Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jane Nickerson Guest Post + Giveaway!

 Today I have a guest post, provided by Random Buzzers as part of their Ambuzzador program, by Jane Nickerson! I also have an ARC of her new novel, Strands of Bronze and Gold to give away, along with five special codes for free books!

Top Ten Changes I Would Make in Fairy Tales 

It’s obvious that there are many problematic aspects in most famous fairy tales. Why must everyone be beautiful? Why is there so much royalty going around? So many poor woodcutters? (Oh, now that I think of it, there probably really were so many poor woodcutters in that day and age.) Why so many childless couples who end up with either doomed or miniscule only children? Most of the problems are explained away because “it’s a magic thing.” However here are ten changes I would make if I were Queen of Fairy Tale Land:

10. The youngest child would not always be the most good-looking and clever, and the step-parent would never be evil, since step-parents have enough problems taking on a ready-made family as it is. But then again, one would hate to make the biological parent evil instead…

9. I would give the bright and beautiful heroine more choices for a love interest. A single prince should not be her only option. By the same token, it’s sad when only one sibling gets matched up. I would introduce the eleven unmatched dancing princesses to the (coincidentally) eleven unmatched princely brothers of “The Wild Swans” princess. That’s eleven options for each of them. If you stir them up, there’s bound to be one that each of them likes…but what if they all want the same one?

8 ½. Seven league boots for everyone!!! It’s only fair.

8. There should be more than three wishes. And the wishes are not allowed to be tricksy. Fairness again.

7. Several fairy tales involve the hero in burglary—The Tinderbox, Jack in the Beanstalk, Aladdin. The idea is that, because the owner of the object is evil, the hero isn’t really a thief. Huh. That doesn’t actually make sense. Therefore, there must be some clever, lawful way for them to get the loot. Gambling (if that’s legal in Fairy Tale land), labor, performing a service for the owner, some sort of trade, etc. Of course then the evil owner would probably try to cheat them out of the object, and then the hero would have to steal it…

6. How can King Midas turn everything he touches into gold and not be gold himself? It boggles the mind.

5. There’s got to be some reason why Little Red Riding Hood can’t tell that her grandmother has a furry face and pointy nose. It could be too dark, except that we need to keep those classic lines—“What big eyes, hands, teeth.” Perhaps the grandmother has some skin disease and needs bandages all over, except for the eyes and mouth. Leprosy?

4 ½. How can the wolf even blow that hard? Are wolves known for lung capacity?

4. Prince Charming has got to be able to recognize Cinderella in some other way than by her shoe size. For one thing, just how miniscule are her feet? Does she teeter about on points like
Barbie dolls do? Having a body part that is so different from every other human your age is sort of the definition of a freak. And yet the glass slipper and big-footed stepsisters are such fun components. Maybe Cinderella also develops a sudden skin disease so her feet really are the only way she can be recognized.

3. I don’t want the miller’s daughter in “Rumpelstiltskin” to end up married to the king. He’s a greedy guy who only wants her because she can spin straw into gold. How about she runs off before she has to marry him? And even before she spins any straw or meets Rumpelstiltskin. Except then there’d be no story. A problem.

2. Rapunzel’s hair is simply too long. It would totally get in the way, be absolutely disgusting because it would be crawling with dust bunnies and impossible to wash, and get yanked out of her head if anyone tried to climb up it. Unless, of course, the young man and witch were tiny. Perhaps we could mix together one of the miniscule only children stories with this. Then again, I’ve seen some illustrations for the story that involve special hooks and pulleys to fix the weight problem, but still…Must be magic.

1. Isn’t it icky that the prince kisses Snow White’s corpse? And how long has she lain there supposedly dead, but not rotting and without nourishment? The nourishment thing also causes problems with Sleeping Beauty. Must be magic.

You know, all the solutions I can come up with are so problematic that, in the end, maybe we should continue to say that it’s a magic thing and leave it all as it is.



Just fill out this rafflecopter form to enter! I haven't done much with rafflecopter, so if there are any problems, let me know. I'm sorry, but I can't afford international shipping so this is US only. The codes are for prizes that are only redeemable in the U.S. as well. :(

The first prize winner will get the ARC, and five runner-ups will receive special referral cards for Random Buzzers. These codes, if entered when signing up for a free account, will give each winner 20,000 'buzz bucks', enough for a free book of their choice. These 'buzz bucks' don't have to be used immediately, so if there isn't anything you want in the store you can wait for something new. I'll give more detailed instructions to the winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Strands of Bronze and Gold
by Jane Nickerson

Genre: YA Fantasy / Romance / Fairytale Re-telling / Horror

Ages: 14 and up

I received an ARC of this book from Random Buzzers as part of their Ambuzzador program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Note: I shared an interview with the heroine, Sophie Petheram, here.


The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.

My Thoughts:

This book is utterly bewitching. The author weaves a tapestry of magic and madness that is irresistible. Reading this book, I came to really admire her subtlety. Very little actually happens during the first third of the book, yet I was never bored and I kept getting this shivery sense of anticipation that something awful was drawing near.

The story starts with Sophie. She's a trusting girl, full of excitement about going to live with her mysterious godfather. When she first arrives, it is like she has entered a magical world full of delightful things. She's just a little spoiled, but in such an innocent, young way that you can't hold it against her. Sophie is also a girl of firm opinions, and even her godfather's best efforts can't get her to fully compromise her beliefs.

Into this sparkling house of wonder and beauty creep dark little shadows, slowly stripping away the glamour and leaving only unvarnished truth behind. And the truth is scary as heck. I mean, really. The story goes straight into the realm of horror, gluing your eyes to the page and removing any chance of sleeping when you're done. This book was amazing, but not for the faint of heart.

I would recommend this book for lovers of Gothic romance, horror and dark fairytales. If you're looking for an easy happily-ever-after, this is not the book for you.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I give it a 1.10 for some swearing, though no actual swearwords were used.

I give it a 4.10 for several references, an attempted rape and references to past rape.

I rate it a 6.10 for murder, attempted rape and other scenes of assorted violence as well as some gruesomeness.

                             Lieder Madchen

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ambuzzador Interview with Sophia Petheram, heroine of Strands of Bronze and Gold


Today I have a Q & A to share with you courtesy of Random Buzzers through their Ambuzzador program. Please say hello to Sophia Petheram, heroine of Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson!

An Interview with an Adventurous Young Lady

“The Girls’ Friendly Companion of New England” takes this opportunity to interview a young lady who is about to commence a considerable journey. Seventeen-year-old Miss Sophia Petheram, of Boston, is shortly to leave the bosom of her loving family to travel the great distance southward to Mississippi, a destination that many in the more long-settled regions of our great country consider “the back of beyond.”

Q. Miss Petheram, will you tell our gentle readers what causes you to launch on this undertaking?

SP: My dear father passed away during the spring, and so my godfather and guardian, Monsieur Bernard de Cressac—along with his wife, of course—has invited me to come live with them at their home. It’s a house with a name—isn’t that charming? Wyndriven Abbey. He wrote once that it was brought all the way across the ocean from England. In pieces, of course.

Q. And is your guardian well-known to you?

SP: Not in person. He only came to our home once when I was a mere babe, and of course I do not remember that meeting, and neither do my siblings. It makes him quite mysterious. My brother Harry calls him my fairy godfather, and plagues me by descriptions of M. de Cressac as an ogre with tusks of pure gold. Harry is a silly goose. But my father knew my guardian from long ago and says he is a distinguished gentleman. I do feel I know him, though, through his letters to me. Such lovely letters. Through the years he has written of his travels and explorations with great detail. He even penned fanciful little tales in which I was the heroine. And that he would take so much time for a motherless little girl, makes me believe he is a person composed of kindness itself. And then there’s the delightful gifts.

Q. Has he been generous with you? I believe he is internationally well-known as a successful man of business.

SP: Indeed he has. I cannot tell you how we all anticipated the arrival of his parcels. Sumptuous is the only word for them. There was a rocking horse with a mane of real horse hair—his name is Araby, since he is an Arabian steed. And a doll with a wardrobe fit for a princess—her name is Elodie, since she is French. Oh, I wish your readers could see her clothing! Glorious gowns in the height of style and underthings trimmed with the daintiest broderie anglaise. Tiny kid slippers and plumed bonnets. I still love them, even now when I am grown; there is something so enchanting about miniature things, isn’t there? I visit Araby and Elodie now and again in the attic. Of course when I was older the gifts were more appropriate for my age.

Q. Did he never send presents for your siblings?

SP: Well…no. But then he is not their godparent. They were not jealous. I do not think. I have always shared everything.

Q. Did you ever expect that the day would come when you would actually live with him and his wife?

SP: I suppose it has always been one of my fancies. For one thing, he has arranged for me to take riding and music lessons, and I have wondered if, perhaps, he were preparing me for at least an extended visit to his estate.

Q. The southern states of our country are very different from our own New England. Have you any trepidation?

SP: Of course. Some. I shall miss my family dreadfully. I have never been anywhere, so everything will be new to me. Also, my people have abolitionist leanings. I must worry about living in a region that does not share those views. However, mostly I am excited. My heart begins palpitating when I think of where I am about to go. I hear that Mississippi has a lush and beautiful landscape.

Q. You appear to be a modern young lady, most brave and adventurous. Thank you so much for your time. We wish you great good fortune.

SP: Thank you for speaking to me. I adore your periodical. Especially the serial stories. They provide such scope for imagination. I sometimes daydream that I am living in one of them. I hope I would be as brave as those heroines.


Thank you for coming! Stay tuned for my upcoming review of the novel as well as a giveaway! 

                                        Lieder Madchen