Blog Book Tour | “Bearskin” by Jamie Robyn Wood

Posted Tuesday, 22 September, 2015 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “Bearskin” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fairy-tale Re-tellings are my new ‘niche’ of interest:

When the author first approached me about hosting her debut novel on it’s blog tour, I was in the midst of sorting out how to resolve my lightning damages and switchover to a new ISP provider who could stablise my issues with connectivity. Lightning proved to be a humdinger of a nightmare this past Summer, and losing my ability to read whilst I blog was one of the losses I sustained whilst mother nature proved her salt and power. Blessedly Ms Wood did contact me, as I hadn’t known too much about Bearskin prior to when she contacted me – I was aware of it coming up on the calendar for Cedar Fort’s blog tours, as I like to stay ahead of what is coming down the pipe, but as far as what it involved and what the story might be based upon, I was a bit in the dark!

She mentioned to me it was based on two separate fairy-tales “Bearskin” and “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”, which intrigued me outright – as I have sorted out that ‘fairy-tale re-tellings’ is fast becoming a new ‘niche’ of interest of mine! It is credited to the writers behind Sweetwater Books whose stories have captured my imagination and inspired me forward to seek out other re-tellings based on fairy-tale lore.

I did a bit of research to uncover BEARSKIN was writ by the Brothers Grimm and East of the Sun and West of the Moon was included in The Blue Fairy Book – one of the collections of tales which tipped a curious hat for me to include on my neverending ‘need to read’ lists! To combine origins of lore from both Germany and Norway respectively is quite the feat to undertake, and rather than expand my readings about the particulars of both fairy-tales, I decided knowing their origins was enough to whet my appetite ahead of reading Wood’s spin on them!

Due to her inspiring first contact, I decided to mark myself down for this blog tour, however, I was already on a short break from signing up for new blog tours as I was slowly falling behind on my CF hosting duties – the lighting and the time offline was not working in my favour!

This is why this week is going to be heavily focused on Cedar Fort’s releases, as I’m using the last day of the tour for BEARSKIN as a jumping stone towards becoming current! Coming up next will be Ann Farnsworth’s The Throne of David followed by Summer Campaign by Carla Kelly on Saturday, with two reviews on Sunday being featured: The Tulip Resistance by Lynne Leatham Allen and The Haunting of Springett Hall by E.B. Wheeler! The latter of which will kick-off my participation in PERIL where we (book bloggers) focus on tales of Mystery, Suspense, and Horror! For me, this includes ghost stories and psychological suspense such as the kind Wheeler writes!

In regards to fairy-tales, what appeals to me is how contemporary writers are re-envisioning the tales in such a creative way as to help us dip back into their folds without the Brothers Grimm versions leaving us in a fit of nightmares! I’ve not yet read any of the originals, as I previously learnt the fairy-tale versions I grew-up on myself were watered down and were not even a hint of their forebearers! I apparently appreciate a gentler side to fiction, especially when it comes to fairy-tales and the fantasy worlds just past our own imaginative realms!

Notation on the Cover Art Design:

What truly hits you as you pick up the book for the first time is the closeness of the bear and the vivid emotional state of the person underneath the cloaked hood. The entire image is quite evoking – even the title makes you ponder the truer meaning behind the word and if by chance, the bear and the bear’s essence can be transmorphed somehow onto another entity that is not Ursidae in nature. Part of my early inklings of thought were to wonder if this was part shapeshifter or part animal spirit guides – something that would interconnect the lead characters with the bear. I accidentally had a spoiler revealed to me whilst googling ‘shapeshifting’ and reading a brief portion of this article! Although it didn’t spoilt the story – if anything, my fantasy instincts are starting to kick-in again! Besides I’m the one who loves a shifter named Bannon from the Leland Dragons series!

Blog Book Tour | “Bearskin” by Jamie Robyn WoodBearskin
by Jamie Robyn Wood
Source: Direct from Publisher

When their mother, an evil enchantress, tries to convince Conrad, Moiria, and Heppson to follow her ways, each one must decide where the line lies between good and evil, magic and myth. But it will take more than good intentions to defend their kingdom against the danger that's coming.

Based on the Bearskin fairy-tale, this young adult fantasy is filled with intricate plot twists and an impossible romance that will keep you guessing.

Genres: Fairy-Tale Re-Telling, Fantasy Fiction, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781462117161

Published by Sweetwater Books

on 8th September 2015

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 288

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Published By: Sweetwater Books (@SweetwaterBooks),
an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFortBooks)

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

About Jamie Robyn Wood

Jamie Robyn Wood

Jamie Robyn Wood is a full-time wife and mother and a part-time fantasy writer and essayist. Jamie never imagined the wind could blow so hard and so cold until she moved to the Midwest. Now she prefers to hunker inside the house with a cup of hot chocolate and a story to write. Bearskin is her first novel. She, her husband, their five children, and their “pet” squirrels currently reside in Coralville, Iowa.

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I am positively smitten by ‘shifters’:

I was completely unaware of my attraction to shapeshifters until I met Bannon in Jackie Gamber’s YA Fantasy series the Leland Dragons (of which I have happily blogged about quite a heap!) and then, happily I found myself empathic to the shifter in AshleyRose Sullivan’s alternative historical PNR Silver Tongue except to say, I hadn’t had the pleasure of flushing out my appreciation of the diversity of characters within Silver Tongue at the time of my review. I was under a time constraint for personal and tech reasons, so I truly wanted to blog as much as I could about the heart of the novel saving the best bits to share during Sci Fi November + the Sci Fi Experience this upcoming November through January.

The entire idea behind shapeshifters was not completely foreign to me in concept because I grew up watching DS9 where Odo regularly made an appearance and was one of my favourites to watch on the series. It wasn’t until Bannon that I fully understand the soul behind the shifters and of their struggle to merge between worlds of who they are: part human, part ‘something’ other than human. It’s an interesting psychological angle to encourage in the crafting of stories, especially in Fantasy because it undercuts the humanistic side of the character’s spirit.

I haven’t yet read the collection of Harry Potter novels, but Harry’s Uncle is quite dear to me and I credit his character (via the motion pictures) as being part of my inclination towards seeking out more shifters in literature whilst full credit still remains with #EuphorYA (where I discovered ‘werecats’; as tweeted about). Although if you run a search for my chattering on Twitter you will find this hodgepodge collection of tweeting; even if I made a small bit of a mistake in which raptor species Bannon truly is! Oy vie!

And, I cannot end a discussion about shifters without drawing attention to a wonderful shifter inside EDC Johnson’s PNR debut Moonflower, a novel I dearly want to re-read prior to the second novel’s release! I definitely wanted to spend more time inside her world and properly take up residence for a spell! The note she wrote to me on her website is very dear to my heart, as each time I meet a book which leaves me spellbound, the review which is featured on my blog becomes a note of gratitude back to the author!

Not surprisingly, all my shifter favourites are within the YA Lit side of reading!

My Review of Bearskin:

A dark foreboding of an imperfect future settles over you as the pages of Bearskin start to introduce you to Wood’s narrative; finding you lock-center to a character whose fullness of being wants to bend back the will to live through an integral moment in time. Moiria yields her fears and her innermost desires to be extracted from the situation completely, where if she were able too, she’d implode internally into her darkest sphere of self. Hidden by the length of tapestries and the dark weaving locks of her hair, she draws inward in order to block out her visual and audio range of awareness – the sinister reality she’s living in is wretched against the will of a mother whose darkened soul blackens out hope and light.

It’s with a very cunningly realistic hand on fantasy and human-centric emotional drama, Wood anchours us into this defying moment of Moiria’s life whilst enveloping us in what I would presume is the darker underside of a Grimm fairy-tale. Darkening ever so midnight with a faint flickering of knowledge not everyone privy to the unfolding events is a willing accomplice. I do not normally find myself attracted to darker undertones but it’s the manner in which this one is being revealed which left me aching for more because it’s the style of Wood’s narrative that etches into your mind to encourage more of the novel to be devoured. Definitely a complex building arc of light vs dark and good vs evil – a percolating drama by half!

Built on the foundations of Psychological Suspense (moreso than I would have first perceived!), Bearskin is driven by anguish and the angst of dealing with a mother whose entire life was prioritised by what she could manipulate out of it. Moiria took it upon her tender shoulders to emerge out of her beloved shadows into the forefront of a battle against her mother and the evolving despair of her brothers (the brothers are half-brothers, wherein she shares hereditary with one of them). She sought to take a stand against the evil she grew up alongside and to take a more vocal part in effecting change rather than withdrawing out of the reality she was living. However, what Moiria hadn’t reckoned is how for each action there is an effect on the opposite end of an obstacle that might off-set the justice of your reasoning. In this, Wood sets the stage for Moiria and her brothers to embark on a journey towards redemption out of the tidalwave of dark magic.

Wood has an eloquence of clarity threaded between her entrance into Bearskin and how she paints the larger scope of where all her characters start to intersect with each other. I was fully swept inside the legacy of the ‘bear’s skin’ and how this ‘bearskin’ acts as a transmogrification key of exchange for one of the characters; I’d rather not spoilt the surprise in finding out whose meant to take-on this metamorphosis but instead hint towards how this external change has internal ramifications!

I didn’t think I could find another author who could pen a story so inherently along the lines of the Leland Dragons where the pathos of humanity and the inter-balance of the natural world to mankind would be explored,… until I picked up Bearskin! I was quite on pins to dig deeper into the novel for fear the conclusion wouldn’t satisfy my newfound passion for this world and my itch to see the elements of the story shift forward in time past where Bearskin leaves us!

Wood ignites a happy distance between the traditional craft of etching out a fairy-tale re-telling based on a canon by uniting her novel between where the different sequenced sections leave off with one another. We are guided expertly through each passage of the journey, travelling in tandem with the characters and being pulled through their adversities with such heart as to evoke a willingness of turnt pages to find how their inner light and their inner world of hope can unseal a fate towards darkness and the murky existence when everything but an absence of light can provide.

I even enjoyed how her beautiful arches of strokes between setting and locales ground us in different portions of her world-building. This in particular reminded me of Gamber, because the Murkens and the Guardians of Wood have a lot in common with each other! They are independent, of course, but it’s who they are and what they try to accomplish that resonated with me as bearing a familiarity about them. I’ve wanted to pick up other stories of Fantasy where animals and shifters who walk between man and nature take central lead to tell the story, but until now, my journey through Fantasy has been a bit serendipitously focused.

I appreciate the unknown bits of being a book blogger – where a certain book has a way of reaching your hands at the moment it’s message is meant to alight in your mind. For me, receiving a note from Ms Wood about Bearskin was a moment I will not soon forget because it gave me a window into why I love shifters and the beauty of the worlds Fantasy authors are giving us through these characters.

In other words, if EDC Johnson convinced me of YA PNR: Wood and Gamber have sealed my fate for being entirely smitten by shifters forevermore!

Why I think Wood has carved out a beautiful niche for lesser known fairy-tale re-tellings:

She tackles the complexities of the genre with the heart of a researcher who knows how to underlit her original story with the back history of the fairy-tale itself whilst re-inventing how the story can be told. In the very beginning of reading BEARSKIN, my mind flittered back to my enjoyment of Brave where a mother is turnt into a bear – remembering that tidbit, it was almost as though part of the back-story of this fairy-tale ‘clicked into place’ and the suspension of the fairy-tale fully sealed inside my mind!

Wood has an sophisticated edge to her writings – she has found a way to take a dark fairy-tale and write it in such a fashion as to implore you to find heart and pace with it’s message. It’s how she interweaves the story with her background set in a kingdom that has fallen to darkness and a vileness that took out the lifeblood of living. It would paint everything in this world quite darkly if not for her characters – characters who despite their difficulties are still trying to work themselves out of chaos and back towards a path that aligns with a more honourable path to walk.

I even appreciated how she broke-down the pacing of the story by character – switching points of view between the siblings and thereby taking us into different parts of the novel from their unique perspectives. They were each living a different version of the same reality – one became a self-declared outcast (Heppson), one was cursed by her mother (Conrad), and Moiria was left with the pieces of what she wrought out of a self-proclaimed will to achieve what was thought to be impossible to wield. The temptation to know how the Prologue section knits together with the drama of the story left me happily curious as I read the chapters.

By the time I reached the second part of the story (where the Prologue returns it’s focus) I couldn’t help smile at what I was reading because it was such a beautiful conduit of continuity! This novel is achingly unputdownable – you want to devour it in one sitting if you can because waiting even a handful of hours to know the fullness of what is contained inside Bearskin is far too long!

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This Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of Cedar Fort, Inc.:

Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

Visit the Virtual Road Map to visit other readerly insights & guest author features:

Be sure to visit the author’s blog as she is hosting a giveaway for BEARSKIN!

Bearskin Blog Tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

Don’t miss my previous reviews of fairy-tale re-tellings:

(all but one are CF releases, too!)

  • Star of Deliverance by Mandy Madson Voisin
    Cinderella (The Little Glass Slipper) by Brothers Grimm
  • Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth  Rapunzel by Brothers Grimm
  • Becoming Beauty by Sarah E. Boucher
    Belle et la Bête by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
  • What is Lost by Lauren Skidmore  Little Red Riding Hood by Brothers Grimm

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Find out what I am hosting next via Cedar Fort in 2015!

Visit with me again soon!

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Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.

{SOURCES: Author photograph of Jaime Robyn Wood and the Book Cover of “Bearskin” were provided by the author Jaime Robyn Wood and used with permission. Author Biography, Book Synopsis, Blog Tour Badge and Cedar Fort badge were provided by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded due to the codes provided by Twitter. Comment badge created by Jorie in Canva. Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

I’m a social reader | I love to tweet my bookish life!

During #WyrdAndWonder Year 2 [2019] I shared a link to this review whilst discussing the reasons why I am open-minded about reading #DarkFantasy whilst #Grimdark isn’t my cuppa!

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 22 September, 2015 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, After the Canon, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bears, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Equality In Literature, Fairy Tale Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore and Mythology, Historical Fiction, Illustration for Books & Publishing, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Inspired by Stories, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Re-Told Tales, Shapeshifters, Spirituality & Metaphysics, YA Fantasy

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