Wild Robert by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: Wild Robert

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

  • Date read: March 1, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy (Contemporary)
  • Age: Juv. Fiction/YA?
  • Year pub: 1989
  • Pages: 100
  • Illustrator: Mark Zug
  • Fave character: Wild Robert… sometimes. 😉
  • Source: Library
  • Notes: Read in honor of March Magics (2017)

[Find it on Goodreads]

What if a mysterious magical being who had been asleep for 350 years, woke up in modern times, found the castle of his former home turned into a tourist attraction, and decided to make mischief? That’s Wild Robert for you! Heather has a lot to put up with when she accidentally summons him into her tourist-crammed day… Shenanigans ensue!

Quite short read (100 pages including illustrations and large print; I read it in a sitting) and a very fun way to kick off March Magics/Diana Wynne Jones March 2017! 🙂

I’d never read this one before. It made me think a little bit of Eight Days of Luke, and maybe a dash of Howl’s Moving Castle for one tiny reason. DWJ once again blends fantasy, history, modern times, humor, strangeness, and fascinating characters in a bizarre but heart-capturing read.

It’s not all fun and pranks though… there’s a deeper mystery and something sinister behind all of this, and the reveal twisted my heart and made me feel bad for poor Robert! I was conflicted about this strange impish character — he definitely keeps you guessing. 😉 He’s a fascinating mystery, I guess you could say.

It was quite enjoyable, and I loved the twist at the end about who Robert is! 😀

It stopped rather before I wanted it to… I could have read another two or three hundred pages on this!! So at first I was sliiightly disappointed about that, but at the same time it works perfectly, ending at just the right place to let the imagination wander free about what might happen next… 😉 So I’m happy with it. 🙂 DWJ always leaves you wanting more!

(It almost made me consider wanting to write a fan-fiction continuation, I wanted to know so badly. The idea of fan-fiction almost never crosses my mind. Heehee.)

Great fun! ^_^

What would you do if you were a magical person who woke up after 300 years and found your castle turned into a tourist attraction? And have you ever read a book where you wanted the ending to continue? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

10(ish) Thoughts on “Aunt Maria” by Diana Wynne Jones

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Title: Aunt Maria

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

factoids

  • Date read: March 1, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy (Contemporary)
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 1991
  • Pages: 274 (hardback)
  • Fave character: Antony Green and Chris
  • Source: Library
  • Notes: Alternate title; UK title is Black Maria. Read in honor of March Magics

[Find on Goodreads]

review

10(ish) Thoughts on “Aunt Maria” by Diana Wynne Jones

1. First thing’s first: Time travel! There was a bit of time travel near the end of the book, which was SUPER awesome! I will not say anything more about it, but suffice to say that it was fabulous.

2. It’s told in first person by Mig, a girl who likes to write (kindred soul!). She tells us the story in her journal. I don’t always care for first-person, but I really liked how it was her journal! It gave the story such an immediate feeling and all the descriptions etc. felt so up-close-and-personal, somehow. And it didn’t feel like a normal journal-or-letters type story, because it wasn’t under daily headings or anything, but had more of a flowing-together sort of feeling. Anyways, it was so well done.

3. Favorite characters! Mig’s brother, Chris, is awesome. 😄 I really enjoyed his character! Chris(tian) not Chris(topher) as he likes to stress when Aunt Maria gets it wrong. 😛 He’s outspoken and has wonderful strong feelings of fun or anger, and is just great. While I’m thinking of favorite characters, Antony Green was fabulous. 😀 I really, really liked him! I also can’t say anything about him because he’s one of those fascinating characters with SO. MANY. SPOILERS. Ahem. But he’s great. 😀

4. The plot was super interesting and complex, with so much going on under everything, even though it seemed pretty ordinary on the surface for awhile. It was soooo strange! (Like DWJ books always are.) But also fascinating. The undercurrent of magical things, the strange, almost sci-fi/dystopia set-up of the strange village, Cranbury-on-Sea, with its people divided into vacant worker-men, women who work for Aunt Maria, and clone-like children in an “orphanage.” There are so many questions about EVERYTHING, so it’s very much a mystery (especially since we’re in Mig’s limited point of view).

5. On that note, for a good half of the story, I wondered why it WAS Mig’s POV, because it seemed like it would have worked better from Chris’s perspective. He was the one who was doing everything to start with, and Mig is always telling us things about what he thinks. But then things happened and everything clicked, and I realized exactly why it had to be Mig telling it and it made perfect sense. So I liked that. 🙂

6. Dislikes: Aunt Maria was awful! (So were her followers.) Eep. She acts like a sweet, innocent, helpless old woman, but she’s sooo creepy! Not that that’s a bad thing, exactly (meaning it’s not something I dislike about the book, I just dislike her. XD). I don’t care for splitting-up-couples storylines, so I’m not sure how I feel about that part, though under the circumstances I suppose it turned out as well as it could.

7. I felt like there was a lot of deep stuff going on… It really felt like it was presenting a lot of thoughtful takes on society and men and women etc. It was really interesting and I can’t really explain it. I might be able to put my finger on it better on a second read, but my first thought is that it had some fascinating ideas about society.

8. The characters were all so complex and well-written that most of the time I was kept guessing and re-adjusting on who I thought was good, bad, or on their way between changing back or forth, or just (as was often the case) had bits of good and bad mixed up in them just like real people.

9. Also contains: humor; a wolf-hunt (which is not what it seems); cats and wolves who are not what they seem; a fascinating bit on what it’s like to have a cat’s perspective (so adorable!); a mysterious elderly brother-sister pair (she’s tiny, with a tendency to fall over; he’s brusque and grumpy with a tendency to practice the art of swordsmanship—mostly standing holding a sword over his head); an ending which wrapped things up in a way that for the most part I really liked; and, of course, lots and lots of tea.

10. I think I need to reread it.

Favorite quotes:

What’s the good of being civilized, that’s what I’d like to know? It just means other people can break the rules and you can’t.

***

“There goes Mig with her happy endings again,” Chris said. But I don’t care. I like happy endings. And I asked Chris why something should be truer just because it’s unhappy. He couldn’t answer.

***

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

10 Thoughts on Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

3.5 stars? (Rounding to 4)

Title: Mansfield Park

Author: Jane Austen

  • Date read: March 10, 2017
  • Rating: 3.5 stars, rounding up to 4-ish?
  • Genre: Classic / Historical Fiction (Regency)
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 1815
  • Pages: (I read it in a collection with tiiiny type, so not sure it counts… Some edition is listed on Goodreads as 560 pages so I’m going with that)
  • Illustrator: Hugh Thomson (does two illustrations count?)
  • Fave character: Fanny, Edmund (sometimes)
  • Source: (Collection) from library sale
  • Notes: In collection Jane Austen: Her Complete Novels

[Mansfield Park on Goodreads — see my review on Goodreads here]

10 Thoughts About Mansfield Park

(in the form of things I liked and disliked)

LIKES

1. Fanny, poor thing, and how she stuck firm to right even though she was a timid introverted soul who was so Cinderella-ed (a word which here means trodden upon by jerkish relatives/acquaintances/“friends”, and basically treated like dirt. [Oh, joy.]) that it was painful to read. She was nice. 🙂

2. Edmund (sometimes; when he was being sweet and not A BLIND FOOL). He was an excellent character at times—so sweet and thoughtful and kind. 🙂 Especially in contrast to every other character in the book… Anyways, at times he was great! (We won’t talk about the other times, which is why they’re in parentheses.)

3. I had enormous fun connecting Cinderella parallels whether they were intended to be there or not. (I needed to make something fun in this…)

4. How everyone pretty much got their due at the end… more or less. It made it almost worth it.

5. On that note, it’s hard to explain exactly, but I did like the outlook on things. Putting value on being moral and standing up for your beliefs and a quiet life in the country, versus a life of vice and doing what everyone else does and city life; and doing all of it through the story and dialog, too. ’Twas well-done. (It does make me think that Jane Austen would hate living in our modern era. Just sayin’.)

Bonus like: a quote that I loved (the speakers are Edmund, then Mary Crawford, then Edmund again)

You are speaking of London, I am speaking of the nation at large.”

“The metropolis, I imagine, is a pretty fair sample of the rest.”

“Not, I should hope, of the proportion of virtue to vice throughout the kingdom. We do not look in great cities for our best morality.”

DISLIKES

1. Every character in the entire book, except Fanny, and her brother William, and occasionally Edmund, are all HORRIBLE HORRIBLE BEINGS. It’s exhausting to read a book about this. (Okay, maybe I’m being sliiightly unfair. There were occasional moments of almost-human decency scattered through the cast. BUT IT WAS RARE.)

2. Mrs. Norris. I LOATHED MRS. NORRIS. The stingy aunt of Fanny, she’s basically a cross between an evil-stepmother and the type of miser that Scrooge was trying to be all his life and never quite made it to, with a dash of thorough mean-spiritedness. SHE WAS HORRIBLE, OKAY. UGH. -_- One of the worst characters in the history of EVER. Excuse me a moment, I need to go scrub my memory with bleach to get rid of my memories of her…

3. Mary Crawford. Can I get another UGH in, please? Because UGH. She’s this frilly little light-hearted soul who blinds Edmund in a really stupid kind of love (I can’t see WHY) and pretends to be BFFs with Fanny, but is actually self-centered and has not a bit of good deep down, really, and is thick as thieves with her awful brother and thinks he’s amusing and the best. Blech. -_- Speaking of…

4. Henry Crawford. He’s awful. I didn’t loathe him as much as Mrs. Norris and Mary through most of the book, but he’s awful. He’s a worse person than they are, definitely. I mean, deciding to purposefully try to make a girl fall in love with him, just to break her heart? SERIOUSLY WHO DOES THAT? *is disgusted*

5. Basically, it was way too long to spend reading a 150,000+ word novel about horrible characters being horrible to a poor put-upon heroine, and all the characters being paired with the wrong characters through almost the entire book until like the last two pages (I’m not even exaggerating), in which all that happens is awful things to the heroine. IT WAS HARD TO HANDLE, OKAY. I don’t usually say books are too long, but I would have been okay with this being a third of the length instead of suffering through that. many. pages. Don’t get me wrong—it was well-written and I did enjoy things about it (see above) but the subject matter was just so unpleasant that I, personally, had a hard time reading it.

Conclusion

Overall, not my favorite, but regardless, Jane Austen’s still a fairly excellent author, and I’m very pleased to have finally read her 6 novels. 🙂

Have you read Mansfield Park, or any Jane Austens? Let me know what you think of them!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages…

~ The Page Dreamer

#MarchMagics/Nightstand Books {March 2017}

Time for a look at the books on my nightstand this month and at what I’m up to for #MarchMagics!

(Nightstand Books is a monthly meme created by DJ Edwardson and Jenelle Schmidt.

March Magics [formerly DWJ March] is a celebration of the works of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett, hosted by Kristen @ We Be Reading.)

Non-March-Magics-Nightstand

I’m currently working through Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, and King’s Blood by Jill Williamson — both of which are not for the faint of heart! (Or at least not for the faint-of-arm since they are large.)

Mansfield Park is… interesting. It’s the last Austen I haven’t read and in a sense I’m enjoying it (especially comparing it to Cinderella a little) — though in another sense I’m spending a lot of time absolutely loathing Mrs. Norris and the Crawford siblings and… most everyone else besides Fanny and Edmund. 😄

King’s Blood is quite enjoyable so far — I missed Trevn and Wilek so much and didn’t realize it until I started reading! I don’t have much to say on it yet because I’m still reading, but I’ll have a full review of it up on my other blog when I finish. So far an excellent book and I can’t wait to finish!

Not pictured are a couple of beta-reads of books for friends, which I need to make some time for… Reading critically with an eye for editing and feedback takes a lot more effort than regular reading! But I’m looking forward to these. 🙂

IF I can (not sure if it will happen) I would love to be able to have time to read Dragonfriend by Marc Secchia which is this month’s bookclub read for the Fellowship of Fantasy… I enjoyed last month’s read (The Firethorn Crown) and this one looks fun, I just don’t know if it will take priority and if I’ll find the time… SO MUCH TO READ. (It’s an e-book, and I tend to have so many other things to do on my computer — beta-reading, writing, internet — that e-books don’t get read very often unless they’re for review. But we shall see!)

March Magics Nightstand

I actually read most of these last week already! I had a cold so I curled up with some DWJ books and a Terry Pratchett while I recovered, in honor of March Magics, and it was delightful. 🙂 (I should have been beta-reading at the time… but that requires editorial thinking and my brain was not up to that kind of level at the time while I was sick.)

Library acquisitions, I read Aunt Maria and Wild Robert by Diana Wynne Jones, both for the first time! Greatly enjoyed those — it’s always SO MUCH FUN getting to read DWJ books I’ve never read before! 🙂

I also read my second-ever Terry Pratchett book, Mort, for the first of the Pratchett read-alongs for March Magics. I enjoyed it muchly! (It was a timely library-sale conquest… which included a whole batch of Discworld books!)

Perhaps I shall do a mini-reviews post for these soon?

I re-read The Pinhoe Egg (final Chrestomanci book), also for the March Magics readalong (rather early because I couldn’t help it!), thereby finishing my re-reading-aloud of the Chrestomanci books. CHRESTOMANCI’S THE BEST! ❤

I also finished reading Howl’s Moving Castle for the 5th time and still found things I’d never noticed before. HOWL IS THE BEST! ❤ (I know I just said that about Chrestomanci. Hush. Both are true in their own ways. ^_^)

I’m still hoping to re-read Year of the Griffin (for the readalong on the DWJ Goodreads group) and if I can make time, I’d also love to read at least Reaper Man and possibly Soul Music for the March Magics continuing Pratchett readalongs, but we shall see!

I always plan for more books than I have time to read, unfortunately, and I’m very busy this month… However, I’ve already had some great March Magics fun so I’m happy with that even if I don’t get to any more. 🙂

So there you have my ambitious load of March books!

What’s on your nightstand this month, fellow readers? Have you read/want to read any of these? And have you added a Diana Wynne Jones book to your to-read-soon stack or list? (Hint: you totally should! ;)) Tell me your bookish adventures of late!

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

DWJ Quote: why should unhappy be truer?

dianawynnejonesbook

Sometimes I mean to do a post of just a book quote, if it’s a good enough one.

Well, I found one today when I read Aunt Maria by Diana Wynne Jones (in honor of Diana Wynne Jones March / March Magics).

This is how I feel about stories that people say are “realistic”, and about those who say that happily-ever-after endings aren’t realistic.

I believe that happy endings are better… and just because something’s unhappy doesn’t make it truer.

So here, have a quote I love from Diana Wynne Jones. 🙂 Her character, Mig, says it so well as she tells the story.

“There goes Mig with her happy endings again,” Chris said. But I don’t care. I like happy endings. And I asked Chris why something should be truer just because it’s unhappy. He couldn’t answer.

— “Aunt Maria” by Diana Wynne Jones

Magician’s Ward by Patricia C. Wrede

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5starrating

Title: Magician’s Ward

Author: Patricia C. Wrede

factoids

Date read: January 6, 2017

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: Regency Romance Fantasy

Age: YA

Year published: 1998

Pages: 288 (paperback)

Series? Book 2

Favorite character: Mairelon

Source: From library sale

Notes: I didn’t read book 1: Mairelon the Magician. (Also note: both books are available in a collection titled A Matter of Magic, which has the added perk of having a nicer cover than either volumes do alone.)

review

Georgette Heyer meets Diana Wynne Jones (though without quite the ridiculously wild shenanigans/characters and not as uproariously funny, yet still amusing in its own right) in a Jonathan-Strange-esque historical fantasy setting. Basically, this is a Regency Romance with magic. How delightful is that? 😀

It’s technically a sequel… but I got along just fine without having read the first book (titled Mairelon the Magician).

Our heroine, Kim, is a former street thief, who used to live on the streets of London, masquerading as a boy, and now lives in a fine house in London as the ward of Richard Merrill, a.k.a. Mairelon the Magician. Apparently the first book is about how they met. Mairelon is an upstanding gentleman (not to mention a somewhat young, handsome, and rich one, and therefore not ineligible) who, oh yes, also happens to be a magician.

The enjoyments of this novel include:

  • Getting to see a girl who lived most of her life as a street-thief try to fit well enough into Polite Society (think Jane Austen heroines) so that Mairelon’s Aunt Agatha won’t have a fit at her being improper (hint: Kim isn’t always trying, plus she has bad habits of talking in street-thief slang, so this does not always go well), while also being Mairelon’s apprentice and learning magic and trying to look after him in her way, while trying to solve a mystery.
  • Being immersed in the alternate history Regency setting, where magic is an established part of the world and it all makes total sense, and makes for a very fun read.
  • A mystery which kept me puzzled right through, involving an attempted-burglary in the house library, mysterious books, unusual magics, and suspense about various magical goings-on.
  • Mairelon himself, a character I took to at once and adopted into my “favorites” category. He reminded me somewhat of a slightly tamer version of Chrestomanci or Howl (likely because he’s a magician), and his cleverly cutting words where he manages to be impolite without seeming so (sometimes) were simply a joy. You can see he doesn’t really always care what Polite Society (so-called, as he says) thinks of him, but has to tread the line carefully so as to not utterly scandalize his aunt. MAIRELON IS AWESOME. That is all. ❤
  • Kim and Mairelon together are fabulous too. I will spoil nothing, but they’re great. 😀
  • Other characters, who include Hunch the loyal and grouchy manservant, a Russian Prince, some French magicians, and Mairelon’s mother who’s a fascinating character in her own right.
  • Humor and fun dialog too. ❤

Really, I don’t know what else to say. It’s a Regency Romance with fantasy, fun characters, and—oh yes—it’s by Patricia C. Wrede, who wrote the amazingness that is the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Searching for Dragons being one of my top-favorite books ever).

Jane-Austen-with-magic-and-mystery-and-cutting-dialog-and-Mairelon. What more need be said?

Fantasy Regency Romance should be a thing. I had no idea I was missing it, but now I need more of it in my life.


What think ye, my Pagelings? And have you ever read a Regency Fantasy? If so, PLEASE SPILL BECAUSE I WANT ‘EM.

(Posting this fantasy review today in appreciation of February is Fantasy Month hosted by Jenelle Schmidt!)

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Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

 

Fantasy Month Plans/Nightstand Books

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Behold my hoped-for nightstand reads for February is Fantasy Month! (Rolling two different Jenelle-Schmidt-themed things into one since she and DJ Edwardson came up with Nightstand Books? XD)

These are the (visible) fantasy books I hope to try to read this month… mostly fantasy. 😉 Not pictured are a few beta-reads I must read (exciting! But not very photographable! XD). And I’m reading a Jane Austen (Mansfield Park, being the last one I haven’t read) because reasons.

  • King’s Blood — I’m reading this one for review and JUST LOOK AT ITS GORGEOUSNESS. AND ENORMITY. I may be at this one for awhile. 😄 It’s big enough that I’m trying not to be too ambitious for my other reading this month. o.o
  • The Firethorn CrownThe Fellowship of Fantasy is reading this one this month as a book club read and it’s the perfect excuse for me to finally read the gorgeous copy I won last year and didn’t get around to reading. (#fail) But it’s a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses so I’m excited. 😀
  • Howl’s Moving Castle — Speaking of book clubs, the Goodreads Diana Wynne Jones Fans group is reading HMC this month for a Valentine-ish read, and I need no excuse to reread one of my top two favorite books. ❤
  • Mixed Magics — I’m re-reading (aloud) my way through the Chrestomanci series, and this one’s next. Going to be fun. 🙂 This series is even MORE amazing on reread!

Posting Plans for February

February-Fantasy-Month-Banner

Sometimes I’m entirely planned out and have aaall my posts either ready or at least planned.

And then there are the other times.

This is one of those other times. 😉

But hey, let’s roll with it! I have no concrete plans for the month, but I hope to share a few fantasy book reviews throughout the month (if I can actually get around to writing them… >.>) and I may do a fantasy-ish tag thingamy. I don’t know! But hopefully some fun, regardless. 🙂

Fantasy Etc. Scavenger Hunt (Jill Williamson)

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Also! There’s a fun (and mostly fantasy) scavenger hunt later this month that Jill Williamson and some other authors are holding to celebrate the release of King’s Blood — so you simply must mark your calendars for February 17-19 because it looks like so much fun.

There’s also a super-cool giveaway for a signed copy of King’s Blood on the post about the hunt (this giveaway runs till the 7th I think?) so go enter! 😀

AND THE MAP. Jill made this GORGEOUS map for the scavenger hunt, visiting the worlds of the various books/worlds of the authors on the stops AND IT’S SUCH A BRILLIANT MAP AND I LOVE IT. (I mean, look how the USA and Europe are on there… and the space stations to the sci-fi books appear to be in Florida and Russia(?) like in real life, and Leira (from Orphan’s Song and Songkeeper) is by a desert, and just… it’s brilliant okay and I love it and can’t wait, so I had to mention it. 😄

So! There’s a peek at some of my plans for this month! Do you have any?

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer