books, reviews

Book Review: Bookish and the Beast – Ashley Poston

I was kindly sent this by a very nice PR person but as always all opinions are my own.

A tale as old as time is made new in Ashley Poston’s fresh, geeky retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.

On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.

When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.

But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.

My thoughts:

I haven’t read the other two books in the Once Upon a Con series yet, but I will, because I am a fairy tale and folklore nerd.

When I wrote my MA dissertation it was about Neil Gaiman’s use of mythic tropes, fairy tales and folkloric elements – his Norse Mythology book didn’t exist yet, so I focused on American Gods, Anansi Boys and of course the epic Sandman series.

I own dozens of books of fairy tales, about fairy tales (like heavy academic ones) and collect retellings. My favourite is Kissing the Witch by Emma Donaghue, which is very excellent.

On to this book – there are a fair few YA retellings of Beauty & the Beast knocking about, I liked Of Curses & Kisses by Sandhya Menon last year, and I had my fingers crossed this one would be fun too.

And it is. So much fun, and silly, and thoughtful and sweet. Rosie and her friends (and Space Dad) are delightful, Vance and Elias are the Odd Couple of our times and the dog, look, I love animals, even fictional ones, and Sansa the dog is a cutie (although I kept picturing Nicole Cliffe’s Sansa who is a husky not an Alsatian).

I really loved how nerdy and genuine the characters are, and yay for Quinn living their life and running for Homecoming Overlord. Brilliant subplot.

Basically this was a joyful, fun, whimsical read and you should all go buy a copy.

Me, I’m off to read Geekerella and The Princess and the Fangirl.

books, Illumicrate, reviews

Book Review: Wintersong – S. Jae-Jones

Calling all Labyrinth fans – this book, inspired by the author’s love of the film starring David Bowie as the Goblin King is a musical journey into the Underworld.

Liesl lives with her family in Germany near the Goblin Grove deep in the forest. She dreams of being a composer and her brother, the other half of her soul, plays her compositions. 

Her music attracts the attention of the Erlkonig  (Goblin King) and his minions. Drawing inspiration from Christina Rossetti’s poems as well as the aforementioned film, as winter turns, can our heroine escape the goblins’ lair and return to the World Above before the memory of her fades forever? 

I really liked this – fairy tale retellings are a bit favourite of mine and this is a well written one. German fairy tales aren’t as widely known as they should be, especially not the darkness within. 

This book was in my most recent Illumicrate, which means it’s a bit of a lucky find – I might not have read it otherwise as there are so many great books out there. 

If you like romance, adventure, fairy tales and plucky heroines, this book’s for you. 

books, reviews

Book Review; Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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One of my favourite forms of story telling is the re-imagining of fairy tales and myths, I wrote part of my MA dissertation on this form of literature and whenever I find an old story in new words I am really excited to read it. Naomi Novik doesn’t disappoint.

Set in what might just be Poland, near the Russian border in a village plagued by an evil Wood, there’s a wizard called Dragon and a heroine called Agnieszka (after a Polish fairy tale), a legendary witch called Baba Jaga, and a tragedy that started it all.

It is absolutely beautifully written, totally captivating from the brilliant opening

line;

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.”

to the fairytale ending where the heroes, having overcome terrible odds, live happily once more.

One of the things that interested me most was the changes made to the story of Baba Jaga (or Yaga) – a witch I was genuinely terrified of as a child having read about her. She lived in a house on chicken legs that could walk and when in one place it was surrounded by a fence made of human bones and she ate people. Oh and she travelled in a giant pestle and mortar. I was absolutely convinced she was real and going to come and get me.

Here, however, she is recast as a historic figure, her spells those of ordinary folk not educated wizards, her power rooted in the earth. I think I would have been less terrified if she had been presented a little more sympathetically than in my book of fairy tales as a child.

This is one of the things I find more intriguing than anything in these retellings, the subtle changes made to the stories, so that while still familiar, they are also wholly new and fresh every time.

Have you read Uprooted? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.