Saturday, January 22, 2011

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2011

Greetings everyone!! I was delighted to find this challenge, hosted by Historical Tapestry, and decided that I would absolutely love to participate. The challenge is simple, and involves these rules:

-everyone can participate, even those who don't have a blog (you can add your book title and thoughts in the comment section if you wish)

-add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please, do not add your blog link, but the correct address that will guide us directly to your review)

-any kind of historical fiction is accepted (HF fantasy, HF young adult,...)

-During these following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:
Severe Bookaholism: 20 books
Undoubtedly Obsessed: 15 books
Struggling the Addiction: 10 books
Daring & Curious: 5 books
Out of My Comfort Zone: 2 books

I decided I would go with the Severe Bookaholism challenge. Appropriate indeed. I figure that 20 books in 12 months will definitely be doable for a reader like me, especially being the historical fiction junkie that I am. So, here's to a great, historical-fiction filled 2011. Wish me luck!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday is for Fairytales (5)

Friday is for Fairytales is a meme hosted by Irena at This Miss Loves to Read. Every Friday, you can choose a fairytale you love, or simply find interesting or haunting, and review it or simply say why you like it so much, or why it has captured your attention. Instead of a fairytale, you can choose a favourite fairytale character and describe him/her and tell us why you like them, or you can simply share an experience connected to a fairytale. Fairytales can be old and modern, written by a known author or anonymous, written down or passed on orally, short or in novel form (like re-writings of fairytales), international or typical for your country alone. In this case, present your country’s fairytale and we can all become acquainted with a new fairytale. So, make a post every Friday that is connected to the world of fairytales, be it a review, a character description or your own fairytale experience. Let’s celebrate fairytales and share our love for them.

MY POST IS ABOUT: Aladdin translated by Antoine Galland from One Thousand and One Nights

Aladdin has always been one of my favorite fairytales. It definitely does not fit the description of a classic "fairy tale"... more like a legend than anything else. Even though this tale isn't a classic fairytale, none of the magic is lost. The traditional battle between good and evil still exists, with an interesting twist.

I always admired the strong character of Aladdin. He is an impoverished, although very smart and cunning youth who won't take no for an answer. And all his hard work pays off in the end... through the help of a powerful genie, Aladdin find the woman of his dreams and makes a new destiny for himself.

I think Disney did a great adaptation of this tale. Both Aladdin and Princess Jasmine are really dynamic, strong characters. They both will not accept the constricting world that they live in, and seek to better it, no matter what the cost. I always loved the sense of freedom they create for themselves, and think that Disney captured this beautifully.

This is a great, out of the ordinary fairytale. It transcends the boundaries of tradition, while still keeping the powerful essences of freedom and destiny... that is, having the priceless power of creating your own destiny.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson


Y.A. Fairytale Retelling / Fantasy (257 pgs.)


Rose has been appointed as a healer's apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter' daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her--a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.
When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she's never felt before and wonders if he feel's the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious yound woman in hiding. As Rose's life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.


One of my absolute favorite genres is fairytale retelling. I was a little skeptical when I first discovered this new read... the plot seemed like it would stray too far from it's orginial, Sleeping Beauty. A healer's apprentice? You mean... she's not a princess? But, it was another great lesson in how not to judge a book by its cover.

Rose, although a healer's apprentice, has the makings of a princess. Her compassion, spirit, and generosity all demonstrate that. She puts everyone else before herself, and is a priceless friend to have. I really admired her character, even if she did seem a little too-good-to-be-true sometimes.

I was also impressed with how Melanie Dickerson wrote the plot of this novel. It was really fantastic. Rose and Lord Hamlin's brother, Lord Rupert, court for sometime, on the premise that--despite his history--Lord Rupert really does love Rose and wants to marry her. But, as it turns out, he just wants her to be his full-time mistress. But Ms. Dickerson had me fooled till the very end! She made Lord Rupert so convincing that even I started to believe his good-will... and was crushed just like Rose when we found out the opposite.

Not only was Ms. Dickerson's plot impressive, her writing was superb as well! There is one passage I particularly find breathtaking:

"Rose clasped her hands and stared into his eyes, loving him, drinking in his love for her, for the last time. The pain in her chest was so intense, she wondered if she was dying. She bent over, pressing her hands to her throat, which ached from holding back tears. She could still feel his lips on her fingers" (223).

This passage just really stood out to me. The pain, the longing, the love... it's just achingly beautiful. Job well done!

The only real problem I had with this novel was that some situations just seemed a little too-good-to-be-true. Some, but not all, plot points are a bit far fetched. But this is only on a couple of occassions, and doesn't hurt the novel too too much.

Melanie Dickerson put a fabulous spin on the story of Sleeping Beauty. It wasn't at all what I was expecting, but I loved it nonetheless! All the traditional elements are there... the evil Wizard, the princess in hiding, the prince. But Dickerson infuses it with something special... a great plot with tons of brilliant side-stories and a fabulous cast of characters. An excellent read!




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