Tag Archives: fairy tales

The Fierce Reads YA Author Tour – Seattle, WA

Confession: before tonight, I had never, ever been to Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. It turns out it’s not actually way outside of town. It’s an easy SoundTransit bus trip (less easy because like an idiot I let my Orca card go empty, but that’s my problem). Anyhow, fun atmosphere, great staff, and I got to meet Flannery of The Readventurer, so that was neat. I will be returning there not to just buy more books I don’t need but for future author events.

The Fierce Reads tour is 4-6 debut authors who write YA. Also I’m totally using the following picture because all of the authors look “fierce” and not because I’m a crappy photographer who took photos with an iPad rather than my canon, which I did not want to carry:


From left to right: Lish McBride, author of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer; Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder; Leigh Bardugo, author of Shadow and Bone; Jennifer Bosworth, author of Struck; Anna Banks, author of Of Poseidon; and Emmy Laybourne, author of Monument 14.

The presentation started with a book trailer for every novel and then a few words from the author about the book’s plot and where its inspiration came from. They went right to left, but I’m going to stick with this order and go in reverse. (Direct quotes are in quotations, otherwise I’m paraphrasing and/or summarizing.)

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Review: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

You know novels that do an updated-take of a fairy tale? Sarah Cross’ Kill Me Softly is like an updated take on fairy tales, period. All of them. They aren’t old stories, but old curses that are repeatedly bestowed upon the descendents of fairy-human hybrids.

Mira is about to turn 16. Her strict godmothers have rules about everything, but the one she needs to break is their ban on her visiting her hometown, Beau Rivage, where her parents died in a fire when she was just a baby. So one night she runs away. There, she encounters a world of enchantments, curses, and teenagers like herself with mysterious marks. Vivian, the pale girl with the wicked stepmother and a thing for apples, for example. And Blue Valentine, who tries to chase her out of town before she meets his brother, Felix.

It’s a very different take on fairy tales, where the same stories are relived over and over by different generations, sometimes updated as time passes (for example, sleeping beauty won’t be cursed to prick herself on a spindle since those aren’t really around anymore; more likely it’ll be a safety pin or a knife). The mysteries and the reveal of this world which exists in a resort tourist town and goes largely unnoticed by “outsiders” is well done. It keeps you reading and curious.

The cast is great fun and well-thought out. I especially love Layla, who’s destined to be Beauty from Beauty and the Beast, and will have to reform the partying playboy Rafe after his transformation. (She threatens to stab him, but her friends know she’ll come through for him in the end.)

Then there’s Blue, whose hair and even eyelashes are bright blue, and he wears dark clothes and has piercings. Guess which team I’m on. Go on, guess.

Blue’s curse is heartbreaking even though it’s painfully obvious what it is from the get go. Usually when it takes the protagonist so long to catch up and get with it, I get annoyed, but Mira didn’t drive me bonkers. Sure, her doe-eyed apologist love for Felix got irritating, but it was believable. We’ve all had friends in relationships where they weren’t able to see the truth that was clear to everyone else. And Blue is easily the best anti-hero I’ve read recently. I kind of adore him.

Recommended for: Fans of Aprilynne Pike’s Wings series and other such paranormal romance will dig this. Also it’s very funny–Viv (our Snow White) is hilarious.

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (with an Audiobook preview!)

Ah, the allure of the fairy tale. Cinderella has been told millions of times in thousands of ways, but it’s a story we keep coming back to because it speaks to us. It’s about someone in a shitty situation who manages to stay a good person, rather than turning cynical or bitter, who eventually finds love because she’s a good person. Also magic.

In Marissa Meyer’s novel Cinder there are plenty of elements from the familiar tale. A step-daughter (though she’s a cyborg and works as a mechanic in the vendor’s row), a handsome Prince (Kaito), and an evil Step Mother who is Cinder’s legal guardian and loathes her. There’s a ball, yes. But there is no fairy godmother. Cinder doesn’t need one, either, although there is a helpful doctor.

In the world of New Beijing where our story is set, the Emperor Rikan is sick and the prince brings his android to Cinder’s stall because he’s heard she’s the best. He didn’t expect to find a teenage girl, and she manages to hide the fact that she’s a cyborg, because that’s looked down upon as being “not fully human.” Of course they’re both smitten, though Cinder is reluctant to admit it. Meanwhile, a disease known as letumosis is running rampant and killing people. And the Lunar Queen, an evil creature, is poised to start a war with Earth and she uses her magical glamor to keep her own kingdom in line.

So: we have cyborgs, a plague, and an evil Moon Queen. This is not your mother’s Cinderella, is what I’m saying.

It’s a page-turning adventure with all of the stress of the classic fairy tale: you want to see Cinder succeed and you want things to go well, but she’s got a lot of obstacles to overcome and it’s hard to know how she’ll do it. Though one of the reveals is glaringly obvious almost from the start of the book, it’s handled well, giving Cinder half of the information about halfway in, and more or less winking at the reader as if to say, “You know it. But she does not yet. So hold your horses.” Characters are well developed and it’s impossible not to care about the good ones and loathe the evil ones.

Meyer thanks her community of fellow Sailor Moon fans in the back of the book. I wouldn’t have made the connection (Selene, Moon Kingdom, etc) but it was an awesome revelation to know she was slightly inspired by the series (of which I am a huge fan). That’s not to say she ripped it off, just that if you look hard, you could probably find a few nods and homages to it.

Cinder is also available as an audiobook. Curious about the story? Want to hear the first part? Here’s a free preview of Cinder audiobook, provided by Macmillan Audio:
Cinder Audiobook Preview (MP3)





Recommended: Even if you’ve disliked “modern fairy tales” or “twists on fairy tales” you’ve picked up in the past, this is something altogether different. It uses the original story as a jumping off point and a point of inspiration, but it’s not like Cinderella with Cyborgs, I promise.