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Star-Crossed in Romeo and Juliet: This Verona is Full of Strife and… Pizza Sauce?!

bookreview

 

Fakespeare: Starcrossed in Romeo and JulietStar-Crossed in Romeo and Juliet
(Fakespeare, #1)
by M.E. Castle

280 Pages
Middle-grade / Children’s / Retellings
Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group /
Imprint Publishing
Publication Date: May 23rd, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

Three kids get lost inside Shakespeare’s book and must help Romeo and Juliet finish their story in order to return home in this silly middle school series!

Dear Reader, 

You are reading this because you expressed interest in the Get Lost Book Club. 

Are you ready to embark on a journey to Italy, where you’ll find yourself right in the middle of a major feud between two rival pizza-making families: the Montagues and the Capulets? A swordsman and perfumer will hunt you. There will be disguises, fake pizza, and tomato fights (make sure to duck!). You must help Becca, her stepbrother Sam, and her dog Rufus convince Romeo Montague to ask Juliet Capulet on a date, or you will all be stuck in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet forever! 

Intrigued? Worried? Downright terrified? You should be. But if you’re ready for an adventure, step right up and follow me. It’s time to get lost.

Sincerely,

The Narrator

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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: this was, throughout, laugh out loud hilarious; I LOVE the new “spins” that M.E. Castle put on this classic; the morals and lessons are whimsical, witty, and well-done; the nods to the original play were woven in to this story brilliantly

HUGE thanks to M.E. Castle and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/Imprint Publishing for sending me a gorgeous hardcover copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Okay, Penguins. Here’s what’s going to happen next: I’m going to FREAK THE FRACK OUT about this hilarious, awesome book…and then you’re going to drop everything you’re doing for the next few hours and go read it! Trust me, the time is well worth it, and passes in a fit of rib-cracking laughter and manic cackling that’s bound to make your (insert family, roommate, lover, children, pet, wallpaper, violent pink flamingo, etc. here) wonder just what it is you’re up to. Which is GOOD, because that means more Penguins wanting to pick this book up, and that means my army will grow even bigger! Yes. This is such a great plan, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!

 

This book is, as I mentioned a time or two earlier, absolutely gut-bustingly hilarious! Within a page, I was giggling (very obnoxiously, might I add). From the very get go, this book sucked me into the story–almost as literally as the book in the book that eats the main characters, in fact! (Wow, that was a mouthful of a sentence! Let’s not do that again.) The action begins almost immediately upon landing in Verona, though we quickly learn that things are not QUITE like the original play led us to believe. This retelling was super inventive, with some genius spins on the “tragedy” that kept this read perfectly acceptable for young hearts and minds. I really appreciated the amount of humor M.E. Castle put into this, while still maintaining the bigger plot points from Shakespeare’s star-crossed tale of woe.

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The morals and lessons woven throughout the journey–about bullying, and family, and self-love/self-acceptance, and so many other delicious things!–were well-handled and portrayed in a light that made them both entertainingly humorous and super easy to understand. This is such a great book to lead mid-grade readers to, both for the morals AND for the introduction to Shakespeare. While the prose is much less complex (and much easier to understand!) than Shakespeare’s tragedy, the main story is still mostly there–just minus the actual TRAGEDY of the, uh, tragedy.

 

I had an absolute BLAST blasting my way through this retelling, and cannot wait to pick up the next book in this series (and YAY me, I already own it!) These characters are entertaining and set on a path of growth/acceptance; the prose is humorous and enlightening; and the new spins on an old tragedy both made this read unique and were laugh-out-loud hilarious. I definitely recommend this to lovers of middle-grade novels, those seeking a less intimidating introduction to The Bard, and readers who love humor and word play. Be careful when touching this book, Penguins; it just might eat you while your back is turned!

4

Saving Hamlet: With Two Worlds on Your Shoulders, You Gotta Stand Tall

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Emma Allen couldn’t be more excited to start her sophomore year. Not only is she the assistant stage manager for the drama club’s production of Hamlet, but her crush Brandon is directing, and she’s rocking a new haircut that’s sure to get his attention. But soon after school starts, everything goes haywire. Emma’s promoted to stage manager with zero experience, her best friend Lulu stops talking to her, and Josh–the adorable soccer boy who’s cast as the lead–turns out to be a disaster. It’s up to Emma to fix it all, but she has no clue where to start.

One night after rehearsal, Emma stays behind to think through her life’s latest crises and distractedly falls through the stage’s trap door . . . landing in the basement of the Globe Theater.

It’s London, 1601, and with her awesome new pixie cut, everyone thinks Emma’s a boy–even Will Shakespeare himself. With no clue how to get home, Emma gamely plays her role as backstage assistant to the original production of Hamlet, learning a thing or two about the theater, and meeting an incredibly hot actor named Alex who finds Emma as intriguing as she finds him. But once Emma starts traveling back and forth through time, things get really confusing. Which boy is the one for her? In which reality does she belong? Will Lulu ever forgive her? And can she possibly save two disastrous productions of Hamlet before time runs out?

LINKS: Amazon | B&N

molly-boothABOUT MOLLY BOOTH:

Molly Booth grew up homeschooled in Massachusetts with her four boisterous siblings. She stage managed for three different community theatres in high school. Her first college was Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown, MA; she then went on to study writing, literature, and Elizabethan history on a very cold hill at Marlboro College in Vermont. There, she wrote the first drafts of Saving Hamlet, her debut novel, coming 11/1/16 from Disney Hyperion. Her second book, Nothing Happened, will be coming spring 2018.

Molly also writes for The Mary Sue, and sometimes other sites like HelloGigglesThe Tempest, and McSweeney’s.  She spends most of her time snuggling her adorable dog Suzie, pet rats Meg and Marigold, and Harriet the queen cat.

She’s represented by Alex Slater at Trident Media Group, and edited by Kieran Viola at Disney Hyperion.

 

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram

Interested in winning a finished copy of this awesome read?!  CLICK BELOW (US entrants only, please)–

Giveaway:  THREE (3) Finished Copies of Saving Hamlet!


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4.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: hello, well-written diversity!; hugely entertaining; loaded with snark; love the mix of sci fi and historical fiction; complex, awesome characters; realistic “love” story; I laughed out loud–loudly!; such an entertaining, hilarious journey

Huge thanks to Molly Booth, Disney-Hyperion Publishers, Irish Banana Tours and Netgalley for granting me early access to this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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I have a confession to make, penguins. Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of only skimming a book’s blurb once…and then going into the read basically blind. This is, in my opinion, the best decision I’ve ever made–because I never know for sure what to expect when picking up a book. It’s also, often, an exciting adventure. Take THIS book, for instance–I forgot everything about the blurb…except that there was something to do with Shakespeare/Hamlet. Imagine my surprise–and delight!–when the plot REALLY got underway and the time travel began! What I guess I’m saying is, if you’re the type of reader who lives for adventure, maybe you should think about adopting a similar habit.

Which is a round-about way of saying I ADORED this read! Particularly the diversity. There are several key characters from the LGBTQIA communities–and they are possibly the BEST and most well-written characters I’ve come across in YA fiction recently. They are complex, well-rounded, and individualized; they are in NO way the “token” diverse characters so many novels fall into the habit of employing. Lulu and Stanley (the two) were also my FAVORITE characters from this book, though only outranking the rest by just a little. I blame their fiercely independent and snarky tendencies–they were just too awesome to NOT love immediately.

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The plot is multi-layered and interesting. While not necessarily filled with a ton of action, I found myself on tenterhooks throughout the entire read–always wondering what was going to happen next. There are so many life lessons/morals floating throughout, including: self-confidence; self-love; acceptance; and tolerance. While Emma is on a journey toward confidence in and acceptance of herself, the rest of the crew face their own struggles and life lessons. There is so much going on, from page one–but Molly Booth blended everything into a seamless, cohesive, heart-wrenching, hilarious journey.

This was such a fun, awesome read–I am definitely impressed, and will be impatiently awaiting Molly Booth’s next release. I recommend this to lovers of time travel, diverse characters, and realistically-written romances. Also, a love for Shakespeare doesn’t hurt. Pick this book up, penguins–and let the giggle fest begin!

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5

A Review of Queen Mab, by Kate Danley

Queen Mab

Goodreads Rating: 3.43 Stars
343 Pages
Get a copy here!

“Oh then I see Queen Mab hath been with you…”

Everyone knows Romeo & Juliet, but what if it isn’t the whole story? What if Queen Mab, mentioned in only one speech in the entire play, is actually responsible for all the tragedy about to strike the Houses of Montague and Capulet? And her love for Mercutio the key to everything…

Weaving Shakespeare’s original text into a new story, fans of The Woodcutter will love this latest retelling by award-winning author Kate Danley. Experience the romance of Romeo & Juliet from a different point of view – through the eyes of the bringer of dreams… Queen Mab.

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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: well-reasoned, awesome retelling; Queen Mab and Faunus take center stage in a battle for supremacy; this helped “explain” some of the things I was confused about in the play; the prose is pretty, well-written, and complex; the plot is, if not action-packed, at least entertaining and intriguing

This is SUCH a fun, entertaining, and “enlightening” read!

“In your mirror, you shall look quite the same, but you shall be an illusion to any that cast their eyes upon you. They shall see a face that matches your heart, as vile as it may be. Once revered for your beauty, you will instead reflect your true nature. Like your dreams, reality shall shift to display the secrets of your dark soul. This prison is of your own making, but I gladly forge the bars of justice to hold you.”

Shakespeare’s well-known and well-loved tragic lovers take a backseat in this retelling…to a battle for supremacy over the world of dreams. Our main duo, Queen Mab and Faunus, lead readers on an unexpected adventure through centuries—to a wildly imaginative, not-so-tragic different ending from the original play.

I really enjoyed our characters. While Shakespeare gave us “faeries” in other plays, Romeo and Juliet has always been a tragic tale of young love gone wrong. There have always been things I didn’t understand, or see the reason behind. Kate Danley mixed our paranormal characters—the Queen of dreams, and the Prince of daydreams—into this world so seamlessly, I could imagine them there the entire time. I LOVE the amount of growth Mab shows throughout; from beginning to end, she rediscovers herself at least three different times, each more stunningly captured than the last. Faunus, as well, was an intriguing (and frustrating!) character to read. Playing the mischievous “Pan,” he took Trickster to a whole new level with his games and manipulations.

Juno smiled like a cat with cream. “She shall learn to love or learn to love her prison, and whichever she chooses makes to me no difference.”

“Heed my warning!”

“I hear you, Faunus, and shall decide myself how ominous the sky.”

“The clouds hang black and heavy with the storm.”

“And perhaps they shall blow through.”

The ending was wildly imaginative and brought a whole new perspective to the original play that I absolutely adored. I mean, the whole book is creatively done and so well-blended, it’s obvious Kate Danley knows her Shakespeare—or, at least, knows Romeo and Juliet. But the ending! The ending took me off-guard…and made my heart unexpectedly happy. I’d have never thought to expect the twist she employs!

This is just such an entertaining, creative, beautiful retelling. Every chapter, while certain ones seem unnecessary, brings readers closer to the climactic and striking closure. Every character plays a role, even if seeminly small at the beginning. And I LOVE how Mab’s dreams shift from beginning to end, helping to signify and outline the amount of growth and changes she goes through herself. There’s just SO MUCH awesome about this read, I can’t hope to explain it all!

“I dreamt a dream tonight,” said Romeo to Mercutio.

“And so did I,” replied his friend, trying to rouse Romeo and steer him to the dance.

“Well, what was yours?”

“That dreamers often lie.”

Romeo corrected him. “In bed asleep, while they dream things true.”

Mercutio stopped, turning to Romeo. He became as pale as one who has seen a ghost. “O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you.”

I loved this reimagining of the well-known romantic tragedy, and will be eagerly seeking out more of Kate Danley’s work in the future! I recommend to lovers of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, the fae, and creatively twisted endings. If you’re looking for your next retelling, pick this one up! It’s just too much fun to miss out on!