Tag Archives: fairy tales

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz: Once Upon a Time, all fairy tales were connected. That’s the long and the short of this book, which follows the lives of Hansel and Gretel from their parents’ first meeting through the gingerbread house and beyond. I wasn’t familiar with any of the tales besides the classic gingerbread house, but they were all told like regular fairy tales, with things happening in threes and characters not having names and things like that. What makes this memorable, though, are the constant interruptions by the narrator to comment, explain, or (most often) warn of/apologize for the violence. The original Grimm tales were pretty bloody, and while this book leaves nothing out, it doesn’t dwell on the gore either. If you like fairy tales you’ll probably enjoy this one, but be sure to heed the narrator when he tells you to make sure there aren’t any little children around for certain parts. That said, older children would probably get a kick out of it.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Tee Vee

My husband and I have started watching television again. I mean, it’s always on anyway, but we’ve started following specific shows. Now, we don’t watch anything live – the ability to pause and rewind are just too wonderful to give up – but through the magic of Netflix and Hulu we do pretty well.

Once Upon a Time continues to be fun. The relationships between the characters grow ever more tangled. I like that Mulan is finally starting to grow a personality and that Disney did not shy away from the obvious chemistry between her and another female character, heterosexual norms be damned. Rumpelstiltskin remains my favorite character. I rather enjoy alternating between loving, hating, and feeling sorry for him. My husband is rather fond of Captain Hook, and I have to admit that he does have some of the best lines in the show.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland has only had one episode so far, and it shows promise. My reaction to the ads for it went something like this: “From the creators of Once Upon a Time…” – yay! – “…and the writers of Lost…” – um. Anyway, stylistically I haven’t been too impressed yet. One of the best parts of the original Once Upon a Time is the costuming, so I’m hoping that Alice starts wearing better stuff soon. I also would rather John Lithgow in a rabbit outfit than the painful CG critter they’re using, but whatever. I’ll give it a few more episodes before deciding how I feel about it.

Sleepy Hollow is a remarkably silly show, and we both are really enjoying it. Ichabod Crane is a Revolutionary War soldier brought back to life in modern times. Abbie Mills is a police officer. Together, they fight the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Yes, really. It’s hilarious far more often than I think it means to be. I wonder how many more Famous Stories From Colonial America will be incorporated into this show.

My husband’s started watching Supernatural on Netflix streaming, and his commentary is marvelous. He admits that he finds it entertaining, and he’s pretty impressed with some of the creature effects, but he thinks Sam and Dean are both complete douchebags. He’s right, of course, but I think most of the female audience overlooks that because they’re (1) funny and (2) incredibly hot. I stopped watching after the fifth season, but if my husband gets to that point and wants to keep going, I’ll watch it with him. I’m looking forward to hearing his opinion of the Trickster God episodes, and Ghost Facers.

Hannibal should be showing up from Netflix soon. I’ve read all of Cleolinda’s episode recaps, and I think this is the sort of show my husband will like. You might think it strange that I still want to watch the show even though I know everything that’s going to happen, but to me it’s a little bit like reading a book after seeing the movie: I already know I’m going to enjoy the story, only now I’ll get all of the details I missed.

I’ve heard a lot of buzz over the upcoming Dracula series, but I haven’t decided if I want to watch it or not. I’ll probably catch the pilot and go from there. I’m very excited about the upcoming 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who, and I think the twelfth Doctor will be a good one, but I really wish it could settle into a regular season format. I wouldn’t mind going back to half-hour episodes if it meant more than two months of episodes a year. And don’t even get me started on the Sherlock schedule. Is that ever going to start airing again?

I don’t consider myself much of a TV watcher, but a single 45-minute episode during dinner with my sweetie is kind of a nice ritual. Are you watching anything good these days?

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (unabridged audiobook read by Steven Crossley; 11 hrs on 10 discs): 12-year-old David mourns his dead mother, resents his new stepmother and baby half-brother, and suddenly finds that books have begun whispering to him. One night he journeys to a strange land, a land of fairy tales and dreams. But these aren’t your modern, Disney-fied fairy tales. These are the old cautionary fables, full of monsters and violence. I spent much of the first part of this book wondering why it hadn’t been made into a movie, but once David enters the other land, there is more than a little bit of disturbing, violent imagery. Even so, it’s a captivating story, full of classic motifs and new characters, scary monsters and thrilling adventure. Not one I’ll soon forget.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine: Aza is not a pretty girl. She is tall and stout with a chalky complexion and black hair. However, in a kingdom where people sing as often as speak, her voice is the loveliest in the land. When a duchess stays at her parents’ inn and invites her to accompany her to the king’s wedding, Aza’s life is turned upside down. Before she knows it, the new queen has asked her to be her lady-in-waiting, and a budding friendship begins with the king’s nephew, Prince Ijori. This take on the classic tale of Snow White is charming and engrossing; I couldn’t wait to see what happens next. Aza is introspective and clever, always at odds with her appearance. I laughed in several places, and the ending found me with a big silly grin on my face. Definitely recommended to lovers of fairy tales.

A note on the audio version: There is a lot of singing in this book, and the audio version actually includes a large amount of original music. Aza’s soprano voice is lovely. Many of the songs are similar, and several are slower than I would have expected them, but it’s all pleasant to hear. My favorite songs were those sung by Frying Pan, though Ijori’s tune at the Healing Sing was hauntingly beautiful. I’m glad I listened to this book instead of just reading it, as the lyrics would have come across as far more dull as poetry. The melodies really added to the emotion of the scene.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine: A charming twist on the familiar tale of Cinderella. Ella is cursed from birth to obey any command anyone gives her. Using her own ingenuity, she overcomes hungry ogres, careless fairies, and wicked stepsisters in her journey to break the spell and find true love. All the standard components are here – a fairy godmother, glass slippers, a pumpkin turned into a carriage – but reimagined in a clever way. Rather than sitting around waiting to be saved from her life of servitude like the classic Cinderella, this Ella is her own savior, and an excellent role-model to boot. I wish this book could have been part of my own childhood. It’s marvelous.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire: Here is the story of Iris and her sister Ruth, famed stepsisters of the Cinderella tale. Like Maguire’s earlier Wicked, it is a retelling of a famous story from the villain’s point of view. Also like Wicked, the heroine of the canon is portrayed as self-serving and cruel, while the villain is merely a social outcast, trying to puzzle her way through the world as best she can. The Cinderella story is nearly unrecognizable for about two thirds of the book, while it discusses Iris’s love of painting and Clara (Cinderella)’s bizarre self-imposed seclusion, but in the end there is a prince and a ball and a lost slipper. Despite a general confusion throughout most of the story, I turned the last page feeling at least most of my questions had been answered. I don’t know that I will go out of my way to read more Maguire – I grew weary of so much unneccessary use of hundred-dollar words and such impossibly flowery dialogue – but I am glad I read this one. I like fairy tales and all their retellings; hopefully the popularity of Maguire’s version will not overshadow others’ attempts to show the other side of the story.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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