Thursday, July 31, 2014

Grim edited by Christine Johnson

This review was written by: B
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: February 2014
Pages: 476
Stars: (4.5/5)

Honestly, I originally hadn't been one for anthologies. They had never struck me as interesting or worth reading because they simply didn't pique my interest. However, my friend recommended the book Rags and Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales. For the first time, I fell in love with an anthology! The stories were intriguing and unique, especiallyThe Cold Corner by Tim Pratt. This collection of stories led me to this book, Grim. Each author wove a story based on a classic Wilhelm and Jacob tale. The retellings were equally fresh, scary, and even endearing. There wasn't a single story that I hated or even remotely disliked. However, I simply liked some more than others. Certain ones caught my eye while others fell slightly into the background, but I enjoyed them none the less. This book contains 17 short stories, written by 17 fabulous authors! The outside covering is stunning, and a ribbon is even placed in the book. (That's definitely a done deal for me!) 

The following is a short summary of what each story is about as well as my thoughts on them:

The Key by Rachel Hawkins
Lana's mother is a psychic, inviting clients into the trailer that her and her daughter live in. Little do people know, Lana is also a psychic who can see hints or impressions of what's on others' minds. When she touches one of their possessions, she can tell her mother about the client before she has a reading with them. One day, two of her classmates come to her humble home in hopes of a successful session with Lana's mother. Milly wishes to find out what's happened to her best friend Kimberly, a girl who has disappeared several moths prior. Skye, Kimberly's former boyfriend and the school's gorgeous heartthrob, has come to support Milly and her decision to find out more about Kimberly's tragic disappearance. Lana, doing her mother's bidding by touches Lana's ring, sees something very distressing. What really happened to Kimberly?
While this story was one of the shortest ones, I still really enjoyed it. The ambiance of the tale just drew me in and threw me headfirst into Lana's life. I just felt a natural intrigue surrounding Rachel's writing and was pleasantly surprised by how much I really liked it. The Key was a great start to Grim, leaving you with a cliffhanger to definitely contemplate. 

Figment by Jeri Smith-Ready
Eli's father, Gordon Wylde, was a one hit wonder back when he was in the music business. Dying at the tragic age of 45 during a boating accident, he leaves Eli "the most." While he had three sons, he decided to give Eli a package containing a short note and a little stuffed cat toy. He was instructed to keep this cat at his side at all times if he ever wanted to succeed in life. Even though his father's gift was supposed to be the most loyal friend he ever had, he was skeptical at first. His father had cast the cat aside out of arrogance, and Eli thought it was worthless until it started to communicate with him. It turns out that the cat is a figment who awakens when someone believes in him, allowing the cat to communicate to the believer silently. The figment also has the ability to persuade people if they acknowledge its presence, meaning that he has to be out in the open for people to see him. This good luck charm begins to truly befriend Eli and replace his so called friends, Jules, Vanessa, and Ty. Eli has exquisite musical talent that the figment can use to make him famous with a little luck. 
This story was definitely my favorite. It was cute, sweet, and heartfelt. It touches your heart, rips it out, and then puts it back together. I truly wish that it could have been a full length novel. This twist on Puss in Boots was fantastic. The writing style was excellent and definitely felt real. Guess who wants to read more by Jeri Smith-Ready? 

The Twelfth Girl by Malinda Lo
Sloane is a boarding school for girls. Among the multitude of teenagers to attend it, there are twelve who are treated very differently from the rest. They're allowed to be late for classes and leave campus without being properly reprimanded, almost like they're immune to authority. Harley, the leader of the twelve, possesses a natural quality that makes others want to follow and flock to her. Liv is no exception. She desperately desires to be one of the twelve mysterious girls who rule campus. However, only if one girl leaves the twelves is another chosen, meaning it is especially hard to be one of them when no one wants to leave it. Every night, the 12 go out dancing. This is no secret to anyone. However, Liv has an impulse to go to Madam Sofia, a psychic in town. Sofia tells her that no matter what happens, she must not join those alluring girls. Not soon after, Harley's younger sister leaves the group and Liv is asked to join. She obviously says yes and is transported to a world she never could have dreamed of. It's true that every night they go dancing, but they open a door under Harley's bed to get there. This door is almost like a gateway to the same club even though it sometimes changes names. It's occasionally called Aaru, a part of Egyptian mythology that is a heavenly paradise where souls exist in pleasure for all eternity, and other times it's Magh Meall, a realm in Irish mythology where eternal beauty is placed. While everything seems amazing, what really happened to the girls who left the 12? What's really going on? Why do only those specific girls get treated special at school? What was with Madam Sofia's warning, and what else does the woman know?
Malinda Lo's story was a great take on The Twelve Dancing Princesses. It was equally amazing and eerie with a dark conclusion. 

The Raven Princess by Jon Skovron
Accidentally cursed as a small child by her mother, the princess is forced to live the life of a raven. Cohabiting with the wilderness, she is waiting for the right person to break her unfortunate fate. Heartbroken by her awful deed, the guilt ridden queen leaves the castle as well. It is in this tale that an unlikely hero arises. A hunter, who can't bring himself to kill or even aim at a living thing, finds the princess and promises that he will try to save her. Confident in his kind heart, she hopes that he will assist her. This story is his journey with giants, thieves, and a giant glass hill. Will he be able to save her or will she stay a raven forever?
I have to admit, this story, while being a fun read, just didn't grab my attention as much as some of the others did. However, I didn't dislike it either. It had an unexpected ending that I did not see coming and a wonderful closing. I have to admit, I was truly happy to find that Skovron included the giants as a couple who loved each other even though they were both males. This same gender pairing was sweet and refreshing.

Thinner Than Water by Saundra Mitchell 
Within the kingdom of Flamen, the breathtaking queen died during childbirth, making the king promise to never marry again unless he found someone as beautiful as she was. Years later, the king notices that his daughter is beautiful beyond compare to his deceased wife and decides that he shall marry her. Naturally repulsed by this idea, she keeps her mouth shut in fear of committing a crime punishable by death. Scared, she writes a letter to Regina Vatia, the queen of the nearby land called Lycea. She is given the advice to ask her father, now her future husband, to make her bride-price a gown made of sunlight. She does as instructed, believing this to be an impossible task. Later, she asks for a stola made of moonlight and a palla made of starlight after she finds the dress to be fully made. Her father wrongs her, but the court refuses to do anything. They will do whatever it takes to bend the rules for the king. 
This story, while disturbing, was served with a side of vengeance. Mitchell conveys the princess's feelings with ease, making the reader feel extremely repulsed and disgusted as soon as the story begins. It is easy to side with the the female lead, but the justification was no doubt gruesome.

Before the Rose Bloomed: A Retelling of the Snow Queen by Ellen Hopkins
The Demon King, a fallen angel, took a liking to a human girl, deciding to marry her. When he came to her, she promptly refused, making him desire revenge. Being particularly clever, he crafted a mirror from enchanted ice. Once she gazed into it, all things beautiful would become ugly. The princess refused the gift, infuriating the demon. He flew away, dropping the mirror along the way. Shards of it were attracted to the princess and pierced each of her eyes while another burrowed into her heart. Now, she was cursed to never know love. To break the curse, a human must come to her on the winter solstice where their heart must thaw hers. Hearing of a couple, Greta and K, who love each other so deeply, she desired to see them. She stole K away in the night, compelling him to follow her to her palace. A piece of the dreaded ice mirror got stuck in his right eye while another struck his heart. He no longer has any memory of Greta. As the story proceeds, Greta, a strong and love driven girl, stops at nothing to retrieve K. This is her adventure into unknown lands and territory to save the life of one boy.
The story was written unlike any of the others. That's what I remember most about it, how it was laid out like a poem. Sometimes, I felt detached from the plot line and not always interested in it, almost as though I couldn't keep enthralled with the story, but this was saved by the uplifting and hopeful ending.

Beast/Beast by Tessa Gratton
Beauty is tricked into touching a very specific rose that forces her to travel to the castle of the Beast. His home, place of confinement, is unwelcome in Beauty's life. An intimidating wall made of granite blocks extinguishes all hopes of escape that are in her mind. Ghosts surround her, presenting her with meals, combing her hair, and taking care of countless other necessities. While consistently declining the Beast's offer to marry him during their evening meals, she is perplexed by his dark blue eyes, elongated tusks, and skin made of both bark and fur. Could she ever bring herself to love him with these feelings bubbling up inside of her? Can these feelings save him?
Gratton's story is about a Beauty who fiercely fights back against her captor, turning into a "beast" as well. This was a very interesting take on Beauty and the Beast for sure.

The Brothers Piggett by Julie Kagawa
Percival Piggett lives in a nameless village that's surrounded by a mysterious forest with a rumored witch living on its outskirts. It is here that Percival runs a shop with his brothers, Peter and Pedro. Because Percival is larger than most, he has trouble talking to others due to his shyness and weight. However, when people make fun of him, they mysteriously disappear. In the middle of this madness he falls hard for Maya Thornton, the granddaughter of the rumored "witch." Her green eyes and dark hair lure him to her, along with her sweet personality. They two get along well and everything seems to be going swell for them until Percival sees something that shatters his heart into a million pieces. Is this a misunderstanding? What is going to happen to him and Maya, and what truly happened to the missing people?
Kagawa turned a story that had a special twist on the Three Little Pigs. It was perfectly placed and a good read all together.

Untethered by Sonia Gensler
Claire's family is going through a great loss with only her boyfriend to comfort her. Sadness and grief follow her everywhere since a tragic car accident changed her life forever. While her mother is so depressed that she's barely living, her sister is bothering her almost more. Every night, at the same time, Claire feels something like an electric pulse and then her sister walks by their bedroom door. No one can move on. Claire repetitively tries to anchor her sister down so that she can communicate with her, but she never can. How can one move on when no one else can?
Gensler definitely threw a curve ball at me. I was surprised by who was really dead! This was a fabulous take on The Shroud. I loved every piece of it including the mystery, the grief, and the love.

Better by Shaun David Hutchinson
Pip was made to cure those with the Disease ravaging every child aboard the space ship, the Hamelin. The only person not in comatose is Levi, a boy envied by all of the other parents for his life. This odd pairing, a dying boy and artificial human being, was amazing! After being told by Levi's father that his research with her is going nowhere and that she must be shut down, she makes a bargain for one more month of life so that she can try to save Levi. These two teenagers fall for each other hard while each of their time clocks rapidly expire. Her only hope is in Project Twig. Despite her race against time to save the ship's children, everyone but Levi fears her and wants her gone. They say that she isn't human and therefore can't feel human emotions. What is Project Twig and can Levi really be saved? Can those aboard the ship ever feel anything besides disgust towards those like Pip? What does it mean to be human? Read this awesome story to find out!
This is undoubtedly another one of my top favorites, despite the ending. I loved it soooooo much! Each character felt genuine and real, even if they weren't fully human! However, I wasn't really convinced that Levi's character would have agreed to what Pip did at the ending. 

Light It Up by Kimberly Derting
Hansen, an AXE loving guy, and Greta, his older sister who's addicted t smoking, are left in the woods by their greedy step-mother. They wander the woods with nothing by AXE spray, a lighter, and some food. Lucky for them they smell smoke, a sure sign that someone is near by who can save them. What even better luck that the smoke was created by a park ranger. Well, maybe it wasn't such good luck. What's with the weird stakes he feeds them? They can't possibly be made from beef. The drink he gives them is even weirder. Why are they getting so sleepy? Well, I'm sure you can guess where this is going. Greta wakes up in a cage and is determined to get out and find her brother from certain death.
This was my favorite creepy story in the anthology. It was dark, twisted, but a really great read, too! I love this story compared to the original Hansel and Gretal!

Sharper Than a Serpant's Tongue by Christine Johnson
One day, Clara is given the gift of flowers and jewels that will fall out of her mouth whenever she talks. She is given this by their neighbor, Mrs. Swanson, when Clara is abused by her grandson but promises not to say anything. Dina finds out that something bad happened to her and storms to Mrs. Swanson's house. The old woman makes frogs and snakes fall from her mouth for being so rude. Their mother tells Dina to leave them while Clara is to provide their mother with the money needed for her to buy alcohol. Dina asks her to go with her, but Clara refuses. In the end, Dina looks like she might have a bright future ahead of her despite the "curse" put on her while her sister is left with their drunk mother.
This story was pretty interesting and asks the question: Who is really the CURSED one?

A Real Boy by Claudia Gray
Blue lives in a world where robots are common, and you leave school to start work at the age of twelve. You don't get to choose your job but are instead given the assessment test to determine your occupation. Blue was put into cybernetics where she learns to make robots. Blue's an excellent student who gets excellent marks on all of her papers. However, on the exterior she acts towards her peers with a straight face and as levelheaded person with no particular soft spots. When she is asked by Professor Jafet to help her on a special project, she thought it was because of her high marks and not because she is a girl who "doesn't get confused." Their project is Rowan, a robot unlike any other. Rowan is a beautiful, almost human robot instead of artificial like all of the other jerky, awkward, and soulless ones that she encounters daily. Professor Jafet said that she entrusted Rowan to Blue, to show him how a normal person acts. Blue and Rowan quickly develop feelings for each other only to have someone see him breech one of the three rules in robot protocol. Now Blue has to decide to either upgrade or downgrade him. Each option has its own risks, including him loosing all of his feelings for her.
This story was my second favorite. The two main characters were so adorable together that I just loved it, and better yet, it had a happy ending! I really do like happy endings!

Skin Trade by Myra McEntire
Three brothers, Locke, Calen, and Helm, frequently played as a band at the same club, but also spent much of their time as customers there. Many times they took different girls home with them only to return to the club the next night without them. Their activities are very mysterious. Despite the disappearing girls, countless other women flock to them. Locke has taken a particular interest in one girl who feels the same about him. When one of his brothers wants to take her home, he says that she belongs to him. Sinister things are going on behind locked doors in these brothers' shared home. Is the girl Locke has his eye on safe? What tragic practice are these men performing?
This story was definitely high on the freaky meter. I was repulsed by Calen and Helm and their "skin trade," but this made for a very weird and fascinating tale. Locke wants to change his ways because of that one girl, an intriguing turn in the story for the plot. The ending will definitely leave you with a creepy feeling.
Beauty and the Chad by Sarah Rees Brennan
After Beauty’s father was caught trying to steal flowers from the Beast’s castle garden, he promises to send his son to look after the horses in the stables as a form of repentance.   Seeing as he doesn’t have a son, he thought that he was being smart.  Beauty decides that this is dishonorable of her father and goes to the Beast to perform her father’s debt.  Beauty cuts her hair and finds the Beast happy to have a boy to look after his precious horses who are deathly afraid of him.  Apparently, many Beasts have occupied the castle.   A witch sends one there to learn a lesson and once they do, she sends another one to replace him.  This Beast is Chad.  Chad is very peculiar.  He’s a frat boy from our time who angered the witch, landing him in his own Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.  He starts to fall for Beauty even though he thinks she’s a boy because she is still charades as one.  (She hasn’t told him that she is a woman.)  She in turn falls for a modern day boy turned Beast.
This story was great!  Sarah brought in modern day speech that confused Beauty and her older way of speaking.  They were so cute together!  It was a great, funny, and refreshing take on the timeless and beloved “Beauty and the Beast”.
The Pink: A Grimm Story by Amanda Hocking
Queen Rose could not have a child despite the fact that it was her and her husband’s dearest wish.  In her despair, she fled to her beloved garden.  It was here that her sobs and bountiful tears were sent to heaven.  A person with the likeness of an angel came upon her and said that he would bless her with a child who would have the power to wish and have his desires fulfilled.  Soon after, Brenn was born.  His wishing gift was a well kept secret until the cook, a former convict, found out about it.  Still a young lad, Brenn was stolen by the cook and taken far away.  He told the boy that his parents were dead and that he saved him before the evil men could kill him, too.  Brenn, being young, believed the man.  Lonely, he wished himself a best friend.   As Brenn grows older, the cook can’t fool him or his companion so easily anymore.  What does fate have in store for all of them?
This was a good read.  I thought that it never truly dulled or became tiresome to read.  I enjoyed Brenn’s character as well as his loyalty to his friends and family.  It was a nice collection to the anthology.
Sell Out by Jackson Pearce
This was an amazing spin on Snow White.  “Prince Charming” lives his life with barely enough money to support himself and his father.  His only job revolves around his weird and unusual talent.  He has the ability to bring people back from the dead when he kisses them on the lips.  Rich people flock to the organization he works for to have family and friends resurrected by people like him.  One day he gets a job to bring back Elise Snow.  He has mixed feelings about this due to the fact that she was extremely rude to him when they went to the same school together not so long ago.  Elise’s stepmother offers him a bribe to not kiss her in exchange for money.  What will come out of his turmoil?
This was AMAZING!  I fell in love with this short story.  Jackson Pearce struck my attention from the beginning.  I wonder what this story would be like as a full length novel. Sell Out looks at how people change who they are from the people we once knew them to be.  It was quite fascinating and a truly intriguing read. 

So many of us love fairy tales.  No matter who we are, young or old, man or woman, they captivate us all.  Retellings and change ups in the stories are even more interesting.  We get to see our favorite tales turned into something new.  Grim was a fabulous collection of short stories that did all of their chosen tales justice.  I hope you find this to be just as true.  

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