Friday 21 August 2020

Mini Reviews: Cinderella Is Dead and Chasing Lucky

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
It's 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over.

Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she's tiny until the night she's sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball are forfeited.

But Sophia doesn't want to be chosen – she's in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia's night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella's tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world.

The premise of this was fascinating and well executed: women have been manipulated into believing the sugar-coated version of Cinderella’s love story and anyone who doesn’t fit the strict male-dominated values is imprisoned. Sophia is terrified of the ball, of being pawed and leered at, of being a pawn in a man’s game, so she flees. In the hidden mausoleum of Cinderella’s final resting place, she meets Constance, who is like her and wants to topple the unfair system and the lies surrounding Cinderella’s so-called “happily ever after”. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite believe the romance between Sophia and Constance. Between Sophia still having feelings for her best friend and the pace of overthrowing the patriarchy, the romance kind of fell by the wayside. Not to say that it was badly written or anything, I just wanted to be swept up in it. But the plot? That was incredible, especially the subtle hints to the original tale and then subverting them, making the women of this story take centre stage, as is right.

There were lots of twists and turns, it was very fast paced and full of secrets waiting to be uncovered. I even gasped a few times with surprise! All in all, a solid read for me, maybe could have benefited from a bit more world-building but the message and the story were great.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it's not forever, so there's no reason to change her modus operandi—keeping to herself, dreaming of the day she can leave.

But after a disastrous summer party, a poorly executed act of revenge lands her in big-time trouble. As in, jail...alongside the last person with whom she’d want to share a mugshot: the son of the boat mechanic across the street, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend.

Josie and Lucky become the talk of their coastal small town. But during a summer of secrets, everything changes, and 
the easy friendship they once shared grows into something deeper and more complicated. Can Josie and Lucky swim past obstacles that come with rough waters, or will they both go down together?

Jenn Bennett is on my auto-buy list, she is a brilliant author and her stories always just wrap me up and break me a little bit, and “Chasing Lucky” was no different. Josie is a budding photographer and wants this next year to go as smoothly as possible, so she can graduate high school and intern with her estranged father, a famous photographer, in Los Angeles. Problems ensue, because of course, the main one being Lucky, her childhood best friend whom she hasn’t spoken to since she and her mum left town. Josie’s been on the run with her mother since a big fight with her grandmother five years ago. She was too young to really understand what the fight was about but for the last five years, Josie and her mum have moved from town to town, never really settling, until her grandmother asks them both to come back to man the family bookshop while she’s away. 

While this was a story about Josie getting to know her childhood best friend again, about them falling in love (which they did and it was freaking adorable), it’s also about family and secrets and communication. The reason that Josie and her mum didn’t return to Beauty for five years was because Winona didn’t know how to communicate with Josie, and because she didn’t communicate well with her own mother, Deidre. Secrets and white lies and “didn’t tell you to protect you” can’t stay hidden forever, and it is a horrible way to teach your daughter about honesty and communication between family.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.