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.

Animalia

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

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?

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?

Top Ten Books to Feed On

I once again decided to do my own top ten list this week, and as tomorrow is the Holiday of Feasting, these are books that focus on memorable foods and feasts.

1. The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas
Biscuits!

2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The title food, plus roast pigs and stews! Also a holiday tea tradition that I would love to bring to life…

3. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Eat me!

4. The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye
Spun sugar castles, and gorgeous swans, and ice-cream licking, and nuts!

5. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
Whisper sticks!

6. Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennett
Sandwiches, cake, and of course ice cream!

7. House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
-Ah, the quest to figure out how to convince a magical house to feed you…

8. Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
-Tea, champagne, and learning to cook and boil.

9. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
-Where food equals home, safety, and order…in comparison to hostile adventurers, anyhow.

10. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Turkish delight!

What are some foods or feasts that you found memorable in books? Alternatively, in shows? Personally, I think “Pushing Daisies” the most delicious
series. It has the pie-maker, the cheese cupboard, and all the honey! On the other end of the spectrum is Fringe, where in spite of all the invitations and references to food made to and around her, Olivia only eats in about 5 episodes, and that depends on whether you are willing to count 5 m&ms as eating or to assume that a raised hand in the blurry background can be taken as actually eating a bite of french toast…

Well, what works shall you imbibe this week?

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