Book Review: The Fairest Of Them All By Carolyn Turgeon

imageDeep in an enchated forest, the beautiful Rapunzel spends her days helping woeful maidens with herbs and potions to ease their troubles. Surrounded by nature, she is content and eager to learn magical spells from her wise guardian, Mathenia. Until the day she meets a handsome prince who changes the course of her entire life. Instantly, they are drawn to one another and this conection fills Rapunzel with the hope of a new life but alas, not every fairy tale ends happily ever after. To ensure the safety of his kingdom, the prince must marry the fair and beloved by all, Princess Teresa. The Fairest of Them All is a clever, seemless blend of the popular tales Rapunzel and Snow White featuring some dark new twists.

Pros:

The cover is gorgeous! I know this has nothing to do with whether or not a novel is well written but, I’m sure it helps sales. When wandering around a bookstore, my eye tends to gravitate towards beautiful or interesting covers and honestly for a book to stand a chance against popular authors, the customer has to physically pick up the book or click the icon online to find out about the plot. To be fair, I love Carolyn Turgeon’s books (I wrote a review of Mermaid on this blog as well, check it out if you are interested) and will continue to purchase them regardless of the book’s appearance but, to a first time reader of her work, this cover helps it stand out in the crowd.

One of the twists was extremely troubling and I enjoy a book that disturbs me a bit. (I mean I did just read all of Gillian Flynn’s books over the summer and saw Gone Girl in theaters, so that should say something about my love of dark subject matters) Side note: Sharp Objects was my favorite one of her books.

Rapunzel was very relatable. I like that she had more dimension than the princesses of olden times. I loved her passion for nature and all living things.

Cons:

Two of the twists I guessed pretty quickly and if those had been the only ones, this book would have been extremely disappointing.

All in all, I rate The Fairest of Them All a 4: True Love’s Kiss from the very first few lines I was sucked into the story and desperately needed to know what was going to happen next. It was so captivating, I believe I finished this book in two days. This was an enjoyable read and like Turgeon’s other books (with the exception of Rain Village) I’m sure I will be re-reading this one in the future. If you love fairy tales and haunting plotlines, this novel is for you!

What are you reading this chilly winter season?

Book Review: The Next Full Moon By Carolyn Turgeon

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Ava is about to have the most eventful summer of her young life. Her plans to work on her tan by the lake with her best friend Morgan and get noticed by her crush, Jeff Jackson are about to be unexpectedly interrupted. Her upcoming 14th birthday will unlock a strange family secret more bewitching than she could have ever could have imagined.

The Next Full Moon is as magical as a moonbeam on a midsummer’s eve. When you’ve finished this enchanting story, you’ll close your eyes and fly.”

This review from Kathi Appelt, author of The Underneath is absolutely correct. Normally I don’t invest much stock in reviews printed on the back of novels but, after finishing this charming fairy tale I must agree with Kathi. After reading a series of excellent, but very dark books (Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, Still Missing by Chevy Stevens, and He’s Gone by Deb Caletti just to name a few) discussing this fluffy, feel good fairy tale is a welcome change.

This book is delightful. It reminds me of all of those endless summers of my youth long before errands, bill paying, and a 9-5 office job. Mornings that you wake up in a sun drenched bedroom and the day is full of possibilities. When your biggest decisions are where should I ride my bike today and what flavor of ice cream / popcicle do I want? I also loved living vicariously through Ava the excitement that comes from having a crush and trying to impress your peers. Author Carolyn Turgeon perfectly captures the essence of awkward youth and the struggles each of us have to find our true self as we grow up.

The Next Full Moon has a unique plot which kept me interested. Usually books like this focus on some petty rivalry with an arrogant bully or the main character must help a friend with a troubled home life which can get a bit predictable. I love that this young adult novel chose to be more whimsical. I don’t often say this, but even the cover art won me over. The image is not only fitting to the story, but is beautiful as well. I’m convinced being a book cover designer would be an amazing job, but I digress.

All in all I rate The Next Full Moon a 4:True Love’s Kiss while it was entertaining and fully encompassed the glory and wonder of summer break, I would have liked to see a villain. Ava’s family secret and transformation makes for a great story but, come on, all truly great fairy tales have an evil villain.

Gift Suggestions For Fairy Tale Fans

As the holiday season swiftly approaches I have compiled a list of presents that any fairy tale enthusiast would love.

Movies:
Tangled
The adventure of Rapunzel, the girl with the magic golden hair, and her journey to see the annual lighting of the lanterns. Throw in a sassy thief, a determined horse, and a manipulative mother and you have a delightful animated story fit for all ages.image

Enchanted
Princess Giselle is about to have all of her dreams come true when an evil queen sends her to modern day New York City. This hilarious look at a fairy tale princess trying to navigate the real world is sure to make anyone smile.
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Books:
Entwined by Heather Dixon
A clever retelling of the classic tale The 12 Dancing Princesses Azalea and her eleven sisters dance every night in a secret ballroom which is all fun and games until they learn the cost of passage. The imagery was so detailed and realistic it made me feel like I was actually in the story.

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The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long
This book reminds me of the next Wizard of Oz. As a child, Jenny watched her older brother Tom get taken by the trees and no one believed her. Many years later, before leaving for University Jenny revisits the place in the forest Tom disappeared and gets her chance to find out what happened to Tom and attempts to save him.

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Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon
I reviewed this wonderful book in an earlier post. See “The Truth About The Little Mermaid.”

Products:

Cell Phone Cases

Who these days isn’t obsessed with their smartphone? And what better way to dress up this must have gadget than with a beautiful fairy tale inspired phone case. Amazon has many cute cases to choose from for a variety of phone types.

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Jewelry Fit For A Princess
Baublebar features several bedazzled necklaces that would wow anyone at the ball, office, or out on the town. These statement pieces can be dressed up or down and are well worth the price. Check them out at http://www.baublebar.com.
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The Truth About The Little Mermaid…

disney-little-mermaidDo you remember the charming 1989 Disney film The Little Mermaid? If not, allow me to recap this motion picture in a few brief sentences. Ariel, a headstrong sixteen year old mermaid, explores the upper world against the wishes of her overbearing father. During this visit she rescues a handsome prince from a shipwreck and falls madly in love with him. Desperate to win Eric’s affections and tired of her life as a mermaid, she makes a deal with Ursula, the Sea Witch, trading her voice for human legs. But there is a catch. If Ariel can capture Eric’s heart with true love’s kiss, she can live as a human forever but if she fails she must return to the sea and become Ursula’s prisoner. Since this is a Disney movie you can easily guess how this ends. Add in some catchy tunes that shaped the very core of my childhood, and some quirky sidekicks, and you have one heartwarming little movie.

MermaidNow that you know The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite childhood motion pictures you can imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled upon Mermaid at my local bookstore. A new version of this timeless tale in book form? For an avid reader this felt like an amazing find. And as soon as I read the first few pages I knew I was right. Mermaid explores this famous story in a new and equally compelling way. The basics stay the same. A mermaid falls in love with a human prince. But in this version Lenia, the mermaid, must compete with Princess Margrethe, the daughter of a rival kingdom, for the prince’s affections. If the Prince marries Lenia he risks his kingdom going to war. If he marries Margrethe he will have peace in his kingdom but Lenia will die.

I loved this novel. Carolyn Turgeon has such a gift for drawing the reader in and not letting go until the last page. I found myself wanting the prince to be with both women equally but for different reasons. This is a refreshing change from the usual love triangle format in literature where one person is written as the clear winner and the other as a villain. The book is narrated by Lenia and Margrethe so the reader gets an opportunity to view both perspectives and understand each woman’s inner struggle. I could hardly wait to see how everything would unfold.

I rate this book a 4: True Love’s Kiss. While I loved several aspects of this novel, the most unlikeable character was the prince both women were pursuing. I strongly felt Lenia and Margrethe could do better. The prince didn’t seem to have any redeeming qualities and his romantic interests varied moment to moment; made even worse by the fact both women were advised of his fickle nature.

HCAAfter thoroughly enjoying Mermaid, I decided I needed to pay my respects to the original story and researched the Hans Christian Anderson version from 1837. I was impressed that Carolyn Turgeon kept the integrity of this famous tale intact but added her own flavor. In this version the prince is also sought after by two women but I was surprised to find he loves only one. It broke my heart that the mermaid gave up her life in the sea, her tongue, and her tail, only to suffer with every step she takes and lose the prince to another woman. Even more heart wrenching, she is given the opportunity to get even with her beloved and spare her own life, yet refuses. I had no idea this fairy tale was so dark and tragic but it has helped me gain a new found respect for all versions of the story.