sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This is a collection of fairy tale-related short stories and poems, many of which T. Kingfisher had earlier posted on her blog as Ursula Vernon. So a number of these stories I'd read before, but some were new to me, and at any rate I don't object to rereading a good short story!

I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of the stories and poems in this book. Kingfisher's just so good at writing stories with emotional impact, striking details, and thoughtfulness. And with both love for and a critical eye towards the fairy tales she's riffing on.

There were only two entries that gave me an "eh" reaction, those being Night and Odd Season. Everything else was really great!

In my opinion the strongest entries were the bluebeard story, the loathly lady story, and the snow white story. And the titular story, Toad Words.

Dang though, I just want to read T. Kingfisher's fairy tale reimaginings forever and now I'm out of ebooks to buy! I hope she writes/publishes more soon.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
You guys this book is so gooooood

And okay there are many things to squee about but let me start with everything is spoilers, whoops )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
It's like this book was written JUST FOR ME and it is SO GOOOOOOD.

It's a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Snow Queen", which was one of my favourite fairy tales when I was a kid. I reread that story about a million times! And unlike things like Cinderella it's not a story that anybody ever bothers doing a retelling of or deconstruction of or analysis of (I'm not counting Frozen because like hell is that actually connected in any meaningful way with The Snow Queen, whatever Disney says).

But T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) manages to capture in this book everything I loved about the original story while also making it BETTER.

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This is one of a collection of books called "The Young Folks' Library". I inherited these from my grandparents. They owned the first ten in the series - the internet informs me that rather more than these exist. I really liked these books when I was a kid, or at least those that focused on mythology and fairy tales! Which this one does. It's a collection of fairy tales, and rereading it as an adult I am mostly struck by how all of these tales are chosen and written in such a way as to be extremely moralizing, which is clearly an editorial decision that was made because I've read MANY fairy tale collections that are definitely not as obviously trying to Make A Point to the Young Folks reading them.

Mostly it's just whatever, yeah, that's what you get when reading fairy tale collections curated in a certain era. But I'm particularly mad about one of the stories, "Prince Mu and the Princess Zaza." It involves, as you guess from the title, two young royals. Each is under the particular protection and care of a fairy, and each fairy is pretty fed up with the failings of their royal. Prince Mu is selfish and unthinking, which I will certainly agree is a flaw. Meanwhile the problem with Princess Zaza is that she asks the fairy to take back all the fairy's gifts so that Zaza will know when people treat her well whether that's because of Zaza's personal good qualities or just because of what the fairy's given her. And the fairy considers this vanity, and just as bad a flaw as Mu's terrible selfishness! Meanwhile I'm sitting here thinking that Zaza sounds like the most sensible person in the whole story. Of course by the end of the story both Mu and Zaza have learned their lesson and become better people and have shed their flaws. And have married each other. ZAZA NOOOO YOU DESERVE SOMEONE BETTER THAN MU.

The only other story I really want to talk about is "Felicia and the Pot of Pinks." I have read this story in only two fairy tale collections in my life, this one and one that was intended for even younger children. The two versions of the story are PRETTY DIFFERENT from each other! I gather that the original story of Felicia and the pinks was one that was written by a specific person, not part of a folk tradition, so there really ought to only be one version. And I'm very curious how the original goes. (I've found what seems to be just a straightforward translation of the original online but apparently my brain has decided I'm not allowed to read it until I'm in the right frame of mind to do a proper in-depth comparison of the three versions...)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I found a Valente book I'm capable of enjoying!

I read her Orphan's Tales duology a number of years ago because it sounded SO MUCH up my alley, but I just found it overwrought and uninteresting. And since then I kept on hearing about her new books and going "OOOOH" because the ideas and themes and whatever are things I enjoy! (for example: SHE WROTE A BOOK ABOUT PRESTER JOHN.) But having the Orphan's Tales as an example of her writing was a warning to me.

Eventually I decided to give her a second chance and began the first of her Fairyland books because I heard it was more accessible than her other stuff, but I just....nope. And I decided it was time to give up and acknowledge that Valente was not for me.

And then Deathless came out and it sounded EVEN MORE up my alley than any of her previous works (A RETELLING OF KOSCHEI THE DEATHLESS!!!!) and I was like, do I dare give it a try? And I waffled for years and finally I just couldn't resist. (and to tell the truth, the degree to which I love the cover of the book was an important factor in my decision)

AND IT TURNS OUT I LOVE IT.

I mean, it still has some of her usual issues. Occasionally it is weird in ways that don't actually add anything to the book, occasionally she's too opaque (WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THE LAST PAGE OF THIS BOOK, I'M NOT CONVINCED I'M UNDERSTANDING YOU CORRECTLY), and quite often she tips over into overly-purple prose that just makes me roll my eyes and skim.

But overall it is atmospheric in a mostly good way, feels marvelously and gloriously like a fairy tale, and blends the fairy tale impressively well into real life Russian history. And I find Marya Morevna very interesting, and love her complicated relationship with Koschei.

It's the novelized retelling that the story of Koschei the Deathless deserves, and I'm very happy I read it.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
DEAR AUTHOR,

I am so excited to know that you are going to be writing me a fic in one of my fandoms! I already know you have excellent taste, since you offered to write one of these fandoms, so have no fear that I will enjoy whatever it is you write for me, and I hope you have fun writing.

Please feel free to not read this post if you don't want to; I totally understand that different people have different approaches to this kind of thing. But if you DO want to see me rambling happily (and hopefully usefully) about myself and my fandoms, read on! :D

general likes, dislikes, etc )


Comrade Cosmos )


The African Queen, by CS Forester )


The Day Boy and the Night Girl, by George MacDonald )


With much love,
Sophia
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Heroes & Heroines, Monsters & Magic: Native American Legends & Folktales as told by Joseph Bruchac

Does exactly what it says on the tin! The stories are enjoyable, and well-told. I was already familiar with a couple of them but most were new to me. One thing I particularly liked was that there were multiple stories about turtles winning races through quick wits and trickery, which I enjoyed comparing with the aesop moral about turtles winning by being "slow and steady". I do love how different folk traditions use similar motifs to say very different things!
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Reading multi-author anthologies is always a frustrating experience for me, because of having to reset my expectations at the beginning of every single story. I can't just settle into the book, because the book changes after each story. It's more than just having to settle into a new story, it's about what I should expect about the story given the author. Because different authors are, well, different, and I need to figure out whether I should be prepared to face -isms in the story, and whether it's the sort of story that'll likely end on a hopeful note, and what kinds of things the author thinks are important or interesting to focus on, and so on and so forth. It can get kind of exhausting! Basically it comes down to: do I trust this author to tell me a story I will enjoy? And I HAVE NO IDEA whether to trust the author or not because I don't have any prior experience to draw on!

All of which is to say that I found this anthology, like any multi-author anthology, very uneven. Let me go through story-by-story:

Mostly no spoilers. Does spoiler the end of one story, Screaming for Fairies )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
[personal profile] osprey_archer asked:

Favorite fairy tale and why? Or maybe just feelings about fairy tales.


Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This year for yuletide I wrote two fics, awww yeah, go me!

from the same sky (1038 words) by sophia_sol
Fandom: Rómeó és Júlia (Színház)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Mercutio & Tybalt
Characters: Mercutio (Rómeó és Júlia), Tybalt (Rómeó és Júlia)
Additional Tags: Hair, Friendship, Backstory, warning for unhealthy relationships because Verona
Summary:

Tybalt and Mercutio were childhood friends, of a sort.


This one I wrote pretty much immediately after I read Carmarthen's letter. I was reading through, like "lalala what a good letter" and then all of a sudden one of her prompt suggestions leaped out and attacked my brain. So. I was extremely namf about this one while I was writing it, because wowwww Mercutio is hella intimidating to write, but I'm pleased with how it turned out!



in three-quarter time (1036 words) by sophia_sol
Fandom: Den lille Havfrue | The Little Mermaid - Hans Christian Andersen
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Den lille Havfrue | The Little Mermaid, Prins | Prince (Den lille Havfrue | The Little Mermaid), Prinsesse | Princess (Den lille Havfrue | The Little Mermaid)
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, outside pov, Misses Clause Challenge
Summary:

The princess reflects.


This was my assigned fic, and I had lots of fun brainstorming a million different things I could write for this one. The great thing about writing fic for fairy tales is that there's pretty much an endless number of places you can go. In the end this is the idea that I felt most drawn to. I'm pleased with how this one turned out too! Although upon finishing it I sat back for a moment and went, "HUH." Because thinking back over the last number of female-character-centric fics I've written, pretty much all of them have been either gen or gen-ish and on the theme of grief or loss of some sort. I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT ME that I am drawn to explorations of these themes through the medium of female characters, but there's clearly SOMETHING going on in my subconscious!


---------

And the fics I received! I received two fics as well, a bountiful and delightful harvest.

The City of Carcayona (15496 words) by Gehayi
Fandom: Robinson Crusoe -- Daniel Defoe
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Xury, Robinson Crusoe, Scottish Sailor (Robinson Crusoe), Portuguese Captain (Robinson Crusoe), Original Male Character(s), Original Female Character(s)
Additional Tags: 1600s, 17th Century, Canon Character of Color, POV Character of Color, Male Character of Color, Female Character of Color, Character of Faith, POV Male Character, POV Third Person, POV Minor Character, Slave Trade, Non-Sexual Slavery, Sailor - Freeform, Muslim Character, Historical, Moriscos, Legends, Turkey (Country), Venezia | Venice, Egypt, Ottoman Empire, Road Trips, Yuletide, Yuletide 2013, Wordcount: 10.000-30.000, Chromatic Yuletide
Summary:

"It's only a story, Xury," said Téo gently.

"I know it is a story, " Xury replied with wounded dignity. "I am fifteen, not five. But do you see why she is so important to us? She never quit. No matter what was flung at her, she kept on. And eventually she won. There are worse stories, Téo. Like the story that sings loudly, 'You are alone, enslaved, helpless and without hope, and thus it shall be forever.' That is a terrible story to believe in."


FIFTEEN THOUSAND WORDS FIXING XURY'S STORY FROM ROBINSON CRUSOE, filled with carefully researched history and people being good to each other and a great deal of hope! Gosh, I was just blown away, and it's so exactly everything I ever wanted about this book and this character.



On the Selection of Those Who Will Represent Humanity to the Inhabitants of Toliman B (3102 words) by Syme
Fandom: Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream - James Alan Gardner
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Additional Tags: Original Character(s), Future
Summary:

A record of the sub-committee's interview of Maggie Farrell, Somnotician and candidate for the position of artist on the delegation which will shortly leave Earth to make first contact with the inhabitants of Toliman B.


FIC EXISTS FOR THIS SHORT STORY HOLY CRAP, and this too is everything I could have hoped for! This fic ran with my prompt of a fourth hearing set in the future and does a careful and thoughtful and wonderful job of continuing the themes of the story in an interesting and plausible way. ALSO IT IS A FIC ABOUT DREAMS AND STORIES AND SPACE.

-----

So basically this was an absolutely amazing yuletide, AS ALWAYS. I love yuletide so very much.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I AM BACKKKK! Well actually I returned late sunday night but then I was exhausted and also I have work and also catching up on the real life things I wasn't doing while on vacation, so. I am still exhausted but I am at least nominally kind of here! AND I COME WITH LOTS OF BOOKS.

Look, my vacation was CANOE TRIPPING, which when you do it right (which obvs I do) leaves you lots of time to hang out in the beautiful wilderness with a book. So. I read NINE BOOKS while on vacation! Plus I had a couple I didn't post about from before the trip. Plus I read a book yesterday. So. Let's go!

Wired Love: a Romance of Dots and Dashes, by Ella Cheever Thayer )

Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril & Romance, by Marthe Jocelyn )

Monks-Hood, by Ellis Peters )

Complete Fairy Tales of George MacDonald )

The Confession of Brother Haluin, by Ellis Peters )

The Android's Dream, by John Scalzi )

The Wisdom of Father Brown, by GK Chesterton )

Psmith, Journalist, by PG Wodehouse )

A Matter of Oaths, by Helen S Wright )

Murder Must Advertise, by Dorothy L Sayers )

Strong Poison, by Dorothy L Sayers )

Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale )

Gaudy Night, by Dorothy L Sayers )

Poor Yorick, by Ryan North, William Shakespeare, and YOU )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
The Goose Girl is a novel retelling of the Grimm fairy tale by the same name, expanding on the story and doing some world-building to make it hang together coherently (I love fairy tales and their "right so this one dead horse can talk, whatevs, no need for explanations" perspective on worldbuilding but it doesn't work as well in a novel-length work).

It's been years since I last read this book and I'd forgotten how good it is. Gosh I love it. Well -- I'm always happy for a well-done fairy tale retelling, so I'm an easy sell on a book like this. But really it's more than that that I love about it. Spoilers! )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Yes, yes, I haven't responded to comments for like a million billion years I AM SORRY but have another post!

Because I went to see two community theatre productions last week! Usually I go MONTHS without seeing such things? And this was a busy week otherwise too! OH WELL it was great and I am glad I went to both.

One was a play about WWI's effect on my region, on neighbours and family and war and the construction of the "other". It was REALLY well done. Except for one thing: one of the vaudeville interludes involved a dude wearing a dress, and this crossdressing was played for laughs. WHAT NO. Dude looked seriously fantastic in his dress! WHY WAS THE AUDIENCE INVITED TO LAUGH AT HIM, crossdressing is not an inherently hilarious activity, HULKSMASH!!!!!!

The other was a production of the musical "Into the Woods"! It is a GREAT musical (thanks Verity for introducing me to it! I don't know how I'd never heard of it before, because it is 1. a musical and 2. about fairy tales, two things that are dear to my heart), and I was very impressed by this production. The actors playing Jack and Cinderella and Cinderella's prince were the stand-out members of the cast for me. A thoroughly enjoyable experience!

(Also I heard a rumour from a fellow audience-member that there are plans afoot to do a proper movie version of Into the Woods? and that Johnny Depp (...I nearly typed "Jack Sparrow" there and had to think for a moment to come up with the actor's actual name) is to be involved somehow. And googling informs me that this audience member is CORRECT. Apparently he will be playing the wolf, which, GOOD, I was worried there they'd cast him as the baker or Jack or something and I have trouble seeing that working well...!)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This one is a reread and it holds up a little less well than I thought it would. It's still really charming, and there's still a lot about it that I love! But....the ending didn't work for me, which meant that the book as a whole didn't work. Also it's possible I'm way more aware of creepy power dynamics than I used to be.

Spoilers, of course )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
OKAY HERE'S SOMETHING CHEERFUL.

remix_redux X happened! And fics got released! And mine is out in the wilds of the internet but I can't share it with you yet because it's anonymous at the moment, but I had THREE remixes done of fics of mine! How exciting! Pretty much I think the idea of remixing is the coolest ever, because DUDE, FANFIC OF FANFIC, HOW CAN THAT NOT BE AWESOME? And THREE PEOPLE did remixes of me!

So here, let me share with you the remixes!

What Dreams May Come (The BWV 140 Remix), a remix of my fairy-tale fic The Death of Each Day's Life. Here the anonymous author takes my fairy-tale fic and reimagines it as a part of a Snape/Hermione fic, which is super cool and not something I'd ever have thought of! I love the way that the theme of dreaming and waking and sleeping gets even more tangled up in the remix.

I Must Wait for the Sunrise (the Death of Each Day remix), also a remix of my fairy-tale fic The Death of Each Day's Life. This one is a switch in viewpoint from Sleeping Beauty to her husband the prince, and though it's very short it rings true.

Call Shotgun on my Rocket (A Pirate's Life For Me Remix), a remix of my bandom fic Call Shotgun on my Rocket. This acts as a sequel to my Pete/Mikey space pirates fic, takes it in COMPLETELY a different direction than I would have taken it, and does a glorious job at it -- I absolutely loved this. (and I just about died laughing at the epilogue)

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