Loved, loved, loved this book! Some of the reviews I read before I started it made me a little leery, but I adore fairy tales, so I couldn't resist. A...moreLoved, loved, loved this book! Some of the reviews I read before I started it made me a little leery, but I adore fairy tales, so I couldn't resist. And I'm glad I didn't. Such a sweet story!
One of the criticism of the book was that it doesn't show us how the shifters fit in with society at large. Another was that we don't see a single female character in the whole book. Another was that we don't get much back story on either Ori or Raynard.
The thing is, none of those is the point of the book. The book isn't designed to read like a history of avian shifters in society, or to teach the reader what their society is all about. And we didn't need a whole lot of back story on the main characters because this book isn't about righting all the psychological traumas of childhood or whatever. This book is about having the courage to figure out who you are and what you want. It's about not letting the past or who or what you are define who and what you choose to become. It's about having the courage to make your own choices in spite of what others expect of you.
And it's just so beautiful and sweet and well-executed! I can't recommend this highly enough.(less)
The more I think about it, the more I like this book. I wasn't ready to review it right as I finished, because I was convinced that I didn't like the...moreThe more I think about it, the more I like this book. I wasn't ready to review it right as I finished, because I was convinced that I didn't like the ending. Actually, the book was hard enough for me to read that I was almost convinced I didn't like the book.
The narrator is just SO violent and hateful and unlikeable at first, and his view of the world is so dark and frightened and hate-filled that it made me really uncomfortable to read. He did get better as he learned to trust and to open up, and I became more comfortable seeing through his eyes.
(view spoiler)[ I think the thing that I bothered me most right as I finished was that I was anticipating a fairy-tale ending to the fairy-tale story. Looking back, I should have expected that when the spell made everyone return to their former appearances, that it would have the same effect on Naef, but that's not how fairy tales work, right? Fairy tales end with everyone magically perfect and magically happy forever after, don't they?
I was actually kindof honestly angry that Naef didn't get his happy ending... until I've been thinking about it more and more and have realized that he DID.
No, he wasn't magically beautiful anymore, but what could be more perfect than knowing that Aerie-Smith had been "seeing" the real Naef the same way Naef had been seeing the real people under the animals all along? And knowing that, in spite of his physical imperfections, Aerie-Smith had really fallen in love with the real him and not the beautiful body he'd been magicked into.
And the way Aerie-Smith takes care of him after the spell is ended just melts my heart to think back to. Doing as much as he can to take away the pain that Naef's physical challenges brought, not letting him push him away, taking him home to see his mom and his sister... now I see that THAT is Naef's fairy-tale ending. And a more honest one than having everything be magically made perfect. (hide spoiler)]
I would very highly recommend this book. I can't quite give it 5 stars because of how difficult parts of it were for me to read, and which make me reluctant to return to re-read it. But it was beautiful and honest and wonderfully well written.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
As soon as I discovered there was an anthology of m/m fairy tale stories I knew I would love it. And I did! Some of the stories seemed more successful...moreAs soon as I discovered there was an anthology of m/m fairy tale stories I knew I would love it. And I did! Some of the stories seemed more successful than others, which is to be expected with anthologies, but overall they came together to make a wonderfully cohesive book.
Lots of fun, and I'm sure I'll re-read several of the stories in the future. I loved, LOVED Ashes and Crystal and The Merman's Tail. Jack and the Peenstalk cracked me up. The rest were okay. The swan one was just weird.(less)
I was really looking forward to reading this one. I've found myself loving these m/m takes on fairy tales, and usually Marie Sexton is one of my favor...moreI was really looking forward to reading this one. I've found myself loving these m/m takes on fairy tales, and usually Marie Sexton is one of my favorite authors. But this book just did not work for me in so many ways.
Biggest: it just seems so wrong in this time when people are fighting so hard for equality--especially in a world where magical solutions to problems are not only possible, but actually happen--that Cinder would have to turn into a woman in order to get his happy ending. And I'm not talking about people who are transgendered and choose to become what they feel they are inside... Cinder didn't want to be a woman permanently. First he did it so he could get into the prince's party, which was bad enough. But to have the prince's wonderful, magical solution to his marriage problem be to turn Cinder back into a woman just for the ceremony seems wrong on so many levels.
If that much magic is possible, why not magic the king into re-writing the law at the last minute? Or magic the law so that it would always have said two people of any gender can be married if they choose?
Honestly, it seemed to me like the prince's "solution" was really telling Cinder that he wasn't quite good enough. I know the prince did it just to satisfy the law so he wouldn't be disinherited, but why change Cinder? Why not change something else so that Cinder is never left wondering if he's really what the prince wanted after all?
Ugh, I'm just so frustrated by this book. If I could give it less than a star I absolutely would. I would recommend avoiding this book, especially as there's a delightful m/m version of the Cinderella story in the Bedknobs & Beanstalks: Anthology of Gay Erotic Fairy Tales anthology that doesn't involve turning anyone into anything they're not just to satisfy selfish whims. Read that one instead.(less)
Another cute take on the Cinderella story. I hate to say it, but I much preferred Ms. Derr's other version of this from her Fairytales Slashed: Volume...moreAnother cute take on the Cinderella story. I hate to say it, but I much preferred Ms. Derr's other version of this from her Fairytales Slashed: Volume 1. This one just seemed like it was trying too hard. The five days of masked balls, the absent but apparently threatening step-father, the unexplained mysterious actions of a long-deceased mother, the sudden discovery of noble parentage... having all of those elements in one novella left me feeling a little overwhelmed.(less)
I adored this collection of fairy tales! They're all just so beautiful and sweet and hopeful and... well, everything fairy tales should be. I know som...moreI adored this collection of fairy tales! They're all just so beautiful and sweet and hopeful and... well, everything fairy tales should be. I know some other reviewers said that they get repetitive, so perhaps my experience was skewed because I was anticipating that, but I found the stories to be wonderfully varied and unique. Yes, they all have the same sweet predictability of the HEA, but that's one of the things I loved about them: no angst!
I thought the length of each piece was great, also. Just perfect to sneak in-between longer stories that might be angsty or disturbing or depressing or to lighten the spirit before bed.
And I loved that some of the stories overlapped enough to give us HEA's for side characters from previous stories. So much fun to get to go back and revisit the older stories like that.
**spoiler alert** An interesting examination of what exactly makes a "monster." I liked the sort of reverse-werewolf thing that the beast's curse enta...more**spoiler alert** An interesting examination of what exactly makes a "monster." I liked the sort of reverse-werewolf thing that the beast's curse entailed here: that he turned human for the 3 nights of the full moon. The part of the book that focused on that was fascinating and well done.
The last bit of the book seemed less well done to me. It hadn't been made clear to me that Lafarge was a bad guy. All I remember being told about him was that he was older and really rich. So it pulled me out of the story when Lyssette all of a sudden panics and has to dash to her sister's rescue to save her from marrying him.
I did like the ultimate resolution, having the Faery Queen come and undo the curse her daughter left on Bastien/Beast.
Overall, a nice story. Especially for being free.(less)
**spoiler alert** There were several things I loved about this book, but it was just so painful to read that I can't give it more than 4 stars.
What I...more**spoiler alert** There were several things I loved about this book, but it was just so painful to read that I can't give it more than 4 stars.
What I loved: Most of all, I loved that Johanna wasn't magically healed at the end. I know that makes it a lot more like real life and a lot less like a fairy tale, but it absolutely fit the story and I think it made a great statement. The whole book was about learning to live with the consequences of our decisions, so it would have seemed like a total cop-out (for her, but especially for Philipe) to have her magically perfect again.
I also loved the emotion in the story. I loved that neither Johanna nor her brother was willing to just instantly forgive Philipe. It was fascinating to watch as their emotions changed the longer the prince was with them.
However, the emotion is also the thing that made this so difficult for me to read. Being in Johanna's head is not pleasant. She's angry and hurt and bitter at first and it made me uncomfortable to have to read.
Beautifully well-written and true to itself, I would recommend this.(less)
I loved the first volume so much I was disappointed to discover how different this volume was. I loved that the first one had a whole bunch of shorter...moreI loved the first volume so much I was disappointed to discover how different this volume was. I loved that the first one had a whole bunch of shorter stories, so I was almost not looking forward to only having 4 long ones in this volume. That said, I definitely enjoyed most of the stories.
I LOVED The Huntsman! Cal and Lev were both beautifully written and incredible characters. I loved how the huntsman's relationship to the forest was described. I loved how vividly the background in each of the scenes was portrayed, from the goblin caves to the forest to the castles to the lake, it all was incredibly vivid.
I liked both The Wizard's Tower and Sleeping Beauty. I enjoyed that the same characters were in both and that we got to see more of the relationship between Roark and Cos.
I didn't really like The Beast as much, but that's likely 100% personal taste: I don't like being in the heads of characters who are that spoiled and selfish and awful to people. And I really don't like having to read about them living through horrific violence or having to heal from it afterward. (less)
Sweet, adorable, fun, and hilarious! Petra totally cracks me up, and it might be because i just started re-watching parts of Charmed on Netflix, but i...moreSweet, adorable, fun, and hilarious! Petra totally cracks me up, and it might be because i just started re-watching parts of Charmed on Netflix, but in my mind she totally had Paige Matthews's voice.
Landon and Brian together are just so perfect. My heart just melted watching Landon race across the street in his expensive suit to pull the beautiful stranger out of the mud. Best meet cute EVER!
I actually loved how cool Brian was as he learned about Landon and all that was involved in Landon's life and reality. It kept the fairy-tale feeling there that any amount of skepticism might have killed.
I think my favorite character in this, though, is Dack. Cute and adorable and trusting and innocent, but with such a fun, sarcastic, playful side. I kindof love that we're going to have to wait so long for his book, too, since it means we'll hopefully be getting to spend a lot more time with him.
A delightful start to what will hopefully continue to be a fun series. I'm excited to read about more of these brothers!(less)
This one, while still fun, wasn't as successful a story for me as the first. Petra was my favorite character in that book, and she's virtually absent...moreThis one, while still fun, wasn't as successful a story for me as the first. Petra was my favorite character in that book, and she's virtually absent in this one. The fairy she asks to help Reef and Fisher in her absence is also amusing at times, but nowhere near as fun or adorable. (view spoiler)[And the sex scene with him in the car driving and then watching just made me uncomfortable (hide spoiler)]
Reef and Fisher are both perfect fairy-tale princes and they're so sweet to each other. But in this instance I didn't feel the insta-love connection, nor did I understand even what the two liked about each other besides their appearances. (view spoiler)[It was curious that Fisher made Reef defend the reasons Reef had for choosing Fisher, and Reef was able to recall all of the times that he had seen Fisher out on the ocean working on different projects, but Fisher never had to defend why he chose Reef other than that he looked cute talking to the clown fish in the aquarium at the restaurant... (hide spoiler)]
So, still a sweet story with a definite and fantastic fairy-tale air, but the characters didn't interest me as much. I still love this series and will definitely keep reading as the other brothers work to break their curses also.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Nobody does fantasy/fairy-tale M/M like Megan Derr. This was such a fun collection of stories. I loved how many of them interconnected, so we got to s...moreNobody does fantasy/fairy-tale M/M like Megan Derr. This was such a fun collection of stories. I loved how many of them interconnected, so we got to see the same characters reappearing in later stories.
I loved the way magic works in this world, and the various magicians were delightful. My favorite unique approach to magic was in the last story where the spells were woven into hair or wrapped around arms and then activated with words when they were needed. Very cool idea, and one it would be fun to see used in a longer work.
I think my absolute favorites in this collection, though, have to be the dragons. I've been in love with the idea of dragons since my first exposure to fantasy when I was little, and I adore the way they were portrayed here. That they can shape change and interact with humans on a human level, but then that they can also have their crazy-powerful dragon shape and accoplish insane things--while still being able to communicate with their humans telepathically. I also got a kick out of the dragons taking humans as "treasures." Very cute.
This was a lot of fun. I adore these shorter fairy-tale story collections.(less)
This has to be the most delightfully naughty fairy tale in the whole history of fairy tales involving naughtiness. Efrosin and his innocent exuberance...moreThis has to be the most delightfully naughty fairy tale in the whole history of fairy tales involving naughtiness. Efrosin and his innocent exuberance were instantly endearing, and I loved how well balanced he and Dmitri are.
The whole idea of the curse of lightness was fascinating, and I adored the way it was handled. Efrosin could have used the excuse to become truly hearless (like his father?) but somehow managed to be a decent, kind-hearted person underneath the externally-imposed inability to care.
Dmitri's stolid acceptance of his life of solitude, and the cheerful optimism with which he lived his life and hoped for visitors were also wonderfully endearing.
It feels almost dirty saying this about a fairy tale, but the two of them together were deliciously hot! The hopeful, innocent way in which Efrosin makes his delightfully filthy overtures to Dmitri, and the delight they both showed in realizing their feelings (first their lust and then their love) were returned made me melt!
The way in which the curse is broken places this solidly in the Grimm camp of fairy tales that have very dark elements, but even that seemed to fit the curses and the motivation behind them. And like all good fairy tales, the messages in this one are of hope and faith and that goodness and love can conquer all. Lovely story!
Some favorite quotes:
"It's quite delightful, except that it's terrifying. Which is, of course, how so many of the best things are."
"What did his tutor tell him it was called? Ah yes. Lust. It was a rather divine and entertaining sensation, now that he knew it. He thought of how silly and desperate men behaved when consumed by it, and he hoped to be just as silly and desperate, indeed."
"'What, pray tell, is the equal and opposite cure of your curse? Flight? Height?' 'Death,' Dmitri said. 'It is the only release from the bonds of this world.' Efrosin's eyes went wide. 'Oh. Well then, let's not talk of that. I rather like you alive and touching me.'"
"I don't think I've ever been quite this happy. I've been delighted and cheerful and eager and silly and many other things, but this is a different thing altogether. I feel quite full with it."(less)
Beautiful! I know I use that word a lot in my reviews, but that's honestly the best word I can think of to describe this book. The writing was beautif...moreBeautiful! I know I use that word a lot in my reviews, but that's honestly the best word I can think of to describe this book. The writing was beautiful, the pacing was beautiful, and the slow but steady way we got to know each of the characters was fantastically beautiful.
Brute is a spectacularly well-drawn character. One of my favorite things about this story is the way we not only get to see his character evolve over the course of the book, but because we're in his head, the narration evolves along with him. As he begins making friends at the palace, the way other people are described changes; as he begins learning to read, sentence structure changes; (view spoiler)[as Alys and Warin and most especially Gray treat him like a human and remind him of his humanity, even the name he calls himself changes. (hide spoiler)]
It was just such a delightfully fascinating experience that made me feel more like I was experiencing the story right along with him rather than being the more typical distant observer.
Oh, and I just absolutely adored Gray. He totally broke my heart to read about, but getting to watch his transformation was equally as enjoyable as getting to watch Brute's, if not even more so because I loved him for how much he loved his giant. The beautiful things he said and thought about Brute and the absoluteness of his love for him would have made me love him even if he weren't an amazingly kind and gentle and loving person. (What does it say about me that the fact that the only word he never ever has trouble saying is "fuck" is part of what makes him one of my new favorite characters ever?:P)
(view spoiler)[And I can't express how much I adored the beautiful symmetry that Gray acquired his "gift" in a misguided attempt to make himself worthy of someone he thought he loved; and that he was relieved of the burden of it by someone who thought he was too worthy to love. I didn't put that well, but I can't think of a better way to phrase it right now... (hide spoiler)]
This book just had so many beautiful things to say about things like love and friendship, redemption, humanity and heroism. (view spoiler)[Given its fairy-tale-like feel and the presence of healers and magic, I'd been anticipating (and honestly rather dreading) the magic healing of all of the things wrong with Brute and Gray. I LOVED that that didn't happen.
The magical gift given to Gray was taken away, but the injuries done them through their own actions or choices stayed theirs to live with. And I loved that. I loved that after all that these two had gone through, that their efforts weren't diminished any by suddenly having everything magicked back to perfect. Gray having chosen to destroy his eyes was part of what made him able to love Aric. And Aric's lost hand was what helped him get the job as Gray's jailer in the first place. It just seemed like the things that made them see themselves as weaker or unworthy of love are the very things that brought them together. And I loved that they got to keep those things. (hide spoiler)]
Some favorite quotes:
"And people certainly weren't clamoring to touch him. His skin felt hungry for it, like his stomach when he'd missed a few meals."
"The other day I went for a walk, and I saw a bookshop. Hundreds--no, thousands of books. And it was like each one had a secret. I guess I'd like to see some of those secrets."
"'Don't you dare say that! ... Don't you dare! You are a good man, Brute, and a kind one. You're patient with Warin and you're working hard to better yourself and you... you save people! All those other things, they don't matter, not to anyone with sense.'"
"'Some man is going to find you, Brute, and he's going to sweep you off your great big feet, and then he's gonna spend the rest of his days realizing how damned lucky he is!'"
"'I-i-i-it moves about y-you, the s-sea does. Always ch-changing. Lifts y-you up or knocks you d-d-d-down. D-doesn't care you you a-a-aren't.' That was a strange sentiment, Brute thought, but an oddly comforting one. Especially for someone like him, who wasn't so many things and who was so few."
"Here he was, an ignorant, mutilated monster, but he could read."
"'You're a giant because an ordinary man's body is t-too small for what you are.'"
(view spoiler)["'H-holding you, I felt useful. Strong. Th-thank you.'"
"'Don't what?' Gray reached up and cupped his cheek in one hand. 'Don't t-tell you my heart beats for you? Don't tell you my s-soul sings for you? Don't tell you that you're hope to me, l-life to me, the c-center of my fucking universe?'"
"'We're both alive.... But my giant is an idiot. A sneaky idiot.'"
"'I may be a blind fool who's never done anything worthwhile, but can't you at least understand that I'd risk anything to save you? You're all I fucking want!'"
"But your eyes, and all those years in the cell... doesn't sound much to me like the gods favor you." "But they brought you to me, didn't they?"
This was definitely an interesting mix of stories. There were a few I found fantastic and a few that I had a hard time even finishing. Because of thos...moreThis was definitely an interesting mix of stories. There were a few I found fantastic and a few that I had a hard time even finishing. Because of those few, this anthology ended up taking me longer to read... I'd stop in the middle of one of the less-entertaining stories and read a few other things before coming back to this. As a result, I think my overall enjoyment was lessened, in spite of how much I really did like a few of the individual pieces.
Bad Hair Day by Clare London--5 stars! This may actually be one of my favorite fairy-tale retellings of all time! Sweet and funny and sarcastic and surprising, it managed to feel like a fairy tale while still being unexpected. LOVED it! I'll definitely be looking for other things this author has written.
Sweet Persuasion by Angelia Sparrow--4.5 stars Deliciously sexy! I found myself actually envying the lucky shepherd who gets seduced by both Zephyr, the god of the West Wind, and Apollo, the god of the sun.
The Cock and the Jewel by Sean Michael--4 stars Yet again, I'm surprising myself by liking a story about a relationship in need of fixing more than the stories here about relationships being formed. I was fascinated by the dynamic of the two men here: one much-pierced and tattooed, and the other a businessman who thought he wanted a partner he could take to work functions.(less)