I've always been a voracious reader. I would sit at the dinner table and read as a teenager, lay in bed all day just to read a book, stay up all night so I could finish one. Of course, becoming a mother almost five wonderful years ago slowed how many books I put away a month, which is normal. But then I began to focus on getting published, and then I began to edit books and got so busy working on books I was no longer merely reading for pleasure. Reading for me is an escape, so without that regular outlet I've felt a bit sad, missing the reading me. With the turn of the new year I vowed to return to myself, and it feels like I'm making up for lost time, because I can't stop discovering all that is new, all that I've missed.
As a commitment to never lose that part of myself again, which is essential to my writing self, I'm going to feature the occasional book review from mine and my sister's book review blog, Cellar Lit Rants & Reviews. I'll be featuring a regular Indie title and a traditionally published title that I've enjoyed. This week for my mainstream, I'm going to feature Cinder my Marissa Meyer, because it's brilliant.
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For the last year or so I’ve been hearing people rave about Marissa Meyer and her Lunar Chronicles series. I’m going to admit, I may have been snobby. I just couldn’t imagine cyborgs and Cinderella. As a twister of fairytales myself, I just wasn’t that interested. And then I decided, what the hell, I should just see what the hub-bub is all about. Last weekend I finishedCinder, the first in the series, and I’ve been checking my Amazon tracking ever since. Because I NEED Scarlet (It came today, FYI, just in case you were worried for my sanity). This will probably be the most informal review you’ve ever read from me because I’m fan-girling. Yes, it’s true. I’m a fan … woman.
Cinder is an example of everything done brilliantly in a retelling. It’s not only wholly unique in the twist, it’s fascinating because you actually don’t know what’s going to come next. Cinder is a young woman/cyborg, living in plague-ridden New Beijing, who has earned herself a reputation for being a first-rate mechanic. At the beginning of the story, she’s just saved enough to replace her “foot” so that she can hide the robot parts of herself and pass as human, which comes in handy when the prince comes calling and asks her to fix his favorite droid.
Hated by her “stepmother” and yet beloved by her youngest stepsister, Cinder soon finds herself embroiled in the search for a cure for a plague, which has been sweeping the world. Meanwhile, the Earth world is embroiled in a treaty talk with the Lunar people, who would bring war if New Beijing’s prince doesn’t agree to marry the Lunar queen.
I could go on about this carefully and creatively woven plot, but I won’t go down that road too much more because fantasy and fairytale lovers should just read this. Even though I actually guessed pretty early on an important component of the story, it in no way detracted from my utter and complete enjoyment of this fairytale, romance, dystopian novel. Cinderella as a cyborg now equals BRILLIANCE.
Note: This review was cross-posted from Cellar Door Lit Rants & Reviews.
I am sick to death of articles destroying time-loved classics because of the argument that the princesses in them were repressed or the film itself wasn't feminist enough. One writer—and I wish I could find the article—put it into perfect perspective. And the gist was that Disney has evolved as much with the times as society itself. So if Snow White was a lovely, caterwauling princess, who liked to cook and clean to earn her keep, let's take a look at the era in which it was first made: 1937.
So in my defense of Disney and the heroines that have evolved over years, just like women and men have evolved themselves, here's a list of positive articles detailing the weaknesses AND strengths of Disney princesses:
Disney Heroines: A Feminist Evolution, Part 1: The Classics
Disney Heroines: A Feminist Evolution, Part 2: The Princesses
The Truth About Feminism and Disney Princesses
Disney Princesses Are My (Imperfect) Feminist Role Models
4 Ways the Disney Princesses Created Modern Feminism
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't point you toward Whitney Avalon's amazing rap battles. Snow White v. Elsa is my absolute fave. Regardless of who wins, they both rock it. And of course, the big Buffy fan that I am, Cinderella v. Belle is also is amazing.
Larry Wilson, best known for his work co-writing and co-producing Beetlejuice and The Addams Family, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a fabulous new web series that's near and dear to my heart. Why? Because it's fairytales, but with a twist. Just like I like them. In this new rendition of Cinderella set in contemporary times, you've got a mix of reality TV, a fairy godmother with a penchant for "the dust" and a handsome prince that's a bit past his ball-dancing prime. Check out this Q&A with Wilson to learn more about CINDY and the campaign, which has only eight days left. Scroll to the bottom for a sneak peek of CINDY. Or else check out the series' YouTube channel here.
Q: How did you get the idea to do a fairytale retelling in such a way? Why Cinderella, specifically?
LW: The idea came to me in one of those flash creative epiphanies; as simple as "Cinderella would make a good reality show." As CINDY developed it actually became about "What would happen if Cinderella was asked to do a reality show?" But the original idea was just all of a sudden there. It happens doesn't it? The idea for Beetlejuice came to myself and my writing partner, Michael McDowell, in three short phone calls over three days.
Q: Is this your favorite fairytale? Why or why not?
LW: Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are my favorites and I've now written scripts (both dark comedies) based on both of them. I have two daughters (Autry, of course, is the star of CINDY). I saw that both Cinderella and Snow White could be about girls getting empowered, rather than girls getting rescued.
Q: How long have you been working on filming? How many episodes are ready for broadcast?
LW: We shot 10 episodes of CINDY over 6 days. They run from about 5 to 10 minutes -- so we basically shot a feature length film! Six episodes are edited, all need music and post production -- hence the Kickstarter campaign. But I can say honestly, I think we've got something really good. We want to be broadcasting in time for Christmas!
Q: How has your experience as a producer with Beetlejuice, Adams Family, etc., colored subsequent work, including this one?
LW: I've always worked as a writer/producer and I've been privileged to work with some world-class producers (Scott Rudin, David Geffen among them). The lesson is always the same: it all starts with a good script.
Q: Why do dark comedies appeal to you?
LW: I grew up in some fairly dark circumstances and laughter became a survival mechanism. That's translated into writing dark comedy.
Q: How much money are you hoping to raise with the kickstarter? What will the money allow you to do with the show?
LW: We need to raise just over $18,000 and as I write this we've broken the $11,000 mark. Most of the money will go into post-production for CINDY with a bit left over for distribution and publicity.
Q: When will the first episode air?
LW: Like I said, "Merry Christmas from Cindy," is our goal!
Q: Tell me a bit about the 40-year-old prince, how did that idea come around?
LW: The forty-year-old Prince? As you can see from the CINDY trailer one of our guiding principals was to take all of the conventions of the Disney-ised Cinderella and subvert them in some way. All of the usual fairy tale answers for Cindy are the wrong answers. She's a girl who ultimately is going to have find her own way.
K.M. Randall writes fantasy and paranormal for both a general and young adult audience. Her debut novel, an epic fantasy called Fractured Dream, launched in June 2014, and her second book, The Reaper's Daughter, launched May 2015. Randall also published Fairytale Lost, a prequel to Fractured Dream, as an exclusive on Wattpad. She blogs about dreams, female heroines, and activism and its relevancy to the literary and fictional world. And when in the season, sometimes she just likes to talk about Halloween. She is currently hard at work on the second book in the Dreamer Saga series, Shattered World.