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review 2018-02-24 08:31
Review: The Wily Witch, by Godfried Bomans
The Wily Witch and All the Other Fairy Tales and Fables - Godfried Bomans,Patricia Crampton,Wouter Hoogendijk
It's a risky proposition to go back and reread books that meant a lot to you as a child. They often warp or shrink or mildew to mulch over time.
 
I first read The Wily Witch somewhat late in my sheltered childhood. I was in the sixth or seventh grade, and it had never occurred to me that fairy tales could be dark or subversive or lewd. Not that this book pushes any of those boundaries very far, but there are some twisted endings, some questionable morals, and a boob or a penis or two in the illustrations.
 
... I guess I should back up for a minute and describe what this book even is. Godfried Bomans was a beloved Dutch author, humorist, and TV personality who was active from the 50's to his death in 1971. Among other things, he was known for writing witty modern fairy tales (sprookjes). Though his work remains somewhat popular in the Netherlands, most of his books were never translated into English, and I don't think The Wily Witch ever made much of a splash in the English-speaking world.
 
I originally found it in my school library in Ohio - god knows why they had a copy. The book contains a few dozen fairy tales, none more than a couple of pages long, along with the original (and charmingly bizarre) illustrations by Wouter Hoogendijk.
 
There are two stories I distinctly remembered from reading it back then:
 
1) "The Innkeeper of Pidalgo", whose titular character is known throughout the land for his succulent roast. When a famine strikes, he is heartbroken - not because his family is starving (though they are), but because he can no longer enchant travelers with his cooking. When the king stops by and requests the famous roast, the innkeeper can't bring himself to refuse. In a few days' time, he manages to obtain and prepare the most amazing cut of meat for the king and his entourage. Everyone marvels over it until one of the courtiers notices that the sickly-looking Innkeeper has a wooden leg...
 
2) "The King in His Undershirt", which is about a king who, while frolicking through a cornfield for no apparent reason, realizes he has to take a shit. That's basically the entire story, but it's really the illustration that stuck in my memory:
 
 
 
So I mean, it's really pretty mild stuff. But at the time I thought this book was ridiculously cool.
 
Rereading it now, I realized that the reason I didn't remember most of the other stories is that they are fairly unmemorable, though some are quite funny and some are refreshingly bleak. It's really the illustrations that feel subversive to me now - it's one thing to read a story about a bunch of angry villagers murdering a poor blackberry picker (he convinced them he was rich, when really it was just nature that was his palace), it's another to see a full-page illustration of him hanging from a tree. And, in another story about a man who was despised for being too happy all the time, I could really do without the depiction of his gory decapitated head laughing manically on the scaffold.
 
So I can really only recommend this book as a curio. It's too graphic for young children, but it's not twisted or salacious enough to interest fans of more adult-oriented fairytale reimaginings. While many of the stories are sly and satirical, there are just as many that are cloyingly earnest. It's just as sexist as any medieval specimen of the genre, and it doesn't push the envelope compellingly far in any particular direction.
 
But it DOES have that bare-assed pooping king. So... at least there's that.
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review 2018-02-22 02:48
Burning Girls by Veronica Schanoes
Burning Girls - Veronica Schanoes

*Enters room filled with cobwebs and dust* 

 

Uh... hello? Is anyone still here? *Coughs from ball of dust* 

 

Phew! It's been a while since I've been able to sit down and read anything. Life has not been kind to me. The beginning of 2018 was so peaceful and productive... for about two weeks. Then Hell came and slapped me in the face and I've been trying to get back on my feet ever since. And let me tell you, it has not been easy. However, I am back and I am ready to tackle my TBR head-on! With that said, I was able to read a short story which I enjoyed quite a bit.

 

Now, seeing as how it's been a while since I've read anything, I decided starting off with a short story to ease me back into reading was a good move to make. And I was right. I read Burning Girls from Tor.com and it was such a harrowing read. It follows a Jewish girl's life living in Poland where she faces discrimination from the Cossacks and how magic can be a double-edge sword for the young witch. This short story covers so many topics. From Jewish tradition to history to even mythology. I was intrigued by the story from the very start.

 

Schanoes's writing style is very crisp. Since her main character is rather blunt and cold-hearted, her writing showed that very same bluntness without ever becoming bland. She has an incredibly flowing writing style and I really am interested in reading more of her works in the future.

 

As for her characters, I felt that a lot of them didn't have enough time to develop into fully fledged beings. I suppose that's what happens sometimes with short stories. Her main character, Deborah, was the only one that actually showed any type of growth. Although she is someone I consider to be highly unlikeable, she does learn to empathize a little with those around her and learns not to judge as harshly as she did at the beginning of the story. Shayna, Deborah's sister, throughout most of the story acted like a petulant child, which annoyed me greatly. I did, however, enjoyed her transformation towards the end of it. Still, I wish I got to know these characters a bit more before reading the end of the story.

 

Speaking of the ending, wow. That was well done and fit well with the rest of the story. I liked how it grabs you and reminds you of the harshness of reality. Life is rough and you don't always get what you hoped for no matter how hard you try... and that sucks. Man, this story made me feel so many emotions!

 

In short, read this story. It's really good. I did have my problems with some of the characters but I did enjoy the magical and fairy tale elements. If you love learning about Jewish culture, fairy tales, and a bit of history, read this story. It's quite the harrowing, dark read, but a good one nonetheless. 

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review 2018-02-12 19:33
Down The Rabbit Hole – Untamed by A G Howard @aghowardwrites
Untamed - A.G. Howard

 

Untamed (Splintered, #3.5)

Amazon Goodreads

 

MY ONE SENTENCE REVIEW

 

I won a first edition hardcover of Untamed by A G Howard some time ago and all I can say is…WOW…why did I wait so long to read this Alice in Wonderland remake that is so creatively, wondrously written, with a fantasy world anyone would want to get lost in and meet the  fabulous characters, both human and fantasy, that will make this impossible to put down.
 

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 5 Stars

 

GOODREADS BLURB

 

A post-Ensnared collection of three stories—available in both print and e-versions.

 

Alyssa Gardner went down the rabbit hole and took control of her destiny. She survived the battle for Wonderland and the battle for her heart. In this collection of three novellas, join Alyssa and her family as they look back at their memories of Wonderland.

In Six Impossible Things, Alyssa recalls the most precious moments of her life after Ensnared, and the role magic plays in preserving the happiness of those she loves. Alyssa’s mother reminisces about her own time in Wonderland and rescuing the man who would become her husband in The Boy in the Web. And Morpheus delves into Jeb’s memories of the events of Splintered in The Moth in the Mirror, available in print for the first time.

 

This collection expands upon Ensnared‘s epilogue, and includes some deleted scenes to provide a “director’s cut” glimpse into the past and futures of our favorite Splintered characters.

 

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/rabbit-hole-untamed-g-howard-aghowardwrites
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review 2018-01-21 01:51
Interesting take on fairy tales
Regal Academy #1: A School for Fairy Tales - Luana Vergari,Bendetta Barone

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

 

                I haven’t seen the series on Nickelodeon, so I am coming to this as a newbie.

 

                The story is a high school for the children or grandchildren of famous fairy tale characters.  We are introduced to Rose who has a thing for shoes and literally falls though the rabbit hole.  She discovers her relationship to Cinderella and is introduced to new friends, including a young woman who likes creepy crawlies but can also turn into a frog.  There is a male Snow White too.

 

                In many ways, the story is a mash up of Harry Potter ideas and a show like Disney’s Descendants.  The fairy tale kids learn how to use magic, including pumpkin magic, and there is even some dragon riding.

 

                While the mean girl and crew trope is used here, the story is largely about friends working together to succeed.  Additionally, while the female characters are stereotypical drawn (in some cases without enough room for a stomach), there is no emphasis on looks.  While Rose’s parents don’t look old enough to be her parents, her grandmother at least has wrinkles.

 

                The stories are engaging, and the female characters do not need saving.  In fact, it’s fun to read stories where female leads are feminine, friends, and not simply guys with boobs.

 

                There are some nice cute nods to other versions – including a wonderful mouse character, Rose’s intense desire for shoes, and Rapunzel’s hair. 

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review 2018-01-19 01:26
Pib's Dragon (Twisted Fairy Tales) by Beany Sparks
Pib's Dragon (Twisted Fairy Tales) - Beany Sparks

The first half was OK, I was thinking 3-3.5 stars, but second part was full of info dumps and unnecessary details.
Uber convenient magical abilities and handy magical artifacts popping up at the times of need don't add stars either.

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