Tag Archive | #AmReading

#MarchMagics Wrapup 2021

Just a quick wrapup post, revisiting the Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett adventures I got up to this last month for March Magics! (Hosted by WeBeReading)

READ AND WATCHED

  • A re-watch of Howl’s Moving Castle (because why not!) — The book is still my favorite, but the film is so cozy and fun and I love it too. It makes me smile, and this time was no exception. It’s also interesting watching it again now that I’ve been watching some other Ghibli films, which was not the case last year!
  • Witch’s Business (a.k.a. Wilkin’s Tooth) by Diana Wynne Jones — I guess this was her earliest children’s book? It kind of shows and was a little different but I enjoyed it, particularly the shenanigans about halfway through when I started getting used to the adventure (as usually happens. XD), and the nods to Puss in Boots which must have been a favorite of hers, since she once wrote a retelling of it and also referenced it for the finale. *grin, grin* Don’t start a revenge business — it won’t go well. XD (Particularly when there’s a mean witch trying to stop you.) Anyway, it has the signature DWJ twistiness and shenanigans and was a bit of a shorter read but I enjoyed it. Reminded me a little of Eight Days of Luke.
  • The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones — This was my last DWJ to read that I’d never read before, so it was a bittersweet moment… Some of it was creepier than I prefer, and knowing some things about her childhood made other parts rather disturbing (as I suspected they would) but the mystery was sooo interesting and I was on the edge of my seat wanting to find out what was going on. There were so many fascinating twists, which I adored discovering. The title, like I vaguely suspected, is slightly misleading. Bwahaha. And I was delighted by certain time-related things! Anyway, certainly darker than many of her books, and I can’t say I particularly recommend it (unless, like me, you’ve read pretty much all her books and are used to the strangeness and want to give it a shot), but I’m glad I finally read it. (PLUS, what was with that barrow bit near the end, which I vaguely feel was a Hexwood or Arthurian reference or something??) Some things reminded me of Fire and Hemlock, too.
  • Men At Arms by Terry Pratchett — Since Guards! Guards! was my very first Discworld novel, it was delightful to come back to this Night Watch subseries. I usually find that in Pratchetts there’s a subplot or character that I just don’t care much about, and this was no exception (plus, there was a death I didn’t see coming and like…I was a little annoyed), BUT aside from a couple of things I disliked and threads I didn’t care about, I did really enjoy this one! Vimes is amazing and Carrot and Vetinari are certainly iiinteresting and there were some fascinating goings-on! There were clever bits and hilarious bits and surprisingly epic bits, and I for some reason wasn’t expecting much so overall I had a blast. Not one to start on, but anyway. I think I missed the Night Watch! Here’s hoping I continue the series. (VIMES, though! All of the Vimes parts were gold.)

I’d say these were two of my less-favorite Diana Wynne Jones books, but I expected that as I’ve been reading the ones that interested me more, so naturally the last two I picked up would be less-favorites. But I always find things to like in a DWJ, even the scarier ones. XD

I’ve finally finished reading all her books, so I feel somewhat accomplished! (Her adult novel Changeover is practically impossible to find, and I may have missed a scattering of little things like short stories. But otherwise, I’ve read all her books now at last.)

And March is always my Pratchett month, and I was happy to get back to the Night Watch, even if it wasn’t my favorite aside from Vimes and Certain Epic Things.

And I’ll take any excuse to re-watch Howl’s Moving Castle — or to re-read the book (though I’m saving that for sometime when I need a comfort read, since I do tend to read it every year).

But look at me, complaining! *smacks self* These were all minor complaints and I did really enjoy getting the chance to read some Jones and Pratchett and overall had a blast! So yes, it was a good March Magics, overall, I’d say!

BLOG POSTS

Other March Magics posts I made this month:

INSTAGRAM

I also posted a shelfie pic of my DWJ collection over on Instagram. My current collection!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I did not find the time, in my busy March, to re-read the Magid duology (Deep Secret and The Merlin Conspiracy), which I’m sliiightly disappointed about.

Nor did I find time to finish reading Wintersmith, which I did, however, manage to at least start.

All the same, it was a lovely March Magics! I enjoyed the adventures I was able to go on. ^_^

Did you read any Diana Wynne Jones or Terry Pratchett in March? Let me know in a comment! Thanks for reading!

If You Like Diana Wynne Jones, Read These!

I posted this on Instagram and thought, you know, it’s basically a blog post. So I’m sharing here too. Just a quick shout out to a few DWJ-ish books I love! (I’m sure there are more. These are the first ones I could think of, though.)

I thought it would be fun, for #MarchMagics, to shoutout a handful of books that give me DWJ vibes. Those vibes aren’t always…explainable, exactly? But something about them reminds me of DWJ books, something we DWJ fans are often on the lookout for. 😉 So, aside from Terry Pratchett…

If you like Diana Wynne Jones books, check these out!

1. Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal — This was one of the first DWJ-esque books I read so it has a special place here! A shapeshifting cat, a heroine who feels like she would be quite at home in a DWJ novel, a cantankerous young wizard, even a magical flame character, and all wrapped up in one of the most whimsical, delightful books I’ve read in my life.

2. Lady Moon by Rachel Starr Thomson — Another of the most delightfully whimsical books! A princess and flaming cat and a talking wombat are only some of the delightful things we meet in its pages, and best of all is Tomas, a somewhat Howl-esque Immortal who lives in a clocktower and is procrastinating his destiny.

3. Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows by Arthur DaigleMy giveaway for a copy of this is still running, through tomorrow (March 25)! I get big DWJ vibes from this one, for everthing from the humor and the magical chaotic bits, to the very dramatic enchanter Jayden, who is sort of halfway between Howl and Chrestomanci and is one of my fave characters ever.

4. The City Between series by W.R. Gingell — Humorous, occasionally creepy, urban fantasy in modern-day Tasmania, with a spunky unreliable narrator who goes by Pet and her “three Psychos” (a fae, a half-fae, and a vampire). Athelas and Zero are my faaave. The DWJ vibes here are strong, for me at least. (Also, Masque, and Spindle, by the same author.)

5. Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer — It must be the Tam Lin vibes reminding me slightly of Fire and Hemlock… Also, I met this author on Twitter during a long-ago March Magics, through a mutual love of the Dalemark Quartet! This is a lovely Beauty and the Beast/East of the Sun, West of the Moon story with characters I adore and a multi-world feeling that definitely gives me DWJ vibes.

(And of course, talking of the books in the photo, if you haven’t read Howl’s Moving Castle, Chrestomanci, Dalemark, or Fire and Hemlock, those are also good. ;))

So! If you’re a DWJ fan, what’s a book you love that reminds you of her work? Thanks for reading!

Giveaway heads-up: Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows!

Just a quick heads-up: I’m having a giveaway for a paperback of Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows (by Arthur Daigle), my favorite read of 2020, over on my Instagram, so go check it out at https://www.instagram.com/deborahocarroll and enter to win! (US only due to shipping, ends 3/25.)

(If you are NOT on Instagram and would still like to enter, follow me here on my blog, add the book on Goodreads, and then drop a comment below on this blog post and I’ll enter you for a Kindle e-book copy instead. I’ll reply to the winning comment on 3/26/21 to notify the winner so do check back then if you enter!)

My brief thoughts so you know a bit about the book if you missed my full review:

This book is one of my top-five favorite books of all time, so of course I had to buy an extra copy to share the love! 💚

What do you get when you pair up a loyal, practical farm girl and a lone-wolf, elegant, snarky, insanely powerful enchanter with a chip on his shoulder, and set them loose to fight monsters and injustice in a fantasy kingdom?

This snarky, clever, sheer fun fantasy novel, is what! It perfectly balances comedy, epic swashbuckling, and humorous or heartfelt character moment that give me all the feels.

Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett (it is #MarchMagics this month, after all!), and Terry Brooks’ Magic Kingdom for Sale.

Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden are one of my favorite character duos ever and I just love them to bits!

Good luck if you enter in either place and thanks for reading! I highly recommend this book! 💚

Pangur Ban, the White Cat by Fay Sampson (Book Review)

Happy release day to this delightful Irish fantasy book!

Title: Pangur Ban, the White Cat

Author: Fay Sampson

  • Date read: February 21, 2021
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy / Christian Allegory / Celtic Fantasy
  • Age: Older children’s to YA
  • Year pub: new edition published 2021
  • Pages: 160 pages (e-book)
  • Series: Pangur Ban Celtic Fantasies, #1
  • Fave character: Pangur and Arthmael
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s WebsiteSpring Song Press Website

Mermaids, ancient Ireland, a feisty princess, a hapless young monk, and of course a mischievous cat! What is not to love!

This was a delightful book which was reminiscent of fantasy I grew up reading, such as Narnia, Lloyd Alexander’s books, and George MacDonald. So that made me super happy!

I never knew what was going to happen next and I so enjoyed the adventure! The Irish setting felt like coming home. The perilous mermaids and other creatures (eagle, dolphin, etc.) we met were intriguing. Pangur himself is such a, well, CAT, and I absolutely loved him! Princess Finglass was fierce and a good heroine. And of course Arthmael was so neat — but you’ll have to meet him yourself!

The timeless writing style was refreshing, and as a longtime fan of Celtic myth and legend, I found the essence of that Irish fairy tale feeling on Pangur Ban’s quest in particular to be marvelous.

With mishaps, adventure, a quest or two, and a touching allegory, it’s perfect for anyone who loves Irish fantasy or is looking for a slightly-wilder Narnia-esque story. Young adults and adults will find things to delight them, and children (who can handle a couple of violent/scary bits, so…caution on that) will love it.

This quick read is perfect if you need a brief adventure of mermaids and Ireland in your life! Which, of course, you absolutely do!

(Note: it’s not related to the Secret of Kells film, but since both were I think inspired by the Pangur Ban poem, there are similarities, and I think any fans of the movie would also, separately, enjoy this book.)

A timeless tale, originally published in England in the 1980s, this book is rereleasing with a new cover, and in ebook form for the first time, for a new set of readers to enjoy.

Now available from Spring Song Press!

(Brought to you by the amazing C.J. Brightley, who also runs PhoenixCrate and NobleBright.)


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#MarchMagics 2021

Happy March Magics!

This celebration of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett is hosted each year by WeBeReading and I’m excited as always!

My (hopeful) TBR!

I’ve been wanting to reread the Magid duology (Deep Secret, which is darker/more adult, & The Merlin Conspiracy, both of which stand alone) for a long time so I’m hoping to make the time for that.

Then I have two DWJ books I collected and have been saving for this month — I thiiink they’re the last of hers I haven’t read yet? (Not counting misc. short stories etc. and her first one which was for adults and impossible to find and didn’t sound as interesting.) So I have mixed feelings about that. XD But I’m curious to read Witch’s Business and The Time of the Ghost.

Now that I finished the Death series last March, I’m going back to the Night Watch series so I’m going to try Men at Arms (I’ve heard mixed thoughts on this one but loved Guards! Guards!) and I’ve been slowly working through the Tiffany Aching books so this is the next one!

Yes, most of it’s Diana Wynne Jones because she’s my favorite. XD

March is looking to be super busy, though, so I’ll just have to see what I have time to read.

Are you reading any DWJ or Pratchett this month? Thanks for reading!

FAVE BOOK! Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows by Arthur Daigle (Review)

Y’all, I’m ECSTATIC to be reviewing Jayden and Dana’s book today! Ready to hear about my top-favorite read of 2020? Here we go!

Title: Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows

Author: Arthur Daigle

  • Date read: January 20, 2021
  • Rating: 5 stars (6 out of 5 stars, TBH)
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: Teens and adults alike will enjoy it
  • Year pub: 2020
  • Pages: 289 (paperback)
  • Series: Book 1
  • Fave character: Jayden!
  • Source: Amazon
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazon

Well, that made it to my top-five favorite books of all time! Jayden and Dana are some of my favorite characters EVER. I was a fan of short stories about their adventures (two of them first appearing in Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, and on Booksie), but they finally have a novel which just released and I. AM. ECSTATIC. I’ve read this four times now and I never get tired of it. I just can’t put into words how much I love it! I love humorous banter, I love fantasy stories, and I love these characters SO MUCH.

What do you get when you pair up a practical, solid farm girl and a lone-wolf, elegant, snarky, insanely powerful enchanter with a chip on his shoulder, and set them loose to fight monsters and injustice in a fantasy kingdom? This snarky, clever, sheer fun fantasy novel, is what! It perfectly balances comedy, epic swashbuckling, and those humorous or heartfelt character moments that I’m totally here for! Did I mention Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden are one of my top favorite duos EVER? THEY JUST MAKE ME SO HAPPYYYY! *deep breaths*

Let me break down some of my favorite things about this book.

1. Jayden: He’s my favorite. An elegant enchanter with anger management issues but a burning heart for justice, he’s open about his own flaws but won’t tolerate injustice and has it out for the king and queen. He can be politely cutting, snarky, or in a towering rage of righteous anger in turn, and woe to the corrupt, the villains, the oppressors who get in his sights. He has the best dialogue (my favorite!), and is always ready with a cutting remark or a bit of his shadow magic. (Also, watch out if you disrespect his friend Dana—oh, boy.) He covers a hurt, broken past with an exterior that’s alternately bored, casual, angry, or just—Jayden. I can’t do him justice in a description like this, but he’s one of my top favorite characters EVER! (He also gives me slight Howl vibes.)

2. Dana: Then we have Dana, who is just as marvelous in a different way. This sturdy, good-hearted girl is #goals. It’s amazing the way this fifteen-year-old girl can be the only friend of the world’s only sorcerer lord—and the only one to make him see reason. 😉 She brings out the best in him and he in turn respects and informs her, and they’re my faaaavorite! They make an incredible pair, with Dana being the reasonable one trying to stop him from getting killed or redirecting his destructive tendencies, and often saving the day in her own way. I can’t really describe her either but she’s got to be one of my favorite heroines, and I don’t have many of those. She’s fabulous! I just love seeing her (and both of them) grow on this journey. They’re the most epic duo!

3: The Humor: I LOVE funny books. Love them. The style and the humor, the mix of comedy and dry wittiness, and all the snark and bantering dialogue! Glorious. There’s such a variety of humor, which I think is tons of fun, and I love how the funny parts often keep it lighthearted, without detracting from some of the heavier topics and the real struggles they face in this kingdom. Humorous AND epic? Sign me up! Which brings me to the next part.

4: The World and Story: Part tongue-in-cheek comedy, part epic fantasy kingdom, Meadowland Kingdom etc. creates the perfect backdrop for Dana and Jayden’s adventures. A mix of ordinary, spooky, and elegant in turns, the towns and people they encounter are deep in struggles caused by monsters, injustice, and a king and queen out for destruction. I love how, despite Jayden’s issues, he and Dana do so much good throughout the kingdom. They battle injustice wherever they see it, rid the world of destructive monsters, and encounter zany characters like Sir Lootmore and his terrifying cat Jumpscare, Suzy Lockheart the alchemist, various mischievous goblins, and others. It’s the BEST mix of my favorite type of epic fantasy with humorous fantasy. It’s just everything I’ve ever wanted in a book!

I’ve been awaiting this book releasing ever since the very first short adventure I read about Dana and Jayden in the multi-author anthology “Mythical Doorways.” Over the next couple of years, I followed their continuing adventures with sheer delight every time a new “episode” was posted online—my family can attest to how my day was always brightened and I’d go around in a cloud of happiness all day whenever there was “a new Jayden and Dana story!”

I just can’t explain my love of these characters and their fantastic, humorous, feelsy adventures. I’m absolutely beyond thrilled that there is now a whole novel available so the world can experience this book that I’ve been in love with since before it existed in book form. It’s a dream come true to finally have it on my shelf! I can’t wait for the next book. ^_^

DANA ILLWIND AND GROWING SHADOWS is my favorite book I read in 2020 and one of my top-5 favorite books I’ve read, period. Joining the ranks of Lord of the Rings/Silmarillion, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Paper Crowns, I simply ADORE this book and can’t recommend it highly enough! Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, Discworld, or Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold. Teens and adults alike will all find this book delightful.

Go read it! We all need some humor, adventure, and these amazing characters to improve our lives. It’s my favorite and I wholeheartedly recommend it!


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