Beauty and the Beast Adaptations to Look Out For

So we’ve all seen (or at least heard of) the Disney adaptations – animated, a Broadway musical, and now a live action starring Emma Watson – of this classic fairy tale, and it’s one of my favourite stories of all time. What I wanted to do today, though, was list a couple of other interpretations of the story that may have slipped your notice! In no particular order:

Beastly (2011) Shamefully, I haven’t read the book, so I’ll just say a little about the film. This is the modern-day Young Adult movie version of the story, starring Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen and Neil Patrick Harris. Pretty heavy-handed with its morality, and uncomfortably obvious in soundtrack choices, it is at least a creative twist on the classic story.

A Court of Thrones and Roses – Sarah J Maas I guess I would call this a New Adult Fantasy interpretation; although it sticks reasonably closely to the fairy tale, it’s set in a world with fairies, and I think it works hard to step outside expectations.

The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh Potentially my favourite on this list (find my review here), this is a Young Adult novel set in a sort of Fantasy, Pre-Islamic Middle Eastern world that puts a whole new twist on the story, and that embellishes the core story elements into a whole new fairy tale.

The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter This is a collection of short fairy tale re-tellings, two of which are direct re-tellings of Beauty and the Beast. This book is pretty graphic, and uses fairy tale tropes to discuss feminist and gender issues. Carter certainly doesn’t pull any punches.

The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux Last but not least, we have The Phantom of the Opera! (I reviewed this here) I watched the musical multiple times before realising the connection with the story, and I think that’s what I like about this gothic Parisian re-telling: it is very liberal with its interpretation.

Those are all of my top picks, but I know there are loads more books based around Beauty and the Beast! Are there any you’d recommend?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

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Books About: Vampires

I feel like vampires are a recurring theme in literature, and have I ever talked about them? Nope. I decided it was time to remedy that, and present to you some of my favourite books that involve vampires.

Vampires have been present in folklore internationally, although not always under the same name. They’re usually defined as undead people who thrive upon the blood of the living. It’s pretty grim, really.

There’s been a lot of debate as to where the word ‘vampire’ actually came from, and I actually just read a really interesting essay here! Some people look to the Slavonic synonym ‘upyr’, which is a derivative of the word for witch. Interesting, right? The perception of this creature has changed so much over time, to the point that we no longer really fear it but heavily romanticise it (okay, Twilight – that was your shout-out.)

I haven’t read a great deal about these creatures, but I really really liked the ones I’ve picked to talk about today, so I hope you enjoy!

1. Dracula – Bram Stoker Duh. The vampire story to end all vampire stories – need I say more? I love the kind of quaint British characters, and the creepy trips to Romania. Vampires make awesome villains!

2. The Infernal Devices – Cassandra Clare This is a little YA urban paranormal trilogy, so while vampires aren’t really the main focus, they do play a vital part in the plot. In these books, vampirism is a demonic illness, which I think is the major difference between them and a more traditional blood-sucker. Also – these vampires aren’t automatically ‘bad guys’, just saying.

3. I Am Legend – Richard Matheson This is a great one! Here there’s not just one vampire, or even a clan, but a whole freaking apocalypse of them. The story follows the last remaining human, holding his own against the sun-fearing monsters. What’s different about this take on the vampire is that it’s very scientific – there’s no real para-normality; the whole thing is more like a virus. Again, these guys are pretty villainous.

4. The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter This is actually a collection of short stories that are re-tellings of fairy tales and folkloric beasts (vampires included). The female vampire in ‘The Lady of the House of Love’ has a papery beauty and calculated seductiveness, but what makes her different to the other vampiric interpretations mentioned above is her dependence. She relies not only on her maid, but on the people she feeds upon, and this gives her a kind of twisted innocence.

What other great books about vampires can you recommend? Have you read any of the ones I mentioned?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Month in Books: November 2014

It’s December! Where has the year gone?

Anyway, I’m putting my excitement for Christmas on hold just long enough to write up my November wrap-up – here it is!

The Body – Stephen King – 4 stars This is a really interesting autobiography; it centres around one main event in King’s childhood, and builds up everything around it. With emphasis on writing techniques and routes, this book makes for a really interesting read.

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal – J.K. Rowling – 5 stars I thought it was time to read a whole novel in Spanish, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone seemed like a good place to start! I’d forgotten how much fun this book was.

Northern Lights – Philip Pullman – 4 stars My second re-read of the month! I love this story and setting so much, and the protagonist, Lyra, is just fantastic. I’m glad I read this one, but I don’t plan to go back to the other two; I felt like the shift into a second world and the concentrated antitheism let the series down for me.

The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter – 4 stars This is actually one of my set texts for later on in my course, so I’ll probably have to go back to it again next year. It’s a collection of Ms. Carter’s takes on popular fairy tales and folklore, all beautifully written and most pretty dark. It’s really interesting to see the famous stories re-interpreted, and to understand what someone else views as the important components of the classic tales.

How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell – 4 stars I reviewed this here! I really enjoyed this little children’s book: set in the dark ages, vikings and dragons wrestle for superiority in a series of comedic and touching events. Not to be compared with the movie.

The Red Necklace – Sally Gardner – 4 stars I must have been feeling nostalgic this month, because this is my third re-read of a book I loved when I was younger. This is set in Revolution-era France, and is just fantastic. Scary, romantic and a little bit weird, I absolutely recommend this. Also the audiobook is read by Tom Hiddleston, so…

The Pursuit of God – A.W. Tozer – 5 stars This was my first time reading a proper theological book, and I really loved this one! It was both practical and inspiring, and really well written. I’ll be picking this one up again!

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness – Timothy Keller – 5 stars This is a tiny little book, but it’s full of really solid advice. Insecurity is loud and confidence is knowing you’re loved as-is. Highly recommended read!

The Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis – 5 stars  I read more Christian non-fiction this month than I have in my LIFE, but I really enjoyed it! This one is more in the realms of apologetics: why does suffering happen, and how can an all-loving God condone it? Eloquently presented and thoroughly explored, this book taught me that C.S. Lewis is well-respected and over-quoted for a reason.

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend – Kody Keplinger – 4 stars I heard a movie adaptation was on its way, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and pick up the e-book. I read it in one sitting. I think I’d call it a YA romance, but it did feel like it was considering some much more profound issues. I didn’t agree with everything implied, or particularly appreciate the emotional sparsity, but on the whole the book kept me hooked and I managed to get really invested in the characters. A fun, quick read.

Divine Healing: A Scriptural Approach to Sickness, Faith and Healing – Andrew Murray – 4 stars I was a bit unsure about this book at first: the first few chapters felt a bit repetitive and I wondered whether the great points Mr. Murray was putting across actually needed to be a whole book. About halfway through I felt a shift, and there was suddenly a lot more fresh and diverse material to get my teeth into. Because the subject of this book is something I haven’t read a lot about, I really appreciated the frequent Bible references, so I could go and look up evidence for myself. It’s important not to accept everything you read, even if it is a ‘Christian’ book! I did walk away feeling inspired and empowered, so I’d recommend this!

Eleven books! I’m quite pleased with that, considering I’ve been flooded with passages to read for my course. Have you read any of the books on the list? What was your favourite read of November?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani