Happily Never After? - New Twists on Old Tales

This is the orginal version of a post I typed up for my library's teen blog. Enjoy! :-)

If you asked me to tell you the exact moment that I fell in love with fairy tales, I couldn’t…at least, not exactly. As I child, I know I loved them – that elusive “happily ever after” kept me greedily coming back for more. However, as I grew older I suppose I also grew jaded. I quickly learned that “happily ever after” wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Then, I discovered something that changed the way I looked at fairy tales forever. The tame, watered-down versions I’d been fed as a child were not the original tales collected and told by Perrault, the Brothers Grimm and others. The true stories were actually MUCH darker – and they didn’t always have happy endings.

From that point on I became fascinated by the range of variations that could be found on just a single familiar tale, like Cinderella, for example. I immediately began building a collection of fairy tale adaptations. It was easy, of course, to find picture books that retold the famous stories, such as Cinderella Skeleton, The Frog Prince Continued and Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter. However, although these were definitely fun to look at, I wanted something meatier, something that would flesh out the characters I knew and loved – I wanted NOVELS! So, off I went in search of what I was sure would turn out to be a very elusive topic. Was I ever in for a shock! There was FAR more out there than I ever could have imagined! It quickly became obvious to me that I wasn’t the only one that craved more substance in my fairy tales, and I soon became devoted to authors such as Donna Jo Napoli, Gail Carson Levine, Mercedes Lackey, and Robin McKinley. Of course, I discovered many other wonderful authors as well - while they weren’t fairy tale novel gurus, each had one or two wonderful “fairy tale-related” stories like Edith Pattou’s East, Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl, and Diane Stanley’s Bella at Midnight. It also wasn’t long before I discovered a wonderful series called “Once Upon a Time” where each book focuses on a different fairytale and turns the story on its head. For example, what if Little Red Riding Hood wasn’t so little and had more of a problem with werewolves than actual wolves? Or what if Beauty, instead of being held captive by a Beast, became the prisoner of a handsome Native American shaman instead?

There are so many wonderful retellings, but during my search I discovered something even better – GRAPHIC NOVELS! That’s right - while there aren’t many around, quality definitely makes up for quantity! There are some absolutely wonderful GNs that travel into the world of fairy tales. Probably the most famous series is Fables, which is written by Bill Willingham. It takes all the fairy tale characters (good and bad) from all of your favorite stories and throws them together in modern day New York. They’re definitely NOT the characters you might remember from childhood, but what really makes this story interesting is WHY they’ve all been forced to live out their days in the mortal realm. Another terrific addition to the GN fairy tale genre is a series called Lullaby by Ben Avery. This story uses not only fairy tale creations, but also other characters from classic literature, such as a very curvaceous version of Alice from Alice in Wonderland and a sword-wielding Jim Hawkins from Treasure Island. Recently, Marvel decided to take on the genre as well with X-Men: Fairy Tales, and they’ll soon be releasing Spider-Man Fairy Tales and Avengers Fairy Tales, too! All of these stories take your favorite Marvel characters and put them into a fun variety of multi-cultural fairy tales…each with it’s own special twist.

You can also find a variety of other types of fairy tale retellings in the form of short stories, poetry, movies and even Broadway plays. Gregory Maguire & Terry Windling both have some great short stories to share. And, while we don’t carry anything in the library’s collection, Disenchantments by Wolfgang Mieder and If the Shoe Fits by Laura Whipple have some great poetry to offer. As for movies, one of my all-time favorites is “Ever After” with Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott, but if your looking for something dark, try “Snow White: a Tale of Terror” with Sigourney Weaver and Sam Neill. Broadway also offers a wonderful morality play entitled “Into the Woods”; it’s a musical which brings together a variety of fairy tale denizens who must band together when a giant invades the enchanted forest. More recently, although not exactly a fairy tale re-telling, is the musical Wicked which retells the story of The Wonderful Wizard of OZ from the wicked witch’s point of view.

There are so many more wonderful books, authors, etc. I could talk about and suggest to you, but now that I’ve (hopefully) created an interest, I recommend you go out and explore for yourself. After all, as with many fairy tales themselves, the search itself is half of the adventure. ;-)

link | Miranda posted at 11:21 PM | 3 comments


More Finished Reviews

I've got three more review for you guys today! Yay! :-) My favorite by far was Kino no Tabi, but Wallflower was lots of fun, too!

Kino no Tabi, V.01

RahXephon, V.03

Wallflower, V.05

I know it's not much, and it may be even longer before I have more, but I'm working diligently on trying to get caught up on all of my manga reading and rarely have time to write except during my lunch breaks. So, stay with me, and I promise to do my best to have more for you soon.

link | Miranda posted at 9:11 PM | 1 comments


Six Things That Would Make LibraryThing A+ in my Book!

Okay, so I was playing around on LibraryThing, trying to avoid typing up my last paper for Capstone and I came up with the following list of things that would vastly improve my overall LibraryThing experience. So here they are in no particular order (mostly because I think they're all REALLY important!) LOL!

1) The ability to make specific books "private" instead of your whole library collection. DVDSpot offers this as an option, and it's a very handy feature indeed.

REASON: Now you don't have to worry about sharing your library with (fill in the name of a random relative here.)

2) The ability to review books you don't own.

REASON: If I don't like a book - I DON'T keep it. How am I supposed to warn other people if I can't review a book that's not in my own collection?

3) The ability to create a seperate Wishlist that doesn't add books to my current collection.

REASON: A Wishlist helps me keep track of stuff I DO eventually plan to buy, but I don't like that it adds it to my collection. Somehow that seems like cheating...

4) The ability to search other users' collections by ISBN.

REASON: This one is a bit selfish, I want to attach authors whose names are written in Japanese characters with their romanized counterparts in my personal collection and ISBN's seems like the fastest way to do that. There are plenty of other good reasons, too...I just can't think of any right now...

5) Making Barnes & Noble one of the availabe sites for book searching.

REASON: Okay, I admit it, this one is selfish, too. But honestly, I buy SO MANY books from Barnes & Nobles Press (I can't be the only one!) and NONE of the searchable sites can EVER find their ISBNs. So I'm always having to type them in manually despite the fact that they're sitting right there on Barnes & Noble's web site - taunting me. I know, I know, I'm SO lazy! ;-)

6) Stronger search capabilities (Okay, I lied before, this feature is WAY more important than all of the others put together!)

Example 1 - To be able to search for all books in my collection that have "Fantasy" in the title and are also tagged "Non-Fiction"

Example 2 - To be able to search for books in my collection that have ALL of the following tags: Manga, Fantasy, On Order

Example 3 - To be able to search for all of the books in my collection that were written by Neil Gaiman, have Sandman in the title, and have "Death" as one of the tags.

Example 4 - To be able to search for any tag that has the word "Fantasy" in it. I.E. the search would pull up not only books tagged "Fantasy", but also books tagged "Sci-Fantasy", "Fantasy Reference", "Fantasy Non-Fiction", etc.

link | Miranda posted at 2:19 AM | 0 comments


New Reviews

Ah, after an admittedly LONG wait, I've finally added three new reviews to my list.

  • Love Roma V.02

  • Made in Heaven V.01

  • Warcraft: Sunwell Trilogy V.02 (ARC)

  • Yay! Anyway, enjoy - I promise I'm working on even more as I type this. I actually spend my lunch breaks reading or writing for my reviews. LOL! I'm not sure if that makes me dedicated or pathetic. *snicker* I guess the truth is that I truly enjoy manga and I want to be able to give complete and critical reviews not only for fellow readers to use, but also for librarians to have when making manga purchases for their collections.

    So, I'll see y'all next time. :-)

    link | Miranda posted at 1:53 AM | 0 comments



    Wow, I can't believe it! One of my reviews has been quoted - IN PRINT!!!! Granted, my name isn't mentioned, but it's definitely my review. The next time you're in the book store, pick up a copy of Tokyopop's The Dreaming, V.02 - My ListerX review was quoted on the inside of the back cover. YAY! *does a happy dance*

    Anyway, moving on. :-) Thanks to the disappearance of ListerX, I've recently discovered a wonderful site called LibraryThing! While it will NEVER compare to the wonderful thoroughness of ListerX, I have to give it loads of points for being the most hands-on & user-friendly online catalog I've ever seen. I've managed to upload nearly my entire collection of over 3,500+ titles in less than a month! Of course, I haven't gotten them all properly cataloged yet, but just the fact that I was able to upload that many in such a sort amount of time is AMAZING! It also has the function of allowing you to hand-enter books that, for example, are too old to have ISBNs. Or maybe it's one of those mini-cookbooks you buy while standing in line at the grocery store - you can upload that, too. I admit, it does have a few flaws, but they're minor in comparison to the benefits. Another cool feature, if you have a cell phone with internet access, is that they've created a special cell phone-friendly site so that you can look up your collection while your at the book store, for example, to make sure you don't already own something before you buy it. (Yes, I really have done that before. . . more than once, actually) *grimaces* I have to admit that as much as I loved ListerX and continue to wish whole-heartedly every day for its return, in a way, I'm glad that it vanished because I never would have discovered LibraryThing otherwise.

    Anyway, you may have noticed a change over on the left-hand menu bar - that's a portion of my LibraryThing "tag" list, which is basically a list of subjects you can add to each book in your collection. And the best part is that YOU get to create it. What you're seeing are the top 30 "most-used" tags that I've placed on various books I own. The larger the font is, the more that particular tag is used in my catalog. When clicked on, each tag will take you to a complete listing of that tag's use within the LibraryThing database. Pretty cool, huh?!

    Yeah...so...I'll be going to bed now... ;-P

    link | Miranda posted at 12:02 AM | 3 comments


    A Few Small Changes

    Well, as some of you may or may not know, ListerX is seemingly down for the count indefinitely. I don't know why it's vanished or if it will ever exist again. So, since I can no longer link to my reviews through the website, I've created some space elsewhere so that they'll still remain accessible to everyone. My hope is that one day ListerX will reappear again; I don't think I'll ever find a better site for cataloging my anime/manga collection. And believe me, over the past few weeks, I've tried. Nothing I've discovered so far on the web compares in the slightest. *heavy sigh* Anyway, I will continue to occassionally add reviews, despite ListerX's disappearance. After all, I have a ton of manga available to choose from and no reason not to continue reviewing the various series I've already started.

    Unfortunately, for reasons I can't remember I didn't save my review for I Luv Halloween V.01 on my computer with all of the rest. Perhaps it was because I found it to be entirely too disturbing for my tastes, although it's possible I just forgot... Anyway, I no longer own the actual comic, so I can't even re-review it without buying another copy, which I have NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in doing. So I'll just give a short little blurb for it here:

    Fans of the horror genre, South Park, and various other dark, gory &/or comedic things will probably adore this ameri-manga. The artwork has a wonderful stylized look & the plot is creatively unique. However, the gore factor and heavy sexual innuendo both make this series an impossible choice for any school library collection. As for public libraries - well, the only way you'd get away with buying it is if it stayed safely tucked away in the Adult section...and even that might not be enough to save you if some parent were to discover it there.

    So, with that said, I'll be signing off now. :-)

    link | Miranda posted at 12:45 AM | 3 comments


    Reposted for Your Reading Pleasure

    Well, I know I haven't been writing much here lately. Mostly it's due to the fact that I've spent the past month or so preparing for & moving into my new home. Anyway, as I'm getting settled I figured I could offer up something I was asked to post for the Teen blog we have set up at my library. So here it is in all its "glory". LOL!

    Why I Love Graphic Novels

    When I was probably in 5th or 6th grade my library introduced me to the wonderful world of Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest, and that was the beginning of my love for graphic novels (i.e. comic books) From there I explored numerous other authors and series, gravitating towards Batman after the first movie came out in ’88 and then to X-men when my best friend let me borrow her copy of the Dark Phoenix Saga in middle school. Later, during high school, I fell in love with Jeff Smith’s humorous epic, Bone, which often left me rolling with laughter (although it failed to amuse my teachers when I read during class.) High school also introduced me to the amazing art of Alex Ross, when a friend loaned me DC’s Kingdom Come, an amazing epic set in the far future, one where Batman controls Gotham via a system of hi-tech robots and Superman no longer cares what happens to the Earth and it’s people. Finally, in college I met some friends who threw me headlong into the wonderful world of manga, (i.e. Japanese comics) and I’ve been in graphic novel heaven ever since. Today, I’m a very eclectic comic reader; if the story looks interesting and the art is eye-catching I’ll pick up just about anything and give it a whirl.

    My most recent read (aside from a plethora of manga) is a very imaginative and wholly engrossing retake on the Marvel universe, Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602. It’s certainly a far cry from his Sandman series, but is, nevertheless, incredibly enjoyable. Of course, I’ve always been a big fan of alternate universes/histories, but this is truly a work of art. Neil Gaiman decided to pose the question, “What if all of our most well-loved Marvel heroes hadn’t been born in the 20th century, but the 17th century instead?” and the result is an amazing story with some very surprising twists. At first I was a bit hesitant to read this collection because, as much as I love comics, I’m not one of those people that reads them religiously and I was worried I would miss out on and/or not understand all of what was going on. Was I ever wrong! I can’t believe I waited as long as I did to read this incredible story! I will admit that all of the recent Marvel movies helped me out considerably. In fact, if your knowledge of the Marvel universe is anything like mine(S-P-A-R-S-E!), you might want to have a movie fest before-hand - watch Spiderman 1, The Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and both of the X-Men movies. You might also want to keep a copy of Peter Sanderson’s Marvel Universe handy for any other extraneous characters that pop-up.

    The plot is as follows – Queen Elizabeth has been assassinated, the planet Earth is in mortal chaos, and everyone is struggling to uncover the truth behind it all. Some blame the witchbreed (mutants), others claim the end of the world is at hand, but the truth is far more bizarre than anything the denizens of this altered world could possibly imagine. The story is excellently woven, and once everything is said and done you’ll still be craving more - because this is a world where Peter Parquah is apprenticed to the Royal English spy, Sir Nicholas Fury - a world where Spain’s Grand Inquisitor, Enrique, plots and schemes against his one-time friend Carlos Javier - a world where entire ballads have been written regarding the Crew of the Fantastik, who were altered forever after a fateful trip through the Sargasso Sea (the Bermuda Triangle) and then vanished without a trace - a world where, once you’ve immersed yourself, you’ll never want to leave.

    link | Miranda posted at 10:40 AM | 2 comments

    The Graphic Librarian

    While the title seems a bit deceptive, it's really all in the way you look at it. ;) LOL!

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