Tag Archives: beauty and the beast

The Shape of Water by Daniel Kraus and Guillermo del Toro

Man, it must be kind of a strange spot to be in for an author to 1) be really good at writing and storytelling; 2) sit down for breakfast with a famous director; 3) have said director broker a deal where he crafts your unformed book idea into a movie that wins Best Picture, while you get to write the book at the same time; 4) understand (because you’re really good at writing and storytelling) that the movie is actually total crap and didn’t deserve Best Picture, while your awesome book gets sidelined by the stigma that it’s a lame movie adaptation.

Imagine me, reading Kraus’s fantastic book, then finishing it and heading to YouTube immediately to rent the movie. (I should have learned my lesson from Bird Box that this will always result in disappointment.) I can’t wait to see the opening bit in the rainforest! I thought to myself as I punched in my credit card information. In my mind, I was conjuring up gritty, surreal jungle scenes à la Apocalypse Now. Which is a fucking great movie, by the way. I am not a movie hater, I swear!

I don’t care how many awards the Academy threw at The Shape of Water; the movie is garbage from start to finish. The characterizations are the definition of surface level. Characters make bizarre choices, such as making out with a chimp-like creature that just devoured a cat, or giving up crucial information that will kill others when they themselves are about to die, so why not take your secrets to the grave and die a hero?

And while watching all of this horror unfold, I had to wonder, how many of these awful story choices did Kraus have to write into his book because he knew the movie was coming out? How much better could the book have been if he hadn’t been dealing with the movie deal? As things are, I can only give this book four stars, because some of the questionable aspects of the movie are also part of the book.

But it’s still very, very good. Kraus has such a unique voice that makes each scene absolutely transportive. It was so refreshing to read a book by an author with a wiiiiiiiide vocabulary; I had my dictionary app in hand many a time while reading! And the characters that are so surface level in the movie are allowed to unfurl to a full-fledged form in the book. I particularly enjoyed Strickland’s character, detestable as he is.

Perhaps most importantly, what felt like bestiality in the movie was a much more nuanced relationship in the book. I’m in full Beauty and the Beast research mode for my current work-in-progress—that was the whole point of reading the book in the first place—and it delivered in spades.

So basically, I will definitely be picking up more work by Kraus (he has a YA book about aliens coming out next year, which is soooo up my alley right now!), but del Toro and I are officially done.

Fairy Tale Romance: My Passionate Love Affair With Eloisa James’s Books

Those of you who have been around a while might know that I’m on a quest of sorts to get to know the romance genre better. I was pretty sure that Eloisa James would be an author whose style I’d like, so with that in mind, I picked up some of her fairy tale-inspired romances.

Oh. My. God. I can’t get enough of them. I never used to really understand the addictive nature of the romance genre, but I get it now. So I thought I’d give some quick reviews for the three I’ve read so far. I will undoubtedly be reading more from James in the near future, and I recommend her books for anyone who is interested in the genre but isn’t exactly sure where to start. Just so you know, these are all very loose fairy tale retellings—they have a fairly whimsical tone and are not at all fantasy.

The Duke Is Mine is inspired by “The Princess and the Pea.” Just like in the original tale, the heroine arrives at a manor one stormy night soaked through to the bone. In James’s version, her destined duke greets her at the door and is immediately wildly attracted to her—a sodden gown clinging to every curve will do that. 😉 Too bad she’s engaged to a simpleton and is really only visiting the duke’s estate as her sister’s chaperone; it’s the sister who is being tested as the possible duchess-to-be.

I really liked this book; the female MC is sassy yet honorable. I’m a sucker for sister relationships in stories, and this one is really cute. It also handles neurological disorders in a sensitive, sensible matter. The duke love interest has an Asperger’s-like disorder, and the MC’s betrothed, who is mentally handicapped due to a temporary loss of oxygen at birth, is depicted respectfully. Out of the three here, I’d say this book is great for a first impression of James’s work.


Once Upon a Tower is of course inspired by the tale of Rapunzel. Of the three books of James that I’ve read, this one is the most “realistic.” The female and male MC are both quite young and sexually inexperienced. The chemistry between them is very strong, but when they get married, their inexperience in the bedroom introduces major tension into the relationship; I don’t know that I’ve ever read a more realistic and raw depiction of a young couple’s sexual struggles. I even read their first unfortunate sexcapade out loud to my husband. His response? “Oh, damn.

So this is a more serious read than the other two here, and it will really pull at your heart strings. I’d also recommend it to any classical music fans out there; the female MC is an expert cellist, and James has really done her homework in this department.


I’m not sure exactly how to put this in a blog-appropriate manner. Umm… When Beauty Tamed the Beast threw me into a strong romantic tizzy. I knew, in a clinical sort of way, that romance books had the ability to do that—but didn’t ever really expect it to happen to me.

Well, we all get proven wrong sometimes. This is a book that will please female readers and indirectly please their romantic partners. You catch my drift? ;D I’d give this ten out of five stars if I could.


Have you read any great romance books lately? Do you tend more towards contemporary, historical, or paranormal? Leave your recommendations down below!