By: Larissa | June 12, 2014 | (15) Comments

by Shonna Slayton, Tracy Barrett
Publisher: Entangled Teen, HarlequinTeen
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, Historical, Romance

I’ve decided to do two mini reviews today, and because they’re both Cinderella retellings it only makes sense that they’d be in the same post (: I also sadly had to DNF both of them.


The Stepsister’s Tale by Tracy Barrett

Goodreads Purchase

272 Pages

Release Date: June 24th, 2014

What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She’s tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother’s noble family-especially now that the family’s wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It’s hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane’s burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family’s struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane’s stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire. 

When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate…

From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett’s stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.

This one was just simply boring to me. I made it through forty nine percent of  The Stepsister’s Tale before I called it quits. I just felt like I was reading nothing but empty words. I couldn’t connect to any of the characters on any sort of level. I just found myself in a observer sort of role. The issue came in through when I was observing….nothing. Just the constant monotony of Jane doing farming chores. Milking the cow, gathering food…it was just a detached cycle for me.

I  do appreciate that this Tracy tried to put a spin on the original tale and I feel like it could have worked out as the story went on. At forty percent though we still hadn’t met the fairy godmother,  see any hint of romance or even got the invitation of the ball. In a way it felt like The Stepsister’s Tale  was just a overwrought tale that was frankly unnecessary. I sadly couldn’t force myself through the heavy descriptions and the slow pace.  I also found the majority of the characters to be quite juvenile, which made it even harder for myself to truly connect with them. I found reading this one to be a chore in itself, and at forty percent I just didn’t see the point of continuing onward when I felt like nothing of particular interest was happening.

Even as I type this I find myself reaching for something that wasn’t there. It’s been around three days since I DNF’ed this one however I find myself forgetting what occurred and having nothing to report on. I feel that exemplifies the reason I couldn’t finish this one. It was truly unmemorable, slowly paced, had bland characters and I didn’t find myself invested in the least.

Cinderella’s Dress
Shonna Slayton

Goodreads Purchase

340 Pages

Release Date: June 3rd, 2014

Being seventeen during World War II is tough. Finding out you’re the next keeper of the real Cinderella’s dresses is even tougher.
Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she’s working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dresses, life gets complicated.
Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart, Johnny, stuck in the middle of battle, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve.

This one had a crazy amount of potential, WWII time period with a fairytale retelling twist? Count me in. However, at 70 percent I had to DNF Cinderella’s Dress. I just felt no drive to continue it whatsoever.

The historical elements that are included do seem to be quite well done. They appear to be well researched and are described quite clearly. There was also some great evocative letters that Kate would send to her father, brother and love interest Johnny. However the issue arises in the fact that the letters are the only parts where I felt like WWII was actually going on. In Kate’s day to day life I feel like there wasn’t much focus on the war, even though its clear to me that if would be quite impactful. Instead there appeared to be more focus on boys and dresses, which could be quite annoying at times. It also seemed like the war felt included just because it fit the time frame, there wasn’t a purpose for it. The war gets introduced only to end after like seventy five pages. Literally, there’s a bunch of letters one after the other and boom.  Extreme jump forward in terms of time with little description of what Kate’s been up to during that huge amount of time. These time jumps made me feel quite disjointed It’s because of all of  these reasons  that the war just felt like a plot device, a way to introduce some characters that would later shape the plot.

Speaking of the plot, it was sadly very slow paced. At 70 percent in we have accomplished…nothing. Yes, we’ve learned a lot, however I feel like Kate has done nothing but sit around writing letters and dreaming. I feel like there’s truly a issue if the book is 70 percent in and you got hardly any movement plot wise. It makes me think that the ending would be quite rushed and come from nowhere. Overall I felt cheated, you kept getting hints of a totally awesome plot while just getting nowhere. I never saw any conflict before I DNF’ed other than petty stuff between Kate and her mother and a little bit of emotional trauma. The dress and its powers weren’t explained further than the fact it existed. I found myself uncaring and disengaged from the plot.

Kate was a character who I again didn’t find myself connected to. I didn’t hate her though, but nor did I love her. I felt quite apathetic towards her and whatever was going on with Kate in the plot. I actually found her love interest to be way more interesting. I found that he brought out a different side in Kate and that they worked together quite well. In the first 70 percent of the novel it’s their romance that was focused on, however you don’t really see Johnny because he’s out in the war. So, you really just get Kate moping about and having spats with her mother.

Overall I feel like Cinderella’s Dress  held a lot of potential, that was unfortunately unmet. Poor pacing, odd time jumping, lack of connection and the fact WWII seemed like a plot device were reasons I DNF’ed.


~Thank you Harlequin Teen and Entangled Teen for sending me these copies~

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Larissa was born and still is living in the land of ice, snow and maple syrup. She's 18 years old and really has no idea what to do with her life lately. Larissa's plans are constantly changing--though there’s one thing has remained constant throughout her seventeen years, and that’s reading. It takes her to another world and puts her into impossible situations and that’s why she loves it so much.

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15 Responses to Mini Reviews: The Stepsister’s Tale by Tracy Barrett and Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

  1. Eh, these both sound incredibly boring. *scratches of TBR* I could easily skip both, I think. I’ve yet to find any fairy tale retellings that really outdo Splintered or Cinder. x) Although I DID like Cruel Beauty. Seems a bit of hit or miss, though…particularly with the Cinderella tale. Everyone seems to be doing it!!
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah, I definitely didn’t myself totally engaged. I really enjoyed Tigerlily haha c: Still haven’t read Cinder or Splintered, which is clearly makes zero sense as I tend to seek out fairytale retellings. Cruel Beauty was great also! c: Yeah, Cinderella retellings don’t seem to be working too well for me clearly

  2. Sounds like some frustrating reads with a lot of potential, but when you are that far into a story and it hasn’t picked up or is still slow going I guess a DNF is a wise choice. Lovely reviews as always Larissa!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…The Originals by Cat Patrick Review: It’s a Clone LifeMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Yeah I found Cinderella’s Dress to be jam packed with potential. It seemed to be specifically honed for my interests. However it and the Stepsister’s Tale fell flat for me. And I really DNF’ed them because I have so many other books to read, I don’t want to spend time reading mediocre ones with no plot. Thank you Jeann <33

  3. I’m sorry these didn’t work out for you. I love fairytale retellings. It sounds like these were definitely books to dnf though. Great reviews, Larissa! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these 🙂
    Kris @Imaginary Reads recently posted…Review: Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne PetersMy Profile

  4. Pili says:

    I was a little in the fence about these two books and now I feel like I’ll probably just avoid them altogether… thanks for your very honest reviews!
    Pili recently posted…Ink & Batter #6: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski!!My Profile

  5. It’s such a shame that you didn’t enjoy The Stepsister’s Tale! I’d read a guest post from the author on Giselle’s (Xpresso Read) blog yesterday and thought the book sounded quite interesting but ugh, if it’s boring, I most definitely won’t be able to get through it. I’m probably the most impatient reader so if a book doesn’t capture my attention soon enough, I’ll just give up on it. Steering away from this one, for sure.

    Looks like the only good Cinderella retelling will be Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Both The Stepsister’s Tale and Cinderella’s Dress have great premises, but gosh, the boringness is something I won’t be able to sludge through. And it’s horrible that you had to bear through almost the entire book on CD before finally giving up! I wouldn’t be able to do that, haha.

    Anyway, great reviews, Larissa. Thanks for warning us away from these books!
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    • Larissa says:

      Yeah /: It did really have the promise of being a good book, I had high hopes. It truly was boring in my view. Lol I’m pretty patient but even I have my limits omg. I think it was the repetitiveness that drove me to DNF.

      Still haven’t read Cinder ooops. Lol it’s definitely on my TBR though, really don’t know why I haven’t read it yet though as I love fairytale retellings. But, wait…CD??? Lol both books I read on my kobo, sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

      Thank you Megan <33

  6. Zoe N. says:

    Aww…I’m so sorry this didn’t work for you Larissa! It definitely sounds like it had a TON of potential; so it’s a shame that it fell flat. I can definitely see where you’re coming from! Poor pacing always bothers me as well. If I can’t get into the story, why should I care, right? As for your lack of connection, I totally feel for you. Some books just don’t have that extra “X” factor or good enough characterization that makes you really enjoy them. And WWII being used as a plot device? Gah…that would probably aggravate me as well!

    Thanks for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
    Zoe N. recently posted…Dangerous GirlsMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Yeah both books definitely had interesting premises which appealed to me. Yeah pacing was probably the biggest issue with both of these books, I swear a snail moved faster lol. Ugh year the fact WWII was used as a plot device just felt so wrong to me.

      Thank you Zoe <33 as always, you're too sweet

  7. Oh no, two Cinderella stories and two fails? Those are mighty disappointing odds.

    I was curious about Stepsister’s Tale, so thank you for the review and saving me the trouble of seeking it out. 40% in is more than enough time for something of interest to have occurred, so I don’t think anyone could blame you for putting it down. And I’ve felt this way, too–where you finish a book and just a few days later, you’re fuzzy on the details! Signs of a story and characters that are unremarkable for sure.

    Hope your next reads are better, Larissa.
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  8. Cinderella’s dress is a shame. The plot seemed to have potential indeed, but slow paced and nothing happens? I’m going to pass on that. I’m currently reading The stepsister’s tale. I’m only 25 pages in, but this doesn’t sound promising, haha.
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