TV Review: Beauty and the Beast (1987 TV show)

BeautyAndTheBeast1987_Complete_2014rereleaseI found myself with a hole in my television viewing a while back, when Once Upon a Time and Castle both went on hiatus at the same time. I needed something to fill in for my fairy tale show and my crime mystery show—so I decided to watch Beauty and the Beast. Because it’s a show that manages to hit both themes at once!

The story centers around Catherine (Linda Hamilton) and Vincent (Ron Perlman), the two title characters. In the opening show, Catherine is attacked by muggers and left for dead. Vincent rescues her, carrying her below New York to a secret society living apart from the rest of the world. They grow close, forming an empathic bond—but their friendship is complicated by the fact that Vincent is a…well, “lion-man” is probably the best descriptor. Catherine returns to the world above, inspired to change her life, and leaves her cushy corporate position for a job with the DA, bringing criminals to justice and protecting the victims. She and Vincent still have their bond, but struggle with their inability to live in the same world.

This isn’t a show that I ever loved, but I liked it a lot—at least for the first two seasons (more on that later). Sometimes it’s cheesy, sometimes it’s implausible, but I enjoyed watching it. A big part of that was Catherine’s character. I do love it that, after she’s attacked, she takes self-defense classes. I think that encapsulates her character. She’s determined not to be a victim, and to fight back against corruption, violence and anyone trying to exploit or harm the weak. Granted, it does help that she has a lion-man who can sense when she’s afraid and come to the rescue if things get out of hand…but she’s hardly a passive heroine just waiting for him to show up and save the day.  And I love that she doesn’t just become fierce over night–she has to learn how to defend herself. Continue reading “TV Review: Beauty and the Beast (1987 TV show)”

A Beyond the Tales Update on an Atypical Fairy

Hello talented, discerning and patient readers of fantasy novels!  It’s been a while since I last updated on my next book…the third installment in my Beyond the Tales series, The People the Fairies Forget.  I’ve been hoping to share the cover soon–but it’s still under wraps for final edits.  So today I’m offering up the spine and back of the book instead–which is exciting too, because it has more details on the plot than I’ve previously announced…

PFF Back and Spine
I have more updates coming–like a cover, a release date and a give-away.  Not to mention, of course, the novel!  More soon…

Back from Fairylands

oncetimenine400Summer is beginning, and that means an end to the springtime Once Upon a Time reading “challenge.”  A couple weeks ago, actually…but I have a somewhat belated wrap-up post today!

This is always a laid-back challenge, and I have been particularly laid-back about it this year…because I started a new job at almost the same time the challenge began!  A good problem, but still distracting…

I started well with reviews, but dropped off more recently.  Here’s the break-down on fantasy reading over the past three months.

Even if I couldn’t focus as much as I like this year, I always love this challenge!  Did you participate this year?  What did you read that you enjoyed?

Book Review: The Ugly Stepsister

You all know how I am about retold fairy tales, especially ones with a twist.  I certainly couldn’t resist The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling, retelling Cinderella from a very unusual perspective.

Kat is a typical modern teenager…who suddenly finds herself trapped inside the world of a storybook.  Specifically, Cinderella–but not as the heroine.  Kat is one of the stepsisters, and she won’t be able to get out of the story and go home until the book achieves its happy ending.  But the other stepsister is gorgeous and vying for the prince, the prince has no interest in balls or marriage, quiet and obedient Elle definitely won’t be pursuing the prince herself…and also, it’s hard work being in Society.  Kat could desperately use a fairy godmother, but none seems to be in sight.

I enjoyed the fish-out-of-water aspect of this, as modern Kat tries to cope with a (more or less) Victorian world.  Between corsets, curtsies and dull society calls, not to mention watching her modern slang, Kat struggles to find her way.  Her anachronistic status takes a more serious turn when she ends up confronting the harshness of child labor in the factories.  Her modern sensibilities drive her towards efforts at reform. Continue reading “Book Review: The Ugly Stepsister”

Book Review: The Fairy’s Return and Other Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine

I’m a huge fan of Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted, and I consider her clever twists on fairy tales to be literary ancestors of my own writing.  Among my favorites of her books are The Princess Tales, six very short novels, which I bought combined into one (400-page) volume, The Fairy’s Return and Other Princess Tales.  I reread these before the Once Upon a Time Challenge began, but it’s still an appropriate time for a review!

Set in the Kingdom of Biddle, each story riffs on at least one fairy tale, but always with Levine’s gift for bringing a practical eye to silly situations.  The stories are loosely connected, but all stand on their own too.  I thought I’d take this story by story…

“The Fairy’s Mistake” – The fairy Levana is just trying to follow tradition when she enchants kind Rosella to produce jewels every time she speaks–and when she enchants Rosella’s nasty sister Myrtle to spew toads and bugs with every word.  But it all goes wrong when Rosella is carried off by a prince who doesn’t care if she exhausts herself speaking as long as he gets the jewels, and Myrtle uses her new powers to blackmail the villagers and get everything she wants! Continue reading “Book Review: The Fairy’s Return and Other Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine”

Book Review: Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters series)

I picked up Dearest by Alethea Kontis very soon after it came out—then kept renewing my library copy, waiting for the Once Upon a Time challenge to begin. This is the third book in the Woodcutter Sisters series, with its seven sisters named for the days of the week.

This book’s heroine is Friday, whose chief talents are sewing and loving others. Friday is staying at her sister-queen’s castle, helping with refugees and tending herds of children in the wake of the magical flood that swept the kingdom near the end of the last book. Friday meets a mute kitchen maid with a strange connection to seven swans—who turn out to be enchanted princes. Friday swiftly falls for one of them, and sets about trying to help the princes and their sister break their curse.

If you know fairy tales, then you know this is a retelling of “The Seven Swans,” with a sister who must weave shirts to free her cursed brothers. Dearest embroiders (ahem) some extra elements on, weaving Friday into the story as a helpful friend and introducing two villainous magicians and their decidedly spooky assassin. Continue reading “Book Review: Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters series)”

Fairyland Beckons…

oncetimenine400The first day of Spring is…either today or tomorrow, I never remember (and yeah, I’m sure Google knows, but where’s the fun in looking it up?)  Either way!  It’s been warm and sunny in my neighborhood for at least a week, the daffodils have been blooming for over a month, and the real point of all this is that Spring is here (or as good as) which means it’s time to turn towards fairy tales and fantasy for the annual Once Upon a Time “challenge.”

If you know this blog, it won’t surprise you that this is my favorite reading challenge. 🙂

I’ve decided to be unplanned this year, and let the books, magic and possibly pink sparkles fall where they will.  I have lots of fantasy books on my To Be Read list, and since I’m also aiming to do more rereading this year, I’ll see if I can rustle up any past-read fairy tale retellings too.  I’m curious to see if they read differently to me now, after the last five years or so of immersing myself in fairy tales so much more!

I only have two definite books on my list for this challenge, only because they’re the two I already picked up at the library:  Dearest by Alethea Kontis, third book in the Woodcutter Sisters series, which I’ve been holding onto waiting for this challenge to arrive.  And A Question of Magic by E.D. Baker, which has a really cool premise and I hope will change my mind about this author (because I wasn’t able to get into the previous two books I read…)

And beyond that…we shall see!