Month in Books: June 2017

June was a pretty slow reading month for me, but the books I did get through were very satisfying!

The Plausibility Problem: The Church and Same-sex Attraction – Ed Shaw – 5 stars This is a hard topic to write about well, just because both sides of the argument are so so emotionally charged. Ed Shaw knows his stuff, but most importantly, he is compassionate. This book was full of stories, and I found it so helpful to hear such a reasonable account of same-sex attraction in the context of Christianity.

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton – 4 stars I reviewed this here! This is a beautifully written historical novel set in Amsterdam. Some magic realism vibes, and a lot of love from me. I really enjoyed this story!

A Court of Thrones and Roses – Sarah J Maas – 3 stars This is a YA fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it is very imaginative! It’s not my favourite Maas book though – something about this fell slightly short of the magic of the original story.

Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What have you been reading this month?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

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

Things I Learned from Beauty and the Beast

I’m obsessed with the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast! I think it’s such a profound work, and I wanted to share some gems of wisdom:

  • Chat-up lines are like Nutella: they should be used in copious amounts, in all situations, at all times.

Gaston7

Gaston is the perfect mentor in this area; here are a few favourites for you to whack out:

We shall be the perfect pair – rather like my thighs.

You are face to face with destiny.

All’s well that ends with me!

Gaston, you charmer.

  • Eat stuff. It will make you feel better.

Be Our Guest

If you’re stressed, it’s fine dining we suggest.

Thanks, Lumiere.

  • Hunting is in this season. Also next season. Actually, just every season.

Antlers

I use antlers in all of my decorating.

My – what a guy, that Gaston.

  • Do you know what’s cool? Superlatives.

kill the beast

It’s a beast! As tall as a mountain

Accurate communication is alright, but superlatives are better. Use liberally.

  • The majority is always right, especially if you’re French.

mob

Here we come! We’re fifty strong, and fifty Frenchmen can’t be wrong

Ah, classic mob logic.

Disclaimer: I am not serious. I love Beauty and the Beast, and I think it is wonderful. Please never use a Gaston pick-up line, unless you enjoy getting punched in the face.

~Dani

When Princes are TOO Charming

If you’ve read my Month in Books for March, you may have noticed that I didn’t enjoy ‘Cinder’ (Marissa Meyer) as much as I could have. Today I wanted to talk about one of the issues that kind of spoiled the story for me. (That’s not to say Cinder is the only culprit; only that it’s the example most fresh in my mind.)

We all love a good ‘Prince + Common Girl’ romance: it shows that class does not make you a good person, that two hearts can unite over social boundaries, and that you really can go from rags to riches.

The problem, however, arises when the Prince flirts, is refused, and then continues to flirt, creating an imbalance of power and effectively demonstrating a lack of respect for the girl’s wishes. Does he not realise that he literally has power over the entire country? His ‘Let’s go out’ is a royal command! How is the girl expected to say no?

We see in the story of Cinder a Prince so used to being adored by girls that he really can’t take no for an answer. There are times when he explicitly orders his love interest around. Where’s the balance in this? That’s not okay!

It worries me that we can read about, and even envy, relationships that are so one-sided, and – to quote my good friend Belle – ‘positively primeval’. Nobody – no, not even a prince – deserves to be liked back. A guy doesn’t have a right to a girl just because he likes her. (Let’s look again at Beauty and the Beast – no means no, Gaston!)

In the end, the young lady does fall for her prince (obviously), but does that really justify his actions before? Is there any point in phrasing your words as an interrogative when the reality is the other person only has one option?

I think relationships should be an equilibrium; a mutual exchange.

What do you think? Do you agree, or am I over-reacting? Share your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani