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review 2016-05-10 18:00
In the Land of Stories: Beyond the Kingdoms by Chris Colfer

Beyond the Kingdoms (The Land of Stories) - Chris Colfer Love this series! Can't wait for the next one! It comes out on July 12th! 

This is the fourth In the Land of Stories novel, for my reviews on the previous three, follow the links for book one, two, and three. This series doesn't exist in a single long story, like some others do. Each one stands on its own, though the history of the previous one influences that later stories. They build on the original versions of fairy tales and intertwine in a great way. I love the way this one has started to incorporate even more types of stories! 

 

It's a great middle-grade book when you're in the mood for one or doing  the Read Harder challenge.

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review 2015-10-09 16:05
awesome steampunk take on Frankenstein!
This Monstrous Thing - Mackenzi Lee

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.

This Monstrous Thing is an awesome steampunk take on the Frankenstein story that breathes new life (ha ha!) into the monster tale. When Alasdair's brother Oliver dies, Alasdair brings him back to life using clockwork parts but he doesn't come back the same way he was before he died. Then the book fast forwards two years.

Alasdair keeps the fact that he brought Oliver back to life a secret from their parents, and I wondered why. I could see both pros and cons of letting them know the son they thought was dead was alive again in some way, but I think ultimately Alasdair feared for Oliver's safety. Clockwork men and women are hated and feared, and Alasdair knew he couldn't hide Oliver forever if he brought him home.

I wasn't a fan of Alasdair's father - he was too gruff with his living son. If I only had one son who was still alive, I'd like to think I wouldn't be so tough on him. I guess it was because of the difficult life their family leads due to the secret and illegal work they do with clockwork parts. Still, I wasn't a fan of their father.

I do like Alasdair and Oliver. Their relationship sounded very close before Oliver died, but it changed after Oliver was brought back from the dead. It changed in ways Alasdair couldn't have predicted, and I loved the exploration of their relationship and the factors that changed it.

Admittedly there were a couple of slow moments in This Monstrous Thing; however, I still enjoyed the story. I love that there's an exploration of what makes us human and the question of whether that humanity is wiped away (and if so how much?) when you start adding mechanical, moving parts to keep the body going. But most of all, how much humanity remains when you die and are brought back with mostly mechanical parts? When you can't remember much of your life?

If you're a fan of Frankenstein and are looking for a fresh re-imagining of the story involving a tale of two brothers, then This Monstrous Thing will be right up your alley.

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text 2015-08-04 15:48
Top Ten Tuesday: August 4
Briar Rose - Jane Yolen
Tam Lin - Pamela Dean,Terri Windling
Zel - Donna Jo Napoli
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories - Angela Carter
Spinners - Donna Jo Napoli,Richard Tchen
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister - Gregory Maguire
The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold - Francesca Lia Block
Snow White And Rose Red - Patricia C. Wrede
Fitcher's Brides (Fairy Tale (Tor)) - Gregory Frost
The Nightingale - Kara Dalkey

(Original Top Ten Tuesday concept from The Broke and the Bookish)

 

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is Best Fairytale Retellings I Have Read and/or Want to Read.

 

Reimaginings of fairy tales and classic stories is one of my favorite genres. I've read quite a few, but there are a lot out there still to tackle, so I've split the list between "read" and "want to read." Some of these are compilations rather than single stories (The Bloody Tower, The Rose and the Beast). I probably could have easily made a whole list out of the Donna Jo Napoli books I've read and loved (she seems to specialize in YA fairytale retellings), but I limited it to my absolute favorites to give room to others I have enjoyed.

 

Read:

 

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. The Sleeping Beauty story told in the context of the Holocaust.

 

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean. A very bookish campus novel that reimagines the Scottish folktale of Tam Lin and the Fairy Queen.

 

Zel by Donna Jo Napoli. Rapunzel in 1500s Switzerland. I recall it as a very beautiful YA love story, though I read it years ago.

 

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. A classic feminist reimagining of multiple famous fairy tales, though the title comes from a version of Bluebeard.

 

Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli. Napoli reimagines the story of Rumpelstiltskin, giving new motivations and greater depth the the characters.

 

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. It's been a while since I've read this, but I remember being fascinated by the nuance Maguire gives his characters.

 

The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block. A charming, if very short, collection of multiple retellings.

 

Want to read:

 

Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede. Wrede sets her version of the famous tale in Elizabethan England.

 

Fitcher’s Brides by Gregory Frost. This one recasts Bluebeard as a charismatic preacher in mid-19th century New York. This is probably the one I want to read the most.

 

The Nightingale by Kara Dalkey. Dalkey recasts the Andersen tale in the court of ancient Japan.

 

(These three to-read titles are all part of the same Fairy Tales series, as are Briar Rose and Tam Lin, edited and compiled by Terri WIndling, who often worked with Ellen Datlow on their famous anthologies).

 

BONUS to read: All the Ellen Datlow-edited short story anthologies (Snow White, Rose Red; Black Heart, Ivory Bones; etc). I have several of them, and have dipped in and out, but I really want to read them all eventually.

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text 2015-05-30 03:41
Notes on Adaptation: Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1) - Hilary Mantel
Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel

What more can I possibly say to add to the loads of critics who have heaped praise on the adaptation of Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" and "Bring Up the Bodies" that aired recently on PBS? 

 

In adaptation, I look for four things: Faithfulness to plot, characterization, dialogue, and theme. This production exceeded my expectations in all these things. Mostly, though, I was entranced by the inscrutable face of Mark Rylance. Pure magic.

 

But what makes a production transcend, for someone who has the spirit of a reader, are the details that prove the adapters also are readers and are giving you their love for the book. This production was so faithful in detail, and often, those details manifested without having attention drawn to them -- they were just there, correct, filling in the lines perfectly.

 

Three examples from this show: Cromwell's "yellow turkey comforter," the rose and grey gown with pearls that Queen Anne wears in a particular scene, and the funny little Italian ditty Cromwell sings when he's going through a complicated set of machinations. Thank you, thank you, filmmakers, for proving your love for the text with the subtlety of a butterfly's wing and a painter's brush. 

 

-cg

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review 2015-04-07 20:24
fresh and unique read!
Red - Alyxandra Harvey
I received a review copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.

Red's synopsis sounded intriguing to me, and that cover is gorgeous! Alyxandra Harvey is an author who's been on my to-read list for quite a while, and I'm thrilled to say I'm a fan.

I really liked Kia right away - she's snarky (I'd snark right along with her any day!), clever, and oh yeah, can start fires with her mind. As you can probably imagine, that's a problem, especially because she can't control it - she gets kicked out of her school and sent to live with her grandmother, Abby.

One of my favorite television series of all time is Heroes, so when Kia decides not to tell the truth about things she's getting in trouble for even though they aren't her fault, I totally get that. She's afraid the truth could go one of two ways - no one would believe her, or she'd become a government experiment. In Heroes, the characters had extraordinary abilities like Kia, and they were hunted down by the government, so Kia's reasoning was solid to me.

I kept wondering why Kia calls her grandmother Abby instead of Grandma. They saw each other once a year before Kia goes to live with her, so they don't know each other all that well. But still, it seemed odd to me. I liked Abby.

Ethan runs hot and cold. At times I liked him, and other times I didn't. He can be kind and generous but also just plain rude. Because he's in the know about the mysterious woods from the start and Kia isn't, I guess he was going for the tough love thing? Maybe he thought he was helping her out? But he can see there's more to her than she lets on, and he's smart. There's much more to her than meets the eye.

Red is fast paced with plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested and turning the pages. You can feel Kia's struggle to control her ability, and I wanted her to come out with the truth but understood why she was hesitant about the idea. For me, Red is a quick read, and I was engrossed from the beginning. Kia had a lot to do with that. I just really loved her character from the first page. I recommend this to anyone who loves a good young adult paranormal read.
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