Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales by Valerie Paradiz

Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales by Valerie Paradiz
Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales by Valerie Paradiz

Title: Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales by Valerie Paradiz
Scored a: A
Status: Finished!

A bit of non-fiction this time! This took me a while to get through and held up the book backlog, which ended in two books being read in the same night once I finished, but it wasn’t because it was a bad book. In fact, I found it eminently readable and interesting.

Summary: This book focuses on the women that the Brothers Grimm collected the stories for their famous collections from.

It was fascinating. A history of the Brothers, a history of the women who crossed into their lives to work as story think tanks (not peasants like it’s often implied they went around collecting the stories from) and even the history of Germany during their time.

Valerie Paradiz has an engaging writing style, and I found the book moved swiftly when I had a moment to read. She’d toss in all sorts of trivia while she was at it (such as the explanation during Jacob’s letters to Wilhelm that they should remain together and eschew all else that some scholars thought they might be incestuous) to the discoveries of new sources of stories. I got excited every time they discovered a new treasure trove of story-telling sisters.

It’s a damned shame these women didn’t get the credit they deserved, and I’m glad Valerie Paradiz brought them to light for me to learn about. She even tied some of it into the fairy-tales that made the brothers famous which was a pretty nice touch.

And I’m still incredibly curious to find out what it was Ferdinand Grimm did.

Definitely worth a purchase if you’re interested in this slice of history.

A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones
Scored a: A
Status: Finished



A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones
A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones (this is the cover I grew up with)

The other time travel book I described! Through a series of mishaps, a little girl (Vivian) is kidnapped from a train station during WW2 when she’s on her way to the country and brought to a city that exists outside of time itself.

And that city is collapsing in on itself.

She teams up with a pair of boys native to the city (also her kidnappers) to save it.

There’s a lot of ‘oh wait, so THAT’S what that scene meant’ during this book, which is preceded by a lot of guessing about which bit meant which, as things get a little… timey wimey.

Why did I like this book so much? Lots of reasons, but the little details are probably what did it. The dessert that they all have a mad passion for,  42nd century butter-pie which sounds absolutely delicious when described in the book, and the time ghosts. The time ghosts are throughout the city. They’re important things that happened, emotional things that happened, repeated things that happened. And the whole concept was really appealing to me.

Also? There’s an android manservant to the family with atrocious taste and the clothes he helps pick out for Vivian were excellent.

The city itself is a brilliant creation. People from stabilized time periods with time travel (it seems to get discovered and outlawed off and on) come to study in the city, they have tourists, you can apply for citizenship, it’s just a really neat idea. A time country. I love this book.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Title: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Scored a: A
Status: Finished


whenyoureachme  One of my hobbies is composing themed lists of movies/books, etc, to suggest to people or just find themes in entertainment.  Others do work, but this does what it needs to to keep me entertained.

I’d put When You Reach Me on a list of excellent time travel fiction. I don’t have a very big list of that so far, mind you. Just The Time Machine and A Tale of Time City so far. But I’m sure it’ll grow. The problem is time travel isn’t usually a plot point that makes me go ‘well, hey there little book. Let’s get some reading done.’ Which doesn’t mean I dislike it, I’m just way more likely to go ‘Oh my god! Griffin in wizard school!’

But as I said, When You Reach Me is excellent. The plot is that Miranda Sinclair has three things going on in her life: Her mother is preparing to go on a gameshow, her best friend refuses to speak to her and she doesn’t know why, and she’s getting letters from the future.

Everything ties together just right. The ending is satisfying in a good way, and you get to really see Miranda discover the world around her as she’s forced to leave her comfort zone in the book. It also features a SO for her mom that is not dickish, which is nice to see in fiction because that’s so dang rare.

I’m a little biased on account of getting on pretty good with my stepmom, I admit.

It’s a good book if you like time travel, or if you like books that explore what friendship is.

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents & Only Human

Read The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett years ago, the day it first came out in Canada. I went to the bookstore, bought it, went to the food court and finished it before I got home.

A couple years ago I got the audiobook, which is good but it was a couple ipods ago and I lost my place, so I figured for my challenge it would do perfectly (Book 63, I am now working on book 67).

It’s technically set in the Discworld, but except for a mention of some wizards and it taking place in Uberwald, it’s not a big detail.

The plot is Maurice, a talking cat, a bunch of talking mice, and a stupid looking kid are running a Pied Piper scheme and end up in a town where something really creepy is afoot. And there’s a girl named Malicia who likes to make up stories. In the audiobook she’s got this great sort of Transylvanian accent, which isn’t actually in the book beyond where she comes from, so I had to mentally put it there as I read.

Maurice is great narrator. He’s very much a cat, with cat priorities. And the rats are forming their own civilization bit by bit, and learning what it really means to think. It’s a pretty solid piece of kid’s fiction, and again if you’re worried about needing to know about the Discworld series, it’s not even relevant.

I also read Only Human by Tom Holt which was aggressively mediocre mixed with casual racism. And thus, Only Human has been rated a D.