Category Archives: Short Stories

Young and Scambitious (A Short Story) by Mina V. Esguerra

When Mina V. Esguerra tweeted that her latest short story will be free of charge for a limited period of time on Amazon (in Kindle format), I immediately grabbed the opportunity to download a copy. Here’s the summary taken from Goodreads:

Young and Scambitious coverWho is Elizabeth Madrid, exactly? She’s Manila’s latest It Girl–stylish, staple of the club scene, new best friend of famous-for-being-famous Chrysalis Magnolia. She’s also a jewelry clan heiress, a former model, an Ivy Leaguer… except no one actually knew of her until last year. Shouldn’t her new society friends be more suspicious? Especially “BFF” Chrysalis, who reportedly already lost an expensive ring to a friend who turned out to be a thief?

I am a bit intrigued with the title – it’s like the main character is doing something sinister. This is definitely not the usual goody-two-shoes protagonist we often read about in most books. The title itself already gives the readers a bit of an idea of what the story is about. I especially love the creativeness of the author’s word play, specifically the usage of scambitious, which describes the totality of the main character’s job.

Young and Scambitious is different from the other short stories I read. It revolves around jewelries and how people would go to great lengths, no matter how risky and illegal they would be, to achieve instant high earnings. Mina V. Esguerra certainly provides us a glimpse of how jewelry scam works. After reading this, I think I become more cautious with the authentication of jewelries I might encounter in the future. It’s really funny how everything seems to fall into place. When I was reading this, I hear people I know are getting engaged or getting married soon. Talk about coincidence. LOL.

To be honest, I am a bit confused with the story at first. I’m not exactly sure what’s happening, but as the story progresses, the plotline begins to unravel itself and soon, I find myself getting more interested about what’s going to happen. Who would’ve thought that the characters’ lives are intertwined with one another?

Overall, Young and Scambitious is a quick read. Anyone can read it in one sitting. However, since it’s only a short story, some questions that emerged while reading it are left unanswered. It’s also a bit of a cliffhanger. If this is made into a novel-length story, I’m sure this will turn out to be a better work.

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The Son of Sobek by Rick Riordan

When I first found out that Rick Riordan wrote a short story about the meetings of Percy Jackson and Carter Kane, well, I couldn’t let this pass as I just have to read it!

Here’s the plot description taken from Goodreads:

The Son of Sobek coverCarter Kane is investigating rumored sightings of a monster on Long Island when he runs into something else: a mysterious boy named Percy Jackson. And their meeting isn’t exactly friendly.

The Son of Sobek is originally included in the recently-released paperback edition of The Kane Chronicles, Book Three: The Serpent’s Shadow. I’m eager to own a physical copy of the short story, so I bought another copy of The Serpent’s Shadow despite currently owning the book already.

There’s no cover picture included in the paperback edition, so the book cover I posted is for the upcoming audio e-book version (to be narrated by Rick Riordan himself) which will be released on June 18. The book cover looks nice, isn’t it? I hoped the short story will be published separately in paperback, but I guess it would be costly, seeing that the short story only consists of less than 50 pages or so.

Now, onto the story, at a glance, it’s intriguing to know how Percy Jackson and Carter Kane would meet. The idea of two different people living two different lives with no similarities or whatsoever would come together seems kind of far-fetched, but in this case, Rick Riordan does his best in crafting an imaginative, unique story that at the end of the day, readers will once again fall in love with the two main characters. Who would’ve thought that their meetings will revolve around a giant crocodile?

The short story is written in Carter’s point of view. Despite the shortness of the story, Rick Riordan still succeeds in narrating the story in great detail and in conveying Carter and Percy’s personalities perfectly. As I am reading through it, I can’t help but compare Carter and Percy to one another. Both of them prove to be strong and powerful, but being the biased reader that I am, I side with Percy. Hihi! But hey, Carter definitely deserves some credit, too.

The crocodile serves as the focal point of their meetings and seeing those two argue, fight, and work together makes the story more interesting and entertaining to read. It’s evident that coming from two different historical origins, Carter and Percy had a hard time understanding each other. It’s like there’s this language barrier where every term one said sounds foreign to the other. With that said, I slowly begin to comprehend that it might be difficult for Rick Riordan to bring two worlds together and form a new story.

I have to admit, after reading The Son of Sobek, I want something more. I want to know what Percy is thinking throughout the story, I want to know if Carter would tell Sadie the whole incident, and Percy to Annabeth, and what their reactions would be. There’s this whole mystery behind this short story. I, too, am wondering who or what brought the two protagonists together. They may never meet again, but if they do and Rick Riordan decides to tell their story, I would undoubtedly read it right away.


The Tiger’s Bride by Angela Carter

Project: Fairy Tale hosted by Alison @ The Cheap Reader

projectfairytalebutton2Banner created and designed by Alisa @ Picture Me Reading

Aside from The Courtship of Mr. Lyon, this is another Beauty and the Beast short story retelling by Angela Carter under The Bloody Chamber novel. A warning, though, this is not intended for younger readers.

Tiger's Bride01The story begins with the main character narrating her journey from Russia to Italy (North to South). Coming from the North, she is expecting that the South would be warmer, but then, winter comes with them, so they have to endure the cold again. As they do so, the main character watches her father play a game of cards with the Beast.

Eventually, her father loses everything to the Beast up to the point of even betting his own daughter in the gamble that ended with him losing her to the Beast as well. The father is left empty-handed while the main character is asked to live in the Beast’s estate.

The Beast, as the girl observed, is clothed like a man and wears a mask faced like a man as well. The main character notices that the Beast attempts to act human despite the awkwardness it shows while trying to avoid staying down on all fours. Moving on, the main character is frightened of what the Beast might do to her, as she recalls the peculiar stories about half-men-half-beast her nursemaid would tell her about. Upon entering the Beast’s home, everything’s a mess. She sees frames with portraits faced on the wall instead of the other way around. The horses live in the living room, and the windows and doors are broken, too.

Later on, the Beast summons the girl, and the valet explains that the Beast’s only wish is to see her naked. If this happens, the girl is free to go. Unfortunately, the girl declines the offer, also bravely telling the Beast that it’s up to him how much he’d give her in exchange of her nakedness. The Beast feels ashamed and she is led to a windowless room that resembles a prison cell. Afterwards, the valet gives her a diamond earring, but she throws it into the corner.

Tiger's Bride02Then the valet invites the girl to go for a ride, so the three of them ride horses around the vicinity. When they take rest, the girl still doesn’t want to expose her body to the Beast; thus, the valet dares her to see the Beast naked instead. The Beast obliges and exposes himself as a tiger. Afterwards, the girl shows the top portion of her body. The Beast immediately leaves together with the valet to hunt. Upon returning home, the girl sees her father through the mirror that his fortunes are back. And marking his word, the Beast lets the girl go. The girl ponders and realizes that she doesn’t want to leave, so she once again strips naked and goes to the Beast’s room. The story ends with the Beast licking off the skin of the girl that soon replaces into fur.

Tiger's Bride03

Okay, before I start, I would like to say that this is just a rough summary of the story to give you guys an idea what it is about. To be honest, I don’t think my summary would do justice to what the complex story really intends to convey, since I haven’t been able to include all the details that might have been crucial to the story. Therefore, it’s still better to read the original one than solely base your understanding on my summary.

I can confidently say that The Tiger’s Bride is the most complicated, darkest, mature retelling of Beauty and the Beast I’ve ever read. Admittedly, I had a bit of a hard time comprehending the story that after reading it, I had to do a little research online and read a longer version of the summary to confirm my understanding of the story.

Moving on, Angela Carter pretty much veers away from the original Beauty and the Beast tale in that she chooses to create something of her own while she utilizes a wide range of symbolism throughout the story to portray the dark reality of humanity. But of course, she still retains the rose, the girl, the Beast and his castle/home.

Angela Carter evidently gives emphasis on the dehumanization of women in the society we often choose to ignore. This is shown when the main character’s father sold her like an object to the Beast when he loses in the gambling, also referring her to a pearl of great value. This situation doesn’t just happen in books as the reality offer us a darker truth where women are treated as objects and are sold in ordinary transactions or for the purpose of satisfying one’s sexual desire.

Moreover, the main character has just entered the stage of adulthood that the idea of being naked in front of the Beast and imagining having (pardon my word here) sex with him give her the shudders. The white rose tainted with her blood which she gives to her father before she leaves symbolizes purity and virginity that will soon be destroyed by lust and she hates her father for what happens.

However, as the story progresses, she soon realizes that to be strong and to break the stereotypical society, she needs to face her vulnerability and weakness. Therefore, she slowly exposes her body to the Beast, revealing everything she’s afraid of. I guess this act strengthened her individualism more and with the help of the Beast, both of them begin to accept their new own stronger selves with equality.

At a glance, this story might seem a bit boring to some, but overall, if we choose to look at it in a different light and discuss and analyze it deeper, The Tiger’s Bride will surely offer us a unique story relevant to our lives as well as to the society.

**Illustrations created by Joanna Barnum on DeviantART**


The Courtship of Mr. Lyon by Angela Carter

Project: Fairy Tale hosted by Alison @ The Cheap Reader

projectfairytalebutton2Banner created and designed by Alisa @ Picture Me Reading

Aside from the three (3) novel retellings of Beauty and the Beast I chose for Project: Fairy Tale, I also included two short story retellings by Angela Carter, as recommended by Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books. For now, I’ll be discussing The Courtship of Mr. Lyon first. This short story is part of Angela Carter’s novel, The Bloody Chamber.

To give you a brief background, the story begins with Beauty staring out the window anxiously waiting for her father to come home. Then the scene shifts to her father who gets stuck on the middle of the snow far from home, who couldn’t even contact Beauty of his situation. He just comes from the meeting with his lawyers with regards to his lost fortune. He also feels dismayed that he couldn’t get a single white rose for his daughter’s request.

Mr. Lyon01And then he stumbles upon an enchanted house with no servants but a King Charles spaniel dog who accompanies him throughout his stay. After his needs are provided, he soon leaves for home. On his way out, he sees a single white rose and when he plucks it, a creature with the head of a lion appears. The father explains and shows a picture of Beauty to the Beast. The Beast agrees to let the father go, but asks to bring Beauty to his home for dinner.

Everything goes well, but the Beast’s stature still frightens Beauty, so he decides to help her by gaining their fortune back. The Beast lets the father go to London in exchange for leaving Beauty behind to stay with him.

Mr. Lyon02As Beauty spends her time in Beast’s house, she slowly begins to enjoy the Beast’s company, conversing with him like she’s known him for a long time. And every night as their talk ends, the Beast would walk up to Beauty and kiss her hand.

The time comes when Beauty receives a call from her father, telling her the good news that their fortune is back. The Beast agrees to let Beauty go, accepting her promise that she’ll be back before winter is over. So Beauty leaves and since then, begins to live her life in luxury once again. She sends the Beast some white roses, but more often, she enjoys her current state of living.

Mr. Lyon03Then one day, the King Charles spaniel visits her but looking far from what it did before and then she suddenly remembers her promise as spring comes, so she immediately leaves for Beast’s place. Upon arriving, she finds the Beast on the bed, on the verge of death. Beauty, then, confesses her feelings for the Beast and kisses his paws. When her tears fall on his face, the Beast transforms to a man, still resembling the face of a lion. And they live happily ever after.

Mr. Lyon04

There you have it. Fascinating, isn’t it? I included some pictures to better illustrate the story. It’s a bit different, but Angela Carter retains the basic elements found in the original tale. I love how Carter incorporates the story to the modern setting and it just flows naturally until the end. Even the setting gives out a dark feel to it – with the snow and everything.

Aside from the modern setting, one can also observe that only Beauty and her father are mentioned as a family. Their fortune is also lost, but no details are mentioned on how and why they lost it. Moreover, as compared to the other retellings, as well as to the original tale, the Beast in the short story is given a vivid description of his appearance. In this case, he is likened to a lion. I believe Angela Carter decides to do this in order for us to better understand the frightened feeling of Beauty towards the Beast. If you’ve read the story, there’s a part where Beauty paralleled herself in the situation as the lamb.

If I’m not mistaken, symbolism is also vastly used in the story as well. For one, the lamb itself perfectly depicts Beauty’s appearance we clearly know that the lamb’s fleece is as white as snow. At the beginning, Beauty is also described as someone with the skin as white as snow. Moreover, the season not only shows changes in weather, but in the story, it symbolizes a change of life, too. As winter changes to spring, so has Mr. Lyon’s life changed and perhaps Beauty’s life as well. I also mentioned Beauty because despite the fact that she’s a good person, she clearly wouldn’t accept to let go of her past life of luxury. This is evident in the part where after learning that their fortunes have returned, Beauty is more willing to be indulged in it than spend time with the Beast.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this story even though it’s just short. It’s nice to read something different once in a while for a change. If this will be made into a novel, I’d definitely be buying it. I’m eager to know the story behind Mr. Lyon’s transformation into a beast and how enchantment is involved, since it’s not explained well in the story.

**Illustrations created by Hazel Fisher on DeviantART**


Beauty and the Beast

Project: Fairy Tale hosted by Alison @ The Cheap Reader

projectfairytalebutton2Banner created and designed by Alisa @ Picture Me Reading

Project: Fairy Tale has begun! As you’ve known, the fairy tale I’ve chosen is Beauty and the Beast (my sign up post can be found here). I believe there are a lot of Beauty and the Beast versions before, but I decided to choose the most well-known original version written by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont.

To give you a brief background, Beaumont’s version was derived from the work of Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Gallon de Villeneuve. Beaumont’s version is said to be the shortened version of Villeneuve’s. For those of you who are not familiar with the story, here’s my summary of the tale:

BB05The story begins with the introduction of the characters. A rich merchant has six children: three sons and three daughters. All of his children are good-looking, but the youngest is the most beautiful of all; thus, calling her by the name of “Beauty”. They live a fortunate life, but later on lost everything. While Beauty accepts and embraces the life of poor, her siblings do otherwise. Moreover, her sisters keep insulting and mocking her (due to jealousy), but Beauty remains humble and patient.

When the merchant goes on a journey and fails to receive what he hopes for, he comes back empty-handed. On the way home, he gets lost in the forest and comes across the Beast’s palace. He is treated well, but when the merchant tries to pick roses for Beauty, the act angers the Beast and makes a condition that one of the merchant’s daughters will live with the Beast willingly. Upon returning home, the merchant relays the news to his children and it is Beauty who volunteers. As sad as it may seem, the father reluctantly agrees due to Beauty’s determination. That night, Beauty dreams of a woman telling her that her sacrifice for her father will not go unrewarded.

BB02At the palace, Beauty is treated well by the Beast and later on, a friendship is formed between the two. She is given more than she hopes for, but when the Beast proposes to Beauty to become his wife, Beauty declines, but she still promises never to leave the Beast. She hopes to return home to see her father once again and the Beast agrees, giving her a week until she comes back again.

Upon returning home, Beauty’s wicked sisters becomes more jealous of her beauty and her present happy state that they plan to delay her stay a week longer than planned. It is only then that Beauty starts to reflect and realizes that she loves Beast, so she returns to the Beast, who is slowly dying, and after confessing her love to him, the Beast transforms into a charming prince. And they live happily ever after. Beauty’s two sisters, though, have been transformed into statues at the palace by the woman in Beauty’s dream.

BB04Despite the shortness of the story, I immediately got hooked. The simplicity and purity of the tale makes it worth reading. Beauty and the Beast is surely the perfect example of the saying: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” There are also some magical elements contained in the story that makes it more interesting to read, such as the power the ring manifests which enables a person to transport from point A to point B, and a few more others. I’m quite curious, though, who does all the palace chores since servants are not mentioned in the story? Either way, the way the palace is described seems to project a positive feeling that one can wish to live there.

untitledMoving on, to compare this to the Disney movie, I can actually see a lot of similarities and differences. To start off with the differences, firstly, Beauty’s father is a merchant while Belle’s father is an inventor. Secondly, Beauty has brothers and sisters whereas Belle has none and is just an only child. Thirdly, the servants in the movie have been transformed into furniture and utensils while in the original story, nothing is mentioned about servants. And lastly, the antagonists for the original tale are Beauty’s sisters, while their counterparts in the movie have been compiled into the characterization of Gaston.

As for the similarities, I just want to emphasize that both ladies like to read books and they get to have their own massive libraries! Aside from that, the concept of the story remains the same for the two.

BB03

Beauty and Belle are both portrayed as brave, independent, and humble, not the usual damsel-in-distress girls in some fairy tales who have to wait for their knights in shining armors for a happy ending. With this said, the relationship they have with the Beast is slowly developed as time passes from friendship and eventually turned into love. In a way, I’m quite amazed that the story explored the true meaning of love, not the love-at-first-sight scenes we often see and read in most fairy tales.

In both stories, beauty is symbolized in the form of roses and in the very person of Beauty and Belle. The essence of beauty is so important to the Beast, explicitly showing his hatred towards his appearance, that he tries to capture beauty by confining it and making it his own, never wanting to let go. This is evident when he becomes sensitive at the moment someone touches his rose/s as well as when he lets Beauty and Belle live in his palace.

BB01

And of course, like any other stories, there’s a moral lesson to it which can be applied in every day life. While physical appearance contributes to one’s first impressions on the person, it can still be deceiving. Both stories teach us that in order to fully know a person, what’s underneath their skins and whatever is within their hearts are far more important.

2011 - Beauty and the BeastJeff Bridges as the Beast; Penélope Cruz as Belle

(You can check out my Disney Dream Portrait Series post for more.)