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Seeking Safe Haven: A Review of The Bruised Princess

The Bruised Princess by A.G. Marshall book cover. Image on cover shows an etching of a castle and a woman wearing a long gown and a veil. She is facing to the right, and the castle is facing forward. Title: The Bruised Princess

Author: A.G. Marshall

Publisher: Avanell Publishing

Publication Date: April 7, 2019

Genres: Fantasy, Historical

Length: 31 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author. If you are not already familiar with The Princess and the Pea, read it for free at this link before reading this short story.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

A desperate girl on a stormy night…

Rachel is searching for sanctuary from her abusive father, but finds herself a guest in the castle instead. Why does everyone assume she is important, and why do they insist that she sleep on an enormous mattress tower?

Can she unravel the mystery and find a happy ending, or will she be trapped in something even worse? See for yourself in this romantic retelling of The Princess and the Pea.

The Bruised Princess is book three in the Once Upon a Short Story collection.
Discover a unique twist on your favorite fairy tales with these standalone adventures!

Review:

Content Warning: Physical and emotional abuse. I will discuss these topics in my review.

Sensitivity is a gift.

One of my favourite aspects of this short story had to do with how it handled the physical and emotional abuse that two of the characters suffered before and during the time that the readers knew them. These are serious topics that have been covered in a myriad of ways in both the fiction and non-fiction genres for good reason. What made Ms. Marshall’s approach to them unique was how much hope she held for her characters. Yes, they were going through awful experiences at the moment, but that didn’t mean their circumstances were going to remain the same forever. Things can begin to change for the better much faster than one can imagine, and there are so many kind people out there who are willing to help.  These are such important messages to send to survivors, and I think it’s wonderful that the romance genre is yet another place to find it.

I would have liked to see a little more plot development in this piece. Everything happened quickly and without a lot of exposition. That worked well for the beginning and middle, but the ending felt a bit rushed to me because of it. If those last few scenes had been given more time to shine, I would have gone with a full five-star rating. Everything else about this was well done and written to appeal to both new and longtime fans of the romance and fantasy genres.

Rachel was an admirable protagonist. She was physically and emotionally bruised from her father’s mistreatment and the frightening threats of the man he was trying to force her to marry, but she never gave up her desire to find a safe place to live. Her tenacity made me smile, especially when the odds seemed more stacked against her than they ever had been before. I also appreciated the fresh perspective she brought to the traditional legend of The Princess and the Pea. She made certain aspects of it make so much more sense than they had been before.

The Bruised Princess was a heartwarming read.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: What You Do When You’re Not Feeling Well

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

This week’s prompt didn’t specify what sort of illness we might have, so I’m going to assume it’s a contagious and common one like a cold or the flu that we’ve all experienced multiple times in life as opposed to diseases that only a small percentage of people have personal experience with.

These are the steps I tend to go through when I feel these sorts of viral illnesses sneaking up on me:

A thermometer and some pills lying on a white surface.

Step 1: Denial

No, of course I’m not sick! My sore throat and stuffy nose must be due to allergies of some sort even if it’s the middle of winter and everything here in Ontario is frozen solid.

This stage usually only lasts for a few hours or a day at most.

 

Step 2: Why? Sigh! 

Why did I have to get sick this week? Doesn’t my immune system know I have 1,043 things to do (or, even worse, that I was looking forward to a relaxing vacation)?

 

Step 3: Grudging Acceptance.

I suppose I will give in and accept my fate as germy sick person, but I do not agree to be cheerful about it. Harrumph.

 

Step 4: Naps and Soup

Schedule permitting, let’s squeeze in as many naps and bowls of warm, soothing soup as possible.

I almost never eat soup when I’m healthy, and of course I do eat other foods when I’m sick, too. There is something about soup that’s extra appealing when I’m sick, especially if it’s chicken noodle or a soft version of beef vegetable that’s friendly for a sore throat or upset stomach.

If my symptoms include a fever, this is when I start taking my temperature a few times of day and writing down the results.

 

Step 5: Ugh, This Cough Is Never Going to End

Is it pneumonia, consumption, or maybe even something worse?

I think I should spend inordinate amounts of time on WebMD looking up every symptom and seeing what the worst case scenario is for them just in case.

 

Step 6-9: Slightly Better, Slightly Worse 

Why am I coughing more today? Why am I coughing less today?

How soon can I exercise? How much can I exercise? What does the Internet say about how quickly I can go back to normal habits without risking the rare cases of heart damage that happen when people exercise too soon after a viral illness?

Shall I google it all a dozen different ways over the next couple of weeks until my cough disappears completely?

 

Step 10: I am Actually Well Again! 

I think this one is pretty self explanatory. There’s nothing like feeling like your old self again.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was SO EXCITED to Get, but Still Haven’t Read


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Black-and-white photo of books hanging from a glass ceiling by pieces of thick string.I have a confession to make: my eyes are bigger than my stomach and my TBR list.

That is to say, I have the tendency to put more food on my plate than I can actually eat and to gush about more books that i can realistically read if I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing.

This is even more true if we’re talking about books from highly-anticipated authors or places that serve dairy-free meals and desserts. When you have food allergies (or any other dietary restriction, I’m sure), you get used to not being able to eat a lot of delicious-looking foods that others enjoy without a second thought. It’s simply part of life.

When I get the rare chance to pick anything on the menu at a restaurant, I often have the urge to over-order because of how unusual this experience is. The same thing can be said for when there are more attention-grabbing books than I have hours in the day to read.

Here are some books I am still excited to read but haven’t actually picked up yet. I’ve mentioned all of them in previous seasonal TBR posts for Tio Ten Tuesday over the past few years.

 

City of Refugees: The Story of Three Newcomers Who Breathed Life Into a Dying American Town by Susan Hartman Book cover. image on cover is a drawing of buildings in a town.

1. City of Refugees: The Story of Three Newcomers Who Breathed Life Into a Dying American Town by Susan Hartman

 

The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander Book cover. Image on cover shows a photo of a black child staring into the camera with a neutral expression on his face.

2. The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander

 

Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore Book cover. Image on the cover shows drawing of two teens standing in a lake with leaves on their heads.

3. Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Ask: Building Consent Culture by Kitty Stryker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

 

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi book cover. Cover image is of a woman's face.

6. Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

 

Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond by Lydia Denworth book cover. The only images on the cover are of stylized DNA strands lying on their sides at the top and bottom. They are behind green or blue backgrounds.

7. Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond by Lydia Denworth

 

Finna by Nino Cipri book cover. Cover image is of bent tubes and screws scattered around.

8. Finna by Nino Cipri

 

Book cover for Ghost Wood Song  by Erica Waters. Image on cover is of book title in the shape of curved pieces of wood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters

 

Book cover for Sara Seager's The Smallest Lights in the Universe. Image on cover is of an adult and two children walking outdoors at dusk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir by Sara Seager

Keeping an Open Mind: A Review of The Watch

The Watch by P.A. Western-Pittard book cover. Image on cover shows a watch face that’s glowing yellow and green. It’s superimposed over a photo of some furniture draped in white sheets. Title: The Watch – An Upfallers Story

Author: P.A. Western-Pittard

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: August 27, 2021

Genres: Fantasy, Humour, Contemporary

Length: 55 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

A Hilarious longish-short story adventure for fans of Terry Pratchett and lovers of quirky fantasy scifi.

In the Temple City of Tarn, no one and nothing is who they seem…

When Julian, a down-on-his-luck acolyte, comes across an ancient watch, he thinks this is exactly what he needs to solve his money problems. But Julian always was an optimistic dreamer. What begins as a seemingly simple stroke of luck soon turns into an adventure where he must find the impossible, or literally die trying.

But considering Julian isn’t much a fan of either dying or trying, this is going to turn out to be harder than he thought.

A longish-short story involving Soap-Bubble-Temples, a quest for ancient warbots and the meanest gunrunner in town, The Watch is a riotous introduction to the world of the Upfallers series.

Review:

The fewer assumptions you make about this novella, the better.

I appreciated the way the narrator repeatedly broke or reimagined many of the most popular tropes of the fantasy genre. Yes, the plot included a quest, but even there the author was discerning about what happened to his character and how they reacted to it. There were multiple times when I was fairly certain I knew what might happen next due to how long I’ve been reading this genre. In most cases, I was completely wrong in a pleasant way. This was my first time reading Mr. Western-Pittard‘s work, so I don’t have anything else to compare it to yet. What I can say is that I was impressed with how he approached the concept of contemporary fantasy, and I’m curious to see if his other works might do the same thing.

Even though the blurb interested me quite a bit, I struggled to remain engaged with the slow pacing of this novella. It spent so much time setting up Julian’s backstory and strengthening the world building that I wished for more action and conflict. This was a pattern that repeated itself after Julian’s adventures with the talking watch began. It read more like the first chapter of a book instead of a self-contained story. I don’t want to make any assumptions about why it was written this way, but the style did interfere with my desire to learn more.

What saved the storyline for me was the wry personality of the watch. If I had to assign a personality to such an item, I would have gone with something much more serious and academic because for some reason my brain assumes that something that was created to keep track of time would probably be staid in general. This is only loosely related to what the author actually came up with, of course, but it was delightful to see how creatively Mr. Western-Pittard approached character development. Playing around with the audience’s assumptions and expectations always grabs my attention, and this is even more true when it’s done as joyfully as it was done here.

This seems to be the introduction to a series, and I believe it is where readers are supposed to begin meeting the characters. I can’t say if the later instalments can be read out of order as I haven’t picked them up yet.

The Watch – An Upfallers Story is a good pick if you’re in the mood for something humorous.