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Review: Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh

Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh by Anna Beer My rating: 4 of 5 stars Disclaimer: I won an ARC ...

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Review: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I start to write this review, the literary internet is blowing up somewhat because the Association for Library Service to Children has changed the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. The change is only to the name of the award (the ALA or ALSC is not banning the books) largely because of the comments about Native Americans in the books, including people saying things like “a good Indian is a dead Indian”. While some people are upset at the eradicating on Wilder’s legacy (not sure how a name change is eradicating, though a civil discussion online included a person pointing out that some people can see the name removal as a disrespect to a legacy), there are equally enough people (myself included) who are fine with it. Wilder’s books are a product of her time (and her daughter to some degree). And if I was a poc, I would be very uncomfortable with an award for children’s literature named after an author who does have racism in her books, especially when there is a focused effort to make children’s books more diverse.

What all this did was contribute to how I think about the literary canon.

The canon should be, at the very least, ever growing. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is a host of reasons why we don’t have very many good English Renaissance Woman poets, and those reasons have nothing to do with the size of woman’s brains or talent. That said, the canon is still largely male and white. For instance, and more to the point of this review, while we should read Frederick Douglass, why shouldn’t we also read Harriet Jacobs?

Jaocbs’ book is truth but with the names changed. In the book, she is Linda, her children have different, and one presumes that the names of the slave owners are different too. This makes sense for why Jacobs court abduction and harm by would using her own name, or harm those who aided her in her escape.

Jacobs’ work chronicles Linda’s birth into slavery, and injustice as her family was kidnapped back into slavery after being returned their freedom. The bulk of the book is focuses on Linda’s struggles to gain her freedom. This starts as a result of attempts to avoid being raped by her legal owner’s father. Her legal owner is a five-year-old girl at the start of the book. Whereas Douglass could not write about a woman’s experience under slave, Jacobs’ can. Not only does she explore the greater obstacles that an enslaved woman had to overcome, but she also illustrates why it is the male slave narrative that tend to greater play. It is difficult, extremely difficult, to escape and leave your children behind as well as cover land while pregnant or nursing.

The interesting thing is that the story shows us a case of a master relationship with his slave that isn’t a physical attack of rape. Now, Linda’s master does want to rape her. He has the power, she really cannot say no. But it is important to note that he does not physically attack her. He keeps “offering” her nice things and then threatening her with punishment. The attacks are mental and not physical, undoubtedly to make the slave owner justify himself. It’s an important aspect to know about. As is Linda’s solution to the problem is to take as much control of her own destiny as she can in her very limited opportunities. It also raises the question of freedom and sexual freedom.

Jacobs is also more aware of the contrast between the public face of slaver owners and the private face of slave owners. She notes the hidden lives of Congressman as well as the hypocrisy of a preacher getting a black enslave woman pregnant and the society not caring but watch out if it is a white woman who is not his wife he gets pregnant.

This is a book that should be read and included more often in composition courses.

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Handmaid's Tale Season 1-Season 2.10

The Handmaid’s Tale is the reason I started a Hulu subscription.  The novel had long been a favorite, and a book that I had taught more than once.  It’s fair to say that I enjoy watching the series, though enjoy is a strange word to use. 

                Perhaps the weakest area is the question of race that the tv series at times seems to gloss over.  More than one critical review has pointed out that many of the Handmaid’s stories seem to be taken from slaver narratives.  In the first season, Moira seems to be little more at times than June’s black best friend in the most magical black woman cliché way possible while still being a real character.  This changes in the second season, thankfully.  In the second season, the viewers are introduced to Luke’s first wife, Annie, a black woman, who when confronting June about the affair with Luke strangely doesn’t mention race.  Now, it’s true that in some areas – say like in the Colonies with the Unwoman who were in an interracial relationship, it would have been strange to stop for a racist react scene.  But the confrontation with June and Luke’s first wife feels off because race is not mentioned at all, and considering the racial issues the lie between white women and black women, in other words white women selling and selling out black women, the lack of race in the Annie/June confrontation feels wrong.  How others view June's relationship with Luke and Hannah isn't entirely disregarded, for we do have a scene where June is questioned about whether she is truly Hannah’s mother, and that is a reference to white woman with the darker skin daughter.

                The point about slave narrative is complex.  This is because there is much truth to the charge.  Yet, it is also hard to see how the handmaids could be made believable without the use of stories that have historical precedent.  Additionally, it would be also fair to say that African women were not the only enslaved women and that there were women in other cultures who might have committed the same actions (and enslaved women were not the only women to lose their children.  There are Indian schools were Native American children were taken from their parents).  Yet, watching it in a religious America, with mostly white handmaids acting out the stories is a bit discomfiting in terms of racial politics to put it mildly.  Would Janine's scene where she tried to commit suicide with her baby been different and raised other questions if Janine had been played by a women of color?  Yes, and those conversations are ones that we need to have.  America  and her people do not like confronting the ugly history of slavery, reconstruction, and lynching.  We do not.  And this might be a reason for how that scene feels while watching it.  It might have been too racially charged with a poc in the role Janine.  But I find it impossible to say that it being so would be a bad thing.  

                Yet, I wonder if that the feeling of disquiet, of racial issues being there but not in your face is the point.  In the second season, episode ten, there is a scene where Offred/June is briefly reunited with her daughter.  This is done as a favor to June by her commander, Fred Waterford.  Hannah has been placed with another couple and is brought to the reunion by a Martha, who is a black woman, and a driver.  The scene is poignant because June and her daughter are saying good bye.  It is impossible to watch such a scene and, as an American versed in the nation’s history, not think of similar cases, actually real cases, where slave mothers said farewell, if they were lucky, to their children.  This is highlighted and brought to the fore by the inclusion of the black Martha.  I wonder if the inversion of roles isn’t an attempt to show the privilege of white skin, the, limited, protection that skin color has brought white women in modern society (and Western society) for many years.  This would also tie into Annie and the lack of mention of June’s whiteness.  We are getting the story via June’s memory, is race something that she would allow herself to think about?  Would she be woke enough to notice?   In the book, the point is not being woke or aware of what is going on, of sleeping while your freedom is taken from you.  Perhaps June's memory of the confrontation is a reference to this.

                The same episode also hints at something possiblely occurring later.  A black commander notes that his wife is pregnant.  In Atwood’s novel, the low birth rate is seen primarily among whites.  Is the inclusion of this commander a hint that the series will be addressing race more openly?

                The strongest area is actually more firmly on display in the second season of the show.  That is the way the women are stopped from forming alliances.  This is most drastically highlighted in the episode were Serena Joy and June have formed a strange alliance while Fred Waterford recovers from wounds gained when a Handmaid set off a grenade during an opening of Rachel and Leah center.  When Fred returns to the house, at first everything is fine.  But then he goes to June’s room and discovers a flower and a music box that Serena Joy gave June as a thank you for helping.  It is after this discovery that Fred punishes Serena Joy, by beating her, in front of June.  It isn’t that Serena Joy took over his work, though that might be part of it, it is that the women did it together.  The women are working together, and that is not something Fred can have.  In fact, over the course of much of the first and second seasons, part of what Fred has done is put Serena Joy and June/Offred at odds, making a jealous woman more jealous, and giving June things he does not give his wife.  It’s true he gets quite a bit for having June for himself, but part of it is geared toward division.  This also extends to the Martha, Rita, as well, and the love/hate relationships that seem to exist between the commanders’ wives might also come back to this as well as professional jealously.

                The show illustrates this division at all levels.  We see it when Aunt Lydia is told that Janine cannot attend a dinner because of her missing eye.  Aunt Lydia is given this order by Serena Joy, and Aunt Lydia is not happy.  She too has already divided the Handmaid’s to a degree, with favorites and such, and in the second season we see this in greater detail when June is the only Handmaid to avoid punishment.  Aunt Lydia may have to obey but once June is pregnant, she gets to control Serena Joy to a degree as well. The whole Gilead rests on the idea of keeping the women at each’s throats so they don’t have each other’s backs.  The show captures this amazingly well.  It also shows how and why women succumb to it.  Serena Joy breaks it for a bit, just a bit, but she can’t break totally away.  And she really wants that child.

 It is not surprising that two episodes after her beating that Serena Joy aids her husband in the rape of June.  What is surprising is how many people have objected to the rape.  Since day one of the series, June has been raped.  What is violent and disturbing about the rape in episode ten is the extent to which Serena Joy takes part.  Before, she did not view June as a woman but as a womb she had to tolerate to get what she wanted.  When she works with June and thanks her, Serena Joy sees her handmaid as human.  Yet after her beating, after her rejection of an escape to Hawaii, she has recommitted to the power structure.  She is even more complicit.

June’s reaction is not much different.  She cannot keep her alliance with Serena Joy if the wife does not seem to want it.  June goes back to the handmaids as her only allies, and the handmaids are relatively powerless.  June also reaches out to both Rita and Aunt Lydia as de facto godmothers for her soon to be born child.  What is important is why they agree – it is to protect the child.  Not for June, but for the child.  June is unimportant.  June is as unimportant as Luke’s first wife was to her [June’s] worldview.

In many ways, what the tv series show is what happens when we stop seeing other women as women as the other.  Not even female, but simply a thing, a rival, a non-human.  It is something that we do today, that June did before, and something we should be very warily of.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Review: The War on Neighborhoods: Policing, Prison, and Punishment in a Divided City

The War on Neighborhoods: Policing, Prison, and Punishment in a Divided City The War on Neighborhoods: Policing, Prison, and Punishment in a Divided City by Ryan Lugalia-Hollon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the common fallacies you see when the topic of police shootings of unarmed African-Americans is someone saying, “well, no one ever talks about black on black shootings”. There are more than a few things wrong with such a statement. Let’s mention two. The first is that no one talks about white on white crime or, to be more exact, as many critics have pointed out, no one talks about crime rates among whites that way. The second is that such a statement doesn’t really negate the question of institutionalism racism.

I have read this book after reading Stamped from the Beginning and the Color of Law, two books that deal with racism and how laws were used to legally allow for racism. Lugalia-Hollon and Cooper look at the current effects of such policies. In other words, they tie everything together – the racism of the justice system, the effect of racist housing policies, the rise of the suburbs, and the defunding of the schools as well as community safe havens.

War on Neighborhoods focuses on one city, Chicago, and one section of that city, Austin; yet the authors do not hesitate to make larger connections to governmental policies as well as to mention how other cities in the US face similar problems.

The thesis of the book is that the problems that certain areas have (i.e. the inner city, poorer areas) are a result of policies designed to stop crime as well as politicians who not so much don’t care but don’t try anything new. It isn’t simply ending a drug epidemic, it is ending a cycle that is built on racism and classism. It is about empowering communities as opposed to governments.

The book is divided into chapters, many of which take an aspect of the problem and dissect it. I saw most because there is a conclusion and an introduction. Of particular interest is how inner-city areas, like Austin in Chicago, can be a source of revenue for outlaying towns by “providing” inmates for the prisons in those towns. One must wonder if racism in pre-dominantly white town a product of the prison is also. The authors show us that what effects one small area can have a huge ripple effect.

If you are interested in the saving of cities, in the war on drugs, and violence in neighborhoods, then you need to read this book before we have a conversation. It should be required reading for anyone getting involved in community outreach or politics.

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Review: They Fought Alone: The True Story of the Starr Brothers, British Secret Agents in Nazi-Occupied France

They Fought Alone: The True Story of the Starr Brothers, British Secret Agents in Nazi-Occupied France They Fought Alone: The True Story of the Starr Brothers, British Secret Agents in Nazi-Occupied France by Charles Glass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

If you know anything about SOE then you have heard about the Starr brothers, maybe not in depth and maybe just by their code names, but you have heard them. John Starr was at Avenue Foch at the same as Noor Khan and was one of the men who planned an escape attempt with her.

Charles Glass presents the story of the brothers’ actions in SOE during the second World War. George Starr avoided capture and lead a rather effective group of resistance operatives in occupied France. His brother, John Starr, was not as lucky.

In many ways, using the two brothers, Glass shows the divergent paths an SOE operative could take. Capture in most case, meant torture and death. But freedom could mean death as well, but also to strike against the Nazis, then possibly, possibly honors after the war.

Not that those who joined SOE did so for honors; it was a top-secret organization after all.

The book’s one problem is the same problem that is in any book about SOE, what is the truth and what actually happened. It’s hard, and then you have to factor in the times, the situation and all that.

To be fair, Glass does his best. He does note when something is rumor and when something is fact. If there are two divergent stories, he gives both with context and pros and cons. This is especially important when dealing with John Starr’s story as his is less clear cut than his brothers. Did he help the enemy or not, if he did is he at fault are questions that Glass must attend to, and he does, quite well. While he is sympathetic to his subjects, he is not blind or totally in awe. It is a balanced recounting.

The Starrs are the focus of the book, but Glass does give time to various members of the Circuit and other prisoners.

This book is nice addition to the works about the members of SOE.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Review: If You Give the Puffin a Muffin

If You Give the Puffin a Muffin If You Give the Puffin a Muffin by Timothy Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

Dear Angry Little Puffin,

How dare Mr. Young try to feed you a muffin simply because it rhymes with puffin! What is wrong with that man? You raised very good points with the other animals. Well, not the pig, but definitely the cheetah.

I noticed that you broke the fourth wall. Have you thought about, maybe, working with Deadpool? Yes, I know he is far more violent than you are, but I think you two would get along quite well.

Yes, I know that you are for children, and he is for an older crowd, but if he were to have a pet, it would be you.

Seriously, though, ALP, it was awesome how you taught your readers about children’s literature and wall breaking. You also worked in some neat thing about being creative. It’s just a shame you had to be offered a muffin instead of a fish.

Still, it was a very good sequel. Well worth a muffin.

Long live Puffins!!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review: The Piranhas: The Boy Bosses of Naples

The Piranhas: The Boy Bosses of Naples The Piranhas: The Boy Bosses of Naples by Roberto Saviano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

There is a tendency to romanticize the mob. Whether it is the fault of The Godfather movies or something more else, many people feel a certain affection for the mob. Perhaps it is a sense of loyalty or of family. Who knows? It is mostly a love for violence and mayhem, for instance in Scarface.

But that’s all Hollywood.

There are certain things that buck the trend – say The Wire, which is about drug dealers but also about the culture that allows them to exist and how policing is not the solution. There’s Saviano’s Gomorrah, a book which earned him a target on his back, but that also demolishes any romance for the mob and forces people to confront the truth (this is also true of the movie and tv series that the book produced).

Saviano’s latest mob book, The Piranhas, is one of those novels supposedly based in true events. I’m not sure; I don’t know enough about Italy and the mob to say so.

However, if the fourth season of The Wire is the best because it looks at how a failing school system sets up its students for failure, then Saviano’s book does the same thing for Italy. The story follows a group of boys, led by Nicolas, who want to become Camorra bosses. In part, this is a result of the steady diet of media they consume, and in part, it is because of what they see every day, who controls everything, and how everything in their world works. They can become like some of the fathers, but the boys do not seem to view those men as real men, but as simply weak.

And that something these boys cannot be seen as, for they want to be in the ones in the private room.

What the book then chronicles aren’t the corrupting of the innocent, but how a presence of crime combined with social media and status lead a group of boys to become, not so much men, but young people with guns. The boys can’t be corrupted because that happen long ago, and nothing different is really shown to them. If it isn’t the Camorra controlling something it’s the better neighborhoods or towns controlling something, acting like the Camorra without the official illegality. Even the teachers are in on it, for that is simply life. Those that do not join, simply do not anything really.

It is a bleak novel, a harsh novel, and one without a true hero. The reader cannot root for, isn’t suppose to root for, any of the young boys who despite their bravo are still boys. Still, at times, think the Camorra is simply as it is in the movies (which do make for the truly funny passages of the novel), yet who do have a degree of flare and intelligence needed to pull things off.

Yet, we need novels like this, in the bleakness, because we need to confront what is wrong in society and why we glorify criminals who don’t really have that many redeeming features and whose actions murder innocence and hope. At least we need to, if we want to break the cycle. It is violent but it does not celebrate violence the way that many movies do. No, it is far more personal than that.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Review: Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

We like, want, our heroes to be uncompleted, to always be heroic and constant while in the spotlight, and to leave that spotlight before they change politics or ideals. We want to remember Lincoln as the great emancipator not as the man who at one point wanted all freed slaves to return to Africa, a place they had never seen. That ruins the image of martyr Lincoln. We have the same feeling of many of our heroes, including Frederick Douglass.

Who despite what some people think is, in fact, dead. Perhaps the memory of Douglass is doing great things in a symbolical sense, but the actual man is long dust.

For most people, Douglass is the man who escaped slavery and publicly spoke out against it. Some people even confuse him with Henry “Box” Brown. Many students read Douglass either his Autobiography, or perhaps more commonly, the selection detailing his learning to read. The drawback to the commonly used selection is that it is many times the student’s only reading of Douglass, who sometimes some students think is a woman who is having sex with her mistress.

People today have heard of Douglass, but they don’t know of Frederick Douglass.

David W. Blight corrects that in his massive, though it does not read that way, new biography of Douglass.

Perhaps the hardest part of any Douglass biography is the reconstruction of his early life. This isn’t because of a lack of memoirs, but a surfeit of them, including subtle but important differences. Did he ask to be taught or did Sophia Auld teach him because of her own idea? A combination of both perhaps? Blight’s reconstructing of Douglass’s early life makes it clear when there is a question about what happened, where Douglass himself differs or where scholars raise questions. He does not choose sides; he deals with facts and context. A refreshing thing.

It is also something that he uses when dealing with Douglass’s relationship to his first wife Anna Murray, a free black woman who played a central role in Douglass’s escaping slavery. Murray was illiterate, not stupid, but illiterate as common for many people than. She and Douglass married soon after his escape, and they stayed married until her death. She birthed his children, she gave him a home to return to. Sadly, we do not know what she thought about her husband, about his relationship with the white women who would stay at her house, or about his feelings towards her for she is left out of his writing – much of interior family life seems to be. Blight, it seems, is slightly frustrated by this mystery of Anna Murray, and in the beginning, it almost seems like he is being, not condescending or dismissive, but almost shrugging off, not an accurate description but close. As the biography progress, however, you become grateful and happy that Blight does not presume to know what Anna Murray would think. He does suggest authors that try to channel her, but Blight keeps her presence as a real woman, almost shaking his head at Douglass’s silence. It helps that he keeps Douglass’s second wife, Helen Pitts, off page for much of the time as well.

Blight’s depiction of Douglass is within the context of his time and dealing with those who see contradictions and problems in who Douglass was – such as his expansionist tendencies, his view on Native Americans. Blight presents an imperfect human, as all humans are, but presents him with understanding and a feeling of fascination that are easily transmitted to the reader.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: Bitten

Bitten Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I "discovered" this series returning from Kentucky. My friend and I stopped at a bookstore and three volumes of this series were on the sale table. Those books were 3, 4, and 5 so I didn't read this, the first book, until later.

Bitten was Armstrong's first published book and in some ways, it shows. The writing and pacing could be smoother. There are some bit too repetitious details, and when two characters die, the emotional impact is lacking because while the heroine, Elena, is close to them, the reader has been told this and not shown. It's like "who was that".  And one of the sex scenes is a bit creepy. Secondary characters are not as developed as they will be in later books (this is true about Clay who changes slightly).

But, it is a cut above most Urban Fantasy, and the creepy sex scene is one of the reasons why.

Bitten is about Elena Michaels, the Otherworld's only female werewolf (supposedly. At least the only one anyone knows about). In Armstrong's books, you can become a werewolf by birth, but only if your father was one and if you are male; or you can become a werewolf by getting bitten by one - something that kills most people. This means that the wolves in packs are all males who have sex with women and then take the boy children away.  It's Amazons but Amazon doggie men.

Elena became a werewolf because her boyfriend, in wolf form, nipped her and drew blood (She did not know he was a werewolf at the time). Elena, therefore and with good reason, blames her boyfriend, Clay, for her change in life. What makes it worse is the question of whether it was intentional or not. At the start of the book, Elena has left the pack, mostly because of her anger and conflicted feelings, and lives in Toronto. She has a human job and boyfriend. She gets along well with his family. The late night walks need some excuses, but so far so good. She gets called back when dead bodies get left on pack land. Needless to say, this causes issues.

The creepy sex scene occurs when Clay loosely binds her arms. He points out that if Elena says no, he will stop. The way Clay is drawn by Armstrong as well as the sitution make it quite clear that this is true. Elena doesn't say no, but the whole binding her arms without permission is a bit well . . creepy. Clay is also a bit pushy. He borders on stalkish. He never followed her to Toronto, but he does invade her space. He's charming but a bit much. You can understand the attraction, but like Elena, you are conflicted.

Or you should be.

Many reviews of this book and the second in series, say that Elena was too tough on Clay, that she needs to get over it. But, I think that is the point. What would you do if the man you loved and thought you were going to marry, changed your life by making you something other than you were? You have to give up everything - the job you wanted, the life you wanted. You become stronger and special, but also bloodthirsty. And if the bite was intentional? Too often in Urban Romance the romantic lead does something suspect to the heroine - think Jean Claude who forces Anita Blake to date him by threatening to kill her boyfriend. How is that charming? It's not.  The stalkerish tendacy of vampire boyfriends who also "want to suck your blood".  To be fair, it isn't just UF (stares at Fifty Shades of Grey).  It seems that Armstrong is trying to explore a complicted issue. To be fair, I think she doesn't pull off entirely, but at least she is trying to explore those issues of consent and stalking that other Urban Fantasy takes as a trophe of romance.

Elena is a fresh breath not just because of her confliced feelings (which are beautifully illustrated and totally human) but because she is realstic about her looks. She is wanted by other werewolves not because she is stunning (she's not) but because she is the only female wolf and to male werewolves she smells like heat. She is insecure and messy. She tries her best, but is far from perfect. And when characters call her upon her behavior, she, like most of us, gets defensive but then thinks about it.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018


Almost every culture has its Cinderella.  The basic story is the same – girl loses mother, gains a stepmother and stepsisters who hate her, and finally wins the prince.  In some versions, the father is still alive and his lack of involvement beggars the question on so many levels, but the father isn’t the point.  “Cinderella” is part wish fulfillment – who wouldn’t want to go from a life of drudgery to being waited on -  and part respect your dead because that is what good girls do.  After all, it is usually Cinderella’s faithfulness to her dead mother in actually or spirit that leads to her gaining the gifts.  Even if the gift figure is something like a cow, fish, or lioness, there is usually a connection between the helper and the dead mother.  In many versions, Cinderella is the one who is always mourning; the ashes in her English name tell us this.  There are other variants.  There use to be a male version, but that didn’t seem to take.  There are the Donkeyskin/Catskin versions where the Cinderella figure first escapes her father who wants to marry her.  She travels to a neighboring kingdom where she lives and sometimes works in a disguise until the ball and the prince.  In these versions, it isn’t always a shoe, but the idea is still there.

Additionally, there thousands of update and modern retellings.  There is the older Disney version with its 1950s sensibility, there is the Brandy version with its diverse cast.  

  1.  “Cinderelephant” by Jane Yolen.  This short story appears in Wolf at the Door edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow.  It is not about an elephant, though that would have been awesome.  Instead, it is about a fat girl who likes birds and a prince who likes birds.
  2.   “Cinderella” by Roald Dahl.  This poem appears in Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes.  While the “Red Riding Hood” sequence is pretty stellar, Dahl’s “Cinderella” is a tale about why you might not want to marry a prince who can’t remember what you look like.  There is pretty of blood, booze, and jam.
  3.    The Coachman Rat by Henry David Wilson.  Wilson’s book isn’t about Cinderella herself, but about one of those rats that got changed into coachmen and what happened after.  It is a dark tale, but the question of what if, and what then that it answers are quite interesting.
  4. Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper.  Tepper’s novel isn’t a straight Cinderella story either.  In fact, it is merging of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella in time travel story.  Tepper looks at the roles that women are forced to play in the tales.
  5. The Princess novels by Jim C Hines.  The first book in this four-book series is the Stepsister Scheme and borrows the fairy tale theme of the step-sisters trying to take revenge on Cinderella.  However, Hines’ Cinderella is part of a Charlie’s Angels group of princesses who kick ass.  Incidentally, she also wields a glass sword and is a mother.  Hines’ book stands out for its inclusion of women getting butt, drawing on fairy tales, and the whole bit of mothers actually doing heroic shit that doesn’t include babies.
  6. The Cinderella Curse by J L Penn.  IN this novella Cindy has a problem – she turns into a pumpkin.  She also isn’t your normal Cinderella.  She is a bit too clothes focused, yet it is one few Cinderella variations where Cinderella has female friends.  It’s a fun read.
  7.   A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  While this classic novel has a Cinderella, it does not end in marriage but of a young orphan finding a home.  Yet Sara Crewe is a Cinderella, exceeding because despite the drudgery she is still a true princess in behavior.
  8.  Ash by Malinda Lo.  The lesbian Cinderella story you didn’t know you wanted or needed until you read it, and you realize that it makes life more wonderful.
  9. Masquerade by Susanne Alleyn.  This short story is a very unique take on Cinderella.  It is also about revenge.
  10.  Indexing by Seann McGuire – While Cinderella isn’t a central character in McGuire’s Indexing series, the kindle serial is an interesting play on the Arne-Thompson Index and the people who struggle to protect the world from it.
  11. White Lotus by Libbie Hawker – Hawker’s story is an adaption of an Egyptian version of Cinderella.
  12. And just in case you have been living under a rock – Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  It is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles and presents a Cinderella who is anything but a house cleaner.
  13.  Confessions of Queen Cinderella by Anton Hur.  A Cinderella that is set in the time of Elizabeth I and is somewhat like a fairy tale Mary Queen of Scots.
  14. Ella by Caroline Lee – This is part of Lee’s Everland Ever After series which are Western romances, each based on a fairy tale.  While the characters make guest appearances, you don’t need to read the books in order.  While there are pretty of lustful thoughts, there is no sex, and insta love seems to be the theme.  That said, in this version of Cinderella, Lee does take an interesting spin – the slipper is totally changed, for instance.