Tag Archives: retelling

Ensnared by Rita Stradling

Ensnared by Rita Stradling

 Ensnared
by Rita Stradling

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Kindle Press
Publication: May 23, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Sci-fi, Romance
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Ensnared by Rita Stradling

Even though I’ve been burned in the past by fairytale retellings, I had to give Ensnared by Rita Stradling a chance. I mean, look at that cover! Though now there are two covers, the delightful one I used for this post, but also a sleek blue one, both are fitting and intriguing. Beauty and the Beast with a twist and in the future. That’s what it was marketed as, and that’s what I got. Straight, simple, to the point.

Set in a future full of advanced AI, Alainn is forced to go undercover as a robot ordered by reclusive millionaire Lorccan to keep her father from prison. Though she doesn’t want to, and it definitely wasn’t her plan, she goes along with it. Things proceed exactly as you think it would considering it’s a retelling. What makes it really stand out is the use of AI. It’s truly unsettling and definitely makes you think twice about giving Siri or Alexa access to everything.

This was well-paced, the romance was soft and easy (there is sex so keep that in mind if you’re picking this up). Characters were developed just enough to make you want to continue the story, and the world building enough to sustain the plot. I’m sure if the book were longer, or made into a series, there would be some serious snags, but as is, Ensnared by Rita Stradling is a truly enjoyable sci-fi rendition of Beauty and the Beast that I thoroughly adored.

Forget Me Not by Angela Parkhurst

Forget Me Not by Angela Parkhurst

Forget Me Not
by Angela Parkhurst

“I’ve never been to a ball or followed the yellow brick road, and I sure as hell never imagined myself living in a world of fairytale characters. Most of which want me dead. So when they come, because they will, I need to be ready.”

“And you think you could kill someone?”

“I know I could.”

When the academy in Nottingham burns down, sending in a new slew of fairytale classmates, Norah Hart comes face to face with new challenges, enemies and friendships. But the longer she is in this world, the more she realizes there is no getting out, leaving her with only one option–be prepared.

Book 2 in the Forgotten Fairytales series

Rated: ★★★½
Publisher: CreativeSpace Publishing
Publication: June 2016
Genre: YA, Fairytale, Retelling, Romance
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Forget Me Not by Angela Parkhurst

WOW! Did this book take me on a roller coaster of emotions or what! Forget Me Not by Angela Parkhurst is absolutely amazing and just continues to build on the amazing world she’s created in the first book, Forgotten Fairytales.

Norah is still reeling from the fall out over the events from the first book. Her sister still hates her, more now than ever. She has ptsd from dealing with Finn, who escaped any form of punishment for trying to kill her last year. To top all of that off, Cinderella’s on trial but likely to be acquitted for drugging Prince Charming and trying to kill her.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Norah now has to deal with failing classes and secrets that creep in between herself and Wolf, while a sexy newcomer arrives crushing on her. What I especially love about Forget Me Not is that, while there are many times it reminds you of just how much a teenager Norah is, Parkhurst never falls into that typical YA one love to rule them all trope, and that is amazing. Yes, Norah is in love with Wolf, but she also learns that she needs to love herself and put herself first.

Definitely want to say more about this (OMG THAT ENDING WHAAAAAAAAAAAT) but it’ll wait until the spoiler vlog this weekend!

This is actually a really great YA series that I wish would get more traction and popularity because the characters are so fantastic and the empowerment in them is great, especially in Forget Me Not by Angela Parkhurst.

 

The Forgotten Fairytales by Angela Parkhurst

The Forgotten Fairytales by Angela Parkhurst

The Forgotten Fairytales
by Angela Parkhurst

What if every fairy tale ever written was true?
What if their happily ever after’s replayed over and over again but the journey wasn’t anything like the storybooks?

When Norah Hart walked into boarding school, she never imagined she’d be walking down the hall with Cinderella and her deranged posse of princesses. Let alone be drawn to a dark and mysterious Big Bad Wolf. In a world where the lines between good and evil blur, Norah struggles to find her place and come to accept a new reality. But when her actions throw off the balance of the fairytale world and happily ever afters, enemies surface, ready to destroy her at any cost.

Forgotten Fairytales Book #1

Rated: ★★★½
Publisher: CreativeSpace Publishing
Publication: February 2014
Genre: YA, Fairytale, Retelling, Romance
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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The Forgotten Fairytales by Angela Parkhurst

The summary hooked me, and even after being hooked by the summary, I still wasn’t sold on The Forgotten Fairytales by Angela Parkhurst. Why? That cover! Sad to say, but readers really do judge books by their covers. This is tragic considering I absolutely fell head over heels with this book! Norah was such an amazing character and I kept hoping she would choose the guy I loved and kick butt. The pacing was great; never once did I grow bored, think it was too slow, or think it was too fast and that I was getting lost. Yes, there are cringey bits in there, but honestly, I laughed them off and kept on reading because it was that good.

I have no idea how Ms. Parkhurst came up with the story idea, but it’s absolutely brilliant. Written in a time when we have Once on tv promoting fairytales and happily ever afters, we get this subverted version where fairy tale world is cruel and ruled almost like a dictatorship. Where you have to have your Happily Ever After whether you want it or not. Don’t love your prince? Tough because that’s how it’s written and that’s how it will be. It’s such a fantastic idea! Then, Parkhurst brings in the idea of hybrids that don’t have stories, that are brand new and I’m dead.

Speaking of being dead, narrator Norah killed me. She had cringey lines at times, but even still, I loved her. Sure, she’s a special snowflake, but what’s wrong with that every now and again? She was fun and kick ass and never steered away from what she thought was right. Norah really reminded me of Rose from the Vampire Academy series. And just like Rose, we have the wildly different love interests.

Norah starts the book crushing hard on both a prince, Finn, and a villain, Wolf (appropriately named, no?) I have to admit, I didn’t care a bit about Finn. My mind was all about Wolf because woof! Strong, angsty, and self loathing? Let’s go! Norah does choose a guy at the end, and I won’t say who it is because I don’t want to spoil it, but read it and read your fairytales!

Worldbuilding was a bit weak, but honestly, the story and characters themselves were worth it enough for me.

The Forgotten Fairytales by Angela Parkhurst was a fantastic book that I absolutely loved and could not gushing about it to friends as I read. A great main character that is strong, yet caring, a juicy love triangle between polar opposites, and intrigue all make this a super fun read! ((Also, please if you write a third book, let someone redesign these covers. Hell, I’ll redesign them for you!))

Quotes & Excerpts

“Maybe I want to be the kind of guy a girl like you believes in.”

Doing this for Kate wasn’t about revenge, it was about righting a wrong. Keeping it in wasn’t an option. Staying silent was worse than telling a lie. Staying silent meant forgetting and I could never forget.

I might as well run in screaming, “You tried to kill me, but here I am. Come at me, bro.”

A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter

A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter

 A Feast of Sorrows
by Angela Slatter

A Feast of Sorrows—Angela Slatter’s first U.S. collection—features twelve of the World Fantasy and British Fantasy Award-winning Australian author’s finest, darkest fairy tales, and adds two new novellas to her marvelous cauldron of fiction. Stories peopled by women and girls—fearless, frightened, brave, bold, frail, and fantastical—who take the paths less traveled by, accept (and offer) poisoned apples, and embrace transformation in all its forms. Reminiscent of Angela Carter at her best, Slatter’s work is both timeless and fresh: fascinating new reflections from the enchanted mirrors of fairy tales and folklore.

Publisher: Prime Books
Publication: October 4th 2016
Genre: Retelling, Short stories
I received this title for free 
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Rated: ★★

A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter

You know how most times, folks tell you not to judge a book by its cover, and it’s usually meant to encourage you to give things a try? Well, think of this as the opposite. The cover for A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter is amazing. It is so creepy and inviting and wonderful looking; it seemed perfect for autumn. But, the stories within leave me wanting. They don’t drive me towards any strong feelings. They aren’t bad, they are good. They simply are.

I appreciate that all of the protagonists (not always the heroes) are women and that they need to be quick witted and strong in multiple ways. I loved that one of the characters that pops up in multiple short stories is a lesbian (though am horribly disappointed that she’s also shown to be equally as deviant as a pedophile mentioned in a latter story). So, why three stars? Because there were some real gems that had potential. I loved The Coffin-maker’s Daughter until we realize what sort of collection she holds (from a different story). I love the concept of there being a School for Poison Girls. Bluebeard’s Daughter was absolutely fantastic! But the rest, either seemed too identical to stories heard before (especially the Rumpelstiltskin ‘retelling’) or just didn’t seem to matter.

There is no doubt that she is a good author, A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter simply did not capture my attention the way I wish it had. The way the cover made me wish to be whisked away by these short stories. If you’re looking for another collection of short stories and retellings that really left me with a great impression, perhaps try Sorrows and Wishes by Cindy Lynn Speer.

Quotes & Excerpts

[…] but memory is a traitor to good sense.
Sourdough

“No. Better we take our chances among the whores and thieves. They’re more honest, more loyal.”
Sister, Sister

Argos by Phillip W Simpson

Argos by Phillip W Simpson

 Argos
by Phillip W Simpson

Loyalty has no limits

Raised from a pup by Greek hero, Odysseus, Argos has come to learn the true meaning of love and loyalty. But when Odysseus leaves for the Trojan War, little does Argos know it will be 20 years before he sees his master again. With Odysseus gone his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, are easy prey for neighboring kings and the Gods themselves.

But Argos was tasked to keep them safe until Odysseus returns and that is a promise he is determined to keep – whatever the cost. Told through his eyes, Argos recounts the story of his life – his pain, his joy, his triumphs and failures; his endurance in the face of hardships almost too great to believe.

Above all else, Argos strives to do what is right – and to remain loyal to his King when all others have given up hope. To live long enough to see his beloved master one more time.

This epic myth of love and loyalty proves that a dog really is man’s best friend.

Publisher: Month9Books
Publication: May 10, 2016
Genre: Retelling, Mythology, Middle Grade
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
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Rated: ★★½

Argos by Phillip W Simpson

As a huge lover of mythology in general, especially Greek mythology having studied it at university, I was extremely excited about reading Argos by Phillip W Simpson. It definitely did not disappoint! It was so refreshing to read a book that actually seems to care about keeping mythology “right,” especially when it comes to Hades.

Simpson manages to take a well known myth and enhance it by giving us a different side of what we all know. Using the loyal dog, the only one to recognize his master, Argos, to tell the story of those left behind. Through Argos, we also get a better glimpse into Odysseus, the man, instead of just Odysseus, the rogue. The loyalty of a dog is such an admirable, universal truth, that it allows Argos to connect with Cerberus in a way that no other character has been able to do. Once Argos reaches his inevitable end, you can’t help but tear up.

It’s such a lovely little companion piece and so incredibly easy to understand, a fantastic introduction. I would definitely recommend Argos by Phillip W Simpson to middle-graders and young adults who are just starting to get into mythology in general, or the Odyssey or the Iliad at school.

Quotes & Excerpts

Besides, if the gods are offended by the words and thoughts of a mere dog, then perhaps they are not as great as they think they are.
– Chapter Three

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The Story of Kullervo by JRR Tolkien

The Story of Kullervo by JRR Tolkien

 The Story of Kullervo
by JRR Tolkien

Kullervo, son of Kalervo, is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. “Hapless Kullervo,” as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny.   Brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and tried three times to kill him when he was still a boy, Kullervo is alone save for the love of his twin sister, Wanona, and the magical powers of the black dog Musti, who guards him. When Kullervo is sold into slavery he swears revenge on the magician, but he will learn that even at the point of vengeance there is no escape from the cruelest of fates.   Tolkien himself said that The Story of Kullervo was “the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own,” and was “a major matter in the legends of the First Age.” Tolkien’s Kullervo is the clear ancestor of Túrin Turambar, tragic incestuous hero of The Silmarillion. Published here for the first time with the author’s drafts, notes, and lecture essays on its source work, the Kalevala, The Story of Kullervo is a foundation stone in the structure of Tolkien’s invented world.

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication: April 5, 2016
Genre: Retelling, Mythology
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
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Rated: ★★

The Story of Kullervo by JRR Tolkien

This is a wonderful retelling of sorts from a Finnish epic poem called Kalevala. I’ve never read it before, so the The Story of Kullervo by JRR Tolkien was brand new for me. But, at the same time, it felt very familiar. Those familiar with Tolkien’s legendarium will likely recognize many aspects of the story as they relate to Tolkien’s major works. However, if you’ve zero interest in Tolkien, or in Finnish mythology, I think this might not be for you.

The story is a simple one. Jealous brothers feud leading to the murder of one. A son survives and vows vengeance. Son delivers vengeance but simultaneously causes his own destruction and ruin. Yet, the difference is in how it is told. Tolkien’s descriptive style is evident and the language he uses is beautiful. It flows well, though readers more accustomed to contemporary literature may find it a chore as the sentence structure can vary from modern works. The singular defining part is the ballad by the smith’s wife, a long prayer asking the gods for protection over her livestock even as she plots against Kullervo. It is also the smith’s wife who curses Kullervo in the end.

The story itself is incredibly short, taking up perhaps a third of the book, with another third being made up of Tolkien’s essays on Kalevala and another third for the introduction. One of the things I really disliked, however, about The Story of Kullervo, was the sudden change in names! One second, the child was called Kullervo. Then he was Sakehonte?, then Saki. The hound went from Musti to Mauri. Perhaps this was do to Tolkien himself changing his mind on which name to use, or perhaps using different names as the elves in the Silmarillion have (eg Curufinwe and Feanor, or Amras and Pityafinwe or Ambarussa). Either way, it was confusing.

The similarities to other works of Tolkien are plentiful in The Story of Kullervo. With Kullervo, you see hints of Feanor’s anger and hatred toward siblings. But, more accurately, Kullervo represents Turin Turambar in his ultimate fate. The final scene between Kullervo and Wanona is reminiscent of the initial meeting between Eol and Aredhel. Untamo himself seems an early precursor to Melkor or Mairon in his evil designs and cruelty. The smith’s wife’s curse rings back to Eol’s curse on Maeglin. There are so many parallels that can be drawn from Kullervo to various works of Tolkien, it truly makes the story enjoyable. It, at times, feels like a familiar friend.

So, ultimately, if you’re a Tolkien nerd, you’ll enjoy the book. I particularly liked the essay after the story, as it was interesting to see Tolkien’s own words and ideas about mythology written out so clearly. If you’re just a fantasy fan with no real interest in Tolkien or Finnish lore, you might be better off checking this one out from the library

Quotes & Excerpts

And evil thoughts whispered to him and the fierceness of the wild came into his heart and with his fingers he wove a design of wrath and vengeance against the fair wife of Asemo
– p29, The Story of Kullervo

For the paths led ever deeper
Deeper deeper into darkness
Deeper deeper into sorrow
Into woe and into horror
– p38, The Story of Kullervo

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Monstrous Little Voices

Monstrous Little Voices

Monstrous Little Voices: New Tales from Shakespeare’s Fantasy World
Adrian Tchaikovsky, Emma Newman, Jonathan Barnes, Foz Meadows, and Kate Heartfield
Publisher: Abaddon
Publication: March 8, 2016
Genre: Retelling, Fae, Supernatural
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
Locate: amazon | b&n | book depository
Rated: ★★

Synopsis

It is the time of Shakespeare. Storms rage, armies clash, magics are done – and stories are made. Five new great and terrible tales reshape the Bard’s vision, a new set of stories that will be told and retold down through the centuries. 

It is the Year of Our Lord 1601. The Tuscan War rages across the world, and every lord from Navarre to Illyria is embroiled in the fray. Cannon roar, pikemen clash, and witches stalk the night; even the fairy courts stand on the verge of chaos.

Five stories come together at the end of the war: that of bold Miranda and sly Puck; of wise Pomona and her prisoner Vertumnus; of gentle Lucia and the shade of Prospero; of noble Don Pedro and powerful Helena; and of Anne, a glovemaker’s wife. On these lovers and heroes the world itself may depend.

Monstrous Little Voices

For fans of Shakespeare and fantasy, Monstrous Little Voices is sure to be a gem, but for the casual Shakespearean aficionado, you might find yourself wanting more. This is a complication of five different stories by five different authors that all choose different pieces of Shakespeare’s works, yet weave them together in an overarching story. That said, one book with different authors is always a gamble, one that might not always pay off.

With the different authors writing each of the five stories, it’s difficult to say whether it’s the content or the style that did and didn’t work for me. It’s likely a combination of both. I really enjoyed Coral Bones by Foz Meadows, The Course of True Love by Kate Heartfield, and The Unkindest Cut by Emma Newman. Perhaps it’s because they dealt in greater detail with fae and witches. Perhaps it’s the love and romance. I just really found these three stories to be fantastic.

In Coral Bones, the message is one that is great and should be repeated to all. The form you are in should not dictate the role you should play or how you should be treated. This dips into The Tempest and looks into gender roles and the rigidity that some adhere to them. Also, it features the ever delightful Puck and the loving eternal war between Oberon and Titania. It has a serious message woven through the clever witted tale.

The Course of True Love, is my favourite of Monstrous Little Voices. In it, there is a debate on what the true nature of a person is. Whether it is something immutable or something that is changeable, dependent on your actions. It was also super sweet to see the elderly in a bit of a romance story. Pomona, the wizened old witch was great and had the best quote of the book, which I had featured in this past Thursday Quotables post and Vertumnus was a fantastic bounding partner for her.

Finally, the last of my three favourites is The Unkindest Cut, which seems like the natural culmination of the earlier three stories. Here, we see a prophecy fulfilled after going awry. There is a spirit in a form that is not theirs. We see the idea of one’s true nature being based on actions rather than feelings, or words. Here’s a spoiler, do not expect a happy ending here.

The final two stories of the collection were, in contrast, lackluster. Even in the Cannon’s Mouth was strange. The mixture of stage direction with a narrative format was distracting. The war story background of the shipwrecked survivors flew right over my head. The addition of he who must not be named was interesting, but as a HUGE fan of that work, a bit out of character and strange, until the final lines at least. The story seemed to focus on characters that I didn’t really care about, and then ended with characters going on an adventure I really wanted to see. It just didn’t work for me. On the Twelfth Night was simply comically strange and so random compared to the earlier four works. It sort of makes sense as the ending of the book, but it’s just…weird.

Monstrous Little Voices is a solid three stars. It gives me a great introduction to the different authors and leaves me intrigued to find more of their works. However, all of the stories may not interest all readers. The collection on kindle is definitely worth the price ($5.99 USD at the time of this post) as each individual story is priced at $2.99 USD each.

Quotes & Excerpts

“Sometimes the gravest things must, of necessity, become the most comic. It’s how we know they haven’t destroyed us.”
– Coral Bones, Act III, Something of Her That Doth Fade

“You’re quite right, of course. Forms and hearts and names — we build ourselves with words, but a tool is not the same as the substance it shapes; and if the substance changes, then why not the tool? […] Fairy, god or mortal, I see no reason why anyone should define themselves by a single flesh alone, when such seemings are always subject to alteration. […] Crowns and shoes don’t grow on trees, and yet we alter ourselves with the wearing of them.”
– Coral Bones, Act III, Something of Her That Doth Fade

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Wishes and Sorrows, by Cindy Lynn Speer

Wishes and Sorrows by Cindy Lynn Speer

Synopsis

For every wish there is a sorrow…

Wishes are born from sorrows, blessings are sometimes curses, and even fairy godmothers cannot always get what they want. In this original collection, Cindy Lynn Speer, the author of “The Chocolatier’s Wife”, brings to life creatures of myths and tales, mixing them into a vibrant tapestry of stories, happy and sad, magical and real, each lovingly crafted and sure to touch the reader’s soul.

Step into the world where magic is real, and every mundane bit of reality is as magical as a true fairy tale.

Wishes and Sorrows
Cindy Lynn Speer
Publisher: Dragonwell Publishing
Publication: October, 2014
Genre: Fae, Fairy tale, Retelling
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
Locate: amazon | b&n | book depo
Rated: ★★★★★

Wishes and Sorrows by Cindy Lynn Speer

This book has been sitting in my TBR pile for a VERY LONG TIME. Every time I flipped through my library to see what I should choose to read next, Wishes and Sorrows by Cindy Lynn Speer would pop up and I would hesitate before swiping away. This is another of those times where a cover can be deceiving. I mean, the cover is GORGEOUS but also a little misleading. I kept putting this book off because I kept thinking it would be some long, overdrawn, very uppity type story and I was never in the mood to read that.

Finally, in an attempt to clear my galley TBR list, I thought I would give it a try and get it over with. Sweet gods in heaven, how could I have been so wrong about a book! Wishes and Sorrows was so amazing! I absolutely fell in love with it and all of the different stories within. Wishes and Sorrows is a collection of short stories, many of which can be divided into Wishes and Sorrows, ergo the title. They’re all a bit fantastical, tales including ghosts, ghouls, fae, witches, and more.

The collection starts with what is possibly my favourite tale of the book, The Bell Witch and the Queen of Vines. In it, we see an older woman, a town witch that uses bells and dancing to ward off evil spirits and creatures from the town to which she belongs. She befriends one of these “evil” creatures one day, a werewolf, who shares with her a warning — danger and death are actively following her. What happens? I won’t give it away but it does hold a bit of Greek mythology in it…

Another ghoulish favourite is A Necklace of Rubies. This story could actually be its own full length novel (which I would have loved to read). Here, we see the typical trope of a character being given everything in the world, all of the freedoms available, and yet, cannot keep themselves from doing the one thing that was forbidden. Yet, there is a turn which leads to an unpredictable (yet enjoyable) ending. Also, Don Joaquin is exquisitely delectable and I could definitely see him being a Man Crush Monday character.

On the Sorrows side of the collection, you have some truly horrific tales in Remember and The Train, both of which leave you feeling unsettled. The former is told in bits and pieces where the reader jumps to conclusions about a lover who is abusive or false, while the latter is a perverse rendition of Frankenstein.

On the whole, each of these stories are interesting, well written, and solid. More than half of them have me wanting to reread them already, which definitely earns Wishes and Sorrows five stars.

Quotes & Excerpts

She would walk the night, and Jophas would follow her. After a week, he was sleeping on the floor next to her bed. She felt protected, which was odd, because what could frighten a bell witch?
– The Bell Witch and the Queen of Vines

“There are none of us who are innocent. Do you think I was born a werewolf? I was not. I sought it, though I did not think to myself that I did, but now I know, there was something in me that cried out to be changed, I was drawn to it… and now I am thus and I cannot repent.”
– The Bell Witch and the Queen of Vines

“You are not afraid?” His voice was deep, like the forest at night. He seemed surprised, perhaps even amused.
“I am not afraid.” I realized it was true.
“You have not been in our fair country long enough, perhaps.”
“Perhaps. Perhaps I do not listen to rumors.”
“Or perhaps you simply do not listen.”
– A Necklace of Rubies

“The rest can wait until tomorrow,” he said, taking my arm. The torches went out, and in the darkness, he places his lips to my ear. “I believe you because I choose to, not because I do.”
– A Necklace of Rubies

I remember this. And I say, let the memories end there, in the square of garden at the edge of our yard, where white flowers trailed all fragrant and glowing, and everything seemed gold-tinted from the summer sun. Where she sits, waiting, a book in her hands, her hair like a river of gold.
But the memories can’t end.
– The Jester’s Heart

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