miércoles, 18 de enero de 2017

TBR Challenge: ‘EMBER’, by Bettie Sharpe

The topic of this month is We Love Short Shorts! (category romance, short stories, novella etc.)
Read in Kindle

Published: 2007
Genre: paranormal
My Rating: 4 stars

In January the topic is a short story, novellas, category romances and the like. So I looked for something in my kindle, and there it was, ‘Ember’, written by Bettie Sharpe.

It was in my TBR pile because I saw a good review, as simple as that.

It’s a funny thing what happens with books. Same book, same reader, but different experiences depending on the moment to take that story. For instance, now I’m re-reading novels by Sandra Brown that I enjoyed a lot in the past. Now I can hardly tolerate some of them. The book has not changed, it’s me.

When I bought this book, I read a couple of pages and I didn’t like it. So I stopped reading. I don’t usually DNF books, I just let them rest for days, or weeks, or months, or years. That’s what I did with this book.

It was the only short story on my kindle so I decided to give it a try –again. And my experience was just the opposite. I liked it a lot.

It’s a retelling of the Cinderella story but with a twist. She’s not a lovely doormat for her stepmother but a witch, and far from physical perfection. The stepmother and stepsisters are whores that wanted to take advantage of her father but, as Ember recognizes they can be useful for her father as well, they achieve a certain understanding.

And then he dies, and they have to go back to whoring. Who can help them better than Ember? She’s a witch with administrative experience. And if these ladies have a wizard at home, it’s obvious that they do not need a pimp. A win-win situation.

The Prince Charming is more charmed than charming. It’s a charm or a curse, but everybody likes him. All the men respect him, all the women desire him. So therefore there was no real feeling for him in anyone. Even Ember is prone to feel attracted to him. Her mother, who was a witch, protected her –up to a certain point. But the prince identifies her as the only person who can really see him, not the image created by the charm/curse.

I really liked this retelling of the Cinderella story with a wicked twist... Even moments like that of the Ball or the Lost slippers are told in a little different way. It’s witty and I really enjoyed it.

It was not a perfect reading, though. There’s a mystery that you suspect, but it takes a little bit too long to be discovered. It’s going to be revealed but she runs away. She comes back, it’s going to be revealed again –and again she runs away. It looked like a way to prolong the story.

Apart from that I had a little problem with place names. The magical place in which this story is set is a fairyland kingdom surrounded by others. In this place, they use –at least for the names of the places- a disconcerting mix of Spanish and Italian words and Grammar. There’s another country, the place where the whores came from, that tends to use French wording. This mixing of different languages is a little bit uncomfortable for me, as it looks more like grammatical mistakes than fantasy spelling.

Anyway, it was a great reading and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

I can’t believe it yet.
I don’t like first person narrative.
I dislike paranormals but -
This –this fantasy made me really happy.

11 comentarios:

  1. Yo eso del "momento" lector ya lo tengo asumido. De hecho, algunos de los que abandono (no soy capaz de decir qué es lo que hay de malo en ellos) los dejo apuntados para retomarlos en un futuro. Me influyen mucho las lecturas previas, el estado de ánimo, el que haya leído mucho y bueno de un género concreto,...
    El ejemplo más claro para mí fue "La rebelión de Atlas", de Aynd Rand. Tres o cuatro veces empecé sin éxito este "librito" de más de mil páginas y de pronto un día fue el momento. Lo términé y me gustó tanto que ya ha tenido varias relecturas a pesar de toda la carga filosófica que lleva y que no siempre comparto.

    1. Cuánto me alegro de no ser la única que hace eso de abandonar y luego retomar. Me hace sentir un poco menos friki. Y me alegro todavía más que adviertas que no siempre compartes la "filosofía" de Rand. Me preocuparía mucho que alguien de ideología ultraderechista siguiera mi blog, porque eso me haría preguntarme qué extraña y confundida imagen doy.

    2. ¡Que graciosa! Y no te preocupes por dar una imagen equivocada. Ese libro en concreto me lo tomo como ficción. De hecho me sorprendió muchísimo escuchar que algunos de los triunfadores que habitan en Sillicon Valley lo tienen como biblia personal.

  2. This is why I often retry a DNF... unless it was because the writing was awful. Glad you enjoyed your read!

    1. Yep, you're right - an awful writing does not deserve a second chance.

  3. Yes, yes! This is why I rarely DNF--I'll try a few pages, and if I'm struggling, I put it aside, and try later. A lot of my enjoyment of fiction hinges on my mood, after all.

    This is, of course, different than changing tastes due to personal growth--I used to own ALL of Sandra Brown old category romances, until a couple of years ago, when I tried to re-read a few, and cringed so hard, it hurt. Off to my sister's they all went.

    I have been very tempted to get "Ember" because I've read a number of positive reviews by different readers I trust, but I haven't connected with the writing voice. Plus, I really struggle with first person narrative, and, generally, with fairy tales retellings.

    I mean, there are myriad romances that use the Cinderella fantasy, or the Beauty and the Beast, or even Sleeping Beauty/Rapunzel (rescue fair maiden), but straight retellings tend to put me off.

    1. I'm so happy to see that I'm not the only one about not DNFing the books.

      It's great that you find someone to give your 'oldies but no goldies' books. Unfortunately, I don't have a sister, and now that we are uncluttering our home, we still don't know what to do about the books.

      I still find enjoyement in a couple of the Sandra Brown's category novels. I will talk about them all this year. (Will I be able of reread and review all of them?) But yes, the majority of them just don't stand the test of time.

      Yes, I dislike first person narrative, too. But in this case I could cope with it. I loved the way the author took the scenes and the tropes of this myth and changed them in a way that made Cinderella a more powerful figure, with agency. But if you did not connect with the author's voice, and don't like straight retellings of fairytales, then you are right -probably this book will not work for you.

      Don't you like retellings of fairytales? Not even in literary fiction? Now I'm reading Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales and I love it. A very beautiful edition in Spanish by Impedimenta publishing house, with the original drawings, lovely, really.

    2. I should clarify--I generally don't care for retellings of fairy tales as romances; straight retellings I do like.

  4. Una saga que a mi me gusta mucho es la de Marisa Meyer. Un libro para Cenicienta, otro para Caperucita, después Rapuncel y por último la Bella Durmiente pero en versión ciencia ficción romántica muy entretenida. Cinder, la protagonista, es una ciborg, experta mecánica que en realidad parece ser heredera a un trono. Y todos las novelas, usando de base los cuentos clásicos, están muy bien conseguidas. Hay personajes inolvidables.

    1. Suenan muy interesantes. De hecho los tengo apuntados en mi lista virtual a ver si los leo algún día, así que me alegra mucho que me cuentes de qué van. Lo que pasa es que otras lecturas se me amontonan antes.

    2. Dije Bella Durmiente? Me despiste. Era Blancanieves. "winter". Es el único que me falta por leer.