The Sleeper and the Spindle

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman is a unique twist on the Sleeping Beauty story.  Sleeping Beauty and the people in her castle have been asleep for years. However, this sleeping sickness seems to be spreading. First, the nearby villages fall asleep, then the villages near them, and so on. Soon, the entire kingdom is asleep, and it’s up to three dwarfs and the queen of the neighboring kingdom to figure out how to put an end to the curse.

This story has an ingenious blend of fairy tales. For instance, the queen is a character from another story. I’ll just say that she is someone who has also been asleep for a long time and let you figure out who she is. There are also additional elements to the story that help flesh it out. Those who are asleep do more than sleep, an old woman who is trapped inside the castle and immune to the curse, and the more one delves into the story, the more it becomes apparent that the details of the Sleeping Beauty that appear in each retelling are not what they seem. Not to mention that the ending will leave you thinking, “Wait, what? What just happened?” Overall, this is a quick read that goes more in-depth than one would think the amount of pages would allow.

Genre: Fantasy

Setting: A fairy tale land in an unspecified historical era.

Number of pages: 66

Objectionable content? A small amount of violence, one death, an occasional corpse, and unsettling factors (i.e. the sleepers)

Can children read this? Yes, as long as they are not easily upset by unsettling elements in stories. However, this book is best for teenagers and adults.

Who would enjoy this? Anyone who enjoys Neil Gaiman’s other works, and anyone who enjoys fairy tale remakes.

Themes: Beauty, power, loss, choices, strong women, and the need to control other’s emotions vs. the strength of only feeling your emotions.

Rating: Five stars

Linda Reads: The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice

luanne rice

Luanne Rice

Luanne Rice is the author of 31 novels, including 22 New York Times bestsellers.  Five of her books have been made into movies and mini-series.

Luanne was born in New Britain, CT and spent most of her life in Connecticut.  She currently divides her time between New York City and Southern California.  She is an avid environmentalist and advocate for families affected by domestic violence.  Her first published poem appeared in the Hartford Courant.  Her first novel, Angels All Over Town, was published in 1985.  Many of her books take place in or have a connection to Connecticut.

Ms Rice delivers another captivating book, The Lemon Orchard.  It’s a love story between two people from completely different worlds, but with a common bond from their pasts.  The story starts off in Connecticut and moves to Santa Barbara, California.

Five years after a family tragedy, Julia, an anthropologist who graduated from Yale, goes to Malibu to house-sit her aunt and uncle’s house located in their lemon orchard.  She hopes to start healing and move on with her life.  There she meets the handsome, illegal immigrant who oversees the orchard, Roberto.  She learns that Roberto is also trying to heal and move on from a devastating loss in his life.  Their relationship starts off as a comforting friendship and moves on to something more.  Julia then realizes that she might be able to help Roberto resolve the issue from his past.

Ms Rice is quite skilled in character development and sets a beautiful stage with her descriptive settings.  She deals deftly with grief and loss, love, forgiveness and redemption.  This book is also quite relevant as it explores the world of illegal immigrants and the struggle they endure to try to live a better life.