I am having the best bookish start to 2015. Several five star novels and this creative, clever, original little piece of work. It's feminist poetry, wI am having the best bookish start to 2015. Several five star novels and this creative, clever, original little piece of work. It's feminist poetry, with a fairytale-ish slant.
I can't describe this. It must be experienced on your own.
I really liked this despite some qualms; it was clever and a nice modern twist on Bluebeard. I do wish it hThe Key (Bluebeard) by Rachel Hawkins - 3/5
I really liked this despite some qualms; it was clever and a nice modern twist on Bluebeard. I do wish it had been a bit longer because you don't really have a feel for the characters. (If you want a longer retelling, look at Sarah Cross's Killing Me Softly.)
Figment (Puss in Boots) by Jeri Smith-Ready -3.75/5
I'd never before read a Puss in Boots retelling, but this was good. Loved the fresh applications of the story and how Smith-Ready still carried the same vibe. Possibly one of the most well-written contributions to the entire anthology.
The Twelfth Girl (12 Dancing Princesses) by Malinda Lo - 3.5/5
This was good, bordering on great. Certain aspects worked well (location, diversity) but it was kinda.. flat at times? Very recognizable as a 12 Dancing Princesses but with an added air of creepitude I really enjoyed. Again, a story that would have benefited from a longer length.
The Raven Princess by Jon Skrovon - 2.75/5
A little bit grim at first, but also can feel a bit... treacly? A little... saccharine? The ending was neat, but a bit too pat and easy for an anthology named Grim.
Thinner Than Water (Cat-Skin) by Saundra Mitchell - 5/5
I freaking loved this. It brought all the grit and grimness I had been waiting for. I was unsettled by it (as I am by the Cat/Donkey Skin fairy tale in general) but thought it was GREAT how Mitchell ended it. Melura is a badass character and one I'd like to see in a full-length novel. Just maybe focused on a different fairy tale. It definitely made me curious to seek out Mitchell's novels.
Before the Rose Bloomed (The Snow Queen) by Ellen Hopkins - n/a
Skipped because verse does not work for me outside of poetry.
Beast/Beast (Beauty and the Beast) by Tessa Gratton -3/5
A decent retelling, but again, one sorely lacking the grimness promised. I appreciated Gratton's version of the characters, but didn't overly care about or invest in them.
The Brothers Piggett (The Three Little Pigs) by Julie Kagawa - 4/5
Fun, clever, almost as dark and twisty as I wanted it to be. Kagawa does a The Three Little Pigs a new kind of justice and it is so fun and awesome and GRIM.
Also now I want pie.
Untethered (The Shroud) by Sonia Gensler -2.5/5
This is one I didn't know the original story so it's hard for me to compare and judge in that regard. However, has some good prose and I liked it? I don't have much else to say.
Better (The Pied Piper) by Shaun David Hutchinson - 3/5
uhh.. sure, this is a Pied Piper retelling. If I squint and don't focus too hard. It definitely seems moreso towards the end, but most of this story does not gel with the whole "fairy tale" theme. It was grim yes, but also felt so misplaced here. Also would have been stronger without a romance.
Light It Up (Hansel & Gretel) by Kimberly Derting - 3/5
Decent, but I never really manage connect to Derting's writing or her storytelling methods just don't work for me. Add a shorter length and I was never really gonna go for for this one.
Sharper Than a Serpent's Tongue (Diamonds and Toads) by Christine Johnson - 2/5
I hard a hard time with this? It just didn't connect with me and failed to do anything really new or interesting with the established fairy tale besides using it in a modern setting. (Also Jewels in Killing Me Softly and Tear You Apart is a far more exciting example of a modern version for a Diamonds and Toads retelling.)
A Real Boy (Pinocchio) by Claudia Gray -3.5/5
Surprisingly, I really liked this because of the romance. Buuuut I am running out things to say about it. Well-written, engaging and a pretty good length.
Skin Trade (The Robber Bridegroom) by Moira McEntire - 1/5
Beauty and the Chad (Beauty and the Beast) by Sarah Rees Brennan - 3.5/5
This worked better than it should have? Some parts didn't gel as well as they could, but it was pretty amusing (after all, it is Sarah Rees Brennan). Though, again, not very grim.
The Pink (The Carnation) by Amanda Hocking - 2/5
I've been complaining about length the whole time but The Pink had the opposite issue of most here -- it felt too long. It doesn't help that I've never truly enjoyed a Hocking novel; her style just does not work for me.
Sell Out (Snow White) by Jackson Pearce - 3/5
Decent, but not engrossing the way the better stories have been. It fits in the anthology and Pearce is a good storyteller, but, once again, majorly hampered by the lack of length.
Final thoughts: Grim is a mixed bag and while the theme is only carried by some of the stories, it can be a fun read. It also made me curious to seek out longer stories from Saundra Mitchell because she basically won the anthology and reaffirmed my love for Sarah Rees Brennan. Julie Kagawa also reminded me why sometimes her books and characters can be so much unexpected fun.
It is taking ALL of my willpower to not dive into Crimson Bound immediately after finishing this.
Somehow, in the months since Cruel Beauty I forgot thIt is taking ALL of my willpower to not dive into Crimson Bound immediately after finishing this.
Somehow, in the months since Cruel Beauty I forgot the magic of Rosamund Hodge's writing, the impressive and lovely storytelling she displays so readily. The harsh truths spoken by great, complicated characters.
I don't think I've ever given a 5-star rating for a novella before, but damned if Gilded Ashes didn't earn every one of them....more
(Even watching that trailer now, after the fact, I am excited and impressed. And then I remember. And then woe.)
The book sadly doesn't live up to the awesomeness that advertised it. I'm not even a fan of book trailers, but the promotion department for this book deserves a big raise. The editing department might not. But, if you're just now hearing about this YA/MG fantasy about fairytales and witches and princesses, this might end up being the book for you. It's a tad long, a tad overwrought, but it's got a lot of heart and, at times, can be very entertaining. Soman Chainani creates a vibrant world with two interesting and diverse leads, and I can say they paths and plots he takes them through isn't predictable, though it can be a tad pedantic at times. The comparisons to Gregpry Maguire's work is apt and appropriate and I can see his fans enjoying this less adult look at magical children.
The School for Good and Evil reminded me of a younger Harry Potter at times. There's the obvious: magical children spirited away for their edification (for either good or ill), there's the obvious good guys, the obvious bad guys, magical beings like werewolves, fairies, and a multi-headed dog inside a mysterious, hidden castle(s). There are pranks, a ball, a love story that is not what you expect, and in the end, a grand battle for the school itself. That all sounds well and good and like fun, and it can be. The main problem is that The School for Good and Evil takes too long to get anywhere. It becomes too predictable to shock readers and the final conflict... well, veered on deus ex machina. That's never a good way to resolve a story readers have spent so much time investing in.
This is a looooong book for almost any genre (I'm looking at you, Epic Fantasy), but for a very young YA/verging on MG fairytale, 496 pages is just much too much. The pacing lags, events feel drawn out or stretched beyond feasibility, and the plot takes too much time to really form. There's a lack of tension and suspense before key events because the author takes too long to develop any sort of meaningful conflict. Outside of plotting and pacing, Chainani is an obviously talented, very visual, writer. Scenes pop and creatures both big and small, humor or non, all burst from the page. The School for Good and Evil can project an image, but fails to deliver real substance to go with how pretty/evil everything is on the surface.
The main characters are adaptable, and pretty well-rounded. There's more to both Sophie and Agatha than what meets the eye, and the author's switcheroo can be pretty clever. However, like most things in this novel, the realizations that come to both girls about their roles in future fairy tales takes far too long to foment into something meaningful. I could have done without the romances that pop up and complicate the girls' relationship and the plot, but Prince Charmings (and Not So Charmings) are to be expected in a novel so concerned with fairytales. The characters are another strong aspect of the novel, and I'm curious to see what will happen after the final events of book one.
The School for Good and Evil isn't a bad book by any means. It's just not as good as you, or I, or that book trailer want it to be. Those looking for a saccharine-ly sweet Disney tale should look elsewhere, and readers in search of a vibrant setting with complex and contradictory characters will find The School for Good and Evil a good fit, if not a particularly memorable one. There's some room for improvement, and editing, but Soman Chainani has a satisfactory beginning to his new series....more
The Fairest of Them All is a fairytale retelling that combines two well-known and often-told stories - that of Rapunzel and that of Snow White - and asks, "what if Rapunzel was Snow White's Evil Stepmother?" It's an intriguing idea and one that lends originality to such famous stories, but one that sadly lacks subtlety and pathos. Carolyn Turgeon does an able job of melding the two separate stories into one cohesive plot, but her characters lack agency and can come off as rather bland.
The premise is obviously one of the strongest aspects to the story of The Fairest of Them All. We've all seen the Disney and/or Pixar movies, we've read the Grimm versions, so a new idea on both Rapunzel and Snow White (don't even mention that Kristen Stewart failure) feels like a breath of fresh air for retellings. The way that Turgeon introduces both stories, both apart and together, feels organic. It's not hard to believe that these two women came to be directly involved with each other's lives. The story is told in pretty straightforward and nondescript prose, but the author isn't afraid to whip out some pretty big gamechangers before it's all said and done.
My main problem lies with characterization. Rapunzel was the best character -- she's desperately flawed, but she's more interesting and compelling for it. Both Josef, her King, and Snow White, his daughter by his first Queen, come off as blandly beautiful. The King is shown to be somewhat imperfect - his philandering, lack of attention for Rapunzel once he has her - but he has such little presence it makes almost no difference. Snow White is where I really struggled. She's too perfect here, as she is in almost every representation you find of her tale. I had hoped that The Fairest of Them All would do for her what it did to her counterpart - Rapunzel is unlike any other version before. But this Snow White is ripped right from Disney: she's beautiful and perfect and thus inspires jealousy easily. I was disappointed with her one-note personality, and never really grew to care about her the way I did for her "evil" Stepmother. (Yes, Rapunzel does horrible things. But she grows and learns and evolves before/after.)
Despite Snow White's perfection, Turgeon isn't afraid to go to dark places with her story. It's more along the lines of the Brothers Grimm than old Walt. Murder, enviousness, jealousy, betrayal, revenge, rape and more are all part and parcel to the plot. The author deviates from the norm several times - the apple appears but functions in a new way, the seven dwarfs are a group of bandits, Rapunzel's hair has powers besides being able to bear weight - and it works for the story. The infusions of originality keep these old stories feeling fresh and unique, rather than a retread of what has been done before.
The Fairest of Them All is an involving, interesting read. It has a few faults with characters, but overall, makes for an entertaining new take on some of the world's most popular fairytales. It's dark, it's full of surprise(view spoiler)[incest! (hide spoiler)] that will keep readers guessing. All in all, this was a promising introduction to this author and I would definitely read more from her. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Cheeky, clever, and just as charming as the first one. Author Shawn Thomas Odyssey certainly has a knack for crafting fun mysteries with great charactCheeky, clever, and just as charming as the first one. Author Shawn Thomas Odyssey certainly has a knack for crafting fun mysteries with great characters, as he has ably shown over the course of both the Oona Crate/Wizard of Dark Street books. ...more