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review 2017-10-22 14:42
Book 69/100: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister - Gregory Maguire
This is one of the best Maguire books I've read, right up there with the first couple Oz retellings (I only read the first two but heard the later ones weren't as good.)

Similar to "Mirror, Mirror," Maguire places the story of Cinderella within a firm historical time and place -- Holland at the start of the tulip trade. But unlike "Mirror, Mirror," it doesn't have the strange conflagration of fantasy and historical realism that didn't quite work for me. "Confessions" could be read as a straight historical retelling with the characters holding onto some "magical" belief systems, or it could be read as a very subtle fantasy rooted in a historical setting. This ambiguity worked for me.

The stepmother and stepsisters, as well as the "Cinderella" character, are all vividly drawn. The stepmother comes across as both wicked and sympathetic -- surely not an easy feat to accomplish. As soon as I got over my hangup that it felt as if this story should be told first-person (it's CONFESSIONS, after all!), I enjoyed the masterful and detailed writing -- although the level of detail and the change the characters underwent in the course of the story made it feel as though it should have taken place over a longer span of time than it actually did. Still, that was a minor quibble -- and the minor "twist" at the end really worked for me.

The retelling genre teems with Cinderella stories, but this one moves to the front of the line for me.
 
 
 
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review 2017-09-29 05:05
The Nameless One by Lily Adile Lamb
The Nameless One - Lily Adile Lamb

Very monotonous. It was somewhat OK for the first half, but short after I stopped caring for pretty much everything and everyone, save for those poor sheep lost in the snow storm. They trusted Faine to keep them safe and instead he took them up the frozen mountain to feed on frigging snow, cause - duh! - good luck finding grass during a nor'easter.

I believe I finished the book, but maybe I skipped too many pages in the end, I don't know... I need coffee to wake up @.@ 1.6 stars.

 

Poor sheep, tho :( And wolves :( At least the nameless one should have let them finish the dead ones. Wolves need to eat, too.

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review 2017-09-29 02:04
Book 62/100: Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue
Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins - Emma Donoghue

So I guess I knew who Emma Donoghue was before she was "cool" (i.e., pre-ROOM), since this book has been on my shelf FOREVER ... but I didn't actually read it till after I'd read her more recent stuff. I'm generally 10-20 years behind on my TBR, though, so this is not at all unusual.

Having read her later stuff first, I can see that her writing voice is not quite as strong or refined in this collection, but the prose is still beautiful most of the time, with the exception of a few moments when it becomes vague or a little garbled. But as fairy tale retellings go, these are decent, not often changing the structure of the originals much, but casting their meaning in new light. In particular, I liked that the stories subverted the original trope common in fairy tales of women working against one another in competition, and instead presented heroines who were liberated by or in cooperation with the traditional "villains" in the story.

All of the retellings in this collection are connected, so the protagonist in one story is telling her tale to the protagonist of the previous tale. This forms a backwards running chain that I thought would somehow come full circle, but it didn't. In some cases, the revelation of who a minor character in one story was in her past made perfect sense -- in others, it felt like a stretch, and too bizarre to be meaningful (there are several instances of people being reincarnated as animals). Overall, this particular narrative device felt somewhat gimmicky, and I feel doubtful about whether Donoghue would have applied it later in her career as a more mature writer.

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review 2017-09-28 07:23
The Book that Jack Wrote by Jon Scieszka
The Book that Jack Wrote - Jon Scieszka,Daniel Adel,Dan Adel

Title:  The Book that Jack Wrote

Author:  Jon Scieszka

Artist:   Daniel Adel

Genre:  Children's / Humor / Surrealism / Poetry


Year Published: 1994


Year Read:  2009

Publisher: 
 Viking

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 5+ (Some Violent Imagery)

 

 

Jack

“The Book that Jack Wrote” is one of Jon Scieszka’s books that the illustrator is not Lane Smith but Daniel Adel. This book is based off the nursery rhyme, “The House that Jack Built,” except it has a more comic twist to the classic rhyme as all the characters in this book are either hit, pushed, or chased by other characters. Surely, this book is easily one of Jon Scieszka’s most sophisticated books ever written. 

Jon Scieszka has written a more far-fetched version of this classic nursery rhyme by adding in various characters that came from various children’s books such as “Alice in Wonderland” and “Humpty Dumpty” and he makes the story even more creative when he starts the book off with the ending of the man in the tattered coat getting squashed by this book. Jon Scieszka also made this book extremely funny to read as each character gets clobbered in a slapstick way, such as the Hatter accidentally pushing the Egg over the wall when he tripped on the rug that the bug was eating. Daniel Adel’s illustrations are surreal and dark as all of the characters have large and realistic looking heads, while their bodies are also realistic, but very small. The image that really stood out the most in this book is the image of the man in the tattered coat as he has large glasses and a large head on a small body, which is the same man on the cover of the book. 

“The Book that Jack Wrote” is a silly book that plays a surreal twist on one of Mother Goose’s lovable nursery rhyme and will surely be an instant treat for many children for many years. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up due to the fact that smaller children might not like the violent images displayed in this book.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2017-09-28 06:54
Rapunzel by Bethan Woollvin
Rapunzel - Bethan Woollvin,Bethan Woollvin

Title:  Rapunzel

Author:  Bethan Woollvin

Genre:  Fairy Tale / Retelling / Feminism / Humor / Adventure


Year Published: 2017


Year Read:  2017

Publisher:  Peachtree Publishers

Source: eARC (Edelweiss)

Content Rating:  Ages 4+ (Death)

 

 

Rapunzel

4.5 stars 

I would like to thank Edelweiss and Peachtree Publishers for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I had read many fairy tale retellings where the female protagonists (usually, “Rapunzel,” “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood”) are rewritten as strong protagonists who are able to get themselves out their horrible situations using their wits and action skills. So, when I stumbled upon this new children’s book on Edelweiss called “Rapunzel” by Bethan Woollvin, which is also about Rapunzel becoming an action girl, I just had to get this book and man was this a truly interesting book!

The story starts off with the wicked witch trapping Rapunzel in a tall and dark tower and every day, the witch would come into the tower and cut some of Rapunzel’s hair off to make some money off of it. Also, the witch would threaten to put a terrible curse on Rapunzel if she tried to escape the tower.

Was Rapunzel frightened by the Witch’s threats?

Oh no, not she!
 


I must admit that I was quite intrigued with the premise of this book! I have always loved reading fairy tale retellings where a different spin is taken on the fairy tale and I will admit that this was not the first time that I had read a “Rapunzel” tale where Rapunzel turns into an action girl (Shannon Hale’s “Rapunzel’s Revenge” anyone)? Bethan Woollvin has done a great job at retelling this story as I loved the fact that Rapunzel becomes a resourceful girl who used her wits to outsmart the witch in this story and I also loved the fact that she was never scared of the witch’s threats since she is always one step ahead of the witch. Bethan Woollvin’s artwork is adorable and creative to look at as Rapunzel is shown as being a small girl with long golden hair, while the witch is shown wearing a large black top hat that makes her outfit look so unique! I also loved the fact that the artwork is mostly in black and white with Rapunzel’s hair being one of the few things that has yellow colorings in this book, which makes her hair really stand out in the book!

Rapunzel

The reason why I took off half a star from the rating was because I felt that the story was a bit bland at some place. I wished that more was fleshed out on Rapunzel herself and even though I like the fact that Rapunzel is much more resourceful in this book, her actions did not seem to have much weight at times because I wanted to learn more about her backstory to really sympathize with her character.

Overall, “Rapunzel” is a great read for anyone who wants to read a fairy tale retelling that features a strong female protagonist! I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since the narrative is easily accessible for younger readers.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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