Tag Archives: Fairy tale

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

28 Jan

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

author : karen foxlee

pages : [hardcover] 240

memorable quote And you might think a name is just a name, nothing but a word, but that is not the case. Your name is tacked to you. Where it has joined you, it has seeped into your skin and into your essence and into your soul.

favorite characters : opehlia & the marvelous boy

summary :

A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia’s help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy’s own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

review :

I have a special affection for children’s stories that are modeled after fairy tales. I think  it’s so important for everyone to embrace their imagination and allow it to thrive. While there were some parts of this novel that seemed rushed for me, I really did enjoy it and hope to read more by this author in the future!

Ophelia was a fantastic protagonist. Not only is she still grieving the loss of her mother, something no girl should have to do, she’s small, asthmatic, and her father and sister have changed and seem to have little time for her anymore. Finding a mysterious boy in a museum opens up a whole new world for her. I loved seeing Ophelia change throughout the story and I felt like I could really connect with her, especially her doubts and her hope that everything would turn out alright in the end.

I did get very frustrated with her family in this book, mostly because it was obvious how much she needed them and they tended to ignore her. Of course she was speaking about impossible things so they assumed she was making it all up, but she’s young and deserved more than they gave her. The end settled most of this for me.

Some of the scenes were bothersome because they were more summary than action and I would have liked to have seen how they played out rather than have them told to me. As with my frustration with Ophelia’s family, this was made up for elsewhere, but kept me from giving this read a full 5 stars.

I really think that younger readers will fall in love with this story and the characters in it. Older readers like me will be able to enjoy this quick read. I think it contains a great message as well as two great protagonists to root for!

4/5 stars

If you like this book, you might also like Catalina or A Kiss in Time.

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

14 Jan

Of Beast and Beauty

author : stacey jay

pages : [hardcover] 391

memorable quote And what good is a voice when so few will listen?

favorite characters : isra & gem

summary :

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

review :

I love twisted fairy tales and I was really interested in this one because it also had dystopian elements and took place on another planet! The fairy tale qualities of the story actually ended up blending with the sci-fi in an interesting mixture I never would have guessed would hook me in. There were so many things going on with this plot that it became anything but a predictable fairy tale.

First of all, the summary says that Isra’s city treats the Banished as ‘second-class’. That’s an understatement when they’re all rounded up and shoved into a camp at the edge of the dome and treated like animals-and much worse than animals should ever be treated-for the rest of their short lives. If that’s what they do to their so-called citizens then it’s easy to imagine the terrible things they might do to the Monstrous outside the dome who are trying to get in. The Monstrous are starving and desperate, looking for answers that will help them survive. Isra needs to find out what are lies and what is true about these creatures before its too late and both sides destroy each other.

I have to say the creepiest part of this story was that Isra was raised to be a human sacrifice. Knowing what kept their city going to me was a lot worse than much of the bloodshed and fighting that went on throughout the novel. It isn’t the forefront during most of the plot but it affects everything Isra is and everything she does. Another creepy element was Bo. At first I was afraid he’d turn things into a love triangle but no, that guy really had a twisted mind.

There were some plot twists in here that I never really expected and as the novel progressed, I just had to keep reading because I never knew what could happen next. Both of them characters were so well-written and at the end I still had no answer as to who was supposed to be Beauty and who was the Beast. Both had good and bad traits and it wasn’t all about appearances.

I really enjoyed this book and it surprised me in so many ways. It’s a quick and memorable read that I’ll recommend to anybody.

4/5 stars

Neverland by Joe Brusha

8 Aug

Neverland

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents

author : Joe Brusha

pages : [hardcover] 230

summary :

The creators of Grimm Fairy Tales and Return to Wonderland bring you a dark new addition to the Grimm Universe. Pan never wanted to grow up and now he’s found the key to immortality and a way to rule the realm of Neverland forever. All he needs is a steady supply of children to complete his sinister plans. Once a magical paradise, Pan has reshaped Neverland into the ultimate nightmare for any child unlucky enough to visit. Only one child has ever been able to escape. Now as an adult, Hook may be the only person who can put a stop to Pan’s madness.

review :

I’ve always loved the story of Peter Pan and lately I’ve been trying to get my hands on every retelling out there. I thought that this would would be a nice twist to the already altered story because this is a graphic novel instead of a regular story. The summary was more than enough to gather my interest though I think the overall execution of the idea was nothing short of disappointing.

What the weak plot couldn’t make me forget was the hyper sexualized images of every single female introduced into the story. Completely unnecessary, of course, and almost enough to make me put this down without finishing it. Knowing that the library I picked this up from had this in the YA section made it worse, too, because of the grossly disproportionate female bodies, accompanied by as little clothing as possible. It was disgusting. What makes it worse is knowing I like this comic book format but won’t be able to enjoy it because of the way girls in general are portrayed. When Wendy is fighting for her life, the author even goes so far as to explain that the only reason she’s effective is because she needs to save her kids. No explanations needed for the men who’ve never been in fights before, of course.

I really didn’t like this book. Even getting over the images the plot was nothing unique. I’ve read evil Pan stories before and this one was more predictable than scary. At least in other tales where he feeds on the youth of children there are better characters and action, even if the plot is basically the same. Before reading this I considered getting other books, companions to this in the Grimm Fairy Tales Presents series, but I think I’ll leave this art and this writing alone and try to find something much more enjoyable to spend my time on.

2/5 stars

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

24 Jul

Sweetly

Fairytale Retellings #2
Book 1: Sisters Red
Book 3: Fathomless

author : jackson pearce

pages : [hardcover] 310

memorable quote I should be mad. I should hate her. I should judge her. But there is some madness in love.

favorite characters : ansel & gretchen

summary :

As a child, Gretchen’s twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch’s forest threatening to make them disappear, too.

Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They’re invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.

Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past — until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn’t gone — it’s lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak’s infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen its next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.

Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.

review :

I’ve had this book to read for a while and am glad that I finally picked it up. Which Hansel and Gretel hasn’t ever been my favorite fairy tale, there’s something about it that’s always captivated me. Maybe because I’ve never wanted to be thrown out of my house and have counted myself lucky because my parents didn’t try to leave me in the woods. Which is a great thing, right?

Gretchen and Ansel started out as pretty generic characters with little to make me relate to them until they start to live with Sophia. I saw more of their personalities as they both related to her. They were able to come into their own and make me enjoy the story a lot more.

I spent most of the novel confused, waiting to hear what would happen next and trying to read further so that I could see the answers to all of the mysteries that were popping up! While there wasn’t a lot of action in this story like in Sisters Red or a unique setting like in Fathomless, this book still had enough in it to keep me hooked. I do have to say that it’s my least favorite in the series (that I accidentally read out of order . . Oops. It’s a good thing they read like companion novels) but I still really liked it.

I recommend Sweetly to all readers who like fairy tales and are looking for a very quick and easy read.

4/5 stars

If you love this book, you might also like Scarlet or Tiger Lily

Snow White, Blood Red edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

22 Jul

Snow White, Blood Red

editors : ellen datlow & terri windling

pages : [hardcover] 367

summary :

Once upon a time, fairy tales
were for children . . . But no longer.

You hold in your hands a volume of wonders — magical tales of trolls and ogres, of bewitched princesses and kingdoms accursed, penned by some of the most acclaimed fantasists of our day. But these are not bedtime stories designed to usher an innocent child gently into a realm of dreams. These are stories that bite — lush and erotic, often dark and disturbing mystical journeys through a phantasmagoric landscape of distinctly adult sensibilities . . . where there is no such thing as “happily ever after.”

review :

I really wanted to read this book because it was a collection of retold and twisted fairy tales and I’m obsessed with books like that! I felt like that would be no different, that I’d love the stories in this book, but I ended up feeling like most of them were mediocre at best.

I did like how some of the stories focused on the less well-known fairy tales, so even if I didn’t know the specifics of those stories I could always see the fairy tale feel of the writing. Yet a lot of it didn’t click for me. I felt like most of the tales were supposed to have a darker feel than what actually came off for me and that didn’t really sit well with me. I wanted more, something that most of the writing in this anthology didn’t give me. Some of the parts that were intended to be shocking thus ended up being bland.

One distraction that I had during this book were the amount of mistakes and typos in it! Several times in each story I noticed misspellings or bad punctuation. In a finished copy of a book like this, when it isn’t even the first edition published, shouldn’t have that many errors.

I think that if you’re looking for good fairy tale retellings, even of the darker sort, you can skip this anthology and look elsewhere for something better and more worth your time. I do think that people would enjoy some of the books in this collection so perhaps that might draw more people to this anthology even if all of the stories didn’t meet my expectations.

1/5 stars

If you like this book, you might also like Steampunk! or Teeth: Vampire Tales

The Art of Tangled by Jeff Kurtti

18 Jul

The Art of Tangled

author : jeff jurtti

pages : [hardcover] 160

summary :

A lighthearted twist on Rapunzel, the beloved fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, Tangled brims with thrilling adventure, a distinctive cast of characters, a daring heroine, and, of course, seventy feet of golden hair. Featuring the stunning concept art behind the newest Disney masterpiece, The Art of Tangled also includes a preface by John Lasseter, a foreword by Directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, and interviews with the artists, animators, and production team—including Art Director David Goetz—that shed light on the history and artistry of this landmark film.

review :

I don’t think it’s possible to put into words just how much I love Tangled. Ever since that movie has come out I’ve been captivated with the characters, scenes, and the fantastical elements of the movie. I’d love to have a career with Disney myself someday and thought that it’d be really interesting to see how the original concept for the movie altered and developed throughout the time that the artists were working on these now familiar and beloved scenes and characters. From the villain to the wonderful lantern scene, everything is explained and shown in detail. I loved getting to see the different stages of brainstorming for everything as well as the beautiful works of art that led up to the actual making of the movie.

This book would be perfect for any fan of the movie or any Disney fan in general. I can’t draw anything but loved getting to read about what the artists went through to capture the personality of the characters and the general themes of the movie within their settings. A reader and a writer can still get a lot of fantastic information from a book like this, especially if they’re a fan, because it shows that these things that are so well known didn’t exactly turn out perfectly the first time around.

I’m definitely going to be looking into getting more of these art books because this is something that I’ll flip through from time to time and maybe learn something new every time that I glance through it. It’s just such a joy to see all of the hard work and dedication that goes into a movie like this, a movie that inspires so many people, like me, in so many ways. It’s easy to tell in every page just how these artists have put their heart into the project.

I really recommend this book for any Tangled fan. It’s a fun and creative insight into the creation of the film that I’ll keep with me forever.

5/5 stars

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

12 Jun

Scarlet

Lunar Chronicles #2
Book 1: Cinder

author : marissa meyer

pages : [hardcover] 452

memorable quote She did not know that the wolf was a wicked sort of animal, and she was not afraid of him.

favorite characters : wolf & scarlet

summary:

The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth…

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

review :

Oh. My. Goodness. I could NOT wait to read this book after I read Cinder. I took such a long time getting my hands on the first book that I didn’t delay in running off to get the sequel as soon as I was finished. Now, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not because I can’t quite read Cress, book three, yet. Not until 2014. 2014. 

This book introduces another set of main characters, the two most exciting to me being Scarlet and Wolf. Again this sci-fi take on a fairy tale surprised me. Wolf . . oh! He gave me all of the lovely, fluttery, agonizing emotions that make me wish his character was real so I could date him. He’s just so adorable, even though he’s also lethal and mysterious and did I mention lethal? Prince Kai never gave me so many feels in Cinder but I can forgive him because Wolf more than makes up for that!

But even before Wolf was fully introduced to the story I was in love because there was another kick-ass heroine to love. Scarlet isn’t going to let anything stand in the way of her rescuing her grandmother even when she realizes that investigating this further could get herself killed and doesn’t even guarantee her grandmother’s freedom. It’s really awesome how she’s been through so much and is such a great girl. Plus she never loses her signature red hoodie!

Cinder’s story picks up just where it left off in book one and I’m so, so happy to see how tough and awesome she is. Not that she wasn’t before but it’s so easy to see how she’s growing and changing because of all of these events and revelations. Even if she has to deal with an annoying partner in crime, who I thought was hilarious!

You really, really need to read this book and you won’t regret it. I promise! Stars, it’s great.

5/5 stars

If you loved this, you might also like Tyger Tyger or Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

Check out the book trailer!

Towering by Alex Flinn

10 Jun

Towering

Author : Alex Flinn [also wrote: A Kiss in Time, Beastly, and Cloaked]

pages : [hardcover] 293

favorite characters : rachel & wyatt

summary :

At first, I merely saw his face, his hands on the window ledge. Then, his whole body as he swung himself through the window. Only I could not see what he swung on.
Until, one day, I told my dream self to look down. And it was then that I saw. He had climbed on a rope. I knew without asking that the rope had been one of my own tying.

Rachel is trapped in a tower, held hostage by a woman she’s always called Mama. Her golden hair is growing rapidly, and to pass the time, she watches the snow fall and sings songs from her childhood, hoping someone, anyone, will hear her.

Wyatt needs time to reflect or, better yet, forget about what happened to his best friend, Tyler. That’s why he’s been shipped off to the Adirondacks in the dead of winter to live with the oldest lady in town. Either that, or no one he knows ever wants to see him again.

Dani disappeared seventeen years ago without a trace, but she left behind a journal that’s never been read, not even by her overbearing mother…until now.

A #1 New York Times bestselling author, Alex Flinn knows her fairy tales, and Towering is her most mind-bending interpretation yet. Dark and mysterious, this reimagining of Rapunzel will have readers on the edge of their seats wondering where Alex will take them next!

review :

I’ve loved all of Alex Flinn’s fairy tale retellings and when I heard she was doing one based on the tale of Rapunzel I was overjoyed. I love Disney’s Tangled and wanted to see what one of the most well-known names out there in modern fairy tales could do with the story. I was excited for the creativity, how the girl would react to being saved, what the evil villain would be like . . Towering was nothing like what I expected and not really in the best of ways.

First of all, and a little thing too that probably only annoyed me, I was kind of hoping for a more romantic, fairy tale name for the heroine rather than Rachel. Second, in the book she mentions that she can clearly see a lake from her tower and can see people there in the summer, etc. The town that this story is set in is one where everybody knows everybody else and there’s practically nothing to do. Don’t tell me that no bored group of teenagers wouldn’t go and investigate a tower that they can see out in the woods, even if it does seem abandoned. It kind of seems impossible that no one but Wyatt could have ever found it.

I didn’t really feel the entire evil plot going on, either. It was an interesting take on things but just didn’t work for me. It seemed too little and insignificant, contained in that small town. At times it just felt . . off.

I did like how Wyatt was with Rachel, being so kind and gentle and allowing her to experience things that she’d never had before because she’d been kept up in that tower because of Mama. I loved hearing about his past and what had brought him to stay in that place, so far away from home and everything he’d ever known. That said, I do hope that I enjoy Alex Flinn’s next book more than I did this one. I’d recommend checking out another of her tales before trying Towering.

3/5 stars

If you like this, you might want to try Sisters Red or Tiger Lily

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

1 Jun

Cinder

author : marissa meyer

pages : [hardcover] 387

favorite characters :  cinder & peony

memorable quote I’m sure I’ll feel much more grateful when I find a guy who thinks complex wiring in a girl is a turn-on.

summary :

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

review :

I’ve book looking forward to reading this book for so long! I’ve always had a soft spot for retold fairy tales and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Cinder. As soon as I started reading it I was immediately hooked by the story and the wonderfully developed characters. So addicted that I read the entire thing in a day!

Cinder is definitely a strong character who I immediately came to love. She’s faced hardship throughout her entire life-well, the part that she can remember-not only because her stepmother dislikes her but because everyone has a prejudice against cyborgs. So much so that cyborgs are singled out to test the antidotes for the plague . . and none have survived. I love how Cinder continued to fight for herself and for what she wanted, even when it seemed like the entire world was against her.

There are so many things going on in this book! Handsome Prince Kai, cyborg problems, the plague rising, people on the moon threatening war with the entire Earth. It’s crazy, how many things are including and how wonderfully they all go together so that no part of it sounds absurd and the reader and is still left cheering Cinder on.

I really can’t wait to read Scarlet. I went into this book thinking that it would be fully concluded and that Scarlet was only a companion book but I was wrong; Cinder ends in a way that immediately leaves you clamoring for more. With an ending like that, I’m definitely picking up the next book as soon as I can.

I give Cinder 5/5 stars and recommend it to all fairy tale lovers and people looking for a great, quick read.

Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes

9 Oct

Two and Twenty Dark Tales : Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes

editors : georgia mcbride & michelle zink

contributors : nina berry, sarwat chadda, shannon delany, max scialdone, karen mahoney, Lisa Mantchev), Georgia McBride, C. Lee McKenzie Gretchen McNeil, Francisco X. Stork, K.M. Walton, Suzanne Young, Michelle Zink, Leigh Fallon, Angie Frazier, Jessie Harrell, Nancy Holder, Heidi R. Kling, Suzanne Lazear, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, Leah Cypess

pages : 350

favorite stories : as blue as the sky and just as old; clockwork; blue; wee willie winkie; those who whisper; a ribbon of blue

summary:

In this anthology, 20 authors explore the dark and hidden meanings behind some of the most beloved Mother Goose nursery rhymes through short story retellings. The dark twists on classic tales range from exploring whether Jack truly fell or if Jill pushed him instead to why Humpty Dumpty, fragile and alone, sat atop so high of a wall. The authors include Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Leigh Fallon, Gretchen McNeil, and Suzanne Young.

review :

I really love anthologies. Probably because a short story can hold so much potential and reading a book full of them can be as good as reading that many books. That was why I was so, so happy to have the opportunity to read this. I’m already in love with retold fairy tales; why not Mother Goose rhymes?

I can’t say that I expected this to turn out the way that it did. Some of the stories were much scarier than I anticipated, like the Jack and Jill one and especially Wee Willie Winkie. The latter doesn’t sound frightening at all, but I really think that’s the one with the potential for nightmares. Others were a bit sweeter and had happy endings though they still managed to have their surprises, twists, and turns.

So many of these tales left me thinking and then going back to reread the rhymes quoted at the beginning of the stories to see what bits and pieces the authors picked up on to interpret differently in their tales. All of them were very creative and while some of the stories never reached their full potential I have to applaud them full-heartedly for that.

I really recommend this book! It’s sure to have at least one story in it that you will fall in love with and it will leave you craving more!

4/5 stars

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