Fairy Tales: A Matter of Opinion

Saturday, January 30, 2010 | | 11 comments ♥

"We all like astonishing tales because they touch the nerve of the ancient instinct of astonishment. This is proved by the fact that when we are very young children we do not need fairy tales: we only need tales. Mere life is interesting enough. A child of seven is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door and saw a dragon. But a child of three is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door. Boys like romantic tales; but babies like realistic tales – because they find them romantic. In fact, a baby is about the only person, I should think, to whom a modern realistic novel could be read without boring him.

We've all seen the Disney movies. Most of us spent time as young kids reading and rereading fairy tales, and now we enjoy flipping through a good retelling. For me, I've always been a kind of fairy tale junkie- I don't think I really ever grew out of that phase. My Brother's Grimm collection of stories is still at my bedside, and I'm known to occasionally watch an old Disney film. I never quite figured out why they've been such an important element in my life; the best reason I've come up with is that I'm a sucker for happy endings. Aren't we all? Doesn't everyone love these childhood stories, where things are perfect for a little while, where reality is just out of reach?

I was surprised to learn that, no, not everyone is a fan. Perhaps not in the sense that they disapprove of the stories themselves, but with the messages the stories are sending to young children. A dear friend, feminist, and teacher, blogged about her opinion of fairy tales, in this case, Cinderella.

If I were to teach this story literally, here is what my students would (in theory) learn from it:
1) Whatever crappy things happen to you, you just have to take it because eventually it will get better.
2) That when facing any difficult task in life you will have help to overcome it (birds, fairy godmother).
3) That one must hide one's flaws (Cinderella hiding her poor attire).
4) That step-families are evil.
5) That a man will rescue you from your crappy life if you're attractive enough.

With the popularity of the Disney Princesses line, I think it's a good thing to at least look at what ideas we're introducing our children to. Admittedly, I read this tale and watched the Disney film many times as a child, and I still was able to see past the superficiality of the relationships within it. However, there are lots of little girls (and teenage girls) who believe some of these ideas about beauty and men, so not everyone hears the tale without being influenced by it.

I think she makes some valid points. Reality is not anything like the fantasy world of fairy tales. One aspect of these stories that makes me cringe a little is the idea of love at first sight, and how willing the girls/princesses are to spend their lives pining after their true love. But really, is their love so 'true'? Can you really fall in love so deeply after a single glance, or one conversation? I don't know much about love, but I do know that it takes time. And it takes work. Not everyone rides off into the sunset.

But maybe, just maybe, the fact that fairy tales themselves are so unlike the real world is what makes them so beautiful. They're escapes. They spark a little hope that somewhere, there is a prince charming and a white horse. There is true happiness, and it's worth fighting a few dragons or evil stepmothers for.

What is your stance on fairy tales?

Wish List Wednesday

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | | 8 comments ♥
Wishlist Wednesday focuses not only on books I want to read that have yet to be published, but those that are already out.

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.
Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them legions of faithful fans. -Goodreads

I mean, come on, it's John Green we're talking about here. It has to be funny, at the very least.

I've actually never read anything from David Levithan, but I've heard good things. What do you think- are you looking forward to reading this one?

I'd also like to remind you that right now I'm hosting TWO contests! The first is my 100 Followers Contest that ends February 7th, and the second is a three-book giveaway that's part of an interview I did at Mrs. Magoo's Reads, which ends February 9th. Go check it out!

<3 Cate

Awards and Such

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 | | 7 comments ♥
Hi everyone! I've received a few awards recently, and I thought I'd pass them along...

The first was the Lovely Blog Award, passed on to me by the equally lovely Lucy at Delightful Reviews.
Accept the award, and post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his/her blog link. Pass the award to 5 other blogs that you've newly discovered.

Here are five blogs that I've recently discovered:

Jenn from Books at Midnight
Melissa at i swim for oceans
Amelia at Imagination in Focus
Isadora at The Depths of Words
Brianne at Brianne's Book Blog

The second is also from the aforementioned lovely Lucy. It's the Blogger Buddie Award!
To keep the tradition, I'd like to pass this award along to anyone that follows this blog. Yes, that means YOU! You're all buddies in my book! :D

The third is from Sandy at Pirate Penguin's Reads, who passed along the Happy 101 Award! Here's a list of ten things that make me happy:
2)Chinese Food
3)Books (of course!)
4)Watching old Disney Movies
5)Getting packages in the mail
6)Nature photography
7)Gilmore Girls
8)Tap Dancing
9)The Beach
10)Good Dreams

And ten blogs that make me equally as happy:
J'adore Happy Endings
Melanie's Musings
Rhiannon Hart
WORD for Teens
Red House Books
Sarcastic Humour and Chewed Up Pen Caps
The Book Cellar
Squeaky Books

And last, but certainly not least, the Who Loves You Baby Award from J. Kaye at J. Kaye's Book Blog! This award is designed with one purpose in mind. Pass this on to other bloggers who have awarded you in the past.

Thanks to:
Sandy at Pirate Penguin's Reads
Lucy at Delightful Reviews
Kathy at Bookworm Nation
Priya at Book Crumbs

One last thought...what do you think of signatures at the bottom of posts? Yay or Nay? I'm still trying to make a decision; I've even made a sample to see what it looks like. What are your opinions?

In My Mailbox

Saturday, January 23, 2010 | | 11 comments ♥
In My Mailbox is hosted by the lovely Kristi at The Story Siren.

This week I received Polar Bear, Alpha by Jeremy Koontz. It's a middle-grade digital book enhanced with music, digital photography, and web links. I don't know a whole lot about the actual context of the book, but I find the idea of an interactive story fascinating. To find out more information, click here.

From the Library:

What did you get in your mailboxes?

<3 Cate

P.S. I'd also like to remind you that right now I'm hosting TWO contests! The first is my 100 Followers Contest that ends February 7th, and the second is a three-book giveaway that's part of an interview I did at Mrs. Magoo's Reads, which ends February 9th. Go check it out!

Wish List Wednesday

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 | | 6 comments ♥

It's been seventy five days. Amy's sick of her parents suddenly taking an interest in her, and she's really sick of people asking her about Julia. Julia's gone, and Amy doesn't want to talk about it. No one knew Julia like she did. No one gets what life is without her.

No one understands what it's like to know that it's all your fault.

Amy's shrink thinks she should keep a journal but instead, Amy starts writing letters to Julia. As she writes letter after letter, she begins to realize that the past holds its own secrets--and that the present deserves a chance. -Goodreads

I've actually got this one on hold at the library, and I can't wait to read it. I've seen mixed reviews...what do you think? Have you read it? Interesting storyline, though.

<3 cate

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins Review

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | | 6 comments ♥
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. -Goodreads

Catching Fire begins slowly. Not to the point that the story suffers; there's still a steady plotline. But by the time you hit chapter thirteen, you're glad that you've been hit with a BAM! From there, the story goes quickly, so quickly that it's very difficult to put down.

As for this whole 'Team Peeta' or 'Team Gale' business, I have to say, I'm at a loss for words when it comes to who I like better. Though each are sweet, both have made their downfalls. I have a slight annoyance for Gale, who I feel like missed his chance with Katniss. And Peeta, darling Peeta, seems too good-hearted for her. Katniss is naturally cold, and ruthless to boot. And even though opposites attract, something always seems missing between the two of them. (Honesty perhaps? *ahem*)

I'll admit, despite how incredibly disgusting the idea of children being put in an arena to murder each other, the way Collins creates her little world is engrossing. And, just in case you were worried, you will (of course) be left with a cliffhanger worthy of sulking over until the next installment. Gotta love suspense...

Rating: 9/10

100 Followers Contest!!! (CLOSED)

Sunday, January 17, 2010 | | 8 comments ♥

Wow, I can hardly believe it! 100+ followers; somebody pinch me, because this hardly seems real! Thanks so much to all of you. :D

I'm very excited to say that I'm hosting my first contest!!! I hope you're interested in a copy of The Book Thief, it's one of my favorite books.

Please fill out this form to enter. The deadline is February 7th.

This contest is open to U.S. residents only. Sorry to my international followers!
Please review my Contest Policy, and feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Contest Policy

Because I host contests here at Sparrow Review, I have decided to post some general rules and regulations that I have set regarding the giveaways:

- All winners will be chosen by a random number generator.
- All contestants will be notified by email of their win within 2 days of the contest closing. The winner will also be announced on the blog, in case the email did not reach their inbox.
- If the winner does not reply within two days of the notification, they forfeit their prize; a new winner will be chosen.
-Entries posted after the contest deadline will not be counted. I also hold the right to close a contest before the original deadline without notice.
-All contest entries will be checked; please do not lie! I hold the right to disqualify any entry as I see fit.
-I am not responsible for prizes lost in the mail.
-I will email the winner upon sending their prize out. I ask that you notify me when you receive the package.

A Birthday Post

Thursday, January 14, 2010 | | 20 comments ♥

It's my birthday! I hope you all have a fabulous day, and that this sweet-looking cake is tempting enough for you to overlook my lack of book-related posts for today. :)

<3 Cate

P.S. I've been interviewed over at Mrs. Magoo Reads! There's a contest for several books as well; go check it out!

The Hate List by Jennifer Brown Review

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 | | 6 comments ♥
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life. -Goodreads

As a main character, I can't really say that I liked Val that much. And I'm not really sure that you're supposed to. I found myself completely sympathizing with her situation, but I didn't really relate to her much as a person. As mentioned in the book, she is at times selfish and absorbed in her problems, which was very understandable, considering her situation. However, I felt myself questioning her true character, and if she could really be considered the heroine of the novel. Was she even a heroine at all? It seemed as if every supporting character had the same question in mind, but I felt like it really wasn't answered. At least not for me.

However, I found myself completely absorbed in this book. It's easy to be drawn in from the start, and difficult to put down for at least the first half, as the whole story unravels. The Hate List is by no means a quick read though; it took me several to get through and process. It was well-written and well-paced, although I found the ending to be both fulfilling and somewhat lacking at the same time. And even though this isn't my favorite read, I would highly suggest it, if only to be exposed to another story and another character. Enthralling ones at that.

Rating: 8.5/10

<3 Cate

The Humane Award

Sunday, January 10, 2010 | | 7 comments ♥
A huge thanks to Nicole at Word for Teens for awarding me the Humane Award!

This award is to honor certain bloggers that are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn't for them, my site would just be an ordinary book review blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendship through the blog world.

Nominate 10 bloggers you feel deserve the Humane Award.

1) Nina at J'adore Happy Endings
2) Kirthi at Pages
3)Sandy at Pirate Penguin's Reads
4)J. Kaye from J. Kaye's Book Blog
5)Melanie from Melanie's Musings
6)Priya at Book Crumbs
7)La Coccinelle from The Ladybug Reads

<3 Cate

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams Review

Friday, January 8, 2010 | | 5 comments ♥
Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s three wives and her twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her 60-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family. -Goodreads

I read this entire book last night. The first sentence immediately pulled me in, "If I was going to kill the Prophet," I say, not even keeping my voice low, "I'd do it in Africa."
From there the you board an emotional rollercoaster. I was completely enraptured, and yet horrified, disgusted, and incredibly saddened at the same time. It was hard not to feel inwardly broken- Kyra's situation was so exasperating. It was easy to become invested in her well-being.

I applaud Williams for taking on such a touchy subject, and being able to write it in such a spectacular way. The storyline moved quickly; the sentences were sparse, yet incredibly well-written. I only had a few minor mishaps with the flashbacks; there were some spots that I was a little confused as to whether it was taking place in the present or not.

This is a quick, yet thought-provoking read. I was incredibly impressed.

Rating: 9.5/10

January: A Month of Tea and Books

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | | 10 comments ♥
So, did you know that January is both National Hobby Month and the month of Hot Tea? These two categories happen to fall under my favorite things. I love reading with a mug of tea nearby. As a matter of fact, my favorite tea is Bigelow's Early Grey. Delicious.

And, besides reading and blogging, I really enjoy playing the piano (I'm an amateur, but it's fun all the same,) and I'm a tap dancer. I also like to bake, and I would even consider my obsession with Gilmore Girls a hobby. ;)

So, my questions for you this week are:

1)Do you enjoy tea? While reading?
2)What other hobbies do you have besides reading/blogging?

Have a wonderful day!
<3 Cate


Friday, January 1, 2010 | | 3 comments ♥
A Time for Dancing by Davida Wills Hurwin
Actor and the Housewife, The by Shannon Hale
Adoration of Jenna Fox, The by Mary E. Pearson
After by Amy Efaw
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Body Finder, The by Kimberly Derting

Call Me Sonya Grey by Sonya Grey Lloyd
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Chosen One, The by Carol Lynch Williams
Click by David Almond, Eoin Colfer, Roddy Doyle, Deborah Ellis, Nick Hornby, Margo Lanagan, Gregory McGuire, Ruth Ozeki, Linda Sue Park, and Tom Wynne Jones

Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling

East by Edith Pattou
Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Fat Cat by Robin Brande
Forest Born by Shannon Hale


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Hate List, The by Jennifer Brown

I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure by various authors
If I Stay by Gayle Foreman
Iron King, The by Julie Kagawa





Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass, The by Frederick Douglass

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
Ophelia by Lisa Klein

Paper Towns by John Green
Prophecy of the Sisters, The by Michelle Zink


River Secrets by Shannon Hale


Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen







Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Julie & Julia
Les Miserables
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