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review 2017-10-22 14:42
Book 69/100: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister - Gregory Maguire
This is one of the best Maguire books I've read, right up there with the first couple Oz retellings (I only read the first two but heard the later ones weren't as good.)

Similar to "Mirror, Mirror," Maguire places the story of Cinderella within a firm historical time and place -- Holland at the start of the tulip trade. But unlike "Mirror, Mirror," it doesn't have the strange conflagration of fantasy and historical realism that didn't quite work for me. "Confessions" could be read as a straight historical retelling with the characters holding onto some "magical" belief systems, or it could be read as a very subtle fantasy rooted in a historical setting. This ambiguity worked for me.

The stepmother and stepsisters, as well as the "Cinderella" character, are all vividly drawn. The stepmother comes across as both wicked and sympathetic -- surely not an easy feat to accomplish. As soon as I got over my hangup that it felt as if this story should be told first-person (it's CONFESSIONS, after all!), I enjoyed the masterful and detailed writing -- although the level of detail and the change the characters underwent in the course of the story made it feel as though it should have taken place over a longer span of time than it actually did. Still, that was a minor quibble -- and the minor "twist" at the end really worked for me.

The retelling genre teems with Cinderella stories, but this one moves to the front of the line for me.
 
 
 
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review 2017-09-29 02:04
Book 62/100: Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue
Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins - Emma Donoghue

So I guess I knew who Emma Donoghue was before she was "cool" (i.e., pre-ROOM), since this book has been on my shelf FOREVER ... but I didn't actually read it till after I'd read her more recent stuff. I'm generally 10-20 years behind on my TBR, though, so this is not at all unusual.

Having read her later stuff first, I can see that her writing voice is not quite as strong or refined in this collection, but the prose is still beautiful most of the time, with the exception of a few moments when it becomes vague or a little garbled. But as fairy tale retellings go, these are decent, not often changing the structure of the originals much, but casting their meaning in new light. In particular, I liked that the stories subverted the original trope common in fairy tales of women working against one another in competition, and instead presented heroines who were liberated by or in cooperation with the traditional "villains" in the story.

All of the retellings in this collection are connected, so the protagonist in one story is telling her tale to the protagonist of the previous tale. This forms a backwards running chain that I thought would somehow come full circle, but it didn't. In some cases, the revelation of who a minor character in one story was in her past made perfect sense -- in others, it felt like a stretch, and too bizarre to be meaningful (there are several instances of people being reincarnated as animals). Overall, this particular narrative device felt somewhat gimmicky, and I feel doubtful about whether Donoghue would have applied it later in her career as a more mature writer.

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review 2017-08-08 19:25
The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle  
The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle

These days we know from ranting, gibbering, racist, sexist, nasty-ass old men horrifying their friends and relations with pointless cruel stupidity, stunning everyone at the festive holiday gathering into silence. LaValle answers Lovecraft's most vile, offensive story, with a work of terrible beauty. "Ah, yes," you think as you close the shorts book: "that's what I wish I had thought to say." Order has been restored, the nasty old man has had his ass whipped in public.

You know what horror is? How far we haven't come in a century.

Damn, I love this story. I just want to go around smacking people upside the head with it, mostly figuratively. Perhaps the most thoroughly satisfying work I've ever read.

Library copy

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review 2017-08-05 22:34
Book Review For: Glamour: Contemporary Fairytale Retellings
Glamour: Contemporary Fairytale Retellings - AL Jackson,Sophie Jordan,Aleatha Romig,Skye Warren,Lili St. Germain,Nora Flite,Sierra Simone,Nicola Rendell

Glamour: Contemporary Fairytale Retellings is a box set with eight exclusive novellas by different authors:
1. KNOT by Lili St. Germain
A Rapunzel story
2. RED HOT PURSUIT by A.L. Jackson
A Little Red Riding Hood story
3. RIPPLES by Aleatha Romig
A Prince and the Pauper story
4. IN A STRANGER'S BED by Sophie Jordan
A Goldilocks story
5. BEDTIME STORY by Skye Warren
A Sleeping Beauty story
6. ROYAL MATTRESS by Nicola Rendell
A Princess and the Pea story
7. MUSIC BOX GIRL by Sierra Simone
A Twelve Dancing Princesses story
8. BROKEN HARP by Nora Flite
A Jack and the Beanstalk story
What the great thing about box set like this is that you can get a taste of new authors that you haven't tried before. Or a quick read by a favorite author. I know for me Ms. Jordan is a favorite so I quickly read that book first. Another thing I have always said about novella box set is that they are great for a quick read while waiting for an appointment or a story before bed.
Loved this set and would recommend it.
"My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
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Source: www.amazon.com/Glamour-Contemporary-Fairytale-Retellings-Jackson-ebook/dp/B071FNKD8Z/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500822070&sr=1-1&keywords=Glamour
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review 2017-08-03 16:05
The End of Oz - Danielle Paige

"Hi, Amy," I said. "Are you going to kill me now?"

I really liked this book. It ended on a good note and tied everything together nicely. Although the ending still left me wondering, I think this should be the last book because there's no reason to continue the series after what happened. I loved how Amy evolved since the first book. She became this strong, confident, powerful and caring person. Her and Nox's relationship was one of the things I loved about this series. It was full of love, compassion and trust.

In this book, Dorothy was stripped of her evil and we actually got to know her character from the alternate point-of-views which was great. I felt like I could actually understand how Dorothy felt when she did all of those horrible things to Oz. It's great to show both sides of the story, I applaud Danielle Paige for that.

At the ending, I was tearing up so much because of the feelings and emotions that were being displayed. I'm very glad that I decided to read this series. There were little typos throughout the book, like missing a period after a sentence or a misspelling of a word, but overall it was awesome.

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