Being a person with utterly unrealistic expectations, I took with me to my library booksale a bag of books to read. It didn't happen...although we did sell a fair number of books (but oh goodness, this was the booksale in which we had all the library's adult fiction discards to sell, and boy are they a drag on the market...)
But anyway, when I came home, shattered, I chose what proved to be the perfect book for pleasant unwinding-ness--Cloaked, by Alex Flinn (2011, Harper Collins, YA, 337 pages). It tells of the adventures of a young cobbler named Johnny, who is struggling to keep the family shoe repair business, based in a posh Miami hotel, afloat. With his father no longer in the picture, he and his mother are poor but worthy....and it is his worthiness that attracts the attention of the fabulously wealthy, and very hot, visiting princess. She enlists him (with the promise of marriage, and the concomitant solution to his financial problems) in a quest to find her brother, who's been turned into a toad by an evil witch.
With the help of his best buddy, Meg (who's got a few secrets up her sleeve) Johnny is off to the Florida Keys, in an adventure full of fairy tale riffs--six enchanted swans, a fox with a past, two greedy giants, a wish-granting fish, and more. Fortunately, the princess gave Johnny a magic cloak, and other helpful magics turn up, but still, it's touch and go for the toad...(and Johnny and Meg! Not to mention the six enchanted swans).
Fun and frolicsome stuff. I enjoyed meeting the familiar fairy tales in their new Floridian guise (the swan story, especially). Johnny did disappoint me by not following the fox's advice (since I know that story (the one with the golden bird), I knew he was making Bad Choices), and he was a tad "clueless teenage boy-ish" with regard to girls. But he meant well, and gets points for talking things over with his mother before setting off (I hope my boys will trust me enough to do the same). He also gets points for his serious interest in shoe design and the craft of cobbling (I like Craft Elements in my fantasy).
It's a vignettish kind of book. Flinn introduces lots of different fairy tales here, and the story moves briskly from one to the next. The downside of this is a scattering of emotional umph, but the upside is a humorous and diverting lightness. In short, this book was just the sort of diversion I needed, and I read it cover to cover in a (more or less, but I take what I can get) single sitting.
Especially recommended for the kid who loved Sarah Beth Durst's Into the Wild when they were two years younger, who now wants a more contemporary romance feel with their fairy tales.
(but the cover is wrong. It looks sort of Darkly Romancy, and it isn't; there are bits of bright young love, but no raw and tortured angst. And I kept expecting, based on the thorns, that Sleeping Beauty was going to turn up, but she didn't, and I don't recall any thorns at all).