Posted in Realistic Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Julie Murphy’s If the Shoe Fits: A Meant to Be Novel kicks off new adult Disney retellings!

Okay, I know this isn’t technically a teen novel, but it falls under New Adult, is written by YA literary force Julie Murphy, and is a retelling of Disney’s Cinderella, so Here. It. Stays.

If the Shoe Fits: A Meant to Be Novel, by Julie Murphy,
(Aug. 2021, Disney-Hyperion), $26.99, ISBN: 9781368050388

Ages 14+

Cindy is a new grad with a degree in shoe design and leaves New York to visit with her stepfamily – her mother, two stepsisters, and triplet half-siblings – in California before kicking her job search into high gear. Her dad died several years before, and her mom, a powerhouse executive producer of a popular dating reality show, Before Midnight, is busy getting the new season of the show up and running, but wants to take some time to spend with Cindy and the family before disappearing into her cell phone again. On a whim, Cindy and her two stepsisters find themselves cast as prospective suitresses; Cindy hopes the exposure will be what her fledgling shoe design career needs to get her name out there. The thing is, Cindy is a curvy girl: some may call her plus size, some may call her a lot worse, and her stepmother worries that she’ll be a target for abuse. Cindy isn’t having it. She’s as deserving of a spot as any of those other women, and sure enough, the masses respond with love! Week after week, Cindy holds out on the show and, despite a freeze on communication while she’s on set, Cindy hears word that she’s becoming a body positivity icon! She’s also falling hard for her suitor on the show, but we all know that real Hollywood endings don’t exist – or do they? Cindy learns that when you don’t like the way things in your life are laid out, designing your own future is an option.

I LOVED this book. I adore Julie Murphy, I love the way she writes, I love the characters she creates. She world-builds a fantasy within our reality, and she doesn’t give us “feel bad for me” heroines who hide on their couches with a pint of ice cream and Netflix. No, my friend, they charge into the middle of the spotlight and show everyone around them how it’s done. With snappy dialogue and strong female relationships, If the Shoe Fits is the kind of romance we all want to read, foundation by Disney and fit into today’s reality TV-obsessed landscape. There’s a memorable cast of characters, and I loved, truly, truly loved, that the “evil stepmother” and “evil stepsisters” don’t exist here. There are tense moments here and there, but it’s believable family moments, not cooked up for extra drama.

If the Shoe Fits is the first in a new series of Disney retellings for new adults, and I can’t wait for more.

Posted in picture books

Delightfully Different Fairy Tales put a modern spin on the classics

Delightfully Different Fairy Tales, by David Roberts & Lynn Roberts-Maloney, (Oct. 2020 Pavilion Children’s Books), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1843654759

Ages 4-7

Illustrator siblings David Roberts and Lynn Roberts-Maloney have come together to put a modern, vintage spin on three classics fairy tales: Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty. Each is set in a different 20th century (give or take…): Cinderella takes place in the Roaring ’20s, Rapunzel, in the 1970s, and Sleeping Beauty, in the 1950s and beyond. The storytelling incorporates moments from each time frame, and the art – THE ART! – is filled with nods to each decade. Cinderella’s evil stepmother and stepsisters have cloches and Louise Brooks-like bobbed hair; the dressing gowns are fabulously glamourous and the headdresses are incredible. Rapunzel has that long, flower child straight hair that was so popular in the 1970s, spins David Bowie’s iconic Aladdin Sane album on her turntable and has Saturday Night Fever, Abba, and Elton John posters on her wall. Her Prince Charming is in a band called Roger and the Rascals, and he sports platform shoes of his own. Sleeping Beauty has a decidedly modern spin as Annabel, our Beauty, comes of age in the mid-20th century, pricks her finger on a turntable needle and falls into a deep sleep; her aunt turns Annabel into a rose and herself into a light, that she may shine on her through her slumber. When a young girl browses the story of Sleeping Beauty one thousand years later, she’s convinced it’s a true story, awakens Annabel, and introduces her to the sci-fi world Annabel dreamed of as a child. The artwork is gorgeous; it has a Tim Burton-meets-The Questioneers type of style that’s playful and fun to read. (Note: David Roberts is the illustrator of the Questioneers series!) Give your fairy tale fans a dose of nostalgia – or introduce them to the 20th Century – with this volume.

Posted in Fantasy, picture books, Preschool Reads

The Great 2019 Read-Down: Fairy Tales

I love a good fairy tale, and the end of 2019 brought some fun new ones. Here are two of them.

If the Shoe Fits…, by Deborah Guarino/Illustrated by Seth Hippen, (Nov. 2019, Schiffer Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764358432

Ages 5-8

This fun take on Cinderella is the story of Murray, a humble shoemaker who meets a fairy godmother on a very special night. The fairy godmother’s out of magic, and needs some help in the form of a pair of shoes, so her poor godchild could make it to the royal ball. But Murrays clerk, Mona, has designs on being a royal bride herself, and when word gets out that the prince is trying to track down the mysterious woman who left her shoe behind at the ball, she begs Murray to make a shoe in her size, so she can make the big switch and land her prince. Murray, who’s desperately in love with Mona, complies, even though it breaks his heart, but never fear – the fairy godmother isn’t letting anyone take the day away from her godchild!

Told in rhyme, with a sweet Happily Ever After for everyone, is an adorable fractured fairy tale that kids will enjoy and get a good laugh from. The characters are goofy and kind, and the rhyme cadence is instantly familiar once you start reading, letting you fall right into the storytelling. Animator Seth Hippen’s art is cartoony and exaggerated, and loads of fun to look at as you read this progressively crazier fairy tale. Fractured fairy tale lovers will get a big kick out of this.

 

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears, by Alastair Chisholm/Illustrated by Jez Tuya, (June 2019, Kane Miller Books), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-849-0

Ages 4-8

This book is a RIOT. It’s a fairy tale with The Princess Bride-type humor and takes on fairy tale tropes with delight. A child named Jamie gets ready for bed, and Dad sits down to tell a bedtime story to Jamie’s liking. What we get is a laugh-out loud story of a prince who sets out to rescue a princess – who doesn’t need rescuing, THANK YOU VERY MUCH – and a witch who can turn things to stone or jello, and hideous broccoli castles. Jamie has opinions throughout Dad’s story, which changes events in the telling, and ends with a drowsy kiss goodnight and the promise of more stories to come. My second grader loves the Interrupting Chicken books, and had a ball reading this one with me.

Jez Tuya’s digital artwork adds so much fun and color to this fun, colorful story! Big, expressive eyes, little nuances like the story’s characters showing up as toys in Jamie’s room, and wink/nudge moments throughout the storytelling make this artwork and story a great marriage.

Originally published in the UK in 2018, The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears is officially one of my bedtime go-tos, and I’m eyeing it for a potential stuffed animal sleepover kickoff in 2020.

Posted in Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Geekerella gave me feels!

Geekerella, by Ashley Poston, (Apr. 2016, Quirk Books), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1594749476

Recommended for readers 12+

The short story: Geekerella is Cinderella for geeks, starring a fangirl and fanboy.

The slightly less short story, but short enough for review purposes: Elle is a devoted fan of the science fiction show, Starfield. Its got a fandom right up there with Star Trek and Star Wars, with conventions and cosplay, online forums and blogs. Elle’s still feeling the loss of her father, who introduced her to the love of Starfield as a child, and the mother that died when she was little. She’s living with her awful, social climbing stepmother and her vapid, beauty vlogger stepsisters and working in the vegan food truck, The Magic Pumpkin.

Darien Freeman is a teen sensation. Half-British society, half Indian, he lives with his Dadager (dad manager), who will sell Darien and his insured abs at any opportunity. Darien’s claim to fame came on an OC-type teen soap opera, but playing Federation Prince Carmindor is going to make him a star – and since he’s a Starfield fanboy, it’s kind of a dream come true. Too bad he’s miserable: his best friend sold him out to the paparazzi, he’s under fire online for taking on the role of Carmindor, and his father is a social climber who uses his son as his stepladder. And now, his dad has him going to this Starfield convention where he just knows he’s going to get eaten alive by the fandom.

Told in shifting perspectives between Elle and Darien, this is the fangirl adaptation of the Cinderella story, complete with cosplay masquerade ball, a magic pumpkin and a punk lesbian fairy godmother in the form of Sage, who works the Magic Pumpkin truck, has a fantastic eye for dress design, and quotes Lord of the Rings at will.

Geekerella hits all the feels for me. I’m a 46 year-old fangirl; a fangirl nurtured by my dad, my uncle, J.R. R. Tolkien, and the kind creators of Star Trek and Star Wars. Unlike Elle, I’m still lucky enough to have my parents, but the story and feelings resonate. Do you know how it’s going to end? Of course you do, but darned if you don’t love the journey. There’s something for every fan in here: Firefly references join hands with Lord of the Rings, Supernatural, Avengers, Trek, and Star Wars winks and nudges. You’ll embrace the characters like longtime friends (I’m partial to Sage and Frank the dachshund), because Ashley Poston’s writing to her tribe: the fans, the cosplayers, the fanfic writers, those of us who have looked beyond the ordinary and dared to see more.

Give this to your fangirls, fanboys, gamers, and geeks. Display or pair with other fandom fic like All the Feels, Queens of Geek, and The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love.

Follow Ashley Poston’s Tumblr for great fandom musings and pictures of amazing cosplay (Yuri on Ice fans, get over there now). Her website has more info about her books and an FAQ.

Posted in Toddler Reads

First Stories bring toddlers into fairy tale fun!

Author Dan Taylor and publisher Silver Dolphin Books have debuted the cutest interactive board books to introduce toddlers to some of the most popular, beloved fairy tales:

Beauty and the Beast, $8.99, ISBN: 978-1626868977

Belle the Beauty becomes the Beast’s “guest” in place of her father, where she eventually sees past his beastly exterior (see what I did there?), he throws her a lovely feast, and they fall in love, breaking the curse and letting him because a handsome prince again.

 

Cinderella, $8.99, ISBN: 978-1626868984

Cinderella is treated horribly by her horrible stepsisters, but her Fairy Godmother steps in and declares that she shall go to the ball! She runs off at the stroke of midnight and forgets her shoe, but the handsome prince tracks her down. Try as her stepsisters might, they can’t get the shoe on, but it’s a perfect fit for Cinderella!

 

Rapunzel, $8.99, ISBN: 978-1626869004

A handsome prince sees poor Rapunzel trapped in a tower by a mean old witch who uses Rapunzel’s hair to get up and down the walls. When the prince tries to climb up to meet her, the witch snips Rapunzel’s hair, sending him flying over the edge! It’s okay, though – Rapunzel and the prince get their happily ever after at the end

Each book is only about 10 pages (and that includes front and back covers), and the pages are sturdy – they’ll hold up to multiple readings, which is a good thing, because each page has something fun for little hands to explore: slide Cinderella away to her pumpkin coach before midnight, scroll through the delightful food offerings Beast offers Beauty at dinner time, or help the prince and Rapunzel reunite at the end of the story! The art is very sweet and bright. The books are loaded with fun things to do and see, a perfect introduction to fairy tales for storytime for boys and girls alike.

 

Posted in Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

A modern twist on Cinderella: It Started With Goodbye

started-with-goodbyeIt Started With Goodbye, by Christina June, (May 2017, Blink Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9780310758662

Recommended for ages 12+

Tatum Elsea’s not having a great summer. Accused of a crime she didn’t commit – she was trying to get her best friend away from her sleazy boyfriend, to add insult to injury! – she’s under her step-monster’s house arrest for the entire summer, AND her best friend won’t speak to her. She’s working on pulling invasive plants as a community service during the day, and at night, quietly launching a design business to keep from going crazy. Things start looking up when she gets a few nibbles for her design business, including a flirty exchange with a musician who needs a portfolio made to submit to colleges. Her stepmother’s mother is also staying with them for the summer while Tatum’s dad is away on business, and she brings got just a little bit of fairy abuela magic with her, whether it’s a little extra money from her bunco winnings to help Tatum out, or warming up the relationships in the house. Maybe Tatum’s summer will end on a high note, after all.

This is a very sweet, very fun, modern take on Cinderella. Tatum’s stepmother isn’t really evil, she’s just really, really strict; her stepsister is a ballet dancer that’s not as uppity as Tatum thinks she is; her fairy godmother plays bunco and watches Golden Girls while dispensing real talk. There’s a music fest instead of a masked ball, and a cute take on the glass slipper. I had a great time reading this; you’ll just feel better when you’re done. It’s very clean – my conservative readers and my tweens will absolutely embrace this – and the characters are all very likable, even if they are in need of some serious loosening up in the beginning.

A fun, light romance to add to your collections or pass along to teen romance readers. There’s some fun content coming down the pike from author Christina June, including a graphic design contest, playlists, and launch party in the DC area. Keep an eye on Christina’s author page and Blink’s webpage for updates.

Posted in Fantasy, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

A Curse of Ash & Iron – YA with a little steampunk, a little fairy tale

Ash & Iron eBook 1000A Curse of Ash & Iron, by Christine Norris (May 2015, Curiosity Quills Press), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1620078853

Recommended for ages 13+

Eleanor lost her mother when she was a child, and has been living under her evil stepmother’s thumb ever since. She’s a stranger to her beloved father; indeed, to everyone she once knew – her stepmother has managed to bewitch her so that no one will recognize her. Living as a servant in her own home and forced to wear a stranger’s face in public, Ellie is in for a bleak future until her childhood best friend, Ben Grimm, sees through the spell and recognizes her. Together, guided by a mysterious benefactor, Ellie may have a chance to regaining her life after all.

Heavily influenced by Cinderella, this steampunk fairy tale is great YA reading for girls who like a little steam power in their romance. Ellie isn’t a simpering, fainting Victorian heroine; she’s a smart, determined young woman who is darned angry about the way her life has gone, and she’s going to fight to get it all back. The evil stepmother is truly an awful human being – you’ll be waiting the entire book for a giant anvil to fall out of the sky and bean her, I promise you – and Ben, as the long-lost childhood friend, has his own subplot about his personal quest for independence that will put you firmly in his corner.

Great characters, steam and brass, and a familiar fairy tale feel to comfort you on days when you just want to be a kid again. A Curse of Ash & Iron is the book for your burgeoning steampunk collection. If your readers aren’t quite ready for Gail Carriger’s Finishing School assassins, they’ll love Ellie and her friends. Historical notes at the novel’s end will appeal to history buffs!

Author Christine Norris offers printable goodies on her website, along with some extra content geared toward librarians. Give her some love, she’s one of our tribe!