Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta’s Academy, #1)

Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta's Academy, #1)

First Lines: Just outside Aspen, Colorado, nestled between the sentimental mountains and an inkblot lake, lies St. Rosetta’s International Academy. Its sweeping spires, creeping ivy, and timeworn brick turrets often lead visitors to remark that it looks like a venerable castle from an old European city.

Ok, you guys know me. When I see a book that’s billed as any sort of Beauty and the Beast retelling, I’m there. This was obviously no exception.

Nothing is more important than family to Princess Jaya Rao. So when her little sister becomes embroiled in a scandal fanned to flame by the Emerson family (a family they’ve been feuding with for over a century), Jaya will stop at nothing to have her revenge. Jaya decides to attend St. Rosetta’s to get her and her sister away from the scandal–the school that also hosts Grey Emerson. Now Jaya can put her plan into motion: make Grey fall in love with her and then smash his heart to pieces. But isn’t it just so annoying when Grey turns out to have a brooding demeanor and stunning blue eyes that Jaya can’t ignore? Grey hasn’t trusted anyone years, not since he discovered he was cursed and doomed once he turned 18. He’s lived an isolated existence–until Jaya crashes her way through it. But he can’t shake the feeling that things with her aren’t all they appear…

For most of the story, I genuinely liked it. Jaya’s driving motivation is protecting her family and their reputation. When her sister is threatened, she takes it very seriously and will do whatever is necessary to not only protect Isha but also get her revenge. While that sometimes lead her to the Dark Side, I think that made her an interesting character. She blurs the line between justice and revenge often, which felt realistic. When we become so obsessed with achieving a goal, sometimes we really want to cross that line to get what we want. And Grey is convinced he’s a monster because that’s what his father has told him since he was young. He’s antisocial and terse, but he’s genuine and intelligent when you get to know him (if he lets you in that far). He’s wary of everyone, exasperated by all, and I think he’s my soul twin.

On its own merit, I would say this story is Beauty and the Beast meets Mean Girls. The elite boarding school is just as pretentious as you’re expecting it to be. It was a lot more fun for me in the beginning as the characters were all getting to know each other, but I started to struggle more later in the story when the claws came out. I just don’t have those kind of people in my life (for a reason) and all the veiled threats and backstabbing was a little exhausting. It also made many characters borderline impossible to like. However, I think that was kind of the point? I mean, even when I didn’t like them, I still thought they were fairly well-written characters whose motivations and personality I could see. I didn’t like them–but I understood them.

Even though Jaya is obviously Indian (she’s an Indian princess, after all), I thought there was remarkably little that was culturally different about her and I don’t know why that was the case. I don’t know if the motivation there was to show that she’s just a normal person like all these other rich kids, just with a darker skin tone, or if it was a publisher’s decision to make the book more marketable. I was actually a teeny bit disappointed about that.

Probably my biggest beef, though, is the ending. Everything built up to that moment and then…it was just pretty anticlimactic. I couldn’t believe how suddenly the entire tone of the story changed. Everything happened suddenly and almost irrationally. Character behavior changes so much. It was weird. I think the first-draft ending maybe wasn’t working and then someone was like, “Why don’t we just make it easy and do this?” and that became the ending.

If you’re looking for a faithful Beauty and the Beast retelling, this isn’t it. But it’s not a bad read. It does put an interesting twist in the tale as old as time. Just be warned that there are some issues with the story.

Bellamy and the Brute (Bellamy and the Brute, #1)

Amazon.com: Bellamy and the Brute (9781634222310): Alicia Michaels ...First Lines: “Who can tell me which event in United States history was referred to by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as ‘a date that will live in infamy’?”  You could have heard a pin drop.  Apparently, no one in my history class knew the answer to Ms. Neal’s question.

Alright, y’all know me.  If something even hints at Beauty and the Beast, I’m all over it.  I got this on my Kindle a long time ago, probably for free or at least super cheap.  Anyway, when I was between books, this started to look reeeeaaaallly appealing.

Bellamy McGuire desperately needs a summer job…but babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family may not be the best choice.  Everyone in town knows about the sudden disappearance of Tate Baldwin, the family’s oldest son.  He was a football star and the town’s golden boy before he became a hermit at sixteen.  No one’s heard from him in two years and no one knows why he suddenly retreated.  Rumors say he contracted a disease that disfigured him and turned him into a real-life monster.  Reluctantly, Bellamy accepts the job out of need, and she promises she will never ever go up to the third floor of the mansion.  But soon, Bellamy begins to realize Tate’s disappearance isn’t the only mystery at the Baldwin mansion.  Cold drafts, electricity that cuts out suddenly, and rose petals on the stairs that only she can see…she begins to wonder what’s going on.  And if she’s in way over her head.

Honestly, I don’t really know what I think of it.

Let me start with what I liked. First of all, the similarities between the original fairy tale and this are definitely there, but this is still its own story. Obviously, Bellamy is Belle and Tate is the Brute/Beast. There’s a Gaston character and a lot of the plot at least occasionally links up with the Disney original if not the original-original story. I also liked how inclusive this story was. There are characters of color and characters with disabilities. I really liked that, actually. I liked that Bellamy, our lead, was one of those characters of color.  You very rarely ever see a Belle character who isn’t white.

What I struggled with a little is that the story is kind of all over the place. It’s a fairy tale retelling, but it’s also this paranormal-mystery-thriller-romance. Like, it was everything and I felt like sometimes some of it started falling through the cracks. Yeah, eventually it came together, but along the way I was like, “Where did this go?”  Basically speaking, it has a major tone problem.  Is it a teen romance?  Is it a mystery?  Is it a thriller?  Being all of these things turned it into the monster it accused Tate of being.

Also, there were some little details that kept changing that drove me crazy. Like one time the characters were like, “Oh, that town’s close!” and then you find out it’s 5 hours away?? Look, I’m from the Midwest where we drive everywhere and a 5 hour drive can literally take me 2 states away. That’s not “close”. I think it was more of an editing mistake than anything because later they said this town was 6 hours away and then it was back to 5. It was weird. But it bugged me.  And there were other little moments like this that just didn’t make sense either.

I think what also sort of bugged me was the fact that the story wasn’t terribly realistic. And I don’t mean the paranormal or even the retelling part. I’ll buy into that. It was the mystery/thriller stuff that didn’t work for me sometimes. Like they’re trying to solve a mystery and they’re getting all this information that they should not be able to get and it’s no big deal…it seemed weird.

Can I say that I didn’t enjoy it? No. I really did like the characters, everyone from our leads to Bellamy’s dad and the kids and Ezra. The characters, in many ways, drove the story for me. And the beginning maybe 25% of the story, what was arguably the most like the fairy tale, was awesome. I loved seeing everything unfold. It was just the stuff from then on that started losing me a little.

It was an interesting read to say the least and I’m glad I read it, but it wasn’t one of my favorites.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely, #1)

Image result for a curse so dark and lonelyFirst Lines: There is blood under my fingernails.  I wonder how many of my people I’ve killed this time.

I’m pretty sure even a casual visitor of my blog here can figure out in about .4 seconds that Beauty and the Beast is probably my favorite story.  And you would be absolutely correct.  So when I heard about another retelling of it, well, sign me up.

Prince Rhen used to have all of Emberfall in the palm of his hand.  But after making a horrible mistake, a powerful enchantress curses him to repeat the autumn of his 18th year over and over again.  To break the curse, he just needs a girl to fall in love with him.  Should be easy…until he learns that he turns into a vicious beast at the end of every autumn.  As the beast, he’s destroyed his castle, his family, and any hope he ever had of breaking the curse.  Harper’s life has been anything but charmed.  Her father skipped out on them, her mother is dying of cancer, and Harper’s brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy.  Harper has learned to survive in any way she can.  So when she tries to save someone on the streets of Washington, D.C. and gets sucked into Rhen’s world, Harper knows survival is all she can do–and then get back home.  She doesn’t understand this new world she’s thrown into, but the more she gets to know Rhen, the more she sees what’s at stake.  And when Rhen sees Harper isn’t like the other girls, he begins to hope again.  But with powerful forces still working against Rhen, it’s going to take more than breaking the curse to save Emberfall.

Phew.  That was long.  On to the review!

This was just amazing. From start to finish, this book had my attention. I’m a teacher and I was literally counting down the class periods until I was alone and could pull this book out of my bag to read even a few more chapters. It was so engrossing.

The plot was really interesting.  It doesn’t play out how most Beauty and the Beast retellings do, which was fine because I can appreciate an author putting their own spin on things.  It was more like the fairy tale gave it the bare bones and Kemmerer put her own flair on it from there.  I’m totally good with that.  It made the story unpredictable and charming.  It was funny, action-packed, and suspenseful.  And the romance?  A tingly slow burn.  That was fun.

The characters were very unexpected. They start off in a way where you think you have them pegged (Rhen is arrogant, Harper is pushy, etc.), but they don’t stay that way. As they learn about each other, we very gradually see them not quite fitting the molds we thought they would. It was so subtle that I almost didn’t even notice it, and I loved that.

I was also drawn to this book because I was interested in seeing how Harper’s cerebral palsy played out, as that was an angle I hadn’t really seen before in one of these stories. (As was Rhen not always being the monster, but that’s a different point.) This was really the only part I was divided about. On one hand, I guess I’m more acclimated to cerebral palsy being more extreme than Harper’s was. Hers really only affected her leg. On the other hand, it never really defined Harper–she knew what her limitations were, but she wasn’t going to let anyone else limit her. And that was a really cool attitude to see.

The story was gorgeous and I loved it. I read this as a library book, but I know that someday soon I’ll be adding it to my personal library.  WHICH IS NOW AN ACTUAL ROOM IN MY HOUSE.  (I never get tired of saying that.)

Compare This! Beauty and the Beast (2017) vs. La Belle et La Bête (2014)

Hey guys!  So I was at the library the other day and I saw this movie on the shelf called Beauty and the Beast, but it was a version I’d never seen before.  When I looked at it closer, I realized it was a French movie and I thought to myself, “Hmm.  The fairy tale is originally French.  I wonder how it compares with our English/Disney versions.”

Look, I’m one of those literature/language/English nerds who loves seeing how stories evolve with each retelling.  Because every storyteller/generation is going to put their own spin on things.  And I absolutely adore seeing what those changes are.  This is just one of the first times I’m able to compare a comparable story not across the ages, but across the sea.

So this is my Compare This! Cultural edition.  I’m going to do this a little differently than usual because I’m just really going to assume that you’re familiar with either the 1991 and/or 2017 Disney versions of the same name.  So let’s go!

Beauty and the Beast vs. La Belle et La BêteImage result for beauty and the beast Image result for beauty and the beast french

Similarities:

  • At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, both heroines are named Belle.  (Hey, it’s not always that way!)  And both men are, well, beasts.
  • Both tales involve fantastical creatures/a healthy dose of magic beyond turning a man into a beast.
  • Both follow the general well-known story arc: Girl attempts to save her father, sacrifices herself to the Beast, girl and beast fall in love.
  • Belle’s personality is generally the same.  She’s well educated, independent, and stubborn.  Oh, and when her merchant father goes out of town, the only thing she requests is a rose.
  • Both stories created characters to fit their needs.  In Beauty, Gaston and LeFou are Disney creations to give Belle another suitor/villain.  In La Belle, the villain is named Perducas.  He’s a thief and has unquenchable greed, along with a suspicious, superstitious streak.

Differences:

  • La Belle is actually more in line with the original tale, even though there are still many many differences.  In La Belle, Belle is the youngest of six (two sisters, three brothers).  Her mother died while giving birth to her and, in some ways, her family holds that against her.  Also in line with the original tale, Belle’s father was a wealthy merchant who lost all of his money suddenly when his ships sank.
  • The Beasts are actually quite different in personalities.  In Beauty, the Beast becomes a beast because he’s vain and selfish.  In La Belle, it’s because he’s greedy and destroys an old magic for his own gain.  So whereas the Beast in Beauty comes to love Belle when he realizes he cares for someone more than himself, in La Belle, it happens when he covets Belle for himself, though he’s learned a bit from his last mistake.
  • The villain’s sidekick is a very different role in both.  We’re pretty familiar with Gaston and LeFou here, but Perducas’s sidekick is a fortuneteller named Astrid, who reads Tarot cards for him.  (Perducas trusts nothing if the cards don’t tell him it first.)  In a way, Astrid loves Perducas, even if he can’t truly love her back.  So it’s a different dynamic than Gaston and LeFou.
  • La Belle is definitely not a musical.  Unfortunately.
  • La Belle, for being French, was incredibly unromantic.  I mean, there was a dance scene but it was not at all like the sweeping dress, “tale as old as time” dance we’re used to.  It just happened out of the blue.  And their entire love story seemed to come out of nowhere.

Thoughts

I appreciated being able to see another version.  And in the beginning, I was totally into it.  I loved giving Belle siblings.  I loved that that made her more fierce because sacrificing herself to the Beast took on more meaning when it meant protecting her siblings as well.  It has some beautiful shots of the landscape, intricate designs, and nuanced characterization to make the siblings all feel different.

But once Belle got to the castle, it got weird.  The Beast was incredibly angry all the time and refused to let Belle look at him.  He would hover behind her shoulder and once he watched her sleep, which ranked really high on my Creepy! meter.  With his claws (and a scene where he kills and eats a pig raw), he’s actually incredibly dangerous as well.  He also came off to me as almost abusive at times in the ways he would treat Belle.  Not that he ever hit her or anything, but more like emotional abuse.  I’m not really sure what it was.  It just unsettled me watching it.

Which made the “I love you’s” really awkward because I didn’t see that coming at all from their previous interactions.

I did like the twist about how the Beast became a Beast, with how his greed blew up in his face.  And the ending had some really awesome action sequences.  But the context surrounding them was hard to understand if I was missing things through dubbing (I watched it in English) or if it was a cultural thing.

So while it was fun once, I think I’m good sticking to Disney.

Why Beauty and the Beast Endures: An Essay

I was recently in a conversation with someone and, while I was discussing my latest watched movie (Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson), he admitted that he had never seen it.  Any version of it.

As I was telling him about the absolutely awesomeness involved in this roughly 300 year old fairy tale, I realized there was a lot about it that makes it special.

Image result for gabrielle suzanne de villeneuveLet’s start with talking about fairy tales.  Whether you’re reading the Grimm brothers or Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villenueve (the original author of Beauty and the Beast in 1740), the point of a fairy tale is to do two things: entertain an audience and teach some kind of lesson.  What lesson depends on the story.

In the original Beauty and the Beast, that lesson really revolved around Beauty’s virtuous qualities as a model to other young women about how to act.  She was the most beautiful of her sisters (yes, she had 2 sisters), and her father was a poor merchant.  Beauty was kind, with a warm heart for anyone in need.  She was selfless, when her sisters were selfish.  This is why she stays with the Beast.  This is why she ultimately sees past his looks to the person he is underneath.

And while that is certainly admirable, other qualities of Beauty are frowned upon in today’s society.  She definitely fit the 18th century model of a woman: quiet, submissive, meek.

So why didn’t this story disappear, as so many others do when society changes?

Because it adapted.

Here’s what’s truly fascinating about fairy tales: every successive generation puts their own twist on the stories.  It all depends on who is writing the story and what that generation values or fears.  Even the Grimm brothers changed their fairy tales as their purpose changed.  Originally, they were merely collecting old German folk tales, but when they realized children were fascinated by them, they rewrote many of them to make them less disturbing.

With the advent of television and film, those changes have been happening ever faster.  A simple IMDB search reveals 52 titles for Beauty and the Beast–not counting names of episodes of shows.  Some of these are silent films from 1912-1913, some are TV series, and some are feature films.

I will not pretend that I’ve seen all or even most of them.  What I can say is that in some of them, it’s very obvious what changes they decided to make.

Image result for beauty and the beast 1987Personally, I think Beauty and the Beast‘s real rebirth began in 1987 with the very cheesy TV series of the same name.  It updated and urbanized the story, making the Beast a lion-like man named Vincent who lives in the tunnels below New York City and Belle is Catherine, an assistant DA.  After rescuing Catherine one night, she becomes drawn to Vincent and his underground society.  (In many respects, this show is the precursor to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  They’re oddly similar, in my opinion.)

But the point is that this show brought the story back to the forefront in a way that people could relate to.  It talked about the violence of big cities, the pain of being “different” when society values uniformity, the knowledge you can find in books.  (Interestingly, Vincent is the avid reader in this show.)

Image result for belleOf course, the revolution for this story belongs firmly in the hands of Disney.  Their 1991 masterpiece made it nothing short of mainstream.  With inanimate objects suddenly coming to life and catchy songs, it became a household name and ushered in the Golden Age of Disney in the 90s.  (I don’t know if you know this or not, but Disney as a company was struggling badly before the success of The Little Mermaid in the late 80s.  Beauty and the Beast proved it wasn’t a fluke, that Disney was actually on to something again.)

The success of the Disney movie brought with it at least one sequel, dozens of knock-offs, a Broadway show, video games, action figures and dolls, and the 2017 remake.

Now, this is where it really gets fascinating, since both the 1991 and the 2017 movies are both created by the Disney company.  (It’s a bit like the same author rewriting a story after 26 years.)

Having been born in 1991, let me just say that it doesn’t feel like it was all that long ago.  It certainly doesn’t seem like it should belong to a different generation.

But it does.

Belle always felt like the most unique princess to me.  She was a reader, she was different, she had heart.  She was able to see someone’s worth beyond their physical appearance.  Everyone sort of treated her badly but she never let it bother her too much.  But there were also elements I didn’t quite care for.  She made little to no effort to save herself and she was a bit whiny without doing anything about it.  As for the movie itself, I had problems with how quickly the plot moved and how stupid they made Maurice, to show how easily he could be taken advantage of.

The 2017 remake is, without question, of my generation.  In only 26 years, you can easily see the changes, what society now values.

Image result for belleBelle has more agency in her own life.  She is more clearly ostracized because she’s breaking gender norms–inventing a washing machine so she doesn’t have to do the work herself, being ok with the idea of being a spinster rather than marrying Gaston, being an educated woman when few others are.  This obviousness showed the value Belle and Maurice placed on education and on being yourself.  These are things are society has placed a large emphasis on right now–particularly on being yourself.

On the flip side, it also clearly shows our fears as a society.  The Beast goes from being a handsome prince who had it all to a marred nobody that everyone except his staff forgot existed.  Gaston is egotistical, intolerant, and yet so much more charming than any other character.  He can literally convince the villagers to commit murder in 10 seconds with a few well-placed words.  Personally, this Gaston is leaps and bounds darker than the originally Disney villain.

And this goes to show our fears: in an age of social media, we fear losing our beauty and being forgotten.  But we also need to be cautious of the people who say pretty things but do ugly deeds.

But there are also elements completely new in this version that show how the story is evolving.  There is the inclusion of gay characters, for one (even though those moments are incredibly small and inconsequential to the story as a whole).  Still, I don’t think there’s ever been a mass marketed version of this story with gay characters.

Image result for beauty and the beastThe other change is the evolution of Le Fou.  His introduction to the Beauty and the Beast canon comes with the 1991 film.  (Gaston also didn’t exist before that, though some versions do give the Beast a rival for Belle’s affection.)  Le Fou, in French, translates to “the fool,” a role he has always played.  Subsequent stories usually have someone fill his role as well, the comic relief and sidekick to the villain.  But in this version, he becomes less of a fool than he ever has previously.  He is friends with Gaston because they share a past.  But as he starts to see Gaston’s true nature, he starts to question who is actually the monster–Gaston or the Beast.

It is this transformation that moves me the most, out of everything else.  Of course I’m delighted that Belle is more of a feminist.  Of course I adore that the story has found a way to answer questions we were left with in the 1991 film (like where’s Belle’s mother?).  But seeing Le Fou think critically and change is the moment it all comes full circle.  This character, who was making fun of Belle for being well-educated in the beginning, is now becoming educated himself.

The power of a story, what gives it enduring qualities, is how well it relates to its audience. While it’s still entertaining, a lot of us would have a hard time seeing the original tale as much more than a charming but outdated story.  I’ve seen a number of people giving that same opinion to the 1991 film.

This story endures because of its core.  At its roots, it is a story of at least one person (traditionally the Beast, now Belle as well) who does not fit in to society.  They are “other,” they are a pariah.  It is the story of acceptance, even acceptance by one single person.  It is a story of compassion for someone who may not look like you do.

This is why this story lasts.  Because no matter how many hundreds of years pass, there will always be misfits.  There will always be people who are different.  And there will always be a need for compassion.

Best!

~Holly

Top Ten Retold Fairy Tales

Hey guys!  So I was recently thinking about retellings of Greek myths (thanks Hermione and Clara!) and, while I was stumped about picking 10 retold Greek myths, I had no problem coming up beautiful retellings of fairy tales.  So I thought this would be interesting.

Full disclosure: I’m completely biased to Beauty and the Beast, if you couldn’t guess that already.  It’s so much my favorite fairy tale that I named a blog after it, so….

Top Ten Retold Fairy Tales

1. Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Image result for hunted meagan spoonerThis is the first of my Beauty and the Beast books.  It’s got kind of a Hunger Games twist on the story, though.  Let me explain.  When Yeva’s father loses everything and moves the family to the woods, Yeva’s relieved.  She loves the wild, loves not making small-talk, and especially loves not being forced to marry against her will.  But her father’s not well and when he disappears into the woods, Yeva sets her sights on the creature her father was obsessed with before his disappearance.  She follows the beast back to his territory and the ruined castle.  But who’s going to survive–Yeva or the Beast?  It’s a darker take on this tale than you normally see, and the story relies heavily on Yeva’s cleverness.  When I read it, I compared it to A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.  The Beast isn’t as human as he usually seems in other stories and there’s a heightened sense of danger in this book.  While it’s not my favorite Beauty and the Beast story (my favorite is later in this list!), it’s still really interesting and worth the read.

2. The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

Image result for the great huntBased on the Brothers Grimm tale “The Singing Bone”, this is a story I know I won’t soon forget.  I read this as an ARC (because I’m lucky like that) and I fell in love.  A strange beast is terrorizing Lochlanach.  Princess Aerity becomes a prize: whoever can kill the beast gets Aerity’s hand in marriage.  Hunters comes from all over, but it’s Paxton Seabolt who catches her eye.  Paxton doesn’t want to marry Aerity–he wants to kill the beast and protect what’s left of his family.  But this beast isn’t going down without a fight and the kingdom may be destroyed before it does.  What I loved is that the plot seems deceptively simple, but there’s so much going on behind the scenes.  But that simplicity allows us to learn more about the characters because we’re not bogged down by an over-complicated plot.  The action was great, the characters were great, and the world building was awesome.  Read this.

3. Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

Image result for princess of thornsStacey Jay is phenomenal when it comes to fairy tales, you guys.  So this isn’t exactly a retelling as it is what happens to Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, but I’m counting it.  Aurora is a fairy blessed with many powers, but cursed to destroy the free will of any man who kisses her.  So she disguises herself as a boy and joins the army of Prince Niklaas (as one obviously does when one is cursed).  It turns out Niklaas is cursed too.  Together, they try to free Aurora’s brother and unseat the ogre queen who stole throne from Aurora’s family.  It sounds super weird, I know, but it’s addicting.  It’s imaginative and funny and exciting and so much else.  I loved it.

4. Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Image result for of beast and beautyY’all do not understand the absolute heartfelt love I have for this book.  Yes, it’s the second Beauty and the Beast retelling here, but it’s perfection.  And sci-fi, which is something you rarely ever see.  In the domed city of Yuan, blind princess Isra is raised to be a human sacrifice.  Outside of the city is Gem, a mutant beast who fights for his people, the Monstrous, to save them from starvation.  Isra desperately wants to help those around her who have Monstrous traits, but isn’t sure how.  So she enlists the help of captive Gem, who was caught stealing an enchanted rose.  But things aren’t as either one of them believes.  What’s so beautiful about this story is how it plays against what you know of the original story and creates a story that’s even bigger than that behind it.  Also, having a blind character like Isra means we experience her side through sounds and smells and feelings.  It’s amazingly well done.

5. Entwined by Heather Dixon

Image result for entwined heather dixonThere was a time in the early 2010s (oh my God, I feel so old saying that) when the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses was constantly being retold.  This was one such story.  Azalea has everything she could ever want, but then it’s all cruelly ripped away from her.  The Keeper offers her a deal–and from that day on Azalea and her 11 sisters spend their time with the Keeper.  But he’s more dangerous than they anticipate.  What I loved about this story was the way Azalea’s deal was a mystery for her father and everyone else–people came from far and wide to figure out why the princesses were so tired, why their shoes were ruined every night, etc.  And every character felt unique.  It’s a very cute story.

6. Spirited by Nancy Holder

Image result for spirited nancy holderShh, let’s just ignore the fact that this is the 3rd Beauty and the Beast story on this list, though it’s more like BatB meets Pocahontas.  This one, however, combines my favorite story with my favorite era of history: colonial America.  This may sound weird, but stay with me: it’s 1756 and the beginning of the French and Indian War (that’s what we call it in America; everywhere else I believe it’s called the Seven Years’ War).  Isabella is travelling with her father to a fort to stay safe, but along the way she’s kidnapped by Wusamequin, a medicine man who is desperate to avenge the death of his wife and child at the hands of the British.  So he kidnaps Isabella, but he’s charmed by her.  And things aren’t going the way either of them expected.  Admittedly, there are some things that infuriated me about this story (*cough* European treatment of Natives *cough*), but it’s so well told.

7. A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Image result for a kiss in timeEasily the funniest book I have on this list.  A retelling of Sleeping Beauty, this is the story of After.  Talia touched the spindle and brought a curse to her people.  300 years later, Jack escapes his tour group and finds the sleeping Talia.  He decides–oddly–that he needs to kiss her, which wakes her and sets in motion events that Jack wishes he could undo.  But what’s absolutely hysterical is that Talia needs to fit in with Jack’s time…even though there are 300 years between and she doesn’t even know what electricity is.  I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud reading this.

8. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Image result for princess of the midnight ballA retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s The Twelve Dancing Princesses, this book does not disappoint.  Every night, Rose and her sisters are forced to dance for the King Under Stone.  Galen is a soldier recently returned from war.  Together, Rose and Galen try to discover how to break the curse that forces the girls to dance each night.  It’s suspenseful, it has action, and the characters are incredibly well-written.  It’s enchanting.

9. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Image result for book of a thousand daysThis is perhaps one of the deepest philosophical books on this list.  Not that it’s not still cute and gives you the warm fairy tale feels, but it’s more than that.  Based on a little-known Brothers Grimm tale, this is the story of Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress.  Because Lady Saren refuses to marry who she’s been ordered to wed, Dashti and Saren are locked in a tower until Saren is forced to make a choice.  It really is a beautiful story and because it’s not as well-known, you truly don’t know what’s going to happen next.  And that’s rare in more retellings.

10. The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

Image result for the amaranth enchantmentI don’t think this is a retelling, per se, but it very much feels like a fairy tale.  If anything, it’s a twist on Cinderella.  After Lucinda’s parents disappear, she’s sent to work for her evil aunt in a jewelry store.  Then a mysterious stranger enters the story with an even more mysterious jewel and Lucinda’s life changes.  I found the story to be cute, funny, and just uplifting overall.  I’ve had a lot of fun reading and rereading this book.

 

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Is there a book I left off of the list?  Is there a fairy tale retelling that you absolutely love?  Let me know!  Leave a comment and share your thoughts!