20. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente, 248 pages, read by Angie, on 02/19/2014

This is what I learned from this book:

A proper Empire wants a border and currency and some who are high and some who are low. And a really proper Empire, the best and most enviable kind of Empire, has Criminals. You’re not doing Empire right if there aren’t loads of people who don’t like it one bit!

A silent Library is a sad Library. A Library without patrons on whom to pile books and tales and knowing and magazines full of up-to-the-minute politickal fashions and atlases and plays in pentameter! A Library should be full of exclamations! Shouts of delight and horror as the wonders of the world are discovered or the lies of the heavens uncovered or the wild adventures of devil-knows-who sent romping out of the pages. A Library should be full of now-just-a-minutes and that-can’t-be-rights and scientifick folk running skelter to prove somebody wrong. It should positively vibrate with laughing at comedies and sobbing at tragedies, it should echo with gasps as decent ladies glimpse indecent things and indecent ladies stumble upon secret and scandalous decencies! A Library should not shush; it should roar!

Oh, every place has a Pluto! It’s where a universe keeps the polar bears and last year’s pickled entropy and the spare gravity. You need a Pluto or you’re hardly a universe at all. Plutos teach lessons. A lesson is like a time-traveling argument. Because, you see, you can’t argue until you’ve had the lesson or else you’re just squabbling with your own ignorance. But a lesson is really just the result of arguments other people had ages ago! You have to sit still and pay attention and pantomime their arguments over again until you’re so sick of their prattle that you pipe up to have your own. You can’t learn anything without arguing.

Going straight in a line to anything is the saddest path.

Blood is a word that means alive. You can do without almost anything: arms, legs, teeth, hope. But you can’t do without blood. Life eats life. Blood makes you move, makes you blush, makes the pulse pound in your brow when you see your love walking across a street toward you, makes you r very thoughts fly through your brain. Blood is everything and everything is blood.

Living is a paragraph, constantly rewritten. It is Grown-Up Magic. Children are heartless; their parents hold them still, squirming and shouting, until a heart can get going in their little lawless wilderness. Teenagers crash their hearts into every hard and thrilling thing to see what will give and what will hold. And Grown-Ups, when they are very good, when they are very lucky, and very brave, and their wishes are sharp as scissors, when they are in the fullness of their strength, use their hearts to start their stories over again.

Family is a transitive property.

Love is a Yeti. It is bigger than you and frightening and terrible. it makes loud and vicious noises. It is hungry all the time. it has horns and teeth and the fore of its fists is more than anyone can bear. It speeds up time and slows it down. And it has its own aims and missions that those who are lucky enough to see it cannot begin to guess. You might see a Yeti once in your life or never. You might live in a village of them. But in the end, no matter how fast you think you can go, the Yeti is always faster than you, and you can only choose how you say hello to it, and whether you shake its hand.

I think that about sums it all up. Read this series, you won’t be sorry. It is a literary delight.

20. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman., 117 pages, read by Kira, on 02/16/2014

Odd is a kid who smiles all the time, even after his father dies.  The village people do Not understand him.  Then he attempts to use his father’s giant axe, and in the process Odd & the Frost Giants - Cover +injures his leg; he builds himself a crutch and drags himself home.  His mother remarries a man who doesn’t care for Odd.  But Odd perseveres, using the talents he has, he is able to help out the Norse gods, Odin, Loki, and Thor, who have been turned into different animals.  This was a AdamStower_OddtheFrostGiants01fun short read.universe_within

20. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Kira

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow . by Jessica Day George, 328 pages, read by Kira, on 02/16/2014

sun-and-moon-ice-and-snow1   Another delightful rendition of Beauty and the Beast this time in a Norbear - Copywegian mode.  This was well done, fast paced, and atmospheric!  I would like to see a version where the girl does NOT succeastL - Copyumb to kn_eastbearsun moonpressure from her family.

20. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine, 362 pages, read by Kira, on 02/19/2014

cover-of-fairest fairestA reinterpretation of Snow White.  In this fractured version, the protagonist, an innkeeper’s daughter, is a larger girl who is sometimes treated poorly by other people because of her looks.  However, she has the most beautiful voice in the kingdom. This was well written and challenged our culture’s obsession with good looks, asking the reader to question our assumptions we make based on physical attractiveness.

20. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Kira

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner., 79 pages, read by Kira, on 02/15/2014

A satire on Political Correctness covering a number of common fairy tales.  In one the helpful woodsman gets his head chopped off, for intruding and doubting that Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf, couldn’t work out their own problems.  hw7.plIt was ok, I did learn some things about discrimination and different ways of viewing the world.

19. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue, 415 pages, read by Kira, on 02/09/2014

A wonderful entrancing story! a hobgoblin, trades places with the real Henry Day, getting a chance to life out a human life, after waiting about 100 years for his turn.  The previous HenrStolen_Childy Day, now renamed Anaday, struggles to make sense of his world, and to fit in with the band of hobgoblins.  Both characters struggle to figure out what to do with the lives that they have.  I like the fact that Donohue took a familiar narrative, that of the stolen/exchanged child, and tackled stochilddeeper questionstlchls of what it meastolns to live a meaningful life.  This book reminded me of both   and Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let me Go” as well as Adam Phillips’ book missing outMissing Out (which had too much psychoanalysis for me to finish).

18. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Eric, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, 247 pages, read by Eric, on 02/15/2014

Mix equal parts Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz, stir with a Victorian pen filled with modern ink, and soon the outline of this exceptional fairy tale starts to form. September, a twelve year old from Omaha, Nebraska, is swept away to Fairyland by the Green Wind, and eventually ends up Circumnavigating Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making for a purpose which I won’t spoil. What happens between these events is some truly inventive, wildly imaginative wordplay, filled with classic (and very strange) characters, and off-kilter plot developments which can only take place in Fairyland. This is both a bright and cruel place to live, two sides which are contrasted, compared, and even mixed throughout the book.

Normally, it takes a Terry Pratchett or a Neil Gaiman to get me to tap my wife on the shoulder, and repeat sentences aloud. I was sharing bits and pieces from this tale the entire time I read it. Highly recommended.

16. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Teen Books

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 02/16/2014

The Wild is real and it is hiding under Julie’s bed. It likes to steal her shoes, but other than that it is manageable. Julie lives with her mom Rapunzel and her brother Puss in Boots. Her grandma Goethel owns the Wishing Well Hotel. All the characters are happy to have escaped into the real world, but then someone sets the Wild free and suddenly everyone is trapped in the stories again. It is up to Julie to figure out how to set them free again. She has to work around the stories and try to not get caught in one. An ending will mean the end of Julie and her life.

I really enjoy reading fractured fairy tales and this one didn’t disappoint. It was fun and entertaining. I loved how Durst wove all the fairy tale stories together and made them real. Julie is the perfect hero for our story; she is spunky and smart and determined. I really enjoyed trying to identify the stories as she came upon them in the Wild.

14. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Teen Books

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 02/12/2014

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is the retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon. George does a fantastic job with this reimagining. I am not really familiar with the original tale, but I loved it! This is the story of Pikka, the ninth child of a poor woodcutter family. Her mother was so disgusted at having another worthless daughter that she didn’t give her a name. The girl’s life changes when she catches a white reindeer and it gives her a name and the ability to speak to animals. It changes further when the isbjorn (the white bear) asks her to come live in his palace for a year. The palace is made of ice and filled with strange creatures and markings. The girl finds herself drawn into the isbjorn’s world and wants to find out more about his curse. When he is taken away to marry the troll princess she must find the palace east of the sun and west of the moon to save her true love.

I loved this story. I loved the fact that it was filled with Norse mythology and Norse words. I am fascinated by this culture even though I know little about it. Pikka is a strong girl despite the treatment she receives from her mother. She is brave and is filled with drive and spirit; just the kind of heroine I like in my books.

13. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Graphic Novel, Pamela

Fractured Fables by Multiple Authors, 159 pages, read by Pamela, on 02/08/2014

fablesKids will get a kick out of these well known fairy tales and fables that have been rewritten and illustrated in comic book fashion.

This is a humorous take on 30 familiar fairy tales and fables where Cinderella and Pinocchio have attitude, the Little Mermaid has really bad luck, and Little Red Riding Hood karate kicks the big bad wolf all the way back to his house.

10. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: ,

Harlequin Valentine by Gaiman, Neil, 39 pages, read by Kira, on 02/09/2014

Harlequin_valentine_cover

Apparently the Harlequin is a stock character in European and British theater specifically, the Commedia dell’Arte format – along with a whole host of other characters – including Columbine – his love interest.  In this retelling of the Harlequin’s usual story, Gaiman adds a twist to the standard narrative.  Even though I was not familiar with the standard narrative, I could see that giving the woman powers and moving her into a main character status is a twist on the standard narrative where the woman is often the object, and Not the subject.  Interesting piece.harqp3

10. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Cress by Marissa Meyer, 550 pages, read by Angie, on 02/08/2014

Cress is the third installment in the Lunar Chronicles (Cinder and Scarlet) and might just be my favorite so far. I loved how all of the characters from the previous books came together and how the final book (Winter) is set up. This is such a creative and fun series that it really sucks to have to wait a year between books.

Cress, our title character, is a young Lunar null who has been exiled to a satellite between Lunar and Earth. She is tasked with spying on Earth and reporting back to her mistress. However, Cress has become fascinated with everything Earthen and instead of turning Cinder and her band over to the Lunars she has decided to help them. Her rescue attempt goes awry however leaving Wolf injured, Scarlet kidnapped and Cress and Thorne falling out of the sky in a disabled satellite. Cinder is still determined to stop the wedding of Kai and Levana and take her place as Princess Selena.

I devoured this book in a day despite its size. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. I love how Meyer wove the traditional Rapunzel tale into Cress’s story. I really enjoyed her introduction to Earth and her infatuation with Captain Thorne. This book progresses the story of this series really well. Everyone moved forward and things are lined up perfectly for Winter, which I can’t wait to come out. I really can’t say enough about how much I love this series!

04. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, NonFiction, Pamela

Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Scotland by Virginia Haviland, 120 pages, read by Pamela, on 02/02/2014

scotlandSix traditional fairy tales from Scotland. . .The Page Boy and the Silver Goblet, The Wee Bannock, Peerifool, The Brownie o’ Ferne-Den, The Good Housewife and Her Night Labors, and Assipattle and the Giant Sea Serpent.

28. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Short Stories · Tags:

M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman, 260 pages, read by Eric, on 01/25/2014

“M is for magic. All the letters are, if you put them together properly.” This tasty tidbit is from Neil Gaiman’s introduction to the book, and wonderfully sums up my view of most of his writing. He has a way of stringing letters together which makes the mundane magical, or at the least, a bit odd. I like a bit odd, and so enjoyed this collection of short stories. It also was interesting to compare stories written earlier in his career to more recent ones, both of which are in this collection. I had read a couple of these tales before, and one in particular (The Witch’s Headstone) became a chapter in Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery winner, The Graveyard Book. Short stories are a great introduction to an author, and so if you are one of the five people not familiar with Neil Gaiman, this collection is a decent place to start. Although it is a collection intended for younger readers, the content is pretty mature, including older cultural references I doubt young readers will understand.

24. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Fairest in all the Land by Bill Willingham, 160 pages, read by Brian, on 01/23/2014

fairestBill Willingham writes these wonderful novels based off fables and he puts his own twist to it which makes is so much fun. Willingham takes these characters who live in Fabletown and delves into their secret pasts which is mighty surprising and fascinating. 

08. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction

Fairest In All the Land by Bill Willingham, 160 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/30/2013

FAIREST has explored the secret histories of the most stunning beauties in Fabletown: Cinderella, Snow White, Briar Rose, Rapunzel, and the list goes on and on. In FAIREST IN ALL THE LAND, the best names in comics take their turns fleshing out the pasts of the loveliest Fables in existence. For all those wanting to dive into FAIREST or FABLES, this original graphic novel is a fantastic entry point, as well as a great new chapter for those that have been following Bill Willingham’s fairy tale epic for years.
08. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal, 576 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/29/2013

Kingdom of Little Wounds is a most unexpected book. The setting is in an imaginary Scandinavian country in 1572. Young Princess Sophie is on the eve of her wedding, a grand affair, by all accounts. She dies before the nuptial night is over. Poison is suspected, but since all of her siblings seem to suffer from the same symptoms that Sophie had in the years prior to her death, many believe it to be disease.
Out of the royal spotlight, two women struggle to eke out a life worth living in the palace. One is a seamstress named Ava Bingen. After accidentally pricking the Queen while repairing her gown, Ava is demoted to working with the ailing children. The other woman, Midi Sorte, was taken from her native land and given as a gift to a noble. At some point in her service, her tongue is cut in half (lengthwise), so Midi’s power of speech is gone. She proves, however, that one need not speak to get a point across or to be valuable to the machinations of the palace and its inhabitants. Her position taking care of the youngest royal child keeps her relatively safe.
Queen Isobel and her husband, King Christian, struggle to keep up appearances while their legacy falters before their eyes. Some of the most obvious signs of illness are routinely overlooked at the behest of those in power. Others are executed, imprisoned or tortured as potential poisoners of the children, King and Queen. Bit by bit, all three women, the Queen, Midi, and Ava, will find their lives intertwining in unexpected ways.
We love to imagine history as a romanticized version of itself. This version is far less kind and likely much closer to the realities of life in such a setting. Underneath the veneer of fancy clothing and royal privilege lies a kingdom in peril. The reader realizes far before many of the characters that it is not poison that caused the death of Princess Sophie. Nor is it poison that threatens her siblings. Rather, it is syphilis, a disease that was reputedly quite well-spread at the time (and was considered incurable). Many of the “mad” kings of history were known to suffer from the disease. This story could have been far more graphic and, frankly, gross, but for Cokal’s hypnotic writing style. Cokal herself describes the book as “a fairy tale about syphilis”, which is fairly accurate. The narrative trades off mainly between Ava, Midi and the Queen and each has their own narrative “style”. The way in which the story plays itself out is full of intrigue and danger, though the unexpected ending leaves the reading believing that the kingdom just might survive, after all. The Kingdom of Little Wounds was highly unusual, dark and lyrical. It’s not a book I’d recommend to everyone, but for the right reader, it’s a tale one can really sink one’s teeth into.

08. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Kristy, Romance, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, 454 pages, read by Kristy, on 12/08/2013

Feisty Scarlet is young the star of the second book in the Lunar Chronicles series. When her grandmother, a former military pilot, goes missing, Scarlet does everything she can to find her. This quest to find her grandmother leads Scarlet on a dangerous journey with the street fighter, Wolf. Her quest also leads her to cross paths and develop and unexpected friendship with Cinder.

This book subtly deviates away from the retelling of Cinderella and instead displays innovative retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Fans of the first book will be sure to enjoy the second book in this series. My only complaint is that Cinder’s storyline fades too far into the background of Scarlet.

08. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Kristy, Romance, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Cinder by Marissa Meyer, 387 pages, read by Kristy, on 12/05/2013

Cinder, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series, is a must-read for teens or adults who enjoy retellings of classic fairy tales. This book features a teen named Cinder: a talented cyborg mechanic who has a miserable home life and a mysterious past. Despite her second class status and occupation, Cinder manages to catch the eye of the local prince. But with a plague destroying the earth’s population, a war being threatened by a ruthless lunar queen, and Cinder concealing the fact that she’s a cyborg, will the romance between these two blossom or burn?

This retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale is fresh and original. But be warned: once you pick this book up, it will be hard to put down!

04. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Vol. 7 by Bill Willingham, 240 pages, read by Courtney, on 11/30/2013

Preparation for war between Fabletown and the Empire begins! The Adversary calls a conference of the Imperial elite to decide what to do about Fabletown and Pinocchio has to face up to his divided loyalties between his friends and his family. Meanwhile, Bigby decides the time has come to confront his father, the North Wind, while the cubs learn more of their family and celebrate their birthday! Plus, Burning Questions by the fans answered!