Tag: fairy tales

Aug 17

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

Fairy Tales, Roaring 20s 5

What’s the word, Bookworms?

The word as in the secret password. To the speakeasy. We’re gonna rouge our knees and pull our stockings down and all that jazz fairy tale style! I love a good fairy tale retelling, don’t you? A few weeks back I was in the mood for a good trip into “once upon a time” and I came across The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine.

thegirlsatthekingfisherclubThe Girls at the Kingfisher Club takes the classic tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses and injects an infectious dose of 1920s flair. Truth be told, I wasn’t familiar with The Twelve Dancing Princesses before I read this book, so if you live under that rock with me, I’ll paraphrase. Once upon a time there were twelve princesses sequestered in a castle. They seem to live a sheltered life but every morning their dancing shoes are worn through as they secretly sneak out to dance every night. Move that scenario to New York City in the 1920s and you’ve got The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. The twelve Hamilton girls live their lives in the captivity of a brownstone. Their tyrannical father keeps them at home because he’s a big jerk and he’s ashamed that he has twelve daughters and no sons. Did I mention he’s a big jerk?

Jo and her sisters have a single rebellion in that they sneak out to speakeasies and dance the nights away. Foxtrots, waltzes, and Charlestons, these gals know how to cut a rug. This wildly entertaining novel seamlessly blends fairy tale magic with historical fiction. I absolutely adored the 1920s fun and the rebellious “princesses.” If you’re in the mood for a fairy tale retelling OR a jaunt that’s the cat’s pajamas, pick up a copy of The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

Talk to me Bookworms! Is there a fairy tale that you feel like you missed somewhere along the way? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Aug 04

Fairy Tale Retellings: A Top Ten Tuesday List

Fairy Tales, Top Ten Tuesday 12

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

There are very few things I love more than a good list. I’m extra super excited today as the folks at The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list our favorite fairy tale retellings. Buckle up your “once upon a times,” bookworms, we’re heading toward a “happily ever after.” It’s TOP TEN TUESDAY TIME!

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1. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: I just finished this last week and what fun! It takes the classic The Twelve Dancing Princesses and places it in 1920s New York City. I wasn’t super familiar with The Twelve Dancing Princesses as it managed to escape my childhood collection of books, Disney movies, and Faerie Tale Theatre episodes. I think that made The Girls at the Kingfisher Club an extra fun experience for me.

2. The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories by Angela Carter: This book is a fabulous collection of short stories based on fairy tales with a feminist twist. I highly recommend it for those of you craving empowered heroines.

3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (review): I couldn’t possibly make this list without including The Lunar Chronicles. Cyborg Cinderella is simply too much fun to be missed!

4. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire: From the dude who gave the Wicked Witch of the West some depth, the “ugly” stepsisters are finally getting to tell their side of the story. It had some unexpected twists I was rather fond of. A great departure from your standard Cinderella

5. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (review): Little Red Riding Hood is one of my favorite fairy tales ever. Girl had style, you know? That cape! Marissa Meyer’s crazy Lunar Chronicles continue with Scarlet, driven from the obscurity of her farm in the French countryside and into the arms of the big bad wolf. Rawr.

once upon a time

6. Cress by Marissa Meyer (review): Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair! From your satellite where you’ve been imprisoned doing computer things. Muahahahaha! This series is so darn fun. The Lunar Chronicles, FTW! Unfortunately, I haven’t yet tackled the latest installment on the series, but don’t worry. I will get there!

7. Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (review): Historical fiction mixed with another retelling of Rapunzel? A winning combination. I love when authors dig down into a fairy tale’s origin story. Delicious.

8. While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell (review): Sleeping Beauty, represent! Another historical fiction meets fairy tale. I was kind of hard on this book when I initially reviewed it because I have such low tolerance for insta-love, but you sort of have to expect such things in fairy tales, right?

9. Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire (review): In this retelling of Snow White, Gregory Maguire not only delved into historical fiction, but he also used an ACTUAL historical figure in the novel. Though I think he was probably pretty unfair to Lucrezia Borgia, it was a rather innovative interweaving of real happily ever afterhistory, magic, and general craziness.

10. Once Upon a Crime by PJ Brackston (review): Ever wondered what happened to Hansel and Gretel after they escaped the witch in the gingerbread house? Well. Gretel is a private detective solving fairy tale crimes, naturally. Hansel is kind of a drunk, but a lovable one. You can’t expect to be imprisoned and threatened with being eaten and come out of it without some psychological damage.

Talk to me, Bookworms! What are some of your favorite Fairy Tales? And do any of y’all have a recommendation for a fractured or historical fiction or generally fun version of Beauty and the Beast? I’ve got a hankering for MORE FAIRY TALES!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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May 21

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Audio Books, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Mythology 15

Dearest Bookworms,

Have you ever heard people claim they’d love to have Morgan Freeman narrate their lives? Morgan Freeman is a whole lot of wonderful, I’ll grant you (March of the Penguins, holla!) However. I’m convinced people find the decision to nominate Morgan Freeman as their life’s narrator such a simple one is because they’ve yet to listen to Neil Gaiman read one of his books aloud. Thanks to Scribd, I’ve been audio-booking more than ever and one of my first selections was Stardust by the man himself. (Neil Gaiman, not Morgan Freeman. I don’t know if Morgan Freeman writes books. He might, he’s probably good at everything and spends his free time teaching poverty stricken children how to play the violin, but I digress…)

stardustStardust is a whimsical fairy tale following a young Tristran Thorne. He lives in the town of Wall, England which lies on the border between this world and Faerie. Tristran spends his time going about his daily life all Victorian style and pining for the town beauty, Victoria Forester. One evening Tristran and Victoria see a shooting star. Victoria tells Tristran she will marry him if he retrieves the star for her, and so he sets out on a quest to find it. Unbeknownst to Tristran, his visit to Faerie will be something of a homecoming, as he’s the product of a tryst between his mortal father and an enslaved faerie princess. His adventures beyond the wall include battling witches, elf lords, curses, magic, and mayhem of the best kind.

I have heard tell that the movie version of Stardust is better than the book (blasphemy? Perhaps, but it’s been known to happen.) Clearly I need to see this movie, because the book was utterly charming with just the right amount of Gaiman-style darkness. Fans of Neil Gaiman, fairy tales, and good old fashioned quests ought to pick this up. And then probably see the movie, because it’s apparently awesome.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Have any of you seen a shooting star? Meteor shower? A plane you pretended was a shooting star just so you could make a wish? (Seriously, I cannot be the only one to have done that plane thing…)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 16

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Fairy Tales, Historical Fiction 26

Bookworms, Bookworms, let down your hair!

I’m eeeeeeeevil and have locked you in a tower and forced you to grow your hair to unimaginable lengths that don’t occur in nature and now I want to use it as a rope, damnit! Heck yes, y’all, I just finished reading Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, a re-telling of Rapunzel. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration through NetGalley. May I be locked in a tower if this review is untrue.*

bittergreensBitter Greens begins with a note about how the folk tale Rapunzel originally surfaced in Italy but its best known published version appeared in France. What follows is Forsyth’s imagining of how the tale managed to travel. It gives a fictionalized account of the life of the French author, Charlotte-Rose de la Force as well as a creative interpretation of Rapunzel’s origin story.

Charlotte-Rose was a courtier in Louis XIV’s lavish and fickle court. After a series of scandals, Charlotte-Rose is, for all intents and purposes, disposed of in a poverty ridden convent. Out of sight, out of mind, no? Her greatest love was writing, but even that is denied to her inside the cloisters. It certainly doesn’t help anything that Charlotte-Rose was raised a Huguenot and was forced to convert to Catholicism… And then, you know, unceremoniously dumped in a convent. Bad form, Louis.

In any case, Charlotte-Rose is in a bit of a pickle, but comes to befriend Sœur Seraphina who comes to teach her the glories of gardening and shares her stories. What story do you think she starts with?! Why, a young maiden locked in a tower with a ginormous length of hair, of course!

Fairy tale retellings can be a bit hit or miss for me, but Bitter Greens was a big hit. It had all my favorite historical fiction elements; I felt like I was IN these times. And there was plague. MUAHAHAHAHA! Really though, the best part of this novel from my perspective was that the witch got a fantastically developed back story. I like my villains to have depth, and Selena Leonelli was one complex lady. If you like historical fiction, fairy tales, and interwoven storylines, Bitter Greens is your book, y’all!

Alright Bookworms, let’s talk villains! Who’s your favorite fairy tale villain? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will NOT be using it on hair extensions, because at the moment, long hair seems incredibly over-rated.*

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Apr 24

Give Me a Head of Hair, Long, Beautiful Hair: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Fairy Tales, Young Adult Fiction 16

Hello Bookity Bookworms!

You know I dig a fractured fairy tale, right? I just finished up the latest installment of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles by reading Cress. If you’re interested, I read and reviewed both Cinder (review) and Scarlet (review) once upon a time as well. Re-reading those posts, I don’t think they reflect how much I really enjoyed these books. I’m going to try to be better this time! Obviously, this is the third book in the series, so talking about it might be a little SPOILERY for the preceding books, and maybe a tiny bit spoilery for Cress  (but only if you can’t guess at super obvious things.) Of course, the books are all based on fairy tales, so you probably know where it’s going anyway. Still. Warning.

cressCress is a retelling of Rapunzel. Cress was born on the moon, but since the Lunars are all evil and stuff, she was sent to die when it was discovered she was a “shell” (that’s the equivalent of a Squib to you Potterheads.) Instead of being killed, Cress was raised in some creepy moon tunnels and imprisoned in a satellite when her talent for computer programming and hacking was discerned. She was stuck in the satellite (er, “tower”) and her hair grew super long. Then, you know, Cinder and Scarlet and the gang are chilling in their spaceship and decide to rescue Cress. Only, things go wrong, adventure ensues. Adventure with androids and spaceships and crashes and deserts and wicked Lunars, naturally.

I think this series is a blast- it’s a lot of fun to toy around with fairy tales and give them new life. As far as Cress goes, I liked that Meyer didn’t fixate on the whole hair thing overmuch, and used some of the elements of the Rapunzel legend that people tend to forget about. Thorne as a character reminds me a LOT of the dashing Flynn Rider (or Eugene Fitzherbert, as it were) from Disney’s Tangled. The thing is, it felt a little too borrowed maybe, because in old school Rapunzel, the handsome prince was just a plain old prince, not a bad boy gone good. That said, I still totally would have fallen for a smolder look from Thorne.

And because I’m nitpicking, Wolf’s ongoing obsession with Scarlet felt very Twilight to me— the fixation seemed a lot like the whole “imprinting” thing. Then again, wolves do have their alphas, so maybe that’s more a wolf trait than a Twilight trait? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure if it came to a wolf fight, Wolf the mutant super soldier could kick Jacob Black’s furry backside. I’m pretty stoked for the final installment, because it’s based on Snow White , and I’m anticipating the mother of all happily ever afters!

Bookworms! I must know. Anybody else out there digging The Lunar Chronicles? Do you love a good fractured fairy tale? What’s your favorite? I’m all ears! (The better to hear you with, of course.)

*If you make a purchase through this site I will receive a small commission. It will be re-invested into books, most likely, because I have a problem.*

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Feb 20

While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

Coming of Age, Fairy Tales, Friendship 12

Dearest Bookworms,

Once upon a time, a publisher emailed me with an offer to review a fractured fairy tale. While Beauty Slept
by Elizabeth Blackwell tells a less Disney-fied version of the classic Sleeping Beauty tale. *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was threatened with zero poisoned spinning wheels.*

while beauty slept

The story begins with a very old Elise telling the story of her life to her great-granddaughter. Elise started her life being raised on a farm in an unspecified medieval-ish time. Her upbringing is poverty stricken- she’s no stranger to hunger… Or to sharing her bed with younger siblings. One day, THE POX attacks. Blackwell doesn’t specify what type of pox it is, so I googled… I think it’s supposed to be smallpox, but I’m not entirely sure if smallpox can theoretically spread from cows to pigs to humans… (Mira Grant and her scientific explanations have RUINED me for other authors’ fictional plagues… Vague poxes will no longer suffice!)

Anyway. The plague wipes out most of Elise’s family and at 14, she takes a position as a servant in the local castle. That’s what you do, if you’re lucky. At least you get fed at regular intervals. If you’re unlucky, you get stuck hanging out with poxy pigs, and nobody’s got time for that! While at court, Elise rises quickly. She’s soon attending to the queen and later the princess, all under the shadow of some seriously bad blood between the royal family and the king’s wicked, wicked aunt, Millicent.

I enjoyed the grittier version of Sleeping Beauty. I love a good plague, and I like when fairy tale re-tellings don’t rely exclusively on a Prince Charming. Elise, Queen Lenore, and Millicent are no shrinking violets. Strong female characters rock. What didn’t rock quite so much for me was the abundance of insta-love. I know it’s a fairy tale, but sheesh. Love at first sight right and left. sleepingbeauty

I also could have done without the really heavy handed foreshadowing. It’s hard to be surprised by a turn of events or a personality change in a critical character when you’re continuously smacked over the head with phrases like, “if only I’d known what she would become” or “it was the last time they would be happy,” etc. I wanted to shake old lady Elise and tell her to get on with the story already! I think you have to be a broody Victorian to make that sort of thing work.

Overall, this book was alright for me. Nothing to prick my finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel over, but a pleasant enough way to pass the time. If fairy tales are your thing, I recommend taking a trip down fairy tale lane with While Beauty Slept

Tell me, Bookworms. What’s your favorite fairy tale?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Feb 15

Hey There, Little Red Riding Hood: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Dystopian, Fairy Tales 17

Happy Friday Bookworms!

It’s time to delve back into the wonder that is Project Fairy Tale. I’ve mentioned that the lovely Alison at The Cheap Reader is hosting this event, but I should also mention that my pal Quirky Chrissy (who I know in real life and EVERYTHING) is also participating by dissecting Rumpelstiltskin. Check them out if you’re so inclined. Now, without further ado…

projectfairytalebutton2

Remember back a couple of weeks ago when I reviewed Cinder by Marissa Meyer? The cyborg Cinderella? Of COURSE you remember that. Who could forget? Meyer came back for round two of her fractured fairy tale world of wonder with Scarletwhich is based on my number one girl, Little Red Riding Hood. It’s going to be really hard to not spoil Cinder for you, since this is a sequel, so if you haven’t read it yet and you want to be all surprised and stuff, stop reading this right now. I’m having guilt because I’m THE WORST at keeping spoilers quiet, and most of the time I ruin things without realizing it. Sorry y’all.

We start off by meeting our Little Red Riding Hood. Her name is Scarlet. She’s got red hair and she rocks a red hooded sweatshirt (dip dip dip sweeeeeatshirt sham-a-lama ding dong.) She’s lives with her Grand-Mere (FRENCH! I wish I knew how to make accent marks…) on their farm. They grow vegetables, and for some unearthly reason, milk the cows by hand. Personally, I don’t get that. They’ve got all these robots to work in the fields and stuff, but they’ve got to milk the cow themselves. My suspicious eyebrow is raised (his name is Johnny.) Anyhow, Scarlet’s granny has gone missing, and Scarlet sets out to find her with the help of a mysterious, brooding, and dishy street fighter named Wolf.

scarlet

This cover art isn’t bad, but it’s really hard to compete with a bionic foot, you know?

Wolf’s an interesting fellow. He’s got jacked up teeth and a bit of a rage problem, but he’s also sweet and so innocent he’s never eaten a tomato. Why hasn’t he eaten a tomato? Isn’t that suspicious, Scarlet?! How does a HUMAN never eat a vegetable? Why aren’t you more concerned about this?! I know you want to find your grandmother, and I know Wolf is kind of hot, but DAMN GIRL! Listen to the little voice in your head when it tells you something weird is going on. Of course, that’s actually a pretty faithful adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood, because traditionally, Lil’ Red can’t tell her granny from a wolf in a nightgown. At least Scarlet is packing heat. She may be naive, but she carries a pistol (with a legal permit, of course.)

Every so often, we jog back to visit with Cinder. We get to watch her do badass robot things like break out of prison and hijack a space ship, which is nice, because the primary concern in this world is still defeating and/or thwarting the evil moon queen. SPOILER: she may or may not still be up to her dastardly deeds. SPOILER: She is. SPOILER: When you have an established villain and a major character goes missing, you should expect that they’ve got their wicked little lunar hands in it…

Mr. President, are you suggesting we blow up the moon?

Mr. President, are you suggesting we blow up the moon?

I’ve got to admit, I’m digging this crazy series. I’ll be looking forward to the conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles. What about you, bookworms? Anybody read this one yet?

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Feb 08

Little Red Riding Hood meets Beauty and the Beast meets the Thriller Video: Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie

Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Humor, Young Adult Fiction 28

Happy Friday, Bookworms!

What’s that? You want to hear me ramble about Little Red Riding Hood again? You’re in luck because more Project Fairy Tale is coming your way! Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie is a young adult novel that takes Little Red Riding Hood and molds into something completely different… Not unlike the way I can model some sweet, sweet play-doh into tiny ropes of spaghetti. (Work with me here, it’s been a long week.)

scarlet moon

The book starts out with a young Little Red Riding Hood and her brother racing through the woods, a wolf in hot pursuit. The wolf gnaws on Little Red’s legs (her name is Ruth in this novel) and then her brother rescues her by stabbing the wolf. Once Ruth gets home and all stitched up, her brother Stephen decides he needs to go fight the Crusades.

Yes, the Crusades! So. Ruth is left at home for the 9 year gap in the story during which she ages enough to become a viable love interest. She works in her father’s blacksmith shop- in pants (GASP!) Eventually, her cousin Peter returns from the Crusades with grim news about Stephen (he’s killed in battle) and a SERIOUS case of PTSD.

Ruth and Peter’s grandmother was run out of town on suspicion of witchcraft once upon a time, but Ruth always assumes she’s just an eccentric healer/early scientist type. Perhaps just a bit of a hippie who likes to experiment with the mushrooms she finds in the woods. Whatever. Peter is convinced that she really knows magic so he takes to spending inordinate amounts of time with her to “train.” Much to his dismay, he learns little more than herbal remedies.

In the meantime, Hottie McHotstuff nobleman shows up in front of Ruth’s blacksmith shop after his horse throws a shoe. I know what you’re thinking. The Crusades were FOREVER ago, and horseshoes seem a wee bit on the industrial side. DO THESE DATES COINCIDE APPROPRIATELY? Have no fear, my bookworms, you sticklers for accuracy. They DO in fact work out. I googled it, baby. I now feel a little bit ignorant on the history of farriers, but I’m working on that. Horseshoes are like super ancient, believe it or not. Anyhow…

Hottie McHotstuff’s name is William. He’s got it bad for our lady in pants. Who can resist chicks who wield molten weaponry? But William also has… Dun dun dun! A SECRET! This is a young adult novel. With a supernatural twist. And a wolf. I’ll give you three guesses where the author went with this… But you’ll only need one.

WEREWOLF!

WEREWOLF! (This one wears a shirt. Most of the time. More’s the pity.)

William and Ruth are all attracted to eachother and stuff, but William can’t allow himself to marry Ruth without revealing his secret. Way back in the first Crusade (there were a bunch of them. Anybody else totally rolling their eyes at humanity’s incessant warring over religion?) William’s ancestor kills a farmer by accident and is cursed by the farmer’s witchy wife to become a werewolf. The curse becomes his legacy. Remember that wolf that tried to eat Ruth? IT WAS WILLIAM! (Seriously, I need a soap opera soundtrack in here. It would be so much more entertaining!)

So now we have Little Red Riding Hood meets Beauty and the Beast, with a dash of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video on the side. Can Ruth look past the fact that William might eat her by accident in a fit of passion? (Bella in Twilight seemed to have gotten over it effectively, but Ruth’s got more self respect. I mean, the girl rocks PANTS, y’all.)

I know I know. SPOILERS. This book was actually a really fast read. Despite being a little cheesy and predictable, it wasn’t awful. If you like paranormal YA romances, this is right up your alley. If you’re a snarky pain in the ass like myself, you might want to read it anyway. How often do you get to make play-doh spaghetti out of two fairy tales and a pop culture icon?! (I take metaphors way too far, and then I just keep on going…)

So Bookworms, I’ve got to know. Does anybody else out there fact check their historical fiction? I’m not so brilliant at history that I’ll hold authors to extreme specifics, but if something sounds wonky, I look it up. Is it just me?!

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Feb 05

Little Red Riding Hood: Where Fairy Tales meet Soylent Green

Children's Fiction, Fairy Tales, Family, Fantasy, Frightening 40

projectfairytalebutton2

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

Once upon a time, I committed to Project Fairy Tale. The brain child of Alison at The Cheap Reader, a bunch of bloggers got together and decided to check out some fairy tale goodness. This month I’m going to be diving head first into all things Little Red Riding Hood… Within reason. I mean, I watched that movie with Amanda Seyfried in it the other day, and despite the fact that she’s gorgeous, that was one giant crap fest. (Seriously. There was a sexy folk dance. Let that sink in. Sexy. Folk. Dance.) I’m a book blogger, not a movie blogger, so I’m going to be reading a bunch of Little Red Riding Hood re-tellings and such. Good times shall be had on the way to grandmother’s house!

To start things off, I pulled out my big old collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales so I could get a baseline story in place for my comparisons. According to the Brothers Grimm, LRRH meets up with the big bad wolf in the forest. He thinks she looks delicious, but knowing she’s on her way to Granny’s, he decides to devour them both. He distracts Lil’ Red by suggesting she pick some flowers (a girl after my own heart. Seriously.) Then he heads off to Granny’s, gobbles her up, and dresses up in her nightgown to lie in wait for Lil’ Red.

Because little girls totally can't tell the difference between their grandmothers and wolves.

Because little girls totally can’t tell the difference between their grandmothers and wolves.

Once Lil’ Red arrives, the wolf gobbles her up too. Jerk. Luckily, a woodsman happens to be walking by and sees the wolf looking bloated. He figures that by chopping him open, he may be able to save whatever he’d just eaten. Because, you know… Much like a snake, wolves unhinge their jaws and swallow their prey whole, right? Whatever, it’s a fairy tale. Anyhow, the woodsman saves the day, Granny and Lil’ Red come out in one piece, and everyone learns their lesson.

I’ve since lost track of this, but when I was in college, I wrote a kickass essay comparing an old (like way pre-Grimm) version of Little Red Riding Hood to the Grimm’s version. You know what happens in the old one? Lil’ Red arrives at Granny’s where she’d greeted by the Wolf-in-Granny’s-Clothing and invited to have a snack. Do you know what the snack is?!?!?! It’s GRANNY! After Lil’ Red eats some Soylent Grandma, the wolf gobbles her up. Only, he eats her properly this time, like a wolf does with the teeth and the chewing. So. Yeah. Not a happy ending.

How much do you love the bathrobe and towel in the background?

Freshman year of college I got my fairy tale on for Halloween.

In case that little anecdote didn’t make it abundantly clear, the fairy tales of yore are a heck of a lot different than the Disney-fied ones most of us are familiar with. I suppose when plague and famine are forever at your doorstep, you don’t have a lot of patience for misbehavior. You tell your kids the most terrifying cautionary tales you can come up with to scare them straight.

So Bookworms, what are your favorite fairy tales?

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Jan 28

Cinder (ella, ella, ella, ay, ay, ay) by Marissa Meyer

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 35

Hey Bookworms!

So you all remember that I’m doing the whole Project Fairy Tale thing in February right? Well. While I was out trolling the interwebs, I noticed that there’s a brand spanking new version of Little Red Riding Hood due on the scene February 5th. The only issue I had was that it was the second in a series… OBVIOUSLY, I needed to read the first book in the series, especially since I’ve seen a bunch of YA book bloggers fawning all over it. The first book in the series is a fractured version of Cinderella- Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

On her way to the ball, she really could have used Rhianna's Umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay-ay.... Just saying.

On her way to the ball, Cinder really could have used Rhianna’s Umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay-ay…. Just saying.

Meyer takes the traditional Cinderella story and short circuits it. Instead of being set long ago in a land far, far away, Cinder is set in the distant future. 126 years after the end of the 4th World War, to be precise. Funnily enough, aside from the technological advances, it’s not so different from medieval times. There’s a big fat ugly plague that looks and sounds awfully close to the Bubonic plague. Only this one wasn’t perpetuated by fleas on rats. (Also, in case you were curious, I’ve heard that Bubonic plague, at least the version that decimated a quarter of Europe’s population was caused by a bacterium that would easily lose in a battle against penicillin. Don’t be hating on mold, y’all.)

There’s also, um, robots. Lots of robots. Our heroine is bionic. She was in a terrible accident as a child and instead of spending her life in a wheelchair, surgeons made her part robot. Unfortunately, cyborgs are treated as second class citizens. I had a couple of issues with this bit. Like… The whole cyborg thing basically evolved from making really fancy prosthetic limbs and stuff. I can’t believe a culture that evolved from ours would have too big a bone to pick with advanced prostheses. The prejudice against cyborgs is universal, even if the person’s only got a robot foot. Cinder’s case is a little more complicated though. She’s nearly 40% manufactured and she’s got a computer all up in her brain. It wouldn’t be fair to, say, have her play chess against a normal human, but otherwise I have a hard time believing cyborgs would be so poorly treated. She still has FEELINGS!

Full on androids have no rights at all.

Full on androids have no rights at all. Their feelings are manufactured on personality chips.

Anyway. Cinder is a badass lady mechanic. She gets all greasy and fixes robots and hover cars (sweet right?) and the iPad’s great great great grandbaby. She’s super good at it because A. she’s got a computer in her brain and B. because she learned how to tweak her own mechanical bits and pieces. One day, the Chinese equivalent of Prince Harry shows up and is all “hey Cinder, wanna fix my robot?” And she’s all “ooooh hottie hot hot.” Here’s my other big objection to the book. Monarchy. Seriously? You’re telling me that a peaceful society was able to form based on a monarchy with no apparent checks and balances for 126 years? No uprisings from the unwashed masses? No spoiled royal black sheep in the family tree made a mess of things? I just don’t see it. But it IS Cinderella. I suppose we need a prince.

So anyway. Cinder’s got a pretty rotten stepmother, one mean stepsister, and one nice stepsister (kind of like in Drew Barrymore’s Ever After.) Cinder’s got to fix this robot, deal with plague, and find out all about her mysterious past because there are these evil moon people who want to cause trouble. Yes. You read that right. EVIL MOON PEOPLE. They’re called Lunars, but I can’t hear “Lunar” without hearing Christy Carlson Romano singing “We went to the moon in 1969, that’s when we made a landing that was luuuuuunar!” (Any Even Stevens fans out there? Anyone? Bueller? Yeah. I hear the crickets. I’ll shut up now.) The theory behind the Lunars is that they’ve evolved from a human colony that settled the moon hundreds of years before our story begins. Somehow, they’ve evolved an ability to manipulate people into doing their bidding. It’s sort of like a vampire’s glamour brainwashing. Only they’re from the moon. They’re another monarchy led by the most evil queen who has ever existed. The Lunars keep threatening to go to war with Earth (and despite the fact that the moon is way smaller than the earth, somehow the Lunars have superior technology and would probably decimate mankind.) Also, it’s suggested that the plague was advanced biological warfare sent to earth by the Lunars. Naturally, humans aren’t the biggest fans of the evil moon people.

Now I'm VERY suspicious of you, MOON!

Now I’m VERY suspicious of you, MOON!

When I write it all down with a wee bit of snark, it sounds like the most ridiculous premise ever. I won’t go so far as to say that this was my FAVORITE BOOK EVER ZOMG,  but I was totally drawn in. I embraced the sci fi and found myself hating the evil moon people. I really wanted Cinder and the prince to hook up and live happily ever after! Unfortunately, this is the first book in a series, so I was stuck with a cliffhanger. Luckily, Scarlet comes out in less than a week, so I don’t have long to wait!

Science Fiction at this level of robot-itude is a little out of my reading comfort zone. Do you bookworms like to dabble in different genres, or do you prefer to stick to reading what you’re sure to like?

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