Tag: Fantasy


Books I’ve Recently Read | Magic Edition

Posted 26 May, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 19 Comments

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Books I've Recently Read

Way back in March (I swear that was like a week ago), Kristen from We Be Reading hosted a little party called March Magics. Every year she dedicates March to Diana Wynne Jones, and with Terry Pratchett’s passing she decided to add him to the month.

I’ve had Mort on my shelf for years, and I heard quite a bit about Fire and Hemlock from other bloggers during Book Blogger Appreciation Week, so I knew I needed to participate. Both books were good fun and I enjoyed them both–though they were very different from each other. If you’re a fantasy fan and haven’t read these yet or you’re looking to expand your reading horizon a bit, go ahead and add both to your list to read (but if you’re going to choose one, I’d vote for Mort).

 

Fire and Hemlock

TitleFire and HemlockAuthor: Diana Wynne Jones
Published: 1984 | Pages: 341 | Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult
Rating: Curious and Curiouser (in a good way)

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads

In Short: As a child, Polly wanders into a a funeral in an old mansion near her grandmother’s house. Although it is clear she does not belong, she befriends a young man, Thomas Lynn, with whom she forms a strange friendship. As Polly looks back on her childhood, she is not always sure how true some of her hidden fantastical memories really are. Could it really be that she and Thomas Lynn had the ability to imagine something and have it become part of reality?

Bottom Line and Recommendation: I read Fire and Hemlock for Kristen’s March Magics after seeing it mentioned several times during Book Blogger Appreciation Week. I’ve only read one other DWJ book (Howl’s Moving Castle), so I assumed this book would be about witches and warlocks and all kinds of different hocus pocus magic. What I received instead was an intriguing little story for which I didn’t quite understand what was going on but I was compelled to continue.

Fire and Hemlock was a curious and fun ride, and one that made me think and ponder quite a bit. I was especially struck by two thoughts as I read: the fascinating way in which a child’s mind works to make connections between fantasy and reality and the way that we remember our past in tandem with how our past actually occurred. Memory is an amazing thing–even if it isn’t always reliable. Recommendation? I’m not sure that I can recommend Fire and Hemlock widely–it is often a very strange read, but it’s a great way to dip your toes into fantasyland.

 

Mort by Terry Pratchett

Title: Mort | Author: Terry Pratchett
Published: 1987 | Pages: 316 | Genre: Fiction/Fantasy
Rating: Death is always good fun!

On Amazon | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: Young Mort is offered an apprenticeship with Death–yes, the grim reaper who ushers individuals into their next life after they die. While Mort is given more and more responsibility, Death decides to take a little vacation from his duties to see what this “living” thing is all about. Meanwhile Mort decides to play with the fates when he decides a certain princess might not be quite ready for the next world. Pandemonium ensues. Because of course!

Bottom Line and Recommendation: Are you like me and find the Discworld series to be a bit overwhelming? So many books! So many threads! This is my third Discworld book (after having read and enjoyed the first two in the series), and even though a few years have passed since I read those I was able to dive into this one without any problems. Well, except that I find Pratchett sometimes difficult to read. He doesn’t use chapter breaks, his writing is sometimes colloquial, and the paragraphs are metaphor rich that sometimes make my head spin.

But but but, Pratchett is also a delight to read (despite the head spinning) and I find myself chuckling quite a bit at the nonsense or astuteness of his social commentary. Mort was an enjoyable read, even if I have trouble wrapping my brain around fantasy plots sometimes–there was a lot of talk about alternate time and space and woooooo my brain is tired from newborning and a lot of the book went over my head. If you’re a fan of fantasy, satire, or just general fun, Mort is definitely a book to pick up.

A (nonspoilery) taste:

History unravels gently, like an old sweater. It has been patched and darned many times, reknitted to suit different people, shoved into a box under the sink of censorship to be cut up for the dusters of propaganda, yet it always – eventually – manages to spring back into its old familiar shape. History has a habit of changing the people who think they are changing it. History always has a few tricks up its frayed sleeve. It’s been around a long time (150).

There should be a word for the microscopic spark of hope that you dare not entertain in case the mere act of acknowledging it will cause it to vanish, like trying to look at a photon. You can only sidle up to it, looking past it, walking past it, waiting for it to get big enough to face the world (280).

*Amazon and Indiebound links are affiliate. If you purchase anything through those links, I will receive a small commission which will help support this blog. Thank you!

Have you read either of these books? What did you think? Are you a fantasy fan? Any go to authors I should add to my list?

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Half World – Hiromi Goto #Diversiverse

Posted 16 November, 2013 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 5 Comments

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Title: Half World
Author: Hiromi Goto
Illustrator: Jillian Tamaki
Published: 2010; Pages: 225
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy (Young Adult)

Half World in Short: Melanie doesn’t quite fit into her world but what she never realized was that she wasn’t really from her world–instead she was born into the Realm of Flesh from parents of the Half World. When her mother is taken back to Half World, Melanie learns that she is part of a prophesy to fix the chasm between Realm of Flesh, Half World, and Realm of Spirit.

“Half World should not be a trap for all who suffer, but because the Three Realms have been divided we cannot help but fall back, again and again, into a cycle of suffering. It is the same for your Realm [of Flesh] and for the Realm of Spirit. We need the Three Realms reunited for there to be balance and wholeness. Without it we are all trapped creatures, only ever partially ourselves. No one is whole” (139).

Why I Read It: #Diversiverse (see more information below) snuck up on me, and as I was looking for a shorter book to read I remembered that Fizzy Jill read this one last year and enjoyed it. Luckily my library had a copy.

Thoughts in General: After choosing Half World as my Diversiverse read, I began hearing mixed reviews about the story and the book. While some said that this book is an excellent young adult/adult crossover novel, others complained that the writing and the story felt too young. The story did feel young in some places, but I believe that Melanie’s desire to fit in with society and her questioning why she doesn’t is universal. But more importantly, Melanie truly exhibits growth throughout the novel and her journey is one that can teach readers of all ages about digging deep and finding inner strength. Melanie is tasked with a mission that she doesn’t understand or believe that she can accomplish, but she is able to prove herself worthy of the task of reuniting the three Realms.

Bottom Line: Half World is an entirely enjoyable book that pulls the reader on from chapter to chapter. Goto provides just enough suspense in her story to propel the reader along the journey, and Melanie is a character worth cheering on. While there is certainly a youthful feel to the novel (the antagonist’s name is Mr. Glueskin), it’s certainly a book that can be enjoyed by adults. Half World would make a great Readathon book and a great partner-read between a parent and child. While it won’t be my favorite book of the year, I had fun with Melanie’s journey and am glad that I read the book.

This post is part of the book blogging event A More Diverse Universe, hosted by Aarti from Book Lust, where about 50 bloggers have committed to reading a speculative fiction novel by a person of color. As author Hiromi Goto explains “I’m looking for more than just a skin colour and small gestures. I want a full-blown world that’s rich, diverse and multi-layered with stories and histories.” Please make sure to check out all of the other participants this week.

Curious what your favorite speculative fiction or fantasy book is written by a person of color? I’m always looking for books and authors to stretch my reading horizons.

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The Talisman – Stephen King and Peter Straub

Posted 4 September, 2013 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 13 Comments

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Title: The Talisman
Authors: Stephen King and Peter Straub
Narrator: Frank Muller
Published: 1984 Pages: 768
Audio Duration: 28 hours
Genre: Fantasy/Horror (more fantasy)

In Short: Twelve-year-old Jack Sawyer must journey through our world and a parallel world in search of The Talisman that will save his dying mother.

Why I read The Talisman: For the #TalismanAlong! Paxton of Cavalcade of Awesome and I hosted an informal readalong of The Talisman in August. You can read more about the origins of the readalong on the original post.

Thoughts in General: If you’ve been reading my blog over the past year you’ve probably noticed I’ve developed a bit of a crush on Stephen King. The Talisman was a side of King that I haven’t necessarily seen before–with the fantasy world and the grotesque horror bits. Ok, ok, all of his books have had fantastical elements but The Talisman takes place in part in an entirely different world and there are elements that are an absolute stretch of the imagination. Sometimes my brain doesn’t comfortably wrap around fantasy–I have liked fantasy books in the past but it isn’t a genre I naturally gravitate towards. And the horror bits weren’t scary–just gross. Probably more scary in a movie, but in the book it was just gross.

What else is different about The Talisman than some of the other King books I’ve read? Well, the fact that it’s co-written with Peter Straub, and author I’ve never read nor know nothing about. Ooops. Paxton wrote up a great post about an interview article with King and Straub in the 80s when the book was published. I’ve read a few co-authored books in the past and I find myself constantly wondering who wrote what and how co-authorship works. Can you tell I’m stalling because I don’t have much to say about the book?

What will you find in The Talisman? A coming of age story, survival of the fittest (mentally), and pure and deep love between friends. A devoted son and purely good kid. Terrible and wretched bad guys who will stop at nothing to achieve their domination. The mystery and mystique of parallel worlds and the traveling between them. Good conquering evil but not before a whole heck of a lot of damage is done. All good things in a book–but possibly a book that is a couple hundred pages shorter.

Bottom Line: My mom asked me if I would recommend The Talisman to her as she’s enjoyed several of the other King books I’ve read the past year. My simple answer? No. It’s hard for me to pick an audience for this book because so many people love it and it came highly recommended to me, but ultimately this one didn’t do it for me. Maybe it was timing, maybe it was the fantasy, maybe it was a plot that plodded along rather slowly? It’s not one that will stick with me.

A Note on the Audio: In desperation to keep up with the readalong I decided to listen to The Talisman while on my commute in addition to reading the book. I say desperation because I was not thrilled with Frank Muller’s narration. By the end of the book I grew used to his tonal inflections but while listening I often found myself too distracted by Muller’s cadence and tendency to draw out the last words of his sentences to really grasp the actual story I was listening to. I’ve been told he’s one of the audio narrator greats but he didn’t do it for me at all.

Am I just a grumpy reader lately? Not likely as I deeply loved A Prayer for Owen Meany but part of me wonders if I’m being too hard on The Talisman.  Good news is some of the other readers, including my fair host Pax, enjoyed the book much more than I did. If you read it (now or then) and have a blog link, please leave it in the comments section so we can see your thoughts.

Curious about a time when you’ve gone out on a limb for a genre you don’t normally read and were pleasantly surprised–tell me!

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The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett

Posted 27 May, 2009 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 30 Comments

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Title: The Light Fantastic
Author: Terry Pratchett
Published: 1986 Pages: 241
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5

A year ago I discovered Discworld for the first time with The Color of Magic, and I can’t believe it has been that long since poor Rincewind was left hanging over the side of the world! I have loved my Discworld journey thus far, but I have to say I preferred The Color of Magic just a tad. Perhaps timing? But now I’m really looking forward to traveling around at leisure (check out this Discworld reading guide the lovely Nymeth introduced me to). I’m thinking about pursuing the “Death” novels or “Witches” novels next.

What is Discworld? Well, I’m probably not the best to describe it to you, but it is a world (flat) that rests upon four giant elephants who stand upon an even more giant turtle, A’Tuin, who floats leisurely through space. The Discworld series contains over thirty novels, The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic being the first two. These two are sequels, but as I understand the rest are pretty much stand alone novels with running themes.

The Light Fantastic is a continuation of Rincewind and Twoflower’s journeys across Discworld. Rincewind is a fairly inept wizard who cannot perform magic because long ago a spell lodge itself in his mind. It happens that this spell is an incredibly important spell from a powerful collection of eight and the fate of Discworld rests in all eight of these spells being said at the same time. When a giant red star begins on a crash collision course towards Discworld, the importance of that spell grows exponentially, but can Rincewind stay out of enough trouble to keep himself alive and the spell safe?

Reading this book provided for constant amusement. I love the tongue-in-cheek humor of this novel and the cleverness. Pratchett doesn’t always give away his humor easily, and I always felt satisfied when I got it. In one scene, Twoflower is playing a game of cards: “It’s a special kind of playing…In your language, it’s called a thing you put across a river, for example” he concluded, “I think.” “Aqueduct?” hazarded Rincewind. “Fishing line? Weir? Dam?” “Yes, possibly.” So, I’m thinking to myself–I know there’s a joke here. Ooooh! Bridge! :) As with CoM I felt like I never quite got everything that should have been funny, perhaps because I’m not as familiar with the fantasy genre, but I definitely had a lot of giggle out loud moments.

And then there were the things that made me go “hmmm.” Poor Death is so misunderstood, and even though he plays a small role in these two novels, he’s one of my favorite characters. “The Death of the Disc was a traditionalist who prided himself on his personal service and spent most of the time being depressed because this was not appreciated. He would point out that no one feared death itself, just pain and separation and oblivion, and that it was quite unreasonable to take against someone just because he had empty eye sockets and a quiet pride in his work” (104). Although the subject matter and humor make these books feel light, Pratchett is always seeming to sneak in more serious food for thought.

One of the qualms that I have with this book, and I fear the rest of the series, is that there are no chapter breaks. Looking back at my review for CoM, it seems that I had a difficult time following that book as well. The focus of the novel shifts frequently and I often had a tough time figuring out what was going on. I’ve tried to put my finger on what it is that I’m having a tough time with, and I think that Pratchett transitions so quickly that my brain doesn’t always have time to process. This works well for me visually (like a movie), but in a book I felt like I always need to backtrack a bit to remember what was going on. Because I was reading this book in short amounts, it was a big pitfall. Other than that I really enjoyed the book. It seemed like this novel was more plot driven than the first, and that helped me focus more on the story. I would recommend this book, but read Color of Magic first.

Have you made the journey into Discworld yet? What are your favorite Discworld novels?

Date Finished: May 27, 2009 #27

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The Tales of Beedle the Bard – JK Rowling

The Tales of Beedle the Bard – JK Rowling

Title: The Tales of Beedle the BardAuthor: J.K. RowlingPublished: 2008 Pages: 107Genre: Fantasy/Fairy TaleRating: 3/5 Has it really been two weeks since I posted about an actual book? Time has gotten away from me, as I suspected it would, ever since the read-a-thon. Or maybe it’s just because I’m not keeping with my book a week average since I’m still slogging through Middlemarch and will be for another week or so. Without the pressure of […]

Posted 12 May, 2009 by Trish in Reading Nook / 34 Comments
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Farworld: Water Keep – J. Scott Savage; Q&A AND Giveaway

Farworld: Water Keep – J. Scott Savage; Q&A AND Giveaway

Title: Water KeepAuthor: J. Scott SavageDate Finished: July 27, 2008 #43Pages: 413 (ARC)Rating: 4.5/5 After I signed up for J. Scott Savage’s Farworld Blogtour I almost started to regret my decision–what happens if I don’t like the book? What do I say then? Well, lucky for me (and the author), me not liking this book wasn’t a problem–not even in the slightest. What a fun and exciting read!! And a breath of fresh air after […]

Posted 14 August, 2008 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 20 Comments
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Stardust – Neil Gaiman

Stardust – Neil Gaiman

Title: StardustAuthor: Neil GaimanDate Finished: June 28, 2008 #37Pages: 333Rating: 4.5 Yay!! I finally read a Gaiman book! I know I leave comments on y’alls blog and say–ooooh, I’m putting that on my TBR and then it seems that I don’t. But I tell you–I do! And, I’ve recently picked up three of Gaiman’s novels (the other two are American Gods and Neverwhere). I had actually hoped to read this one to hubby since we […]

Posted 3 July, 2008 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 29 Comments
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Wicked – Gregory Maguire

Wicked – Gregory Maguire

Title: WickedAuthor: Gregory MaguireDate Finished: May 12, 2008Yearly Count: 25Pages: 406Rating: 4/5 “One never learns how the witch became wicked, or whether that was the right choice for her–is it ever the right choice? Does the devil ever struggle to be good again, or if so is he not a devil? Is it at the very least a question about definitions” (231). I must have seen the movie The Wizard of Oz a million times […]

Posted 13 May, 2008 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 31 Comments
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The Color of Magic – Terry Pratchett

The Color of Magic – Terry Pratchett

Title: The Color of MagicAuthor: Terry PratchettDate Finished: April 29, 2008Yearly Count: 23Pages: 210Rating: 4.5/5 WHAT????? I am so glad that Nymeth warmed me about the cliffhanger ending, otherwise I think I would be in a state of shock right now. I picked up this book for the Once Upon a Time Challenge without knowing very much about the author or the Discworld series other than what I’ve heard from Nymeth, but I’m certainly glad […]

Posted 30 April, 2008 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 19 Comments
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