Tag Archives: fairy tales

Book Review: The Sacred Scarred

12 Apr

“Beauty can indeed come from ashes.” Calysta Daniels met Brendan Keefe at a time when she was embracing the true meaning of beauty and he was becoming the embodiment of a beast. Several years later, their paths crossed once again, and she agreed to a strange request to save her father from imprisonment: to live under the beast’s roof for four years. It didn’t take long for him to realize that there was something about her that a part of him hated – something sacred threatening to expose all his scars. Scarred as they both were, she was holding on to a secret that kept her sacred, while he was holding on to a past that kept him scarred. Thus, the battle of wills raged within the beauty and the beast over what price had to be paid to make a person truly beautiful.

 

 

 

Joanna Alonzo is a walking paradox. She is a beautiful, albeit messy, mixture of thought and emotion, expressed in the form of hopefully readable – and relatable – stories. She is a kingdom kid, who looks forward to being a writer and storyteller even when she reaches heaven. She is passionate about the unreached, about those who have yet to know the Love she found in the arms of the Almighty. She is intrigued by the world and its people, who day by day, continue to convince her that God is the greatest Storyteller of all.

 

My Impressions:

With all the buzz surrounding the release of Disney’s newest imagining of The Beauty And The Beast (my favorite childhood fairy tale) comes the advent of various retellings of the story in novel form. Joanna Alonzo, author of The Sacred Scarred, has written a contemporary version with a Christian twist. She takes very messy lives and weaves them into a modern-day fairy tale with the power of God at the center. The result is an edgy YA novel.

Both Calysta and Brendan are the products of very dysfunctional families. Yet the paths they find themselves on are very different. One chooses hope in God; the other the pursuit of perfection. Their self-inflicted scars mar their lives, but God’s healing is there for them if they will just accept it.

The Sacred Scarred, with its characters and situations, definitely has a YA vibe to it. Readers in the targeted audience (older high school to young adult) will identify with the struggles the characters face. The dysfunction of the families was at times difficult to read (there is a lot of abandonment by important women in the main characters’ lives). The book takes a while to come to the familiar Beauty/Beast storyline as it sets the stage for the action. I felt the book dragged at times, and I became impatient for the real story to begin. The real story, to me, is the transformation of Brendan and his beastly attitudes and expectations. There are magical elements for those who love that about fairy tales. The theme of God’s love is very strong and prominent throughout the book. And the happily-ever-after is achieved for most involved.

While The Sacred Scarred wasn’t really a hit for me, it is an interesting spin on the Beauty/Beast story.

Audience: older teens to young adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

Book Review: The Beautiful Pretender

20 May

UnknownAfter inheriting his title from his brother, the margrave has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse — far deadlier — consequences.

 

MDickerson-339Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.

Find out more about Melanie at http://www.melaniedickerson.com.

 

My Impressions:

Melanie Dickerson has made a name for herself crafting fairytale retellings that capture the flavor of the original with a definite inspirational message included. In her latest novel, The Beautiful Pretender, Melanie creates her own vision of the classic The Princess And The Pea with a nod to Beauty And The Beast. What emerges is a story where nobility of character trimuphs over deceit, deception and vanity. A great book for YA readers, The Beautiful Pretender will appeal to anyone who loves fairytale endings.

Avelina, a lowly lady’s maid, finds herself in Thornbeck Castle disguised as Lady Dorothea of Plimmwald. Dorothea’s father is seeking to gain Thornbeck’s protection despite his wayward daughter’s actions. Plunged into an unfamiliar world of courtly manners, Avelina needs to pull off the deception or her family and country will be in danger. Lord Thornbeck is drawn to the refreshingly unique Lady Dorothea as he searches for the right bride. But more treachery than Avelina’s is at foot in the castle!

I loved the medieval setting of The Beautiful Pretender. Melanie does a wonderful job of making the 14th century Holy Roman Empire real to a modern reader through her detailed descriptions of place, fashion, and customs. Characters are appealing as well, especially the plucky Avelina. Lowly born and ill-suited to her role as a pretend noblewoman, Avelina’s views on love, marriage and the treatment of the poor are in stark contrast to the acceptable viewpoints of the day. Ironically, her seeming lack of guile is what draws Lord Thornbeck. Living a life of truthfulness while deceiving everyone is an interesting plot line that is sure to create a lot of good discussion for book clubs. Lord Thornbeck is the perfect hero — brooding, willful, handsome, and, at heart, a true nobleman. Twists and turns keep the pages turning as well. With all this, The Beautiful Pretender is a great choice for a book club, especially one geared towards high schoolers.

While The Beautiful Pretender is book 2 of a series, it is easily read as a standalone. However, I’ll be sure to read book 1, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest to find out all that I missed.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

Great for Book Clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse of a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Giveaway!

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Join Melanie in celebrating the release of The Beautiful Pretender by entering to win her Once Upon a Kindle giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

A copy of The Beautiful Pretender
A Kindle Fire tablet
A $25 Amazon gift card
The choice between a Funko POP Disney Beauty or Beast doll

Enter today by clicking the HERE. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 7th. The winner will be announced June 8th on Melanie’s blog.

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Movie Review + Giveaway: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

5 Feb

Digital Download ArtI had the very great privilege of receiving a copy of the newly released Blu-Ray and HD DVD edition of Disney’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. A favorite of my children when they were young, watching this classic that started it all brought back great memories. The music, animation, fairy tale story, cute woodland characters and of course Disney’s first princess and the adorable Seven Dwarfs all combine to create a wonderful viewing experience. It’s a story of good and evil where good triumphs. Also included are extras like a view into the original animation process and Walt Disney in his own words. So grab your kids and grandkids, make some popcorn and settle in for Disney magic!

To purchase the DVD, click HERE.

(Thanks to Allied Faith And Family for a copy of this movie. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Giveaway!

Allied Faith And Family has made a digital download of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs available to one of my readers. Tell me which Disney princess is your favorite and you will be entered to win! This giveaway runs through February 12, 2016

Book Review: The Golden Braid

3 Dec

Golden-BraidThe one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower…

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.

Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again—this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.

The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight—Sir Gerek—Rapunzel, in turn, rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to him than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?

As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery are about to be revealed after seventeen years. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?

MDickerson-339Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.

 

My Impressions:

I loved fairy tales as a child. I can remember the kids in the neighborhood acting out the stories that our parents read to us at bedtime. Nowadays (don’t I sound old!) children don’t know the old classics except through animated movies. That’s why think Melanie Dickerson’s retelling of old favorites is such a great idea — introduce a young adult audience to the fairy tale experience with a spiritual foundation. The Golden Braid brings to life the story of Rapunzel, she of the very long hair. Yet in this story more than just the damsel in distress needs saving. A fresh twist on a classic gets this book a recommended rating from me.

Rapunzel has moved from village to village with her adopted mother, never staying long in any one place. They are always viewed as outsiders, but Rapunzel has never questioned Mother’s actions until now. The rules are tightening on Rapunzel, and she dreams of a freedom she has never known. After meeting a handsome, yet irritating, knight, Rapunzel dares to live her life unfettered by restrictions.

Rapunzel is an interesting character: a bit naive, completely innocent to the dangers of the world, yet hungry for knowledge. Her desire to read the Holy Writ opens up new ideas for her, especially the nature of God as a loving Father, something she has never known. As she learns God’s truth, she yearns for the secrets in her own life to be exposed. The handsome and tough Sir Gerek is also a complex character who learns that man’s plans are not always the way God wants things to go. Both of these characters grow in their understanding and faith as the story progresses and provide valuable insights. In fact, I think The Golden Braid would make a great choice for a high school-aged book club. Dickerson creates a richly detailed medieval world full of superstitions and old wives tales that perfectly fits the fairy tale setting. Many characters from previous books make appearances too  — a real plus for her fans.

All in all, The Golden Braid is a great read and would make a fabulous Christmas gift for the YA girl in your life!

Recommended.

Audience: high school ages and up.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(Thanks to LitFuse and Thomas Nelson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

Book review: Cursed

7 Sep

51xkZOIVNHL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_Two kingdoms. One curse. The Enchanted Rose trilogy weaves the tales of Beauty and the Beast & Sleeping Beauty into a single, seamless story. Witty and romantic, it still addresses the darker elements found in the original tales—abandonment, captivity, and true evil—resulting in a fresh take that will appeal to adults and youngsters alike. Full of well-developed characters and delightful world-building, these books are a rare treat for anyone who has ever loved fairy tales.

 

 

 

Rachel-on-Zipline-500px-high2aEver since she could hold a pen, R.M. ArceJaeger has been writing stories. Though her talents range from fantasy epics to campfire horror stories, she particularly adores twisting classic tales in directions that no one has ever thought of before. Her novel, Robin: Lady of Legend, is a remarkable reinvention of the mythos of Robin Hood that takes the classic tale in an entirely fresh direction.

 

My Impressions:

If you love fairy tales retold in interesting and creative ways, then Cursed, book 1 in the Enchanted Rose Trilogy is definitley worth checking out. R. M. ArceJaeger has taken not one, but two fairy tale classics and merged and twisted them into an entertaining story. Especially suited for YA readers, Cursed is just the opening act of a sometimes dark adventure.

Two kingdoms come together to celebrate the birth of a princess and heir. But as the fairies gather to bestow their gifts, another manipulates the ceremony for her own motives. Soon families that were rejoicing over new beginnings and alliances, are mourning broken dreams and promises. Three children, Princess Aurea, Prince Ari and fairy child Liliath, are bound together in a struggle to break free.

Fans of Sleeping Beauty and Beauty And The Beast will recognize many familiar elements in Cursed. But ArceJaeger adds her own touch with a back story of The Arrival — the advent of fairies into the land.  The fairies, ghastlies, and mythical creatures escape the destruction of their island, but find the welcome among humans has a few conditions. Magic has lost some of its potency, but there is still enough to cause blessings and curses. The fairy lore ArceJaeger creates is shared at the beginning of each chapter by experts on the subject, many with tongue-in-cheek names and credentials. She interjects humor into what sometimes is a very dark tale. There is definitely evil in this fantasy world and not just among the ghastlies. Pride, greed, and jealousy are rampant among the Kings who rule in the lands.  And Cursed is just the beginning of the story. Part one of the trilogy focuses on Crown Prince Ari of Gurion who is caught up in the revenge of a ghastly. Transformed into a beast after trying to save the life of baby Princess Aurea, he must learn to live a life of exile at a very young age. A great foundation is laid, but there is much more to come. Thankfully all three books in the trilogy are available (and are FREE for those with Kindle Unlimited).

Great for those who love fairy tales and fantasy worlds, Cursed is a recommended read.

Recommended.

Audience: middle school to adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Book Review: The Fairest Beauty

5 Mar

724391A daring rescue. A difficult choice. Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie’s one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe? Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl’s inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what. When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them — they must also protect their hearts.

UnknownMelanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice and The Merchant’s Daughter, both Christy Award finalists, winner of The National Reader’s Choice Award for 2010’s Best First Book, and winner of the 2012 Carol Award in Young Adult fiction. She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee, and English to adults in Germany and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.

My Impressions:

What girl doesn’t like the thought of her Prince Charming riding in to rescue her? Having grown up reading fairy tales, I knew I had to read Melanie Dickerson’s retelling of Snow White — The Fairest Beauty. I have to say I like her version better than my old storybook or Disney’s movie. Here is a tale in which the hero and the damsel in distress save each other. This book would be perfect for a youth girl’s discussion group.

Sophie is a scullery maid in Duchess Ermengard’s castle. Long the recipient of the Duchess’ hatred, Sophie’s kindness and beauty stir up Ermengard’s wrath. Meanwhile in another Duchy, Gabehart, the second son of the Duke, learns of Sophie’s plight and her true identity — the daughter of the dead Duke and step-daughter of Duchess Ermengard. Determined to make a name for himself and prove his worth to his parents and older brother, Gabe sets out to rescue Sophie. But there are lots of obstacles to his quest — his own missteps, along with Sophie’s disbelief and of course the evil schemes of the Duchess. But this is a fairy tale, so there is sure to be a happily ever after.

I mentioned that The Fairest Beauty would make an excellent choice for a discussion group. There are lots of things to discuss — what is true beauty, where do we find our true worth, how to block out the voice of the world, and how does God see us. I loved the transformation of the seven dwarfs into seven men who were shunned by the world, but found community with each other. I also liked the contrast of evil hearts and evil schemes with hearts and plans dedicated to God. And as a bonus, Sophie is much more assertive and attentive than Snow White — she doesn’t just sit back and let the Duchess have her way or let Gabe do all the heavy lifting. And for those who like romance, The Fairest Beauty has an abundance — another discussion point on the merits of keeping a sensible distance!

All in all, The Fairest Beauty is a book I highly recommend.

Highly Recommended.

Great for a youth girls book club. 

(Thanks to DJC Communications for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase The Fairest Beauty, click on the image below.