The Brides of Rollrock Island

The Brides of Rollrock Island

By: Margo Lanagan

(http://www.amazon.com/Margo-Lanagan/e/B001IQUOLA)

Ember 2013

A Young Adult fantasy review

Isolated on the sea, Rollrock is a simple island where everyone knows the rules: Work on fishing boats, bear children, and fear the witch.  For a witch can draw beautiful women out from the seals of the sea, and when these changed selkies come to Rollrock the island will also transform.

The shame of seal lineage marks Misskaella, but with power instead of beauty.  The love of seals will only take her so far, but the enchantment of them gives her the means to remake Rollrock completely.  What will men pay for the allure of a seal maid, how strongly will seal blood course through new children, how far can the seal witch reweave her island?  With the voices of witches, and the young of generations, Lanagan weaves a tumultuous, but bewitching tale.

The pace pitches and rolls unevenly, but with the suspense and surety of a sea voyage.  The characters bring you into their depths less with likeability and more with the vividness of their thoughts and the universality of their emotions.  Loneliness, bitterness, and betrayal all become part of Lanagan’s siren song alongside love, desire, and success.  “The Brides of Rollrock Island” explores the importance of control, follows the speedy lanes and jagged byways of blame, and showcases the pull of looks.  Yet the heart of this book, is that everyone must be true to themselves, even though that self may transform completely.  The selkies yearn for the sea, a man alters in response to his home, and “a lad that loves his mother above all” can explain a mire of heart-wrenching evolutions.

Lanagan’s honeyed writing lays a glistening coat over the bitter chocolate of her characters’ rough tales.  Thick with the caffeinated inevitability of time and awakening readers’ taste buds with plenty of sea salt,  “The Brides of Rollrock Island” is something to savor, that sticks with you as the sweet only enlivens the dark.  This book will enchant you with words, steer you through the waves of multiple minds, and submerge you in powerful emotions.  It’s a dark fairytale bursting with magic and connections, strong with life’s tides and haunting choices.  For a look at life’s layers, coats, and hidden currents, Lanagan’s work provides a beautiful vessel.

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Top Ten Fairy Tale Retellings

This is a rendition of thebrokeandthebookish.com’s Top Ten Tuesday. Fairy Tale retellings are a love of mine, so this topic really excites me!  However, I have some pretty strict rules for what counts as a retelling and what gets too far away, what’s more of a sequel, what’s just a reference…  It made a lot of these choices rather difficult to make.

  1. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine for “Cinderella”
  2. The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Pope for “Tam Lin”                                     perilousgard2
  3. The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler for being the first version of “12 Dancing Princesses” to appeal to me.kn_12dancing
  4. Entwined by Heather Dixon for being my favorite version of “12 Dancing Princesses”
  5. Firebird by Mercedes Lackey for “The Firebird”
  6. Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LeRoux for “Beauty and the Beast”
  7. My Mother, She Killed Me, My Father, He Ate Me edited by Kate Bernheimer for oh, so many storiesMy-Mother-She-Killed-Me
  8. The Tiger’s Bride by Angela Carter for “Beauty and the Beast”
  9. Travels with the Snow Queen by Kelly Link for “The Snow Queen”
  10. Shadowspinner by Susan Fletcher for “1001 Nights”                                   aladdin-28

What are your favorites?  Do they match your favorite fairy tales or not?

Top Ten Books I ReRead

This is a rendition of Top Ten Tuesday (and a Day) by the thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com. This week was the top 10 Books to Reread. I puzzled about that…Books I’ve reread the most? Books I’d like to reread for the first time? I decided to go with books that I’ve reread a lot in recent memory, as opposed to of all time. So, here it is:

Top Ten Books For My Rereading Pleasure

1. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
Every spring. “There had been a long debate in Council on ‘The Advisability of Inviting Fairies to the Christrening.'”
ordinary princess

2. Gwinna by Barbara Helen Berger
Gwinna

3. The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
Every fall, this retelling of Tam Lin. “The Night is Hallow’een, my love, the morni s Hallows’ Day-”
perilousgard2

4. Let Your Mind Alone by James Thurber
-This book includes several wonderful satires about early self-help advice and just humorous essays about life that work wonders about putting things in perspective, covering issues like travel, wanting a javelin, turtle-catching, and solving life problems with index cards, plays, and ghostly visitors. I reread it whenever I need to take my mind off of life-problems or just laugh.
typewriter ribbon-1

5. The Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett

6. The works of A.A. Milne
“Forget about the crackers, And forget about the candy; I’m sure a box of chocolates Would never come in handy; I don’t like oranges, I don’t want nuts, And I HAVE got a pocket-knife That almost cuts. But, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all, Bring me a big, red india-rubber ball!”
alg_winnie_and_friends_001

7. A Royal Pain by Ellen Conford
-It’s just such a fun one to read out loud. “Right off the bat I have to say that no matter what you may have read in the papers, I don’t think I was such a terrible princess.”
a-royal-pain-img

8. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
-Have you read those ogre and bird languages out loud? It’s marvelous!

9. The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern (William Goldman)
Princess-Bride-movie_572

10. My Mother, She Killed Me, My Father, He Ate Me edited by Kate Bernheimer
-This collection of fairy tale retellings is spooky, and funny, and touching, and haunting, and wonderful.
My-Mother-She-Killed-Me

“Spinning Straws”

“Spinning Straws”

Afraid my Here’s just a pile of straw,
The flimsiest place of all to hide,
And I see a wolf pacing outside
With dollar-sign eyes and a gaping maw.

Just here spinning dreams of gold,
But can’t know what is real
Or let fears start to heal,
Til the man says one dream’s taken hold.

I entered this space to win more,
Yet what I own is depleted,
And I feel defeated,
So many wisps scatter over the floor.

Maybe I promised my future away,
For what I can’t guess
And now I feel less,
Grasping straws at a name I can’t say.

What name will finally fit?
It seems I have tried-
I know I have sighed,
But still I have failed to find it.

Have I been spinning false gold?
Tossing in my straw bed,
May be losing my head,
I’m not sure I want to be told.

Perhaps there is a one who knows,
Who wants my labors to bear fruit,
And sees the future’s my strong suit,
Where my gold dream is so real it glows…

I’m trying to spin this straw to gold,
As the wolf paces to inspire dread,
And my mind races to ask what’s ahead,
Which name will describe what I hold-

Straw?….Or is it gold?

Snow Queen for Halloween?

Halloween’s fast approaching,
Those ghouls are encroaching,
And if you or yours have chosen
To emulate the queen of Frozen,
Dress-up fit for a Snow Queen,
At Sonshine Smiles Shop can be seen!

Located here: https://www.facebook.com/SonshineSmilesShop

This is my niece as model in this dress:
ad_dressM ad_dressback

And it comes with matching hairclip!
ad_dressclip

She also has an official version of a Snow Queen dress, but this is by far my favorite. And, honestly, looking at this versus the official ones, which dress looks like it could better keep the cold from ever bothering its queen?

Orders must be placed soon for delivery by Halloween!
https://www.facebook.com/SonshineSmilesShop, where custom dresses like this can be ordered for estimated $30-$50, depending on size.

Once Upon a Time 4×1 “A Tale of Two Sisters”

Well, I caught up on “Once Upon a Time” just before its new premiere and…I’m still not sure what I think about it. On the one hand…

The Good:
1. Elsa’s character remains intact. After her ominous arrival last season from Rumple’s “I’m-scared-of-this” vault and emergence over the last great evil-Zelena’s-dark magic symbol, I feared for the integrity of her flawed, but good heroine personality.
2. This is one of those episodes where everything looked just as it should. This is very important for a show dabbling in iconic images and moments, but from everything “Frozen” to dancing with Belle, this episode was charming to literally watch.
3. We don’t have to go back to the past again! Yay! Personally, I found that storyline in the last two episodes too much stalling for too little payoff, especially since it’s pushing at Regina in all-too-cliche ways.
4. The mention of Netflix was a funny meta touch.

However, the other hand is weighed down with…

The Bad:
1. Finding ‘The’ author of fairy tales??? That’s just not a good idea and my folklorist heart is already pained. I suppose the most acceptable solution would be to find Disney himself, but…then we’ve got a whole other kettle of meta fish happening that’s just too close to home for magic to keep off the fishy smell.
2. Can everyone just stop messing with Belle already? Just STOP IT. One of the things I liked about last season was how she got to call out her tormentors and remind everyone just how raw a deal this crazy optimist, of all people, got in previous seasons. STOP MESSING WITH HER, I DON’T CARE IF SHE DOESN’T KNOW.
3. Obviously Henry is the best option for Regina-company and deterrent right now and it’s plain stupidity and selfishness that keeps Emma hounding her personally to try and prove that she was right.
4. Look, I’ve been trying to reconcile myself to Hook/Emma for an entire season now and having a hard time of it, having Emma share my hesitation is not helping.
5. If an enchanter comes to claim that hat and dares to call himself Merlin without being the most awesome character ever I will hate this show.

Also, I’m not sure which category this goes in, but according to that timeline, the powers of True Love and pixie dust thought that Regina and Robin should get together before she became the full-fledged Evil Queen who messed with Marian, which has to mean that it thought they’d make a better match than Robin and Marian IN THE FIRST PLACE, EVEN! I’m not sure what to do with that. One voice is crying out-don’t mess with Robin and Marian, it has to at least be history!, while the other is saying hah-see, Marian never really should have gotten him to begin with, go Regina! It’s confusing. What do you think of that?

Of course, we still have those nitty-gritty questions to get into about predictions for this season…

The U(gly U)nknown:
1. Will Anna’s journey in the Enchanted Forest run her into more wolves in the form of Red? That is my greatest hope right now.
2. Will Belle get pregnant with a boy they’ll name Chip as a tribute to their love?
3. Perhaps instead of the author we can get Scheherazade who’s been telling these stories to her sultan? That would be cool. Correction, that could be cool. Could also be a big mess, but at least better than finding any kind of author.
4. Can we count Mickey Mouse as an author? o.O
5. It’s probably all going to have to do with Roland and him getting attached to a savior-Regina with her this time, isn’t it?
6. So are Hans and his brothers “waiting to pounce” ruling the roost back in Arendelle? Or did they follow Anna and trap her to try and get her to marry Hans/one of them a la Penelope in the Odyssey? I do like the image of Sven helping to break that up eventually. Or, could be both!
7. This also makes me think that Ariel and Eric and their island is reminiscent of Calypso, the sea’s daughter, and her lovers’ island, no?
8. Which brings me to Hercules and how on first hearing Regina had a second soulmate, I thought of him. He likes dark women, doesn’t he? (Plus, he could have wanted a tattoo of the lion he defeated.) It would be fun if they could have at least a fling.
9. Who wants to bet that “the truth” about Elsa and her powers is that she really has a different father than Anna does, or was adopted from her sister or something, which will make her actually related to Enchanted Forest folk? After all, this show is nothing if not incestuous! See: Hook, chasing after his stepson’s babymama, etc.

Well, those are my thoughts. What are yours? Any predictions-without spoilers!-or speculations to share?

Top Ten Most Underrated Childhood Books

This is a rendition of Top Ten Tuesday by the thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com. This week was top 10 underrated books in a genre, and I have chosen to do Childhood Books because frankly, there are too many wonderful books that no one else seems to have read and/or are out of print. So, if any of you have also enjoyed these works, please tell me!

Most Underrated Childhood Books

-Picture book section:

1. The Keris Emerald by Mary Parke Johnson
books_Keris

This is a fairy tale about a Russian lad who wants to gain the attention of a princess by giving her the greatest of all emeralds, hidden in the forest of the Keris fairies and guarded by a snow leopard…It’s gorgeous, and strange, and lovely.

2. The Princess on the Nut by Michelle Nikly and Jean Claverie
books_nut

This is the tale of the son of the princess on the pea and his search for a bride who isn’t so “perfect” or princessy as his mother. The pictures are gorgeous and give a lot of extra information, too!

3. The Magic Pumpkin by Lucille E. Sette and Phyllis L. Tildes
books_squiggs

One of my favorite Halloween books, The Magic Pumpkin is about old Mr. Squiggs, who loves Halloween because he gets to be even more unpleasant and dreadful, and it is sanctioned! I love the way this writing goes in threes: how he interacts with men, with women, with children, his jack-o-lanterns are dreadful, are hideous, are frightening! Only this year, the pumpkin has something to say about being so horrible.

4. All works by Barbara Helen Berger
Gwinna Animalia
This artist/writer creates such gorgeous, magical works that I cannot recommend them enough. My first was “Grandfather Twilight” and I think that’s the easiest one to find, though.
Grandfather-Twilight-petting-dog

5. This Is the Place for Me by Joanna Cole and William Van Horn
books_placeforme

This charming book is about a bear who’s fed up with his house and goes looking for a better place to live. I still think of this bear when I need some perspective or am thinking of making crazy, impulsive life-choices, and the images still make me smile in amusement, so what more could one want in a picture book?

(Extra): Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady by Selina Hastings and Juan Wijngaard
books_loathly

-Since it’s a well-known tale I felt this was more of an extra mention, but this work probably began my great love with all things Arthurian, the artwork is amazing, and it’s just one of the most vibrant treasures.

Chapter Books:

6. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
ordinary princess

Again, I cannot recommend it enough-a committee suggesting they hire a dragon to help wed their plain daughter, a princess who runs off rather than having it and finds living with animals in the wood a rather unpractical affair and so gets work with her non-anthropomorphized squirrel and crow…read it! I do every spring.

7. The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
perilousgard2

And this is the book I read every fall. It’s set in England during Mary Tudor’s reign, with the stubborn, curious, and practical Kate sent into exile in a palace full of mysterious circumstances and tales of living elves…It’s a retelling and expansion of the Tam Lin tale and it’s brilliant.

8. The Gammage Cup: A Novel of the Minnipins by Carol Kendall and Erik Blegvad
TheGammageCup1

This world is delightfully filled with poetry, courage, and discovery.

9. A Royal Pain by Ellen Conford
a-royal-pain-img

This one is more real-world…almost. “A sixteen-year-old in Kansas, who discovers she is really a princess, is taken to a tiny European monarchy to assume her duties and marry a distasteful neighboring prince, and in the ensuing weeks tries to become such a “royal pain” that everyone will want to be rid of her.” It’s great fun, and a good read-aloud book.

10. My Angelica by Carol Lynch Williams
books_angelica

Angelica is an elementary student who dreams of becoming a great and famous romance writer! Unfortunately, her book is filled with sentimental tripe wrapped in hilariously absurd euphemisms. Her best friend is both a good poet who’s aware of this problem and utterly in love with her. It’s a ridiculously charming read. Why it didn’t catch on I do not know.

So! How about you guys? What are your favorite childhood books that other people’s lack of knowledge keeps you from talking about? Have you read any of these?

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