Genre: Fairy Tale


Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier | Book Review

March 17, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 5 ★★★★★

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier | Book ReviewHeart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
Published by Roc on October 2, 2009
Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 402
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift from Secret Sister
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5 Stars
Whistling Tor is a place of secrets and mystery. Surrounded by a wooded hill, and unknown presences, the crumbling fortress is owned by a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan's family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.

For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.

When Bonnie found out that I love Beauty and the Beast, she sent me a beautiful hardcover of Heart’s Blood and told me I MUST read it because it’s an amazing retelling of one of my favorite fairytales. Of course I’d been hearing wonderful things about Juliet Marillier, and how her books are the makings of dreams and happiness and stardust, so I was very excited to dive in! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I was hooked from the very beginning because Marillier’s writing is so smooth and lyrical. She also really knows how to set the stage for a story. I loved the atmosphere and mystery she created. Things felt very ominous as well as romantic, and even though the book reads a bit slower that the books I usually love I really found Heart’s Blood to be so captivating and magical.

2. The Tor is a mysterious, mystical place. I loved the descriptions of the castle and the landscape. The Tor is not just home to Anluan and his staff, but also beings who are caught in limbo between life and death–tethered to the Tor by dark magic that nobody understands how to undo. Caitrin is the first glimmer of hope the residents of the Tor have seen in a very long time, and as she works to discover the root of all these secrets some support her efforts and some try to stop her. Who do you trust?

3. I loved all the characters. They are so dynamic and flawed, and really made me feel like they were real. They are all broken in some way: Anuluan, Caitrin, Magnus, Eichri, Rioghan… all of them, and they pick up their pieces together and lean on each other for support. Muirne is creepy, not to mention the spirit child who grows very attached to Caitrin but is also dangerous if she gets mad. I LOVED Fianchu, the huge, lovable, loyal dog that never leaves the side of those he protects. Everyone grows and changes drastically from beginning to end.

4. So. Many Feelings. Throughout the second half of the book the beings that live on the Tor really wiggled their way into my heart. When they suffered, I suffered.

5. The romance was so sweet and my heart broke as I worried what everyone’s fate was going to be.

6. There’s some sad things that happen that I was not prepared for. I was ok, though, and only cried a little so I consider that a win.

Heart’s Blood was my first book by Juliet Marillier, and it will surely not be my last. I love her beautiful writing and her amazing storytelling. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves Beauty and the Beast, unique settings, heartwarming characters, and triumph.

 

 


The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep | Children’s Book Review

March 16, 2017 Children's Book Review, Inner Child 5 ★★★★★

The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep | Children’s Book ReviewThe Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep
Published by HarperCollins on January 9, 1999
Genres: Classic, Fairy Tale, Retelling
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed from Library
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5 Stars
When a poor farmer falls into the clutches of a dragon, only Seven, his youngest daughter, will save him—by marrying the beast.

Publishers Weekly praised "Yep's elegant, carefully crafted storytelling" and Mak's "skillfully and radiantly rendered illustrations" in this captivating and luminous Chinese variation of the beauty and the beast tale.

The Dragon Prince by Laurence Yep is the Chinese version of Beauty and the Beast, and is so rich in culture. Inside the book the author includes his source notes, explaining that this tale is a Southern Chinese version of the classic. He also thanks Truly Shay for helping him translate several tales for him. Immediately, I felt confident that this book would be of very high quality because of the proof of research.

This tale is written in a way that sounds natural when read aloud, and the text is very traditional and stylistically magical. The story includes cultural elements that seem true to the area in which it takes place, including the fact that it’s about a rice farmer and his daughters, a serpent for a beast (that becomes a dragon), the term bride prince is used, and the palace is located in an underwater garden under the ocean’s surface. The story takes an interesting spin, and Seven’s (the Beauty equivalent) sister attempts to drown her and take her place. The prince can tell, though, and searches to find his lost Seven. They live happily ever after.

Elegant silk robes, jade cups, and gold plates are illustrated. The illustrations themselves are reminiscent of Chinese style, with bright colors, Chinese architecture and clothing, and a stylized dragon. The prince speaks of the traditional Chinese custom of brides visiting their families after their wedding.

 

Oh my goodness, I love this version of Beauty and the Beast so much. The Chinese culture, colors, and design influences make it not only entertaining, but a rich, educational, vibrant tale that anyone would love. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves China, Beauty and the Beast, beautiful illustrations, and learning about other cultures!


Beauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer | Children’s Book Review

March 15, 2017 Children's Book Review, Inner Child 2 ★★★★★

Beauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer | Children’s Book ReviewBeauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer
Published by Aladdin Paperbacks on September 1978
Genres: Classic, Fairy Tale
Pages: 48
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed from Library
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5 Stars
Generations of children have been fascinated by the story of the girl named Beauty, who grows to love a fearsome beast by learning to see and cherish his kindness, generosity, and intelligence. In this acclaimed, best-selling version of the classic tale, first published in 1978, Marianna Mayer's evocative imagery and Mercer Mayer's exquisite paintings transport readers into a world of pure magic and mystery.

I really, really loved this beautifully illustrated version of the classic Beauty and the Beast tale. I can’t believe it’s out of print because I would LOVE to own a copy for my personal library. Anyway, this book was actually the very first time I read what the traditional tale was like rather than the Disney version. I felt that it was nicely simplified into a storybook for young children, although it might be a bit too long for the tiny littles to focus on. The story starts off with the words, “There once was a…”, reflecting traditional oral storytelling style. There are repeated refrains in this story of the beast pleading Beauty to marry him, and her refusing. There are also repeated story elements of Beauty having various dreams. The words are traditional in nature, and are not like how people speak today, so even though it’s a picture book I think readers of all ages would be drawn to it for one reason or another.

What really set this book apart for me, though, were the illustrations. I can’t believe the same person who wrote and illustrated the Little Critter books also illustrated this one! Mercer Mayer is truly a chameleon. The illustrations are very detailed and ornate, and match the colorful vocabulary and magical tone of the writing. Here are a few of my favorites. It was hard to not share more!

All in all, I loved this version of the story! I found the text to be more enjoyable than the original French tale, and the illustrations made for a very enjoyable reading experience. I’d definitely recommend this to fans of Beauty and the Beast, both young and old. It’s a lovely edition that I’m sure any collector would love to own as well.


Beauty & the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont | Book Review

March 12, 2017 Book Review, Classy Considerations 2

Beauty & the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont | Book ReviewBeauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Genres: Classic, Fairy Tale
Pages: 34
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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Beauty and the Beast is a traditional fairy tale. Its first published version was written by French author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in the middle 18th century. It was a novel-length story intended for adult readers and addressing the issues of the marriage system of the day in which women had no right to choose their husband or to refuse to marry.

The best-known version of the tale appeared sixteen years later. Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont simplified and shortened the Villeneuve’s work and published it in a magazine for young ladies. The new abridged version became more successful, and Madame de Beaumont is regarded now as the author of the classic story.

What better way to kick off A Week of Beauty and the Beast in honor of the upcoming release of Disney’s live action version of the story than to start at the very beginning with the 18th Century original tale? I’ve lived my life loving the animated Disney movie, so I was excited to read the story that inspired it all. My copy of this story is illustrated by Walter Crane, and it looks like an illuminated manuscript. Each page of text is framed by roses and leaves, and the periodic full-page illustrations are very detailed.

 

This version, while different from the Disney movie we all love, is still quite magical. Beauty’s father has lost everything he has to pirates. One day he learns that one of his ships has been recovered and journeys to town to claim what’s rightfully his. Before he leaves he asks each of his daughters what they would like him to bring back for them. All Beauty wants is a rose. So, father sets out on his journey only to find that his partners have divvied up all his possessions because they thought he was dead. He heads back home, depressed, defeated, and even more broke than he was before he left. He presses on through the cold, winter night and falls ill. He ends up in the beast’s castle, where he is nursed back to health. As he leaves the castle for home, he picks a single rose for Beauty. This makes the beast very mad and he tells the old man that unless one of his daughters volunteers to live in the castle forever, the beast will kill him. When father returns home, of course Beauty volunteers because it was her silly request of a rose that got her father into trouble in the first place. Beauty lives with the beast and dreams of a handsome prince each night, who tells her to look past outside appearances and save him from his plight. Each day the beast proclaims his love for her and proposes marriage. For some reason, Beauty cannot make the connection and is convinced that a handsome prince is imprisoned somewhere in the castle. Oh, he is… He just might not be where she expects to find him.

Looking past outward appearances is a very common theme throughout this book, and I find it to be a timely message given today’s expectations of what a person must look like in order to be worthwhile or successful or loved. However, it does bother me that there’s a double standard. Beauty is noted as being beautiful–the most beautiful person in her family. The beast falls in love with her, but we are led to believe it’s because she’s beautiful. We’re basically being told here that women should look past outward appearances and love unattractive men, but men can still require the highest of standards. Of course, this story was written in the 1750s. We’ve come a long way since then, but there is still this “women must look like this” stipulation today that I hope dies out with other things from the 1750’s. Like Smallpox. And dying of pneumonia.

The writing is very antiquated and simplistic, but I loved reading the original story and comparing it to all the versions I’ve read and seen since then! I highly suggest you snag the free ebook and give this a read if you’re a fan of today’s Beauty and the Beast.