Category Archives: fairytales

Because You Love to Hate Me – Review

bylthm_covcomp19_ver25b15dVillains fascinate me. I think it is because their backstories are usually more in-depth and complicated than the protagonist’s. They make hard choices, even though they are usually the wrong choice. The path to making that choices is a twisting one that makes you reconsider your own choices. I like that even though we understand them we still feel some type of aversion to them.

Because You Love to Hate Me is a collection of 13 stories all told from the “villain’s” POV. Some are retellings or reimagining while others are involve original characters. The idea was for 13 Booktubers (Book bloggers on Youtube) to provide 13 authors with a villain centric prompt. The author then took the idea and created an original story for the collection. Each story was followed up by a quick piece by the Booktuber who provided the prompt.

What I loved…

I loved the way every story made you question who was supposed to be the villain. Some did it better than others but all the stories left you wondering if the “villain” was really that bad. I did not hate one of the main characters. I didn’t like some of the choices they made but I found myself not despising any of them.

By giving us the whole story from the “villain” POV only, we got to be surrounded by the idea that they were people facing tough obstacles. In these stories they were not the obstacles but were just people trying to find a way to solve a serious problem in their lives. I liked this because it allowed us to focus on them, their identities, their choices and the consequences of those choices. We as readers got to focus on what happens when you make poor decisions or choose based on selfish thoughts or ideas.

My favorite story was Victoria Schwab’s, “Death Knell.” Her prompt was “Hades wakes up after bring unconscious at the bottom of a well in Ireland.” She took this idea and twisted it to be about death in general. This is someone we don’t generally see a traditional villain. I loved the way she told her story.

It was a simple story but it was beautifully done. It focused on the idea of our fear of death and also created a new way to look at the idea. I loved how original and fresh the story felt. It was the one that stayed with me the longest.

Things I was just okay with….

Everyone of the stories had a Booktuber follow up with it. The small essays ranged from discussions about the story to quirky quizzes and how-to guides.

While most were entertaining in some fashion I wanted more from the commentary. I wanted to know they the topics were chosen. Why choose to ask for a story about a spy or giving Ursula’s backstory? Why did this intrigue you enough to ask for a story about the person or topic?

I felt like the stories could have had more depth if the explanations were deeper. Some were great, like the one after Victoria Schwab’s story but most were goofy or unconnected to the story. I wanted a better look into the ideas and thought processes.

What I wished was done differently….

I enjoyed most of the stories. They were fun looks at a different viewpoint. But many of the stories felt like generic retellings or just took the prompt given at face value.

I wanted the prompts to push more depth into the stories but many felt surface level. They didn’t dive into the psyche or thought process’s of the characters enough. I didn’t want what we already knew just told in a slightly different way. We have basics about many of these characters, I wanted that next, deeper layer.

On Goodreads I gave the collection a 3.5. It was a fun read but could have been improved by more depth from both the authors and the Booktubers providing the prompts.

Quotes:

“Most people din’t steal or kill or sell drugs because they want to, Holmes, or because they love being ‘bad guys’ so much. They do it because they’re born to a life with no exists. No chances. […]”  (pg 104).

“People are peculiar. They have a way of seeing only what they want, or not seeing anything they don’t.” (pg 208).

 

Fables By: Bill Willingham Review (Deluxe Edition Book One)

81g0bqdw4wlWhen I say Snow White what comes to mind? Do you envision a calm, easy-going, meek princess hiding in the woods with seven dwarves as company? How about when I ask you to think about The Big Bad Wolf? Do you envision either a human-like wolf or a man with wolf features hunting and devoting a little girl dressed in red? Or maybe you think of a wolf blowing down the homes for three pigs? These images are probably the most common for these characters. They come from he more popular versions of these stories.

I have nothing against these Disney-esque versions of the stories. I grew up with those stories. I was a Disney child, so that is how I was introduce to the fairytales. I love them. But these sterilized adaptations for the modern world. The originals are dark and gritty. They rarely end with a happy ending. Death and torture are normal in the original versions of theses classic fables and fairytales.

The Fable’s comics harken back to these original stories. The comic centers around a group of fables/fairytale characters who are living in our world as refugees. They have had to run from their home that was overtaken by someone called The Adversary. They had no choice but to leave in order to survive.

In our world they are only trying to survive. Our world is very different from their own. They lived their stories out and now they are trying to start new. This is a fresh start for many of them but leaving their pasts behind is not easy. They can’t entirely escape their stories.

I picked up the comic because I played The Wolf Among Us, a Telltale game. It is a decision based game and I enjoy those types of games. I liked that this one had a sort of retelling of the classic stories I have always known. I enjoyed the game and decided to see what the comics offered and see where the characters stores continued to go.

This first collections follows two story lines. The first is a detective, murder mystery. Rose Red, Snow White’s sister, has gone missing and the hunt is on to find her. The second follows the story of an attempted revolution on The Farm, the place where fables who can’t pass as human have to live.

The plot lines were pretty straightforward. They weren’t exactly revolutionary or overly exciting. It was the take on the characters that drew me. I loved the darker, grittier versions of these characters. Their voices were unique and felt very alive and real.

Snow White was our main protagonist and I feel like she may be for most of the series. She is not the meek, nature loving, hiding away, maiden that we know her as. She is tough. She does what she thinks is best no matter what anyone thinks. She speaks her mind. She fights when she has too.

Snow White is probably my least favorite princess; mostly because she seemed very flat and lifeless to me in the movie. I have grown to like her more over the years from the various versions of her I have read. She is made to be tougher and more independent and I like to see that twist. I am hoping her character stays strong and interesting.

The other main character we go to know pretty well was Bibgy, The Big Bad Wolf. He is the sheriff in Fabletown (the name of the town where the fables live in New York).  He is one of my favorite character types. He is the tough exterior, sweet interior person. He has a rough past, we all know that. But this world gives him a chance to start fresh and he is doing the best he can.

He can’t completely fight his nature, because is part of him. But he is not willing to go backwards.I like to see him try to stay on the right side, even when it is tough for him. I am hoping to see his character grow throughout the series.

There was also a very interesting point made in the latter half of this collection. I am hoping it is something that is used and explored more throughout the series. Rose Red makes a point to Snow that some of them are not as lucky as she is.

There are the fables we all know, such as Snow White. There are hundreds of versions of her story throughout the world. Whereas some like, Rose Red, are not as lucky. They aren’t complete forgotten but they are lesser known. In this world it seems that being known affords certain power. The more well known characters are more durable. They can survive things that the lesser known ones may not be able to survive. It seems that survival almost depends on the world knowing who you are and knowing your story.

This is an interesting take on the power of the story. These people’s lives sort of depend on someone knowing who they are. If we forget their story or twist them out of other’s stories we could be killing them. I am hoping the this idea is used more. I like the idea of the story having the power.

This was a fun collection and I am hoping to get to the second one sometime soon. The only issue is that the collections are kind of expensive so this isn’t one I can’t just read right through. I am going to have to continue when I get some extra cash.

If you like fairytale retellings and new takes on old stories you will enjoy this. It is a comic which makes it a faster read. It is a fun and nice set up. I am hoping it continues to be as good as the series develops .

 

 

 

The Reflections of Queen Snow White – Review

51qjp7Z3KdL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_(I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

I have stated in previous reviews that reimagining and re-tellings of fairy tales are some of my favorite kinds of stories. I loved to see how people rethink classic stories or delve deeper into the characters. David Meredith’s story gives us a deeper look into the character of Snow White.

Snow White is probably my least favorite princess. Her story has always been pretty basic and boring to me. I have never felt a true connection to her. This tale gave me a new look at Snow White and has given me a new appreciation for her as a character. Now when I think of her I will see a stronger character than I have before.

It has been a year since Prince Charming passed away. Snow White is consumed by her grief. She wants nothing to do with anyone or anything around her including her only daughter, Raven. Raven is  getting married but Snow White cannot find a way to care or get wrapped up in the wedding. All she can think about is missing her husband.

In an effort to find real solitude Snow White goes on a walk and ends up in the quarters of her deceased stepmother. In the abandoned room she finds her stepmother’s mirror. She starts talking to the mirror and begins a journey into her past to find out who she truly is.

Snow White is taken through her past and is able to get out many of the emotions she has been holding inside of her for so much of her life. After each flashback, the mirror tries to make Snow see an important part of who she is. At first, Snow is combative, she refuses to see anything good before her. She only sees loss, abuse, and grief.

The mirror refuses to let her be consumed by those feelings. What the mirror does is show Snow White what is inside of her. It can’t show her anything that she does not hold inside of herself in some manner. At first, that is only her grief and anger. But slowly that begins to change.

Snow White learns just how strong of a woman she is. Her life has not been easy. She was severely abused by her stepmother. She was poisoned. She was doubted and abused by those she was supposed to rule. She had trouble conceiving a child and doubted her worth to Charming. Through each trial, she fought back and found a way to live on. The mirror shows Snow White that her grief over losing Charming is only one of her many battles. She can win this one, as well ,if only she does not give up.

Characters are my favorite parts of stories. The plot can be subpar, the setting hard to follow but if I connect to a character I am most likely going to enjoy the story in some manner. I wasn’t sure exactly what this story was going to be about when I read the summary. I thought we may get the origins of the mirror and Snow White having to fight a battle to save herself.

In part I was right. Snow White fought an internal struggle to find the woman she had lost in her sorrow. I appreciated this view into Snow White as a character. The flashbacks into her life were interesting. They stayed very close to the original story. This was not a long story, it basically all takes place in the room with the mirror, but it takes us throughout all of Snow White’s history. We get to see what kind of woman she actually is.

The story is also one about dealing with grief and losing someone close to you. For me, this hit a bit closer to home than it may for other readers. The ending, in particular, made me a bit teary-eyed. I think the way living on after losing someone was talked about made me appreciate the story a bit more than I would have otherwise.

If you enjoy fairytales and glimpses into characters we think we know well you will enjoy this story. It is a quick read but a powerful one. There are some dark moments that were a bit hard to read but combined with the other elements of the story I really enjoyed the story.

Purchase the book here on Amazon.

(This story as read as part of the Once Upon a Time X Challenge over at Stainless Steel Droppings).

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles) Review

9780141340135I have been putting off reading this series for a long time. I kept hearing about it through blogs and Booktubers but it hadn’t been finished yet. I have read too many series with disappointing endings that I was afraid this would fit that bill. But then the last book came out and all I heard was positive reviews about the way the series ends. So, I finally picked up the first book and I had trouble putting it down.

Cinder (first int the series) is a sci-fi retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg who lives in a future society. She can’t remember any of her life before the age of eleven when she was made into a cyborg. She lives with her harsh and cruel stepmother and two stepsisters. One stepsister is actually very nice and loving towards Cinder. While the other is just as mean and cruel as her stepmother.

Cinder is a well-known mechanic and one day the prince (soon to be emperor) Kai comes to her to fix one of his androids. This one meeting changes everything about Cinder’s life. She learns about her past and gets caught up in an intergalactic problem that involves the Lunars, the people who live on the moon.

The story is fast paced, there is very little downtime between events. The characters are lively and relatable.

I loved Cinder’s character. She has a sarcastic attitude which is one of my favorite character types. Cinder has not had an easy life. She believes that her parents were killed in a crash that injured her so badly she had to become a cyborg. She has been an outcast her whole life. No one wants to be around her because of her cyborg nature. She is seen as less than human, which influences her view of herself.

I wrote a post about storylines that drive me nuts, one of those being a character hiding a part of themselves from someone else because they are afraid of what will happen if they tell their secret. Usually, this storyline makes little sense and makes the character holding the secret weaker as well as the other person. But in this story it was different and I didn’t hate how it was used.

Cinder is afraid to tell Kai that she is a cyborg. All her life people have looked down on her because of this condition that she had no control over. She did not choose to become a cyborg, that was a choice made for her. No one respects her. She is seen as less than human. So her holding onto that secret makes sense. This is how she views herself. She doesn’t see herself as worthy of affection or respect. She doesn’t understand Kai’s kindness towards her. She is sure that once he learns who she is, he will run. For this story, this all makes sense. I wanted her to tell Kai everything but I understood why she didn’t.

Both Kai and Cinder are thrown into an adult life. Both have to grow up fast. Kai has to rule his people, keep them safe and try to find a cure for a plague that is destroying their lives. Cinder is thrown into a new life that she isn’t sure how to navigate.

I liked the way both of the characters were written. They don’t become rational adults right away. They have to make some huge decisions that they shouldn’t have to make at their age, but at the same time, they hold onto a youthful view of the world. Kai and Cinder both hold onto a youthful naivety about the way their lives are and should be.

Their story doesn’t wrap up neatly in this book. Everything is left hanging and I loved that. I was worried that they would finish up their story, and only be side characters in the rest of the series with no more real growth or extension of their story. But that doesn’t happen. We are left wondering what will not only happen in their lives but between the two of them. It made me go right out and buy the next book. I am eager to see how not only does the story progress but what is in store for Cinder and Kai’s characters throughout the rest of the series.

Alice Takes Back Wonderland – David D. Hammons (Review)

22590207I came across a review of this book on Yellow, Green and Read All Over. I love retellings and this one instantly caught my attention. This is not only a retelling of Alice in Wonderland but a retelling that integrates a number of stories from Snow White and Robin Hood to Peter Pan and Pinocchio. While it had some small story-telling issues I really enjoyed the story and the way all the stories worked together with each other.

Alice makes it out of Wonderland and back home. She tries hard to hold onto the memories she had from Wonderland. She is put in a mental hospital and diagnosed with Schizophrenia. She is given medication and all her time in Wonderland become nothing but imagination. She constantly has to remind herself that what she saw and did was not real that it as all in her mind and that she had to live in reality. This becomes the main theme of the book. The White Rabbit comes back to retrieve Alice in order for her to help save Wonderland. The Ace of Spades has taken over and is removing the wonder from everyone in Wonderland. He is trying to make Wonderland match Alice’s real world, devoid of imagination and wonder.

Alice returned home and her family forced her to forget the wonder she found inside Wonderland. She is forced to grow up and grow up quickly. This theme intrigued me. This idea of removing wonder from the world hit close to home for me. We have this way of seeing the world. We believe that at a certain age imagination and wonder are no longer appropriate. We have to grow up they say and we have to put “childish,” things behind us. But we then lose the ability to see the world with new eyes. We become focused on seeing the world with certain rigidity and reality. The wonder gets lost somewhere because we believe we are not supposed to look at the world that way anymore.

There is a quote in the book that really seems to sum up the theme and thought of the story well.

“You lose your wonder by learning things? That doesn’t make sense,” I said [Alice].

“You lose your wonder, because when this information is so forcefully imparted, it creates its own rigidity. There is only the information provided. The ability to question, the mere thought that there exists knowledge outside of what is imparted, the ability to wonder, is destroyed. The mind cannot handle such force-fully-imposed data, and it has no choice but to surrender or be destroyed. Doubt, curiosity, questioning, these are lost in the wave of unbreakable logic.” (Hammons, 162).

When Alice returns to her own world after her first trip to Wonderland she is forced to see the wold in one manner. She is told that what the doctors and her parents say is what is right and true and anything else is nothing but imagination and not real. She is no longer allowed to wonder.

She returns to Wonderland and she sees what happens when you take all the wonder out of a world. It becomes dull and monochrome. Alice quickly learns that she has to wonder again. She has to see that the things that she believed impossible are happening in front of her. She has to trust her eyes and her heart.
Alice begins to fight for Wonderland and many keep asking her why she is fighting for this world that is not her own. She can leave and go back to her old life but she refuses. These people do not deserve to have to live this way.

She begins to remember what is means to imagine and wonder about the world around you and she refuses to walk away from it. It is important to see the world with fresh eyes and a new way of looking at things. She will not let Wonderland fall into the way her life was at one point. She knows being forced into one way of seeing the world takes something out of life. You can’t grow and the world around you can’t move forward if everyone only sees things one way. Alice brings back Wonderland and she brings back the ability to wonder to herself as well.

The story was fun with a few story issues. There was some clunky dialogue that I felt was out of place and had no real point to the story. And the story very much follows a systematic formula. Encountering one person, solving their problem they join the party and move on until the final battle. It was a little formulaic but the characters and the storyline kept my interest. I loved the way the characters were integrated into the story. All the fairytales characters had distinct personalities that were fresh and interesting.

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