4 stars · nonfiction

The Classic Fairy Tales, edited by Maria Tartar

The Classic Fairy Tales

editor : maria tartar

pages : 416

summary :

Gathering together 44 tales from around the world, from the 5th century on, this critical edition examines the genre, its cultural implications and its critical history. She has focused on six different tale types, and includes multicultural variants and literary rescriptings.

review :

Yes, I needed to read this one for school, but it was so interesting that I thought I’d tell you all a little about my thoughts on it. The Classic Fairy Tales is about as bland of a title as you can get when it comes to this collection. Edited and selected by Maria Tartar, most of the book contains fairy tales while about a fourth of it is articles and criticism concerning fairy tales both modern and ancient.

The fairy tales are all separated into different sections in the book so that the reader can compare several versions of one story–for instance, five different ways of telling Little Red Riding Hood–all at once. There may be what is considered the ‘original’ tale, the first written down, and then several others recorded from oral tradition, as well as modern takes on the old story. I liked comparing how the traditional stories we all know and love differ from more violent, older stories. They’re completely different from modern interpretations as well, which tend to be more feminist, less concerned with eradicating eroticism, and sometimes seem to turn the fairy tale completely upside-down for the fun of it.

While the criticism tends to get a little dull–and may begin to blame Disney for overtaking the fairy tale market–the collection does make some interesting points that I think any fan of traditional (or modern!) tales will enjoy. I know that I’m not the only one out there who’s a sucker for any great fairy tale retelling to hit the market these days and this book explains some of the fascination humanity seems to have lingering over the idea of these tales Pick this up and read it for yourself, then discuss with me because I want to hear what you think of the different versions of stories, which may be the true original, and which may be your favorite!

4/5 stars

guest post

Guest Post: Judge a Book by its Cover!

When I first got accepted into HerCampus (after months of waiting and an assumption that I didn’t get in), I didn’t realize just how awesome this blog community was. Through HerCampus, I virtually met Kayla from Caught Between the Pages, and smiled with giddyness because in the midst of all of the fashion, beauty, future mother, newlywed, college party life blogs, I felt like I finally found another blogger who understood my love for books! Kayla thought of an absolutely brilliant idea for a creative bookworm blog post. She suggested that we share some of our favorite books with each other, and out of the ones that the other hadn’t read, we would look at their book covers and try to guess what the book was about.

Kayla picked some awesome books, or I assume they’re awesome because I haven’t read them yet, and I hadn’t ever heard of any of them either, but the book covers look pretty intriguing. We had to go against the old adage of “don’t judge a book by its cover,” and make assumptions about each of the books purely based on their covers. Here are the books that Kayla chose and my predictions of each of the books’ plots.

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
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The cover shows a young girl with a backpack on walking out of the forest and toward the city. Maybe the name of the book is a play on the fifth generation of a kind of people. These people have lived in the forest for years, and this particular generation is eager to live in the real world with other people, particularly in the city. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
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The review on the cover says “Unlike anything I’ve ever read,” which really doesn’t help me. Since there is a castle on the front, I’m thinking maybe it’s a Snow White-esque story. Maybe there is a jealous step-parent or aunt or uncle who is jealous of their younger family member, and they want to rule the kingdom. Since there are thorns and branches, maybe this is symbolic of the “forest” that the younger family member is ostracized to. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King by William Joyce
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This is a very elaborate book cover. I could go anywhere with this. The white creatures in the back are obviously evil, and the guy holding the gold thing (probably Nicholas St. North) is the protector of the younger girl, possibly her father, and possibly the ruler of a kingdom. Maybe the white creatures are followers of the Nightmare King mentioned in the title, and they were sent to bring down Nicholas St. North. Nicholas is forewarned of their coming, and has to find the gold thing in order to defeat the Nightmare King. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
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This looks like it would be a typical teen love story. Since they’re both wearing headphones, I’m going to assume that they are brought together by music. It’s a really cute cover! I feel like I would enjoy this book, just by the look of the cover. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
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It looks like this is part of a series called The Goblin Wars, and at the bottom, a review says “Ancient Irish myths and legends mix and mingle with the modern world in this fast-paced fantasy.” So I’m assuming that it has to do with a war involving goblins. It looks like the figures are about the size of flowers in the forest, so maybe these goblins live in the forest undetected by humans who assume that their presence is just a myth. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

Every Day by David Levithan
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On the front, it says “Every day a different life. Every day a different body. Every day in love with the same girl.” Since both the guy and the girl are flying around, I’m going to assume that this is symbolic of a soul. Maybe the guy travels into a different body every day. The words make it seem like he lives a different life every day. Somehow he always seems to be attracted to this one girl, and maybe the book is a focus on how he can figure out how to stay in one body in order to be together with the girl. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
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The cover of this book is kind of eerie. Maybe the girl has some sort of magic power. Maybe she can travel into people’s dreams and often causes them nightmares. The front has the word “Spellbinding” in it, so I’m definitely thinking that she’s some sort of witch or something. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

Deadline by Chris Crutcher
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Well, on the front, it says “What if you only had one year to live…and you knew it?” So I’m guessing it’s about a guy (since it’s a guy on the front) who has been diagnosed with some sort of terminal disease that is going to cause him to die in a year (or it could be about a guy who committed a crime and he’s sentenced to the death penalty in a year, but he’s in the sunshine, so we’re going to go with the former). I’m thinking he’s in high school, because the guy in the picture looks kind of younger. So I’m sure it’s just about him trying to fit in a bucket list of things to do in the next year before he dies. Read the actual synopsis of the book here.

It was a lot of fun guessing the plots of these books even though I was definitely way off on almost all of them (apart from Every Day and Deadline. Kinda). Be sure to look at Kayla’s prediction on my blog

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1 star · fiction

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

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

4 stars · fiction · romance · young adult

Fractured: Happily Never After? by Joanna Karaplis

Fractured: Happily Never After?

Author: Joanna Karaplis

Pages [paperback]: 128

Summary:

Everyone knows a fairytale or two. They’re the kind of stories that seem to stick with you. Maybe it’s the magic. Maybe it’s the handsome prince. Or maybe they’re just the absolute perfect place to lose yourself for a little while.

But what would happen if Snow White were around today? Would Cinderella still need a fairy godmother? And would the Little Mermaid show up on YouTube?

Joanna Karaplis has put an unexpected spin on Snow White, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid; she’s quietly fractured the stories and then reassembled them for the 21st Century. So, while there may not be a whole lot of horse-drawn carriages and magic potions, you can be sure that there will be at least one evil witch and maybe even a handsome prince (or two)…

Review:

I am in love with any and all retold fairy tales. I’d give any of them a try. Thankfully this very quick read was not a waste of time, but rather a delightful way to revisit three well-known tales (Snow White, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid) in new and different ways.

The first story in the book is “Snow White and the Seven Dorks”, and I think you can figure out what tale that is based on. This was quick and smart. I loved reading about Yuki, how she was trying to figure out her life and find where she fit in. The seven dorks were adorably geeky, Kevin most of all. And while the new ‘Evil Queen’ wasn’t as impressive as they could have been, it all worked. I really liked this version of Snow White.

Second came “Cyberella”, which has to be my favorite of the three. It’s written completely in blog posts and instant messaging. At first I assumed the story would be a train wreck because of this, but it actually worked, and made it better. The entire thing was hilarious, had me laughing to myself, and wondering what could happen next. Very well done!

The final story was “Swan Song”. I’ve no idea why it was called that-it doesn’t make me think of mermaids at all. Nevertheless, the story was good enough, until the end. It held great impact, was jarring, but seemed rushed. Perhaps a few more pages would have smoothed it out and done some good.

Overall, I loved Fractured. It’s a very fast read that I’ll turn back to again and again, if I’m looking for something to pass the time. I give it 4/5 stars, and really recommend it to those looking for something short to blaze through or who love fairy tales.

3 stars · Fantasy · fiction · romance · young adult

Snow by Tracy Lynn

Snow

Author: Tracy Lynn

Pages [paperback]: 272

Favorite Characters: Alan, Cat, & Raven

Summary:

Snow white, Rose red
In a tiny Welsh estate, a duke and duchess lived happily, lacking only a child – or, more importantly, a son and heir to the estate. Childbirth ultimately proved fatal for the young duchess. After she died, the duke was dismayed to discover that he was not only a widower, but also a father to a tiny baby girl. He vowed to begin afresh with a new wife, abandoning his daughter in search of elusive contentment.
Independent – virtually ignored – and finding only little animals and a lonely servant boy as her companions, Jessica is pale, lonely, and headstrong… and quick to learn that she has an enemy in her stepmother. “Snow”, as she comes to be known, flees the estate to London and finds herself embraced by a band of urban outcasts. But her stepmother isn’t finished with her, and if Jessica doesn’t take control of her destiny, the wicked witch will certainly harness her youth – and threaten her very life…

Review:

This book was hard to get into, but great at the end. Snow is a retelling of the classic tale of Snow White. While that fairy tale has never been my favorite, as Snow White always seemed a bit, well, naive, this version was interesting. There was a different take on the evil stepmother, her motivations behind trying to kill ‘Snow’, and the way the seven dwarves were translated into this new setting was odd but fitting.

While this story wasn’t exactly edge-of-your-seat material, it worked well enough. Taking away the magical element was disappointing. Everything was scientific, which I think detracted from my enjoyment. Another approach might have made it more unrealistic, but isn’t that the point of fairy tales?

The love story part of it was surprisingly odd, but I ended up liking it in the end. What I’ve noticed about this collection of retold fairy tales, of which I’ve read Midnight Pearls, is that they like to take your original expectations of who will be the girl’s love interest and turn it upside down. It does take away some of the predictability.

I give Snow 3/5 stars. It’s a good read, but not exceptionally impressive in any way.