Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle School, Tween Reads

Who’s the newest and fairest of them all?

charmedCharmed, I’m Sure, by Sarah Darer Littman, (Sept. 2016, Aladdin), $17.99, ISBN: 9781481451277

Recommended for ages 8-12

What happens when you’re the daughter of the fairy tale world’s version of Brangelina – Snow White and Prince Charming – and you can’t get a date for the Fall Festive school dance? This is Rosie White Charming’s dilemma in Charmed, I’m Sure. She grits her teeth and asks her mom – now a lifestyle blogger for her hugely famous brand – for help, receiving a complete makeover and magic compact from Snow White. At first, it’s great – guys are noticing her! Her friends think she looks fabulous! – but things aren’t always what they seem. Rosie swears the compact is talking to her, and it’s sounding a heck of a lot like the magic mirror that her evil step-grandmother used; next thing she knows, her friends are mad at her, and so is the cute guy she was talking up at the coffee joint. Rosie isn’t giving up, though – she’s going to find a way to get her happily-ever-after.

Charmed, I’m Sure is another fun entry into the flipped/fractured fairy tale genre for middle graders. It’s fun, has some cameos from other famous fairy tale offspring, and the characters are light and silly. There’s a nice message about staying true to yourself, and Snow White gets her message across to her daughter in a very sly way that will make you realize that she knows a lot more than she lets on. (Like most parents, am I right?)

A fun addition to your fun fairy tales collection. Talk it up with Jen Calonita’s Fairy Tale Reform School series and The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper for extra fun reading!

Posted in Early Reader, Preschool Reads

Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs is a laugh-out-loud retelling (that every mom will love)!

cover60102-mediumSnow White and the 77 Dwarfs, by Davide Cali (April 2015, Tundra Books) $17.99, ISBN: 9781770497634

Recommended for ages 3-8

In this hilarious retelling of the classic fairy tale, Snow White escapes the Evil Queen, and ends up at a house that belongs to 77 dwarfs. They let her stay on the proviso that she helps with the chores. For 77 little men. Not only does she have to remember everyone’s name, but she’s got to do their laundry, help with their grooming, tell every single one of them their own, personal bedtime story, referee all the quibbling – is being on the run really worth this, Snow?

Every mother will appreciate this, whether she’s wrangling multiple children, hosting a playdate, or acting as class mom. I’ve got three kids, and on some days, I swear there are 77. Snow White, I’m right there with you.

This book is adorable, with bright, cartoony illustrations that kids and grownups alike will enjoy. Snow White’s expressions are priceless (and oh, so recognizable), and the multitude of dwarfs, with all their word balloons, will strike a chord with any parent whose found themselves surrounded by children.

Look at me, I’m reviewing this book for parents. But we’re the ones who read them first, so why not? Kids will love this book because it’s flat-out funny, with eye-catching art. They’re most likely already familiar with the story of Snow White, so they’ll have a good frame of reference for Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs. And if you read this book as dramatically as I plan to? You’re going to have a lot of giggles and cries of, “Again! Again!” This is going into my bedtime rotation and my storytime rotation. Don’t miss this book.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Teen

Sarah Cross’ Tear You Apart returns to Beau Rivage

tear you apartTear You Apart, by Sarah Cross (Jan 2015, EgmontUSA) $17.99, ISBN: 9781606845912

Recommended for ages 14+

Fairy tale fans who loved Sarah Cross’ Kill Me Softly, get to go back to Beau Rivage and hang out with the Cursed in the next installment of Cross’ series, Tear You Apart.

This time, we get more of a focus on Viv, who’s got the Snow White curse. Her stepmother is determined to kill her, and she’s going to try and convince Henley, Viv’s on-again, off-again Huntsman boyfriend, to do it. When Viv hides out in the Underworld, she meets her prince – but is he really her key to Happy Ever After?

I have to say, for all the little issues I had with Kill Me Softly, it was a fun read with a great premise; Tear You Apart is an even better story that I really enjoyed. We’ve got more fairy tales, including the Twelve Dancing Princesses! The amount of research Ms. Cross puts into her fairy tales is amazing, but it’s her modern-day interpretations of the curses that really blows me away. I love her world-building.

While Viv is still not the greatest heroine, she’s a stronger female character than Kill Me Softly’s Mira. Henley has resolved more of his anger issues by now, which is a huge relief. The Big Bad in this book is truly a repugnant son of a gun, and he’s so gleefully awful that I found myself digging in at all hours of the night, waiting to see what he could do next.

Tear You Apart comes out in January, and it’s worth the wait. In the meantime, queue up some episodes of Grimm and Once Upon a Time, and get ready.

Posted in Fantasy, Teen, Uncategorized, Young Adult/New Adult

Kill Me Softly – fairy tales don’t always end in happily ever after

Kill Me SoftlyKill Me Softly by Sarah Cross, (2012, Egmont USA), $9.99, ISBN: 9781606843239

Recommended for ages 14+

Mira Lively has been raised by her godmothers ever since her parents died in a fire at her christening. They’ve kept her pretty sheltered, and Mira is tired of their secrets. She decides to run away to the Louisiana town of Beau Rivage right before her 16th birthday, to find her parents’ graves and feel a connection with them. Things don’t exactly go as planned.

She ends up in Beau Rivage, and finds herself in a casino, where an obnoxious guy named Blue, and his friend Freddie, try to get her to another casino/hotel. She ends up meeting Blue’s brother, Felix, who manages the hotel, and offers her a free suite to stay in.

From there, Mira is swept into a group of teens who have big personalities. They all seem to be hiding something from her – something goes beyond their inside jokes, and they all keep trying to get her away from Felix, especially Blue. Gradually, Mira discovers that the teens in Beau Rivage – herself included – are special. Sentenced to live lives that play out according to fairy tales chosen by actual fairies, they include Jewel, who coughs up flower petal and jewels; Viv, a Snow White whose stepmother will one day send Viv’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, a Huntmans after her to cut out her heart, and Rafe, a crass jerk who will one day transform into a Beast, his curse only breakable when he gets a Beauty to fall in love with him.

Mira’s got a Curse, too – and her 16th birthday is fast approaching. Spending time in Beau Rivage, Mira learns about her Curse, and the curses of everyone around her except for Felix’s and Blue’s – but she needs to find out before it’s too late.

I like fairy tales, and I like stories that turn fairy tales upside down. In that respect, this was a quick, fun, read. But the characters are a group of teens that make some of the worst decisions and are just awful people. Mira decides – at 15 – that a 21 year-old man (Felix) is her true love, even though she’s only known him for a couple of days and everyone she meets tries to warn her away from him. Viv treats Henley – the Huntsman who happens to be her boyfriend when she feels like it – like dirt, flirting with other guys right in front of him and sending him off into a violent rage. Shouldn’t she want to be on his good side?

Speaking of Hensley, his anger issues have anger issues. He starts breaking up cars in a parking lot after seeing Viv flirt with other guys. And she stays with this guy? She also continues living with her stepmother – a woman who will try to kill her at some point – WHY?

Princes marry their Snow Whites, then drug them up because they can’t be excited by them if they’re awake. This, my friends, is really disturbing.

Like I said, Kill Me Softly is a fun read, but if you’re looking for great character study, this isn’t the place. I understand that things need to play out a certain way in this world, but at some point, common sense needs to enter the game.

Sarah Cross’ author page offers links to her social media, plus short stories taking place in the world established in Kill Me Softly. She also links to her Fairy Tale Mood Tumblr, where she posts fairy tale inspiration.