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review 2017-03-27 02:40
"Our revels now are ended."
Hag-Seed - Margaret Atwood

I should have read The Tempest ahead of this, but I was over-eager in my excitement at getting my greedy little paws on a copy of Margaret Atwood's Hag-Seed. It worked out in the end, though, because she so kindly explained the basic plot of The Tempest at the end of the book, which helped clear up some of my questions.

 

Hag-Seed starts off a bit slow, with the betrayal and then multiple chapters of Felix sinking into delusions of the daughter he lost living with him. That is why this book, which I actually really loved, is a 4-star read and not 4.5 or 5. After 75 pages, I was actually thinking I might DNF this one, which is a very, very rare occurrence for me as I am stubborn and unable to let go of books once I start reading them.

 

Then I decided on a whim to push on, anyway.

 

Boy am I glad that I did. I recognized many of the basic elements of a good revenge plot as I read and, as Felix helped his prisoners, and thus the reader, get more familiar with the story of The Tempest, I slowly began to pick up on the lines Atwood had drawn between her characters and Shakespeare's.

 

Of course, the end result of a modern take on an old story is that the basic character, plot, and world development have been done, they just need embellishing and cleaning up a bit. We'll call that the gold paint on the cloak, for those who get the reference. This, I think, Atwood did very well. I felt bad for Felix, certainly, after what was done to him in the name of getting ahead, but also felt his madness just as Prospero in The Tempest was also a bit mad, and even questioned if he had gone too far at times. I think my favorite was 8Handz, though, for reasons I don't want to list here because it would give away too much of the story.

 

Overall, if you're a fan of retellings and/or Shakespeare, I would say to give this one a go. General Margaret Atwood fans may be a bit more split.

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review 2017-03-22 15:00
As Old as Time
As Old as Time - Liz Braswell

 

 

 

Have you ever wondered what would happen to Disney's Beauty and the Beast if someone took all the magic out of it?



... well this book is what happens.


“I’M NOT HUNGRY!” she screamed back, rage billowing out of her more forcefully than she had imagined possible. Thinking of the triplets and their behavior hadn’t improved her mood.

“YOU’LL COME OUT OR…I’LL BREAK DOWN THE DOOR!”

“HUFF AND PUFF ALL YOU LIKE, YOU MONSTROUS WOLF!” she spat. “GO RIGHT AHEAD! IT’S YOUR CASTLE, AFTER ALL. DO WHATEVER YOU WANT WITH IT. I’M JUST YOUR PRISONER!”

“YOU CAN’T STAY IN THERE FOREVER!” the Beast roared.

“JUST WATCH ME!” Belle spat back.

“FINE! THEN GO AHEAD AND STARVE!”


This childish dialogue between Belle and the Beast basically sums up As Old as Time: a caricature of the 90’s Disney version of Beauty and the Beast, that doesn’t delve deeper into the characters or the magical world. Instead As Old as Time is full of inconsistencies, over-done, flat, two-dimensional characters, and falls way short of the Disney film.

And by being ‘just’ a retelling of Disney’s story, the author didn’t have to come up with her own characters or world-building, instead she just piggy-backed on people’s childhood nostalgia – and utterly failed.


I DNF-ed the book, I hated Belle so much, felt sorry for the Beast, was generally confused by the inconsistencies of the story, and was annoyed by the boring characters.


I didn’t quite realize that this was a retelling of Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast, and not of the original book. I just picked it up in preparation for the live-action Disney film and was utterly disappointed. The author didn’t fix Disney’s mistakes and inconsistencies, took all magic and wonder out of it, and didn't expound more on the characters or the story backdrop.


In this retelling of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the Beast is enchanted by Belle’s mother. There was a backstory about why the Enchantress cursed the Beast (because the people of the kingdom turned against magic-users and fairy tale creatures and basically the prince - a child at the time … did nothing?). There was a mention in the book where the Beast said that he was a child when he was cursed and “what could I have done?”. But this doesn’t fix the problems the story-line has. The Enchantress’ reason for cursing the Beast was that: “there is no love in your heart at all, Prince–just like your parents…”.

BUT, the prince was an eleven-year-old boy when he was cursed because he was “selfish, spoiled and unkind”. Realistically how can a ten-year-old child learn to be unselfish and kind with no positive role models and no one to love him? That is not what happens to a child who is isolated, unloved, and turned into a hideous monster! And anyway what about other spoiled, rude, and selfish children - does the Enchantress go around arbitrarily handing our punishment?


If you think about it, a ten-year-old boy who has no parents and obviously learned from fairy tales to distrust haggard looking, old women should definitely not let the obviously-evil witch into his home!


If anything, fairy-tales taught us not to trust old women (and apples and stepmothers)!


Did the enchantress really expect the prince to learn to be kind, and caring, and loving by isolating him from the rest of the world, locking him into an enchanted castle that no one remembers, and by turning an unloved little boy into a hideous monster?

How the fuck is a child supposed to learn about kindness and generosity from a witch who cursed him and robbed him of his childhood for no good reason!

He was fucking right to turn that bitch away!



And the enchanted castle just raises soo many questions:

- Where do the original furniture go?

- Who decides which furniture stays and which is replaced by cursed servants?

- Are all furniture enchanted people? Or do the servants get sucked into the existing furniture?

- Is there sentient furniture that's not a person? And if so what happens to that furniture once the curse is lifted?

- How are the servants not majorly pissed at the beast after all those years?

- The beast grows up during his enchantment, so why doesn’t Chip grow up too? Or was he conceived during the enchantment? In that case how the fuck does a teapot conceive – and with what???

- What happens to the sentient pots of mustard and stuff when they get used up - do they die or are they replenished - and is that actually a person? If so what is the mustard made of?

- And finally, which poor soul got turned into the chamber pot?



I absolutely detested Belle in this book, and as someone who loved Belle in the Disney film, this made my disappointment so much greater. The prince is cursed for being selfish, spoiled, and unkind, but really Belle isn't any better. During the first 40% of the book Belle looks down her nose on everyone from her high horse and gives no thought to the consequences of her actions, she’s pretentious, arrogant, and condescending.

For example, when she destroys the Beast’s last chance at breaking the curse, she doesn’t take responsibility for her actions, basically she just shrugs and says: well you weren’t going to break the curse anyway so what difference does it make.

She gives “gentle insults” to the villagers and basically thinks she’s the only person with a brain in the village – not everyone has all day to read Belle! some people need to work hard to survive (this is in a time when rural France was poor and overpopulated).

And to top her arrogance off, she thinks that she’s way too good for the Beast, instead he should set his hopes for some” nice peasant girl”.

Belle is like the original hipster.

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review 2017-03-17 19:25
Book 9/100: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Carry On - Rainbow Rowell

This book took a little while to get going for me -- at first it felt as if Rowell was clearly out of her element writing fantasy -- and as someone who reads a lot of fantasy, I couldn't help but notice the shortcomings in worldbuilding, and just how LONG it seemed to take to set everything up; the story was about 1/3 of the way in before the plot really got going. Everything else was just showing us what it was like to be a student at Rowell's version of a magical school.

However, this book can really be read on two different levels: as a fantasy story in its own right, or as commentary on the world of Harry Potter.

It's passable as a story in its own right, but as commentary on the Harry Potter franchise, it is brilliant.

The parallels and nods to J.K. Rowling's worlds are obvious -- after all, the book started as an obvious stand-in for Harry Potter and Potter fan culture in its original incarnation in [book:Fangirl|16068905]. It's in the departures from Rowling's world that Rowell really drives her points home. Her version of a magical wizarding school is far more culturally and ethnically diverse than Rowling's, and it includes gay characters who don't have to wait for the whole series to be completed before being "outed" (::coughcough:: Dumbledore being gay after the fact was a copout ::cough cough::). It is, of course, much edgier than Rowling's world, with plenty of swearing and some making out, although certain aspects of it were strangely chaste. (Like, why did we never know the extent of Simon's and Agnes's sexual relationship even though they had been together for three years? Am I the only one who wondered about this?) It also examines the whole idea of the "chosen one" mythos and especially takes a jab at the somewhat creepy/inappropriate/irresponsible relationship between Dumbledore and Harry that is glossed over as perfectly healthy, warm, and admirable in Rowling's book. By contrast, the Mage (Dumbledore's stand-in), is an ethically ambiguous character, ultimately more dark than light, but for a long time Simon sees him through an adoring child's eyes much the way Harry sees Dumbledore. The difference is that Simon's perception of the Mage matures; Harry's never does.

It's somewhat strange to come in reading the "last book" in a series when the earlier books in the series do not actually exist. I couldn't help but notice how much more of an impact this story probably would have had on me if I had been following these characters' lives for years rather than being dropped into their world in the final act. I'm not sure I would have wanted to commit to seven books of this, anyway, but it's definitely a worthwhile read. It's got that Rowell "relationship magic" if that's what you go in for, but it's also a smart, incisive critique of what is arguably the most influential children's series of our lifetimes.

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review 2017-03-13 01:53
Book 5/100: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus - L. Frank Baum

When I was young, the toy-mation movie adaptation of this book was one of my favorite Christmas movies ever. It still is, although I don't watch it with the regularity of, say Muppet Christmas Carol. It was always a bit obscure -- it was not played every year like Rudolph or Frosty, and a lot of people had never seen it. I was thrilled to finally find it on VHS and later on DVD so that I can enjoy it for every Christmas and share it with my own kid(s) someday.

All of that preamble is to say that it was impossible for me to read this without my perception being clouded by nostalgia. Because the movie actually follows the book very well, reading the book was like seeing the movie in my mind once again -- and we've already established that I love the movie. Objectively speaking, if I read this without the context of my fondness for it, it may have felt a little like one of those books that was just one thing happening after the other without a really clear through-line. On the other hand, the prose was very often quite beautiful and it was easy to get swept away in the magic of the setting and the nostalgia of a Christmas origin story. I do think it's a pity that this is not as well known as Baum's Oz books, because I found it to be just as magical (although, like the Oz books, it did get a little clunky at the end.)

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review 2017-03-10 20:56
I, Robot meets Beauty and the Beast…
Ensnared - Rita Stradling

Book Title: Ensnared

Author: Rita Stradling

Series: Stand-Alone

Genre: Modern Fairytale Retelling, Romance

Publisher: This is a Kindle Scout Book

Source: I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

 

 

 

⇝Add to Goodreads⇜

 

 

 

 

 

♪♫My Pick For Book Theme Song♫♪

Alive by Adelitas Way  --This is for Alainn and Lorccan…I searched for awhile on the internet looking at all sorts of songs and then decided to listen to my own songs and found this one, I thought…this is perfect!!!  This song actually makes me like this story a little more than I already did.

 

♫And I'll be hanging on every word you say to me.

Hanging on a feeling that I get,

'Cause you make me

Laugh a little louder,

Love a little harder.♫

 

 

 

⇝Ratings Breakdown⇜

 

Plot:  4.3/5

Characters:  4.5/5

The Feels:  4/5

Addictiveness:  5/5

Theme:  5/5

Flow:  3.8/5

Backdrop (World Building):  4/5

Originality:  4/5

Book Cover:  5/5

Ending:  5/5 Cliffhanger:  No

 

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

 

 

⇝My Thoughts⇜

 

I really liked this, is it without faults, no, but the faults did not take away from my overall enjoyment.

The writing starts out a little choppy, but evens itself out for the most part, about a 1/3 of the way through.  At least I think it did…or I could have just adjusted to the style.  I liked the futuristic aspect of this, it just doesn't always come off as believable.  There are elements that transpire that seem over-the-top and hard to fathom but, ultimately the sweet love story of Alainn and Lorccan is what kept me reading.  Plus, the oddly weird, but mostly likable assortment of supporting characters…especially the monkeys.  I loved the monkeys!

⇝Sex Factor⇜  This is a Beauty and the Beast spin for the adult crowd, while it is explicit at times it's not overdone at all.

 

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