Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bargain Ebook: A Knot in the Grain: and Other Stories by Robin McKinley



A Knot in the Grain: and Other Stories by Robin McKinley is on sale in ebook format for $1.99. It is usually in the $6-7 range.

Book description:

Magical stories set in alternate universes . . . tales of curses and gifts of healing . . . a wizard who has lost his powers . . . and a princess, a troll, and a teenage girl are featured in this diverse collection from Newbery Medalist Robin McKinley

In “The Healer,” Lily was born mute, but she has so great a natural gift for healing that the local midwife and healer takes her as an apprentice. One evening, riding home, she meets a stranger on the road who can speak to her silently, mind to mind. Overjoyed, she takes him home to Jolin—but Jolin can read the mage-mark on him and fears for Lily’s safety, for mages are not to be trusted.

In “The Stagman,” Ruen is a princess and will become queen on her name day—if her uncle, the Regent, greedy for the power that should belong to his niece, cannot think of a way to prevent it. And so he invents portents and a purifying ritual that involves chaining Ruen to a rock in an old place of sacrifice, not used since her great-grandfather’s day, and leaving her there alone. Night falls on her despair and in the flickering torchlight she sees the shadow of a man—or of a man with a stag’s antlers—or perhaps of a great stag.

In “Touk’s House,” a witch adopts a woodcutter’s baby daughter and raises her along with her own son, whose father was a troll. Erana grows up knowing she is loved, and loving in return—but on her seventeenth birthday she realizes she must leave her foster mother and her best friend and find where in the world she belongs.

In “Buttercups,” an old man marries a young wife and takes her home, but he feels unworthy of her vivid youth and risks all for a tremendous prize, in an act of what in his heart he knows is a betrayal of the wild magic that lives on his farm.

In “A Knot in the Grain,” Annabelle has no choice when her parents decide they will move to a small town upstate, the summer before Annabelle’s junior year of high school. She spends the summer reclaiming the neglected garden of their new house and reading books from the local library. She also finds a mysterious wooden box in a tiny hidden study above her attic bedroom: a box containing smallish, roundish, nobbly things Annabelle can’t identify, but which are faintly warm to the touch—and which seem to be curiously aware of Annabelle, her loneliness, and her longings.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bargain Ebook: Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon for $1.99



Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon is on sale in ebook format for $1.99. This one is a Cinderella retelling, one of many fairy tale novels by Turgeon.

Book description:

A new take on Cinderella, told from the perspective of the fairy godmother living in modern-day Manhattan

Lil is an old woman who spends her days shelving rare books in a tiny Manhattan bookstore and lonely nights at home in her apartment. But Lil has an intriguing secret. Tucked and bound behind her back are white feathery wings--the only key to who she once was: the fairy godmother responsible for getting Cinderella to the ball to unite with her Prince Charming.

But on that fateful night, something went terribly and beautifully wrong. Lil allowed herself the unthinkable: to feel the emotions of human beings and fall in love with the prince herself, going to the ball in place of Cinderella in her exquisitely gorgeous human guise. For her unforgivable mistake, she was banished to live among humans, far from her fairy sisters and their magical underwater world. But then one day she meets Veronica--a young, fair-skinned, flame-haired East Village beauty with a love of all things vintage and a penchant for falling in love with the wrong men--and suddenly it becomes clear to Lil that she’s been given a chance at redemption. If she can find a soul mate for Veronica, she may be able to right her wrong and return to the fairy world she so deeply longs for.

Bargain Ebook: Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino for $1.99



Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino is on sale in ebook format for a limited time for $1.99. Price could go up any time so don't hesitate if you're interested. (The sale was supposed to only yesterday!)

Book description:

Why exactly is the wicked Queen so nasty, particularly to Snow White? Perhaps it has something to do with the creepy-looking man in the magic mirror who's not just some random spooky visage...

Monday, April 10, 2017

New Book: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer



Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer is officially released tomorrow. This one is a Sleeping Beauty inspired novel. It features two sisters, an unusual construct in Sleeping Beauty tales, but a fascinating way to deal with the sleep curse.

Book description:

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king's headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes with a single drop of Aurora's blood--and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken. As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls: and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape . . . or the reason for her to stay.

Spindle Fire is a lush fantasy set in the dwindling, deliciously corrupt world of the fae and featuring two truly unforgettable heroines.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

New Book: The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins



The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins, a sequel to The Great Hunt and final proclaimed book of a duology, was released earlier this month. The first novel, and thus this one, is inspired by a lesser known Grimms tale, The Singing Bone. That's always fun when we get a lesser know tale. I have a wishlist of tales that I would love to see inspire modern novels. The reviews are not many yet, but the ones that are there are all enthusiastic.

Book description:

In The Great Pursuit, the dramatic sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Great Hunt, Wendy Higgins delivers another thrilling fantasy filled with dangerous enemies, political intrigue, searing romance, and a princess who is willing to do everything to protect her kingdom.

One hunt has ended, but the pursuit for love and justice continues.

The kingdom of Lochlanach has traded the great beast that once terrorized the realm of Eurona for something far more dangerous: the ire of powerful Lashed woman Rosaria Rocato. Rosaria demands that Eurona overturn the laws prohibiting magic, or an innocent will be killed each day.

Despite the king’s resistance, Princess Aerity believes they must make peace with the Lashed, and though she’s accepted a betrothal to the man who took down the beast, she cannot help thinking about Paxton, the Lashed man who stole her heart and disappeared.

Aerity soon discovers that Paxton has joined Rosaria’s army in the war against her family. Though her feelings for him are still strong, her duty to her kingdom and her family is stronger—especially when her parents are kidnapped and she has to step up to the throne and once again put aside what’s best for her in order to do what’s best for her people. Paxton and Princess Aerity must fight to see what is more powerful: their love or the impending war between the magical Lashed and the non-magic humans.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

New Book: Wintersong: A Novel by S. Jae-Jones




Wintersong: A Novel by S. Jae-Jones was released in February. This was uses Beauty and the Beast in its promotional plan, but that appears to be more subtle in reality with the Goblin King as the true inspiration, especially the Goblin King as seen in the cult classic film, Labyrinth. And that's a movie I haven't seen in decades. The book description invokes a bit of ATU 311: Rescue by the Sister, too, a Bluebeard tale type. Since Bluebeard and Beauty and the Beast can be easily connected in storytelling--think no further than Jane Eyre!--that is always fun for me!

Book description:

“Wintersong is a maze of beauty and darkness, of music and magic and glittering things, all tied together with exquisite writing. This is a world you will want to stay lost in.” ―Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and Beauty and the Beast.


The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds―and the mysterious man who rules it―she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones's Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.

"This was Labyrinth by way of Angela Carter. Deliciously romantic, with a nuanced Goblin King and a strong heroine, this story was rife with fairy tales, music, and enchantment." ―Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

Sunday, April 2, 2017

New Book: The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel by Katherine Arden



The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel by Katherine Arden is a debut novel published earlier this year that has received rave reviews from both professional and reader reviewers. This one offers up Vasilisa, often considered a Russian Cinderella character. Remember that trend of Russian inspired fairy tale novels. Well, here's another one. And this looks to be a strong, popular entry in that subgenre. I haven't read it yet--but I have a ARC sitting on my TBA shelf. I need to move it up the queue because the description here does intrigue me.

Book description:

A magical debut novel for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman’s myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Advance praise for The Bear and the Nightingale

“Stunning . . . will enchant readers from the first page. . . . with an irresistible heroine who wants only to be free of the bonds placed on her gender and claim her own fate.”—Publishers Weekly(starred review)

“Utterly bewitching . . . a lush narrative . . . an immersive, earthy story of folk magic, faith, and hubris, peopled with vivid, dynamic characters, particularly clever, brave Vasya, who outsmarts men and demons alike to save her family.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Arden’s supple, sumptuous first novel transports the reader to a version of medieval Russia where history and myth coexist.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Radiant . . . a darkly magical fairy tale for adults, [but] not just for those who love magic.”—Library Journal

“An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale . . . A Russian setting adds unfamiliar spice to the story of a young woman who does not rebel against the limits of her role in her culture so much as transcend them. The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic.”—Robin Hobb

“A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up.”—Naomi Novik

“Haunting and lyrical, The Bear and the Nightingale tugs at the heart and quickens the pulse. I can’t wait for her next book.”—Terry Brooks

“The Bear and the Nightingale is a marvelous trip into an ancient Russia where magic is a part of everyday life.”—Todd McCaffrey

“Enthralling and enchanting—I literally couldn’t put it down. A wondrous book!”—Tamora Pierce

Monday, March 27, 2017

New Book: Hunted by Meagan Spooner



Hunted by Meagan Spooner is a new book release, a Beauty and the Beast inspired novel. I don't think anyone is surprised by the current Beauty and the Beast trend, are they? I'm not complaining! This one is Russian influenced--Russian inspired another current trend on a severe upswing right now--but that is an interesting development since Beauty and the Beast usually doesn't get a Russian treatment.

So has anyone read this one yet?

Book description:

Beauty knows the Beast's forest in her bones--and in her blood.

Though Yeva grew up with the city's highest aristocrats, far from her father's old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who's ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there's no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas...or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva's father's misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he'd been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters' protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory--a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva's only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bargain Ebook: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay for $1.99



Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay is another Beauty and the Beast novel on sale in ebook format for $1.99. This is the first time the title has been bargain priced to my knowledge.

Book description:

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Two Beauty and the Beast Novels by Robin McKinley on Sale



Two Beauty and the Beast novels by Robin McKinley are on sale for $.99 each in ebook format. Beauty and Rose Daughter were written decades apart and each have their fan base, but overall Beauty is the sentimental favorite. Beauty was very important to me as a teen and still has a special place in my heart and SurLaLune history, too.

Book description for Beauty:

I was the youngest of three daughters. Our literal-minded mother named us Grace, Hope, and Honour. . . . My father still likes to tell the story of how I acquired my odd nickname: I had come to him for further information when I first discovered that our names meant something besides you-come-here. He succeeded in explaining grace and hope, but he had some difficulty trying to make the concept of honour understandable to a five-year-old. . . . I said: ‘Huh! I’d rather be Beauty.’ . . .

By the time it was evident that I was going to let the family down by being plain, I’d been called Beauty for over six years. . . . I wasn’t really very fond of my given name, Honour, either . . . as if ‘honourable’ were the best that could be said of me.

The sisters’ wealthy father loses all his money when his merchant fleet is drowned in a storm, and the family moves to a village far away. Then the old merchant hears what proves to be a false report that one of his ships had made it safe to harbor at last, and on his sad, disappointed way home again he becomes lost deep in the forest and has a terrifying encounter with a fierce Beast, who walks like a man and lives in a castle. The merchant’s life is forfeit, says the Beast, for trespass and the theft of a rose—but he will spare the old man’s life if he sends one of his daughters: “Your daughter would take no harm from me, nor from anything that lives in my lands.” When Beauty hears this story—for her father had picked the rose to bring to her—her sense of honor demands that she take up the Beast’s offer, for “cannot a Beast be tamed?”

This “splendid story” by the Newbery Medal–winning author of The Hero and the Crown has been named an ALA Notable Book and a Phoenix Award Honor Book (Publishers Weekly).

Book description for Rose Daughter:

Award-winning author Robin McKinley tells an enthralling story of magic, love, and redemption, based on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast.

Once upon a time, a wealthy merchant had three daughters. When his business failed, he moved his daughters to the countryside. The youngest daughter, Beauty, is fascinated by the thorny stems of a mysterious plant that overwhelms their neglected cottage. She tends the plant until it blossoms with the most beautiful flowers the sisters have ever seen—roses.

Admiring the roses, an old woman tells Beauty, “Roses are for love.” And she speaks of a sorcerers’ battle many years ago that left a beast in an enchanted palace, and a curse concerning a family of three sisters . . .

The Newbery Medal–winning author’s charming retelling of the classic fairy tale weaves a tangled story of sorcery, loyalty, and love that is sure to cast a spell on readers.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Bargain Ebook: When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James




When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James is on sale for $.99 in ebook format. James, a scholar and romance author, has a series of fairy tale inspired romance novels and this one is her retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

I've read this one and it draws inspiration from the old TV series, House, for the hero's character development, an unusual attribute. But the hero is more lovable than House ever was. It has some interesting twists on the Beauty and the Beast tropes, too. It also gets better as it progresses past the set-up. It is a category romance so expect the usual content to be found in the genre these days. But of the many B&B category romances I've read, this one stands out in memory--I can actually remember the plot and that is harder than you might imagine these days!

Book description:

A wonderful spin on a much-beloved fairy tale, Eloisa James’s When Beauty Tamed the Beast is heart-soaring and fun historical romance at its finest. No wonder People magazine raves about her books, saying, “Romance writing does not get much better than this.” Eloisa’s delightful take on Beauty and the Beast unfolds in Regency England, where a beastly, bad-tempered Earl matches wits with a brazen beauty who has vowed to make the handsome grump fall in love with her in two short weeks.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Book: Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World by Maria Tatar



Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World by Maria Tatar was released last week just in time for Disney's Beauty and the Beast film hype. Smart marketing! The book offers readers 37 tales of beastly grooms and beastly brides across several tales types, especially ATU 425 (The Search for the Lost Husband), ATU 425C (Beauty and the Beast) and ATU 402 (The Animal Bride) although the tales are not typed in the book since the book is intended primarily for a general audience, The general tale types can be guessed at from the table of content categories: especially Animal Grooms and Animal Brides. Tale types are discussed in the introduction, but the collection itself is not typed for readers to whom this is important. And really tale types are primarily for scholars to help manage an infinite number of folktales, as imperfect a system as it is, it still is much better than none at all!

This is an excellent collection for everyone. It is from Maria Tatar after all! Tatar provides a lengthy introduction to the collection, as well as short introductions (about a paragraph in length) to each of the tales. I recommend it highly.

Now for the questions I'll get because I'm Heidi Anne Heiner, editor of Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World: How are the books different? Which one is better? I'll answer the second first--both are important, especially if you are a fan of Beauty and the Beast tales. It's all about how much you really want to read about Beauty and the Beast stories whether you decide you need both, just one, or even neither!

So how are they different? There is some overlap between stories offered in both volumes, roughly less than 10 tales. You can see the Table of Contents to both when you look inside the books on Amazon. My full contents of 188 tales are also listed here. We both offer several tale types with an emphasis on ATU 425 and ATU 425C. I ended up with a complex table of tale types in the end matter to my book. But my volume does not include Animal Brides. I simply didn't have room after 828 pages devoted to Animal Grooms. I still dream of editing an Animal Brides volume some day, though.

My volume also includes both the Villenueve and Beaumont versions of Beauty and the Beast. Only Beaumont appears in Tatar's due to length restrictions for the book--Tatar's volume in paper edition is intended to be portable and economical. The Villeneuve version is so very long that it would fill the pages of the slimmer volume. That tale is book length within itself and I actually offer two translations of it in Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World--read my post to see why. Tatar discusses both in her introduction because it is impossible to talk about one without mentioning the other with any authority.

Book description for Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World by Maria Tatar:

One of our most beloved and elemental fairy tales, in versions from across the centuries and around the world—published to coincide with Disney’s live-action 3D musical film starring Emma Watson, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Audra McDonald, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, and Emma Thompson

Nearly every culture tells the story of Beauty and the Beast in one fashion or another. From Cupid and Psyche to India’s Snake Bride to South Africa’s “Story of Five Heads,” the partnering of beasts and beauties, of humans and animals in all their variety—cats, dogs, frogs, goats, lizards, bears, tortoises, monkeys, cranes, warthogs—has beguiled us for thousands of years, mapping the cultural contradictions that riddle every romantic relationship.

In this fascinating volume, preeminent fairy tale scholar Maria Tatar brings together tales from ancient times to the present and from a wide variety of cultures, highlighting the continuities and the range of themes in a fairy tale that has been used both to keep young women in their place and to encourage them to rebel, and that has entertained adults and children alike. With fresh commentary, she shows us what animals and monsters, both male and female, tell us about ourselves, and about the transformative power of empathy.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.