Creative Aces Publishing: Unburied Fables

This collection enlisted talent around the world. From students to seasoned professionals, these writers came together to raise awareness and reinvent classic stories. While they showcase a wide variety of origins, styles, and endings, all the tales in this
anthology have one classic element in common: a happily ever after.

Fifty percent of this collection’s proceeds will be donated to the Trevor Project, a non-profit focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, asexual and other queer youth.

I kicked off Pride Month with one of the most accepting collections of stories I’ve ever read. This was the very first book I read for June (actually I read it on May 31, but I’m totally counting it for Pride), and oh man was it ever fitting.

These are the fairy tales we should have all grown up with–where we a prince might climb a tower to save the princess, but then she is given the choice to go with him…or the daring woman who swoops in to maybe save them both. And maybe that prince just stays and hangs out with all those books that princess left because HECK YES I WANT TO STAY IN THE TOWER BY MYSELF! HEAVEN!

Ok, that might have been a spoiler for one of the stories. Oops. But you catch on pretty quick to the theme once you get going. All of them are pretty delightful. These are worlds where the bad guys are those who hate and try to stomp on people for who they are. Wouldn’t that be nice if that were true in real life, too?

And even though this is a book written by some super Creative Aces–don’t think there isn’t love. There is all kinds of romantic acceptance in this book–just not the sexy stuff we see so much of these days. Every story is full of whimsy and happiness, but also the morals that are the intended purpose of fairy tales, after all. You’ll recognize a lot of them, and maybe find a few new ones along the way. I think my favorite was the one about Matchstick Girl. Come back and let me know your fave, after you read these.

Go buy the book, it supports a fantastic cause!

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Hans Christian Andersen: The Snow Queen

Hans Christian Andersen’s magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is elevated from a children’s book to a unique work of art. It is an ideal gift for people of all ages.

It’s interesting how fairy tales used to be so harsh and murderous. The world was so simple. Death was a part of life–people felt, they got angry, there were consequences and murder. Fairy tales were not for children.

Now, these stories have been so watered down. This isn’t a fairy tale I’ve read before, and maybe that’s because it would be pretty hard to Disney-fy it. That said, I wonder if this influenced CS Lewis when he wrote The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. There is a lot of resemblances to Edward’s story line.

The book itself is stunningly beautiful with its blue paper cut out illustrations, done by Sanna Annukka. That is what drew me to it on Blogging for Books.  It is cloth bound hardcover, and would make a gorgeous gift for any collector.

A copy of this book was provided by Blogging for Books and Ten Speed Press. This post does contain affiliate links.

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Ella Enchanted

At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.” When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read.

One of my friends has been on a mega fairy tale kick lately, and she sent Ella Enchanted my way last week when it was on sale. I think I read this way back when I was young, but I didn’t remember this story at all.

Cinderella has never been my favorite fairy tale–maybe it’s just not dark enough? You know I like a good, dark villain (like Maleficent). Ella Enchanted kicks up the classic story up a notch. It combines Sleeping Beauty‘s fairy gift with Ella’s obedience to show us that it isn’t always just the thought that counts.

After getting stuck this past week, it was nice to go back to some kidlit and relax my brain a bit. Ella Enchanted is such a sweet story–an easy read for an adult, but there are definitely some deep themes here:  friendship, honesty, secrets, manners, even learning foreign languages. Fairy tales were not only written for children, after all. It isn’t a new book by any means, but if you have kids (or even if you don’t), for sure pick it up from your library or book store for your next bedtime rotation.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

Here’s the thing. I didn’t like Throne of Glass.

*GASP*

Did I just lose all Book Blogger Cred? Maybe. Probably. Honestly, I can’t even tell you why I didn’t like it. I don’t remember enough about the book–it was that mediocre.

But EVERYONE LOVES IT OMG. Best thing ever. So when Sarah Maas came out with A Court of Thorns and Roses, of COURSE it was the new BEST THING EVER. I assumed it was along the same lines, so I dismissed it. Not interested. Once I heard the plot though–human huntress whisked off to live with the fae–my curiosity was piqued.

Still, I was nervous. Am I going to waste precious #ReadWomen time on another blah book?

A Court of Thorns and Roses is so wholly different from Throne of Glass I can hardly believe it. There is nothing boring about this one at all. It’s intriguing and SEXY (oh man how sexy) and suspenseful. Sarah Maas has taken every fairy tale we’ve ever known and turned it on its head. You think you know the Fae, human? You are so wrong.

Beyond the story itself, my favorite thing about this book is the absolute lack of slut shaming. Feyre sacrifices herself in every way for her family, so goddamn right she’s going to have herself a lover if she wants one. And when she sees him and his new wife later–the WIFE is intimidated, not the other way around. She just smiles and wishes them well. THAT IS HOW IT SHOULD BE. Why does everything have to be so dirty and complicated? Thank you, Sarah Maas, for writing some positive lady sex.

The rest of this series will definitely be on my TBR. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

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Uprooted

“A tree isn’t a woman; it doesn’t bear a single seed. It scatters as many of them as it can, and hopes for some of them to grow.”

Every ten years, a mysterious sorcerer called The Dragon comes down from his spooky tower and chooses a most beautiful, clever girl in the village. He’s done this for a century, and the town keeps giving up their girls. Everyone knows it’s going to be Kasia–she’s perfect in every way. But losing her best friend isn’t what Agnieszka should fear the most.

Do any of you ever listen to music and find yourself absentmindedly conducting the air with one of your hands? I did that while reading this book. I have read poetic prose before. And I’ve even read really beautifully descriptive books about music.

But I’ve not ever actually read a book, that’s not even ABOUT music, that makes me FEEL music.

The magic in this book left me panting, breathless–the spells were more intimate than the actual sex. If I could have reached out and touched it, I would have been electrocuted. I’ve never seen magic like this in anything I’ve read before–of course it’s too racy for Harry Potter, but even Patrick Rothfuss didn’t pack THAT much power into his elemental series.

It’s the flow of the prose that really sets this book apart. The Polish fairy tale based on Baba Yaga is lovely, but I just can’t get over the music written into the story. I’ve never seen an opera, at least not a full one, but somehow I want…no, NEED…one written from this book. It’s destined for the stage. I am almost always happy to see my favorite books turned into movies, because I like to see my favorite characters personified, but this…this can’t be captured by Hollywood. I need the music, and I’m not sure even Broadway can do it justice. There’s just too much power there, something special. I think it needs to be opera.

Who do we know who can make this happen?

Obviously this is going on my MUST READS list. It may be my number one fantasy this year.

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Fanchon the Cricket

It’s been a long road, but I have finally, FINALLY, found a French author I love. I thought it would never happen, but George Sand is quite lovely.

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Fanchon the Cricket, or La Petite Fadette, is a beautiful book, almost an adult fairy tale. Twins are born to a prosperous farmer with an already large family. His wife despairs, knowing that twins are notoriously hard to raise. The local medicine woman (see also:  witch) whom everyone fears/hates, and warns her–don’t raise them the same. Put them in different clothes, make them play separately, and give them different jobs.

Do they listen? Of course not! The family is already large, and there is no reason to hire a nurse for one of the babies when Mom has enough milk for both (the advice had been to nurse apart), and as the boys grew they were inseparable at everything, down to their color preferences on scarves. However, at age 15, there was only space for one to be apprenticed, and the younger, being slightly more independent, took the job. His brother Sylvain was devastated, and visited almost every day. He couldn’t stand to be separated.

One day, hurt from Landry’s growing independence, he disappears into the woods. Landry meets a wild young girl, Fanchon, while trying to find him. She helps him, but in return, Landry has to promise to dance with her. I’ll stop here as I don’t want to give any more away, but drama ensues.

This is a classic story of not judging a book by it’s cover. The judgment is harsh in this one. I will say there is a bit of a “take the glasses off the nerd and she’s way prettier” kind of bibbity-bobbity-boop element, but the moral is more about the reverse–pointing the finger at the judgement of others.

It also focuses pretty strongly on depression as a physical illness, which I found interesting. I wish I didn’t find that character absolutely obnoxious, but I appreciated that his infirm was treated as such a big deal, and more than once.

This is a short book, but a big one, and one I will read more than once. It is going on my “To Buy” list for sure, I definitely need it on my shelf pronto!

Written in Red

Fanfiction of fairy tales is the “it” thing right now, and I am loving it! For some reason Red Riding Hood especially seems to be popular. She was never my favorite character growing up, but I do love the modern day remixes.

Book Club Fiction is reading Written in Red this month, and while it’s been awhile since I’ve participated in one of their readalongs–I was able to get this one from my library in time. I am so glad I did!

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I will say that at first, I wasn’t too sure about it. The prologue really doesn’t explain what the Others are very well, and so the whole time I was thinking “Oooook….so you’re saying if Native Americans just would have been evil cannibals, the white men wouldn’t have come in and taken over?” It just seemed a little…off. Once I got into the story and realized the author wasn’t talking about people at all, it made perfect sense, but at first, I was more than a little concerned.

Don’t let the prologue scare you like it did me. The Others are actually ancient earth natives. Terra Indigene. Their basic form is a pumped up form of animal (Wolf, Crow, Coyote, Bear, even Vampire), but they have adapted to be able to shift into human shape as necessary. However, they hate humans, and see them as just another form of meat that they somehow have to live with.

Meg, however, doesn’t smell like prey for some reason. She’s different, and they don’t know why. But she is scared and needs shelter, so they hire her on. Suddenly things get super complicated.

I loved this story. It was both scary and also gentle. There was friendship, but not exactly romance. I kept expecting it to break off into romance, because, you know, that’s what always happens in books like this. But it never came, and it was a nice change.

I do want to give you a trigger warning. There is quite a bit of discussion and a couple of scenes with cutting. Meg was in a cult type culture before she came to The Others where the girls were cut to induce prophecies. If that will trigger you, please don’t read this book, or proceed with caution, as it is a big part of the story. Please take care of yourself!

Two books in a row that I couldn’t put down? Maybe my slump is finally over! *fingers crossed*

 

Fulfills Popsugar #37:  A book with a color in the title

The Book of Dragons

Long before Smaug, there were fairy tale princesses, locked up in dragon proof towers. There were princes to save them, and then dragons were always mean and scary.

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E. Nesbitt’s versions of these tales were fun to read. They were the same prince and princess and dragon motifs, but the stories were not quite so predictable. First and foremost, the princess was not always helpless. Often she was smart, and while she may not beat the dragon all on her own…she does help quite a bit. Also, the dragon is not always completely bad–more of a misunderstood creature. Sure, it has an appetite for whole towns, but it’s a HUGE animal! I can see how that could make it feared among humans, but in one of the stories it just thinks that is normal behavior. But, it is a loving mother, and also extremely gullible.

Overall these were very sweet stories that any elementary aged kid would like. I could imagine reading these as bedtime stories to any little adventurer.

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There are a lot of series out there who suffer from “Second Book Syndrome.” That sophomore part of the set just always seems to be mundane, usually because it’s a means to the end. The scene was set and characters introduced in the first book, and all the major drama and climaxes will happen in the third book. But in the second, all of the details are given. This is where all the real meat of the plot happens, and often a lot of the dialogue. Unfortunately, though, this can often make the second book very dull.

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When I started hearing about Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, the most common theme was:  “The second book is better than the first!” “The series just keeps getting better!” “The first book was just ok, but the second book is going to blow you away!”

And then I read Cinder, and loved it. I mean, hello, futuristic badass cyborg Cinderella? Yes, please. So how was Meyer going to top that?!

Oh, only with a gardening pilot Red Riding Hood who falls in love with a secret agent Wolfman. That’s one way of doing it.

If you haven’t read these souped up fairy tales yet, what are you waiting for? I just ordered the whole series (or what I could…the last book hasn’t been published yet), and I am going to gobble them up like breakfast.

 

Fulfills PopSugar #35:  A book set in the future

Fairies: The Myths, Legends, & Lore

I’ve always been fascinated by mythology, and I think that is what most draws me to fantasy. I love the way authors use similar themes throughout to weave these stories that, even though it is fiction…there is this seemingly thread of truth to it all. It is all so familiar, and those “truths” go back and back and back so far that we really don’t know if they are fact.

As William Faulkner said, “Facts and truth really don’t have much to do with each other.”

Skye Alexander’s book on the fae was very educational and informative. I’m on my fourth page of journal notes today, which might be a record. She covers all of the basics, from Tinkerbell to Jinn (what we know more commonly as Genie). The myths and legends for all of the fairies get broken down by country.

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I have mixed feelings about the structure of this book. I probably would have liked it more if I hadn’t read it on a Kindle. I think this is one of those books you need to have in your hand, because there are just so many formatting changes, and pictures, and insets. The paperwhite just couldn’t do it justice. Plus…I happen to know that this has a gorgeous purple cover (the Goodreads pic doesn’t do it justice), and ooooh do I want it so badly.

However, even knowing that my reading was tainted by ebook format, I still have some hesitations. This does read very much like a college research paper, which unfortunately means it is a bit dry. There were subject headings every single paragraph, it seemed. Bullet points were extremely prevalent. I am glad it was well cited, but part of the reason my journal is so full is because she almost overdid it with quotes from other authors. Don’t get me wrong…I love when authors use quotations…to a point. But, I think it also detracts attention from the main body of work, so there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

I did really enjoy the insets, and I think I would have liked them even more if I had seen them in book format, rather than on the kindle. These were little stories about real life fairy sightings, examples to prove what Skye was describing. These made her research much more interesting.

Overall, I think this would be a wonderful thing for any fan of lore, fantasy, mythology, fairy tales, etc to have on their shelves. Also, if you are an author, you should definitely have this to flip through as a quick reference. It would be really handy just to pick this up when you need to know something about Irish legend, quickly. The book doesn’t have anything super in depth on any of the subjects, but it is really interesting basic information. I’m adding it to my To Buy list, and I’ll probably read her other books. I know she has one on Mermaids that I’m for sure going to check out!