Once Upon A Week Giveaway Winner!

Once Upon A Week was an amazing event; I had a ton of fun. On August 1, I put up a fairy tale related giveaway. One winner would receive a copy of either Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce or Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George.

Both books are amazing. Sisters Red is a retelling and continuation of Little Red Riding Hood while Princess of the Midnight Ball is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Very different stories and atmospheres, but both well worth the read.

After sifting through entries today and tallying up points, I am happy to announce the winner! By far, the fairy tales most mentioned as favourites were Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella. However, our winner’s favourite was Sleeping Beauty. random.org was used to pick the winner.

Congrats Emily 1!!

I will be e-mailing Emily immediately. If I don’t hear back within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen. Thank you everyone for participating!

Once Upon A Week Wrap Up Party

Once Upon A Week is coming to a close for another year. I was much more prepared this time around, and had so much fun diving into the world of fairy tales. You can check out our host Vanessa’s blog for a list of all the reviews written this week: Today’s Adventure: review links. Vanessa also has posts up highlighting the bloggers who took part in Once Upon A Week, and a discussion post for Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce is up right here (beware of spoilers).

As for myself, let’s do a little break down of the week.

Sunday: intro and giveaway
Monday: book review of Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥
Tuesday: graphic novel review of Grimm Fairy Tales vol. 1
Wednesday: Waiting On WednesdayWhen Rose Wakes by Christopher Golden and Cloaked by Alex Flinn
Thursday: Sisters Red day. book review, 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ author interview
Friday: book review of Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier, 5 ♥ / 5 ♥

My international giveaway for a copy of either Sisters Red or Princess of the Midnight Ball ends tonight at 11:59pm EST. If you’ve already entered, don’t forget to fill out this form if you want an extra 3 (possible) entries.

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

Heart’s Blood
by Juliet Marillier

ISBN-13: 9-780451-462930
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!

Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the region in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan’s family and his people. The woods hold a perilous forces whose every whisper threatens doom. And Anluan himself has been crippled by a childhood illness.

Then the young scribe Caitrin appears in Anluan’s garden, admiring the rare plant known as heart’s blood. Retained to sort through entangled family documents, Caitrin brings about unexpected changes in the household, casting a hopeful light against the despairing shadows.

But even as Caitrin brings solace to Anluan, and the promise of something more between them, he remains in thrall to the darkness surrounding Whistling Tor. To free Anluan’s burdened soul, Caitrin must unravel the web of sorcery woven by his ancestors before it claims his life – and their love.

Most of us grew up watching Disney animated movies. I remember going to see Pocahontas, Lion King and Toy Story in theatres. I remember Beauty and the Beast and how much magic the story seemed to hold. I had yet to come across a telling of Beauty and the Beast that left me with such a sense of wonder as Disney’s version – until now, and heart’s Blood.

It’s not even the closest retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but it’s presence is the same. Once I was older and able to understand more than just “singing, talking furniture and a huge, pretty dress”, I could see the romance between Beauty and her beast, and more than the story of a curse and magic, the romance is the real tale. That notion that love can conquer and cure all. But I’m jumping into the middle. Let’s start at the beginning, where all good stories start.

Caitrin is a scribe’s daughter, and practices the craft herself. We first meet her as she is traveling away from her home town after the death of her father. She arrives at Whistling Tor, using the last of her money. As luck would have it, the chieftain of the area is in need of a scribe, but the tales of specters and hauntings on the Tor have kept everyone – including the villagers – away. Braving the journey, Caitrin makes her way to the chieftain’s home (which is pretty much like a castle). There, she meets Anluan, the “beast” chieftain, with crooked arm and leg. Caitrin gains employment and soon finds herself amidst the Host, ghostly figures who inhabit the hill of the Tor, otherworldly people, and Anluan. Whistling Tor is facing invasion from Normans, and Anluan is desperate to control the Host. Caitrin wants nothing more than to ease Anluan’s burdens, and helping to send the Host back to death is the easiest way to do that. But she has more obstacles in her way than she knows, and magic always has a deadline.

Caitrin is wonderful. So strong, level-headed, intelligent and loving; but she has her weaknesses. It’s only as the story progresses that she comes into her incredible strength of character. She learns that she can’t run from what she fears, but rather face it head on and conquer that fear. Caitrin doesn’t shy away from practicing her craft, though it’s considered a man’s work. She’s confident in her abilities and willing to use them. Her voice came through the writing loud and clear, and I feel as if I have known her forever. And then there is Anluan, Beast to her Beauty. Anluan is the young, crippled chieftain of Whistling Tor, and has been through so much heartache in his life. Caitrin is like a breath of fresh air to him. Anluan is gruff, abrupt, prone to mood swings and very anti-social. But he’s constantly aware of his useless arm, and his limp. He’s had to struggle to control the Host for years, and has had little contact with people outside of the few in his household. He has a hard time handling the changes that Caitrin is bringing to Whistling Tor, but his heart is so pure and he wishes for hope. I have such a soft spot for Anluan – he’s the type of character that just makes you want to care for him.

For a story that seems only loosely based on Beauty and the Beast in the beginning, there are many similarities. Caitrin, when she leaves Whistling Tor for a while, takes a mirror with her that allows her to see Anluan at any time. She rushes back to his side when it seems he may die. Anluan – and his family – are under a curse that needs to be broken before Anluan dies without an heir, and instead of the rose playing a significant part in the story we have the herb Heart’s Blood. Rather than the household being changed into animated furniture, there is the Host of spirits. But it’s so much more than the plot points that make this story good. It’s the romance and the interaction between Caitrin and Anluan, it’s the characters themselves and the mystery of the curse. The romance is so soft, so sweet. It grows from friendship, mutual respect and appreciation for each others company. It’s a comfortable love, but burns brightly. The result is such a comfortable, happy feeling by the time you finish the book. It’s beautiful. And the mystery of the curse! The build up and solution, the why and how, was all handled perfectly. The writing style helps; it really reminds you of an old fashioned fairy tale or fantasy. I loved it.

Heart’s Blood is a must read for any fairy tale and fantasy lover. It will stay in your hearts long after you’ve turned the last page.

Author Interview: Jackson Pearce

Today on Once Upon a Week is our discussion of the book Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce. The discussion will be ongoing, and can be found at Vanessa’s blog: Today’s Adventure. Since today is being devoted to all things Sisters Red, I posted my review earlier on, and now the author has been kind enough to answer a few of my questions! Jackson Pearce is the author of two books for young adults: As You Wish (HarperCollins, 2009) and Sisters Red (Little, Brown, 2010), and I’ll be talking with Jackson today about her novel Sisters Red, a re-telling and continuation of Little Red Riding Hood, and fairy tales.

Welcome to Escape Through the Pages! Your book Sisters Red has its roots in the story of Little Red Riding Hood, but is more of a continuation than a re-telling. What was the hardest part in taking such a well-known story and making it your own?

I think the hardest part was trying to stay true to the original story’s themes and motifs. I wanted to make sure I incorporated as much as the original story as possible, while still making SISTERS RED sound plausible and realistic despite being a paranormal novel. Figuring out how to merge the two without losing the “purpose” of the original fairytale was especially tough sometimes (most notably, Rosie’s big moment toward the end– it took ages to work out how she’d accomplish that!)

The voices of Scarlett and Rosie are incredibly distinct – I never had any problems remembering whose point of view I was reading (the handy chapter headers helped, too). Did you find one voice any easier to write, or connect to, than the other?

Whenever I was writing Scarlett, I thought Rosie was in the wrong and being inconsiderate. When I started writing Rosie, I thought Scarlett was being obsessive and controlling. Neither was harder to connect to, once I got in the right frame of mind, though I did sometimes have to pause between writing chapters so I could get into the head of the other character. But Scarlett and Rosie had such distinct, difference personalities and voices in my head– mining them wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be!

Superheroes (and heroines) tend to get their own theme songs/music, and I say Scarlett, Rosie and Silas are pretty heroic. Which songs do you see each of them having for their own theme?

Hmmm, I can’t think of anything in particular, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be anything super patriotic-sounding, like the Superman theme song. It certainly wouldn’t be bright or bubbly either. Probably something similar to the Batman theme– dark and brooding, but powerful. I really wish I was musical– I’d love to write them their own theme music!

Since this is a week devoted to fairy tales, which story was your favourite when you were younger, and why? Is it still your favourite (if not, which one is?)?

My favorite when I was very young was actually Pinnochio (though I’m not sure if it qualifies as a fairytale, since it’s actually somewhat new– written around the 1880s or so). I loved the part where they eat all the candy and turn into donkeys. My current favorite, however, is The Snow Queen, a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale that’s unfortunately not super well known. The Little Robber Girl might be my favorite fairytale character of all!

You’re sent to colonize the moon and can take only one book with you; which book do you bring?

A blank one, so I can write in it.

Thank you so much, Jackson. It was great to have you here!

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Sisters Red
by Jackson Pearce

ISBN-13: 9-780316-068680
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris – the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister, Rosie, from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and a blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls’ bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Scarlett’s only friend, Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax. But does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they’ve worked for?

I’m absolutely in love with this book. Sisters Red is a modern re-telling and continuation of the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. If you want some kick-ass heroines, dark werewolves, and romance than Sisters Red will have you glued to your chair until you’ve finished the book.

Sisters Scarlett and Rosie are incredibly close but very different people. Scarlett is the hunter of the family. She’s brave, tough and ruthless towards the Fenris she hunts. Her hunting has left her not only physically scarred, but mentally scarred as well. Hunting is her life. Yes, she loves her sister and her hunting partner Silas, but hunting is in her blood and soul. She’s slightly bitter and more than a little envious/jealous of those girls who live in the dark about the danger surrounding them. Rosie, the younger sister, is also a hunter but nothing like her sister. She’s still relatively innocent (thanks to Scarlett) and finds joy in the simple life outside of hunting the Fenris. She loves her sister, and will do anything to help her, but Rosie grows throughout the book and with Silas’ help realizes she has to live her life for herself, too – not just for her sister. Silas has such an impact on each sister. He’s Scarlett’s rock, her hunting partner. One who has grown up with the hunt like the sisters have. To Rosie, he’s Scarlett’s partner, and her friend – until he becomes so much more than that.

Told in alternating points of view, the storyline for Sisters Red is, for lack of a better word, awesome. Jackson Pearce starts out with the well known tale of Little Red Riding Hood – the wolf arrives at grannies house in the woods. In Jackson’s story, the woodcutter doesn’t arrive on time and Little Red suffers for it. She gives Little Red a sister, and continues the story of what happens after the wolf, or in this case, the werewolf. The story is a darker look at the fairy tale and it works. The writing is engaging and fluid, and the characterization is great. Even without the handy chapter headers detailing the POV switch, I would still have known which sister I was reading about. Their voices are so distinct, and Scarlett is definitely darker than Rosie. There were a few parts detailing how Scarlett views the women they help save that were a little worrisome, but I see it as Scarlett acting out her jealousy toward physically beautiful women (since she sees her scars as highly disfiguring), and she knows she shouldn’t have such thoughts. Everything seems to become darker and more rushed, more anxious, once the sisters and Silas hit the city, and everything spirals down from there. The ending…it’s bittersweet. Definitely fit the story well.

While Sisters Red is an action/adventure story at its base (some of the fight sequences between the three hunters and the Fenris are epic, if not a little unbelievable at times), the real story is the personal interactions of the sisters and Silas. It’s a story about what it means to be family, and being true to yourself. It’s a story of love, loss and new beginnings.