Saturday, March 18, 2017

Bargain Ebook: When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James is on sale for $.99 in ebook format. James, a scholar and romance author, has a series of fairy tale inspired romance novels and this one is her retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

I've read this one and it draws inspiration from the old TV series, House, for the hero's character development, an unusual attribute. But the hero is more lovable than House ever was. It has some interesting twists on the Beauty and the Beast tropes, too. It also gets better as it progresses past the set-up. It is a category romance so expect the usual content to be found in the genre these days. But of the many B&B category romances I've read, this one stands out in memory--I can actually remember the plot and that is harder than you might imagine these days!

Book description:

A wonderful spin on a much-beloved fairy tale, Eloisa James’s When Beauty Tamed the Beast is heart-soaring and fun historical romance at its finest. No wonder People magazine raves about her books, saying, “Romance writing does not get much better than this.” Eloisa’s delightful take on Beauty and the Beast unfolds in Regency England, where a beastly, bad-tempered Earl matches wits with a brazen beauty who has vowed to make the handsome grump fall in love with her in two short weeks.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Book: Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World by Maria Tatar

Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World by Maria Tatar was released last week just in time for Disney's Beauty and the Beast film hype. Smart marketing! The book offers readers 37 tales of beastly grooms and beastly brides across several tales types, especially ATU 425 (The Search for the Lost Husband), ATU 425C (Beauty and the Beast) and ATU 402 (The Animal Bride) although the tales are not typed in the book since the book is intended primarily for a general audience, The general tale types can be guessed at from the table of content categories: especially Animal Grooms and Animal Brides. Tale types are discussed in the introduction, but the collection itself is not typed for readers to whom this is important. And really tale types are primarily for scholars to help manage an infinite number of folktales, as imperfect a system as it is, it still is much better than none at all!

This is an excellent collection for everyone. It is from Maria Tatar after all! Tatar provides a lengthy introduction to the collection, as well as short introductions (about a paragraph in length) to each of the tales. I recommend it highly.

Now for the questions I'll get because I'm Heidi Anne Heiner, editor of Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World: How are the books different? Which one is better? I'll answer the second first--both are important, especially if you are a fan of Beauty and the Beast tales. It's all about how much you really want to read about Beauty and the Beast stories whether you decide you need both, just one, or even neither!

So how are they different? There is some overlap between stories offered in both volumes, roughly less than 10 tales. You can see the Table of Contents to both when you look inside the books on Amazon. My full contents of 188 tales are also listed here. We both offer several tale types with an emphasis on ATU 425 and ATU 425C. I ended up with a complex table of tale types in the end matter to my book. But my volume does not include Animal Brides. I simply didn't have room after 828 pages devoted to Animal Grooms. I still dream of editing an Animal Brides volume some day, though.

My volume also includes both the Villenueve and Beaumont versions of Beauty and the Beast. Only Beaumont appears in Tatar's due to length restrictions for the book--Tatar's volume in paper edition is intended to be portable and economical. The Villeneuve version is so very long that it would fill the pages of the slimmer volume. That tale is book length within itself and I actually offer two translations of it in Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World--read my post to see why. Tatar discusses both in her introduction because it is impossible to talk about one without mentioning the other with any authority.

Book description for Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World by Maria Tatar:

One of our most beloved and elemental fairy tales, in versions from across the centuries and around the world—published to coincide with Disney’s live-action 3D musical film starring Emma Watson, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Audra McDonald, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, and Emma Thompson

Nearly every culture tells the story of Beauty and the Beast in one fashion or another. From Cupid and Psyche to India’s Snake Bride to South Africa’s “Story of Five Heads,” the partnering of beasts and beauties, of humans and animals in all their variety—cats, dogs, frogs, goats, lizards, bears, tortoises, monkeys, cranes, warthogs—has beguiled us for thousands of years, mapping the cultural contradictions that riddle every romantic relationship.

In this fascinating volume, preeminent fairy tale scholar Maria Tatar brings together tales from ancient times to the present and from a wide variety of cultures, highlighting the continuities and the range of themes in a fairy tale that has been used both to keep young women in their place and to encourage them to rebel, and that has entertained adults and children alike. With fresh commentary, she shows us what animals and monsters, both male and female, tell us about ourselves, and about the transformative power of empathy.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Beastly Beast or Human Prince?

There's been a long going discussion among scholars and others about the disappointment often felt by readers and viewers when the Beast is transformed back into his human form in Beauty and the Beast tales. I had hoped to go share some of those discussions, but have been sick. But it has arisen again in popular media with the release of the new Disney film. So I wanted to share the article: Why Is the Prince in Beauty and the Beast Always Less Hot Than the Beast? By Hunter Harris

Excerpt from the article:

And it’s precisely at this moment — just when you’re adjusting to life as a human person who’d swipe right on a cartoon Beast — that he’s snatched from us. In both versions of Beauty and the Beast, the pesky curse that trapped the Beast in his animal form is eventually broken. When Belle sobs over his injured body, her tears deactivate the spell. With proof that he can love and be loved in return, the Beast is magically returned to the human race.

Believe me when I say that this was the cruelest twist ending of my childhood. After 90 minutes of falling for that lush brown fur, I discovered that the Beast’s human form is blonde. Also, he’s just not that hot.
The effect is much worse in film, of course, but it has been explored many times in fiction, too, by Angela Carter, Robin McKinley, and others.

So how to you feel when the Beast disappears? Happy, disappointed, or just confused?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Bargain Ebook: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani for $1.99

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani (Author), Iacopo Bruno (Illustrator) is on sale in ebook format for $1.99 TODAY ONLY.

Book description:

At the School for Good and Evil, failing your fairy tale is not an option.

Welcome to the School for Good and Evil, where best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she'll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.

The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie's dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.

But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are . . . ?

The School for Good and Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Bargain Ebook: Smoke and Mirrors (Magic Men Mysteries) by Elly Griffiths

Smoke and Mirrors (Magic Men Mysteries) by Elly Griffiths is a book I haven't featured here on the blog yet. It also happens today to be bargain priced in ebook format for $2.99.

Rather unusual here at SurLaLune, it's the second book in a murder mystery series. The plot offers a killer inspired by fairy tales, especially Hansel and Gretel and Aladdin. Fairy tales are not part of the first book in the series, Zig Zag Girl, but magic is part of the world building with one of the detectives a magician. Intrigued yet? Murder mysteries with fairy tale references are not that unusual but this particular mix is one of the most original combination of elements I've seen in a while. There's also a 1950s setting and a pantomime, very British. And the second book is slightly better reviewed than the first in the series, too.

Book description:

In the sequel to the "captivating" Zig Zag Girl, DI Edgar Stephens and the magician Max Mephisto hunt for a killer after two children are murdered in a tragic tableau of a very grim fairy tale.

It’s Christmastime in Brighton, and the city is abuzz about a local production of Aladdin, starring the marvelous Max Mephisto. But the holiday cheer is lost on DI Edgar Stephens. He’s investigating the murder of two children, Annie and Mark, who were strangled to death in the woods, abandoned alongside a trail of candy—a horrifying scene eerily reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel.

Edgar has plenty of leads to investigate. Annie, a surprisingly dark child, used to write gruesome plays based on the Grimms' fairy tales. Does the key to the case lie in her unfinished final script? Or does the macabre staging of Annie and Mark’s deaths point to the theater and the capricious cast of characters performing in Aladdin? Once again Edgar enlists Max's help in penetrating the shadowy world of the theater. But is this all just classic misdirection?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bargain Ebook: As Old As Time: A Twisted Tale by Liz Braswell for $1.99

As Old As Time: A Twisted Tale (Twisted Tale, A) by Liz Braswell is on sale TODAY ONLY for $1.99 in ebook format down from its usual $9.99. This is a novelization of the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. This is the third book in Braswell's series. She's also explored Sleeping Beauty in Once Upon a Dream: A Twisted Tale: A Twisted Tale and Aladdin in A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale.

Book description:

What if Belle's mother cursed the Beast? As Old as Time is the third book in a new YA line that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. When Belle touches the Beast's enchanted rose, memories flood through Belle's mind—memories of a mother she thought she would never see again. And, stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful enchantress who cursed the castle and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast will have to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is 21 years in the making.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Chicken Leg Socks--Inspired by Baba Yaga?

Today has become an unofficial Baba Yaga day! After sharing the Lego Baba Yaga in today's earlier post, I wanted to share these funny socks that immediately inspired me to think of Halloween costumes and Baba Yaga possibilities throughout the year.

Not much to say about them, but they made me smile and imagine so I thought I'd share. And if you are by chance unfamiliar with Baba Yaga, go read some of her tales on SurLaLune.

Sorry, the image loader isn't working. I've added my own image captures just in case. They can be acquired in sets or just one color, see them all on the Amazon page where I found them.

“Baba Yaga Clucking Cottage” in Legos by Gabe Huff

The Nashville Public Library recently held its annual Lego Building Contest. I happened to look through the many impressive builds and saw this lovely surprise which also won for its age category: Grades 8 – 12: Gabe Huff, “Baba Yaga Clucking Cottage”

I was not expecting to see a Baba Yaga cottage and such a great one at that! Again, the Russian fairy tale influence is strong right now. Love it! Some impressive engineering to get that house to sit on those chicken legs, too.

There are some other great builds in the gallery of entries. Be sure not to miss them. I don't envy the judges!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Book: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter was released in late 2016. The novel is a retelling of the Russian fairy tale "Vasilisa the Beautiful," which is itself a Russian Cinderella story. You can read a version of the tale here. The book follows the strong recent trend of Russian fairy tale novels that's been enduring for several years now actually. The Russian versions of popular tales tend to be darker and atmospheric so I can understand their appeal for modern audiences.

Book description:


A powerful and haunting tale for teen fans of urban fantasy, fairy tales, magic, and horror who enjoy books by Leigh Bardugo, Kendare Blake, Catherynne Valente, and V. E. Schwab.

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now―but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters―and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair....


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Picture Book: Peau d'âne by Hélène Druvert

UK/France Links

Peau d'âne by Hélène Druvert is one of my recent discoveries, published in France in 2015. The book is available at and but not in

I have a penchant for Peau d'âne picture books which pretty much only come in French since the story is beloved in France but avoided by publishers in other countries due to the possible controversies of the tale of which there are a few. (Not familiar with Peau d'âne? Read Donkeyskin at the SurLaLune primary site.) Which always makes the books even more appealing to me because they are rare to find. This is now one of my favorite renditions. This version also uses minimal text to tell the story, letting the reader take it at face value.

Druvert has a beautiful illustration style--using silhouettes to tell her stories. Every other page in her pictures books--for she has illustrated a few titles--are cut out pages, intricately die cut and designed to overlay the pages between them as you turn the pages. The pages are sturdy on heavy stock paper but still fragile since they are die cut. The results are beautiful.

So in the images below--which you can click to see larger--the left side of the image is the back side of the die cut page.

Other books by Druvert include, with the first two linking to and the second linking to The Mary Poppins and Paris titles also have the die cut pages. I do not know for sure about the other two.

New Book: Rose & Thorn by Sarah Prineas

US/UK Links

Rose & Thorn by Sarah Prineas was released in the US in October. It is a Sleeping Beauty retelling and is also the second in a series, following last year's Ash & Bramble, which is a Cinderella retelling.

Book description:

This beauty isn’t sleeping! Discover the true story of Sleeping Beauty in Sarah Prineas’s bold YA fairy-tale retelling filled with thrilling adventure and romance, perfect for fans of the Lunar Chronicles and the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy.

After the spell protecting her is destroyed, Rose seeks safety in the world outside the valley she had called home. She’s been kept hidden all her life to delay the three curses she was born with—curses that will put her into her own fairy tale and a century-long slumber. Accompanied by Griff, the handsome and mysterious Watcher, and Quirk, his witty and warmhearted partner, Rose tries to escape from the ties that bind her to her story. But will the path they take lead them to freedom, or will it bring them straight into the fairy tale they are trying to avoid?

Set in the world of Sarah Prineas’s Ash & Bramble fifty years later, Rose & Thorn is a powerful retelling of the classic “Sleeping Beauty” tale where the characters fight to find their own happy ever after.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Bargain Ebook: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi is one of those books that has been on my radar for a while for my TBR pile and climbed higher on the list when I attended her panel at the Southern Festival of Books last October. I thought I had already posted about the book, but apparently I haven't. So lucky you if this sparks your interest because the ebook is also on sale for a short time for $2.99, down from the $10ish it was previously.

Another bonus is that this book incorporates India (as in the country, not Native American) folklore and mythology. Chokshi loves rich language--and it was revealed she is a fairy tale and SurLaLune reader before she knew I was in the room--so I have many reasons to recommend her here, too!  I love this current trend of Indian folklore inspired fiction with books like this and Renée Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn to name a few. I read a lot of Indian folklore as I research so it has a filing cabinet all its own in my brain that I love to see explored through other sources.

Book description:

Praise for The Star-Touched Queen:
New York Times Bestseller
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
A Goodreads Best Book of the Month

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.