Rumpelstiltskin – Would You Give Up Your Firstborn Child To This Mage?

Book Review : Rumpelstiltskin
Timeless Fairy Tales #4

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

When 17-year-old Gemma, a seamstress, is ordered by the insane King Torgen to spin straw into gold or be put to death, she knows her life is forfeit. Unwilling to give up, Gemma tries to escape her prison, earning her the respect of the mysterious mage, Stil. Stil offers to complete the impossible task…for a price.

Greedy and unsatisfied, King Torgen demands more and more straw to be spun into gold, and decrees that he will “reward” Gemma by marrying her. With death or marriage to a crazed king clouding her future, Stil offers Gemma a bargain that seems too good to be true.

Will Gemma’s trust in Stil be her downfall, or will he defy the entire country to save her? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Once Upon A Time, a woman got caught in reading a particular author and can’t seem to stop. In this case, I just finished Rumpelstiltskin and like it less than Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella and the Colonel, but more than The Wild Swans.

Rumpelstiltskin is riddled with errors in the text, spelling and word choice. I find these errors to be jarring while reading. One other item on the neutral side would be how similar the tent was to J.K. Rowling’s tents in Harry Potter, The Goblet of Fire. Unfortunately, her work is so well known it makes this idea, of a richly furnished tent disguised with a tatty exterior, feel like it only belongs in Harry Potter even if other authors had previously used the same schtick.

Gemma’s character is fun because she is so focused on sewing clothes that she sees little else, and certainly has no desire for personal wealth. Stil, short for Rumpelstiltskin, was my favorite character in this book. He is whimsical, unpredictable, knows his short comings as a mage and falls in love with Gemma because she is his opposite. In the past, Rumpelstiltskin has seemed a bit creepy asking for the first born child of the woman he is helping; and in this case he has the same deal “your firstborn child will be mine”, which Gemma agrees to since she isn’t even convinced she will ever have children. Later, Gemma truly realizes what she agreed to with Still and I believe her response was to smack him, while my response was to laugh with the author. My favorite secondary character was the young lady Gemma served because she is so interested in becoming a soldier and has to hide her sword practice and heart felt desire. She is bold, unrealistic and loyal to those she loves.

I believe anything by this author is appropriate for any audience and I enjoy that she adds her own twist to famous fairy tales. Next, I’m reading her version of The Little Mermaid.

3.25 out of 5 stars
3-half-star-hotel
Michelle

If you enjoyed this fairy tale try Enchantment by Orson Scott Card or any of the fairy tales by Robin McKinley, Beauty being a favorite as well as Spindle’s End. Though not a fairy tale you may also enjoy Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede. I believe The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley would be a great selection because it has a lot of girl power in it, and horses! Happy reading.

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Snow Queen, Heart of Ice – Is It Too Much Like Elsa In Disney’s Frozen? Or Does It Reflect Hans Christian Andersen’s Original Story?

Book Review : Snow Queen, Heart of Ice
The Snow Queen #1

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Rakel, a princess by birth, has spent most of her life exiled on a barren mountain, despised because of her powerful snow magic. Though she longs to be accepted, she hides in her ice-castle and lives with the fear that her brother—the King—will one day order her execution.

Her empty life changes forever when an army of magic users—led by the enigmatic Colonel Farrin Graydim—invade her home country and plan to enslave its citizens. Swallowing her fear, Rakel joins forces with her jailers and uses her magic to save the people who scorned her.

If Rakel cannot defend her homeland, the country will be lost.

THE SNOW QUEEN: HEART OF ICE is a story of magic, distrust, and unexpected friendships. It takes place in the same world as the TIMELESS FAIRY TALES series, but occurs centuries prior. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

When I first started reading Heart of Ice I was concerned that it would feel like a retelling of Disney’s Frozen because Rakel is isolated in a castle which she has built from ice like Elsa. Heart of Ice deviates sharply from Frozen because there is no sister trying to heal Rakel, no singing snowman guard, and no dancing rock trolls trying to help a romance along.

There are a few elements from Heart of Ice that parallel the original Andersen tale, but the details and storyline vary widely from the original. There is a mirror that has been broken into pieces and spread across the world, though at this point we don’t know the purpose of the mirror. The characters are also similar; the original has Kai and Gerda and Gerda’s grandmother with key roles. A robber girl is also present and reindeer. This one might be a stretch, but in the original there is a troll or the Devil, but in Heart of Ice there is an evil magic user who may fulfill the same role.

I thought it was odd that Rakel would gather the enemy and banish them from a city without killing them because then these same men would only strengthen their own military to attack again since they were part of the invading forces. She did this as part of her character being so merciful that she couldn’t bare killing others, which directly opposed others perceptions of her character.

The budding romance is a bit murky. Is Rakel going to fall for the misguided magic user, Colonel Farrin Graydim? Is she going to fall for the Captain? Or how about Oskar who has loyally been on duty for years at her castle? I actually like that it is not clear at this point in the story, because the plot is more about her personal development and rescuing her country.

As always Shea’s books are a clean fantasy with a bit of romance. Even a tween could read these books. In this particular one the robber girl loves to ogle the men, but it’s funny. At this point I’m finding more typos that bug me as I’m reading and would like to see more finished product. My two favorites continue to be Cinderella and the Colonel and Beauty and the Beast. I keep hoping to find another of their caliber.

3.25 out of 5 stars
3-half-star-hotel
Michelle

If you enjoyed this fairy tale try Enchantment by Orson Scott Card or any of the fairy tales by Robin McKinley. Though not a fairy tale you may also enjoy Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede.

 

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Puss In Boots – Or Bossy Boots

Book Review : Puss in Boots
Timeless Fairy Tales #6

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Though she dreams of adventure, Gabrielle—a peasant girl—is given only a cat for her inheritance and is told she must marry, immediately. So when the cat, Puss, offers her a life of excitement in exchange for a pair of boots, Gabrielle jumps at the opportunity. Through Puss’s cunning and Gabrielle’s good deeds, they become celebrated heroes in small villages across the country.

Their adventurous life is complicated by Prince Steffen—a handsome prince who has a low opinion of love. He befriends Gabrielle and comes to grudgingly respect Puss as they work together to purge monsters and brigands from the countryside.

Disaster strikes when Steffen realizes his growing feelings for Gabrielle, and Puss and Gabrielle fight the evil ogre who rules the lands of Carabas. Can Gabrielle save Carabas? Will Steffen accept his feelings for her before it is too late?

Set in a world brimming with magic, monsters, fairies, and heroes, PUSS IN BOOTS is a retelling of the classic French fairy tale. It is part of TIMELESS FAIRY TALES. The books in this series take place in the same world and can be read all together, or as individual, stand-alone stories. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

 

Puss In Boots could be considered a prequel because it goes into the past prior to The Wild Swans, but then catches the reader up with events that happen after the swans have become human again. This addition to the Timeless Fairytales collection is charming. It lacks the depth of characterization found in Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella and the Colonel (My current two favorites).

Gabriella is ready for an adventure and joins ranks with Puss, whose given name is Roland Archibald Whisperpaws the Fifth. Because of her humble beginnings she is reluctant to accept praise or compensation for her actions *heroics* in saving other simple country folk. However, Puss knows just how to put the right spin on things bringing on a grander adventure than Gabriella could ever have expected.

Puss In Boots is written in vignette format, with each adventure has its own climax and conclusion. As each scene is strung together we see the development in Gabriella’s confidence and the development of her relationship with that foolish, bumpkin-headed dolt, also known as Prince Steffen.

I need to add, I do like a smart cat and hope to be adopted by a magic cat in the future.

3.25 out of 5 stars
3-half-star-hotel
Michelle

If you enjoyed this fairy tale try Enchantment by Orson Scott Card or any of the fairy tales by Robin McKinley. Though not a fairy tale you may also enjoy Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede.

ps-

Puss in Boots isn’t my favorite and isn’t my least favorite by this author.

I find I keep reading more because I want more like my favorite two.

 

 

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The Wild Swans – Do Foster Brothers Bite?

Book Review : The Wild Swans
Timeless Fairy Tales #2

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Elise is the foster-daughter of the King of Arcainia, a mathematician, and the country’s treasurer. She is not a hero. But when her step-mother, a wicked witch, curses Elise’s seven foster-brothers—the princes of Arcainia—and turns them into swans, Elise is the only one who can save them.

To break the curse, she must knit seven shirts made of stinging nettles, but there’s a catch. She has to complete the shirts without uttering a word, and if she doesn’t finish the task, Arcainia and her foster-brothers will be lost.

THE WILD SWANS is a retelling of the German Six Swans fairy tale and the Dutch Wild Swans fairy tale. It is a story of humor, love, adventure, and magic, and it is part of the top selling Timeless Fairy Tales series—a series comprised of loosely related adaptations of your favorite fairy tales. All Timeless Fairy Tales take place in the same world and can be read all together, or as individual, stand-alone books. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I am not familiar with the German fairy tale of Six Swans so this fairy tale didn’t hold as much interest for me.

Elise, as the foster daughter of the king, has a lot of doubts about her place in the family. She continually feels like she has to prove her worth. She is incredibly smart with finances and has been the keeper of the royal treasury and keeps everyone on a tight budget. She has felt that her position with the treasury was a sign of the King’s trust in her abilities. The seemingly impossible task to knit seven shirts of stinging nettles is yet another way that Elise feels she needs to prove herself to the family. She would go through the agony regardless because of her deep love of her foster family.

I had a couple of questions:

  1. Why does she adamantly love her foster family? Of the seven brothers only two are very kind to her, though the youngest was previously one of her best friends. Even as swans some of them bite her! Talk about ungrateful foster brothers. She feels rejected by the Queen and King because they never loved her enough to adopt her and change her status. Nevertheless, Elise states that she loves them enough to accomplish this horrible task.
  2. Why was the magic not negated when Elise was warned to only talk to her foster brothers during the hour when they were in their human form? She was not to utter a word. There is a moment when the author states that Elise murmured a statement of discontent. That right there would have negated the magic even though no one else heard her speak. Elise also speaks with the guard, Brida, during the hour when her brothers are human. Maybe this seems nitpicky, but Elise was strictly warned so this seemed like an oversight by Shea.

 

The Wild Swans didn’t really seem to have many twists or unusual plot devices. Shea does have a small twist at the end, the reader gets to choose who Elise will fall in love with after the wicked witch is killed. Of course, I read both versions and felt strongly that the one was more in line with the characters than the other. Elise finds her place and is more than content by the end. It is a clean romance and still a fun read.

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

Other retold fairy tales that I enjoy include Beauty by Robin McKinnley, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale and Enchantment by Orson Scott Card.

ps-

This has been my least favorite in the series that I have read thus far.

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Cinderella and the Colonel – A Guide To Paying Your Taxes

Book Review : Cinderella and the Colonel
Timeless Fairy Tales #3

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Scratching out a living in a land recovering from war and a hostile takeover, Cinderella—an orphaned, destitute duchess—is desperate to save her lands and servants in spite of the terrible taxes placed upon her by the Erlauf queen, even if it means she must don servants’ clothes and work like a commoner.

Her sacrifices aren’t enough, and when a mountain of debt is levied against her, she is given one season to produce the funds. Cinderella realizes it is only a matter of time before she loses everything she has struggled to protect, and it seems that all is lost until she is befriended by the debonair Colonel Friedrich—a member of the Erlauf military and a citizen of the oppressing country that rules her homeland.

From helping her break into the royal library to saving her from a rogue mage, Friedrich draws her closer and challenges her mindset of the queen and the war.

Cinderella knows Friedrich is not all he appears to be, but can she trust him with her country and her heart?

CINDERELLA AND THE COLONEL is fairy tale retelling of love, sacrifice, adventure, and magic. It is filled with humor, deception, and clean romance, and it belongs to the top selling series, TIMELESS FAIRY TALES. The books in this series take place in the same world and can be read all together, or as individual, stand-alone books.
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

 

Cinderella and the Colonel is another fairy tale that explores relationships and has a complex back story for the plot. Because it is Cinderella we want her to end up with the charming Prince, but that doesn’t mean a twisting road to arrive at the destination isn’t more fun.

The plot:

Cinderella is from one of only six surviving noble houses of Trieux. Erlauf, a neighboring country, has taken over the smaller country of Trieux and imposed heavy taxes. It would be easy to vilify the sovereigns of Erlauf for the unjust treatment, but there are two sides to the story.

The Characters:

Cinderella is feisty, determined, loyal, a hard worker and of course a beauty (with flaming red hair). She will sacrifice anything to pay her taxes, including her hair. No one would have expected the Duchess Cinderella Lacreux to put herself in servants clothes and work so hard to save all of her servants, land and ultimately her country – even while paying her taxes. Her step-mother was a noble widow and pressed into service by the queen of Erlauf to marry the Duke, Cinderella’s father. Cinderella has only a few interactions with her step-mother, who is frosty and stern, but she learns to see the situation from her point of view and they come to something of a truce. Cinderella takes to calling the Colonel, as Fred, just to bug him. A turning point in their friendship is when Cinderella saves him from assassins.

Colonel Friedrich is one of the most influential men in the Erlauf military holding one of the highest ranks. As a military nation they esteem their officers even more than their nobility. He is charming, perseverant, and thoughtful. His men are devoted to him and he might be able to help Cinderella pay off her property’s tax debt to the queen. He is prone to calling Cinderella “Pet” and suggesting she plants flowers.

Prince Cristoph, the oldest son of Queen Freja, will need to marry and try to bring his new country into a new order. Cinderella points out to the Prince, at the ball, how the country needs to heal and forgive one another rather than move into the darkness of hatred that would allow the evil mages to get a foothold and eventually destroy both the Trieux and the Erlauf. He is quite intrigued with Cinderella’s novel ideas.

Enchantess in training, Angelique plays a small cameo in this book, and as you can guess, she appears right in the nick of time – before the ball. Who knew glass slippers could be so comfortable?

This is another light, fun read and I enjoyed it immensely. It is a completely clean romance and clever. There were a couple of moments when I was reminded of the movie Ever After because Cinderella was so practical in her approach to life.

3.5 out of 5 stars
3-half-star-hotel
Michelle

If you enjoyed this fairy tale try Enchantment by Orson Scott Card or any of the fairy tales by Robin McKinley. Though not a fairy tale you may also enjoy Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede.

ps-

Cinderella and the Colonel is my second favorite so far! But a close second to Beauty and the Beast.

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Beauty and the Beast -With A Whole New Beast, and His Brother

Book Review : Beauty and the Beast
Timeless Fairy Tales #1

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Once upon a time Elle made a mistake. A small miscalculation sends her through the roof of an enchanted chateau. Stranded until her broken leg mends, Elle is unwillingly forced to rely on the good will of the sour chateau owner —the cursed Prince Severin.

Prince Severin—the commanding general and staunch supporter of his brother the crown prince—is cursed to look like a beast until a maiden falls in love with him. He has given up all hope of shattering the curse, and has only disdain for Elle.

Unfortunately, the pair can’t seem to avoid each other thanks to the meddling of the chateau’s cursed servants. Eventually Elle’s playful manners and Severin’s hidden gentleness draw the pair together.

But not all love stories can end that easily. After all, Elle is not what she seems, and Severin’s life is placed in danger when hostilities flare between his brother and the monarchs of a neighboring country. When Elle risks everything to save Severin, will he be able to forgive her for her lies? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I enjoyed Beauty and the Beast significantly more than Sleeping Beauty because it has such a different feeling than the familiar story. I like it when the author keeps me guessing. The main difference in this version of Beauty and the Beast is in the relationships.

Elle has an unexplored relationship with her family, other than the fact that they depend upon her for their financial support. Her father has never met the beast directly, and couldn’t have stolen a rose. Elle is also shrouded in a mysterious and dubious profession, but we don’t know if she is an assassin, a spy from another country or what exactly would have her traipsing across Prince Severin’s roof in the middle of the night. She is also a little prickly, intentionally goads the beast at times and is loving.

The beast, Prince Severin, remains entrenched in the protection of his brother’s kingdom as the head of the military forces. Severin and his half-brother, Prince Lucien the next ruler of Loire, have a close relationship. In fact, Severin gives Lucien balance and is essential to his welfare because he is so practical. Why was Prince Severin cursed? Just because he was the illegitimate son of the King? He is certainly a bit thorny and rough, but he is also loyal in an unparalleled fashion.

Of course the curse extends to Severin’s servants, who are loyal and silent. The servants having to scrawl messages on small chalk tablets had me laughing, especially when females had daintier boards to express their femininity. I can imagine some would not even argue just for the sake of not having to write out their thoughts. I like how a few had their personalities developed for the reader to enjoy.

The enchantress Angelique had a very small cameo in this book, but I liked how she wasn’t central to the plot.

One small gripe I have is that this feels mostly like a fantasy period book, but then the character will say something like “They didn’t off me yet.” To “off” someone seems too much like a modern colloquialism to belong anywhere in this series of books.

Shea had a great plan for this whole story line and now I have to read another to see if it is as fun as this one. These are great clean stories and perfect when convalescing in the winter.

3.5 out of 5 stars
3-half-star-hotel
Michelle

If you enjoyed this fairy tale try Enchantment by Orson Scott Card or any of the fairy tales by Robin McKinley.

ps-

This is my favorite of the four I have read so far.

 

 

 

 

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Sleeping Beauty – Retelling Fairy Tales Is Irresistible

Book Review : Sleeping Beauty
Timeless Fairy Tales #8

e-book

By K. M. Shea

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Briar Rose, a clever peasant girl, feels only pity for the mysterious Princess Rosalinda–the hidden princess who was cursed to prick her finger on a spindle and fall asleep until true love’s kiss awakens her. But her pity turns into horror when Briar learns she is the secret princess, and Isaia, her childhood friend, is really a Magic Knight sworn to protect her.

Briar reluctantly embraces her new life as a princess, and is reunited with her mother, father, and her grandfather–the king. But calamity strikes when Carabosso, the evil mage who cursed her as a baby, returns and plunders the countryside. Unfortunately, the king refuses to dispatch the Magic Knights to protect the people, and instead orders the knights to stay in the capital to guard Briar. But Briar is not the demure princess her family desires, and she vows to save her people if her parents and grandfather will not.

Will the curse consume Briar, or–with help from Isaia–can she beat Carabosso at his own game? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I love to see how different authors approach fairy tales. M. K. Shea writes a clean book, with a little romance and feisty women. All the fairy tales are set in the same world and subject to the same rules surrounding magic. The unifying factor is an appearance from Angelique, the enchantress in training. In some books she makes more than one appearance. It doesn’t appear to make much difference which order the books are read in, though they do reference previous books’ story lines.

I liked this one, but didn’t just adore it. It is the first one I happened to read and was my first glimpse into this universe. Sleeping Beauty explains the relationship the “magic users” have with the many kingdoms; in that they will not use their powers to influence any politics, but work to stop rogue black magic practitioners. I didn’t like how the enchanters, magicians and evil mages are categorized as “magic users”; I would have liked to see something more original than such a blasé description. The Magic Knights is another example of a very prosaic description rather than a scintillating title.

I liked how Briar Rose was full of plans. When it didn’t look like the boy she loved would notice her she decided to find a rich lord to give her an idle life of ease. When she discovered she was the poor missing princess, she dove in and decided to do the best she could. When she realized everyone was just waiting on pins and spindles for her to faint away from the curse of Carabosso, she takes matters into her own hands with a plan of attack to back her up. It’s not her fault that all the plans don’t go quite as expected.

I was disheartened by Sir Isaia at times. I wanted him to believe in himself a little more; even complete strangers could see his devotion to the princess. Briar Rose would have hated being kissed and pawed by every noble around, and Isaia knew it, but still wouldn’t step up and be the man she needed. Yikes! A whole year of life wasted away and the kingdom withering away. What a disaster. Thankfully, as in all good fairy tales, good conquers evil and love always wins.

3.25 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

Other retold fairy tales that I enjoy include Beauty by Robin McKinnley, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale and Enchantment by Orson Scott Card.

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