I love stories about mermaids. I also love well-written stories that deal with mental health issues, so I was excited to receive an advance reader copy of Coral by Sara Ella through NetGalley. To quote the Goodreads description, “Taking a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved—yet tragic—fairy tale, Coral explores mental health from multiple perspectives, questioning what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost.”
Coral is a story told from three perspectives. Coral, the mermaid who doesn’t fit in with her family and fears she has been infected with the Disease that causes mermaids to feel human emotions. Brook, a young woman whose struggle with anxiety and depression have brought her to Fathoms, a group therapy home she doubts will help her find any point in living. And Merrick, who wants to escape his controlling father and finally reaches his breaking point when his mother disappears after his younger sister attempts suicide.
A note on mental illness in Coral
On the topic of suicide, I think it’s time to bring up trigger warnings for this book. The author says in a note at the beginning of this book that “Potential triggers include suicide, self-harm, emotional abuse, anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and unwanted/non-consensual advances.” The author approaches mental health issues in a sensitive, caring way. She did extensive research, got feedback from sensitivity readers, and used her own personal experiences when writing this book. Read more →
A second princess, another key to the treasure, and a cruel king desperate to squelch the growing rebellion.
If you’re looking for a wholesome and sweetly romantic series for your teens and young adults (or yourself — there’s no age limit!) then you’ll want to check out Jody Hedlund’s new Lost Princesses fairy tale series. The series started with prequel novella Always and novel Evermore, and now it continues with Foremost.
Mild spoiler warning: I’m not going to disclose any major plot points but if you don’t want to know anything about the plot and character relationships before reading this book then you’ll want to skip my post for now.
The story of Foremost
Raised in an isolated abbey, Lady Maribel desires nothing more than to become a nun and continue practicing her healing arts. She knows nothing outside her cloistered world but that doesn’t bother her much. She has all the friends she needs in the nuns, their protector Wade, and her fellow orphans Edmund and Collette. Sure she feels trapped sometimes and longs for a little adventure before settling down, but she does intend to take her vows and settle into life as a nun.
Adventure finds her with the arrival of an unexpected visitor who reveals Maribel’s true identity as one of the three lost princesses. With wicked King Ethelwulf’s soldiers hunting her, Maribel must leave the abbey and travel to join her sister, Queen Adelaide Constance. Edmund goes with her as her protector, hoping and praying she won’t discover that he loves her as far more than an adopted sister. He will not stand in the way of her dreams to become a nun and a healer, no matter what it costs him. Read more →
I recently had the opportunity to join Jody Hedlund’s release crew for her newest Young Adult books. Always is the prequel novella for the new Lost Princesses series, which kicks-off with Evermore. If you like sweet, YA romances with Christian themes and a fairy tale setting then I think you’d enjoy these books.
Unlike Jody Hedlund’s other medieval romances, these two are more fairy tale than historical fiction. The fairy-tale quality is fairly subtle, with hints of whimsy and magic slipping through the pages but never fully realized. She has said the final two books in this series will be even more fairy-tale like, and since I love fairy tales I’m very much looking forward to those.
Mild spoiler warning: I’m not going to disclose any major plot points but if you don’t want to know anything about the plot and character relationships before reading the books then you’ll want to skip my post for now.
This lovely little novella follows the story of lady-in-waiting Felicia and elite king’s guard Lance as they race to save the lives of three young princesses. With the invading King Ethelwulf hot on their heels, Felicia and Lance are the only things standing between death and the orphaned, 3-year-old crown princess and her newborn twin sisters. Read more →
I like typing fictional characters because they offer good examples for how the different types can show up in “real life.” This project, though, is mostly for fun. I’ve written posts typing Disney princesses and heroines, and I also have a two part post on this blog typing Disney villains. Seemed like it’s about time for the Disney princes and heroes to get their own posts as well.
There are so many Disney princes and heroes who could go on this list that I had to make some tough choices about who to include. The characters I picked: appear in an animated Disney film, they’re human, they’re fairly popular/well-known, and I’ve seen the movie they’re in. I’ve put half in this post and half in Part One (click here to read that).
I don’t like using stereotypes as a basis for typing characters, but I’m afraid that’s what I’ve done in some of these descriptions. When the characters development doesn’t go really deep (some of these princes don’t even have names!), we just have a few key characteristics to base our typing on and you have to try and match them with defining traits of a personality type. Unfortunately, sometimes that means relying on an overly simplistic view of each type. Just wanted to make that disclaimer before we dive into talking about Milo, Prince Naveen, Rodger Radcliff, Prince Philip, Peter Pan, Prince Charming, Snow White’s Prince, Quasimodo, and Tarzan. Read more →
I like typing fictional characters because they offer good examples for how the different types can show up in “real life.” This project, though, is mostly for fun. I’ve written posts typing Disney princesses and heroines. I’ve got a two part post on this blog typing Disney villains. Seems like it’s about time for the Disney princes and heroes to get their own posts as well.
There are so many Disney princes and heroes who could go on this list that I had to make some tough choices about who to include. My criteria are as follows: the characters appear in an animated Disney film, they’re human (sorry Simba, Tramp, and Pongo), they’re fairly popular/well-known, and I’ve seen the movie they star in. I’ve organized them alphabetically, then put half in this post and half in a second post that will come out on Wednesday.
I don’t like using stereotypes of any Myers-Briggs type as a basis for typing characters, but I’m afraid that’s what I’ve done in some of these descriptions. When the characters development doesn’t go really deep and we have just a few key characteristics to base our typing on, you have to try and match them with defining traits of a personality type. Unfortunately, sometimes that means relying on an overly simplistic view of each type. Just wanted to make that disclaimer before we dive into talking about Aladdin, the Beast, Prince Eric, Flynn Rider, Hercules, John Smith, Kristoff, Kuzco, and Li Shang. Read more →
I’m not sure what to write about Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Black Arrow (1888). It’s a fun story, and it makes me want to either read Shakespeare or re-watch The Hollow Crown: War of the Roses. Or both — both would be good. But I don’t feel like there’s a whole lot to talk about for a Classics Club book post.
Maybe I should write a post about BlacKkKlansman instead, since I just watched that movie yesterday and I have lots of thoughts about it swirling around. (In short, I thought it was a very well-done movie about an important subject, but I felt the director undermined its message by adding news footage on the end that tied this story of the past to a specific incident and president of today. You don’t need to spoon-feed viewers your ideas. Let us make the connection ourselves.)
Anyways, that’s off-topic. The Black Arrow is about political and ideological groups fighting each other, characters who feel torn between two sides of an issue, someone who’s pretending to be something they aren’t, villains who think they’re better than everyone else, and a crusader-type character avenging oppression and injustice.
Actually you could use all those descriptions of BlacKkKlansman, too, even though the two stories are really nothing alike. I guess it just goes to show how themes in story telling can span different cultures and centuries. I’m fascinated by this phenomenon. Take fairy tales, for example. There are over 900 versions of Cinderella and nearly every culture has its own take on the story. Why? Did the story start one place and somehow travel that much? Or is it due to something like Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious?
And we’re off-topic again. Back to Stevenson. The Black Arrow is a loosely historical story set during the War of the Roses. The main character is Richard “Dick” Shelton, who i’m afraid I didn’t care about at all for the first couple chapters. Actually, I didn’t care much about him by the end of the book either even though he does experience some basic character growth. He seems stubbornly determined not to think about what’s going on around him and that irritates me.
Initially, young Shelton picks a side in the political conflict just because that’s the side his guardian is on. Then, after he learns his guardian killed his father, Dick declares for the other side. And he sticks with that decision because it’s dishonorable to flop back and forth even though he hasn’t got a clue what he’s fighting against or in support of. I know lots of people fight for causes they don’t really understand, but should the hero of a book be killing people based on what was for him a mostly arbitrary decision?
In similarly oblivious fashion, Dick Shelton seems to be the only character who doesn’t know John Matcham is actually a disguised woman even though he spends several days traveling alone with her. As soon as he finds out John is actually Joanna Sedley, though, Dick promptly proposes marriage. He doesn’t know much more about her than that she’s female and they have a common enemy in their mutual guardian, but apparently it’s enough to avow undying love. I’m not impressed with him.
My few complaints aside, The Black Arrow is a fun adventure story and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Still, this probably isn’t a book that I’ll re-read again (I’d read it once around high school) nor one of the classics that I’ll think much about. On another side-note, I appreciated the author’s notes about where he changed historical facts to fit his story. I have no problem with writers taking a certain amount of creative liberties with history, but if you’re going to write historical fiction it’s nice to know when and how you’re stepping away from the facts.
Honestly, this is my favorite way to learn history — read it in fictional form, then look-up how close it is to being accurate. Mara: Daughter of the Nile (while not historically accurate) got me interested in ancient Egypt. I really didn’t care much about the founding fathers (though my history-loving mother made sure I read plenty of non-fiction while we were homeschooling) until listening to Hamilton. I guess I’m just more intrigued by stories and characters than by descriptions of events and people, so when someone offers me real events as stories and historical people as characters I’m hooked.