Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm---Giveaway Closed

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Grimm brothers' collection of classic fairy tales. To celebrate, Philip Pullman, most famously the author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, has recently written a retelling of fifty of his favorites from the original collection. Penguin Books sent me a copy to review, and I have to say I was surprised---and ultimately happily so.

Pullman maintains the Grimms' original style and much of the original language. This is not an embellishment or re-imagining of the original tales, which is what I had anticipated. Instead, Pullman has examined multiple translations and versions of the original stories, added a bit of detail, minutely shifted storylines here and there, and created this lovely new version that maintains a classic feeling. At the end of each of the fifty stories, he describes the sources he used and the revisions he made and his reasons for doing so. I love these extra analyses; they add so much to the stories that I'd never considered or known before.

So. I was a little disappointed they weren't reinvented. But that was my own fault for misunderstanding what Pullman had done and why. Now that I know, I enjoy picking up the book and reading a tale or two while feeding my little baby five or six times daily. This is a great collection, especially nice for those who don't have time to sit for hours to finish a novel.

Now for the giveaway---if you would like your very own copy of Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, leave your name and e-mail address to enter a drawing for a copy. Also, fill in the blank on this little phrase for me: Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without _______. The answer that comes to my mind, for instance, is The Carpenters. Love that Christmas album. I listen to it many times every December. What's a tradition or place you go or thing you must see/eat/listen to at Christmastime to really feel in the spirit? I love hearing about others' traditions.

To summarize this rather long-winded post:
1. Philip Pullman's collection of 50 fairy tales is great.
2. If you want to enter to win a copy, leave a comment with a) your name, b) your e-mail, c) Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without _______.
3. Giveaway is open now (December 29, 2012) through Friday, January 5, 2013.

And here's a book trailer, in case you're interested.

Want to purchase this book? Here are some affiliate links to it:
   philip Pullman fairy tales brothers grimm

The Name of the Star

*A personal note: Wow, my lack of posting is seriously out of hand! But, what can I say? All of my creative juices are being called upon to create a whole new baby. Without further ado, I will finally review a book for you! 

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

This is an excellent thriller. By turns I was either biting my fingernails (not literally) or laughing my head off (also a metaphor).

The basic premise is this: In modern-day London, some psycho has started recreating the murders of Jack the Ripper. Similar locations, similar victims, and similar gory details. What makes it all so freaky is that nobody can catch him. He's following a schedule, for goodness sake, and yet the police can't even get a visual. CCTV cameras pointed at the scene seem to be malfunctioning, etc.  So that's the nail-biting part.

"So why," you ask, "were you laughing so hard that you had to pause for breath?" I will tell you. Our heroine, Rory Deveaux, hails from Lousiana, USA and begins the book by travelling to a London boarding school (sidenote: the reason she's going to English boarding school was well done, in my opinion). There across the pond she is always doing awkward and embarrassing things, which I frequently found funny. Then of course there is the love interest, who comes with some awkward and hilarious moments of his own.

The book was brilliantly paced, and I would have read it much faster than I actually did (three days) if I could have. In terms of characters, I found Rory charming, quirky, and easy to listen to. The new Ripper still kind of haunts me. The plot as a whole was a good balance of predictable and shocking (one really requires the other to work well, no?).

The bottom line: It was good. But maybe a little too scary for me.

The second book in the trilogy comes out in February 2013. Can anyone tell me if it's a little less disturbing? I think the fact that the most violent parts of the book were based on historical records really creeped me out.

book source: I picked this one up at KidLitCon. Many thanks to the publisher for handing out copies at Maureen Johnson's keynote address!
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