Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Book Review~Half Upon a Time Series

(It has been far too long since I've reviewed any books on this little blog...)

Title: Half Upon a Time Series
Author: James Riley
Genre: Children's Fairytale-retelling/Fantasy
Rating: 5

Jack, son of the Beanstalk Jack, is your average kid smart enough to avoid candy houses, giants, and the Wicked Queen's wicked Eyes. That is, until a strange young royal who denies the very existence of magic (despite the lettering on her clothes which reads “Punk Princess”) drops unceremoniously out of the sky.

All at once, Jack is on the run from the Wicked Queen's Huntsmen on a horse that would probably rather eat him than bear him to safety. There's a fairy that hates him, giants that want to eat him too, a prince who wants to save the day and the princess, and the Wolf King who probably wants to eat everyone for some diabolical purpose or other. And all because Jack figures out that the princess's grandmother is the long-lost Snow White, a fact which leads him and his new friend on a mission to find her—which has the promise of making everyone happy, except for the Wicked Queen, who is decidedly unhappy about it and will do anything to stop them.

Take basically every classic fairytale (along with several of the more obscure ones), smash them altogether, get them to make infinitely more sense than they ever made on their own, and you have Half Upon a Time. There were so many strange things happening in the beginning that left my brain hurting from the wackiness, but they all had an explanation and the explanation was phenomenal. Aside from the old elements from Grimm, Anderson, and others, there are elements unique to the story itself (The Queen's Eyes, for example). And don't believe everything you've read in the fairytales. Because almost none of it is true, as heroines turn into witches, killers into family, and maybe even a punk into a princess.

James Riley is brilliant, that's all I can say. He baffles and surprises me, makes me laugh a lot and even cry a little. From Peter Pan and the Pied Piper, to Maleficent and Red Riding Hood, he takes the time-honored tales and turns them into something new—something completely magical.

I wholeheartedly recommend Half Upon a Time, Twice Upon a Time, and Once Upon the End by this talented author.

(Oh, and to those who don't devour every printed word in the books you read, especially the Acknowledgments, you are completely missing out. Because, yes, the dwarf thing made me way too happy, too.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Favorite Christmas Stories?

Almost every bookstore, especially secondhand ones, have a section devoted to holiday stories. Everything from the classics to dime romance novels with ivy wreaths on the cover. Good books, bad books, and in-between books. Do you have a favorite?

The one Christmas book I've gotten into the habit of reading every year is Donita K. Paul's novella, Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball.

It's short, lighthearted but at the same time full of heart, and a great read. It tells the whimsical, humorous story of Cora Crowder. One snowy night, she stumbles upon Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad's bookshop, where the mysterious matchmaking booksellers make a valiant attempt to bring Cora and her coworker Simon Derrick together for a breathtaking night of magic at the annual Christmas Ball. I'm not usually one for reading romances, but this one, full of faith, laughter, and family, holds a special place on my bookshelf.

So what's your favorite holiday novel? Is there one you make a habit of returning to each year?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity

It's occurred to me that I may be taking this whole blogging thing too seriously. There's a time to be professional and a time to be irrational. I'm not sure if I've been professional or just boring, but now's the time to be irrational.

Where this list originated from is unclear, but a friend shared it with me once and I saved it for laughs. The original list was quite a bit longer, but these are my favorites:

15 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity1. At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.
2. Page yourself over the intercom. Don't disguise your voice.
3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.
4. Put your garbage can on your desk and label it “In.”
5. Put decaf in the office coffee maker for three weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to Espresso.
6. In the memo field of all your checks, write “For Smuggling Diamonds”
7. Finish all your sentences with “In accordance with the Prophecy.”
8. As often as possible, skip rather than walk.
9. Order a diet water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.
10. Specify that your drive-through order is “to go.”
11. Sing along at the opera.
12. Five days in advance, tell your friends you can't attend their party because you're
“not in the mood.”
13. When the money comes out of the ATM, scream “I won! I won!”
14. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the parking lot, yelling “Run for your lives, they're loose!!!”
15. And the final way to keep a healthy level of insanity...share this with someone to make them smile.