Elissa Sussman’s Five Favorite Feminist Fairy Tales (and STRAY Giveaway)

Happy Saturday, kittens! While I will be off taking in FlameCon, New York’s first queer comic con, I thought I’d leave you in the capable hands of Elissa Sussman. Elissa is the author of Stray, an amazing feminist fairy tale that actually, for once, features a character slowly coming to grips with the fact that she lives in a toxic patriarchy instead of being introduced battle-ready. The latter’s great, but the former is the process we all have to go through. I think it’s incredibly important to see stories about that process, especially for young adults. Oh, and it’s also super readable and engaging. Stray is part of a great tradition of feminist young adult fairy tales, so here’s Elissa with her five favorite feminist fairy tales.

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My Five Favorite Feminist Fairy Tales
by Elissa Sussman

I love fairy tales and I love feminism, so when the two of them meet, I am one happy reader. Thankfully there are many wonderful and remarkable fairy tale retellings in YA, but because I also like alliteration, here are my top five.

Ash by Malinda Lo

Any fairy tale lover worth their salt should have Ash on their bookshelf. A sweet and magical retelling of Cinderella, Lo gives our little cinder girl a new love interest. Instead of the falling for the prince, Ash is enchanted by his huntress (and vice versa). With this simple little twist, the story of Cinderella is transformed and given new life.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

The Twelve Dancing Princesses is one of my favorite fairy tales and a story that has seen its fair share of revisions in the past few years, much to my delight. This version reimagines the story in 1920s New York, where the princesses are wealthy shut-ins who rebel against their tyrannical father by escaping his townhouse and spending their evenings dancing at jazz clubs. Sisterhood is at the center of this story and each of Valentine’s sisters have their own distinct personalities and reactions to the realization that their father intends to marry each of them off without their consent.

valentesixgunsnowwhiteSix Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente

A dazzling and lyrical retelling of Snow White, Valente takes the namesake of this character and turns it into a slur. For our protagonist is the daughter of a Crow mother and a white father, and Snow White is the name her stepmother mockingly calls her, a constant (and unnecessary) reminder of the girl’s otherness. It is only when Snow White escapes her father’s house that she begins to discover those like her, in this gritty Wild West version of the familiar tale.

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Another retelling of Snow White, which also looks at beauty and the power we give it. Levine’s Snow White, named Aza, is not beautiful, but she is a gifted singer with the ability to throw her voice. Throughout the story, Aza (and others) learn to redefine their idea of beauty and its necessity in the world, as Aza begins to accept and eventually love herself for who she is.

Deerskin by Robin McKinley

A favorite book of mine, it should be noted that this story (as well as the original fairy tale) is deeply rooted in violence and sexual assault and might be extremely triggering for some readers. Our protagonist experiences a great deal of trauma within the first half of the book, but with the help of her dog, Ash, and others, she is able to confront her father and begin to heal from the abuse she encountered at his hand.


Elissa has also authorized me to give away a hardcover copy of Stray with a little something extra. Let me know what your favorite feminist fairy tale (young adult or otherwise) is, and you’ll be entered for the drawing. The giveaway will run through June 26th; the winner will be contacted shortly thereafter. (So that weekend. I’m a one-woman enterprise, y’all know that.)

Giveaway: The Day the World Ends

From one of the most inventive and celebrated filmmakers of the twentieth century, and co-creator of such classics as Fargo, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit, a collection of poems that offers humor and insight into an artist who has always pushed the boundaries of his craft.

Ethan Coen’s screenplays have surprised and delighted international audiences with their hilarious vision and bizarrely profound understanding of human nature. This eccentric genius is revealed again in The Day the World Ends, a remarkable range of poems that are as funny, ribald, provocative, raw, and often touching as the brilliant films that have made the Coen brothers cult legends.

It’s National Poetry Month, and the end of my birthday week besides, so it’s time for another giveaway! This month, with the help of the kind folks at Crown Publishing Group, I’m giving away two copies of filmmaker Ethan Coen’s new book of poetry, The Day the World Ends.

Here are the rules:

  • Comment to enter–don’t forget to include an e-mail address I can reach you at!
  • US residents only, sorry!
  • Winners will need to respond within two days or another winner will be chosen.

This giveaway will end on April 27th.

Good luck!

Giveaway: Atonement

Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony s incomplete grasp of adult motives together with her precocious literary gifts brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows

that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.

As my first giveaway of the year, I’m giving away a gently used copy of Atonement, one of the first books I reviewed for the blog and one of the best.

Here are the rules:

  • Comment to enter–don’t forget to include an e-mail address I can reach you at!
  • US residents only, sorry!
  • Winners will need to respond within two days or another winner will be chosen.

This giveaway will end on February 24.

Good luck!

Giveaway: The Return of the King (2003)

The final battle for Middle-earth begins. Frodo and Sam, led by Gollum, continue their dangerous mission toward the fires of Mount Doom in order to destroy the One Ring. Aragorn struggles to fulfill his legacy as he leads his outnumbered followers against the growing power of the Dark Lord Sauron, so that the Ring-bearer may complete his quest.

DVD Features: 3D Animated Menus
DVD ROM Features: Exclusive online content Link to http://www.lordoftherings.net
Documentaries: 3 in-depth programs that reveal the secrets behind the production of this epic adventure, including: “The Quest Fulfilled: A Director’s Vision” (23:05) “A Filmmaker’s Journey: Making The Return of The King” (28:30) National Geographic Special (45:57)
Featurette: 6 featurettes –Aragorn’s Destiny (3:25) –Minas Tirith: Capital of Gondor (3:10) –The Battle of Pelennor Fields (2:14) –Samwise the Brave (4:32) –Eowyn: White Lady of Rohan (3:45) –Digital Horse Doubles (4:35)
Other: 2-DISC SET The Battle For Middle Earth Continues–Video Games from EA (3:00)
TV Spot
Theatrical Trailer: Original Theatrical Trailers–“The Lord of The Rings” Trilogy Supertrailer (6:45)

via Amazon

Next Monday, it’s going to be exactly ten years since the theatrical release of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring. (Well, don’t I feel old.) These are, bar none, my favorite films, and, to honor this anniversary, I’m giving away a used copy of the theatrical edition of The Return of the King. (Hardcore collectors, note; it comes in a black case, not the original blue.)

Here are the rules:

  • Comment to enter–don’t forget to include an e-mail address I can reach you at!
  • US residents only, sorry!
  • Winners will need to respond within two days or another winner will be chosen.

This giveaway will end on December 23.

Good luck!

Giveaway: The Graveyard Book

It takes a graveyard to raise a child.

Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy—an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family.

via Amazon

Last year, Neil Gaiman invented All Hallow’s Read, a new holiday where we give scary books to each other for Halloween. While I didn’t have time to put something together last year, I have this year—I’m giving away a gently used copy of The Graveyard Book to one reader.

Here are the rules:

  • Comment to enter–don’t forget to include an e-mail address I can reach you at!
  • US residents only, sorry!
  • Winners will need to respond within two days or another winner will be chosen.

This giveaway will end on October 21.

Good luck!

Giveaway: Middlesex

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license…records my first name simply as Cal.”

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

via Amazon

As we bid goodbye to summer, I thought I’d give away one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. I remember reading this in high school and being utterly blown away. I’m giving away a gently used copy of Middlesex away to one reader.

Here are the rules:

  • Comment to enter–don’t forget to include an e-mail address I can reach you at!
  • US residents only, sorry!
  • Winners will need to respond within two days or another winner will be chosen.

This giveaway will end on August 26.