Blog Tour – Review: Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters by Diane Zahler

Welcome to my stop on Diane Zahler’s blog tour for her newly released Middle Grade fantasy Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters.  I’m excited to be part of this tour because I love Diane’s books!  I’ve read almost all of them, and they have all captivated me with her twists on familiar fairy tales.  As the title of Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters suggests, this is an alternate version of Sleeping Beauty that chronicles the adventures of Sleeping Beauty’s daughters. They are 12 and 9, and don’t understand why they live such an isolated existence.  There are no sharp knives or scissors, or anything with a pointy end to be found anywhere in the castle. All food is sent from the local village in bite sized pieces.  Their father heads to the village to get his hair cut, and the castle guards don’t even have weapons (maybe they have mallets to fight off possible threats of attack?). 

After Luna accidentally cuts herself, giving their emotionally fragile mother quite a fright, they learn about their mother’s history.  She was cursed as a baby, and after being pricked on the finger, she fell into a deep, deep sleep that lasted one hundred years.  Their father awakened her with a kiss, and when the evil fairy Manon discovered that they were living their happy ever after, she cursed them again.  This time, it would be one of their daughters that would fall into a deep, deep slumber, only when she woke up, everyone she knew and loved would be dead and gone.  That’s really scary!  It would terrify me to find myself completely alone, so I could easily imagine how terrifying that thought was to Luna and Aurora.  When Aurora pricks her finger due to Luna’s carelessness, it becomes a desperate race to find their fairy godmother before Aurora takes a really, really long nap.

As in every Diane Zahler book, the characters made the story for me.  They are young and have little practical world experience, yet they rally together to accomplish great things.  Luna is stubborn and bold, while Aurora is more timid and hesitant to face new challenges.  Her idea of a good time, like mine, is curling up in the library with a good book.  The curse and the threat of sleeping for a century get them both moving to find a cure, and with the help of an orphan fisherman, they head off into danger.  Each adds strength to their group, and without all three working together, they would fail at their task.  They all grow and gain confidence as they face one frightening challenge after another.  They aren’t content to just sit around and wait for an adult to solve their problems; nope, they dive right into action, determined to find a way to reverse the terrible curse that’s been placed on Aurora. 

The other thing I love about these books is that the girls don’t take a backseat to the boys.  They are every bit as brave, strong, and courageous as the guys.  Probably more so, because the girls are the ones to get things moving in the first place.  I like that they wait to be rescued; they take control of their own destiny and try to figure things out for themselves.

Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters is very fast-paced, as the sisters race against time to save Aurora from her terrible fate.  Along the way they learn to embrace both the good and bad in each other.  They also make friendships that will last a lifetime, and face terrors beyond their imagining.  Through all of their adventures, they discover a new appreciation for each other, and the courage to overcome any obstacle – together.

So…did I like it?  You bet!  4.5 / 5 stars! 

 

About the book:

The classic fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty is transformed into a dazzling new story of two sisters fighting a powerful curse by Diane Zahler, the acclaimed author of The Thirteenth Princess. Briskly paced and full of lush descriptions, readers who enjoy the work of Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine will be swept away by this spellbinding novel.
The daughters of Sleeping Beauty, Princesses Aurora and Luna, have grown up in a cliff-top palace by the sea, where they are carefully protected by their parents. No one visits, the girls cannot stray beyond the castle walls, and all sharp objects are forbidden here.
But accidents will happen—particularly when an old curse still has power. Soon, in spite of all precautions, Aurora is struggling not to slip into an enchanted sleep.
Frantic, the princesses accept the help of a young fisherman named Symon and embark on a daring ocean voyage to find their aunt—a fairy who may be able to break the spell. From fearsome beasts to raging storms, many dangers befall them, yet they must not give up . . . for if Aurora sleeps, she will not wake for one hundred years.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour:

August 27: www.theresabook.com

August 28: www.bookalicious.org

August 30: http://www.iceybooks.com/

August 31: www.greenbeanteenqueen.com

September 1: http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/search?q=zahler

You can learn more about Diane by visiting:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Waiting on Wednesday – Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters by Diane Zahler

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I adore Diane Zahler’s fairytale retellings, so I had a major geek out when I saw the cover for her next release.  So pretty!  So magical!!  So I must read you now!!  Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters will be in stores August 2013 – I can’t wait!

 

 

Princesses Aurora and Luna have grown up in a cliff-top palace by the sea, where they are carefully protected by their parents, the king and queen. No one visits, the girls cannot stray beyond the castle walls, and, curiously, all sharp objects are forbidden from the castle.

But accidents will happen—particularly when an old curse still has power. Soon, in spite of all precautions, Aurora is struggling not to slip into an enchanted sleep.

Frantic, the princesses accept the help of a young fisherman named Symon and embark on a daring ocean voyage to find their aunt—a fairy who may be able to break the spell. From fearsome beasts to raging storms, many dangers befall them, yet they must not give up…for if Aurora sleeps, she will not wake for one hundred years.

 

What are you waiting on?

Happily Ever After Giveaway Hop-Win Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler

 

Welcome to my Happily Ever After giveaway,  hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Valerie from Murphy’s Library.  This hop runs from October 9 to October 14, and you can win lots of new reads.  Click here for a complete list of blogs participating in the hop.

I am giving away an ARC of Diane Zahler’s MG fantasy Princess of The Wild Swans.  I love Diane Zahler’s fairy tale retellings, and I think you will, too!

 

About the book:

Princess Meriel’s brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment–cast by their conniving new stepmother–has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.

Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.

With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam–a pretty half-witch and her clever brother–Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved.

But if she fails . . . all will be lost.

Entering is easy! Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following! US addresses only, please.

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Cheap YA Reads For Your Kindle!

Here are some cheap YA reads for the Kindle.  There are some popular dystopian and fairy tale retellings going on the cheap! Click on the title to order.

All These Things I’ve Done (Birthright) by Gabrielle Zevin ($2.99)

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight–at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

Engrossing and suspenseful, All These Things I’ve Done is an utterly unique, unputdownable read that blends both the familiar and the fantastic.

 

Uglies (The Uglies) by Scott Westerfield ($3.99)

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world–and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever..

Pretties (The Uglies) by Scott Westerfield ($3.99)

Gorgeous. Popular. Perfect. Perfectly wrong.
Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she’s completely popular. It’s everything she’s ever wanted.
But beneath all the fun — the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom — is a nagging sense that something’s wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally’s ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what’s wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.
Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life — because the authorities don’t intend to let anyone with this information survive.

The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale (.99!)

When Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress, are shut in a tower for seven years for Saren’s refusal to marry a man she despises, the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment.

As food runs low and the days go from broiling hot to freezing cold, it is all Dashti can do to keep them fed and comfortable. But the arrival outside the tower of Saren’s two suitors—one welcome, and the other decidedly less so—brings both hope and great danger, and Dashti must make the desperate choices of a girl whose life is worth more than she knows.
With Shannon Hale’s lyrical language, this forgotten but classic fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm is reimagined and reset on the central Asian steppes; it is a completely unique retelling filled with adventure and romance, drama and disguise.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George ($1.99)

Blessed—or cursed—with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she’s known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out, and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass will accompany him to his castle, she doesn’t hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servents. Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he’s forced to marry a troll princess.

Have you read any of these?

Review: Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler

 

Title: Princess of the Wild Swans

Author: Diane Zahler

Publisher: Harper Collins

ISBN: 978-0062004925

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Princess Meriel’s brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment–cast by their conniving new stepmother–has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.

Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.

With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam–a pretty half-witch and her clever brother–Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved.

But if she fails . . . all will be lost.

Review:

I read and enjoyed The Thirteenth Princess, so I was curious to see if I would like Princess of the Wild Swans as well.  The fairy tale that this book is based on has never been a favorite, and I wondered how I would feel about Diane Zahler’s reimagined version.  I liked it!  A lot!  The characters, once again, are what made the story, as well as the urgency of Meriel’s task.  If she doesn’t find a way to save her brothers soon, winter will set in and they will have to fly to a warmer climate.  Since it is autumn, that doesn’t leave her much time to come up with a solution!  To make matters worse, there isn’t anyone for her to confide in, because everyone seems to have succumbed to the evil Lady Orianna’s enchantments.

Diane Zahler’s princess protagonists make these stories for me.  They are kind and concerned, and though they might be slightly spoiled, when the chips are down and danger beckons, they will do anything to save the people they love.  Though she is frightened and confused, Meriel quickly finds the determination to save her brothers.  She knows that something terrible has happened to them – they all just disappeared, after all – and she is going to figure out where they all went.  With her father bewitched by her new, beautiful stepmother, she has no adult to turn to.  After chance encounter with Riona, her brother Cullan’s girlfriend, Meriel discovers some equally determined allies.  Both Riona and her brother, Liam, will do anything to help Meriel.  They know that the new queen is evil, and they fear what will happen to the kingdom if she triumphs in her evil deeds.

Just when Meriel is ready to give up, the townsfolk provide assistance to keep her moving doggedly forward.  Hers is a terrible task, one that she isn’t prepared to tackle, but with help from her friends and her subjects, she finds the resolution and the courage to get the job done.  Meriel matures and gains confidence in her ability to save her family, and as she discovers an impressive inner strength, she makes things happen.  She knows that if she fails, her brothers will remain swans forever, and that is all of the motivation she needs to find a way around every obstacle that springs up in her path.  Her brothers, and even her father, may have treated her like a helpless child, but Meriel will show them all that she is more than capable of taking care of herself, and them as well!  Even though each road block was more overwhelming than the last, and Meriel was overcome with self-doubt, she continued to do everything possible to save her brothers.

Diane Zahler’s writing is reminiscent of Patricia McKillip and Robin McKinley, two of my favorite fantasy authors, so it’s no surprise that I am enjoying her books as well.  I just purchased A True Princess ($5.99 for my Kindle – WIN!).  She has, in fact, been moved to my auto-buy list.  I can hardly wait to see what other adventures she has in store for her very relatable and likeable characters.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by the author

 

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Guest Post–Why I Like Fairy Tales by Diane Zahler

Diane Zahler is the author of several fairy tale retellings, including her newest, Princess of the Wild Swans.  I love fairy tales, and I also enjoy the new twists Diane spins in her books.  She was generous enough to whip up a guest post, explaining why she likes fairy tales.

Why I Like Fairy Tales by Diane Zahler

Thanks for having me on your blog, Julie! You wanted to know why I liked fairy tales – why I’ve chosen to retell these familiar stories. Well, a couple of months ago, I was searching for a document in my attic, bushwhacking through piles of mouse-nibbled clothing and heaps of discarded toys and electronics. I never found what I was looking for, but I did find two artifacts from my childhood. One was a poem I wrote in the fifth grade, and the other was a story – with illustrations – that I composed with my best friend a year later. Both were fairy tales. I’d forgotten about them completely. Seeing them again made me realize that the fairy tale trail was a route I’d been traveling for much of my life.

Why fairy tales? I think the stories tap into some of our deepest fears and longings. There’s the fear of abandonment – consider the fairy tale characters who have lost parents, and all those evil stepmothers! The fear of growing up — think of Sleeping Beauty, who as she’s about to become a woman falls asleep for a hundred years. The fear of the unknown – vengeful witches, ferocious wolves, man-eating giants, endless forests full of danger. So readers recognize their own anxieties when they read the stories.

But in most fairy tales, the main characters triumph. They complete their quests, use their wits, find love and fulfillment, live happily ever after. And readers see their own desires for happiness and success in the stories’ endings.

The original written tales are usually only a few pages long. Their characters are one-dimensional, their settings are generic (a forest, a castle). There’s a lot of room for a writer to invent details. Creating characters who can change and grow and discover their own power is enormously fun. Plus there’s all the crazy magic a writer can put into a fairy tale. Princes turned into swans, an evil Faerie land beneath a lake, a horrific eel-monster, witches and half-witches – and that’s just in Princess of the Wild Swans! There’s really no limit when it comes to inventing magical creatures or enchanted places in a fairy tale.

I’ve loved fairy tales since before I was old enough to read. So for me, the stories are a perfect springboard for creating novels that are both unique and steeped in the magic of the original tales.


Many thanks to Diane for sharing her love of fairy tales with us.

You can learn more about Diane and her books by visiting her website and by following her on Twitter.

You can order Princess of the Wild Swans from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below.  It is available in both print and digital format.

 

 

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Teaser Tuesday–Princess of the Wild Swans and Deadly

 

Diane Zahler’s reimagined fairy tales are quickly becoming a favorite of mine.  Princess of the Wild Swans is another fun book that kept me entertained over the weekend.  I am looking forward to more of her books!

 

I rose abruptly, rocking the table.  As I stood, my goblet crashed to the floor, shattering into a hundred tiny pieces. At the sound, the door to the hall flew open.  Mistress Tuileach stood there, and I ran to her.

Help me! I thought in desperation.

 

I just picked up Deadly by Julie Chibbaro.  I love the premise; it takes place in New York in 1906 during the devastating outbreak of typhoid fever. 

 

Every September, the shivers come over me, thoughts of my brother’s terrifying death, and the questions – why did his short life end? Why do people have to die?

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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Interview with Marissa Meyer, Author of Cinder and Giveaway!

Marissa Meyer is the author of Cinder, a fun twist on Cinderella. Marissa dropped by the virtual offices for a chat, and she also brought presents! One winner will score a copy of Cinder, as well as a Cinder mirror!

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Marissa Meyer] I’m a diligent optimist who’s always wanted to be a writer and am now UNBELIEVABLY ECSTATIC to see my debut novel come into the world.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your book, Cinder?

[Marissa Meyer] Cinder is a futuristic take on “Cinderella,” in which our heroine is re-envisioned as a 16-year-old mechanic who’s part-human, part-machine. Cinder’s innate ability to fix things brings her in contact with the handsome Prince Kai, and soon she’s caught in a political battle of wills between Earth and the cruel Lunar queen who wants to rule it.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Marissa Meyer] A few years ago, I entered a writing contest with a futuristic retelling of “Puss in Boots,” and that gave me the idea for an entire series of futuristic fairy tales. A few months later, I was drifting off to sleep when I had a flash of inspiration: Cinderella, but as a cyborg, with a prosthetic hand and foot. I saw her fixing androids and hover cars, as opposed to the more traditional vision of her mopping floors and serving tea. Other characters started to fill in the story gradually, some inspired by their fairy tale counterparts, such as the wicked stepmother, and others entirely my own making, such as Dr. Erland who offers lots of insights and twists in the book.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Marissa Meyer] I struggle with villains, and there are two main ones in this book—Adri, Cinder’s stepmother, and evil Queen Levana. My imagination always wants to make them pure evil, and I have to really work to give them dimension and back story, asking myself what made them this way and how they see themselves.

[Manga Maniac Café] Which of your characters are you most like?

[Marissa Meyer] In Cinder, probably Peony, Cinder’s younger stepsister, who is chipper and boy-crazy and afraid of creepy-crawlies, which describes 14-year-old me in a nutshell.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your biggest creative influences?

[Marissa Meyer] I’ve definitely been influenced by those writers that have done so many amazing fairy tale retellings, and keep them from ever feeling stale, such as Shannon Hale and Gregory Maguire. I also really admire Scott Westerfeld and how he’s been able to seamlessly switch between such varying genres, which gives hope to a girl who has book ideas for every YA genre out there!

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Marissa Meyer] A beverage (doesn’t really matter what it is), my fingerless gloves, a quiet mind.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Marissa Meyer] The Chronicles of Narnia—they were the first novels I can remember reading, and I was enchanted by them.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Marissa Meyer] Read, obviously! I also like going wine-tasting and having games nights with friends and family.

Thank you so much for being a part of the Blog Tour, Julie!

[Manga Maniac Café]  Thank you!


You can learn more about Marissa by visiting her website.  Follow her on Twitter here.

Click here to see the entire schedule for Marissa’s Cinder Blog Tour!

You can read chapters 1 – 5 by clicking this widget:

And, Cinder is available in both print and digital formats.  You can order a copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below:

 

Contest Time!

Ready for a chance to win a copy of Cinder and a Cinder mirror?  Fill out the form below!

You must be 13 or older to enter.

I am not responsible for lost or damaged shipments.

One entry per person.

Open to US/Canadian mailing addresses only

Contest ends January 22

 

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