Saturday, September 24, 2016

Book Review: Five Enchanted Roses

What do you know, my first official book review! It doesn't feel like my first, however, since I've been sharing my thoughts on various novels in all the monthly wrap-ups, but still. I promised a review on Five Enchanted Roses, and a review is what you shall get.

Esprit de la Rose by Kaycee Browning

Well, well, well, the collection starts out with a swashbuckling bang! I got a bit of a Pirates of the Caribbean vibe, especially from the cursed sailors; the evil mermaid element was pretty cool (and also served as a tool to bring home several Beauty and the Beast elements); and I just love pirate ships. I don't know why exactly, but those big, beautiful ships with their sails and rigging and adventurous crews just get to me.

Cecilia was a plucky heroine, but it was Captain Pepin who kept me engrossed in the tale. Arrogant, humorous, unpredictable . . . and with more to him than meets the eye, of course. The story's conclusion was a tad on the swift side, but given the limits of the contest, it couldn't really be helped. 4 STARS

Wither by Savannah Jezowski

Okay. This might have been my favorite story of the entire collection--though it's hard to say something so conclusive when all the stories were unique and enjoyable! But something about the writing style really clicked with me. Not to mention the main characters: especially sturdy, spitfire Bet (oh my goodness, such a refreshing heroine) and gruff, hurting Corwin (my poor baby). And Quarrel! I want him as my own pet now.

And I can't go without mentioning the world. In the space of a short novella, we get a rich taste of it--a deep lungful of its smells and sights of its scenery--all without bogging the story down. It's dark and gloomy, a tale populated by bloodthirsty monsters and lonely wraiths, but the chilling backdrop served to make the themes of love and sacrifice shine brighter. Quite the powerful story here. 5 STARS

Stone Curse by Jenelle Schmidt

I found it extra fun to read this one because I've gotten to know Jenelle in the blogging world since this book was published! A very sweet read, slower than the previous tale, yet still twisting Beauty and the Beast in a clever way. I did predict the twist early on, but I enjoyed taking the journey with the unknowing characters as they traipsed through a comfortably familiar fairy-tale world of woods and castles and cozy inns.

Plus the beast is a bear! A big, cuddly, I mean ferocious bear! Poor Barend might be the kindest beast character in the collection. The romance between him and Karyna left me smiling by the end. And Ritter, charming fellow that he is, stole my heart rather easily. 4.5 STARS

Rosara and the Jungle King by Dorian Tsukioka

What a unique twist! Amazonian-type tribes in a jungle setting . . . brutal customs . . . a talking jaguar . . . Who'd have thought? And yet the core themes of Beauty and the Beast transplanted into this unfamiliar setting are immediately recognizable. Rosara is a courageous young lady, and Tupa is a huggable beast. (Sorry, but large predators often look so cuddly and wonderful--it's one reason I adore Aslan.)

I'm not sure what to think about the spiritual aspect of the karawara birds and whatnot. It did fit the tribal aspect of the story and provided for some cool twists, though. This tale is harsher than some of its companions, but it's fast pace kept me flying through the pages. 4.5 STARS

The Wulver's Rose by Hayden Wand

This historical novella was a sweet, satisfying end to the collection. It took a while to get into the Beauty and the Beast elements, but the beginning segment was necessary to set things up and get Bonnie Alleway into the right mindset for future story events. I found her guilt over her mistakes to be done in a real, relatable way.

And it's in Scotland, people! How dreamy is that? I adored the bits where the characters' accents were stronger. And the setting comes through beautifully throughout the story, making it feel like you're in the rolling hills yourself. Oh yes, and the non-romantic relationship between Bonnie and the beast was a nice flip too. 4 STARS

Overall . . .

I give the collection 4.5 stars! It's well-rounded and yet there's still a common feel threading through each story. I found it interesting to see which qualities the various beasts shared, such as at least one lovable quality hidden beneath some kind of monstrousness, whether it was a gruff nature or an ugly appearance. And all the beauty characters were spunky, kind, courageous, sacrificial, and able to see beauty underneath brokenness.

The themes of Beauty and the Beast were highlighted in different ways in each of the stories, which was really neat. The original fairy tale is so powerful. Sacrifice, love, seeing past appearances . . . all beautiful themes that have the potential to make a great impact--which I think this collection accomplished. I'll definitely be rereading it in the future!


  1. This sounds great! I don't usually read collections, but I must admit that this one sounds very, very intriguing. Amazing review! I can't wait until the next one.

    1. It definitely IS very intriguing. There's something there for everyone! And if you do end up reading Five Enchanted Roses, I'd also recommend the previous collection, Five Glass Slippers (Cinderella retellings) and the newest volume, Five Magic Spindles (Sleeping Beauty retellings).

      Glad you enjoyed the review, Sunset! Welcome to Adventure Awaits. ^_^

  2. Five Enchanted Roses was such a cool and unique collection!

    Espirit de la Rose was good; I gave it the same rating you did. :D I loved Kaycee Browning's writing style, but the whole haunted/pirate thing kinda threw me off, since that's not really my thing. (for instance, I really did not like Pirates of the Caribbean much at all. *cringe*)

    And oh my goodness, I totally agree with you about how refreshing the heroine, Bet, was in Wither! Most stories lately have lithe and thin heroines, but Bet was stocky and sturdy. :D It just makes my heart happy, because the title of heroine shouldn't be reserved only for the inhumanely skinny and pretty. :P

    Stone Curse was a sweet read as well. :) I did see the main twists coming, but like you said, it was rather fun to know that the characters didn't know, even if that took away from the suspense. :)

    And yes, I loved Rosara and the Jungle King's swift pace. To me it just seemed to fit the story. (although the violence and spiritual element was again, not my thing. :P) I did really enjoy that one though.

    The Wulver's Rose was my favorite. *huggles it* <3 I just really liked the classic, sweet feel. I have a growing love for classics, and this just felt like one. <3

    Nice review, Tracey! I guess I sort of gave mini reviews of my own too. :P This collection was so unique. :)

    1. It sure was!

      I can see how the pirate thing would not be everyone's cup of tea. Funny...I enjoyed that aspect a bit more than her writing style. I'm so glad that everyone has different tastes and can enjoy different parts of a story!

      BET IS PRECIOUS. I too loved how realistic she was appearance-wise, and I also adored her spunk and attitude. <3

      Sweet is the perfect way to describe Stone Curse. *nods* The charries were mostly all lovable and the setting was the kind I feel instantly at home in.

      Very true, the pace did fit the story!

      Aww, I'm glad The Wulver's Rose hit that sweet spot for you. That one of my favorite things about these collections: there's usually something to please everyone.

      Thanks, Emily! I enjoyed reading your mini reviews too! :D

  3. I'm not lying when I say I made a whispering squeaky noise when I saw this on my dashboard! :D I've been really curious about your thoughts of these stories. This was so fun to read!!! Weren't all the stories so interesting? Quite a neat collection!

    I think Esprit de la Rose was my favorite. It was just so INTRIGUING. I couldn't stop reading. It totally fascinated me, and definitely had that POTC vibe. I wish it had been a full novel! Then again, I wish that for all these stories. XD

    I have NEVER read anything like Wither before. Not only was Bet such a unique heroine (she certainly trumped the cliches!) but the WORLD. And the whole plot in general. It was WEIRD. But in the best way possible!

    Stone Curse was my other favorite! EEEEP. I loved it so much! Karyna and Barend were PRECIOUS. And Ritter too! They were all great! AGH. Now you're making me want to read it again!

    Rosara and the Jungle King took me by surprise, but in the best way possible. It was just...unexpected and so DIFFERENT. But I loved it. And I remember being blown away by the writing. Dorian Tsukioka has SKILLS. Her writing was beautiful!

    And then The Wulver's Rose was suuuch a beautiful story. ALLLL the Scotland things! <333 I felt like I was IN Scotland. It was just gorgeous all around.

    Okay, I'm hushing now! I had so much fun seeing your thoughts on this story. I'm ecstatic you got to read it!!! Now we need to get our hands on Five Magic Spindles!

    1. Seriously? GIRL, THAT'S ADORABLE. <3 Yes, I loved how unique (yet unified) this collection was.

      That's right, I think I remember you gushing over Esprit de la Rose! I actually went back to your review post as soon as I finished reading the book, just to compare notes. ;) Ooh, a full novel of any of the stories would be so fun!

      I love Bet to pieces, as well as the whole world of Wither! That story hit all the right notes for me somehow. <3

      Karyna and Barend were precious, indeed! RITTERRRRR. <3 He was awesome and hilarious and yes.

      That's exactly it--Rosara and the Jungle King was a surprise. You explained it perfectly. :D Oh goodness, yes, her writing style was very suited to the jungle setting. Fast and wild and beautiful.

      I knoooow, it made me want to be in Scotland--as if I didn't have a bad enough case of wanderlust when it comes to Scotland.

      LOL, I'm so glad you enjoyed the review! I know I loved going back over your thoughts too. We absolutely positutely one hundred percent need FMS now. o.o

  4. I *love* the *Five Enchanted Roses* collection!! I would mention which ones are my favourite... but alas, they are all equally gorgeous! :)

    1. Such a beautiful bundle of stories! I had the same problem... As soon as one story grew to be a favorite, I remembered all the things I loved about the other stories. :)

  5. Excellent choice for a first book review!
    I haven't read this one yet, but I'm dying to. Ships, Scotland, jungles... this collection looks promising!

    1. Why, thanks! Oh, Blue, I'm sure you'd really enjoy Five Enchanted Roses. There's so much variety! I hope you manage to get your hands on it sooner rather than later. :)

  6. Very nice review! Loved hearing your thoughts :)

    1. Thanks! I'm so happy I finally got to read Stone Curse!!! You did a lovely job with it. :)

  7. This sounds really cool! I don't usually read collections , but I love the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, and all of these sound really interesting.

    By the way, I tagged you for the Bookshelf Tour Tag and the Totally Should've Book Tag. If you've already done them or don't feel like doing them, that's fine. :) Just thought I'd let you know. :D

    1. Yeah, I don't usually read collections either, but the Rooglewood ones have been amazing!

      Thanks for the tags. They look like fun! (And also a great post-saver for busy college weeks.)

  8. Great review! I think, the pirate one was my favorite!

    1. Thanks! That was definitely an adventurous story. :)

  9. Hmm, sounds cool! Btw, so being bad and judging a book by the cover, but I LOVE the cover on these! And as Beauty and The Beast is one of my favorites, and less overdone a majority of the time, that's pretty cool that all of them have elements from it. And, ohh, Scotland! I have Scottish heritage (just a bit) and am soooo proud of it, and Scotland is soo awesome! (Really, I'm surprised I'm not a barbarian-lover with books, with my Norse, Scot, and Irish heritages). :) :P Cool place you got here!

    1. Haha, this book DOES have a gorgeous cover, doesn't it? Have you seen the one for Five Magic Spindles? (Here's a link to copy into a searchbar, since I don't know how to make those fancy linky things in comments. xD

      Beauty and the Beast is such a great fairy tale, and the way all these stories retold it was awesome. You have Scottish heritage? Oh my goodness, so cool! Have you ever been there?

      Thanks so much! Glad to see another new face 'round here. :D

    2. Ha, unfortunately I have never been out of America. But I have been all over it! :) Yes, I find that I may come round here more than before (I was a reader, but not commenter for a small while). Thank dear Anna for tagging you and reminding me this place existed. :P

    3. Aw, maybe someday! But America is a big place to travel all over. :)

      Well, then I'm grateful to Anna! I love when silent readers speak up. ^_^

  10. I have to read that book!!! XD Reading this post makes me want to do it so bad now. :P I think I'll read it after all my library books. (That is, if you'll let me borrow your copy... *smiles innocently*)

    1. MWAHAHA, MY EVIL PLAN IS WORKING. XD You can most definitely borrow my copy, girl. Read them library books fast so you can get to it! ;)

  11. I AM SO ON TIME. Like totally not a week late. :P

    But goodness, girl, this review was smashing! I ADORE YOUR REVIEWS! And I TOTALLY need this book, just sayin'. (Unfortunately, I don't think my library has it. So that means I would have to spend money. :/ Ah, the bookdragon life...)

    Espirit de la Rose honestly sounds soooo cool! O.O I love PotC (though the pirates from The Flying Dutchman still weird me out a bit, hehe) so I feel especially drawn to this story. BECAUSE PIRATES.

    Ooh, Withers sounds...very creepy. XD But maybe I would like it? Sometimes I'm fine with creepy stuff, and it DOES sound interesting.

    All the other tales sound so fun! I mean, Rosara and the Jungle King doesn't REALLY sound like my kind of story? I dunno, I never really was that much into "jungle" books. (Ha, look at me making puns. Aren't I clever? ;D) BUT maybe I would like it! You never know with me. ;)

    Awesome review, Tracey! It has me really intrigued about the book. O_O

    1. There's no such thing as on time or not on time when it comes to commenting, because I love 'em all. ^_^

      I'M SO GLAD YOU LIKED IT. Maybe I'll have to do more reviews... Aww, your library doesn't have it? Mine doesn't either, but I was planning to buy it anyway. Now I need Five Magic Spindles to sit prettily next to the first two collections. ;) (But yes, the bookdragon life is not a cheap one.)

      It was a great story! PIRATES ARE FABULOUS, I AGREE. I think you'll loooove Captain Pepin. :D

      I adored Wither. It was a cool, gothic-ish, fairy tale kind of creepy.

      Hahaaa, "jungle books." XDDD Who knows, you might end up liking Rosara and the Jungle King. Though I have a feeling you'd enjoy Stone Curse and The Wulver's Rose more. *nods* Because of the sweetness in one and historical yumminess in the other.


  12. This sounds quite lovely. Wither sounds the most appealing to me, with the world you've described. I must ask, what was the wordcount for the competition? (Was it 20k?)

    And where in Scotland???!

    1. It's a delightful collection. Highly recommend! :) YES, Em, you would love Wither. Your memory serves you well--the limit was indeed 20k words. (Though some of the stories may have gotten a bit longer with the editing, I've heard.)

      I don't remember it being any more specific than just saying it was in the Highlands! :( Vague, in that respect, but still gorgeous.