Calendar Girls- July Best Fairytale Retelling

Welcome back to the seventh month of Calendar Girls! It’s a monthly blog event co-hosted by Flavia and Melaine and designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers. Calendar Girls was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song, Calendar Girl, For more information, about the Calendar Girls community click here!

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Until I started blogging in January, I didn’t know how big of a thing fairytale retellings were. I mean, I knew there were a few out there, but I didn’t know how many, or how great these books were. I have just started my journey into the retellings, and I found excellent books. But this isn’t about all of them, this post is about picking the best of them and showcasing it. So, away we go!

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

30653719 This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but not the version that Disney did.

I listen to the Myths and Legends podcast, which takes stories you think you know and tells you the original stories. I started listening to it because it covered a lot of Arthurian legends however it also covers folklore and myths from other cultures besides the European-centric stories I’m used to. There are stories from Russia, the Greek God Myths, Viking myths, Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, he’s done a couple different Native American stories. It’s a great podcast, it’s been around for a while, and I should probably write a separate post on it at some point because I love it so much, but I digress.

In January, Myths and Legends did a show about Beauty and the Beast. It discussed Russia version of the French story by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. For the most part, it’s the same story, but there are little differences. It was this episode of the Podcast that gave me a little extra excitement for this book.

Hunted takes parts of the original Villeneuve story and the Russian story while also tying in some modern elements. Beauty has independence and boldness about her. She searches for her missing father and takes charge of her situation.  Her love for Prince Ivan comes from a different place than, I feel, it does in other versions of the story. She doesn’t fall in love with who the Beast was or the Prince he might be, and honestly, the whole romance aspect of the story isn’t important. I wrote a review of it a couple months ago if you would like to read my full thoughts about it.

Hunted,  at the moment, is the best book I’ve read so far this year. It was just well written and different. I was skeptical about retellings as a genre because how could a modern writer improve upon stories that have such a cultural impact already, but so far, the answer to that is “they can improve them a lot.” The rest of the Calendar Girls posts today will be showcasing the broad reach of retellings and the different stories that writers have taken on.

Do you have a favorite Retelling? Or a Favorite fairytale you would love to see a modern spin on?


The Calendar Girls have a bunch of other really cool things happening besides the group of posts you will see going out today (and the first Monday of every month). If you want to know more about the read-a-long for this month Which is Roseblood by A. G. Howard and the monthly Twitter chat or anything else Calendar Girls related, check out the June wrap up post here. 

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

 

Review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

The Details

Publisher:  Harper Teens
Published:  MArch 14, 2017
Genres:  YA, Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling
My Rating: 5 Stars

 

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Good Reads Blurb

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast

My Review

I am new to the fairytale retelling trend in YA lit. To be honest, before starting this blog I was unaware it was a thing outside of the Cinder Chronicles, which as I mentioned in my post about Cinder, I was anxious about reading because I didn’t want to be disappointed by it. When this book appeared in my uppercase book box in March, I was nervous about it. Beauty and the Beast is such a huge thing in the first quarter of 2017 with the live action movie and such. But then I started to see the reviews by my fellow bloggers, and I was less nervous about this book.

What I loved is that it doesn’t follow the Disney version of the story that is so well known. I listen to the Myths and Legends podcast (side note if you are interested in old stories and origins of myths and stuff listen to this podcast it’s really fun) and a while back he covered the Beauty and the Beast origin stories. This story is truly a tale as old as time, it has origins from all over the world. Spooner’s version focuses mainly on the Russian version but has elements of the French version, which for the most part is the version we are familiar with.

Because of the Myth and Legends podcast, I have learned a lot about Russian Fairytales: the stories of Prince Ivan and his brothers. Russian fairytales are very different than western stories, Spooner intertwines them into her story seamlessly. It was one of my favorite elements of the book.

Another thing I loved were the journal entries by the Beast between chapters. For the most part, the story is told through Yeva’s experience, but through these little half-page entries, we learn about the Beast from the Beast.  It was a very interesting way to show his character development as the story continued.

I did feel that the ending came very quickly. The rest of the story is slower paced, but when we get to the last third of the book, everything happens very fast. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book, and it was still highly enjoyable– one of my favorites this year– but I think that it could have benefited a little from more at the end.

Overall, I found this book extremely well written and told a beautiful story about acceptance and love. It is worth picking up if you haven’t already.

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Until next time Internet,

 

Deanna

Judging Books by their Covers

A while back, like, several years ago, I was browsing the shelves of my local Barnes and Nobel, and I found a book that drew me in with its beautiful cover. That book was Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I mean, look at it:

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This is a great book cover. Sleek, represents exactly what the book it about. It made me pull it off the shelf. I read the blurb and was intrigued. So I texted my friend and said what do you think of a retelling fo Cinderella with robots? And she said something to the effect of “that sounds ridiculous.”  I carried the book around for a little bit but ended up putting it down before I got to the checkout, deciding that I’d look the book up and see what the Internet was saying.

As I’m sure you know, as you are the book Internet, this book was very well received, and I don’t think I saw a single under 3-star review on Goodreads when I first looked into it. All of a sudden this beautiful cover was showing up on Tumblr with rave reviews. So, next time I was in the bookstore I ran my finger down the spine of this book but didn’t buy it. I waited until it came out in paperback, then picked it up. I much prefer hardcover books, but I was afraid that I would wait to read it and by the time I got around to it, if I liked it, the rest of the series would be in paperback, and I am very into bookcase continuity. I can’t have one hardcover and the rest paperback. It is not okay.

So this book sat on my bookshelf for about 4 years. It would show prominently in the pictures I would post of my TBR pile because of that beautiful cover. My cousin asked several times if the Lunar Chronicles were any good because she was on the fence about reading it. To which I would say “I honestly haven’t read it because I have the same feelings about it.” and then I would feel so guilty about it. Why did I buy this book if I wasn’t sure if I would read it?

When I moved over Labor Day weekend, I put my bookshelf back together, Cinder sat on the top shelf with other books on my TBR list so I could look at them and pressure myself into reading more so I could get through this pile that seems to grow tenfold every time I read one book.

Then I started sniffing around book blogging considering starting my own. One of the books that showed on list after list: “best books” “best adaptations” “best sci-fi”  “favorite books” any list there was that praised a book Cinder, or the whole series was on it.

So as I started my own blog, I said to myself: “Well, Deanna, if you’re going to have a YA book blog, you are going to have to read the Robot Cinderella book.”

I think the main reason I didn’t want to read it was because I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, I know Cinderella. I know that story, I’ve been absorbing that story since I was a toddler. I’ve seen versions with cartoon mice, Brandy, Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murray, I mean, I would have thought that I’d been this story in every way humanly imaginable. But there on my bookshelf sat a new imagining, one with Robots on what seemed to be a post-apocalyptic earth. What was this book going to be?

I made a WWW Wednesday post a couple weeks ago where I told the internet that the next book I was going to read was Cinder. Telling the internet is one way that I keep myself accountable. I tell the Internet that I’m going to the gym, and I go because I don’t want to lie to the Internet, that’s immoral. So the Internet keeps me in line. So I, unsure if I would enjoy it, opened up Cinder on a Monday night and started to read.

Tuesday, there was a very large snowstorm that hit the North East. So, since the all day marathon on Criminal Minds didn’t start until 11 on Tuesdays, I decided to read a little bit. I picked up Cinder and didn’t put it down until I the book was over. I missed a whole day of season 4 of Criminal Minds, which BTW is my favorite season.

Cinder is pretty much impossible to put down.

The book is a retelling of Cinderella, there is the evil step-mother, the ball, the “lost shoe” thing, but I think the book could really be summarized without using the “retelling of Cinderella” part. It’s a very different story for the familiar fairytale.

My major resistance against reading this book when I first bought it was not wanting to be bored by a story that I knew. I was worried that it would be too familiar. I think what made the book so interesting to me was that it was so different from Cinderella.

While recommending the book, I find myself saying “It’s a robot Cinderella, but it’s super good I promise. I know that sounds weird.”

I loved this book, I am reading the sequel Scarlet at the moment, as we haven’t had a snowstorm (and hopefully won’t have anymore) so I haven’t had the time to just sit and read a whole 400 page book in a day, I am about halfway through so I should be able to finish it over the weekend.

Although I’d seen so many praises of these books, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. I guess my point is to just read it. A book may seem like it’s going to be weird but trust the Goodreads page. If other bookish people think the book is good, it’s good. Trust your instincts about the book. You just may find your new favorite.

Are there any books that you were afraid to read for fear of disappointment and they ended up being great? I would love to hear about them!

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna