“He’d always thought that food was a great equalizer, for whatever someone’s creed or race or religion, every person had to eat to survive.”- Jennieke Cohen, My Fine Fellow
It is 1830s England, and culinarians of utmost respect, consult with society’s elite to create gorgeous food and confections. They are the crème de la crème of high society.
Helena is top of her class at the Royal Academy and has a sharp demeanor and an even sharper palate. Penelope wants to show the value of non-European cuisine to all of England. Her peers may scorn her Filipina heritage, but with her flawless social graces and culinary talents, Penelope is set to prove them wrong. Elijah has nothing to his name but an excellent instinct for flavors. London merchants will not allow a Jewish boy to own a shop, but he knows with enough training, he can break into the highest of society.
When Penelope and Helena meet Elijah, a golden opportunity arises: to pull off a project never seen before and turn Elijah from a street vendor to a gentleman chef. But Elijah’s transformation will have a greater impact on this trio than they originally realize—and mayhem, unseemly faux pas, and a little romance will all be a part of the delicious recipe.
Food is a big part of the story, so do not read this book on an empty stomach. You will get hungry! I loved that Penelope was half Filipino, Elijah was Jewish, and that their backgrounds were a central and integral part of the story. The book explored the prejudices that both of them faced. The three main characters were all well-developed. I particularly liked seeing Helena’s character arc unfold and how her actions affected her friendships with Penelope and Elijah.
Since this is a gender-swapped retelling of the movie My Fair Lady, the story is a little predictable and straightforward. There are no big surprises. If you like reading about 1830s England, books about food or enjoyed the movie it is based on, I recommend checking this book out.
First line: All right. I will tell you the tale, how it happened in truth.
Summary: Years ago a miller wished to marry a beautiful maiden. He asked the old gods to grant him this wish. When it was granted they also bestowed a gift on the couple’s child. She would be able to tell stories so fantastical that fascinated and awed her audiences. But they were also not true.
Years later, Serilda, the child of the miller catches the attention of the feared Erlking and his wild hunt. She tells a story of her ability to spin straw into gold thread. Fascinated by her the king kidnaps her on the full moon and makes her spin or lose her life. Unfortunately, Serilda cannot actually spin straw into gold but as she worries for her life a ghost appears to her in the castle who claims he can do the task but for a price.
As the months progress, Serilda is sure that the king will find out. However, an unexpected twist happens when Serilda starts to fall in love with her mysterious helper but she knows that not everything in the enchanted castle is as it appears.
My Thoughts: I was really excited to see that Marissa Meyer was once again doing a fairy tale retelling. I loved her Cinder series. The premise, the cover and the setting all appealed to me. I knew that this would be a book I would love. I wish I was right. I did like it and most likely will read the next one but the middle was just too long. I loved the beginning. And the end was very dark and twisty. But the middle stretched out for far too long. It seemed rather repetitive.
I enjoyed Serilda’s character. Her stories were interesting. I would read just a bunch of her short stories. But when she starts to fall for Gild I felt that it was a little forced. I did not really feel the chemistry between them until near the end as some of the pieces started falling into place for the lead up to the sequel.
The ending was really dark. Much more so than Meyer’s other books. But this may be a homage to the original authors of the story of Rumpelstiltskin by the Brothers Grimm. I will be interested to see where Meyer goes in the next book with Serilda’s story.
First line: Two nights before she was sent to the Wolf, Red wore a dress the color of blood.
Summary: The Second Daughter of the kingdom of Valleyda is destined for the Wolf. It has been a century since a sacrifice has been made but now it is Red’s destiny to enter the Wilderwood. She has known her whole life what would happen on her twentieth birthday but nothing prepared her for what happened once she entered the forest.
Her sister, Neve, is determined to find her sister and rescue her from the Wilderwood and the Wolf. She befriends a priestess who says she knows a way to make it happen. Will they be able to save Red from the dark woods?
My Thoughts: I was really excited about this book. I remember hearing about it months ago and thinking it was the perfect book for me. I really enjoyed the first few chapters and thought that I would love the rest of the book. But as the story progressed I became bored with the whole plot line and the characters. And then I saw it was going to be a series which made me less invested in reading it. The one thing I really liked about Uprooted, which this was compared to, is the fact that it is a stand-alone novel.
First line: Let me tell you a story of a righteous man.
Summary: Ariadne is a princess of Crete. She is the daughter of the mighty king Minos. She is the half-sister to the fearsome Minotaur. As she grew up in the palace she learned from a young age how women can suffer because of the men in their lives. But she sees her savior in the hero, Theseus of Athens. He has been sent to Crete as an offering to the Minotaur. Ariadne takes pity on him and helps him navigate the Labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur. With Theseus’ victory they escape the island but will this be Ariadne’s happy ending or will the legends repeat themselves?
My Thoughts: This book was so much better than Circe. I struggled through that one so I was a little hesitant reading another Greek myth retelling. I know that it isn’t the same author but it was still something I thought of as I picked up Ariadne.
I loved the cover. It is eye catching but simple. I remember seeing it many times before it was released. The marketing was really well done for this book. I felt like the story moved along at a perfect speed, the characters were likeable. It stuck to story lines of the original myths while also giving the sisters their own personalities.
I was not familiar with Phaedra and Ariadne’s stories. I knew of the Minotaur, Daedalus, Icarus and Theseus but not all the details. Greek mythology is filled with shocking tales, death, and tragic love stories. I liked how the author intertwined the story lines. The love and devotion of the sisters was a strong theme but also how women are ruled by the men in their lives. I think it was a great read and a fun retelling.