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.

Cress

So what do you get when you combine Firefly with fairy tales, and add in a bit of Star Wars for flavor?

You get The Lunar Chronicles. Specifically, Cress. 

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The drama really picks up in this third book, and it is so freaking cool. I’m not kidding about the Firefly angle either. So much awesome space nerdness going on–I kept expecting Malcolm and crew to pop up somewhere and cause mischief. Thorne reminds me a lot of Mal, actually.

This is the longest book in the series, but I couldn’t put it down. The crew is running around pretty much nonstop the whole time, so it is very fast-paced. You never know what crazy plan is going to come up next, or what is, of course, going to go wrong with that plan.

Meyer is leading up to the eventual Lunar Wars, so there’s a pretty big cliffhanger at the end of this. I’m interested to see whether Fairest is a continuation/fourth book, or if it’s a prequel, companion book, or how it fits in. I know she’s working on Winter currently as an end to everything. I’ll be reading Fairest in a week or so, so I’ll let you know! (And yes, I could just look it up, but that’s no fun!)

Fulfills PopSugar #32:  A trilogy

Scarlet

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

Daily Bookish Challenges | Day Seven

What are your top five favourite picture books?

I don’t remember very many picture books, to be honest, so this took some serious thinking. I remember being read to, and I remember going to the library, but most of the books I remember from my childhood start in the chapter book section:  American Girls, Babysitter’s Club, Boxcar Children. I know there were some picture books at some point, but I started reading on my own really early, so I didn’t hang on to most of them for long.

Here are the ones I do remember:

  1. Barenstain Bears
  2. Paddington
  3. Little Bear (I must have had a thing for bears!)
  4. Babar the Elephant
  5. I Love You Forever

There’s also some vague ones that I can remember the characters, but I don’t know their titles–something about Mrs. Rude Girl, those multi colored shapes that taught a lesson–someone has to remember what I’m talking about. There was also one about too many cooks in the kitchen, and an old grandmother making soup. It had crudely drawn people with really big noses and scraggly hair. Awesome description, I know.

And then, of course, I was a huge fan of fairy tales and fables–I still am.

 

It’s probably good I’m not a parent. I’d be reading the poor kid Game of Thrones and Dorian Gray!

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!

Rump

I am thrilled that fairy tales are making such a reappearance lately. I was raised on the Disney versions, along with constant rereads of Grimm and Aesop’s Fables. So now that I’m an adult, there’s nothing that I love more than to see my favorite characters getting revamped on TV and in what is essentially fanfiction that is popping up all over the place.

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Rump by Liesl Shurtliff is the latest of these that I’ve found–a YA version of Rumpelstiltskin. Other than being a character in Once Upon a Time, Rumpelstiltskin isn’t a character who has gotten a lot of viewership over the years. When we hear about him as children, he’s a villain–the creepy hermit who bargained away the queen’s baby for gold.

Shurtliff spins a whole different story. This is very much a fable–and the moral at the end of this is one of self discovery. Rump is a quick read–I got through it in a few hoursbut I enjoyed it. The characters are magical, and I wanted very much for Rump to succeed in his quest.

I would say kids as young as 2nd or 3rd grade could easily pick this up. My only warning is that they do use words like “pee” and “butt.” No real cuss words, just things younger children might go “ooooooooo, you shouldn’t say that!” The message is fantastic, though, especially for kids who need a boost of self confidence.

WWW Wednesday 10/8/2014

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What are you currently reading?

Uncle Silas by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

 

 

What did you just finish reading?

Dorothy Must Diby Danielle Paige

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

 

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

Rump by Liesel Shurtliff

Cinder

You all have been TORTURING me with this one. So many gorgeous pictures of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. I was raised in the golden years of Disney’s princesses, and so I love fairy tales. And now everyone is coming out with their own version of our favorite girls.

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Cinder is another book I had put on hold awhile back, and finally got this weekend–I couldn’t wait to read it. Everyone has been posting the hardcovers online and I’m not gonna lie–I almost just went out and bought the series. They are just too pretty.

I had heard that many bloggers didn’t care much for the first book, but that the second and third books were way better, so I expected to take Cinder in with a grain of salt. No salt needed! I loved this! A scifi Cinderella? This was awesome. Cinder was totally badass, and no fairy godmother needed. There was no bippity boppity boop needed, she took care of things her own self. She did have a little help from slighty ditzy doctor, but not much.

This book kind of reminded me of Wicked, in that it was a more politicized version of the original tale. The prince was no background handsome here. He took care of business. And, there was actually a wicked witch trying to start a war, in addition to the evil stepmother.

I could go on and on, and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Hurry up, library. I need Scarlet pronto!!