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What Makes a Retelling Successful? | A Geekerella Inspired Discussion

Okay, I don't hate YA retellings of things.* I just don't have the best luck with them.**

*other disclaimers: I do not solely determine a book's success. This is a discussion on what I want to see in retellings versus what we actually see. 
**also, this is not a review of Geekerella, if you want that, go to my goodreads review.

So, like most people, I was really excited when I got approved for an eARC of Geekerella by Ashley Poston. I mean, it's a Cinderella retelling with a geeky main character, a killer cover, and a cosplay ball at what is essentially Comic Con. And it was cute. And it had all the Cinderella things. Neither of these are bad things, but with a story that's been told and told through every format imaginable, I expected more different things. 

Let me explain. 

Like a lot of little girls that grew up in the late 1990's and throughout the 2000's, I was obsessed with Cinderella. Forget watching Christmas movies at Christmas, I forced my family to watch the animated Cinderella twice. (True story, I actually remember this Christmas. I was a strange kid.) I also religiously watched the direct-to-DVD sequels and every remake featuring my favorite former Disney Channel stars.

For Geekerella specifically, that's where I feel like this retelling stopped. We didn't chop off the step-sisters' heels. But most of all, there was no added depth to our villainous characters. So what are my impossibly high standards for YA retellings?

Okay, so if you've written a book or are even thinking of writing a book, you're clearly imaginative. What I'm saying here is do something different. Go off the rails a little. Be based more on the original tale. Play off the tropes that come from this tale. Make one of the main characters LGBTQ+ or maybe twist the original tale and make it a same-sex relationship.

You don't have to follow the rules. You don't have to follow the exact story structure of the original. Be aware of what's out there in the terms of your tale and play around with it.

This is where I really struggled with Geekerella because I need my villains/evil-stepmothers/antagonists to have depth. They need a reason to be evil. Alternatively, how do they end up differently than the original characters? 

Basically, I thrive on complex characters. Give me all of them.

Now, this one isn't a requirement because some people most people don't want all their characters to suffer and endure torturous actions. But I do. I want to see my characters go through a time, whether they're the main character or the villain. Someone needs to suffer for me to be really happy with any book.

Most retellings are fairytales. Some aren't, but the most talked about and most popular are, more often than not. The originals don't often end happily but all the Disney versions do. Surprise me by killing someone off or twisting the original ending to give us a bittersweet ending.

Make it a fantasy. Make it sci-fi. Put it in the past. Put it in the future. Make it unique, whatever it is.

Make me fall in love with the setting and the characters and the fun twists that've been added in.

Do you have a similar issue with YA retellings or am I actually all alone? What're some of your favorite and most unique retellings that you've read? Tell me down in comments!


What Book Buying Ban? | Q1 Book Haul

If you don't know me, then you won't know a few key things about me.

  • I don't have an actual bookshelf. I have one piece of my grandmother's old entertainment center (basically a weirdly shaped, Tetris-ed bookshelf) and a bunch of books put into unused drawers of my dresser. Very professional, I know.
  • This year, I really wanted to focus on getting my physical TBR down and getting rid of books that I don't want. Not only do I have nowhere to put more books, I hate looking at all these books that I haven't read.
  • A goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year was to read 5 TBR books before buying one. 
The last thing is the one I'm really struggling with so far. I kind of gave myself the month of January to adjust to this goal. Spoiler: it didn't work. Not only have I bought more TBR books, I've also bought a bunch of books I haven't read. 

Let's get started.

The only two books I've gotten through my BOTM subscription thus far have been:

  •  PERFECT LITTLE WORLD: Not a dystopian, as per usual, but a utopian society. Very intrigued by this one.
  • THE ANIMATORS: Female! Animator! Friends! Literally, I'm so here for all of that. 

  • FAKING NORMAL: Hi, hello, if you're new here, Courtney C. Stevens is one of my new favorite authors/humans/ethereal beings ever. She's such a ball of pure goodness, and this book is fantastic. Please pick it up. (trigger warning for rape and self-harm)
(not pictured, but nonetheless have been purchased):
  • THE EXILED QUEEN: I bought this because I had a gift card and I haven't even read the first book in this series. I'm ashamed.
  • MORE HAPPY THAN NOT: Adam's a great human, and I needed to buy this (with said gift card) so that I could get him to sign it. That's all. I haven't read it. The paperback has a killer cover. 

  • MAUS III: I read these a couple years ago when I very first started blogging, and when I traded in a bunch of books recently at my used bookstore, I saw these and had to pick them up. Fantastic and important story. 
  • HOGWARTS LIBRARY: I have absolutely no justification for this nonsense. I already have copies of these. I have no need of these. But they were so pretty!
  • RADIO SILENCE: Again, if you're new here, you probably don't know about my absolute adoration of this book. Either way, you should pick it up because it has an incredibly diverse cast. The MC is biracial and bisexual, one of the side characters is demisexual, another is Asian and gay, another is lesbian. So! Much! Diversity!
  • THE ARCHIVED: I was actually gifted this book and Radio Silence through a group of bookish ladies I absolutely adore through TGTRAT. I'm so happy to have gotten this, as I absolutely adore Schwab, and I got to get this one signed at her ACOL release! (spoiler, oops)
  • HIDDEN FIGURES: I was at Target. I was weak. This was on sale. I'd just seen the movie, and I need to know more about these women.
  • DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS: After meeting Courtney at SEYA, I sent her an email asking if I could possibly get an early copy of this to review and she said yes. (I mean, clearly.) But she described this as a gender-fluid Footloose. I'm pumped. 
  • THE HANDMAID'S TALE: I made a trip to Barnes & Noble? This actually was a "read 5 before you buy" pick, so I'm not angry at myself for getting this one. I've wanted to read it for ages, but just never had my own copy. Now I do, and I'm reading it right now!
  • MY STRUGGLE #1: Okay, stay with me, Jess was reading book 2 of this in the Gilmore Girls revival, so I needed to buy this and read it? I literally paid full price for this at Barnes. Who am I?
  • THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY: I've meant to read this book for nearly half a decade now. It's embarrassing. 
  • THE BLINDING KNIFE: I haven't read book one, but this was at my local used bookstore. I don't know why I bought it, but I did. 

  • A TALE OF TWO CITIES & GREAT EXPECTATIONS: I read both of these in high school, and honestly, they're some of my favorite books. I've never had a copy of Great Expectations, and all copies of ATOTC are horribly ugly. Except for this one.
  • A CONJURING OF LIGHT: I LOVED THIS. Read this series ASAP if you somehow haven't done that already.
  • THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES: My friend Trina loves Mindy McGinnis. She's read everything out by her so far, and I really want to get into her books. This is about a girl who's sister got sexually assaulted (and maybe murdered? idk) and now is going to get her revenge. I've only heard great things.
  • HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME: Again, Adam is a great human, and this book is depressing as hell.
  • WOLF BY WOLF: Alternate history WWII where a girl wants to kill Hitler ft. shapeshifting? I'm there. 
  • HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: Again, I didn't need this, but I wanted to reread this book (because I don't think I ever have) and have a second copy that I could write in and mark up. It was a great decision. 
  • A POEM FOR EVERY NIGHT OF THE YEAR: This has been a great addition to my collection. Having a constant source of poems by my bed is the best and most relaxing decisions I've ever made. 
Woweewow. If you got through that, *hands you a cookie*, congrats and thank you. Thoughts? Comments? Convince me to stop buying books? Assist me in comments.

Making Reading a Habit | Discussion + Challenge

April is one of those really cool months with 30 days. After my least favorite holiday in the world, the rest of the month is filled with jamming everything that I was supposed to be doing for school during the past three months into one month where more things than normal are already due.

Some might say that this is not the opportune moment to try and read every day during a single month. Since I'm writing this post, I think it's clear to you all that I disagree. I want to start making reading a part of my everyday life. I want to structure my life more in general, and I think that an acceptable, daily portion of hobbies is far better than a "cram it all into a few days a month" hobby.

Yay for allocating hobbies!

So, my plan is to read something every day in April in an attempt to get my very erratic reading life a little more in line with the hopes that the rest of my life will fall in line behind it. I'll probably do a little update halfway through the month here on my blog. And since I'm addicted to Twitter, I'll be updating that with the #30DaysofReading so you can follow my (fairly) daily updates there if you're really invested in my life.

Have you done this? Do you want to join me?! 
(Please feel free to. I'm going to need the support *laughs nervously*)

My Goals

1. Literally just read anything, even just a short story or a few poems every day.
2. By the end of the month, have a specific time that I read every day. 

Books I'm Thinking of Reading

1. Crooked Kingdom -- haha spoiler: I've already finished this, but it was a goal I'd set before going into this and I just happened to finish it on the first day. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
2. The Upside of Unrequited
3. The Handmaid's Tale
4. Men Explain Things to Me -- this is a short story collection that I started ages ago, so 1) I really want to finish it and 2) it'll be good for days when I don't want to pick up a full-length novel.
5. The Silver Chair & The Last Battle

That's it! If you have any tips for life organization and/or making things a daily habit, definitely leave them for me in the comments!