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review 2017-08-10 22:20
Book 42/100: Far Out Fairy Tales by Various
Far Out Fairy Tales - Louise Simonson,Otis Frampton,Benjamin Harper,Joey Comeau,Sean Tulien,Otis Frampton,Fern Cano,Jimena Sanchez S.,Omar Lozano

These short, graphic-novel retellings of popular fairy tales are meant for middle-grade readers, and unfortunately they have very little crossover appeal for an older audience. They all introduce something "far out" or "edgy" into the traditional fairy tales -- Cinderella is a ninja, Hansel and Gretel are zombies, Red Riding Hood is a super hero, etc. The problem is that these seem to be changes for the sake of changes -- there is nothing about them that hooks into the original tale and makes you think, "Aha, this interpretation makes perfect sense when you look at it that way!" (Such as Neil Gaiman's interpretation of Snow White as a vampire in "Snow, Glass, Apples.") The "Snow White and the Seven Robots" retelling was my favorite of the bunch, and the others were all sort of meh.

The artwork is passable -- very much manga-styled and quite energetic, but not the sort of illustrations that cause you to linger on the page.

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review 2017-07-25 17:30
Hag-Seed - Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold


Margaret Atwood, 2016


Felix, the eccentric Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Festival, is getting ready to present his interpretation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, but is removed from his position thanks to the underhanded methods of his assistant, Tony. After going off the grid for a while, Felix takes a job teaching a course at Fletcher County Correctional Institute, where he teachers Shakespeare to a small group of inmates. After a few years, an opportunity presents itself for Felix to get revenge on Tony and the others who did him wrong.


This is the first of the Hogarth Shakespeare retellings that I've read so far. I decided to re-read The Tempest before starting this book, and I'm glad I did - it had been a while since I had read it, and I had forgotten a lot of the story. I don't think that it's necessary to read The Tempest before reading Hag-Seed, but it does help. [For anyone not able to read the play first, there is a summary of The Tempest at the end of the book, so I would actually recommend skipping ahead to that before starting the novel.] 


I wasn't sure at first how I was going to like this book - I thought it an odd choice having the actual play The Tempest as part of the plot in a book that's supposed to be based on the play (a little too obvious), but it really worked well. Sort of like how Hamlet uses a play within a play to act out scenes that are happening in the "real world" of the story. It also helped that Felix was more or less aware that his current situation resembled the play - if he had been oblivious to that fact, it would have just been weird. Sure there were parts that played out a little too theatrically - his revenge was way too neat and tidy - and if this had been anything other than a retelling it would have bothered me. But Shakespeare's plays had the same neat and tidy endings, so it worked.


The biggest thing that surprised me was how Atwood was able to take a play made up with mostly unlikable characters and make a compelling story out of it. The only characters I liked at all were the prisoners. The antagonists - Tony and the others - were supposed to be unlikable, but Felix wasn't really very easy to like. His delusion about Miranda made him hard to identify with, and his quest for revenge made him - at least to me - pretty unlikable. However, I think that this was sort of the point. I think that Atwood went into this book knowing that the prisoners would be the most likable and relatable characters, and this is why the book is called "Hag-Seed", as a direct reference to Caliban. I think it was an interesting choice on her part, and it was probably the best way to pull it off.


You definitely need to be able to read books centered around unlikable characters in order to enjoy this one, but otherwise I think it's a pretty interesting book and an enjoyable read, even if you're not familiar with the play.

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review 2017-07-12 14:14
Eligible (and Prejudice)
Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice - Curtis Sittenfeld,Cassandra Campbell



In this modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice,  the way people know that Chip Bingley, an ER doctor "in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” is that two years before, he appeared on a Bacheloresque dating show called Eligible (without selecting either of the two female contestants who made it to the final episode).  The Bennet family in this version of P & P reside in a ramshackle Tudor home in Cincinatti, Ohio, and of course Mrs. Bennet is convinced that Dr. Bingley will be just right for one of her daughters.  Jane Bennet, who will be turning 40 in the fall, is a yoga instructor who has been attempting to become pregnant via donor sperm and artificial insemination.  Liz, age 38, is a writer for a magazine called Mascara.  Both Liz and Jane live in NYC, but they fly out to their ancestral home when their father has a health scare.  The youngest three daughters have never left the nest.  Mary, age 30, is a misanthrope working on her third online master's degree.  Lydia and Kitty, both in their 20s, work service jobs on and off, but put most of their energy into their Crossfit workouts.


Readers of Jane Austen's original will know the broad strokes of the plotlines, but Curtis Sittenfeld changes things up enough to keep the narrative fresh.  There is, of course, a Fitzwilliam Darcy, in this case a neurosurgeon, who must overcome his pride while Liz Bennet makes a journey to get past her own prejudice.  


This book was a "staff pick" chosen for week two of the Albany Public Library summer-reading program.  Onto week three (non-fiction)!

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text 2017-06-07 18:52
Free on Amazon
Twisted: The Girl Who Uncovered Rumpelstiltskin's Name - Bonnie M Hennessy

I have no idea how long it will last at the low low price for free...and I don't know if it's any good, reviews are all over the place for it.  But hey, it is free...and I'm intrigued by the idea of retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. 

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review 2017-06-05 21:15
A haunting tale...that's as old as time…
Hunted - Meagan Spooner



Book Title:  Hunted

Author:  Meagan Spooner

Narration:  Saskia Maarleveld

Genre:  YA, Fairytale Retelling

Setting:  From a village to a magical forest and a castle.

Source:  Audiobook (Library)




Add to Goodreads





Book Theme Song

(link will take you to my tumblr post with a video)

Broken by Seether ft. Amy Lee  --The Beast's song…He is for sure a little broken and a lot lonesome.

♫'Cause I'm broken when I'm lonesome

And I don't feel right when you've gone away

You've gone away

You don't feel me here anymore♫






3.7/5 STARS




My Thoughts


Maybe, there is just one to many retellings of Beauty and the Beast for me, and I'm feeling a little burned out on them.  I don't know…I just didn't feel this one as much as other readers did, or even as much as I did with other Beauty and the Beast retellings.  I was mostly bored while listening to this, it just couldn't hold my attention for long, although, towards the last 1/3 it did pick up.



Overall, when I really pondered how I felt about this, I realized this story is really deep in a lot of meaningful ways.  It was probably, for the most part anyway, just lost on me, because my head is elsewhere, lately.



Ratings Breakdown


Plot:  3.8/5

Main Characters:  3.8/5

Secondary Characters:  3.8/5

The Feels:  3/5

Addictiveness:  3/5

Theme or Tone:  4/5

Flow (Writing Style):  4/5

Backdrop (World Building):  4/5

Book Cover:  5/5

Narration:  4/5

Ending:  4/5  Cliffhanger:  Nope


Will I read more from this Author?  Yes, I would.


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