Monday, December 12, 2011

Novel Teen Blog Tour: "The Merchant's Daughter" by Melanie Dickerson

The Medieval Experience

In honor of the recent release of Melanie Dickerson's The Merchant's Daughter (read my review here), I'm going to take you on a small tour of the Medieval period today. So get ready to step back in time. (I always did like time travel!)


Ranulf was lord of the manor and the surrounding area. To pay off her family's debts, Annabel worked as an indentured servant in the manor.
Lord Ranulf's home may have looked alot like this 14th century manor in Kent, England. 

File:The Hall at Penshurst Place from Ancestral Homes of Noted Americans by Anne Hollingsworth Wharton (1915).jpg

Inside the manor, Ranulf, Annabel, and the other occupants  often gathered in the great hall to eat, socialize, or take care of important matters.

File:Peasants breaking bread.jpg
This picture shows people in the 14th century eating bread and having something to drink. Bread was a staple in the Middle Ages. A common way to eat it was to sop it up in some liquid like wine, broth, or soup. The word "sop" actually evolved into the word "soup."

Because water was often contaminated during this period with no purification system, the common drink was often an alcoholic beverage like beer, ale, or wine. Juices made out of fruits and berries were also consumed.

File:Wycliffe John Gospel.jpg

One of Annabel's dearest wishes was to read the Holy Scriptures. Though born in a high-ranking family, her station as a female in society kept her from her dream. Annabel believed the only way she could have an opportunity to read the Bible was if she joined a convent and became a nun. 

Here is a page of the Bible from the late 14th century. John Wycliffe was the first person to translate the Bible into the English language.

File:40-svaghi,suono e ballo,Taccuino Sanitatis, Casanatense 4182.jpg

At one point in the story, two of the characters dance. Here's a picture of a 14th century dance, and below is Medieval dance music called an estampie that the characters perhaps danced to.

Thanks for going back in time with me to see what Annabel and Ranulf's life might have been like!

Team Novel Teen is a group of bloggers dedicated to spreading the word about clean teen fiction. Check out other posts about The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson clicking on the links below, and for more information about Team Novel Teen check out 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Five Days of Fairytales" Day 5: Official Release Day of "The Merchant's Daughter" by Melanie Dickerson!

Introducing Melanie Dickerson's...

As a certain teapot once sung, Beauty and the Beast is a "tale as old as time." The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson is a version of this timeless tale, and a most delightful story in its own right as well.

Annabel becomes an indentured servant in the new lord's manor to pay off her family's debts. She is a young woman who is noticeably beautiful inside and out. In Annabel's eyes, her beauty might as well be a curse, for she has caught the eye of the lecherous town bailiff, and he is possessed with the notion that he will have her as his wife.

The town believes they are under a curse, and that it's the new Lord Ranulf's fault. With his scars and beastly temper, the people are intimidated by him, and a series of unfortunate events, like a barn fire and possible murder crime, don't soothe their worries. Ranulf is haunted by his past, and now he wonders if he'll ever have the fresh start he longs for.

When Ranulf asks Annabel to read to him every night, the two form a special friendship. He provides her protection from the bailiff's advances and fulfills her dream of being able to read the Holy Scriptures. She reveals a beauty in life he's been lacking. But their relationship and lives are put to the test when fear and suspicion among the townspeople reach a fever pitch, and the dreams and ideas they once held so dear begin to transform, like a rose that's about to bloom.

Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite fairy tale, so naturally I was very excited to read this book. This version is loosely based on the original story, and I was grinning at some references as I read. However, The Merchant's Daughter is a story that could easily stand by itself with the historical setting, depth of character, and engaging subplots. My only wish is that it was even longer.

Genre: Fantasy/Historical/Youth/Romance
Ages: 12 and up
Pages: 268
Publication Date: November 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Five Days of Fairytales" Day 4: Favorite Fairytale Quotes

"Every man's life is a fairy tale written by God's fingers." -- Hans Christian Anderson

"Narrator: In a faraway land, long ago, there lived a King and his fair Queen. Many years they had longed for a child, and finally their wish was granted. A daughter was born, and they called her Aurora. Yes, they named her after the dawn, for she filled their lives with sunshine. Then a great holiday was proclaimed throughout the land, so that all of high or low estate could pay homage to the infant Princess. And our story begins on that most joyful day..." --from Disney's "Sleeping Beauty"

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." -- Albert Einstein

"Gaston: How can you read this? There's no pictures!
  Belle: Well, some people use their imagination." --from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"

File:Peter pan 1911 pipes.jpg"So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!" --from Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

"There have been five great kisses since 1642 B.C...(before then couples hooked thumbs). And the precise rating of kisses is a terribly difficult thing, often leading to great controversy...Well, this one left them all behind." --from The Princess Bride by William Goldman

"Narrator: If he could learn to love another, and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time. As the years passed, he fell into despair and lost all hope. For who could ever learn to love a beast?" --from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" 

"There is a great lesson of 'Beauty and the Beast,' that a thing must be loved before it is loveable." -- G. K. Chesterton

"Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!" --from Disney's "Cinderella"

"Flora: Thou sword of truth, fly swift and sure, that evil die and good endure!" --from Disney's "Sleeping Beauty"

File:Спящая царевна.jpg

"Queen: Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?
Magic Mirror: Famed is thy beauty, Majesty. But hold, a lovely maid I see. Rags cannot hide her gentle grace. Alas, she is more fair than thee.
Queen: Alas for her! Reveal her name.
Magic Mirror: Lips red as the rose. Hair black as ebony. Skin white as snow.
Queen: Snow White!"
--from Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed." -- G. K. Chesterton

"Prince Edward: [talking to a TV] Magic Mirror. I beg you. Tell me where she is!
Mary Ilene Caselotti: [on TV] Reporting from 116th and Broadway.
Prince Edward: One hundred and sixteenth and Broadway! [hugs the TV] Thank you mirror! [kisses it and runs off]" --from Disney's "Enchanted"

"Prince Phillip: Now, Father, you're living in the past. This is the fourteenth century!" --from Disney's "Sleeping Beauty"

"Gaston: Lefou, I'm afraid I've been thinking.
Lefou: A dangerous pastime...
Gaston: I know." --from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast

File:Johnny Gruelle illustration - Rapunzel - Project Gutenberg etext 11027.jpg

"Rapunzel: I've been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it's not everything I dreamed it would be?
Flynn Rider: It will be.
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then?
Flynn Rider: Well, that's the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream." --from Disney's "Tangled"


"Cinderella walked on broken glass. Sleeping Beauty let a whole lifetime pass. Belle fell in love with a hideous beast. Jasmine fell in love with a common thief. Ariel walked on land for love and life. Snow White barely escaped a knife. It was all about blood, sweat, and tears, because love, means facing your biggest fears.  --Anonymous

"Danielle: You, sir, are supposed to be charming.
Henry: And we, princess, are supposed to live happily ever after.
Danielle: Says who?
Henry: You know, I don't know.
Grand Dame: [voiceover] My great-great-grandmother's portrait hung in the university up until the Revolution. By then, the truth of their romance had been reduced to a simple fairy tale. And, while Cinderella and her prince did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived." --from "Ever After: A Cinderella Story"

I could go on listing quotes all day, all week for that matter, but I decided to stop here. What are some of your favorite fairy tale quotes? List them below. :-)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Five Days of Fairytales" Day 3: A Few Facts You May or May Not Know about Beauty and the Beast

1. The original title is La Belle et la Bete.

2. The first published version of the tale was released in 1740 and was written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villenevue. This version was longer with subplots, like more backstory of the Beast with his father, and the fact that Beauty was the daughter of a king and a good fairy, and she was adopted by a merchant for protection from a wicked fairy.

3. The abridged version of La Belle et la Bete was released in 1756 by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont. This version is the classic tale we're more familiar with today.

4. In the original tale, Beauty had three brothers and three sisters.

5. The first English translation of the tale appeared in 1757.

6. The very first film version of Beauty and the Beast was a short, silent film released in 1899.

7. Disney's 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

8. I know I'm putting up Favorite Fairytale Quotes tomorrow, but I couldn't help but put this quote from the original La Belle et la Bete today:

At noon she found dinner ready, and while at the table, was entertained with an excellent concert of music, though without seeing anybody.

But at night, as she was going to sit down to supper, she heard the noise Beast made, and could not help being sadly terrified.

"Beauty," said the monster, "will you give me leave to see you sup?"

"That is as you please," answered Beauty trembling.

"No," replied the Beast, "you alone are mistress here; you need only bid me gone, if my presence is troublesome, and I will immediately withdraw. But, tell me, do not you think me very ugly?"

"That is true," said Beauty, "for I cannot tell a lie, but I believe you are very good natured."

"So I am," said the monster, "but then, besides my ugliness, I have no sense; I know very well, that I am a poor, silly, stupid creature."

"'Tis no sign of folly to think so," replied Beauty, "for never did fool know this, or had so humble a conceit of his own understanding."

"Eat then, Beauty," said the monster, "and endeavor to amuse yourself in your palace, for everything here is yours, and I should be very uneasy, if you were not happy."

"You are very obliging," answered Beauty, "I own I am pleased with your kindness, and when I consider that, your deformity scarce appears."

"Yes, yes," said the Beast, "my heart is good, but still I am a monster."

"Among mankind," says Beauty, "there are many that deserve that name more than you, and I prefer you, just as you are, to those, who, under a human form, hide a treacherous, corrupt, and ungrateful heart."

"If I had sense enough," replied the Beast, "I would make a fine compliment to thank you, but I am so dull, that I can only say, I am greatly obliged to you."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Five Days of Fairytales" Day 2: Songs to Create a Fairytale Mood

I was just going to have a list of random songs for everyone to listen to, but as I was listing them, I found a small story begin to emerge (that's the writer in me!). So here's a short fairy tale with a soundtrack! Enjoy! :-)

Once upon a time...


there was a young girl called to a great purpose...

The Call--Celtic Woman

She went on a fantastic journey to a far off land...

Fairy Dance--Peter Pan (2003 soundtrack)

It was in this land the young woman met a young man who was also on a journey of his own...

Enchanted--Taylor Swift

The two became comrades, and there were hints of a future love as their journeys became entwined...

Walking in the Air--Celtic Woman

They fought side by side for the cause of good against all that was evil...

The Battle--Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005 soundtrack)

Gone for so many years and facing hardships, the young woman and young man wondered if they would ever find a place to call home again, but then they realized...

There's a Place for Us--Carrie Underwood

After facing so much together and becoming mature in heart and mind, the young woman and young man fell deeply in love and were married. All who loved them rejoiced and blessed them...

Flying--Peter Pan (2003 soundtrack)

And they lived happily ever after...<3

Ever Ever After--Carrie Underwood

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Five Days of Fairytales" Day 1: My Review of "The Healer's Apprentice" by Melanie Dickerson

Welcome to "Five Days of Fairytales!" 

On November 29th, Melanie Dickerson's The Merchant's Daughter will be officially released. I am really excited about this book, because it's based on the fairytale, Beauty and the Beast. I am a HUGE Beauty and the Beast fan. Yes, I have been known to watch the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast six times in one week. I also love all fairytales in general, so the next few days there are going to be posts to help create a fairytale mood. Here's what you can expect:

Nov. 25: My review of The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
Nov. 26: Songs that Create a Fairytale Mood
Nov. 27: A Few Facts You May or May Not Know about Beauty and the Beast (yeah, I know it's a long title)
Nov. 28: Favorite Fairytale Quotes
Nov. 29: Official Release Date of The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (and there was a grand celebration!)

So I hope you join me every day, because this is going to be fun! Here's my review of Melanie Dickerson's...

The Healer's Apprentice

"God, if you have made a way for us to be together," he whispered,
"then let me awaken her with this kiss of true love."


So romantic.

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson is first and foremost a story of true love. But, as Shakespeare said, the course of true love never did run smooth, so you know this story is going to take you on a ride with a few twists and bumps. If you haven't already guessed, this is a Christian version of the classic fairytale "Sleeping Beauty." Of course, there are many differences between the original tale and The Healer's Apprentice, but they both are enchanting.

The setting is Hagenheim, Germany in the year 1386. Rose, a woodcutter's daughter, has recently become an apprentice to the castle healer, Frau Gerusha. It is a great honor, but daily Rose wonders if she has the talent--and the stomach--to become a healer. All sorts of changes are happening in her life, but perhaps the most startling are the attentions of the Duke of Hagenheim's sons, Lord Hamlin and Lord Rupert. Rose feels torn between the two men for several reasons. Lord Hamlin is kind and chivalrous, but he has also been betrothed for a woman he has never met. Lord Rupert has a reputation for being wild, but lately he seems to be reforming his ways...all for Rose's sake.

It's a story of choices and intrigue. Should Rose follow her heart concerning these two men or her logic? And which is right? Rose is a strong character and her struggle is sincere. Besides these two men, there's also a dark figure lurking in the background wanting to harm Rose, but no one (except maybe Frau Gerusha) knows why. The story increases in tension as the characters' relationships break, heal, and deepen, and a secret about Rose's past is revealed that will change her life, and the lives around her, forever.

Genre: Fantasy/Historical/Youth/Romance
Ages: 12 and up
Pages: 257
Publication Date: October 2010

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Review: "She Walks in Beauty" by Siri Mitchell

Debutante balls, handsome bachelors, fancy dresses, and...corsets? Seventeen-year-old Clara Carter's world is about to change when her aunt makes the decision that Clara is going to make her debut into New York's opulent society--a year early. It doesn't matter that Clara would rather read Byron than make small talk or study Latin rather than the flirtatious language of the fan. Her aunt is bound and determined to make Clara the belle of the season, because there's a certain dashing heir in need of catching and the Carter family honor that needs to be restored.

"She Walks in Beauty" by Siri Mitchell is set during the Gilded Age of New York City, when a young woman's looks, money, and social graces determine how worthy she is in society. Especially her looks. Sound familiar? Clara's world is scarily similar to our own. The young women in the story are pressured to do anything they can to conform to society's image of beauty, often to the cost of their health.

Clara is sweet and intelligent but naive when it comes to people. Several times in the story I wanted to shake the girl for being so blind to the obvious. However, it's Clara's innocence that also makes her such an endearing character. She has a whole cast of characters who help her throughout her journey: her loyal best friend, Lizzie, who is also her competition; her misguided but well-meaning Aunt; a cynical newspaperman with a secret; and an awkward yet loveable young man whom she is forbidden to form an attachment to.

Clara's personal growth and interactions with the people and circumstances around her is sometimes painful and sometimes humorous, but through it all, I'd say Clara is young woman who learns what it means to truly walk in beauty.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Ages: 15 and up
Pages: 392
Publication Date: April 2010

Welcome to My Story Shelf!

Thank you so much for stopping by! This blog is going to be mainly for book reviews and anything else pertaining to stories in general. I know that spectrum is quite broad, but that's what makes it fun! So please visit often because you never know what you'll find here.

Whenever I read a blog, I like to know a little about its author, so here's a short list about me:

1. I love God, people, and story.

2. Beauty is the lens through which I view life. Yes, I am an optimist. ;)

3.  I've been a bookworm since I learned how to read. If I go too long without reading I have withdrawls like some people crave chocolate. (I do crave chocolate as well!)

4. I also love to write, so there may be some of my pieces on this blog from time to time.

5. Music is always interwined with any story I read or write.

6. I like to know the origins of things. For example, the meanings of names, the origins of a certain word, etc.

7. I love history.

8. A really good story would have a strong storyline and strong characters, but if I had to pick between the two, I would want a story to have good, strong characters that I can truly care about rather than a good story with weak characters.

9. I like food. Wait...scratch that--I love food! So expect some posts involving food on here. Why? Because it's fun, and I don't know anyone who doesn't like food!

10. I believe the random things in life can be the most fun. So expect some randomness and fun!

On that note, did you know that the term "Good bye" comes from the phrase "God be with (ye)you"?

So...God be with you! :-)