Tag Archive | Diana Wynne Jones

Dana Illwind and War’s Shadow by Arthur Daigle (Review)

Today’s review is for one of my top-favorite books of all time! I’m so excited to finally get to review this book, which was my most-anticipated release of 2022!

Yes, indeed, Jayden and Dana are back and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

(Or, you know, you can skip ahead to the links section and just buy yourself a copy — or a copy of book one if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading that one yet. You need this series in your life!)

Title: Dana Illwind and War’s Shadow

Author: Arthur Daigle

Series: Dana Illwind, #2 (Book 1: Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows. Read my review here!)

Fantasy • YA and up • 2022 • 308 pages (paperback)

Read August 21, 2022 • 5 stars (I’d give it 6 stars if I could!) • Fave character: Jayden! • Source: Amazon (Note: I also beta-read this before publication, and read the chapters as they released on Booksie before that. So this is my 4th read and I still want to read it again!)

GoodreadsBarnes & NobleAmazonAuthor’s Booksie AccountAuthor’s Facebook

I ADORE THIS BOOK AND CAN’T RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH! GO READ IT! That’s the short version. 😉

You know those books, series, and characters that you love SO much that you can’t properly express it in words? Well, this book, series, and Jayden and Dana are that for me. I seriously just love these characters SO MUCH and will follow them anywhere, and this series is up there with a select few on my list of very-top-favorite books! (Tolkien’s, Howl’s Moving Castle, Paper Crowns, and these two books. That’s the list.)

Dana Illwind and War’s Shadow is just SO GOOD! I feel like it’s a bit like Diana Wynne Jones meets Lord of the Rings, because it’s hilarious AND epic, and there are only so many books that can pull that off. Plus it has a distinctive FEEL that I can’t really explain but makes it a favorite of mine. It’s such a unique, fun book. I adore the cleverness of the plot, writing, and dialogue (so quotable!), and how we’re getting deeper into this world and all its kingdoms and monsters and intrigue (with doses of humor and epic characters, of course!). Everything’s building into a crescendo and I’m very much looking forward to the final book one of these days!

Jayden and Dana have gone from smaller, more disconnected adventures fighting monsters and lower-level villains, to being pulled directly into the center of an intricate web of war and magic and nefarious plots. Seeing them hold their own against all of that, while each growing in their own ways, had me glued to the page in breath-holding delight.

Plus, they’re just the best characters! Jayden and Dana make the BEST pair, like Holmes and Watson or something. So classic and perfect!

Jayden is snarky, courtly, and dangerous at turns, and woe to any wrongdoers (human or otherwise) who draw his attention—especially if Dana doesn’t redirect his rage to keep the destruction to a minimum! XD Jayden is simply one of my top-favorite characters of all time, and I have the HARDEST time describing this unpigeonholeable character, but he’s superb and always has the BEST comebacks in witty dialogue, and having another whole book with him was a TREAT. He has a haunted past and a bit of an anger management problem when he sees injustice (don’t worry, Dana’s helping with that—when SHE isn’t as angered by the injustice as he is…), but he’s on the side of right and is a force to be reckoned with. There’s a wonderful quote in this book, by a very wise character: “I see a heart of gold wrapped in rusty chains. Break them off for yourself and those who need you.” Probably one of my favorite lines about Jayden! It’s perfect for the journey he’s going on. I just love him so much.

I mentioned Dana a few times in there because they’re so tied together in the story, and I love how they help each other see each other’s weaknesses and help overcome them, but also show each other their strengths and encourage that. It makes me happy! They’re an excellent pair of friends and Dana is just the sort of person one wants at one’s side. It was fascinating how things become sort of personal for her by the end (not to be spoilery…), and how it shows how far she’s come in these two books. She’s got to be one of my favorite female characters of all time. I love how she’s full of the BEST common sense and is much more down-to-earth, while Jayden and others around her are being dramatic. The interplay there is SO much fun. XD She’s sturdy and no-nonsense and is becoming quite the swordswoman, but I love that it’s simply her good-hearted way of doing the best she can and helping others.

It was intriguing to have “interlude” chapters seeing what the villains think of what Jayden and Dana are up to (even when they don’t always know it was Jayden’s fault. XD), plus there’s a new character who is verrry interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him…

Some other random thoughts: The whole section set in the kingdom of Bascal was one of my favorites! It was such fun! The ball scene and a certain sword-update were fabulous. There’s the return of some fan-favorite characters from the first book (Lootmore, Suzy, Prince Onus!), and new, intriguing ones I’m very curious about (Cassandra, Malcolm, Palan…)! And not to get into spoilers but there mayyy have been a dragon involved at some point… I loved the Brotherhood of the Righteous and Father Firepower. I also found the shadow magic to be pretty neat—just a really cool magic system that Jayden is VERY good at. The fluffy fox!! Plus goblins being mischievous and also more organized than expected… The goblin-gate was hilarious. XD

I’d be here all day if I mentioned all my favorite things, but that’s a few of them, and particularly Jayden and Dana’s banter and dialogue, which is 100% pure GOLD! *grinning*

DANA ILLWIND AND WAR’S SHADOW is book 2 (book 1 is DANA ILLWIND AND GROWING SHADOWS) and I think I liked this one even MORE than the first one, if that’s possible. It was amazing to come back in this second book and be immersed once again in more Jayden and Dana goodness. ^_^ I’ve been following Jayden and Dana on their adventures for some time now and these stories never cease to make me happy!

I’ve read both books four times each (once you count reading them in serial format, then twice-through beta-reading, and then reading the final published version aloud—because I have such a fun time doing all the voices and sharing the stories with my siblings, which is the highest honor a book can get from me, that I have to give it a dramatic reading to my family) and I never get tired of these adventures. I anticipate re-reading both books soon, just like I read and re-read Howl’s Moving Castle. Some books are just so delightful to revisit, and this is definitely one of them!

In short, this book is funny, clever, and deep in unexpected ways, with a dash of spooky, and inhabited by two of my favorite characters ever. It’s just SO good and I adore it to Other Place and back! Seriously, just go read this.

If you love epic fantasy with well-built worlds, whimsical/humorous fantasy that’s a little tongue-in-cheek satire (think Discworld, Magic Kingdom for Sale, or some of Diana Wynne Jones’s books), and unique characters who will steal your heart, you absolutely MUST check out the Dana Illwind series! 10/10 recommend!

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Looking for more of my book reviews? Check them out here!

Wrapup: #MarchMagics 2022

March has wended its way to the end so it’s time to see how my #MarchMagics went . . .

It was an excellent one! Books were read, re-read, and listened to, a film was watched, pictures were taken, and I even had a Howl’s-Moving-Castle-ish birthday!

(Thanks as always to Kristen at WeBeReading for hosting March Magics, a celebration of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett!)

BOOKS READ

(Yes, my new adorable otter stamps had to feature in this pic because of Going Postal.)

In my March Magics post with my TBR for the month I mentioned what I hoped to read, so . . . how did it go?

Fairly well, I’d say!

The themes for my reading this month turned out to be Moist von Lipwig for the Pratchett books, and the Magids for Diana Wynne Jones books. Two of each!

  • Going Postal (Terry Pratchett) — This was SO MUCH FUN and I will never look at stamps the same way again. Moist von Lipwig is a delightful con-artist of a hero and I really enjoyed his POV. His parts facing off against Lord Vetinari are the BEST. Their back-and-forth of wits is excellent. XD I generally had a blast with this one and I’m so glad I finally read it! Definitely a new favorite Discworld book.
  • Making Money (Terry Pratchett) — I had planned to read a different Pratchett but instead dived straight into this sequel to Going Postal because it was on audio and I wasn’t ready to leave Moist behind yet. It wasn’t quite as fun as the first one but was still mostly enjoyable, and again, all the Moist and Vetinari parts were gold, no pun intended. XD
  • Deep Secret (Diana Wynne Jones) — This was a reread which I THOROUGHLY enjoyed! It was back in 2016 that I first read this one, and it was delightful to rediscover! Multiple worlds, centaurs, a fantasy convention, and several delightful characters. I loved it so much and it was my first “for-fun” read (not counting audiobooks) in quite awhile and I just SO enjoyed getting to curl up with a wonderful book and look forward to each night of reading. ^_^ (Yes, it’s a pretty dark one in several respects, but aside from that it’s excellent!)
  • The Merlin Conspiracy (Diana Wynne Jones) — So I’m not quite sure if I’m allowed to list this one, but I’m about a third done my re-read so I guess I’ll include it. 😉 I had no idea I’d forgotten so much of this one from my first read several years back, so I’m having a blast re-discovering it! Different worlds and Nick and Roddy and all the things. I’m looking forward to finishing this re-read soon (especially to get to the elephant and more of Romanov!!), but I did make a fair bit of progress on it!

I listened to Going Postal and Making Money in audiobook format on Scribd and had a blast! (If you’re interested, you can sign up for two free months on this audiobook subscription site through my link which gets me a free month as well.)

BOOKS NOT READ

I haven’t FINISHED The Merlin Conspiracy but I’ll do that soon. A re-read of the two Magid books (Deep Secret and The Merlin Conspiracy) has been something I’ve been meaning to do for years so I’m so pleased to have finally gotten to (most of) it!)

I also did not manage to read Feet of Clay, sadly, which was on my TBR, but I did read two Pratchett books which was my goal (even if one of them wasn’t planned) so I’ll just have to read this one another time! I do really want to read more Vimes books, for sure, but I guess this month was a Moist von Lipwig month. XD (I also need to get my hands on the third Moist book at some point.)

WATCHED

Going Postal (2010) — After I read Going Postal, I had a blast watching this TV adaption of it. (Just two 90-minute episodes which I watched on IMDB TV/my Amazon for free.) At first it seemed like a pretty good adaption, but still felt rather different than the book in tone and some of the characters/plot ended up a bit different, plus it was less funny… I definitely preferred the book BUT it was still still very well done and enjoyable, and such fun just to see it brought to life on the screen!

INSTAGRAM

I posted a few pics related to March Magics over on my Instagram this last month. Here are some.

My TBR
I posted about House of Many Ways and a book that reminds me of it because of Twinkle. XD
My Diana Wynne Jones collection!

I think I’ve finally collected all of DWJ’s books (with the exception of some short stories, plays, her first basically-unattainable novel Changeover, none of which I’ve read, and the picture book Yes, Dear, which I HAVE read from a library but haven’t collected yet).

The top shelf and beginning of the second shelf are the main collection, and the rest of the books (after the facing-out Howl book) are other editions/copies.

You can see close-ups for the titles in my Instagram post here, and you can also see a video I posted of said shelf tour here!

A Very Howl Birthday

(An English Cream Cake my sister made me for my birthday)

My sister made me a Howl-themed birthday celebration during March! Bacon (“I hope your bacon burns!” XD) and eggs for breakfast. An amazing homemade English Cream Cake because of the cream cake from Cesari’s in the book. She said the chocolate I received could stand for logs for Calcifer. It wasn’t part of the theme on purpose, but a green shamrock shake which was minty and delicious could have been for green slime (in a good way)! XD I even had a minor cold for my actual birthday (and celebrated later) so that was a very Howl thing, the parts in the book where he’s “having a head cold like a drama queen,” as his author said, being some of my favorite parts. XD So of course I had to re-read those bits for my birthday in solidarity. 😉

Isn’t this Howl’s Moving Castle “I think we ought to live happily ever after” sticker by Beth Wangler Art amazing? I think it’s adorable! (You can find prints and stickers of this art in her shop or her Etsy!)


All in all, this March Magics was a delight and I thoroughly enjoyed the reading, listening, watching, photographing, cake-ing, and celebrating that I did for Diana Wynne Jones-y and Pratchett-y things! ^_^

In that respect, and for me at least, March was, indeed, Magical. ❤

#MarchMagics 2022 TBR

Happy March! (Well, tomorrow . . .)

Every year since discovering it, I love joining the blog event #MarchMagics (hosted by Kristen at We Be Reading) to celebrate the works of Diana Wynne Jones (one of my favorite authors!) and of Terry Pratchett.

I have a whole DWJ page here on my blog, so . . . yeah. 😉

This March is particularly special for me, since it will mark ten years since I read my very first Diana Wynne Jones novel, Howl’s Moving Castle. Reading it specifically in March was a coincidence, too, since I wasn’t even blogging at the time, but I do find it to be excessively fitting.

Anyway, if I find the time, perhaps I shall do a Howl-type post later this month to commemorate a decade of being a Diana Wynne Jones fan. 😉


Meanwhile! The point of this post. My TBR for March Magics this year.

Last year, I finished my final new-to-me DWJ books (aside from some possible short stories, plays, and her first book which isn’t children’s fantasy and is virtually impossible to find; ANYWAY), an accomplished but bittersweet feeling, which leaves me with just re-reads for her books. But re-reads are always a DELIGHT with her books!

So here we are in March and my TBR is . . .

  • Deep SecretRe-read. One of DWJ’s darker, more adult novels, this one was nevertheless a fascinating read and it’s one I’ve been meaning to re-read for awhile, particularly because of the world-hopping aspects. (Call it “research” for one of my own WIPs.) So I’m looking forward to this one! And I at last have a gorgeous copy of my own, so. Also, centaurs!
  • The Merlin Conspiracy Re-read. The companion novel to Deep Secret, this is the second of the “Magids” books but is extremely different than the first book. I remember finding it great fun, and loving the elephant and Romanov the enchanter and so forth. I can’t wait. *grin*
  • Feet of Clay — I’m working on Pratchett’s City Watch sub-series of the Discworld series, so this one is the next. Because I need more Vimes. XD Guards! Guards! was the first book I read of Pratchett’s, for my very first March Magics, and I read the second book last March, so this third one feels quite fitting.
  • Going Postal — Along with Guards! Guards!, I remember this one being recommended to me by Sarah Pennington (check out her fabulous blogs here and here), and I’ve been determined to read it ever since. It sounds like a blast. So I’m hoping this is the year! I actually hope to listen to it on audiobook, since Scribd has this one available!*

*Scribd is an audiobook (and ebook) subscription site which I ADORE because audiobooks let me read while getting other stuff done, and the monthly cost isn’t terrible.

If you enjoy audiobooks and haven’t checked out Scribd, you can get two free months by using my link and I’d get a free month too.

So! That’s my official March Magics TBR.

Two DWJ re-reads. Two Pratchett new reads.

Four books.


If I can get through those, I might pick up another audiobook or two on Scribd if I have more time . . . And I’ve been itching to re-read the Dalemark Quartet and the last two Chrestomanci books, so . . . those are possible followups. But I do seem to overestimate how much I’ll be able to read, so I’m keeping the official list to four, for my own sanity. *nervous laughter*

I’m QUITE excited for these two new-to-me Pratchetts and this Diana Wynne Jones double re-read. Hurrah for March Magics!


I’m also hoping to post a bit for #MarchMagics on my Instagram but haven’t planned my month out yet so here’s hoping . . .

Let me know in a comment if you’ve read any of these! And if you’re participating by reading any Diana Wynne Jones or Pratchett books this month! 🙂

#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!

#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!