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Monday, April 30, 2012

My Sparkling Misfortune by Laura Lond

My Sparkling Misfortune by Laura Lond
Amazon | Goodreads | iTunes
164 pages, audio 3h12m
Published April 28th 2010 by Dream Books LLC
Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle readily admits that he is a villain and sees no reason why it should stop him from being the protagonist of this book. After all, Prince Kellemar, an aspiring hero, has defeated him in a rather questionable way.

Bent on revenge, Arkus attempts to capture a powerful evil spirit who would make him nearly invincible, but a last-minute mistake leaves him with a Sparkling instead—“a goody-goody spirit that helps heroes, watches over little children, and messes up villains’ plans.”

Bound to Lord Arkus for five years of service and sworn to act in his best interests, the Sparkling is not easy to get rid of, and of course his understanding of “best interests” is quite different from what Lord Arkus has in mind.

This is...going to be a bit of a weird, catch-all review, because the fact is, I have never listened to an entire audiobook.  I've tried, I really have, but generally the reader gets about 3 sentences out before I say, Um, no.  The farthest I've ever gotten in an audio was about 1/4 of the way through The Forest of Hands and Teeth - and though I really actually did like the narration, the only reason I even picked it up was to refresh my memory on the story and style.  So agreeing to review an audio was a gamble, as I let Laura know.  And I'm going to try to address both the story and the audio aspect, but in the end, I feel like I can't quite separate the two, and couldn't tell you whether I liked the story because of the narration, or liked the narration because of the story.

Because I did like it.  There was a huge adjustment period, though. Probably the first 40 minutes was spent with me not being able to focus and finding that my mind had drifted and 10 minutes of audio had passed with out me really absorbing a thing.  And I can't really blame that on the story or the narration, because I don't think either was to blame. It's just...I don't like being read too. I was the weird kid that didn't say "Read me a story" but said "I can do it myself!" My mom has this habit of bringing magazines or articles to my attention and saying, "Did you see this?" and proceeding to read them to me. I'm sure most people would find them endearing, but my mom should know better. She knows I hate being read to. I really, really do and I couldn't not tell you why. It just makes my brain feel...cluttered. And I'm sure part of it is some insane control thing, too. So yeah, like I said, this was a gamble. I process differently when I'm listening instead of looking, and it took my brain a bit to switch over and accept that this was how the story was being told.

And if this wasn't for review, I probably would have given up.  But I didn't. I had chores that needed doing, and where I normally listen to music while cleaning (because that is the only thing that gives me incentive to clean or *gulp* do laundry), I instead put in my headphones and settled into to listen to MSM.  I was all prepared to slog through, and you know what? I instead found myself really liking it. I guess having mindless busy work to do gave me enough to focus on that my brain couldn't wander, and I actually started to absorb the story! I did more chores so I had an excuse to keep listening. Guys, this audiobook thing is genius.

So once my brain switched over and I could actually listen to the story, I found I really liked it.  It's not necessarily anything I'm going to rave about or push on all of my friends, but my friends with sons will probably hear about it. It's funny and fairly wholesome, and I was surprised to find myself actually smiling on multiple occasions. Smiling is not something that normally happens while I do dishes... Weirdly, I think that the audiobook helped in this aspect. With an audiobook you can't look ahead, even accidentally, so things do take you by surprise and catch you off-guard, and this humor that crept upon me actually made me chuckle as a result.

And the voice acting was pretty magnificent. A.T. Chandler, who does the narration, reminded me a bit of Danny Elfman as the singing voice of Jack Skellington.  (And I know, you're like, Why doesn't he remind you of Chris Sarandon, who did Jack's speaking parts? Is there singing in this book? But there's just a way that Elfman uses his voice, and though Sarandon does it too, I'm sure, it's most memorable and noticeable to me in Jack's songs.) Chandler did lots of different voices, and they all seemed seamless; I never had trouble knowing who was talking, because the voices were all distinctive and memorable. And he was good at accents and ages/sexes.  The way he used his voice and the accents he used were part of what made me smile. I couldn't help picturing Jack, as I said, or Groundskeeper Willy, and a few other people.  It was...neat.  Where I generally have issues with the voices of narrators, I couldn't fault Chandler at all.

And in the end, I did end up liking Lord Arkus and his journey. He's a fun, unwillingly round character, who grows a lot and hates every minute of it (he says), and it was pleasant. I most especially loved the symmetry between Arkus trying to be a villain and ending up a hero, while his nemesis is trying to be a hero and ending up a villain. It was a charming, fun story that I think will appeal to young boys looking for an adventure story, and mothers who don't want their kid's adventure stories to be gruesome or age-inappropriate.
And it convinced me that audiobooks aren't the devil, so I have to give it points for that. :)

Don't forget to check out my interview with Laura and my excerpt from My Sparkling Misfortune!
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Review-teaser: The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors

The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors
Amazon | Goodreads
Retelling: The Ugly Duckling, 416 pages
Expected publication: August 21st 2012 by Walker & Company
Emmeline Thistle has always had a mysterious bond with cows, beginning on the night of her birth, when the local bovines saved the infant cast aside to die in the forest. But Emmeline was unaware that this bond has also given her a magical ability to transform milk into chocolate, a very valuable gift in a kingdom where chocolate is more rare and more precious than gold or jewels. Then one day Owen Oak, a dairyman’s son, teaches Emmeline to churn milk into butter—and instead she creates a delicious chocolate confection that immediately makes her a target for every greedy, power-hungry person in the kingdom of Anglund. Only Owen loves Emmeline for who she truly is, not her magical skill. But is his love enough to save her from the danger all around her?

I won't be reviewing this one in full until much closer to its August release date, but I just had to tell you a little something about the book now.  So here, briefly, are a couple quick thoughts/teasers from my late-summer review:

* The Ugly Duckling, AAAHHHHHH!!!!

* Hmm, I like this Emmeline lady.  She's plucky.  And magic.  And she likes cows. I like cows.

* Enemy territory!

* Owen Oak, eh? And you have a thing for all the dairy maids, yes? I've got my eye on you, buddy...

* VILLAIN! Kick him! Oh, wait...

* Wanted posters, escaped slaves, leprosy, oh my!

* I don't think I like this kingdom very much. TAKE 'EM DOWN, Emmeline.

* Chocolate! Glorious chocolate!!

* Don't you try to win me over, villains. I WON'T HAVE IT.  Maybe.

* Yeah, I do like this Emmeline person. And her Mr Oak's not too bad, either...

Make sure to stop back near the August release for my full, less nonsensical review (but not wholly sensical, either)!  And don't forget to check out my interview with Suzaane and enter the giveaway for a signed copy of The Sweetest Spell!

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Book Haul: April 30th, 2012

What's this?  A non-FTF-related post?  I know, I know, frowny face.  But the day is not over, and I do have a few more FTF posts for you...as soon as I get them done. (eep!)
Until then, enjoy this brief interlude...

Hey there. Here are all of the bookish goodies that found their way into my home in the past 2 weeks. Links to everything below.
Thanks for watching!

Tim @ Bumblesby: http://www.youtube.com/user/bumblesby
Ashley @ What's Your Story YA: http://www.whatsyourstorybookreviews.com/

Eona: http://amzn.to/KqGfai
The Drowned Cities: http://amzn.to/IoORD5
Purity: http://amzn.to/KqGq5g
Revived: http://amzn.to/JXDnUJ
Blackwood: http://amzn.to/KqGtyb


Ship Breakerhttp://amzn.to/JXDfVl
Song of the Lionness serieshttp://amzn.to/JXEyUk

Interview: Regina Doman, author of the A Fairy Tale Retold series

For my last interview of this year's FTF, I have Regina Doman, author of the A Fairy Tales Retold series.  Make sure you stop by Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing to enter to win your choice of one of the titles!

What do you make of the resurgence in popularity for fairy tales? (Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsmen, all within a very short time)? Do you see it as a trend that will sort of peter out, or is it just getting started?
 Hard to say: fairy tales, so called, touch the universal root in the human heart, so I think they'll always be coming back around. What impact do you think fairy tales have on society (especially with the same tales popping up in various forms in every society)? Above all they seem to exist to give hope. They promise joy, they promise justice, they promise a meaning to events in life that may seem so twisted or futile.

Book in a Tweet: Your fairy tale in 140 characters or less?
(minus title) Alex O'Donnell & the 40 Cyberthieves: a fairy tale retold Sudden wealth on the Web! Mysterious murder via gamesite. Hotel cleaning girl nabs 39 known cyberthieves. Most dangerous one still at large.

Favorite fairy tale: Snow White and Rose Red: I own the domain. :) I based my first book on it.

Most underrated fairy tale? Probably the same. I credit Madge Miller for the slight changes that made it a more cohesive story, which she used in her stage version. Her changed version inspired my version.

Most overrated fairy tale? Probably Cinderella, the most popular one. But it must fill some need in the human psyche, or we wouldn't keep telling it.

Last year we asked everyone’s fairy tale hero/heroine name; this year, we want to know your fairy tale villain name:
Regina Doman. That's because I base all the villains off of myself. Seriously, I do. But if you want the individual names -- Shadow of the Bear: Edward Freet (the evil dwarf of Snow White and Rose Red)Black as Night: Elaine Fairston/"Bonnie" (Snow White's evil queen and her "witch" incarnation -- Elaine is literally my middle name)Waking Rose: Hmmm, can't give it away. But my "heavy" is Dr. Prosser. There's also Donna Stetter. The Midnight Dancers: Michael ComusAlex O'Donnell: 40 Cyberthieves, mostly unnamed. Plus Alex's nasty Uncle Cass.

Using that name, give us a line from your villainous fairy tale:
But Uncle Cass went for the jugular. "A loan for over one million dollars?" He leered, dangling the left-behind bank receipt in front of his brother's face. "I don't think so." It was all there: the savings account clearly showed the balance as well as the withdrawal. A balance of over a million dollars. Uncle Cass leaned in closer. "Now quit lying to me and show me how you got this money. Or I'm making a call to the office, and you're behind bars."

 If a genie granted you 3 wishes, what would they be?
1. Dark chocolate! And complete hardcover pocket editions of all Shakespeare's plays and Joseph Pearce's commentaries.
2. Mortgage paid off.
3. Quaint stone bridge built across our pond to hide the neighbor's drainage pipe. (A genie could figure out how to properly sink the concrete footers. Plus he could landscape it too.)

Best way to read fairy tales? (ie location, snacks, etc)
By the fireplace, with dark chocolate and nice cup of tea. Preferably on rainy/snowy day. Illustrated editions a plus.

If one of your books was being turned into a movie and you could cast 1 character, which character would you cast and who would play them?
Um. Jon Voight as Mr. Freet if it was Shadow of the Bear. For Uncle Cass, I would love to get Joe Pantoliano mainly because I love watching him act.

Thanks for stopping by, Regina!
Now, for the rest of you, head over to Ashley's blog to enter to win one of the A Fairy Tale Retold  books!  (It'll be up sometime today!)

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Cover Contest VOTING!!

Well. I hope you guys had fun with the cover contest, whether you created some or just browsed.  Below are all of the covers created (mine included) for your viewing pleasure, followed by a POLL.  As promised, I said  if there were enough entries I'd have a vote and the winner would get...something.  I have no idea what. Still.
But something they will get, so here's how this works:

  1. I've placed all of the covers here for you to click and peruse.  Click to embiggen and see detail.  (If you want to see who created them, go to this post)
  2. After you peruse, vote in the poll!  ETA: The multiple voting option is for cases of liking and wanting to choose more than one book. You CAN vote multiple times, but do the world a favor and don't stuff the ballot box.  Nobody likes an idiot. 
  3. The poll is randomized (no favorites) and will be open until May 15th, at which time the winner...wins. Go figure.  And I will send them something, and it will be a surprise.
  4. If you created a cover, feel free to round up people to vote for you! (Or if you just have a favorite you want to see win, feel free to spread the word)
  5. Lastly, you'll see that the covers I created are included in the voting. If I win, I will treat myself to ice cream, and all of the entrants will get some silly swaggish thing from me. =)
Alright. Knock yourselves out.

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Top 5 Fairy Tale Villains

Here's my final vlog of Fairy Tale Fortnight, and I thought I'd spend it on VILLAINS.  We all love a good villain, right? And fairy tales are known for them.
I'd love to hear yours in the comments, and if you know of any good adaptations that have great villains (whether they're completely, deliciously evil or sympathetic takes on villainhood), I'd love to hear about them!)

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Coming Attraction: Palace of Stone

Today's CA: a 2nd book to the Princess Academy story!!

Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
300 pages
Expected publication: August 21st 2012 by Bloomsbury USA
Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she should help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends’ ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city.

Picking up where Princess Academy left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

CLOSED A Reading & A Giveaway ~ from Alethea Kontis, author of Enchanted

In the tradition of finding new ways to bring you Awesome for Fairy Tale Fortnight, I have here a podcast Alethea Kontis did of a Brothers Grimm story called "The Foundling".  She based one of my favorite Enchanted characters (Trix!) on the foundling of the story, so I hope her reading of the story will give you a new found perspective on the characters if you've read it, or will make you want to read it even more if you haven't!

Now, because I have no idea how to upload a podcast and have that little clicky-bar thingy, AND because I would much rather you have something big and substantial (and pretty; so, so pretty) to look at, I...sorta turned the podcast into a video...

So sit back and let yourself go back to the days when you loved nothing more than to have someone read you a story, and when you're done, make sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom (after the jump)!
(Oh, and don't forget to check out my review of Enchanted, here!)



Because Alethea is MADE OF WIN she has donated an awesome gift basket full of Enchanted goodness and Fairy Tale win.

She has donated a finished, signed copy of Enchanted to one lucky winner along with other fun swag and surprise gifts.

TO ENTER: Use the Rafflecopter form below. There are extra entries available for commenting on Enchanted related posts on Ashley's blog- Basically Amazing Books, Misty's blog- The Book Rat and Bonnie's blog- A Backward's Story. The Rafflecopter widget is the same on all three blogs. You can enter through any of our blogs, but you must visit and comment on each individual post for the extra entries.

Giveaway is US only. Ends May 7th.


Ashley's Blog          Misty's Blog          Bonnie's Blog

Titan Magic by Jodi Lamm

Titan Magic by Jodi Lamm
Amazon | Goodreads
393 pages
First Published September 30th 2011)
Mute, heartless, and tormented by auditory hallucinations, Madeleine Lavoie never questions why her family has hidden her from the world. But the night her brother casts her out, she learns the mysterious voice she thought existed only in her mind is no delusion, and no matter how hard she tries, she can never disobey it.

Now Madeleine must find her own voice in a cacophony of powerful tyrants, monsters, and gods. If she fails, she will forfeit her life and the lives of everyone who loves her. But if she succeeds, she may finally gain the ability to love someone in return.

I'm always a little leery of self-published works, so when a self-published author emails me asking to review, I always go looking for an excerpt first.  Almost always, the answer is then a polite, "Um, no."  But occasionally the excerpt will win me over and have me intrigued enough to start thinking a hesitant, "Yeah, sure?"  The excerpt I found for Titan Magic led to a much more resounding, "Yes, please! Gimme, gimme!"  But excerpts can fool you, so I was still a teensy bit hesitant. That is, until I actually picked the book up, because within the first chapter, my hesitancy went out the window and it never showed its face again.  Titan Magic is easily one of my favorite things I've read this year. For realsies.

When I finished it, my initial one-line review on GR was 'This is a book to be discussed, not rated' which means this is going to be a difficult review to write. (And yet watch how long I can blather on. Talent, people!) But seriously. As I said in my review of Shadows on the Moon, I would love to read this in a lit class or book club because I would love to have passionate, face-to-face discussions with people about it. It's complex and intriguing, and will potentially make some people uncomfortable, which to me is the hallmark of a good discussion book. But beyond that, it's really readable and engaging - you can't have a discussion if 1/2 the people there couldn't be bothered to finish the damn thing.  With this, I don't think that would be a problem.

The world building was fantastic. The world, or more accurately, the setting, is very insular for such a huge story, which was kind of neat. The whole thing is based in mythology, philosophy and religion, but it's done in a very organic way. It's very folkloric, with lots of fairy tale and mythology references, but it's not bogged down by them. The most, um...religiously sensitive? among you may be put off by a few things here or there, but then, I wouldn't expect you to be reading a fantasy about people "playing god" and trying to create life, so... As I said, it may make some people uncomfortable, though I don't think that's ever the intent.  (Basically, the people made uncomfortable are going to be the people who are always made uncomfortable. By everything. Ever.) Personally, I found the philosophical and moral implications really fascinating, part of what would make this such a good book to sit and chat about, and it added this great layer to the story and the world. The slight totalitarianism of the society added a nice layer, too. But mostly the idea of love - in all its forms, with no such thing as good or bad love - that comes through strongest in the end added warmth and humanity that really set Titan Magic apart.

From here on out, things get slightly spoilery (not much, but some), so you have been warned.

The main character, Maddy, is so very rootforable.  Throughout the story, she learns that not only is she not quite normal, she's not even quite human, and her struggle to understand what she is and to decide for herself whether she can ever be more (or even ever should be more), was really gripping.  Like a good philosophical debate, the reader questions how things should turn out and whether there can be - or should be - a happy ever after for Maddy, or anyone else involved.  Maddy has to struggle with not only what she is at her core, but whether, as potentially powerful as she is, she has any amount of control. The idea of being a vessel for other people, of being a slave to others emotions and having them rampage through you, yet never feeling your own and not even being sure if you can have emotions, was really intriguing.  And as I've stated in the past, I love an unusual or silent character, and even if Maddy's silence sort of had loopholes, she certainly fits the bill of out-of-the-box characters I love.  Her need to find her voice is a good metaphor for her story in general, but even if you don't want to get all metaphor-y, Maddy just works as a character. She's relatable even when her circumstances aren't, and it all just makes for really interesting reading.

More interesting, though, and very impressive, was that it had me constantly reevaluating not only what I wanted to happen, but what should happen and what needed to happen. And Maddy questions this, too, which is part of what makes her a great and intriguing character.  Everything is built on shifting sands, and I was constantly wondering where and when the sinkhole was going to open up and swallow everyone whole.  This, like some of the philosophical nature of the book, is something I think may make people uncomfortable because they like to have a clear idea of who to root for, who to fall for and who to hate.  But for me, the best stories are never cut and dry.  Everyone is flawed and even the most flawed can be good.  Lamm really capitalized on this.

Now, there was a time about 2/3 of the way through that the train got derailed a little bit.  Part of it, I think, was Lamm's exploration of gray area and those shifting sands I was talking about. It seemed to lose focus a touch, or like too much was going on/in the air, for it to really come clear. I think some people would be more bothered by this than I was because I think some people get really irritated when they're confused.  But though it began to feel a little chaotic, it worked because it suited the core of the story, and it pulled together in the end, anyway.  The only reason it even bears mentioning was because for literally the rest of the book, both before and after this rough patch, I was just sort of enthralled and never doubting a single thing. I read every line rabidly and it all seemed so smooth and perfect that any little deviation from that was bound to stand out.

In the end, I am so very happy Jodi emailed me, and so very happy that I have a habit of looking up excerpts. I enjoyed myself thoroughly reading this, and think it's one I'll want to reread in the future so I can get different things from it each time. And, um, I know I used the word 'philosophical' a lot in this review, but don't be put off by that. That's just me being a Very Happy Geek, but even if you're not the type for philosophical discussions, Titan Magic is a very fun, fast-paced book, too. I can't wait to start pushing it on people because, as I've said in the past, I am a tabber - I have lots of little post-it flags sticking out of this book, and though I'd love to share them with you here, I'd rather not spoil them for you because they're going to be so lovely when you come upon them yourself.  But until you do - until someone does - I have no one to discuss them with, so I need to start pushing.

Okay, okay, I'll give you one.  I love a strong character who knows herself, and I love a strong statement, so this one kind of gave me chills:
"So what good is a soul to me?  I am what I am. The only one who needs me to be anything else is you."
Love it. <3

Don't forget to check out my excerpt and giveaway of Titan Magic for FTF! (ends May 5th)

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Princesses IRL...

A bit more on Princesses...

via photographer Ryan Astamendi
check out his blog here
You'll note Jessica Rabbit filling in for a princess there (which I'm okay with, as I want to be her), but later Ryan also did Belle:

Another Princessy thing of note is Disenchanted, a web series about Princesses in less than fairy tale situations:

And then there's this.
Not sure where this one comes from originally, as it's just one of those things
I've seen bopping around online.
Comic via Mother Goose and Grimm. Thanks, Moirae!

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Coming Attractions: Beauty & the Beast hits the Screen - a lot...

One of the questions I asked all of out interviewees this year was what they made of the resurrgence in popularity for fairy tales in TV and movies.  With tv shows like Once Upon a Time and Grimm, hit cartoons like Tangled and Shrek/Puss in Boots, and movies like Mirror, Mirror and the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsmen, fairy tales are sort of everwhere right now.  And (like everthing else these days...) a bunch of older movies and cartoons are being rereleased in 3D.  And that's just the beginning.

Four (four!) new adaptations of Beauty and the Beast are going to be hitting screens both big and small in the near future.  Because if there's anything Hollywood knows how to do, it's take a concept that's working and flood the market with knockoffs until you can't bear it anymore.
1. Capitalizing on the success of Once Upon a Time, ABC will be giving us its take on Beauty and the Beast... EW reports ABCs version as
"A fantastical reimagining of the classic fairy tale set in a mythical, dangerous world wherein a beautiful and tough princess discovers an unlikely connection with a mysterious beast.
with whom she forges an alliance in the hopes of preventing a rebellion.
Cast includes:
Ruth Bradley as Grace,
aka Beauty
Alan Dale as the Emporer

Christopher Egan as hottie Garrick,
I'm going to guess he's our Gaston

Colin Lawrence as Yanta Mho.
I have know idea who Yanta Mho is,
but just look at him...
Karen LeBlanc as Ehren,
a rebel faction leader
Darius Campbell as Shiro,
aka The Beast!

A whole bunch of other people have been cast, too, which you can find out about here.

2. The CW will also be presenting its version of BatB, but this time with a different tried-and-true formula - a reboot of the 1980's version of the tv show that starred Linda Hamilton and this guy, that they claim is Ron Perlman underneath:

The CW's reboot will be
"Loosely based on the CBS’ Beauty and the Beast series from the 1980s, this is a modern-day romantic love story with a procedural twist." (EW)
I never watched the 80's version (mostly because I was a child in the 80's and I stuck with the real thing then.  #talkinaboutpicturebooksyo), but I have to say I find the idea of a reboot with a procedural twist intriguing.  Then again, it's not working out so well for Grimm, which started strong and is flatlining, so...guess we'll see.
Um, Beast?

Deadline gives all sorts of juicy deets on the reboot, which starts Kristen Kreuk and Jay Ryan, saying it  "centers on Catherine (Kreuk), a tough-minded NYPD homicide detective haunted by witnessing her mother’s murder nine years ago and the killers’ quick demise at the hands of a Beast. After years of searching, Catherine finally finds the Beast, Vincent Koslow, the survivor of a military experiment that went disastrously wrong, and becomes the protector of his secret life as a superhero."

3. On the big screen, Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) will be presenting his most likely bloody and brain-twisty take on BatB.  There's not a lot of info on this one yet, but I think this may be the one I'm most excited about, because if there's anyone as obsessed with fairy tales - and their darker sides - as me, it's GDT.  Plus, what we do know (via The Hollywood Reporter) of it all screams awesome:

Emma mothereffing Watson
  • It's a take on Robin McKinley's BatB version, Beauty (though it's "evolved" beyond that...)
  • It will star Emma Watson (!!) in the main role
  • Andrew Davies (who writes every damn thing I like) is attached as the writer.
  • GDT is both producer and director.  Also, man of general awesome.

4. There's also going to be a French movie version (which is fitting, as the original author was a french lady with a really long name); it will star Lea Seydoux and Vincent Cassel - and that's about all I know...

So, looking forward to any of these?  Is it too much, or just enough?  And which are on your Must Watch list? Personally, I find it a little silly that this many BatBs are coming out in such a short time period, but I love it all the same and intend to watch every one of them, and love every minute.

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Interview: Laura Lond, author of My Sparkling Misfortune

Today we welcome Laura Lond, author of the Lakeland Knight series, to Fairy Tale Fortnight.  The first 2 books in the Lakeland Knight series, My Sparkling Misfortune and My Royal Pain Quest are both available now on Amazon and iTunes.  You can find Laura online here!

What do you make of the resurgence in popularity for fairy tales? (Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsmen, all within a very short time)? Do you see it as a trend that will sort of peter out, or is it just getting started?
I think it reflects the people’s longing for something miraculous, as well as for justice. While there are certainly many readers who prefer realistic literature and movies, the majority of us seem to miss the childhood joy brought by stories that have the element of wonder. Deep inside, people feel that there’s got to be more to life than just going to work, going home, doing chores, eating, sleeping, and going to work again. Also, it doesn’t take very long to realize that we live in a messed up, unfair world. People want justice and hope. They long for stories where things are set right, evil is punished, and good prevails.

I don’t think it’s a new trend, perhaps just another popularity wave. It might seem to go down with time, but the overall love for fairy tales will always remain.

What inspired My Sparkling Misfortune?
My Sparkling Misfortune is the result of my life-long fascination with fairytales, knights, kings, princes, princesses, castles, -- and villains. Lord Arkus had entered my world and insisted that his story needed to be told. I did not see it all at the beginning, but one thing was clear: he was a villain who wanted a chance. So, together with the kind-hearted Jarvi, I gave it to him.

What impact do you think fairy tales have on society (especially with the same tales popping up in various forms in every society)?
I think they give people hope and help to build character.

Book in a Tweet: My Sparkling Misfortune in 140 characters or less?
Funny villain wants to be bad, fails.

Favorite fairy tale: 
The Chronicles of Narnia.

Most underrated fairy tale?
Disney’s Gummi Bears. While the show was quite popular in its time and still has some loyal fans today, it seems to be mostly forgotten, and it’s such a shame. It’s a great story with great characters. I would love to see Disney go back to it and make it into a movie.

Gummi Bears!!  Oh man, that takes me back...
Ahem, back to the task at hand - Most overrated fairy tale?
At the risk of offending its numerous fans, I have to say The Princess Bride. It’s not a bad story, it is actually quite decent - but I don’t see how it qualifies to be a classic it is often proclaimed to be. It didn’t grip me and didn’t get stuck in my head and heart for months, as truly great stories do.

Last year we asked everyone’s fairy tale hero/heroine name; this year, we want to know your fairy tale villain name:
Lord Arkus, also known as Arkus the fearsome of the Dreaded Lord.

Using that name, give us a line from your villainous fairy tale:
“Yes, you have guessed it: I am a villain. What? You wanted a noble hero?... Well, tough. You’ve got the wrong book, then.” -- Lord Arkus.

If a genie granted you 3 wishes, what would they be?
1. The ability to heal
2. The ability to enter fairy tales worlds and travel through them
3. The ability to change my appearance (just for fun)

Best way to read fairy tales? (ie location, snacks, etc)
In a cozy armchair near a fireplace, with a cat purring nearby.

If one of your books was being turned into a movie and you could cast 1 character, which character would you cast and who would play them?
I envision My Sparkling Misfortune and the rest of the series as a Shrek-like production. If that ever happens, I would love for Lord Arkus to be voiced by A.T.Chandler who worked on the audiobook edition of the series. He gave Lord Arkus just the right voice, capturing his character, humor, and personality perfectly.

Thanks for stopping by, Laura!
If you want to know more about My Sparkling Misfortune, make sure to stop by this excerpt!

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Excerpt: My Sparkling Misfortune by Laura Lond

To go along with my interview from Laura and review of My Sparkling Misfortune, I have for you an excerpt of the book; enjoy, and if you like what you see, make sure to stop by Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing for Ashley's excerpt of book 2, My Royal Pain Quest!

Excerpt from My Sparkling Misfortune by Laura Lond

“Six years of service!” I repeated. “I will not release you until you pledge it!”
Did he really stagger, just a little, or was I imagining it?...
I wasn’t.
“Very well. Be it as you wish.”
He agreed!! My overstrained muscles begged for a break, but I couldn’t let go of him yet; that would be a fatal mistake. I had to seal the deal.
“So do you promise to serve me faithfully for six years?”
“Within the laws of both worlds, that of spirits and of men, yes.”
Within the laws, well, that was fine. The scribe had told me about that. No spirit could break those laws.
“To act in my best interests?”
“Not to lie to me?”
“And never seek retaliation for being captured?”
“Abyss take you if you break your word?”
Naturally? Was he leaving some kind of a loophole?
“No tricks! Say, ‘Yes, I promise, the abyss takes me if I break my word!’”
He said it.
At last, I could loosen the grip. Oh, my arms, shoulders, back… They’d be aching for days.
The spirit waded to the shore. I cautiously followed, still unable to fully believe it. I did it, didn’t I? I had a gormack now. My own, for six full years.
He sat down on the sand. I figured I’d give him time to accept the unfortunate change in circumstances. I could use some rest as well, so I lowered myself on a large rock a couple of steps away and looked at my prize. He could easily pass for a man, especially now that he’d stopped glowing—a lean young fellow with well-defined features, dressed in a short tunic, breeches, and tall boots. His hair was still flaming orange, but his skin turned the color of regular human tan. I waited for the glow to return, but minutes passed, and it was not happening. Was something wrong?
“Your glow is gone,” I said. “I hope you have not lost all your strength.”
He looked up at me and, quite unexpectedly, grinned.
“That would be a disappointment, wouldn’t it? Don’t worry, it’s just because I am settling in the physical world.”
Well, at least he was not too upset about it.
“Has this happened to you for the first time?”
“I would think those to whom it had happened once will not come to the lake again.”
“You have a point.” I looked him over again and noticed that he had no weapon. “Where is your sword?”
“Always with me.” With that, the shining orange blade showed up in his hand, and before I could blink it was pointed at me. “Why? You want to taste it?”
Uh-oh. So he was a little upset.
“Hey now. You promised to be loyal to me.”
“True.” He smiled and removed the sword. “But I never promised not to throw puns.”
A feisty one. It looked like I’d have to teach him some manners.
“You must do what I tell you, and I’m telling you to be respectful. Is that understood?”
He gave a quick bow.
“Yes, Mr. I-Don’t-Know-What-To-Call-You.”
Well, he had a point here, too. I had not yet introduced myself.
“‘My lord’ or ‘master’ will do very well,” I said, “but if you wish to know my name, it is Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle. Now, what is yours? I assume you have a name, too?”
“Of course. I am Tulip.”
“Tulip?? What kind of a name is that for an evil spirit?”
“I am no evil spirit.”
I gave him a long, hard look.
“…Don’t you joke like that. I appreciate a good bit of humor, but not of the kind that makes one’s heart stop.”
“But I am not joking. I am not an evil spirit, I am what you call a sparkling.”
The world faded before my eyes.
“WHAT?? A sparkling?! Are you telling me I have caught a sparkling?! A goody-goody spirit that helps heroes, watches over little children, and messes up villains’ plans?!”
“Well, that’s a rather broad definition, but yes, generally speaking, that’s what a sparkling does. What seems to be the problem?”
I wanted to scream. And I did.
“Oops. Your mistake.”
I grabbed him by the tunic collar.
“Why didn’t you tell me who you are?!”
“I do not recall you asking.”

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Coming Attraction & Excerpt: Seraphina

Some books don't have to be a fairy tale retelling or even have a thing to do with fairy tales, and yet somehow they still scream Fairy Tale.  Rachel Hartman's upcoming YA debut, Seraphina, is a high fantasy if anything, but something about it just calls to the fairy tale lover in me.  
I figured the same might be true of you, too, so I thought I'd share with you a sneak peek at Seraphina, which I'll be reviewing this summer when it's released, as well as having Rachel stop by for a video interview!

So after the cover and copy and all the usual jazz (hands), check out my little excerpt of Seraphina, and then run like hell to add it to your Goodreads and your wishlists, just like I did...

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
464 pages
Expected publication: July 10th 2012 by Random House Children's Books
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

I remember being born.

In fact, I remember a time before that. There was no light, but there was music: joints creaking, blood rushing, the heart's staccato lullaby, a rich symphony of indigestion. Sound enfolded me, and I was safe.

Then my world split open, and I was thrust into a cold and silent brightness. I tried to fill the emptiness with my screams, but the space was too vast. I raged, but there was no going back.

I remember nothing more; I was a baby, however peculiar. Blood and panic meant little to me. I do not recall the horrified midwife, my father weeping, or the priest's benediction for my mother's soul...

So. Who's definitely picking this one up?  ;)

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