Posts Tagged ‘fairytales’

Hood - Stephen R. Lawhead (Historical Fiction)

This was the first in Lawhead’s new trilogy about Robin Hood, but it was far from being the ‘traditional’ tale as we know it today. Lawhead did an extensive amount of research concerning the beginnings of the ‘Robin Hood’ folklore (the first appearance of the legendary thief was in the 1200s!), and wove this tale from what he believes was the beginning of the Robin Hood myth. Thus, we have a hero whose story is set in Wales, away from Sherwood Forest, and a little more gritty and realistic than simply a tale of ‘merry men’. It’s set in the historical past, with real and fictional characters interwoven – similar to what Lawhead did with his Pendragon Cycle – so that you can truly begin to believe that this was something that literally occurred in history, but perhaps wasn’t retained as part of the period’s ‘official’ historical record.

I thought it was exceedingly well done, and I’m very much looking forward to the next book, Scarlet, where Will Scarlet – who else? – makes his first appearance.

Rating: 3.5 coffees out of 5

Golden Treasures of Troy: The Dream of Heinrich Schliemann - Herve Duchene (Ancient History/Archaeology/Biography)

Concise, brief, fluid… and some great photos. This was a quick look at the life of Schliemann and his contribution to archaeology, incorporating such elements as: his childhood, his training, his business ventures, his tendency toward lies, his archaeological digs & their controversy, and the basics of why archaeologists either love what he did for ancient history or wish he’d never touched a trowel.

The text is woven alongside photos and paintings from the digs, as well as treasures he found, and scans of various documents – it was very interesting to read the tale of Schliemann from beginning to end in this way, because during classes for my archaeology degree, we only heard snippets about him and his work (but mostly about the sites themselves, since my profs tended to speak of Schliemann with a bit of disdain… as it happens, this is not uncommon).

If you’re interested in the beginnings of the archaeological process in the Greek world, it’s worth the hour it’ll take you to read this 170 page book (really, there are a lot of pictures!). I got my copy from for about $5, and it was certainly worth it.

Rating: 3 coffees out of 5

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Midnight Pearls: A Retelling of “The Little Mermaid” – Debbie Viguie (YA)

This is my second foray into the ‘Once Upon a Time’ series of retellings, and after Belle, this one had a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite make it for me. I realize that the original story had few details and could be easily re-imagined in a variety of ways, but I thought Viguie took it too far and was unable to capture the magic and tragedy of the original fairy tale. Too many secondary characters who seemed forced into place, combined with a happy ending that felt far too Disney-esque (in fact, there were many occasions when I wondered whether she was retelling the original version or the Disney version, which was frustrating), made this one less than outstanding for me. I would have liked to see an element of the original tragic ending, but somehow refined to be wondrous and optimistic… oh well.

Rating: 2 coffees out of 5

Big Boned – Meg Cabot (Chick Lit)

This is the third book in a series, after Size 12 Isn’t Fat and Size 14 Isn’t Fat Either. I quite enjoyed the previous two… I thought they were light, funny, and entertaining. Book 3… not so much. I think maybe Cabot just wanted to wrap up her characters from the previous two books, because this one suffered from a severe case of “nothing happens”. These are supposed to be pure escapist chick lit mysteries… and while the previous two books have a ridiculous mystery and silly action while the heroine keeps trying to solve a crime when she knows nothing about police work, this one had, well… uh… I remember she had a protein shake at one point and thought it was gross… that was exciting… or not.

I read it all the way through in one sitting (because I was forcing myself to relax, hah), but I think I could have done without this one. My verdict is: read the first two, then stop and don’t bother with this one. It’s not necessary, and it’ll spoil the smile on your face from the previous two.

Rating: 1.5 coffee out of 5

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Book Review: ‘Belle’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

15) Belle: A Retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” - Cameron Dokey (Children’s Fiction/YA)

I have to say, I was surprised by this book. It took me a few pages to really get into it and stop trying to urge the story into familiar territory, but I have to say: Dokey knows her craft. She presented likable characters – even Belle’s sisters – which is certainly not traditional in the original fairy tale. I found it to be rather delightful that her sisters weren’t evil or completely self-absorbed (in a manner of speaking… the characters actually grow throughout the course of the narrative, and for the better!), and the family actually acted like… well, a family.

As for the traditional core of the Beast and Belle’s obligation, Dokey puts a lovely little spin on things that keep the story familiar enough to the reader, while also making it a little more believable for a modern-day audience. I’ll admit: the ‘revelation’ scene between Belle and the Beast actually caused me to tear up, it was so incredibly well-written. Maybe it’s just me, but I found the delivery particularly powerful.

It’s a small book and a quick read… but well worth it.

Rating: 4 coffees out of 5

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