International Book Week

It’s International Book week. The rules: Grab the closest book to you, turn to page 52, post the fifth sentence. Don’t mention the title. Copy the rules as part of your post.

“Among them went whichever men or women had been leaving gifts for me, or arranging for them to be left.”

What’s your 5th sentence?

The Brides of Rollrock Island

The Brides of Rollrock Island

By: Margo Lanagan

(http://www.amazon.com/Margo-Lanagan/e/B001IQUOLA)

Ember 2013

A Young Adult fantasy review

Isolated on the sea, Rollrock is a simple island where everyone knows the rules: Work on fishing boats, bear children, and fear the witch.  For a witch can draw beautiful women out from the seals of the sea, and when these changed selkies come to Rollrock the island will also transform.

The shame of seal lineage marks Misskaella, but with power instead of beauty.  The love of seals will only take her so far, but the enchantment of them gives her the means to remake Rollrock completely.  What will men pay for the allure of a seal maid, how strongly will seal blood course through new children, how far can the seal witch reweave her island?  With the voices of witches, and the young of generations, Lanagan weaves a tumultuous, but bewitching tale.

The pace pitches and rolls unevenly, but with the suspense and surety of a sea voyage.  The characters bring you into their depths less with likeability and more with the vividness of their thoughts and the universality of their emotions.  Loneliness, bitterness, and betrayal all become part of Lanagan’s siren song alongside love, desire, and success.  “The Brides of Rollrock Island” explores the importance of control, follows the speedy lanes and jagged byways of blame, and showcases the pull of looks.  Yet the heart of this book, is that everyone must be true to themselves, even though that self may transform completely.  The selkies yearn for the sea, a man alters in response to his home, and “a lad that loves his mother above all” can explain a mire of heart-wrenching evolutions.

Lanagan’s honeyed writing lays a glistening coat over the bitter chocolate of her characters’ rough tales.  Thick with the caffeinated inevitability of time and awakening readers’ taste buds with plenty of sea salt,  “The Brides of Rollrock Island” is something to savor, that sticks with you as the sweet only enlivens the dark.  This book will enchant you with words, steer you through the waves of multiple minds, and submerge you in powerful emotions.  It’s a dark fairytale bursting with magic and connections, strong with life’s tides and haunting choices.  For a look at life’s layers, coats, and hidden currents, Lanagan’s work provides a beautiful vessel.

Top Ten…ish Authors I’ve Read the Most Books From

This is a rendition of thebrokeandthebookish.com’s Top Ten Tuesday.  I found this week’s very interesting.  I actually have 2 sections, prolific authors where I’ve read the highest numbers and less prolific authors whose works I have read in their entirety (or nearly so).  Here goes:

In order, authors I’ve read the most works by:

  1. Agatha Christie-She stimulates the little grey cells!poirot
  2. Ann M. Martin-Of all the huge series I read growing up, it seems that the first 35 of the Babysitters’ Club was the only real strain actually written by the same author instead of being ghost-written.  (Which I am kindof grateful for, without those ghost writers this post would be overtaken with Sweet Valley Twins and Nancy Drew, etc.!)
  3. Dr. Seuss-Oh, the books that I’ve read!  They get stuck in my head!  His rhymes simply sped, like a Liternffafed.
  4. Georgette Heyer-For heroines with spunk, romances with bickering, and incorrigible pets, she’s your lady!
  5. Dave Barry-Reading this humorist basically runs in my family.
  6. Rafael Sabatini-Swashbuckling heroes, historic shenanigans, and high romance ahoy!
  7. Diana Wynne Jones-Griffins, goddesses, and greatness-all with good quirk and great heart!Howl-s-Moving-Castle-howls-moving-castle-913538_1024_768
  8. Madeleine L’Engle-I still find the odd quote or image from her books spring to mind surprisingly often.

Authors who didn’t write as much, but who I have read the most books from PROPORTIONALLY:

9. Jane Austen-I’ve even read “Lady Susan” and some of her journal writings.

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10. Barbara Helen Berger-I’ve read every book published.

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11. Sarah Prineas-Read every book published so far and have definitely got dibs on her next one!

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12. James Thurber-An older humorist, his works are harder to come by, but I’ve read nearly all of them, plays, picture books, essays, and all!

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What about you?  What authors have you read the most from?  Which haven’t written as much but you have thoroughly devoured them?

Top Ten Bookworm Characters

This is a rendition of thebrokeandthebookish.com’s Top Ten Tuesday.  I found thinking of favorite bookworms surprisingly difficult!  If this were cinema it would be another story, but in books it was surprisingly hard to think of someone I’d really term a “bookworm.”  This is what I came up with:

1. Alexia Tarabotti from “The Parasol Protectorate” series by Gail Carriger

(Review of the first one here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/soulless-the-parasol-protectorate-series-1/)

Alexia loves reading and education and she hides out in libraries.  Ergo, I am confident we can call her a bookworm, although honestly we hardly ever see her read.

2. Tonino Montana of “The Chrestomanci Chronicles” series by Diana Wynne Jones (Specifically, “The Magicians of Caprona”)

Now, here is a real bookworm!

3. Will Stanton of “The Dark is Rising” series by Susan Cooper

Will, as an Old One, is very attuned to the power of books.  I think of him as a bookworm, though again, I’m not sure how much he actually reads…

4. Mr. Tumnus of “Narnia” by C.S. Lewis

His home was filled with books.  So, there.

5. Sophie from “The School for Good and Evil” by Soman Chainani

(Review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-school-for-good-and-evil/)

Sophie loves all of the stories, she knows every tale, every stereotype, and every last word about blemishes.  I’m going to say that counts even though she doesn’t actually read books, even to study.  (Yes, I know Agatha does, but she never seems to enjoy it for itself, does she?  It’s always for a useful reason.  This is the same reason I couldn’t include Kami Glass of the Lynburn Legacy series.)

6. A-Through-L or Ell of “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” by Catherine Valente

This Wyverary loves books like none other.  After all, his father is a library, so how else to show family feeling?

7. Professor Percy of “The Custard Protocol Series” by Gail Carriger

(Review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/prudence-custard-protocol-series-1/)

This man gets lost in his books, thrives on his books, and marvelously moves the plot forward with books, all while still having quite a presence.

8. Charles Wallace of “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle

The intuitive genius loves his books.

9. Mr. Bennett of “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

Ah, the denizen of the library.

10. Death of “Bitterblue” by Kristin Cashore

(Review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/bitterblue/)

This royal librarian has both bite and brains.

Who are your favorite bookworms?  Also, who would you rather discuss books with?  Read alongside?  Whose taste in books would you most share?  From my list I would say Alexia Tarabotti, Mr. Bennett, and Tonino Montana.

Top Ten Authors I’d Love to Meet

This is a rendition of thebrokeandthebookish.com’s Top Ten Tuesday. This week it’s the Top Ten Authors I’d Really Love to Meet.  Now, there are several favorite authors which I would actually prefer not to meet, either because I don’t want to discover they aren’t like the version of them in my head or because I love their work too much to want meeting the creators to influence it.  Hence, this is a list of authors I would adore hearing a lecture from and/or having a good, long lunch with.  Classic authors such as Voltaire and Jane Austen are excluded, however.  That’s just too hard.  Here goes:

Top Ten Authors I’d Love to Meet

1. Maurice Sendak of “Where the Wild Things Are,”

who dictated that this list include dead authors, as well as living.

2. Kristin Cashore of “Graceling”

because Katsa is my spirit-animal.  Also, I like her blog so I’m confident we would get along swimmingly.

3. Sarah Prineas of “Magic Thief”

and

4. Rachel Hartman of “Seraphina”

because each of these authors has powerfully reminded me of one of my dear friends, which instantly makes them fascinating, approachable, and wonderful.

5. Umberto Eco of “Baudolino”

because that book is written, not in how I expected it to go or what I thought fit in with the genre, but in the way that I think!

6. Jane Yolen of “Sleeping Ugly”

because she dabbles in so many of my favorite subject matters.

7. Raphael Sabatini of “Scaramouche”

because no one can do adventure, swashbuckling, or romance like that man.  Also, I wish to discuss history with him.

8. Emma Thompson of “The Further Tales of Peter Rabbit”

because I am convinced we could have the most epic tea time ever, given that she didn’t try to foist any haggis.

9. Diane Zahler of “The Thirteenth Princess”

because I love the tone and beauty of her stories.

10. Madelaine L’Engle of “A Wrinkle in Time”

because who doesn’t want to hear her talk more about weird and wonderful things?

Also, it must be said, I would also love having a good, long chat with Alton Brown about ridiculous and showy ways to be evil.  He didn’t make the list because although he has written books, I’ve only watched him on TV, but his malicious wit deserves recognition.

So, who would you like to meet?  Which authors would you prefer to love from afar?  Have you ever found an author who reminded you of a friend?

Top Ten Authors

This is a rendition of thebrokeandthebookish.com’s Top Ten Tuesday. This week it’s the Top Ten Authors of All Time…For Today, Anyway being my caveat.  Nevertheless, I have hunkered down and considered, rejected authors of favorite books whose other works I didn’t love as well, realized who truly felt like a good, old friend, and didn’t let myself narrow it down by any genre, whatsoever.  It was tough.  It was revealing.  It was…..

Top Ten Authors:

1. Raphael Sabatini

-No one does great adventure, high romance, or dramatic swashbuckling like Raphael Sabatini.  Also, excellent insults.

2. A.A. Milne

-For keeping me six forever and ever, where I’ll always stay clever as clever.

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3. Kristin Cashore

-Katsa is my spirit animal.

4. Shakespeare

-The bard is not to be denied.

5. Oscar Wilde

-The only thing I have to declare is his genius.  *Begins to eat muffins….out of my handbag*

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6. Barbara Helen Berger

-Authors/Illustrators’ combined work counts, for this list-I didn’t even deny myself that.

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7. Maurice Sendak

-Once a king, always a king when someone loves you best of all.

8. Jane Austen

-It is a truth universally acknowledged that a reader with great taste, must be in want of an Austen.

Mr. Darcy!

9. James Thurber

-Just here, in this doom-shaped list, after this doom-shaped number, on this doom-shaped blog…

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10. Madeleine L’Engle

-She will never leave my mind.

Who be yours?

Top Ten Books for Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

This is a rendition of thebrokeandthebookish.com’s Top Ten Tuesday. This week it’s the Top Ten Books for Blank, and I have chosen….for those that love Alice in Wonderland.  Because that’s how my writing desk ravens and my mushroom resizes.

1. The Chrestomanci Chronicles by Diana Wynne Jones

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-Zaniness, strange logics, and spunky young heroines and heroes.

2. Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

-Because pixies convinced they are dead are a good start and a young girl with an extreme fondness for logic and good advice follows through.

3. Candide by Voltaire

-Adventures with a satiric take on the world, characters that continuously pop back up, and naivety making the world strange.  Didn’t think I could make that case, did you?

4. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salmon Rushdie

(Review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/167/)

-Genies finnicking with faucets are a great continuation of rabbits with pocket watches.

5. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

-If you like Alice and her attitude of trying to be sensible amidst the bizarre, you ought to like Ella and her attitude of being a rebel amidst exact obedience.

6. The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

-Weird worlds, weird peoples, and Englishness…Englishocity?

7. Le Petit Prince by Antoine St.-Expupery

-Talking flowers, new views, and wonder.

8. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

(Review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/the-grand-sophy/)

-I like to think that Alice sighs over Sophy’s antics, and then turns around and achieves exactly the same results.

9. The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern

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-Wonderland loves to delve and explain the illogical.  The Princess Bride takes the logical and explains them so thoroughly they become fantastic and strange.  They belong together.

10. The Poems of A.A. Milne

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-Englishocity, royalty with obsessions, children fooling adults, etc.

So, what do you guys think?  Have you read anything more Wonderlandian?

The Little Grey Lists

I have just finished watching the last season of Agatha Christie’s “Poirot” mysteries starring the brilliant David Suchet.  I wanted this week’s list to be a tribute to this ending, but how to do it?  By the Poirot books?  I went through these many years ago and most have blurred together.  All Christie books?  Some of my favorites were not Poirot, although he was by far my favorite.  By the “Poirot” series?  All Poirot adaptations?  In the end, I couldn’t choose.

Top Agatha Christie Mysteries:

1. Five Little Pigs

-This one was by far my favorite.  With the crime in the past there was nothing to get in the way of the psychological study.

2. And Then There Were None

-This is the first Christie book I read and one of the few books ever that I kindof wish had been withheld from me til I was a few years older…it still plays vividly in my mind, compelling, brilliant, and incredibly creepy.

3. Crooked House

-The tone and ending of this book just stay with you.

4. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

-Seeing the crime through the villain’s notebook while still not knowing who it is….thrilling.  The adaptation of this was one of my only true letdowns-no cinema can do it properly.

5. The Man in the Brown Suit

-This is a novel where I actually remember the characters more fondly than the mystery-it’s great fun and my favorite of Christie’s matchmaking moves.

6. Dead Man’s Mirror

-Another Poirot mystery I found particularly clever and memorable.

Top Suchet “Poirot” adaptations:

1. Five Little Pigs

-I was surprised at how faithful they managed to keep it.  Love it!

2. Evil Under the Sun

-They managed to add humor and suspects with more depth without losing the tone of the original.

3. The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor

4. The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge

5. The Chocolate Box

-All of these are just delightful to watch….I’m sure this list will change often, but David Suchet’s Poirot just shines.

Top non-Suchet Cinema Adaptations:

1. Thirteen for Dinner

-This Peter Ustinov one just has more time to flesh out the characters and what I found to be a more believable Lady Edgeware.  Plus, Suchet does appear…as Japp!

2. Witness for the Prosecution

-This Hitchcock film feels like a real Agatha Christie, and is well acted!

3. Death on the Nile

-This one I include because, although I feel the Ustinov version and the Suchet version are both excellent shows, I prefer the Ustinov one simply because it has more time to develop various motives and has a memorable montage showing how practically everyone could have committed the crime…On the other hand, I prefer Suchet’s Poirot here, as usual, and find his portrayal much closer to the books.  Still, whichever way you go, I recommend it.

Poirot would hate these mini-lists for being uneven and a hodgepodge of preferences rather than one, orderly list…I know, shall blame it on my need for gastronomic nurturing and plead that I have not yet eaten.  What about you, mes amis, which novels, episodes, or crimes do your little grey cells prefer?

The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil

By: Soman Chainani

HarperCollins 2014

A young adult fantasy fairy tale

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Agatha never believed the stories that the two children who go missing from her village every four years were kidnapped to attend the schools for fairy tale characters.  She certainly doesn’t think she belongs in some school for witches and villains, as everyone else in Gavaldon says.  Sophie not only believes, she yearns to reach the School for Good and emerge as the princess she was born to embody.  Plus, she will be lucky enough to have her best friend Agatha with her, only in the School for Evil.  When Agatha lands at the School for Good and Sophie is delivered to the side of Evil, fate, fairy tales, and friendship are thrown into consternation.  Will the girls realize their true fairy tale?  Will they live through it?  More importantly, will they end up still together or will their opposing roles drive them apart?

Chainani’s setting and characters usher readers into his fairy tale world with an intrigue mixed with an unusual directness and defiance.  Switching perspectives between the desperately seeking Sophie and the focused, loyal Agatha keeps the world and its questions spinning, the action has more urgency and the plot more suspense when balanced so well between two characters instead of centering on one focal point.  Thematically, this novel gets off to a slow start, but just when I despaired that the only theme would be appearances, the dark undercurrents of deeper chills and issues emerged.  These deeper subjects grow fast, and Chainani’s world of shifting-perspectives show them off brilliantly.  What starts as a stroll past a sunlit river, discussing the fallacy of looks quickly melds into a twisting chasm roaring with rapids that push Agatha and Sophie towards love, home, betrayal, riddles, success, hopes, and friendship, all while questioning which paths are truly good and which lead towards evil.  The fast pace of the action, the ever-building stakes, and the constant determination of both heroines kept me hooked and, by the end, reeling.  The School for Good and Evil climaxes in a wave that crashes down rather abruptly, but the fullness of that wave is beautiful and satisfying and, while sudden, the ending left me feeling splashed and wishing for more.

The School for Good and Evil reads like a true fairy tale, where each link in the chain feels inevitably bound to the others until the ending feels like a truth.  As a fairy tale enthusiast, that is the highest recommendation I can give to a new fairy tale work.  I will also say that the setting was vivid, all the characters continued to grow on me, as well as in the tale, and I loved the themes-they were fantastically done.  If you like fairy tales, detailed fantasy worlds, complex heroines, Ever After High, or quick-paced action tales, this is a book for you.  Go read it.

Top Ten Christmas Wishlist Books

This is a rendition of thebrokeandthebookish.com’s Top Ten Tuesday (and a Day). However, after looking at the lists, I decided to do next week’s now. After all, what’s the use of putting out into the world what I want for Christmas on Christmas Eve? Santa, let alone anyone else, would never be able to implement that quickly! So, here’s my wishlist of books now:

Top Ten Christmas Wishlist Books:

1. xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths by Kate Bernheimer
-I have her previous anthology, “My Mother, She Killed Me, My Father, He Ate Me” and it is glorious.

2. Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles) by Lauren DeStefano
-I love her lyrical writing style.

3. Animalia by Barbara Helen Berger
-She’s so beautiful and touching!

4. When the Sun Rose by Barbara Helen Berger

5. The Prince’s Doom by David Blixt http://www.amazon.com/Princes-Doom-David-Blixt/dp/0615894437/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418840600&sr=1-1&keywords=david+blixt
-Oh my goodness, I didn’t know this was out so soon, and it’s in paperback, and-and! I must have!!

6. Diary of Johannes Burchardus
-This diary is a firsthand account about Pope Alexander VI-the Borgia Pope!-and I love the quotes I know, and I crave it.

7. To Be or Not to Be by Ryan North
-This is a choose your own adventure Hamlet book. How do I not have this?

8. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
-This is the sequel to Seraphina, coming out next year, and I must know what happens next!

9. Prudence (The Custard Protocol) by Gail Carriger
-This is another coming-out one, but it’s on my list of must-read. This is the sequel series to The Parasol Protectorate, about Alexia’s daughter.

10. Jester Leaps In: A Medieval Mystery (Fools’ Guild Mysteries) by Alan Gordman
-I loved Thirteenth Night and want to know what happens next.

So, that’s me. What does your wishlist look like?

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