A-Z Reading Challenge: Symbol: (S)mythology by Jeremy Tarr

Picture is from Goodreads.

So there’s sort of a story that goes with this book, and I thought I’d share it because who doesn’t love a story about a book? I don’t actually know where I found out about this book. I think I read a review of it somewhere. It wasn’t very popular or anything, but I was intrigued. I asked for it as a Christmas gift from my fiancé’s aunt. She bought the book online, and it didn’t get to her house in time for her Christmas party. When the book arrived, it was over a year before she was able to give it to me, and then it took me a couple years to actually read it. Maybe that’s not much of a story. The point is, this book and I have been in and out of each other’s lives for a long time, and I took the chance to read it first this year in the “symbol” category of the A-Z challenge, which you may believe is a made up category and it is, but it’s my challenge so I can make things up in order to read more books.

(S)mythology is a fairy tale for adults, though I think people who enjoy YA would like it too. It’s written in a very tongue in cheek style and features these really great illustrations. We follow Sophie on her quest for love and meaning in her life complete with ancient gods and grudges, blindness, merpeople, and crazy scientists.

This book is a great way to spend an afternoon (it’s a quick read) and it has some wonderful things to say about love. I recommend it for anyone who:

  • is a hopeless romantic
  • loves fairy tales/fairy tale adaptations
  • likes fun and dark illustrations like Gorey’s

Women Writers Reading Challenge #57: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth


Kate Forsyth’s book is an interesting look into the history of fairy tales themselves. The book focuses on Charlotte-Rose de la Force who is the author of the first written account of Rapunzel in Louis XIV’s France. She is told the story by a fellow nun, when she is forced into exile at an abbey. The book weaves between the “historical” account of Rapunzel’s life, Charlotte’s life, and the witch’s life, and a more interesting bunch of women you couldn’t meet anywhere.

Part fairy tale adaptation and part historical fiction, Forsyth takes the reader back when being a woman was (even more) dangerous. There’s a little magic, a little romance, and a little tragedy, so there’s something for everyone. I will say the romance gets a little…steamy, which I wasn’t expecting. It probably is not super safe for planes, which is where I read it, but luckily I had an entire aisle to myself.

This book was quite a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it to those interested in women writers of old, who love fairy tales, or need something to read (carefully) on an airplane.

Fairy Tale Adaptations Perfect for Halloween Viewing


As a companion to the post I did yesterday, I thought I’d share some Halloween appropriate movies for the less horror-inclined. There are many to choose from, but to narrow it down, I choose only fairy-tale adaptations. However, I have lots of suggestions, so I’ll have to do another one (maybe a musical post?) next year too.

Here they are, in no particular order (synopses from IMDB)

  • Mirror, Mirror (2012): This is one of my favorite Snow White adaptations because it’s colorful, lighter-hearted, and witty. I yearn for the nectar of your skin… Anyway, I think this version is underrated.

Synopsis: An evil queen steals control of a kingdom and an exiled princess enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright.

  • The Thief and the Cobbler (1993): One of my favorite animated films growing up, this film has plenty of wit and some really great artwork. A spin on the Arabian Nights, this movie is, as Paul says, “weird,” but it’s also so, so great.

Synopsis (there were two, but I liked this one best): Designed in the ’60s, this Arabian Nights fantasy uses expressive animation to detail the story of a shy, near-silent cobbler who tries to win the affections of a distant princess. Meanwhile, the entertainingly evil, rhyme-speaking Grand Vizier Zig-zag tries to win the Princess’s hand, and wages war on the peaceful Golden City. It’s up to a rather odd, unspeaking local thief to set things right by accident.

  • The Red Shoes (1948): A classic! If you haven’t seen this movie, you really should. It’s a great movie at any time, but it’s just the right amount of creepy for Halloween.

Synopsis: A young ballet dancer is torn between the man she loves and her pursuit to become a prima ballerina.

  • Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998): Probably the best film adaptation of Cinderella–at least in my opinion. I mean that adorable Leonardo da Vinci, Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston and those gorgeous costumes…what more could you ask for?

Synopsis: not even worth pasting here. Just think Cinderella, but better, and you’ve got it.

  • Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre (1982): Another holdover from my childhood, these are great if you’re having company, because there are enough bad effects to laugh at, with enough good actors and humor to keep it interesting. They’re also short, so there’s plenty of time to eat and talk in between. Some of my favorites are “The Princess and the Pea,” with Liza Minelli and “Sleeping Beauty,” starring Bernadette Peters. I think you can check these out from libraries, and apparently you can watch them on Hulu.

Synopsis: At a time when most other shows for children were either low-budget productions or product-inspired cartoons that were little more than half-hour commercials, this program set out to produce high-quality classic entertainment that children would enjoy. Much inspired by an earlier children’s program, Shirley Temple’s Storybook (1958) (also known as “Shirley Temple Theatre”), Shelley Duvall hosts this program featuring some of the best-known in Hollywood performing adaptations of traditional stories.

  • Willow (1988): Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a fairy-tale adaptation, but it’s got all the good fairy-tale ingredients and it’s one of my mom’s favorites.

Synopsis: A reluctant dwarf must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen.

  • Stardust (2007): Again, not an adaptation of a specific fairy-tale, but just think of it as a fairy-tale for grown ups based on Neil Gaiman’s enchanting book.

My synopsis: A young man will gain more than a present for his beloved when he ventures over the Wall to retrieve a fallen star.

  • Princess Bride (1987): I don’t even know how to describe how much I love this film. It’s inconceivable. Side note: the book is great and worth reading too.

Synopsis: While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride.

  • Labyrinth (1986): Three words. David. Bowie’s. Pants.

Synopsis: A selfish 16-year old girl is given 13 hours to solve a labyrinth and rescue her baby brother when her wish for him to be taken away is granted by the Goblin King.

  • Penelope (2006): Okay, so it’s more of a modern-day take on a fairy-tale concept. There’s still a curse. And self-discovery. And a masquerade.

Synopsis: A modern romantic tale about a young aristocratic heiress born under a curse that can only be broken when she finds true love with “one who will love her faithfully.”

  • Finding Neverland (2004): There are a lot of Peter Pan adaptations that would be great Halloween viewing. But if you’re all alone with a cup of tea and a warm blanket, this might be more your Halloween weekend speed, moving and mellow.

Synopsis: The story of J.M. Barrie’s friendship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan.

  • Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013): I think this film mixes its suspense and story elements pretty well for a bounty hunter film. Just good fun.

Synopsis: Hansel & Gretel are bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world. As the fabled Blood Moon approaches, the siblings encounter a new form of evil that might hold a secret to their past.

  • The Wizard of Oz (1939): I mean when there’s a movie like this, what else do you need? You owe a lot to Margaret Hamilton if you’ve ever dressed up as a green witch for Halloween.

Synopsis: Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.

Did I leave out your favorite fairy-tale adaptation? What will you be watching on Halloween?

Top Ten Tuesday: Fairy Tale Adaptations Perfect for Not-So-Scary Halloween Reading


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish.

So this week’s topic was a Halloween-inspired freebie, and since I’m not a horror aficionado and have not read nearly enough vampire/werewolf books to come up with ten possibilities, I decided to stick with something I would actually read for Halloween, namely fairy tale adaptations. Fairy tales, with their gruesome, creepy, and eerie atmospheres (not to mention more than occasional witches, ghouls, and other creatures) make perfect reading for this particular holiday, but if you’ve already heavily perused your copy of the Grimm tales, here are some adaptations that might satisfy your fairy tale leanings.

After Hamelin by Bill Richardson–I remember reading this book as a kid and being fascinated by its point of view. It was one of the first books that made me want to write fairy tale adaptations. (Pied Piper)

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth–I just checked this book out from the library, and am excited to read it. I can’t vouch for it yet, but I thought I’d share anyway. (Rapunzel)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik–This book…well it’s hard to describe just how good this one is. I’ll be writing a post on this one soon, but in the meantime, just know you should read it. (Beauty and the Beast)

Once Upon A Time Series by various authors–These YA books are short and sweet, with creative takes on beloved fairy tales. There are a whole bunch of them and you can easily read them in a single sitting. (various)

Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C Wrede–An interesting adaptation of an unusual fairy tale.

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi– It’s completely different from the original story, yet manages to be just as chilling. (Snow White)

after bitter uprooted once snow boy ella ugly bloody enchant

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (or really anything by her)– Though terrible things happen to her, no one could call Ella a victim. Feisty and intelligent, this heroine will save herself, with or without a prince. (Cinderella)

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire (or anything else by him)– Maguire’s unique perspectives on fairy tales show that villains, too, are misunderstood. (Cinderella)

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter– This collection of short stories is true to the nature, the gruesome heart and soul of fairy tales. They’re also exceptionally well-written and awesome. (various)

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card– A rich, vibrant retelling that expands the boundaries of the story. (Sleeping Beauty)

Still looking for something to read for Halloween and not into fairy tales? These are my other Halloween picks:

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Suitably depraved.

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Nice and gloomy.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. He turns into a bug. Enough said.

If you liked this post, I’ll have another one up tomorrow that has my movie picks for Halloween–all fairy tale adaptations. What do you like to read for Halloween?

2015 Women Writers Reading Challenge Book #11: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi


This retelling of the classic fairy tale Snow White is dark, twisted, and entirely enjoyable. The story is rich and complex and the writing is sophisticated, but still light enough to be read casually. The characters aren’t exactly likable, though there are notable exceptions, but they’re completely fascinating. Let’s just say there’s a lot going on in this book, and it’s going to make no sense if I tell you about it–you’ll just have to read it for yourself.