great, though we don’t get to know many of them very well aside from Sarah and Alan. We learn about the other characters, but don’t really know them on an emotional level. Either way, this was a great book.

Sarah is a young girl, but wise beyond her years. She has moved around a lot and she is a bit…