Showing posts with label fairy-tales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fairy-tales. Show all posts

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Last Jungle Book by Stephen Desberg, Henri Reculé


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

In Rudyard Kipling's original Jungle Book stories, Mowgli is first introduced as a wild man living in the forest who is recruited into the forest ranger service because of his extraordinary jungle craft. He marries, has a child, and returns to the forest. In later stories, his childhood is related, but it really isn't quite like the sanitized Disney version (is anything?!).

I was very disappointed in this version, which let's face it is more of an introduction than a story. The blurb was completely misleading in that it suggests that Mowgli (rhymes with cow-glee) has returned to the scene of his childhood to write the last chapter in it - which I presumed would the the dispatch of his hated enemy Shere Khan (which means 'Tiger Chief', not 'lame'! 'Lungri' means lame - it was a nickname for Khan, who was lame). The problem is that none of this happens, nor will it since Mowgli is a silver-haired old man now in this story.

All we get is a pictorial re-telling of the popular version of Jungle Book with nothing new added. It makes Mowgli's vow at the end - to drape Shere Khan's pelt over the council rock of the wolves, all the more hollow, since no such thing ever happened in this story. It did happen in the original jungle books stories - not the draping but the capture of the pelt, so maybe there are more volumes to come, but even if there are, I was so disillusioned with this one that I have no interest in reading any more. This contributed nothing new, and while the artwork was acceptable and the writing not awful, neither of these offered anything truly new, original, or outstanding.

I can see why this was on Net Galley's 'Read Now' shelf. I cannot recommend it. I'd recommend going to Kipling's original material and reading that - and I believe it's all out of copyright now if you're looking for story ideas!


Power to the Princess by Vita Weinstein Murrow


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Although I was enjoying this book I can do none other than rate it poorly because of the truly poor reading experience I had with it.

The book interested me because in some ways it's similar to one I am currently engaged in writing - variations on fairy tales. It perhaps doesn't need to be remarked to serious readers that there are too many reboots of fairy tale stories such as Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast on the market right now. I blame Disney and YA writers. The genre has become flooded with cheap knock-offs, and this means that if you have an idea for such a book, then you have to write something truly different to make a splash.

That's my plan and that was obviously also this author's plan. What I had feared was that she had beaten me to it, but our ideas are very different thankfully, and mine is aimed at grown-ups whereas her is aimed at a younger audience, so I am continuing with mine!

The thing is that you can't copyright an idea for a novel! You have to turn that idea into a book before you can consider it finished and this book truly is a well-finished work. It consists of several short stories based on traditional folk tales and commendably it goes back to the original roots of the stories, but then it amends them in diverse and inclusive ways. It's a great idea. There's no Disney all cis-gendered, all white-washed tales here thank goodness (at least based on what I managed to read)! The first three were Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and The Snow Queen.

Amusingly if annoyingly enough, the Snow Queen was where I was frozen out. Quite literally. I read the first two stories, but ran into increasing problems with the book ”sticking” such that I could not swipe pages nor enlarge or reduce them (the text is quite small even on my iPad so I had to enlarge each page for a better reading experience, not having falcon eyes!). I was reading it in Bluefire Reader on my iPad - an app I recommend highly.

Normally I have zero issues in Bluefire Reader, but it was becoming increasingly unresponsive with this book open, and it eventually locked up the app entirely. I closed and restarted only to run into the same problem. On a second restart, the novel wouldn't even open. I tried a reboot of the iPad, but this changed nothing, so I deleted the book from Bluefire and went back to Net Galley for a fresh copy only to find I could no longer download it - it's archived! I hope this isn’t indicative of the experience a regular reader will have.

I have to allow that I was irritated, to put it politely, at being frozen out like this, especially since I'd only downloaded this a few days ago. To me there's a contract when I agree to review a book: I will post a review, guaranteed. It would be nice to feel the publisher felt the same way and made the book available until the review was published, but I'm just an amateur reviewer and although I'm just as dedicated to this craft as professional reviewers (perhaps more so since I don't get paid for this!), I don't merit such considerations. That's just the way it is - and an argument in favor of print books, huh?! LOL!

It occurred to me that perhaps the book began misbehaving on my pad because it had been closed on Net Galley? I don't know, but they understandably have so many protections on these things these days that it would not surprise me if that happened. Usually when that happens, there is a note in Bluefire telling me the book has expired (in a non-fatal way!). So all I can conclude is that this was a poor or corrupted download copy. it would have been nice to have been able to fix that and finish reading it.

As I said, I was enjoying the book prior to this, but I cannot rate a book positively that gives such a poor reader experience, so this is why I rate this negatively.


Friday, June 1, 2018

The Enchanted Chest by Jean-Francois Chabas, David Sala


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher. Note this is not a graphic novel despite being listed as one! it is instead a short-story with illustrations on alternating pages.

This was a super-cute story with great artwork. A fisher pulls up this ornate chest from the ocean and ends up having to turn it over to the emperor. It's locked, and he tries in vain to get it open by means of calling-up one official and expert after another: the Locksmith, the Strong Man, the Magician, the Alchemist, and finally the lynx who can see through anything, including the emperor's shallowness.

This was different: a fun, well-illustrated and nicely told tale, and I recommend it.


Friday, March 30, 2018

The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton


Rating: WORTHY!

This was an audiobook which I enjoyed. I read and liked Zeeley by this same author. This one is a short collection of African American folk tales, sadly fueled by the USA's history of slavery and assembled here by the author. It was ably told by Andrew Barnes, and these tales were some of the most weird-ass tales I've ever heard (and that's saying something!). As much as I enjoyed this, I was rather disturbed that this was in the children's section of the local library, because there were some rather gory tales!

For example in one story a man kills his grandmother and tries to sell her body in town. Another tale is a Just-So story of how the tortoise got its shell pattern - which was by being beaten by a magically animated cowhide! I plan on having a word with the librarian at my library to ask them if it really is best suited for the children's area or if it should be in the adult area - or at least have an advisory attached tot he case. These are not your simplistic, fluffy, bouncy fairytales. On the other hand, some of the Grimm fairytales were rather...well grim, with witches dining on oven-fresh children, so maybe it's not that bad in comparison?

The titles in this collection are:

  • Animal Tales
    1. He Lion, Bruh Bear, and Bruh Rabbit
    2. Doc Rabbit, Bruh Fox, and the Tar Baby
    3. Tappin, the Land Turtle
    4. Bruh Alligator and the Deer
    5. Bruh Lizard and Bruh Rabbit
    6. Bruh Alligator Meets Trouble
    7. Wolf and Birds and the Fish-Horse
  • Tales of the Real, Extravagant, and Fanciful
    1. The Beautiful Girl of the Moon Tower
    2. A Wolf and Little Daughter
    3. Manual Had a Riddle
    4. Papa John's Tall Tale
    5. The Two Johns
    6. Wiley, His Mama, and the Hairy Man
  • Tales of the Supernatural
    1. John and the Devil's Daughter
    2. The Peculiar Such Thing
    3. Little Eight John
    4. Jack and the Devil
    5. Better Wait Till Martin Comes
  • Slave Tales of Freedom
    1. Carrying the Running Aways
    2. How Nehemiah Got Free
    3. The Talking Cooter
    4. The Riddle Tale of Freedom
    5. The Most Useful Slave
    6. The People Could Fly

I loved these stories and moreover, they're a great source of inspiration for writers looking to write something that's not a tediously warmed-over fairytale.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce


Rating: WARTY!

This was a novel I bought thinking it might give an interesting take on the Snow Queen story, but while it started out great, it failed about halfway through when the main character stupidly left her car unlocked with valuables inside, stupidly chased after the men who stole from her, stupidly ran into their trap, and stupidly got captured by "gypsies" who of course were magical people and knew all about the Snow Queen and could help this totally ineffectual non-hero of a main female character. Stereotype Much Jackson Pearce?

The Snow Queen (aka Snedronningen) was originally written by Hans Christian Andersen and was first published, appropriately on or about the winter solstice of 1844. He gets absolutely zero mention or credit, not even in this author's acknowledgements. What an ingrate of a rip-off artist she is. Now I like her less than I liked the main character! She even steals the name of one of the main characters from Snow Queen - Kai, for the guy Ginny goes tumbling after like Jill down a hill. That's Ginny, because the author evidently wasn't interested in ripping off the name Gerda (the main girl in the story) even as she ripped-off pretty much the entire story!

The Snow Queen has no name in the original (not that Andersen chose to share, but she was modeled on actor Johanna Maria Lind, better known as Jenny Lind so why call her Mora? Why not Johanna? Did the author not know or care enough about the original story to think of this? Names are important in stories, but apparently not to this author who didn't care enough about her characters to think about what the names mean. If she didn't care, why should we? Just FYI, Kai is really form Kaj which means Earth.

Andersen apparently fell in love with Jenny, but she wasn't interested in him so he modeled the icy heart of the snow queen on this rejection. That's a far more interesting story than this author delivered. Wh not name her as an anagram of Snedronningen, for example, Rennin Songend? Gerda comes form a Norse word meaning protected, which makes sense when you think of the story. The best the author could come up with as a replacement was Ginny? Which means Virgin? The two are nothing alike! Alexia and Shamiria both mean pretty much the same thing as Gerda. Would not one of those have been better? Oh, but it has to be an all-American white girl, and it has to be set in the USA because it's YA! Never mind!

The book was first person because the law requires that every YA novel to be first person, or the author will end up in the cooler, right? Wrong! It especially has to be worst person voice if it has a main female character, right? No! This author admitted what a juvenile mistake she'd made when she had to add chapters (and a prologue, which I skipped as usual...yawn) in third person from the perspective of Mora, the name of the Snow Queen in this novel. Mora is Gaelic and means 'star of the sea' so it has nothing whatsoever to do with ice, snow or cold! This author is pretty dumb when it comes to names. Those third person chapters could easily have been left out. It was very amateurish to include them and it spoiled the book even more than the author was already managing to do.

Like I said, I got about halfway through and asked, "why am I even reading this?" I had no good answer and dropped it like a melting icicle. Unlike such an icicle, it was going nowhere and the main character was too limp to care about. I cannot recommend this. It'll be a cold day in Georgia (USA) before I read anything else by this author. If her next work is anything like this novel, then it's a waste of a perfectly good tree. I'd rather look at the the tree.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Harry's Lovely Spring Day by Nathan GK, Janelle Dimmett


Rating: WORTHY!

This is an out-and-out old-fashioned romantic fairy-tale starring Harry the Mouse who lives in a box on a street in what looks a lot like a French town, although the author is British and the artist American! Janelle Dimmett's illustrations are painstakingly detailed, even down to individual leaves drawn on trees!

I enjoyed Harry's Spooky Surprise by NGK, not to be confused with scientist GK Nathan, so it was perhaps to be expected that this one would also pass muster. Harry is helped by passer-by Katie the mouse when his house is blow away in a storm. Those refrigerator boxes are not what they used to be since Trump's steel tariff, are they?! LOL!

Anyway, Katie kindly donates her umbrella top Harry to help him out. She doesn't need it, she claims, because she's off to the country to live where it evidently never rains! She hops on the bus and away she goes (mice can hop really, impressively high!). Harry decides he must find her and thank her and well, romance happens!

Told in simple rhyming couplets, the story is quite charming, and will doubtlessly and endlessly entertain young kids. I read in an author interview about the concept of paying it forward, although Harry actually isn't paying anything forward here, he's really just taking advantage of a kindness - but not in a mean way. He is thankful Katie and that's important too. But for readers and kids, the story doesn't have to end when the book does. Kids and their grown-ups can take the story on, discussing how it might unfold if Harry had donated his newly-acquired umbrella to someone else, and so on!


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum


Rating: WARTY!

This novel is a product of its time and in some ways shouldn't be judged based on modern standards, but this review is not about how children in 1900 will perceive the 'modern fairytale', but how children and parents in the 21st century will, and I have to say up front that the book is long, tedious in parts and worst of all, decidedly gory. It's also - unsurprisingly - clueless when held up against our modern sensibilities. I did not like it and I cannot recommend it.

This is a print book that I got on close-out at a book store. It's a classic, heavy, solid tome, with glossy pages and illustrations, so it's a nicely put-together book overall, but the illustrations are bizarre; they make all the characters look like zombies on drugs! Austin-based artist Michael Sieben illustrated this book, but I have to say how disappointed I was with the colored drawings. They were ugly and unappealing. There were also pages where a quote from the text was strewn across the double-page, writ-large like it had been hand-printed in block caps. Who did these and what the point was I have no idea, but they contributed nothing positive to the overall appearance of this edition.

Prior to this reading, the only knowledge I had of this story was from the movie, which in its own time really wasn't a huge success (it took a decade to break even!) and which had multiple problems in filming and abundant continuity issues in the finished product. The movie only really took off once it began to be shown on TV, and while the two (book and movie) are the same in broad general terms, some of the details are quite different in the book as compared with the 1939 movie. I read somewhere that there are some forty differences which I guess isn't so surprising given Hollywood.

What jumped out at me is that there is no interaction between Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West in the early part of the book. That was all added to the movie to create dramatic tension. Nor did Dorothy meet Glinda until the end of the novel. She met merely the Good Witch of the North at the beginning (Glinda was actually the good witch of the south), who gave her a mark on her forehead by means of a kiss, that protected her rather like the Mark of Cain!

In fact, the movie makes no sense in having Glinda appear and outright lie to Dorothy that she has to see the Wizard in order to get home! You may recall that Glinda tells her later that she's always had the power by clicking her heels Nazi style. Why would a good witch lie to keep her from going home? The book doesn't have this problem.

There's very little interaction with the munchkins either (and no singing!). Dorothy is off along the yellow brick road pretty briskly. One thing I did note is that during their journey, the scarecrow, the Lion and the Tin Woodman really step-up, thereby disproving their supposed brainless, cowardly, and heartless traits by the things they do to help get their party to Emerald City.

A better writer than Lyman Frank Baum would have gathered these threads together at the end of the story and had the wizard point this out instead of having him hand out worthless baubles. The wizard claims to be a good man (and a bad wizard) but he's actually a deceitful con-artist who does nothing for his adopted people and gets away with it.

I was really surprised by how gory the book is. I know this was penned in an era of wild and crazy fairytales and he was writing a modern version of those (so he claimed), but I think it's far too much for young kids even in this era of overly violent video games, TV, and movies. Sensibilities were different over a hundred years ago in a time when fairy stories were having witches eat children, but Baum did not need to go that route, but he made the deliberate choice to do so

The Tin Woodman, for example is described as being that way because he was once a flesh and blood person, but the evil witch, by means of enchanting his axe, cut off in turn, his arms, his legs, his head, and finally cleaved his body in twain. Each time he lost a body part, the local tinsmith replaced the missing part, but not his heart. I can see why they wouldn't want to go into any detail about all that in the movie!

In turn, the Tin Woodman shows no qualms about cutting off the head of a wildcat chasing mice (thereby proving he does have a heart). He defends Dorothy from the wicked witch in defeating forty wolves by means of simply cutting off their heads one by one. Dorothy, waking up to a pile of headless wolves, shows no reaction whatsoever. No wonder wolves are scarce in California! Yes! Unsurprisingly, Oz is southern California. Dorothy crossed a desert from Kansas to get there - where else would it be?!

That sam,e night, the scarecrow defends her from evil crows also dispatched by the witch only to be dispatched themselves by means of his wrenching their necks one by one. The cowardly lion proves he isn't cowardly by scaring off the witch's henchmen. The scarecrow proves he isn't brainless by devising several means to help them on their journey. Contrarily, his movie-self proves he is brainless by screwing up his lines and getting the Pythagorean theorem wrong!

One amusing thing to me was that tin doesn't rust like iron does. It oxidizes of course, as most metals do, but it's quite resistant to this, so the tin man, were he were truly made from tin, likely wouldn't rust and seize-up as he's depicted as doing in the story. This isn't really important in the grand scheme of the story though, which moves along at a brisk pace when it isn't sitting in the doldrums inexplicably. It drags on at the end though when it ought to wind up smartly.

The real problem is that it's not very inventive, nor is it very interesting, except for me in noting the differences between it and the movie version! The writing is a bit leaden in tone, and too grown up. It's very politically incorrect being a product of the nineteenth century, so parents might want to consider whether they want their kids reading something so violent, so unappreciative of nature, and with little to redeem it.

Dorothy is hardly the modern girl. She's like a character from your typical modern YA story: helpless, weepy, and needy, and really never takes charge. She's very selfish and ungrateful, and hardly a strong female character, nor is she a resourceful one. She defeats both evil witches, yes, but not through smarts and bravery (or even by good looks!), but by pure accident in each case. In the first instance, her house falls on the witch and kills her, and in the second, she simply throws a convenient bucket of water at the witch and melts her!

Why a witch susceptible to water damage would keep buckets of water lying around her establishment is an unresolved mystery, Clearly Baum didn't think his wiring through at all, but that's a common problem with writers. Hopefully it's all clear now why I cannot recommend this. There were too many issues with it, and there are far better stories about intelligent and self-possesed young women to be had. I'd recommend looking for those in place of this one. The Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Andersen have told a few.


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Frozen by Jennifer Lee


Rating: WORTHY!

From a story by Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, and Shane Morris, and a screenplay by Lee, who also directed this as a movie - the most successful animated film of all time - this book for young children distills the epic movie which I, who am not a big Disney fan, really loved, and brings it to a level where young children can enjoy it at their own level and their own pace. It was read appropriately by Andi Arndt.

When I say read appropriately, I mean that Andi Arndt gets that the voice needs to be a little slower and well-pronounced, and she does a fine job. It felt odd to me at first because the voice sounded rather pedantic, so I had to keep reminding myself that this was for very young children, and it's been a while since I've had those around the house!

I'm not going to go into the story at all because it's the same as in the film, with the same dialog, but without the songs, and it's much shorter, of course. Pretty much everyone knows this film now, whether you have kids or not(!), and if you don't, this is a great way to learn what it's about with your young child and decide if you want to outlay the cash for the actual film. I recommend this as a worthy read (or in this case, listen!).


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola


Rating: WORTHY!

I considered this a worthy read, but it's the first in a series and I don't think based on this one, that I'd be interested in a series, but then it's not aimed at me; it's aimed at young children who might find it worth their time.

My biggest problem with it was that the story was really not original. It's merely a retread of the Sorcerer's Apprentice story. This guy works for Strega Nona (this term means grandmother witch). One day he sees her make spaghetti using a spell, but he misses a crucial part to turn-off the charm, and so when she's out and he makes his own pasta, it never stops spewing out.

Soon the whole village is being strung along but even they can't eat it all. Fortunately, Grandmother Witch returns in time to stop the issue and then the poor assistant has to eat all this pasta until he is fed up of it.... It was a fun read, but not really al dente enough for me to order a second course.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais


Rating: WORTHY!

This is an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This book is exactly what I mean when I talk about drifting off the beaten-track and making your own trail. I wish more authors would learn from the example set here by Amélie Fléchais, instead of turning-out tired cloned rip-offs of those who have gone before. In a wonderful twist on the Little Red Riding Hood story, this author has the wolf being the victim and Red Riding Hood the villain - and she makes it work!

Delivering a rabbit to his grandmother's house Little Red Wolf gets side-tracked repeatedly until he's lost! When a sweet and charming young girl offers to help him on his way, he doesn't know she means on his way to the after-life and not to his grandma's house! She's the daughter of a dreaded wolf hunter!

Full of superficially simplistic, but actually detailed and richly-colored drawings, this story follows Little Red Wolf into the gaping jaws of death! I loved its simplicity and depth, and I recommend it.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire


Rating: WARTY!

I liked the previous novel I read by this author, but this was another failed audiobook which went on too long and was far too rambling to hold my interest. The title was curious. It sounds like one David Weber would have chosen for his Honor Harrington series. Maybe I missed it but I never did figure out how the hell the title fit the story.

There are parts I liked and parts which amused me, but the author got off-topic way too many times and overall, the novel was a drag which I gave up on about two-thirds the way through. She seems to keep forgetting that her detective is supposed to be hunting down a missing teenager.

The novel is also brimming with tired trope and klutzy cliché. I've mentioned oddball names for fictional detectives before, no doubt, but the one in this story almost takes it to another level. She's called October Daye and goes by Toby for short. On the other hand, this isn't your usual detective, since it's a fantasy novel, with fairy characters. Toby herself is half fairy.

But the annoying first person voice is here, which I typically detest, although some writers can make it far less nauseating than others. Here, it wasn't too bad, but I think the reason for that is that it was seriously helped along by Mary Robinette Kowal, who read this book (and who is also an author in her own right), and whose voice I could certainly listen to for a long time without growing tired of it.

That doesn't mean the story didn't drag, and I feel that if I'd been reading a print or ebook, I would have quit it a lot sooner than I did, so this author owes this reader! But Seanan McGuire definitely seems to have a knack for attracting sweet readers to her books. Amy Landon's voice in the previous novel I listened to by this author (a stand-alone titled Sparrow Hill Road, which I rated positively despite the fact that it also dragged here and there) was really easy on the ear, too.

The problem, I felt, was that the author is so enamored of this little world she's created here that she goes off on tangents talking about aspects of it, and she forgets that she's actually supposed to be telling a story and not just describing scenery and character quirks.

I am definitely not one for those kinds of stories, and this is part of a whole series of such stories. In fact, it's number six in a series of thirteen as of this writing, but there was nothing in the blurb to indicate any such thing, which is how I came to read this one first. I'm not a big fan of series, either, and this novel is a great example of why not.

It's technically not necessary to have read the other five before reading this one, since it's a self-contained story, but there's also a history that's referred to often, and there are ongoing story arcs that cover more than one volume, and which meant nothing to me since I was got in on this in the middle.

There were more issues in that Toby was a coffee addict. Barf! Can we not find some new trait to give our first person voice detective? Please? She also had an old car that got damaged, so there really was nothing new here except that it was set in a fairy world rather than the real world, and that simply was not enough to save this poorly-told tale.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula by Andi Watson


Rating: WORTHY!

This was an awesome graphic novel about a princess whose father is the biggest slacker in the kingdom, laying around in bed all day feigning illness, leaving his daughter to do all the work, which she handles with aplomb, and industriousness and she takes charge of the various castle staff of mummies, and ghosts, ghouls and zombies, and receives werewolf guests, and so on.

When the cook quits and she hires Count Spatula, who is an awesome cook and a very supportive friend to her, there's trouble in the castle. The king's spy reports back to him and he insists Dee fire the guy, but it all works out in the end, when Dee puts her foot down, and the king learns he must reform.

I though this was slyly hilarious and I recommend it. I will be on the lookout for other work by this author.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Iron-Hearted Violet by Kelly Burnhill


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a truly great fairy-tale which did precisely what I always advocate - take the road less traveled. There's nothing worse than a cookie-cutter novel which tells you the same story and in the same way you already heard it a thousand times before. Kelly Burnhill gets this.

In a mirror world, which was a bit annoying because it wasn't explained until the end of the story, lives Princess Violet, who is not beautiful - not at a shallow skin depth anyway, but who is gorgeous inside, with her mom and dad. She's a tomboy and a tear-away, and feels not quite like a 'real' princess because she's been shamed by all those fairy-tales which have a princess who is typically defined to skin-depth and has nothing else to offer but her heart to whichever wandering jackass claims it. Yes, Disney, I'm looking at you! Although even Disney seems to be getting the message of late.

When Violet and her buddy Demetrius discover a sinister painting hidden in the depths of the castle, and her mom dies shortly after yet another stillborn baby, while her dad is off hunting dragons, things start going south badly. The kingdom is suddenly at war, and The Nybbas in the painting promises Violet she can be beautiful and have everything she wants if only she will listen to him. Dad returns with the dragon he captured for studying, but everything seems to be falling irreparably apart!

The story did start dragging a bit in the last third. At over four hundred pages, it was about 25% too long, and should have been edited better, but that aside, this was an awesome story and I fully recommend it. The only real problem I had was with Iacopo Bruno's illustrations, which once again bore little relationship to the text of the story.

How an artist can be so blind and disrespectful to an author, or how an author can be so uncritical is a mystery. Maybe she had no choice and was saddled with this by the publisher. I don't know, but if that was the case then the question becomes that of how a publisher can be so utterly clueless! This kind of complete disconnect is why I flatly refuse to go with Big Publishing™.

Let me detail a few of the problems with the illustrations. We're quite clearly told that Violet has mismatched eyes, not just in that one is a different color to the other, but that her eyes are literally different sizes. She also has wiry hair and bad skin. None of this is visible in any of the illustrations. She looks ultra cute in all of them with fine hair, great skin and tediously ordinary eyes!

After Violet is transformed, she's essentially exactly thew same as she was before the transformation! So where is the contrast? There was none. Yes, her hair is longer, but the artist even screwed that up. The author makes it quite clear in the text that Violet's feet have shrunk and her hair grown to Rapunzel proportions. Not a single one of the illustrations shows these changes. To me, this means the artist is quite simply stupid or incompetent. I'm sorry, but what other conclusion is there? That he's a lousy coward maybe, and doesn't have the courage to illustrate this the way the author wrote it, thereby undermining the very message the author is trying to send? Or did the author chicken out? There really is no excuse for sabotaging the writing like this and whoever is responsible should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

On a related topic, there was one part of the text where Violet and Demetrius crawled through a small gap in a wall. The text makes it quite clear that they're reduced to crawling, yet the illustration shows them walking through the gap like it's a regular doorway! In another instance, the text says a door handle made a mark in the plaster when it was thrown open angrily, but illustration shows the door with rope handles! Rope is hardly likely to make a mark in the plaster! So I score a zero for the illustrations.

Even the map which is included inside the front and back covers makes little sense, not only in relation to the story, but also with regard to the map itself. I mean why does a trade route not visit any cities, for example?! Given this, why even mark it when it has nothing to do with the story?

There were writing issues, too. I mean, did this castle really have plaster for the door handle not to make a mark in? Such a thing is highly doubtful given the context of the story and the state of the castle in general, but it's a relatively minor issue. More problematic is a description of a horse being "So black he was nearly blue." Excuse me? So dark blue he was nearly black makes sense, but it's idiotic to put it this way.

Also problematic is that at one point we're told that the king has only two days to get ready for a war, and then nothing happens, but later, there is a bustle of activity aimed at this very readiness, none of which had a remote chance of being completed in two days! And yeah, all the "my loves" and "darlings', especially those from the story-teller, were frankly creepy.

So yes, there were some writing issues that the author really needed to have nailed down. These are somewhat less important in children's stories since they tend to be less exacting, but some children might notice things like that. Do such children deserve less because they're children? Not in my books!

That said, I really liked this novel and consider it a very worthy read, so I recommend it to adults and children alike, and particularly to writers who want to break the mold, as this author has done so definitively here.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

King Hugo's Huge Ego by Chris van Dusen


Rating: WORTHY!

In a world where everyone is pushed to outdo everyone else and to inflate themselves to celebrity status in the most showy way imaginable, and in a student world where so many awards are given out for 'achievements' that the awards are in fact, meaningless, we need books like this.

Humility is not a negative quality, but you would never know it in a world where this popular TV show is centered around who can best run roughshod over everyone else in order to avoid hearing "You're fired!" and that TV show is all about beauty, like it's a character trait rather than a genetic trait. In a world where our president has the most over-inflated of them all, we definitely need books like this.

This is a large-format and fun picture ebook for children with some rhyming text about Hugo, who is so self-obsessed that he cares for nothing but puffing himself up with his own achievements and qualities. One day in his blinkered ignorance, he makes the mistake of insulting a witch, who casts a spell on him that makes his head actually swell in proportion to how much his head is swollen from his own self-aggrandizement. The book is beautifully illustrated with fun images of Hugo's sad decline and then wondrous recovery from his personal(ity) problem. That witch isn't done with him yet, and he's not done with her! I recommend this for a fun and easy read for young children - and for the useful lesson to be learned from it.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Jackie Morris


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a really good print book I found in a used bookstore. On the one hand you have to be a bit cynical in this age of writers (YA authors, I'm looking at you!) taking fairy-tales wholesale and rewriting them shoddily for profit, but that said, this author at least chose a fairy-tale that's not been done to death, and is lesser-known than many others. Plus it's illustrated by the author, very nicely, and decently written. This one is based on a Norwegian story of a polar bear who visits an exiled family and tells them it's important that their daughter comes with him for a year and a day (there's always a day isn't there?!). The girl somehow knew the bear had come for her and that she must go. She didn't like the idea, but she knew in her heart it was her duty. We never learn why it is that the bear selects her, though.

The bear takes her miles away to an underground lair where she has every comfort - except for not being with her family, of course. He's kind and attentive and sees that she wants for nothing. Here's where it departs from your usual juvenile fairytale: that first night, and every night thereafter, in her dark room, someone enters, climbs into bed with her and goes to sleep. It's too dark to see who is it and she isn't allowed lights at night. In the morning, the visitor leaves.

After a few months, the girl asks if she can visit her family just for a short while, and the bear agrees, but warns her never to let her mother get her alone and give her advice about her time with the bear. He doesn't explain why this is so, and there's no reason at all that he shouldn't, so this is poorly done, even though it is trope for such tales. The girl visits her family, and of course her mom meets with her alone, and once she learns of the nightly visitor, far from being shocked and lecturing her wayward daughter, she offers her matches and candles so she can light up the night, and identify this visitor. This the girl does, and she discovers it's a handsome prince, of course. He's been cursed by the troll queen, and if he cannot spend a year and a day with a girl, without her discovering his real identity, the he has to marry the troll daughter.

The problem is that now she's discovered his true self, he has fallen afoul of the enchantment, and he's whisked away to the troll princess. Why this is a problem, I don't know, because troll princesses are hot according to Amanda Hocking! The girl refuses to give up on the guy though, and she makes it her mission to find and free him. He's held in a castle that's East of the Sun and West of the Moon, but she has no idea how to get there. She makes inquiries and is eventually led to three sisters, each of whom passes her on to the next with a gift which she will need to use at the right time in order to save the guy.

Of course she eventually finds him and frees him, and this is where the story, while predictable in some ways, takes a ninety-degree turn away from trope and cliché which is one of the major reasons why I found this a worthy read. The ending is one I liked precisely because the author (or the original fairy-tale) had the courage to side-step the tedious and go somewhere different. I liked, for the most part, the way this was written. It's very well done except for one or two oddities - such as given how long it takes the girl to find her quarry, how come the troll princes hasn't already married the guy?! But I liked the ending and the overall tone of the novel, so for me it was a worthy read.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Frog Prince by Jenni James


Rating: WARTY!

Jenni James (not to be confused with English actor Jennifer James despite Jenni's use of words like "bum" and other 'British-isms'!) has made a career out of retelling fairy tales (think of Disney titles and you'll pretty much have half her oeuvre). She's moving on to pillaging Jane Austen next, but what the heck - if it works, then best of luck with it. She also has a series of videos on her blog (here on Blogspot) and on You Tube, purportedly telling people how to write novels.

I watched parts of some of them and they didn't seem very helpful to me. The fact is that any time you spend not writing is not helpful to your writing career, because you can attend all the lectures you want - in person or online, it doesn't matter - and you can read all the writing-advice books you want, but unless you are actually writing, you're not a writer and you're going nowhere. Have you noticed that those books on 'how to write a best-seller' are almost always written by "writers" you've never heard of, who've never had a successful novel, let alone a best seller? That ought to tell you exactly how useless those books truly are. They're like those books telling you how to get rich quick, written by people whose only wealth has come from selling those very books!

The videos are each about twelve minutes long, and one of them for example, was about sticking it out with writing and making it to the end of your novel. This is an important topic, but the video missed the mark for me. Instead of offering writing tips for making it through the long haul, the author talked about how long her hair was and what it took to grow it out so long and to take care of it.

I could see where she was trying to go with that, but it offered really nothing (unless it was crammed into the last third of the video, which I didn't watch) to help a writer get to the end, and overcome writing blocks. Full disclosure (or given that this is October, maybe it's Fall disclosure?!): the only way to do that is to write. It's really that simple. In the short term it doesn't matter if you are writing crap. It doesn't matter if it's the worst writing you (or anyone) ever did. Write on. Write to the end. Get the thing finished and then you can go back and edit it.

For me, editing is a lot easier than getting to the end in the first place, so the temptation is to keep going back over what you wrote, whether it be one chapter, or fifteen, or one paragraph, primping and teasing, and perking and polishing, but this will never, ever get your novel finished! Quite the contrary. It will prevent you from ever finishing. There is nothing in this world that can compare with putting that final period to the final sentence in your completed novel even if it's only the first draft! At least, at last, you have it done (after a fashion)!

It feels good, even if the novel isn't perfect. Once it's done, then is the time to go back over it and perk and primp and polish. But don't get lost in that. At some point you need to have a go/no-go decision which will determine if that novel is going to be submitted (or better yet published by yourself), or if it goes on the shelf and you start on your second novel instead, because the first just isn't getting it done. There's no shame in this and it does not mean you're a lousy writer. It actually means you're very smart to know the difference, and to make a wise decision about whether it works!

So if my two cents is worth anything (and it's probably worth about two cents!), then all you need to know is that if you want to be a writer, you have to write lots - and lots. And then some more. Lots more. And you have to read all kinds of books and not necessarily only novels. You have the read the genre(s) in which you're interested to see how others do it and learn from their mistakes.

No one in their right mind likes to be stuck in traffic unless they have a really good audio book to listen to, so if you get stuck at a roadblock (I'm talking about writing here!), you need to jump over it and continue on. You can come back and fix that issue later. Even if your hero is in an impossible fix and all you can offer is "and magic happens and he/she gets away," it's far better to do that and move on, and finish that novel than it is to sit for weeks stuck there not going anywhere because of this one issue.

If you don't like what you're writing, then write something different. If you're not looking forward to hacking the next chapter, write a different chapter or make something different happen. Listen to your characters! Let them tell you how to get out of a fix and where to go next. I promise you it's what your characters will do for you if you have done them the favor of writing them well.

But I digress. Majorly! You're the writer. Take what advice you think helps, ignore the rest, including this if it doesn't help. But write! Write! Write!

This novel didn't get it done for me either because it felt inauthentic and I had to DNF it. It's like the author wanted to get a traditional fairy tale told, but didn't want to write it traditionally, and rather than go determinedly one way or the other, she got stuck somewhere in between, and it didn't work. What it delivered instead was some truly jarring writing, so in the space of three lines, for example, I read three different forms of "maybe":

Mayhap her thoughts and ideals and dreams and all those things she longed for and loved—all of it—perhaps they were too simple for handsome princes to care about. Maybe....
It just did not read easily. I have to confess a personal hatred of 'mayhap' here. I think authors use it as a lazy way to try and put some authentic antiquity into their tales and it almost never works. There were some other writing errors, such as the author using "crumbled" when she ought to have used "crumpled", but those aside, the writing was not awful. It just didn't feel right to me.

On top of this the attempts humor fell flat, and the writing level seemed aimed at middle-grade even though the main characters were young adult. The amusing thing about this to me, is that in and around the era when this story supposedly took place, young children were routinely married off at a very young age, and I'm forced to wonder why so few authors have the courage to write it like it was? that would offer some historical authenticity and do a lot better than tossing in a 'mayhap' here and there, or mixing modern English idiom with antique ones and making the reading a jarring roller-coaster experience, instead of a pleasant read.

For me, the worst thing was the two main characters, because I didn't like either of them. The way they were written made then both look like idiots, in which case they probably deserved each other, but I quickly came to feel like my time would be better spent reading something else, or better yet, writing something! The problem with fairy tales is that they're pretty much all tapped out now. If you want to do this, don't, unless your take on it is going to break seriously new ground and put a truly new spin on the tale. Instead of chasing the vogue, you should try to plough your own furrow: find something new to tap and start your own trend! I wish the author all the best but I cannot recommend this one.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden


Rating: WORTHY!
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Erratum
"Sasha though suddenly of his stepmother," 'thought'?

This is a traditional-style fairy tale employing Russian folklore and mythology, and exploring the inevitable clash between religions: the extant traditional natural religion of the Russian hinterland, and the sick encroachment of Christianity into it. I loved the way the story started out, and enjoyed the ever-unfolding pace and power of the story-telling. There was no slack here, no annoying flashbacks or side-tracking and meandering, and it grabbed me from the start, even though I'm not usually a big fan of stories set in Russia.

This author knows her craft, and she did not cheapen the tale by writing it in first person, either. For that alone, I intend to paint an icon in her name! (You have to read the story to get that!). For me it really took off when a couple of new characters showed up, bringing conflict to what had been a rather idyllic existence for our main character. The fun thing was that the story never did play out quite as I might have expected, or even written it myself. There was always a twist, a turn, a quirk, an event to keep me guessing where this would go. I adored it for that.

The very best thing about it is the main character Vasilisa Petrovna, aka Vasya, aka Vasochka. Yes, the endless variations on names was one complaint I had. It was really hard, to begin with, to keep track of who was who since so many name variations, nicknames, and pet names were employed for the same character. I realize this is what Russians do, but this wasn't written in Russky! The author herself explains in an afterword that literal translation is not always a good goal for an author of fiction, and I agree with her very much, so a little more clarity would have been nice, but maybe that's just me.

That aside, Vasya was one of the most engaging and amazing characters I've ever read of. Alert to all Young Adult novel writers! If you want to know how to write a strong female character who is more than merely a male appendage, then you seriously need to read this novel. It's not the only novel which has a strong, independent female character who owns her life, and by 'strong', I mean within herself, not necessarily in her ability to kick someone's ass, but this is a fine example of such a novel. Katherine Arden gets it, period. Vasya was wonderful: a breath of fresh air in a world of lackluster and very forgettable young adult female characters.

The basic story begins with a Russian land baron in a period of history often called The Renaissance. That name didn't seem to fit here. Medieval felt more appropriate, but this was just after that era. In the particular case of this novel, I prefer to think of it as Age of Discovery! The land baron's wife dies giving birth to main character Vasya, a child who grows up rather odd and wild. She is so in need of minding - thinks her father Pyotr - that he travels many weeks to Moskva (curiously written as Moscow in the novel) to find a new wife at court. The ruling monarch is one of a small handful of Ivans to come to power in Russia. The story doesn't make this clear, but I assume it's Ivan the Fourth ("the Terrible"), who ruled from the mid- to late-sixteenth century.

He had three daughters named Anna(!), one of which died before she reached the age of two, and the other two of which were sent to convents. Such was the fate of unmarriageable girls, in Russia or anywhere. And that gives me an idea for a story! I hat eit when that happens! Anyway, Ivan did not like immodest girls, and he accidentally killed his own son during an argument over his daughter-in-law's perceived immodesty. In this story however, one Anna isn't sent to a convent; she escapes such a fate because Ivan adopts a plan to rid himself off this "crazy" girl to Pyotr in exchange for one of Pyotr's daughters marrying his son, and thereby helping secure his dynasty. This story succeeds admirably where Ivan failed so dismally in his quest!

The thing about Anna is what she shares in common with Vasya. The difference between them is the interpretation of what they see, and the subsequent fear or it, or lack of such fear. Anna often sees what she believes are demons around the palace, and she is scared to go into the wild, frozen north. When she arrives, she sees even more demons, and this time the demons see her. Meanwhile there's a strange nobleman (or maybe not so noble) who manipulates Pyotr into giving his youngest daughter a necklace, unless Pyotr wishes to see his oldest son die. But the family nursemaid manages to wangle it so that the daughter doesn't get the gift until she's of age. What will happen then, is anyone's guess!

The writing was evocative and engaging, but occasionally, a part here or there struck me as being 'off'. For example, at one point early in the story the youngest daughter, Vasya, wanders off and gets lost in the forest. She is rescued (fortuitously before a freezing night falls) by her older brother who was out searching for her. She had encountered a strange man in the forest before her brother brings her home. She was terrified, but we read, "Pyotr thrashed his daughter the next day, and she wept, though he was not cruel." Excuse me? He "thrashed" her, for getting lost and scared half to death, and he's not cruel? That struck a sour note for me.

And yes, I get that people, especially people in those climes and times, were a lot more rough and ready, and pursued what might be termed "frontier justice" with a lot more vigor than people do today, but this is cruel by any light. I get that someone like him might thrash his daughter, but to 'qualify' that by adding that her father was not cruel, was poorly done for me. This isn't the last time that Vasya is so disciplined. In fact, the second time it's an even greater injustice, but she's older then, and bears it stoically, especially since it simultaneously rescues her from something she was not looking forward to. It seems that Vasya is fated to live always slightly apart from her own people. This is one of the things which made her such an intriguing character for me.

Yes, nicknames and pet names! Here's one example: "After Sasha and Olga went away, Dunya noticed a change in Vasya." I had to actually parse that sentence before I got out of it exactly who was doing what here! Here's a classic example:

Alyosha was waiting for her. He grinned. "Maybe they will manage to marry you off after all, Vasochka."
"Anna Ivanovna says not," Vasya replied composedly. "Too tall, skinny as weasel, feet and face like a frog." She clasped her hands and raised her eyes. "Alas, only princes in fairy tales take frog-wives. And they can do magic and become beautiful on command. I fear I will have no prince, Lyoshka."
Alyosha is actually her older brother, Aleksei Petrovich, who is one of the few people who actually 'gets' Vasya and supports her. I really liked him, but this endless parade of nicknames was irritating (Google is going nuts underlining all these names in red as I write them! LOL!). Eventually I learned to overlook it and it became less important as the story progressed, but I could have done with a lot less of it. It's not necessary to name a person every time you speak to them or even of them. I think quite a few of these names could have been dispensed with and left the novel a more pleasing demeanor in the doing.

That was my only real complaint about this story. I do have to say that the ending fell a bit flat given that the entire novel had been leading me to it. I was expecting more of Vasya, but overall the story was an engaging and very endearing one, and I fully recommend it. In general it's a tour-de-force of how to write a fable like this, mixing folklore and fairy-tale, and it was a joy to read. I very much look forward to Katherine Arden's next literary outing.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Vögelein: Clockwork Faerie by Jane Irwin, Jeff Berndt


Rating: WORTHY!

This is the precursor to the volume I favorably reviewed back in November, 2014. It's about the titular 'fairy' who is clockwork, and it relates her origin story. It's interesting and I wasn't sure I truly liked all of it, but I liked enough to vote this one the same way I did the other one.

The story is titled "Vögelein" which means little bird and which, in the peculiar German language is pronounced like it's "Few Glean." I think German is an interesting exercise in paradox in that it has a mix of what might be described in genderist terms as masculine and feminine words, and I don't mean in a grammatical sense, but purely in how they sound when spoken. Some are very soft, and might be described poetically as effeminate, whereas others are very harsh sounding, and might be likewise described as macho. It's always struck me most when watching movies about World War Two, where these supposedly tough Aryan types were speaking such a soft language at times, and then could turn around and upbraid someone in much more brutal tones. The contrast fascinates me! It's definitely a beautiful language and a startling mix.

In this volume, we learn how Vögelein came to be, what she represents, and how hard it is for her to live her life when she's so dependent upon people who can easily take advantage of her need to be rewound every day. It was this which finally won me over to favorably rating this - the dilemma and the harsh existence she had been forced into by an act which started out as one of love. I liked the follow-up story better, but I also recommend this one. The author has a website that you might like to visit: http://www.vogelein.com/.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Shalilly by Elizabeth Gracen, Luca di Napoli


Rating: WORTHY!

Note that this review is based on an advance review copy for which I thank the author and publisher.

I was so impressed with this novel that I began to think that the author had been through all of my reviews, made notes of the things which tick me off in YA novels, and then strove to avoid all of them in her writing. It was, frankly, a bit creepy! Obviously she didn't actually do that, but I have to say this was a remarkable read, and hit all the high notes for me (that's an inside joke - you'll have to read the novel to discover what it means!

Elizabeth Gracen has had an interesting history in film and print, and this is her debut novel. It's very good and refreshingly different - playful, inventive, humorous, original, and a truly engaging read. Illustrated with welcome insight by means of a few (too few for me!) delightful images from talented artist Luca di Napoli, this is written in an easy-going, quick-moving style if, I have to add, a little stilted on occasion in the conversations. It tells the story of young Filipina, heir not-so-apparent to the oracle Theano, and of Fippa's young friend Ision, a soldier.

It has a prologue which I skipped as I do all prologues (and I never miss them!). Chapter one launches us right into the middle of things, which is where I love to begin a story, with Ision being cast into another realm and Fippa electing to go after him in an effort to prevent the evil Timeus from succeeding in his plans, which rely on keeping them apart. The first thing Fippa does is to get drunk! How many times have you read that in a fairy-tale?! I was hooked.

Technically, Fippa isn't a fairy, but one of the butterfly girls known as Shalilly, and she really didn't intend to get passed-out drunk on the nectar. It was just so good! I mean come on. Tell me you've never drunk so much nectar you haven't passed out. I knew it! This episode does educate her and strengthen her resolve, however. It was honestly refreshing to encounter a young, leading character who quickly learns from her mistakes, and it soon becomes clear that Fippa is dedicated to her mission, and constantly re-evaluating strategies to achieve her aim. She has a lot going on upstairs and it was so nice to read of a female character written by a female author who had more on her mind than how studly her beau was (not that she didn't have that on her mind, too!). See, YA writers? It can be done! Elizabeth Gracen shows you how!

That's not to say Fippa is perfect though. She has a temper and a jealous streak on which she has to strive to keep a tight rein, and these are traits which do not help her circumstances. Fippa's experiences in Paradigm, the fairy-tale world which she volunteered to visit in order to save Ision are very entertaining, but she quickly becomes disempowered, and a prisoner - and a despised one at that. Now her job is all the more difficult, and she has only her wits to save the day, but she proves equal to the task.

In a page (or two!) taken from One Thousand and One Nights , she tells Ision, who is now ignorant of their critical past, a story in the hopes of educating him as gently as she can. I'm not a fan of flashbacks at all, but this was one way of doing this, and which didn't feel false. It didn't even feel like it was interrupting the story because it was an integral part of it. Nicely done! Some might find this section a bit long, and I confess I missed the Shalilly version of Fippa quite honestly, but never was there any point where I wanted to skip this part.

The humor was a delight, yet the story was also serious. I did find some unintentional humor, but more than likely it's just me being weird. One example I remember was at the beginning, where I read, "Ision felt the horse slow its pace as Fippa placed her hand on his." Now it's obvious what is meant here, but the way it's written, if you're as warped about writing as I am, it can be deemed that Pippa put her hand on the horse's hand. Hey, it's a fantasy - it could happen! And we know the horse was maybe fifteen or sixteen hands, so that's a lot of hands to go around! LOL!

Not that I'm going to downgrade a story for that kind of thing, but as a writer, it's worth keeping in mind that it's not only what you write, but also the way you write it. As it was, this novel was warm enough and such a joy to read that I could overlook more serious problems than this (not that there were any here), and that counts too: your readers will forgive you a lot more if you give them good reasons to!

Anyone who reads my reviews will know that I always find something to carp about, but it was really hard to find anything wrong here. Yes, there was the cliché of the heroic dude with the "gold-flecked green eyes" - gold flecks are way over done in YA literature - but it seemed like every time I experienced a growing fear that this story was going down to tropeville, the author took it in another direction and saved it. Hence my feeling that she'd been reading my reviews!

Sometimes the language seemed a bit overly modern for ancient Greece, such as when Ision says, "...chuck it all...", and other times there were questionable turns of phrase, such as when Fippa says, "What if they could care less if I am returned?" What she meant was "What if they couldn't care less..." Normally this wouldn't bother me because people really do speak like that in real life, but this was not modern life where that phrase has entered common use - it was ancient Greece (or a very near approximation to it), so it felt like this ought to have been more accurate.

The last thing I'd mention is that "I am a girl who has barely stepped foot..." is a pet peeve of mine. I don't like 'stepped foot' because to me it sounds odd and clunky. I know authors write this routinely, but in this particular case, I'd like to argue that the more traditional "set foot" would have been a better choice of words for a charming story like this. It's worth thinking about as a writer, but as a reader, none of this was worth down-grading a novel over, by any means, because it would be mean!

I've been to Greece more than once and I've actually been to the Delphi area. It was beautiful, and the writing really brings out the essence of the country and the scenery without going into excessive detail. The author writes it beautifully, and she depicts the ancient Delphi oracle to perfection in my opinion.

Talking of essence, this novel made me wish I could bottle the essence of how she wrote it so I could unleash it on my own writing! The novel is so good that it almost makes a fellow writer wish for its author to fall on her face in her next outing just so he can feel better about his own efforts! But since I fell in love with the Shalilly (shamelessly and inappropriately so, I confess) I'm going to be bigger than that, and instead congratulate Elizabeth Gracen on a really good novel, and wish her all the best. Grace-n is the perfect name for this author! I recommend this novel highly, and I now I must endure the agonizing (<-Greek roots word!) wait for her next novel! O the Phates! (<-Greek joke word!)


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot


Rating: WARTY!

This officially marks my flat refusal to read another thing written by Meg Cabot! I've read her Ready Or Not and found it a not ready. I read Haunted and found it more ghastly than ghostly, and I read Size 12 and Ready to Rock and found it ready to rot!

Perhaps this novel should have been titled "The Princess Diarrhea", since it both runs to more than ten volumes, and the main character, Mia, runs off at the mouth with an endless bitch and tedious moan about everything. What a nightmare she is. The novel is nothing like the movie, and bland as that is, the movie is far better. The movie has heart. All the novel has is spleen. The novel is as washed out as the Genovian flag, but it did make me want to watch the movie again.

The audio book is read by Anne Hathaway, who played the role of Mia in the movie. Her reading actually isn't too bad, but her voice tends towards mumble here and there. That's all I have to say about it, other than that I ditched it in short order, and I've now sworn off ever again reading anything by Meg Cabot!