Tag Archive | Aya Ling

Review: Twice Upon a Time — by Aya Ling

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. 

Title: Twice Upon a Time (Unfinished Fairy Tales, #2)

Author: Aya Ling

Rating:  ★★★★★★ (6 of 5)

Genre/Pages: Fairytale retelling / 319

Summary: “Seven years have passed since Kat left Athelia. Through the intervention of the goblin king’s baby daughter, the book is re-opened and Kat is transported back to Story World. Upon learning she is given a second chance, Edward is determined not to let her go this time. His chance of succeeding, however, seems like nil. Kat doesn’t remember anything of their past, she loathes life at court, and she’s anxious to return to modern world. Not to mention that there’s a price to pay for tampering with the book again…”

Cover Review: Absolutely gorgeous. More self published authors need to follow Aya’s example, because this cover is positively breathtakingly perfect. This is the kind of book that I want to have on my shelf not only because it’s amazing, but also because the cover is just so pretty.

My Review: So I was actually lucky enough to be able to beta read this book in exchange for honest feedback. Honestly, I am SO thrilled that Aya let me be part of her beta reading group because, even though I may not always be the nicest of beta readers, I love getting to see the process of how authors write the books that I love so much. I have always loved Aya’s books. They make me happy. 

Characters: I cannot possibly say enough good about these characters. I absolutely adore every single one of them. This is really where Aya’s incredible skill as an author shines through – her characters. They are all complex and thought out with detailed enough sub-plots that she could write spin-off books about each and every one of them if she so chose (man, I hope she does that. How could would it be to have a spin-off story dedicated entirely to Henry and Ella?). I love her characters so much. I know I gush about books and authors all the time, but I promise you, Aya Ling is one of the very best. 

Plot: I hate amnesia as the catalyst to a romance. It’s so dumb. It makes me incredibly angry. But… Aya Ling pulled it off. She actually wrote a fairy tale with star-crossed lover amnesia that I enjoyed reading. And I really enjoyed it. It was a page-turner, for sure.

Content Advisory: Things got a little bit…erm… heated, at two different points, and there was a sexual assault that almost happened, but it didn’t, and scenes of a sexual nature were almost entirely off-page, so you don’t have to worry about anything explicit. A few swear words here and there, but not much.  

To Sum It Up: Aya Ling is a masterful storyteller who has the ability to make you instantly fall in love with the world and characters that she creates. If you love, or even like, fairy tales, you need to read Aya’s books. I recommend Twice Upon a Time to readers 13+.

Attention: This is a scheduled, pre-written, post. I am serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jan. 2017 through Jul. 2018, and will not be checking my blog email, or updating my blog during that time. (I may have some already written posts scheduled go live during that time, but I will not be active on my blog, and these posts are completely my own opinion and are not representative of the opinions or stances of the church). For more information about Mormon missionaries, go to: lds.org or mormon.org.

Any book requests or other communication received in that time will not be responded to until after July 2018.

Review: Princess of Athelia – By Aya Ling

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to goodreads book page.

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to goodreads book page.

First of all, an apology to you, my readers, for my months of silence. This semester of college really killed me. 17 credit hours, working 30ish hours a week, while balancing all of my other responsibilities got more than a little overwhelming. But I’m back now!

Title: Princess of Athelia

Author: Aya Ling

Summary: Kat has now moved into the palace, determined to make the most of her time with her beloved prince. Being princess, however, is no bed of roses. She must learn how to behave like a royal, prepare for the upcoming engagement, and defend herself against hostile relatives. And knowing that her time with Edward is limited, Kat isn’t so certain that she wants to be princess anymore…

Genre/Pages: Fantasy/80

Rating: ★★ (4.5 of 5)

My Review:  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I bought this novella. I absolutely adored the first book, so I knew I loved the characters and world, but I was intrigued by what the plot could be. You see, it’s difficult to say much without giving the details of the book away, but this novella occurs in the middle of the first book. However, despite my skepticism, I absolutely adored this!

Hero/Heroine: Kat and Edward: Well, we all know that they’re practically perfect in every way. One of the foremost ways of course being that they are both FAR from perfect. (I dunno, Edward seems a bit too perfect sometimes. But he’s a storybook prince — I’ll let it slide). Kat is feisty and independent, while Edward is loyal and steadfast. They both stand as fantastic characters in their own rights, but when combined the witty dialogue and adorable romance make them an irresistible set of leads.

Plot: Again, I was unsure about how the plot would go over. I figured this novella might end up being more of a fan service than anything else (which, you know, I would still be okay with since I really do love the world and characters), but I was very pleasantly surprised. It had a nice little plot arc, and really was able to spend a lot of time developing some characters (and of course the not-TOO-in-your-face-but-not-exactly-subtle social and political commentary). It was thoroughly enjoyable.

Content Advisory: A fair amount of minor cuss words. (B-, D-, H-, S-), some passionate kissing, but that’s about it. 

To Sum it Up: It’s a novella. That takes place during the first book. It’s not supposed to have world-shattering revelations. It was a very fun and engaging return to the world and the characters. However, it’d probably be quite confusing if you’d never read the first book. So make sure to check out my review of it HERE. If you enjoyed The Ugly Stepsister, you will LOVE this novella. Fabulous writing and storycrafting. The return to Athelia was magical. I recommend it for everyone over the age of 13.

Have you heard of this book before? Have you read it? Did you like it? 

On Sale Now! The Ugly Stepsister – by Aya Ling

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to Amazon.

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to Amazon.

Publication date: June 12th, 2015

Genre: YA fantasy/fairytale retelling

Blurb:

When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?

Buy links: Amazon  ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Kobo

As you can tell from my review of The Ugly Stepsister, I absolutely adored this book! It easily makes it to my top 3 favorite fairytale retellings of all time. If you love Cinderella and are looking for a fresh, new take on an old favorite, this book is for you! And for a limited time only, it is available on Amazon for only $2.99!

How the book came to be:

“Some readers liked the idea of Kat entering the fairy tale by ripping apart the book. Well, here’s the actual book that inspired the concept. You can see that the cover has completely fallen off:

*note: this book is at least 20 years old! I’m so glad I was too sentimental to toss it away, or I might not have come up with the idea!” – Aya Ling

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Excerpt:

“Girlie, wake up.”

I open my eyes again. This time it’s dark, but from the moonlight streaming through the window, I sense that I’m still in this strange historic-setting room. The candelabra next to my bed has been snuffed out. The fire in the hearth has gone out, but the embers are still glowing.

Then I discover something more shocking than the weird room I’m in.

A semi-transparent being is hovering in thin air, right above the bed. It’s quite ugly—its eyes and nose look squashed together, and it has a stumpy body with arms and legs that look alarmingly short in proportion to the torso.

I am so shocked that I just stare with my mouth wide open. Is that ghost going to eat me up?

“Awake now, are we?” the ghost speaks. His voice is kind of high-pitched with a note of playfulness in it.

Oh no, not again. I pinch my arm again, really hard this time, and yelp in pain. My fingernails have drawn blood.

The ghost starts to laugh. “Two hundred years later and humans are still as dumb as before.”

I am beginning to feel crazy. Here I am in a strange room, with an ugly ghost, and no matter what I do I can’t wake up.

Maybe I’m dead. Maybe when I fell down the stairs I got hit with something really sharp and bled to death. Ouch. I feel over my head, but it seems all I’ve got is a sore spot that feels more like a bruise than a gaping wound. Besides, this room seems a far cry from hell.

“Hey you,” I call to the ghost. “I’m dead, aren’t I? Is this a place I go to before I go to heaven?”

The ghost throws his head back and laughs—a high, raucous sound. I’m surprised that no one hears him—either they can’t hear him or are too deeply asleep. “She thinks this is heaven! Wait till I tell His Majesty…”

What the hell is going on? “Aren’t you a ghost?”

That only makes him laugh harder. He clutches his sides, wheezing, like I’m the greatest comedian in the world.

“You…thick-headed, pea-brained human,” he gasps, wiping his eyes. “Haven’t you seen this room before?”

“In the downtown museum?”

“No, silly, a book.”

Moonlight streams in through the window. Several framed paintings hang on the walls—the biggest one depicts a beautiful garden. The scene does seem familiar; all it lacks is a maid kneeling in front of the fireplace.

Cinderella?” I gasp. This is the room that’s illustrated on the first page. “Why am I seeing it in a dream?”

“She still thinks it’s a dream…” the ghost mutters, shaking his head. “Look, don’t you remember what happened to the book?”

I rub my temples. “It…fell apart?”

He nods. “When you ripped up the book our king created, a curse is triggered for tampering with his magic. So as punishment, you’re transported into the story itself.”

“Your king?” This is getting simply ridiculous. “Who is this king, and who are you?”

The ghost settles on the foot of my bed. “Might as well tell you or you’ll never get it—I’m Krev. I’m in service of His Majesty Barthelius, the Goblin King.”

“Goblins?” I fall back on the pillow, narrowing missing the headboard. “Please tell me I’m hallucinating, or I got a concussion.”

“We’re from another dimension, but our king has always been interested in human stories. That’s why he created his own books hundreds of years ago. He left a few copies in your world, but never expected that they’d disintegrate.”

“Oh god,” I sink down further into the blankets. There has to be some mistake.

“You’ll find out soon enough. Or you can just go back to pinching your arm.” He rises in the air—now I notice he has a pair of tiny wings. “Bye.”

“Hang on,” I blurt, and sit up. “Okay, suppose I believe you. How am I going to get back?”

Krev grins, showing a row of pointy teeth. Now you’re listening. All you have to do is put the story back together again.”

“Huh?”

“Finish the story to the very end, where they live happily-ever-after.”

Damn. I’m in a role-playing game. Not that I’ve played any, but it just seems that way to me.

Speaking of role-playing

“That woman Martha called me Katriona. She said I lost my memory, so I’m not a newcomer in this world. So who am I?”

His bulging, toad-like eyes gleam. “Guess.”

I scowl at him. Well, obviously I’m not Cinderella, given the silken nightdress I’m wearing. And obviously I’m not the evil stepmother either. In the mirror I look just as I am, not some middle-aged woman.

“Am I one of the ugly stepsisters?”

His grin grows wider.

Damn. “If I have to be in the story, why aren’t I Cinderella?”

The goblin suddenly goes off in a peal of laughter. Cinderella! She thinks she’s pretty enough to be Cinderella!” And he rolls over and over in the air until I feel dizzy and embarrassed. “Don’t you know how the spell works? You assume the role of the person you resemble most.”

Yeah, thanks for pointing out the impossibility of me being the protagonist. I suppose if Paige is the one who dropped the book, she’d become Cinderella.

And even though I still find the whole thing ridiculous, I’m kind of intrigued as well.

“So all I have to do is get Cinderella to the ball, the prince falls in love with her, and then the curse is broken and I can return?”

He waggles a crooked finger at me.

“Not yet. You can’t stop at the ball, when she runs out and leaves her slipper behind. You must follow it all the way to the end. The story is only finished when they’re married with wedding bells pealing and white doves soaring.”

Whoa.

“So when is the ball?”

“No idea.”

“Where’s the fairy godmother?”

“No idea.”

I drop my jaw. “Hello? Are you telling me that I have to find everything on my own while you just hover there and do nothing?”

He shrugs. “That’s because you ripped everything off except the first page. The curse starts where you leave off.”

“And if I do nothing? What if the prince won’t hold the ball? What if I can’t find the godmother?”

Krev lets out an evil chuckle. I have an ominous feeling of impending doom.

“Then you will remain in this book. Forever.”

*read more excerpts on Aya’s website: http://www.ayaling.com/the-ugly-stepsister.html

About the Author:

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Aya is from Taiwan, where she struggles daily to contain her obsession with mouthwatering and unhealthy foods. Often she will devour a good book instead. Her favorite books include martial arts romances, fairy tale retellings, high fantasy, cozy mysteries, and manga.

Connect with Aya: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Giveaway:

To celebrate the release, Aya is also offering a giveaway in which THREE winners can:

1. Get a paperback copy of The Ugly Stepsister OR any book Aya has on paperback (open internationally!)

2. Get to name a minor character in the “sequel” novella (will probably be Edward’s niece and nephews)

Here’s what you can do to enter the giveaway:

1. Click HERE to share the book release on Facebook

2. Click HERE to share the book release on Twitter

3. Share the book release on your blog. Click HERE for an easy copy-paste media kit that you can adapt however you like. For example, if you have already posted a review on your blog, you can add my author bio, excerpt, giveaway info, etc. Please fill in the link of your post as well, so I won’t miss a single entry.

If you do everything above, you’ll get three entries and have a greater chance to win!

The giveaway ends on June 20. Winners will be announced on June 21.

ARC Review: The Ugly Stepsister – by Aya Ling

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to goodreads book page.

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to Amazon

Title: The Ugly Stepsister

Author: Aya Ling

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (5/5 stars)
Pages/Genre: 452 / YA Fairytale Retelling

The Ugly Stepsister will be available for purchase on June 12th! Pre-order your copy NOW! You won’t regret it!

Summary:

To-do list:

*Persuade the prince to give the ball

*Learn how to act like a noble lady

*Find fairy godmother

*Prevent other stepsister from sinking her claws into Prince Charming

*Find out why Cinderella has a mother and two brothers in the poorhouse

When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?

My Review: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

One Line: This book is absolutely phenomenal.

I almost gave up on it, though. The beginning was very rocky as the author struggle to establish the world. If it wasn’t for my love of all things Cinderella, I might have given up on this book. But I’m so glad I didn’t! By the end of the third chapter, I was hooked, and couldn’t put it down! There was the occasional instances throughout the book that flashed back to the ameteur writing of the first two chapters – things like Kat yelling “Noooooo!” in her head when something went wrong. Luckily, those occasions of amateur writing were relatively few and far between, but when they were there, it was painful. I also wish we’d been given more insight into the goblins. Who they are, why they do what they do, etc., etc. We didn’t know enough, and a more complete knowledge would have significantly added to the book. The writing may still lack a certain maturity at times, but the plot, the world, and the characters MORE than make up for it.

Honestly, those first two chapters, and the swearing were the only things that kept this book from getting a six star review, because I adored everything else about it. Also, I really want a physical copy of it. Because that cover is gorgeous. And I loved the book.

Hero/Heroine: Kat & Edward. Without giving anything away, I’ll attempt to explain everything I love about these two characters.

Kat: When creating a character like Kat, I often see authors make one of two mistakes: a whiny feminazi who ruins the entire book with her elitism and superiority, OR a boring cliched teenage girl who refuses to see the bigger picture – ever. Luckily, Kat was NEITHER of those things and I adored her! She stood up for herself and for others. She kept her head and was both fun and relatable. I wish there were more protagonists like Kat!

Edward: *Swoon* Ahhh, Prince Charming. (I cannot say enough how thankful I am that “Charming” was absolutely nowhere in Edward’s name. So sick of that. Anyway.) Edward was the Prince Charming I have been waiting for. I’ve read and watched countless Cinderella retellings, and there was always something off about the Prince. Something that I just didn’t like. Never could put my finger on it. But whatever it is, Aya Ling fixed it. Edward is a refreshing take on an age old cliche – this prince is dedicated to his country and his people, and absolutely hates social gatherings. He is also totally swoon-worthy, loves gardening, always knows what to say (but is still a flawed character) and I cannot even begin to describe his perfection.

Content Advisory: The swearing, though only S, B, D, and H, was excessive. I notice this often when adults are trying to write for teenagers. Swearing is thrown in randomly, and without any real meaning or usefulness – just kinda forced in. Some of the swearing had merit, and worked well, but some didn’t. Aside from that, there are some make out sessions, but nothing detailed or inappropriate. Mentions of rape, and of the horrific conditions of child labor in factories.Again, no more graphic than necessary.

Plot: You go into a fairytale retelling knowing the story – and counting on the characters and setting being interesting enough to make up for the lack of suspense. In The Ugly Stepsister the characters and setting were absolutely phenomenal — but so was the plot! For the first time in my fairytale retelling days, I was actually kept guessing the entire time! I’d think I knew exactly what was going to happen, and then Aya Ling would throw another curve ball. I was literally on the edge of my seat in excitement (and sometimes on the floor in despair) as I devoured this book. THE FEELS WILL KILL YOU AND YOU WILL LOVE IT.

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Kat’s adventures (and misadventures) as she attempts to set up Prince Charming with Cinderella, find a fairy godmother, and organize a ball will keep you laughing (and screaming at the characters) for hours. You delve into a rich and meticulously created world of social classes and rules of etiquette and you enjoy every second of it. I’m probably not describing this book very well, but just know that you WILL LOVE IT. The Ugly Stepsister is probably my favorite fairy tale retelling – ever. It has taken incredible self restraint not to go full-on Caps Lock ASDFGHJKL fangirl on you during this review.

To Sum it Up: If you like fairytales at all — Please, please, please read this book! You will love it, I promise. Aya Ling manages to successfully tackle a very difficult premise (I’ve never before seen it accomplished to my satisfaction), while simultaneously keeping you engaged and invested in the story and happy with the ending. This was a very warm fuzzy happy book — and one that I will definitely be re-reading time and time again. One of THE BEST Cinderella retellings I have ever read (and believe me, I’ve read a lot of them) I would recommend The Ugly Stepsister for ages 14+.