Monday, September 28, 2015

Why I Believe in the Power of Happily Ever Afters

Cinderella Happily Ever After

Way back in April I wrote a post about why I believe we enjoy dark and gruesome things in our fiction. Today I want to share with you my completely opposing thoughts on that. You should know, I’m a paradox. As in, I somehow manage to be two totally contradictory things at the same time and have utterly contradictory thoughts on basically any subject. Seriously, I could make an argument for both sides for almost anything. It’s ridiculous. And confusing. (But also sometimes useful because I often can serve as a mediator.)

Anyway, you might want to read that first post before this one because I’ll be referencing it a lot and telling you why I think we should have both dark and fluffy stories.

We all know the line. . . “And they lived happily ever after.” Disney has pounded this in our heads since we were wee things dancing around to their happy little songs. (Okay, sometimes we still do that, don’t deny it.) Something about a happy ending is satisfactory. There’s nothing like that blissful feeling of reading the last page of a book where everything has been all tidied up and we can close the cover knowing our beloved characters are now off living happy lives beyond the pages.

But why? Aren’t those “happily ever afters” unrealistic? I mean, just because you married a handsome prince doesn’t mean your life is going to be perfect paradise to the end of your days. As I said in the previous post, life isn’t fluffy.

BUT, and this is a big but here, life is NOT all darkness and horror and grittiness either. I know sometimes it feels that way, trust me, I know very well. Sometimes life is just downright awful and those happily ever afters seem more unrealistic than ever. But I think that’s the very reason we need them.Peter Pan - Happiest Things

Why do we read books or watch TV? Escapism. We want to escape the real world for a little while. We want to laugh with the hobbits in the Shire, dance with the fauns in Narnia, search for treasure with Peter Pan in Neverland. We want to reawaken that child-like wonder inside all of us within the beauty and magic of words. Fiction can be a wonderful thing. And as unrealistic as it may often seem, it can teach us so much about the very real lives we’re living. It can inspire. Who isn’t inspired by the jolly, simple life of a hobbit? Of Lucy Pevensie’s faith? Or Captain America’s deep sense of justice? Fiction teaches us and inspires us and helps us in this crazy and often scary place we call life.

Sometimes we need something lighthearted to remind us that no matter how dark things are, light can always be found.

My mom and little sister aren’t big on dark fiction. They much prefer the cheeriness of Anne of Green Gables or Andy Griffith, and I think that’s fantastic. I love how they expose themselves to lighter, happier things. Not to say there’s anything wrong with dark fiction (I made a whole post about why it’s important after all), I personally love it! And that’s the point right there. We should expose ourselves to things that make us happy (ya know, as long as they’re not sinful), not things that depress us or tear us down. I’ve watched the Lord of the Rings movies around 23849 times, but it’d be insane for my mom to watch them over and over again, because she doesn’t like them. Mirram Neal fairly recently did a wonderful post on focusing on the things in life that make us better mentally, not worse. It’s something that’s on my mind a lot. I encourage you to read it!

There are a lot of people out there who don’t want to deal with dark fiction, and that’s OKAY. Happy stories are good! And having hard issues in fiction is good, too. VARIETY is good. The Hunger Games is one of my favorite books, yet so is Howl’s Moving Castle. The first one is very dark and depressing, the second makes me laugh and grin from the first sentence to the last. But what if we only had one or the other type? Just dark stuff or just fluffy? That wouldn’t be very useful.

We need fiction that brings up the hard issues and helps us face the “dragons” of our lives. To learn how to be brave and deal with the hardships of life. But we also need happy stories. Why? (Yes, I’m finally getting to my main point. I’ve gone around the world to get there, I know.) This is why I believe we need happy stories. . .

Because we need to be reminded there is always HOPE.

Maybe marrying a handsome prince won’t bring us a happily ever after, but clinging to Jesus, our Prince of Peace, will assure us eternal hope. No, life isn’t easy, but God has promised His children a Perfect Paradise after this life. We really do have a happily ever after to look forward to. And right now we have joy in Him no matter the hardships pounding on us.

Fluffy stories, happy endings, they provide a break from the weariness of life. They show us light and joy can be found. They remind us of HOPE. Someday our Prince WILL come. Someday we will have a happily ever after.

So whether you like the dark stories that help us face our dragons, or the happy ones that remind us we have hope, that’s okay. Either way, fiction is a powerful thing. And if we use it right, it can be a wonderful thing.

There is Always Hope

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Bookshelf Tag

So lately (oh, who am I kidding? Since I started blogging) I’ve been the worst about not doing tags. I LOVE being tagged and am always so thrilled and honored when people pass them my way, and yet half the time I forget about them and never do them. I’m a horrible person, I am! It’s not ingratitude, it’s just a bad memory and laziness. Horrid.

With that said, there was one tag I promised myself I was absolutely not going to forget and would do. It’s a tag all about my bookshelf and the books thereon. How could I not do such a delicious tag? BOOKS, PEOPLE.

A HUGE thank you to my girl Deborah @ The Road of a Writer for telling me to do this thing. (Even though it was way back in June. . .) You knew I couldn’t resist!

So here we go, a tag all about meh babies!


1. Describe your bookshelf (or wherever it is you keep your books-it doesn’t actually have to be a shelf!) and where you got it from:
I actually have three because, ya know, books.


This was my first one that my parents got me for Christmas from. . .I don’t know where. But before then I never really had a bookshelf, so I was quite ecstatic. It’s been rearranged about 2389 times since I got it.


These little wall shelves were a rummage sale find. I had to slap a fresh coat of paint on them, but otherwise they were perfect. And yes, that’s Smaug with the TARDIS up there.

DSC_0511The dragon has the phone box.


Lastly, we have this big, gorgeous wall shelf that my wonderful dad built for me when my other two shelves ran out of room. Let’s just say he made his book-lover daughter VERY happy. Isn’t it beautiful? (And if you’re wondering, that is a fez on the top left there. My best friend and fellow Whovian got me the TARDIS and fez as a present because she’s the awesomest person in the world. Obviously.)

I may or may not spend immense amounts of time just staring (and perhaps drooling. . .) at my shelves. Boooooks.

2. Do you have any special or different way of organizing your books?
This is a funny thing about me. I’m so insanely OCD. Everything in my life has to be precisely organized and straight and even and clean and PERFECT. (And yeah, it’s annoying.) BUT with my bookshelves there’s really no actual order to them. You’d think I’d be obsessed with making them perfectly organized since I’m so OCD and books and rearranging them are my favorite things. Yet I don’t put them alphabetically or anything like that. They are organized in a way, but a Christine way that only makes sense to me and I couldn’t possibly try to explain it. I think the problem is I’m OCD in the way things look. So instead of keeping things alphabetical or the like, I do my best to make it all look good—grouping similar colors, putting books the same size together, etc. Obviously I keep series together and do my best to group them by author. And I do kind of place them by genre. . .ish. Like I have most of my fairytales together and the classics on one shelf and such. But otherwise there’s really no rhyme or reason to it. I just want it to look pretty. Shameful.

3. What's the thickest (most amount of pages) book on your shelf?
This was tough, I apparently have a lot of thick books. But The Library of Classic Adventures boasted 1152 pages and won for most pages.


It’s a book that has a bunch of different classics together, Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels, things like that. I’ve never actually read any of them because I can’t seem to get into classics *cough, cough* but it looks nice on my shelves. I like pretty things, I can’t help it!

4. What's the thinnest (least amount of pages) book on your shelf?
That would be The Elements of Style, a necessity for every writer so I’m told. Even though I haven’t actually really looked through my copy. . . But I have no doubt I’ll use it plenty as my years of writing go on.


5. Is there a book you received as a birthday gift?
Wait, I supposed to ask for things other than books for my birthday? o.o That’s absurd!

Ahem. Yes, many, many books for birthdays. Seriously, my birthday and Christmas lists (I’m not the only one who still makes Christmas lists, right?) are 90% books. One of my newest ones would be Dragonwitch, the 5th book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.


Loooove that series! Except I have so many books on my shelves I haven’t read, Dragonwitch has yet to be opened, but it’s on my read-VERY-soon list.

6. What's the smallest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?
Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep by Gail Carson Levine. It’s so wittle and adorbz.


Also it would have worked for the last question because Deborah herself sent it to me for my birthday like the wonderful, fantastic friend she is. <3

7. What's the biggest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?
This is one of my favoritest things I own. It’s a humongous annotated collection of Sherlock Holmes stories that I found at a secondhand bookstore place for just a few bucks. I almost died of sheer joy when I saw it.


Sadly, it’s volume two. I keep hoping I’ll just come across volume one sometime, then I’ll have the whole Sherlock Holmes collection in two amazing, annotated books. But the likelihood of me stumbling upon the first volume is pretty low, I should probably just go to ebay or somewhere and find it there. Buuut it’s also fun being on the hunt for books like this. It’s all about the hunt!

8. Is there a book from a friend on your shelf?
Deborah passed along Orphan’s Song by Gillian Bronte Adams (along with a couple other books) my way just because she’s the nicest person in the world. (Seriously, go follow her blog, she’s the best.)


I’ve been following Gillian's blog for a while, and when her debut novel released I was chomping at the bit to get myself a copy. Then, lo and behold, Deborah surprised me with one. (Have I mentioned she’s the best? Because SHE’S THE BEST.)

9. Most expensive book?
This took me a moment of perusing my shelves. I’m cheap (and broke) and will rarely pay anything above $15 for a book, and even that is only for the ones I really want. But then I remembered our second copy of Lord of the Rings which was nearly $40 I think.


Our first copy is very worn and even has pages falling out. It went through my dad, brother, and me. Much loved. So we eventually had to buy another one.

10. The last book you read on your shelf?
Aquifer by Jonathan Friesen. Sadly, I didn’t like it at all.

11. Of all the books on your shelf, which was the first you read?
I’m not actually 100% sure, but I think it’d be Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace.


I read this series real early on and it was actually one of the first books that made me realize how much I loved to read. This series has been a huge part of my childhood on up through teenage years. I can’t express how special these books are to me. I still adore them.

12. Do you have more than one copy of a book?
Quite a few. I mean, when you find a pretty copy of a book you love for like a dollar at a secondhand bookstore or something, can you really resist? I’m a book collector, what can I say? Some of my favorites would be my 3 copies of The Hobbit.


13. Do you have the complete series of any book series?
LOTS. I loooove me some series. I have a lot of uncompleted series too though (again I say, I’m broke) but I try my best to complete series. Even if it takes a while.

I’m probably most proud of all my Bryan Davis books.


I have all the Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire books. All the Starlight ones, and his Echoes from the Edge trilogy. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten the last two of Children of the Bard, but SOON. I need them! Yeah, I’m obsessed with his books, I won’t deny it. And by won’t deny it I mean I demand every person I meet to GO READ HIS AWESOME BOOKS!

14. What's the newest addition to your shelf?
Jut last week I found the 4th Percy Jackson book for the outrageous price of. . .50 cents. Secondhand bookstores, people. They’re the wellsprings of a book lover’s life!


I haven’t actually read the Percy Jackson books yet though. . . But I’m trying to collect them and then read them, because I’m almost positive I’ll love ‘em. Annnd my memory is basically non existent so sometimes I like to collect at least the first few books of a series so I can read them all together instead of having huge gaps between reads in which I’ll forget what happens in the last book. (Is that super weird?) Right now I have the first, third, and fourth of the Percy Jackson books. I must find the second one! Then maybe I’ll start reading them.

15. What book has been on your shelf FOREVER?
*points to Betsy-Tacy series*

16. What's the most recently published book on your shelf?
Rooglewood Press’s Five Enchanted Roses collection which released on July 27th.


And I reviewed it a couple weeks ago. LOVED IT.

17. The oldest book on your shelf (as in, the actual copy is old)?
Not real sure about this one. I had a few that are quite old. One of them is a copy of Little Women.


It didn’t have a date in it, but it looks the oldest out of all my books. Isn’t it a sweet little copy?

18. A book you won?
Resistance by Jaye L. Knight.


I haven’t read it yet, but I hope to VERY soon. I was sooo excited when I won it. I’ve only ever heard good things about this book and it sounds just up my alley. Seriously, it looks amazing.

19. A book you'd hate to let out of your sight (aka a book you never let someone borrow)?
Mmm. . . All of them? *cough, cough* I’m verrry possessive and protective over my books. I’m sorry, but they’re meh children! *huggles them all* Okay, okay. Probably my first copy of The Hobbit.


That little book literally changed my life and shaped who I am and what I love. It opened up a whole new world. Plus I’ve read it over 10 times. . . It’s SO special to me. I don’t mind if family members borrow it, but I couldn’t bear it leaving the house.

20. Most beat up book?
Probably a copy of Eight Cousins.


I want to say it was passed down by one of my mom’s family members, but I’m not entirely sure about that.

21. Most pristine book?
I don’t even know. I treat my books like something sacred (meh babies! <333) so the majority of them (except the used ones I bought in bad condition) are all pretty pristine.

22. A book from your childhood?
Most of the books I read as a child are somewhere else in the house, but the early Betsy-Tacy books would definitely count, as well as The Hobbit.

23. A book that's not actually your book?
This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti is technically my dad’s but I keep it on my shelves.


Really cool book!

24. A book with a special/different cover (e.g. leather bound, soft fuzzy cover etc.)?
Okay, so last Christmas my parents got me this copy of The Hobbit and it was basically my favorite gift and one of my most favorite books on my shelves. It’s big and gorgeous and the cover is FUZZY. Unfortunately, you can’t really tell in the pic, but it’s literally soft and fuzzy and wonderful.


It’s so gorgeous. And it has beautimous illustrations inside.


I just really love this book, okay?

25. A book that is your favorite color?
Speaking of favorite books I own. . . Not only is it my favorite color, it’s one of my favoritest stories of EVER.
Look at this thing, look at it!



26. Book that's been on your shelf the longest that you STILL haven't read?
So many. It’s embarrassing. I buy way more books than I have time for. I have a problem, I do. And then books I bought ages ago get left behind for newer, shinier ones. Poor things! The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott would be one of them.


Classics always get put off for newer books. But I will read you someday, dear little book, I will!

27. Any signed books?
A fair amount, actually. I think the majority of my Bryan Davis books are signed. You can buy them from his website for really good prices and he’ll sign them with no extra charge. It’s awesome!


This one I won so he put my name there which made me happy!

I also found this little treasure at a secondhand bookstore (I’m obsessed, okay?!) a few months back.


I was quite excited. (Even though I’ve yet to read any T.A. Barron books, but I will!)


If you’ve made it this far, then I applaud you! I hope I didn’t overload you with too many bookish pictures. I may have went a little overboard, but I kind of had the best time photographing my children. It was lovely sharing some of my collection! Obviously I have to pass on this amazing tag. . .

~I tag~

Jack @ However Improbable

Skye @ Ink Castles

Kiri Liz @ Lianne Taimenlore

Sarah @ Sarah, Plain and Average

Rachel @ Secret Scribblings

and ANYONE else who wants to do this tag because it’s too delicious to not pass on to ALL the peoples, but there is no obligation to anybody to do it. Whether I tagged you specifically or not. Only do it if you want to. And also take note, it is in no way a requirement to take pictures. I think it was originally meant to simply answer questions. I was just having fun pulling out my babies and capturing shots of them.

If you do participate, please share the link! I adore seeing people’s book collections. Gimme ALL the books! (Hello, my name is Christine and I’m a bookaholic.)

So tell me fellow bookaholics, what’s YOUR most prized book in your collection? And what’s the last book you read? Was it good? Bad? Share with me all your bookish thoughts! Seriously, I could talk about books to the end of time and beyond, so speaketh with me!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Beautiful People - Eryth {September 2015}

So yes, we’re halfway through September (wait what????) and I’m just getting to BP. But really, did you expect anything less? Our ingenious, imaginative, inventive, and all good things i hosts Sky and Cait have once again conjured some perfectly delightful questions to interrogate one of our characters with, so clickity click one of those links to snag the questions and link up.

Beautiful People Button

I’m pretty sure NaNoWriMo is trying to do a sneak attack on me, but I’m watching it closely. *narrows eyes and stares* And because of my watchful eyes, I’ve been thinking about characters from the series I work on for NaNo, Colors of a Dragon Scale. This naturally led up to me deciding to do a character from there.

This series features a loooot of different main characters (each book has a different pair) but it all started with Bryth and Eryth, who I still to this day see as the main main characters. A white-haired elf named Bryth was the spark that started the series, but with her came along a quiet half-elf, Eryth. Her tender heart quickly grew a soft spot in my own, and she’ll always be one of my preciousest (we’re pretending that’s a word, shhh) babies. It was Bryth and Eryth’s book, my very first NaNo, that made me realize how much I really do love writing, and from then on I become serious about it.  It’s no wonder they’re so special to me. So when I saw this month’s questions, Eryth immediately popped in my mind. I’m quite excited for you to meet her! (Just be warned my writing has, um, improved a fair amount since I made these characters and wrote their book. . .)

ErythOutside, they could see smoke rising in the dark blue sky and hear faint screams from many directions.
Bryth rushed down the stairs, clutching her swords tightly. "Now we can finally get the answers we're looking for.”
Eryth ran after her. "Bryth?" she said, finally finding her voice again.
Bryth stopped and turned. "Yes?"
Eryth paused for a moment, looking closely at the elf. Her eyes were beginning to glow that deep red again. This took Eryth by surprise. They almost seemed menacing like that.
"What is it, Eryth?" Bryth asked, her tone rushed, though she tried to sound calm.
"I just..." She faltered and looked at the ground, ashamed of herself.
Bryth sheathed one of her swords to put a hand on the half-elf. "Everything will be all right.”
"I'm really scared though." Eryth shook her head. "I know I shouldn't be, but I cannot help it. I was not able to save Iraila. I just...I don't want to fail anyone else."
"Eryth, you have never failed anyone."
"But Iraila—"
"No," Bryth interrupted. "You did not fail Iraila. You did everything you could do, which is more than what most can." She pulled out Eryth's sword and placed it in the girl's hand. "Gather your courage, Eryth," she said gently.
"I'm not sure I have any.”
"I know you do. But I will protect you, you can count on that. Now come on, we have to hurry before they do too much damage."
Eryth stared at her sword in her hand, the very sword Iraila and her family had made for her. She clutched it tightly and gave Bryth a nod. "Let's go."

~ Eryth ~

1. They’re in a crisis: who would they really like to see right now?
Her dragon rider partner and long time best friend, Bryth. Without a doubt. Where Eryth is timid and kindhearted, Bryth is fearless and lethal. Not to mention loyal. If Eryth is in trouble, she’ll stop at nothing to help her. Then of course there’s Neriin, Eryth’s dragon. Dragons are quite useful in crises.
Airen would also be another pick. He’s the prince of their land and being as how his sister, Iraila, is the other best friend of Eryth and Bryth, Eryth knows him quite well. They claim to be “friends” but there’s a lot more going between those two than that. *grins* (They maaay be one of my biggest personal ships out of my characters. *cough, cough* And Airen is one of my top favoritest characters I have. . . I should really do a BP of him one of these days.)

2. Are they easy to get along with?
Most definitely! Eryth is almost too nice in that she pretty much never stands up for herself or disagrees with someone to their face. She’s always willing to lend a helping hand or give a kind and encouraging word, if her shyness doesn’t hold her back that is. She’s probably the easiest one to get along with out of all the characters in the series, maybe out of all my characters period.

3. Who was the last person they had a deep conversation with?
That would be Bryth. No surprise there. XD Their book actually ended with them having a heart to heart.

4. They’re in the middle of a huge crowd of people: how do they feel?
If she’s by herself, extremely uncomfortable. She loves people, but too many overwhelms her. But if she has a friend at her side she can draw off their company and relax for the most part.

5. Do they believe in luck or miracles?
Luck, no. Miracles, absolutely. She’s a devout child of the Creator (the God figure of that world) and has no doubt that He can, and will, do miracles.

6. Do they like and get along with their neighbors?
She lives in the castle as Princess Iraila’s companion and has practically become another daughter to the King and Queen. She’s got the kindly King and Queen, her mother also staying in the castle, Bryth living nearby, the Princess, and of course Airen. She’s very content with the people surrounding her, yes.

7. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
Well, she lives in fantasy world. But in her world she would want to go to a place called Evinnian, a foresty land inhabited by elves that’s her birthplace. She and her mother left when Eryth was only a baby, so she would love to go there and see the gorgeous forests and meet her deceased father’s kin.

8. How do they feel about their body?
Sometimes she gets a little self conscious for being a half-elf (half elf, half human), especially around elves because many are prejudice against such things. She also has one green eye and one blue which causes for the occasional gaze from strangers and it makes her very uncomfortable. However, around loved ones she’s quite at ease with herself.

9. What is the cruelest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?
I really don’t know what the cruelest thing would be. I know she’s been accused of cowardice many times which is a hard blow. Her father was a great warrior and she feels obligated to live up to him, desires to make him proud. But really any mean word hurts her deeply. She’s such a tenderhearted thing, she can’t handle cruelty well at all. Though what’s probably worse is when people talk badly of her loved ones. Bryth is a bit of an outcast and looked down upon, a lot of mean gossip floats around. When Eryth catches wind of it, or is even told in person she shouldn’t be friends with such a person, it tears her apart. Usually she finds a secluded place to cry it out and then goes to her mother who always has the right words to soothe her.

10. What’s the kindest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?
Eryth was chosen by a dragon to be its rider, which is a high honor but also a very demanding job. The dragon riders rank a little higher than the knights in their job of protecting the kingdom, so naturally Eryth has some trepidation over the whole thing. But then, on her first day being initiated as an official dragon rider, Airen, who is known for his jokes and playful charms mind you, told her with complete sincerity that he thought she’d be the best dragon rider in the kingdom. All she could manage was a quiet thank you, but she’s held these words close ever since.

Goodness, I haven’t visited this character in years! I wrote her story back in 2010 and ever since she’s been tucked away, patiently waiting to return in  the last couple books of the series. I didn’t realize how much I missed my baby girl. Now I’m even MORE excited about this year’s NaNo!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Five Enchanted Roses Book Review

Five Enchanted Roses Cover


Rediscover the Enchantment

A ship bearing the souls of sinful sailors drifts upon a ghostly sea. An abbey looms as the final defense between mortals and ghouls of the underworld. In the stillness of a throne room, statues stand forever frozen in a moment of terror. Monsters and men stalk their prey deep in the jungle’s shadows. A rose blooms in the dead of winter, sheltered in the ruins of an ancient Scottish castle.

And only true love can free the Beast from his prison.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Five Enchanted Roses is Rooglewood Press's second fairytale collection and features five Beauty and the Beast retelling novellas. A couple weeks ago I reviewed Five Glass Slippers, their first collection.

As you probably all know by now, I’ve been itching to get my hands on this collection since they first announced it. It’s what spawned Burning Thorns into existence, as Burning Thorns was originally a novella I entered into the contest that produced this collection. I feel like I owe Five Enchanted Roses a lot, because without it I would never have been given the spark to write Burning Thorns. So naturally I had to get my hands on this special book as soon as possible.

That came sooner than I expected when I won the prize bundle giveaway celebrating the release of the collection, which included the book and a bunch of other fabulous prizes.

5ER Prize BundleIsn’t it such a beautiful prize pack?

I have to give a shout out to Rooglewood Press and each author of this collection for this wonderful bundle. I adore each and every one of my prizes. They’re so special to me!

I was so excited to start reading. After all, this had five different retellings of my absolute favorite fairytale. And, let me tell you, it did not disappoint. So much talent and creativity was put into every single story and my mind was blown again and again. I loved them ALL.

Esprit de la Rose by Kaycee Browning
Rating: 5 Stars

My goodness. This was the strangest Beauty and the Beast retelling I’ve ever seen. The tale starts us on the high seas in an unnerving storm and sweeps us into a world of sirens and ghost ships. Definitely not your every day B&B retelling. At first I was pulled if to rate this a 4 or 5 stars. See, I’m not an ocean person. I’m terrified of drowning and have no intention of ever getting on a boat. I do like pirates (come on, pirates are awesome), but I’m still always wary over any sort of swashbuckling stories solely for the fact of them being on the sea. I just don’t like water stories. And this whole story was set on the ocean. On a netherworld ocean with a cursed ship full of grotesque looking pirates that is. It very much reminded me of the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie where they’re on the Flying Dutchman and the men are cursed to stay there and work for Davy Jones. I don’t like that movie for those parts alone. It just grosses me out. So when I saw this novella had that vibe I was a little worried. But as I kept reading I ended up falling in love with the tale and decided it deserved every single one of those 5 stars. I wasn’t wild about the icky factor of the cursed men, but other than that this story was an amazing read. And you know what? It ended up being my favorite out of the whole, amazing collection. A huge applause to Kaycee Browning for making a dark, swashbuckling story I loved.
I think what really grabbed me was that there wasn’t a single dull or predictable moment. I never knew what would happen next. There was a strange and interesting surprise on every single page and I just had to know how it would all play out. Kaycee Browning’s beautiful writing style and vivid descriptions pulled me right into the chilling world and cursed ship, and her brave but unpredictable characters grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go (and often had me laughing).
Cecilia, the heroine, kept her wits about her even after finding herself on the ghostly ship full of horrifying cursed men that had no good intentions toward her. I loved how she, even though terrified, kept her head high and wouldn’t let anyone get the best of her, not even the charismatic Captain Pepin. Which brings us to another reason I adored this story: Pepin. Our “beast” is the enigmatic, charming captain of the ghostly crew, full of danger and sarcasm. Really, what more would you want from a ship captain? Though he really was a horrible person, his cocky wit had me laughing through most of the story. I shamefully got caught up in his charms. The dialogue between him and Cecilia was always the best.
This was a story like no other and I loved it. It was creepy and chilling and all around bizarre, but that’s what made it great.
Warning: There were some mature implication of some things that could happen, though they never did, and due to its all around chilling factor I wouldn’t recommend it to a young audience.

Wither by Savannah Jezowski
Rating: 5 Stars

This story, though far different from the last, also has a rather chilling factor to it. Our heroine, Lilybet, finds herself leaving the safety of her village straight into the Netherworld—a land crawling with ghoulish beings. What struck me most about this story was the world itself. It was so different and fascinating, I wanted to spend more time there. I can’t put this world into a category, it almost felt medieval with touches of modern technology and life. And then you have the whole land of the Netherworld which sets it into a completely unique category of its own.
The story itself follows along quite well with the original Beauty and the Beast fairytale. It’s like if you took the B&B story and set it in a chilling world of ghosts and wraiths you’d have Wither. Pretty cool idea, right? It felt like the classic story in a completely unique way, and I loved that about it.
The characters were also endearing. Lilybet was very down to earth. She’s used to taking on the heavy chores for her family, and as a result has grown strong and tough. She’s not exactly your normal damsel in distress, but she’s also not the “has-to-be-one-of-the-boys” type of heroines either. She was sweet and human and could hold her own when she had to. I found her a very refreshing protagonist. While our beast character, Corwin, though a bit temperamental, captured my heart almost immediately. Add in a frisky wolfhound and some invisible people and you’ve got yourself quite the great cast.
What I really loved about this story is how it managed to be somewhat dark, very witty, often humorous, and emotional all at once. It fascinated me, made me laugh, and tugged at my heartstrings. A perfect combination!
Warning: Though this story focused a lot on the characters and not the world, the world was very dark, full of ghosts and things. So take note of that if that’s not your thing. It did have mentions of an Ever Father though and felt allegorical to me. I was okay with how it was handled. Also there was this one scene where SPOILERS a character was sucking the blood out of another character and at first she thought he was drinking her blood but he was actually pulling the poison out of her. It was pretty icky though so do be warned. END SPOILERS

Stone Curse by Jenelle Schmidt
Rating: 5 Stars

Ah, this story was beautiful. Tucked comfortably in the middle of the collection, Stone Curse provides a bit of a break from the more darker themes while giving us a sweet, but still exciting tale full of originality. This story felt like a fairytale in almost every way. It journeys the reader through an empty castle to a treacherous wood, steps through a calm village and cozy inn, and pulls us right to a ruinous castle covered in thorns. The perfect equation for a fairytale, am I right? The entire fairytale-like setting was one of my favorite parts of the story and I had a hard time leaving the beautiful little world when I came to the end. But the lovely setting is only one of the many great aspects.
This story is completely original and yet still holds to so many important Beauty and the Beast elements. It plops us in the eyes of a lady-in-waiting, Karyna our heroine, right in the middle of the story, and with each page we learn more and more why this castle’s throne room is full of stone people, and why a beastly looking prince roams the empty halls. I found the whole stone curse utterly enthralling. But there’s so much more than just a room full of stone people. Why did the curse turn the prince into a beast instead of stone? How did the curse even happen? These questions and more had me turning one page after another and cheering Karyna on as she bravely tries to put everything right.
Karyna herself was a wonderful protagonist, so sweet and courageous and loving. ALL the characters were completely endearing. Both the Prince Barend (the beast) and another character, Ritter, snagged my heart so hard I’m having withdrawal issues. These characters were just precious, and the friendships made me smile.
Really, the only thing I disliked about this story was that on occasion it felt like the writing ventured a little more into telling than showing. There were also a few little plot threads that kind of never got completely resolved or delved into as deeply as I had hoped. But it is a novella and I completely understand it had to be kept trimmed down to the word limit.
All in all, it was an absolutely wonderful tale. The twists! So many amazing twists. I got ecstatic at each new one revealed. I was literally zooming through the last few chapters I was so excited and intrigued. And the ending. . .perfection. Once I read the last sentence, I let out a sigh of contentment and just had to sit back and soak in all the beauty for a moment before I could return to normal life. I adored this story, I really did.
Warning: Though not as dark as the first two, this still held some creepy themes. There were two different fights that got pretty violent, though nothing was ever described with too much detail. I found it all handled quite well.

Rosara and the Jungle King by Dorian Tsukioka
Rating: 5 Stars

Whoa. This story was something different altogether. It took me on a wild, exciting ride, right from the start. We begin with Rosara hiding in the jungle from a cruel man of her tribe who seeks to make her his wife. Then we meet Tupa. . .a jaguar. . .who can talk. The tribes and jungle was quite a new turn from your usual medieval, fairytale setting. Though not exactly my favorite type of setting, I found it so interesting I got completely pulled in anyway.
What struck me right from the first sentence was Dorian Tsukioka’s seamless writing style. My goodness, the talent! Literally every single sentence was beautiful and smooth. The easy, fast-paced style had me turning pages effortlessly, except when I stopped to just admire the perfectly put together sentences. I found the writing flawless, I really did. Even if I didn’t like the story itself, the writing alone would have probably made me give it 5 stars. (I will warn you though, it’s written in first person, present tense which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve gotten so used to that style at this point I hardly even noticed myself.) But I LOVED the story. It moves fast, without a dull moment in between, and had my heart beating nervously at each peril. It was so unpredictable I could never guess what danger Rosara would find herself in next. And she found herself in a lot, let me tell you.
Rosara was a great heroine, brave and sacrificial. . .if not a reckless, but that just made her human. Then we have Tupa and ooooh my. I fell in love the moment he opened his mouth and shocked Rosara when he talked, and from there my love only grew stronger. Both the characters were so sacrificial, so willing to do whatever it took to keep the other safe, which caused a lot of trouble for each of them, but left us with an exciting and satisfying ending. I read the whole thing without once getting up. I simply could not put it down. Dorian Tsukioka knows how to weave a tale! Unfortunately, there were a bunch of elements that almost forced me to bump it down to 4 stars, but it was so well written I couldn’t not give it a full 5 stars. But do read through the warnings. . .
Warning: Rosara is from a very brutal tribe where a man usually attains his wives (yes, plural) through, um, assault. That’s just a perfectly normal thing in their tribe. *shudders* SPOILERS There’s a scene where such a thing almost happens but the girl makes it out before it does, and everything is very much implied, never outright said, which I appreciated. END SPOILERS The women are not treated well and there are a few mentions of abuse. But, I will say, the author did a good job handling it and nothing was ever exactly SAID, I think a lot of it would go over some younger readers’ heads. But still, I just wish it hadn’t been there at all. There was also a lot of violence that wasn’t always brushed over. The descriptions could get rather vivid. And, lastly, the characters believed and prayed to spirits of the forest, some spirits we even see. There were a lot of beliefs such as having to give someone a proper burial so their soul doesn’t wander in agony. Things like that. Those parts made me a bit uncomfortable, though the world was so magical and fantasy-esque it felt fictional enough to not completely deter me. But still, I DO NOT recommend this one for a younger audience. The overall themes were just too dark and disturbing. So proceed with caution.

The Wulver’s Rose by Hayden Wand
Rating: 4 Stars

I feel terrible giving this one a 4 stars when all the other stories snagged a 5 from me, but let me assure you, that does not mean this story was any less beautiful than the others. In fact, in the midst of all the dark magic and strange themes, it was a refreshing story to end with. This one was definitely the most mild compared to the wild tales of the others. It had a quiet beauty that I found so appealing.
From the opening of the intriguing prologue, I was pulled in. This story follows the tale of a Scottish family suddenly caught in debt and forced to move to the Highlands in a little cottage. The youngest daughter, Bonnie, blames herself for all their ill-luck, so when her father returns home one day claiming he encountered a legendary beast that demands Bonnie come to his castle, she leaves without hesitation in hopes of redeeming herself.
What I loved about this tale is how closely it followed the original Beauty and the Beast story. It was the closest match yet compared to the others, while still holding its own. I found it so interesting how it was set in Scotland. I LOVE all things Scottish and the like, so a B&B retelling in Scotland piqued my interest the moment I heard about it. It felt Scottish, with the accents and rolling green hills and sheep and livelihood of the characters. One could easily see Hayden Wand did her research.
Unfortunately, the overall plot didn’t wow me. As much as I enjoyed the Scottish setting, the whole first half of the story felt a little too much like a historical fiction more than a fairytale. Which is certainly not a bad thing, I just personally don’t like historical fictions (I know, I know, horrid!). I’m not one much for realistic, historical tales. They bore me. The first section of this tale didn’t feel quite as exciting as the others. BUT once we do get to the Beast’s castle and settle into the Beauty and the Beast-ness of the story, it definitely picks up.
The Beast, in his melancholy, quiet politeness, grabbed my heartstrings and wouldn’t let go. I could feel his pain, and really just wanted to give him a big hug. Bonnie, too. She, as well, is a little quiet and timid, but so willing to do whatever it takes to help her family. I love how this one so deeply delved into family. Instead of the normal spiteful older sisters, Bonnie’s sisters are loving and full of life. And her kindhearted father and brother play key roles in the story to spur Bonnie on her journey.
What really made the story shine was its theme of God’s light. Woven throughout we get glimpses of hope and God’s guidance as Bonnie prays for Him to light her way. I was happy to see this added to the storyline.
Though a little slow at times, this story still captured my heart with its sacrificial characters, beautiful setting, and hopeful themes. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized it didn’t feel like a novella. All the other stories sometimes seemed a little too fast and like I was missing something due to the short word count, but this one really felt like a full story. By the end I felt as if I had been on a long journey with Bonnie, making the ending even more satisfying. Hayden Wand has a gift for putting so much into so few words.
This precious story ends the collection with the message that resonates through all the stories, what Beauty and the Beast really means: Love redeems.
Warning: This was definitely the cleanest and most mild of the five stories. There’s one mention of druids and of course the use of magic, but it was actually portrayed as a very evil thing in this one. SPOILERS At the beginning there’s a fire and someone gets burned END SPOILERS but Hayden Wand handled everything beautifully without ever getting too gory or dark.

This was one amazing collection of Beauty and the Beast tales. The time and effort these five girls put into their stories shone through every page, well deserving a spot in the collection. All the different ways they took a single story and twisted it into their own was fascinating. And the CHARACTERS. I loved all the characters, from every story. Each so unique but so lovable in their own way.

I was rather surprised at how dark the theme of the whole collection was. Five Glass Slippers had a much more lighthearted, family friendly set of stories, as well as a very broad mix. This one, though the stories were very different, still clung together with a specific dark feel, which I think may limit the audience. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under 15 or 16 years old, especially Esprit de la Rose, Wither, and Rosara and the Jungle King. With that said, Beauty and the Beast tends to have a far darker feel than something like Cinderella, and I think each story fit the fairytale well. Fairytales, original fairytales that haven’t been Disney-fied, were always meant to be rather dark, and I like them that way. The higher the stakes, the more powerful the message comes across. The darkness in these tales only made the light of redemption woven in their pages glow brighter.

If you’re a fan of fairytale retellings that provide a bit of a shiver but touch the soul with messages of love found even in the darkest places, then the Five Enchanted Roses collection is for you.

I give this whole, wonderful thing a shining. . .

5 out of 5 stars

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...