A Kiss In Time by Alex Flinn

A Kiss In Time
Alex Flinn

I enjoyed Beastly when I read it last year (my review: https://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg), so was happy to find a copy of another YA modern fairytale retelling by Alex Flinn, this time a riff on Sleeping Beauty.
The Premise: Princess Talia is the sheltered daughter of the King and Queen of Euphrasia, gifted with beauty, musical talent, and intelligence, but also burdened by a curse. She will prick a spindle on her sixteenth birthday and she and the whole kingdom will fall into a magical sleep until True Love’s kiss awakens her.  All her life, Talia has been cautioned against spindles and her terrified parents have made sure she’s never alone. Talia may be cossetted, but she’s also confined. Then the day comes when despite all her parents’ efforts, the inevitable happens. Almost three hundred years pass before Talia wakes up to find Jack, a American  teenager (from Florida) standing over her. Talia is horrified to find out how much has changed: boys can kiss girls without meaning to marry them!
Read an excerpt of A Kiss in Time here
My Thoughts: The perspective in this book goes back and forth between Talia and Jack, and while both have humorous voices, neither make the best first impression. Talia comes off as somewhat spoiled in the sense that she knows that she’s a princess and smart and pretty and accomplished, and she has a chip on her shoulder about her treatment because of her curse. Jack comes off as ungrateful about his luck as well: his parents have sent him off on a trip to Europe by himself over the summer, and all he can do is complain about how bored he is, how his girlfriend just dumped him, and how little his parents want him around. Jack convinces his friend Travis (also sent on the same trip) to sneak out of the tour and go to the beach. Of course, being rather obnoxious to the locals, they get deliberately wrong directions and end up looking at a wall of brambles.
When Talia and Jack meet, the huge culture and generation gap lies between the two: Jack doesn’t understand Talia’s old-fashioned values, while Talia is shocked by Jack’s casualness about a kiss. Dungeons and armor are alien to Jack, while technology like watches, cell phones, and air planes blow Talia away. Jack just wants to go home and has no intention of marrying Talia, while she is sure he’s her destiny – how else could he wake her? So Talia sneaks off with Jack to his world, telling him she just needs a guide to ease her into the modern age, but really planning to make him fall in love with her. Their escape was a bit of a stretch to my suspension of disbelief, but I think this is the part of the story where I began to warm to the two characters as they alternatively clashed and bonded on their adventures.
For the first time, Talia is free from restrictions as a princess and can speak to people without her rank being an issue. I liked that her upbringing was brought into the story as she uses her diplomatic skills to win over Jack’s family, who are surprised by her arrival at their home. She also brings a fresh outsider viewpoint into Jack’s life and helps him evaluate his relationship with parents and with a manipulative ex-girlfriend. Talia shows how perceptive and thoughtful she is while Jack proves to be a nice guy who has interests which he stifles for fear of his parents’ disapproval. Both seem to share a similar tense relationship with their parents, but while we get to see some resolution to Jack’s issues, Talia’s are not returned to, which added to the general feeling that the plot could have been a bit tighter.
My favorite part of the book ended up being the climax, where the curse and all that lead up to it come back to haunt the young couple. I liked the way magic and fairytale traditions were brought back into the story here. The backstory of the curse was introduced in an interesting twist, and we get some perspective from the so-called evil fairy/witch. I really wish the book had stopped there and not continued onto an epilogue. I want to remove the epilogue, which felt like took this magic and stuffed it into a cheesy commercialized package, from my memory.
Overall: I ended up not enjoying this one as much as Beastly (for some reviewers, the opposite is true). While this had a lot of elements that I liked about that book, including some great twists to the original fairytale and a relationship that wasn’t InstaLove, the story felt like it could have been more tightly plotted. I wished the characters hadn’t made a bad first impression because it seemed at odds with how they behaved the rest of the book, I wanted a bit more character depth, especially with the secondary characters, and there were some fridge logic, but I really liked the climax of this one, which sort of makes up for some of these detractors (and I’m going to pretend that epilogue didn’t happen).
Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository
Other reviews:
The Hiding Spot – C-
One Librarian’s Book Reviews – 3 stars (out of 5)

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Alex Flinn

Beastly, a modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast told from the point of view of the beast, has gotten a lot of positive reviews, so I’m happy that thanks to my Secret Santa from the Book Blogger Holiday swap I finally had a chance to read it. 

The Premise: Kyle Kingsbury is handsome, popular, and, a big superficial jerk. His father is a famous newscaster and taught Kyle that people who did things out of friendship or love are suckers, so Kyle lives only for himself. Life is good: he goes to an elite school in Manhattan where he’s ultra popular and has a lock on being voted king of the ninth grade spring dance. Then Kyle decides to humiliate a strange new girl at the dance, and is rewarded with his comeuppance – cursed to be a beast unless he can love and be loved in return. He has two years to learn and to become someone worth loving or he will stay a beast forever.

Read and excerpt of Beastly here

My Thoughts: Kyle is incredibly unlikable in the first few pages of this book. Before his world is rocked by the curse, he really turned me off. In fact, I read a few pages of Beastly through Amazon’s Look Inside program a year or so ago and I was worried I wouldn’t like the book because of him. But once I got a chapter or two in, I empathized with Kyle despite my first impressions. Kyle’s growth from the snobby pretty-boy with negligent parents into a man of character doesn’t happen overnight. It took much of the two years he’s allocated and it’s not an easy road, but I believed and hoped he could make it eventually.

Kyle (who renames himself Adrian), is exiled by his father to a house in Brooklyn when it becomes clear that nothing can fix his appearance. All he has is his faithful housekeeper Magda, and after he asks for it – a blind tutor named Will. Adrian watches the world through a magic mirror. The forced isolation produced by becoming a beast gives him plenty of time for introspection, and he uses the time productively. He starts to appreciate things he thought of as unimportant before, and I enjoyed his discovery of less superficial interests, although he continues to despair of really breaking his curse. That is until circumstances allow Lindy, the “Beauty” of the story to enter the picture.

Lindy is probably the opposite of what Adrian used to be when he was Kyle – not popular, not good looking, and not rich. She lives in a poor neighborhood with an addict father.  Despite being rather plain and not particularly noticeable, there’s something that draws Adrian to her. Adrian’s feelings for her were rather sweet – wanting her to like him, and realizing he can’t buy or bargain for her affections. His loneliness and yearning at this point made their tentative friendship something to root for. While I found Lindy to be a nice person, but not particularly compelling compared to Adrian, I wholeheartedly believed the feelings Adrian had for her. And I believed this version’s explanation of why her family so easily let her go to the Beast.

As a bonus, I loved that Beastly was based on the version of Beauty and the Beast in which Beauty is a reader. Reading books like Jane Eyre, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera and The Picture of Dorian Grey are all part of the story, and I loved the parallels, which were not lost on Adrian/Kyle. I also enjoyed the “transformation” chat room conversations that Adrian joined. It was hilarious to see the little mermaid, the frog prince and others kvetching online.

Overall: A very pleasing modern-day Beauty and the Beast. I really liked this spin on my favorite fairy tale: told from the first person point of view of a spoiled Manhattan teen who does become a better person and has to win the girl the hard way. If you’d like to read a YA with a sweet romance, and you like the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, I recommend this one.

I’m looking forward to reading the other books in this series – A Kiss in Time, and Cloaked. And I’ll probably look for the DVD of Beastly the movie whenever it comes out (it’s been suspiciously delayed in it’s release).

Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository

Other reviews:
Steph Su Reads – 3.5 out of 5
My Favourite Books – positive review
Chachic’s Book Nook – positive review
All Things Urban Fantasy – 2/5
The Book Smugglers – 6/10
Angieville – positive review
See Michelle Read – positive review

Beastly movie trailer / Cheap kindle books

Beast form

I found out today through scifiwire that Alex Flinn’s book Beastly is coming out in movie form in July 2010. Looks like it could be a bit cheesy, but I may watch it on DVD. I like the Beauty and Beast retellings.. From hitfix.com:

Kyle Kingson (Alex Pettyfer) has it all – looks, intelligence, wealth and opportunity – and a wicked cruel streak. Prone to mocking and humiliating “aggressively unattractive” classmates, he zeroes in on Goth classmate Kendra, inviting her to the school’s extravagant environmental bash.  Kendra accepts, and, true to form, Kyle blows her off in a particularly savage fashion.  She retaliates by casting a spell that physically transforms him into everything he despises. Enraged by his horrible and unrecognizable appearance he confronts Kendra and learns that the only solution to the curse is to find someone that will love him as he is – a task he considers impossible.

Repulsed by his appearance, Kyle’s callous father banishes him to Brooklyn with a sympathetic housekeeper and blind tutor. As Kyle ponders how to overcome the curse and get his old life back, he chances upon a drug addict in the act of killing a threatening dealer.  Seizing the opportunity, Kyle promises the addict freedom and safety for his daughter, Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens) if she will consent to live in Kyle’s Brooklyn home.  Thus begins Kyle’s journey to discover true love in this hyper-modern retelling of the classic “Beauty and the Beast” story.

Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer star in “Beastly” Daniel Barnz (“Phoebe In Wonderland”) directs for CBS Films, the film division within CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS.A and CBS).  The project commenced principal photography in Montreal on June 13, 2009. Susan Cartsonis (“No Reservations,” “What Women Want”) is producing through her company, Storefront Pictures.  Roz Weisberg is co-producing.  In addition to his role as director, Barnz wrote the screenplay, which is based on the Alex Flinn novel of the same name.


In other news, Dear Author has posted about cheap kindle deals and how to search for them on Amazon. If you don’t have a kindle, don’t despair, because Amazon now has a Kindle for PC beta up. I downloaded it, and although it sometimes seems like they don’t have all the kinks out yet (like it made me come back later to register my Amazon account, and it’s having problems synching right now), it seems to do the job.

Some free books right now:
1)  The Wild’s Call by Jeri Smith-Ready (distant prequel to the Aspect of Crow trilogy)
The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, Book 1) by James Patterson
My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent
4)  The Demon Awakens by R.A. Salvatore
Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon
6)  A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton
7)  Starfist: First to Fight by David Sherman
Plus I see all the free harlequins from their 60th anniversary celebration.