Tag Archive | fairy tales

Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

geekerella -ashley postonAnything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.


 

4.5 Drink Me Potions


Geekerella is the best combination of fairy tale retelling and tribute to geeky fandom culture. What more could a girl ask for?

To make quick of the synopsis, this is the kind of story that I would dream of writing yet I feel Poston does it in a way I could never do justice. Elle is our heroine (aka Cinderella) with her awful stepmother who berates her for her love of Starfield, this world’s version of *enter your own favourite sci-fi/fantasy show/movie that you love/cosplay*. Her stepsisters Chloe and Calliope are not much better, particularly Chloe who constantly points out to the rest of their mutual classmates that Elle’s nothing.

Our dear prince charming is none other than an up and coming movie star, set to play the hero of Starfield’s movie remake. Darien is everything a girl can dream of in a prince, yet he also has his own unique character besides the prince-fitting mold. First, he’s a person of colour, and second, he’s not someone who’s so confident about himself. That’s not to say it was to the point that he was unattractively insecure of his own abilities and person, but it was refreshing to see that inside even Prince Charming’s head, he’s not so much godlike as he is still a human being with those insecurities. I suppose that it helps that Poston made it into 2 POVs so we could see into Darien’s head. Not many Cinderella retellings allow that so it’s good to see that inside such a perfect character, he still had flaws that were relatable and made the match with “Cinderella” understandable and more equal instead of being an image of Prince Charming sweeping down to save the poor, pitiful girl from her family.

Anyway, there are so many things to rave about this novel. I will try to keep this succinct and readable.

1) If you know me, then you’ll know that Cinderella is hands down my favourite fairy tale. I love how the happily-ever-after feels all the more satisfying because the transformation in Cinderella’s life is so great. And this book keeps to the essence of Cinderella so well, it basically pays tribute to the “original” tale as well. (By original, I don’t mean you, Grimm Brothers).

2) I know not everyone counts themselves as sci-fi geeks, and frankly neither do I, but I couldn’t help but smile every time a little popular culture reference made its way into the novel. A shoutout to Firefly fans – gosh, I love Nathan Fillion – and Star Wars (which is totally making a comeback with all the recent movies) and Lord of the Rings (honestly, please tell me someone else LOL’d when the entire Fellowship of the Ring was mentioned – or joking about Boromir – anyone???), I was fangirling myself.

I don’t know about you, but these little things connect us all, whether we were the hugest fans who cosplayed these characters to conventions (I will admit, I did cosplay once, but as Alice of course) or just appreciated the stories that went with them at one point our lives, I think this story paid tribute to so many greats that traversed the years and to the ones that only blew through the skies for too short a period yet still left an afterimage in some people’s eyes.

3) Lastly, Geekerella may have followed the traditional Cinderella route in plot, but I love the kinda story where the characters don’t know who’s on the other end of the line – whether it be through texts, emails, or notes – yet can’t help but fall for that person. I was rooting for these two for so long. The romance is just right. Not too much that it becomes unbelievable, but not too little that it feels unsatisfactory.

Everything about this book honestly can be summed into two words: just right .

Overall Recommendation:
Geekerella blew my mind beyond the stars. I’ve never truly considered myself a hardcore geek or part of any specific fandom, but I do appreciate the shows/movies that were referenced. This is a novel that does both a Cinderella retelling and introduction to sci-fi fandom justice in a beautiful blend within today’s world. It’s the perfect balance of both, while showcasing themes of personal growth and friendship. Honestly, whether you’re a fan of fairy tale retellings or geeky fandoms or not, this is one book that could honestly surprise you beyond the stars. And if you’re a fan of both elements… then what are you waiting for ? Go out and find a copy.


Question for you (aka the reader):

Part of a fandom? What is your favourite sci-fi/fantasy show/movie? Ever been to a convention? If yes, did you cosplay as someone as I did? 😉 Let me know in the comments below! (I’m genuinely curious!)

Review: The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

Series: Hagenheim #6

the golden braid -melanie dickersonThe one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.


 

3 Drink Me Potions


The Golden Braid brings to life an interesting re-telling of Rapunzel with a Christian twist that fits well with the characters and themes we already enjoy in the world of Hagenheim, and tacks on another good moral for the readers to mull over.

Set partially concurrently with the events of the previous book in this series, The Princess Spy, the next installment in Dickerson’s Hagenheim books met all the expectations that I’ve come to have for her and her novels. Rapunzel, with her name actually sticking to Rapunzel oddly enough, was a very shy girl sheltered from the world by an overbearing mother who could be seen right from the beginning to have more than one side than the one she showed her daughter. She was afraid of all men for fear of becoming entrapped in their lies and being left alone to take care of a babe out of wedlock.

The comes along the hero of the story, Sir Gerek, who is actually quite arrogant. I didn’t think he’d be as prideful as the synopsis depicted him, but he set on marrying a wealthy widow just to prove to himself that he can and does deserve such riches. His interactions with Rapunzel initially didn’t capture too much of my intention as the pace was slow around this point.

It wasn’t until more towards the middle of the book that everything picks up more. We see how the storyline with Margaretha from the previous novel intersects with Rapunzel’s story, and the aftermath of those events in her POV. I rather enjoyed the character development, particularly in Sir Gerek. It was humbling to see the two of them learn to put the other first, and above all, God at the top. The big “plot twist”, although it might not have been meant to be such a surprise, was very predictable. As soon as both points were mentioned in the book, you’d so easily connect the dots way before anyone else does, especially if you know the story of Rapunzel well.

Although predictable and occasionally slow, The Golden Braid is another example of combining Christian elements with a fairy tale we find very familiar. Dickerson continues to write in a manner that’s consistent with my expectations, but maybe one of these days, I hope to be surprised by her to bring up a rating.

Overall Recommendation:
The Golden Braid brings readers a re-telling of Rapunzel in the land of Hagenheim. With wonderful continuity with the previous novels of the series, Rapunzel’s story fits extremely well with what happened in an earlier novel. Rapunzel and Sir Gerek’s character development turned them from slightly irritating people to stronger people with better goals in life. Fitting with my expectations from Dickerson these days, I found myself mildly entertained by the book as it’s not meant to be unpredictable but rather a pleasantly familiar journey to walk through on a lazy afternoon (or night).

Review: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

Series: Spindle Fire #1

spindle-fire-lexa-hillyerIt all started with the burning of the spindles.
No.
It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood–and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape . . . or the reason for her to stay.

Spindle Fire is the first book in a lush fantasy duology set in the dwindling, deliciously corrupt world of the fae and featuring two truly unforgettable heroines.


4 Drink Me Potions


Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**Spindle Fire comes out April 11, 2017**

“Light too can be a curse. It can illuminate things no one should ever have to witness.”

Spindle Fire was more than just a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting going into the book as Sleeping Beauty wasn’t ever one of my favourite fairy tales, but I truly enjoyed the imaginative atmosphere that Lexa Hillyer weaved into this story.

The plot and the girls

Moving between POVs from our two main leads, Aurora and Isabelle, made the story seem faster paced. I don’t know, it may just be me on this, but whenever there are multiple POVs and things just seem to kind of hang at the end of one character’s plotline, I seem to hurriedly go through the next character’s so that I get back to the really intense moment we were left with earlier. So this is how I kind of flew through much of Spindle Fire.

That’s not to say that the story wasn’t mostly well-paced. It was slow at the beginning, mostly because we all know the elements of Sleeping Beauty’s story (ie. Aurora falling asleep) would have to occur at some point, but the beginning was captivating with the backstory laid out.

Isabelle is clearly my favourite of the two. She’s blind, with the excerpt above coming from her wise, WISE views on the world. (You will notice as you read that Hillyer’s prose is very descriptive in a “oh, that’s such a nice way of describing this deep concept”.) She doesn’t let her position in court bring her down. Who says the bastard child can’t be just as awesome (if not better) as the “royal” one?

Her love for her younger sister is astonishing. You would think being the legitimate and the bastard child of a king would set them against each other but there was never animosity between them. Only love. It may be easier for Aurora to love her (or pity her for her station in life), but to be the underprivileged one to likewise feel just as protective for the spoiled one, it’s difficult to imagine.

Then again, Aurora was the cliched smart, beautiful, kind and obedient princess that fairy tales kind of like to have (or at least the traditional Disney ones–NOT your scary Brothers Grimm ones). So yes, Aurora wasn’t as interesting of a character, but she too grew a lot throughout her demise (and oh boy is there a lot going on with her even in sleep) which made me like her a bit more.

Oh, and there’s also the interesting fact that fairies tithed away 2 of 5 senses (you’re running out of senses, poor girl) on permission by her royal parents (such parents!) to make her the cliched princess that she is. She can’t speak, but even more interestingly, she can’t touch. I suppose that means no physical feelings, but I never could figure out if that included emotional ones. Maybe they’re all tied up in one another sometimes.

So what I’ve described so far hasn’t really made you feel too excited, has it? Cliched spoiled princess and the underdog who may show her true colours as a hero. And of course, the Sleeping Beauty story arc, with the needle pricking Aurora and evil witches (can’t have a story without those evil witches, can we?).

And then things CHANGE.

Nothing is exactly as you’d think it would be once Aurora goes to sleep. A mad witch queen who may or may not be evil, a whole kingdom hidden from the real world, and….a narwhal hunting expedition??

If I had to use one word to describe this book that made it stand out, it’d be IMAGINATIVE.

The romance (’cause of course that’s an important point to make)

Each princess seems to have a particular boy she sets her sights on. For Aurora, she meets a hunter named Heath who is very difficult to read. Here’s a princess who dreams of finding true love, and a jaded young man who doesn’t want to hope in anything more than the world they’re trapped in. Oh, and doesn’t believe in love. What kind of match would that be?

Unfortunately, the romance part on this couple doesn’t get too far, in my opinion. A potential love triangle pops up here with another girl who’s pining away for Heath, but I don’t honestly think she poses much of a threat (yet).

Then there’s Prince William and Isbe, who insistently calls her by her full name. William isn’t too cliched. He’s not extraordinarily brave or the kind of man you’d see “riding in on a white steed”. He’s supposed to be the answer to all of Isabelle’s problems: her vulnerable kingdom and the fact that Aurora is stuck in some perpetual sleep.

BUT, I always love a good forbidden love story. Their journey together to get to Aurora was one of the things that most delighted me. Things progressed a bit more with this couple, but unfortunately, I can totally see a love triangle looming in the distance with another guy who secretly feels things for Isbe (and whom she liked before William).

So Andge, would you say that this romance sets it up nicely for book 2?

Well, I dunno. I don’t like love triangles, and it doesn’t seem too serious at the moment (nothing happens between the other potential people) but I guess the only thing to do is to wait for the next book to come out….oh, in approximately A YEAR.

Hillyer’s prose

I have to remark on this before I conclude this review (I know, I’ve gone on for far too long already). You can clearly see the author’s poetry background. Small pieces of poetry actually pops in here and there. There’s a little lullaby both the girls know by heart and a very creepy scene where a crazy girl is talking in rhymes. So who says poetry doesn’t have its place in YA literature?

However, it’s also evident everywhere else you look! If you love metaphors strewn all over the place to demonstrate significant “character moments” and deep thoughts, then this is for you (or it may annoy you…I can see that happening too).

From Aurora learning to decide for herself and just GROW a backbone,

[Aurora] is not just swimming toward safety now but away from her former, meeker self. She can almost hear the wail of the old Aurora, weak and scared, carried downstream, far away.

to Isbe pondering on the concept of true love, one she never accepted as much as her sister did,

[Isbe] always thought romance was a cloudy concept, like the steam over a pot of boiling stew–it smells of hearty ingredients, it warms the senses…but ultimately it dissolves.

to grim thoughts.

“You know, I used to love looking at the stars at night. I used to think they were put there to guide us. Now I know they are just watching and winking, mute observed, bemused by our failures and our loss.”


Out of ALL else, this was what sold me on Spindle Fire. It wasn’t ever too over-the-top. The metaphors are strategically placed throughout, and some are more subtle than others. I do hope you enjoy the book when it comes out. I look forward to reading more from Lexa Hillyer.

Overall Recommendation:
Spindle Fire is an imaginative re-telling of Sleeping Beauty with a whole bunch of wild other stuff thrown in there as well. Lexa Hillyer’s prose is both beautiful and poignant, really describing the turmoils of the inner heart of both her main characters. Like a fairy tale, there is both action (fighting evil witches, of course!) and romance in it, but ultimately, this is a story about the love shared between two sisters. I think this story is worthwhile to check out, if at least just to read prose and descriptions.

Note: All quotes are subject to change when published