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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-20 18:50
Review: Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan

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Ellison lost her mother at an early age. But since then, her father has found love again. He's happy and doesn't quite notice that Ellison does not get along with his new wife or her mean daughters. When Ellison discovers a necromantic tome while traveling the secret passages of her father's mansion, she wonders if it could be the key to her freedom. Until then, she must master her dark new power, even as her stepmother makes her a servant in her own home. And when her younger brother falls incurably ill, Ellison will do anything to ease his pain, including falling prey to her stepmother and stepsisters' every whim and fancy. Stumbling into a chance meeting of Prince William during a secret visit to her mother's grave feels like a trick of fate when her stepmother refuses to allow Ellison to attend a palace festival. But what if Ellison could see the kind and handsome prince once more? What if she could attend the festival? What if she could have everything she ever wanted and deserved by conjuring spirits to take revenge on her cruel stepmother? As Ellison's power grows, she loses control over the evil spirits meant to do her bidding. And as they begin to exert their own power over Ellison, she will have to decide whether it is she or her stepmother who is the true monster.

***Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***

 

What’s Good: How about the opening line for starters- “Blood. The blood of my enemies drips down my forearms, fleeing the confines of the spaces between my fingers, traveling toward freedom on the cold, stone floor.” Got your attention, yet?

 

This is a very imaginative twist on the fairytale. Everything old is new again in this one. There’s a few homages to the classic version of the tale, but ain’t no fairy godmothers floating around here. Nope- what comes to Ella’s aid is far more disturbing and best left undisturbed. Author F.M. Boughan cites researching historical texts and grimoires on necromancy, and it shows. Well done!

 

The necromancy comes into play as part of the struggle between Heaven and Hell, the forces of Good vs the armies of Evil. Ella’s struggles with what she’s doing and why are valid and believable. As her power grows, she thinks she’s come to terms with the price of it, but then she realizes that price is greater than she’s willing to pay. But will she be strong enough to do so anyway?

 

There’s several twists on the tale that’ll keep you involved; it’s like a full-on rendering of the original Brothers Grimm version- you know, with the sisters cutting off parts of their feet in order to fit the glass slipper and whatnot. Often gory and gruesome, this one ain’t for the faint of heart.

 

What’s Bad: Ella’s also a bit of a dunce. The author does a good job of putting you inside Ella’s head and making her feel like a vibrant, three-dimensional character, but too many times in the story she never bothered to question anything or stop to consider the consequences of her actions. She’s got a book of demonology/necromancy in her hands, but never bothers to read any further than what she needs to get what she wants yet always wonders about the dangers of abusing such power… maybe ya ought to flip a few pages ahead and find out???

 

She’s constantly skulking about the house trying to sneak around her new stepmother and siblings trying to learn things, only to bump, bang into or trip over something, leading to another Steve Erkel moment, “…oh, did *I* do that?!?” After a while you can pretty much see when they’re coming up.

 

There’s a few WTF moments in the plot that threaten to derail things. The night Ella’s father disappears he gives her something before he leaves- literally placing it in her hand. Does she look at it right away?- no. When does she look at it? Right after she sneaks out of the house in the dead of night, crawls under the locked main gate, runs all the way through the village to her mother’s grave, calls out to her mother’s spirit, meets a mysterious stranger who protects her from some Things That Go Bump In The Night, and sees her back to the village. Only after she’s safely home again after all that does she actually OPEN HER HAND to see what it was her father gave her. *facepalm*

 

The disappearance of Ella’s father made almost as much sense as all that did. For storytelling purposes he had to be out of the picture, sure, but… his reasons made no sense. It’s the usual “I had to leave to protect you” nonsense, except that he’s the one who created the problem in the first place by marrying Celia and knew full well what was going on, so clearly the best solution was to leave a bunch of people- including his own children- who’ve no idea about any of it at the tender mercies of some seriously malicious individuals and hope for the best. *double facepalm*

 

What’s Left: an entertaining, if flawed, work that you’ll enjoy reading. If all the Fairy Tale Re-imaginings are starting to get stale to you, this one’ll be a bit of fresh air.

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review 2017-08-28 03:46
A Tale Dark & Grimm - Review
A Tale Dark & Grimm - Adam Gidwitz

Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.

- Opening Sentence

 

 

I read this book because the author, Adam Gidwitz, is coming to visit our school in September and I wanted to be familiar with his works. I'm reading Star Wars: So You Want to be a Jedi also written by Gidwitz. 

 

I enjoyed this book. Be warned, he talks to the reader, often. So, if meta-fiction isn't your thing, then I would skip this one. He talks about how the next part is scary, and you should make young children leave the room, or about how the reader (supposedly children) might be scared and might want to stop reading. Are you sure you want to keep reading? Ok, don't say I didn't warn you...

 

It's cute actually, and I think the intended audience (children) will enjoy it. Also, it's a great opening to introducing the concept of meta-fiction and "breaking the fourth wall" to students.

 

The book doesn't shy away from the scarier parts of fairy tales. Gidwitz actually points out that he was inspired to write these books (this is the first in a trilogy) by a group of second graders. He says that the stories are awesome and "children can handle it." 

 

This book is based on Hansel and Gretel and includes different aspects of many Grimm fairy tales, including Gretel cutting off her finger (from The Seven Ravens) and Hansel going to Hell and tricking the Devil. I'm not sure which fairy tale that came from. It's a fast-paced story and a fairly quick read. I found myself worrying about Hansel and Gretel, even though I was pretty sure they would end up ok. I like Gidwitz's style and highly recommend this book, with a caveat to consider the specific reader and what they can handle.

 

I found myself wondering how this would play in a room full of second graders (or even third graders). I guess I will find out since our librarian will be promoting the books to our students.

 

Bottom Line:

If you are a fan of Grimm fairy tales or enjoy retellings, give this one a chance. :)

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review 2017-06-24 21:20
Classic retold
Royal Beast: A Dark Fairy Tale Romance -... Royal Beast: A Dark Fairy Tale Romance - Nikki Chase

This is not the fairy tale your momma used to tell you! This dark and steamy version of a classic fairy tale is well-written with great characters - some you'll love and some you'll love to hate. James fits the beast character perfectly with his overbearing, dominant nature and heart of gold underneath it all. Rosemary is everything he could want in a submissive and more. I loved the dialogue between these two as James often finds himself on the less than dominant side of the conversation. With this one, Chase delivers yet another fun read and I can't wait to see what she does next.

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review 2017-06-15 04:42
Princess Princess Ever After (graphic novel) by Katie O'Neill
Princess Princess Ever After - Katie O'Neill

When Princess Amira stops to save Princess Sadie from the tall tower she’s been imprisoned in, Sadie almost turns her away. So many others have tried to save her, but all have failed. However, Amira is enthusiastic, determined, and in possession of both a grappling hook and an incredibly strong cookie-loving unicorn.

That’s just the beginning of Amira and Sadie’s adventures. Along the way, they make some new friends, Amira learns more about being a hero, and Sadie finds the courage to face her sister and rule her kingdom.

I bought this because I heard it was a sweet f/f graphic novel. It was super cute, although a bit too short for my tastes. I wanted more pages devoted to Amira and Sadie getting to know each other - Sadie’s “I trust you” happened very early on and was a bit jarring. When the villain appeared and disappeared in the space of about a page, I started worrying that the pacing of this graphic novel just wasn’t going to work for me.

Thankfully, the story smoothed out after that. I really enjoyed Amira and Sadie’s encounters with the prince and the ogre, as well as the flashbacks to Amira and Sadie’s pasts. Amira and Sadie were cute together (complete with blushing, rose petals, and background roses!).

One thing I hadn’t realized until I started working on this review was that Princess Princess Ever After was originally published as a webcomic called Princess Princess, which is still available on Katie O’Neill’s website. I’ve clicked through it and there are some artwork changes between it and Princess Princess Ever After, some of which I liked and some of which I didn’t.

One thing I liked was that Sadie’s sister’s magic was changed from purple to black - it looks creepier in the print version. One thing I didn’t like was that the print version’s colors were slightly less bright than in the original web comic. Not only is this the sort of story that’s practically made for bright colors, some of the panels just weren’t as clear in the print version. Considering that this graphic novel had several black characters, a bit more attention should have been paid to whether they’d still show up okay in panels with darker backgrounds. The panels featuring Prince Taji were really dark - his skin color seemed to almost be the same shade as the wall behind him, resulting in him blending into the background too much. In the webcomic he was perfectly visible, and I could see that he actually had some shading.

The print version includes a 3-page epilogue that isn’t present in the original webcomic. I’m really glad that O’Neill added it. It doesn’t just serve as extra content for folks who’ve read the webcomic, it also makes it clear that, yes, Amira and Sadie are not only a couple, they also get a nice little happily ever after just like any other fairy tale couple.

This was a fluffy and sweet graphic novel about two different princesses becoming more capable in their own ways and falling in love in the process. I wish it were maybe twice as long and that the print version’s colors were a little brighter, but overall this was a good read.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-05-29 19:54
Review: "Cress" (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
Cress - Marissa Meyer

Another volume, another heroine.

 

     Getting back in this world and meeting my favorite characters again made me really happy. Only after I started reading Cress, I realized how much I’ve missed them!

 

     The plot is well-paced, so when you see that the book has over 500 pages don’t freak out because it’s a fast-read, you will surely be sucked into the fictional world and the events will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end and will make you want it to have had even more pages.

 

      The story is told in multiple POVs, just like the previous two books, but Marissa's writing is so easy and straight forward that you won't get confused, even though there are a lot of events and plot twists that take place throughout the book.

 

 

     With every new book there are new characters added, each of them vibrant and full of personality and you will surely love them like I do. Cress is one of the characters that I have much sympathy for: she is so innocent, curious and full of life that you can’t not love her. She is such a sweetheart and a genius tech, Rapunzel-like but she is also really clumsy. Furthermore, she and Thorne make a cute pair.

     

      And for the world building, in each book we find more and more about Cinder’s world, about its history, its laws and so on, so Meyer is not just great at creating amazing characters but also great at constructing well-built fictional universes. What disappointed me in this volume was Wolf’s attitude, he acted the whole book as a jerk, I understand that what happened with Scarlet made him worried but ACTING LIKE A BASTARD WON’T HELP HER, YOU STUPID…! anyway, besides Wolf being useless I think there wasn’t anything else that bothered me…well, actually, maybe just the fact that Scarlet was almost absent from this installment, so I hope that she would appear more in the next volume.

 

      And, last but not least, I have to tell a few words about Iko too, because she is totally my favorite character!! I mean, I think Iko is surely the favorite character of all the ones that read this series. She has such a great personality, I love her humor and she seems more human than a human being even though she is a robot. Through the end Meyer gives us a glimpse of Winter, who seems a little weird but her personality intrigued me, so I can’t wait to read more about her in the next and last installment of the Lunar Chronicles series: Winter.

 

      If you haven't read this series yet, what are you waiting for?

 

     I’m going to start reading Winter, meanwhile I left you my favorite quote from the book:

 

 

“Captain?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you think it was destiny that brought us together?" He squinted and, after a thoughtful moment, shook his head. "No. I'm pretty sure it was Cinder.”

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