Tag Archive | Review

The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones

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The March Magics theme this year is “A Matter of Lives and Death” — the Lives part referring to the Chrestomanci series, since Chrestomanci is the title of a nine-lifed enchanter.

For the Diana Wynne Jones read-along for March Magics which Kristen @ We Be Reading is hosting, four of the Chrestomanci books were featured.

Today I’m looking at the final one, The Pinhoe Egg. I just read it for the second time and had an absolute blast with it! ❤ *hugs book* So, so good! ^_^

Here, have a review. (Please excuse the flailing; I can’t help myself.)

Title: The Pinhoe Egg

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

factoids

  • Date read: March 5, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: YA
  • Year pub: 2006
  • Pages: 515 (hardback)
  • Series: Chrestomanci, #6
  • Fave character: Chrestomanci
  • Source: Library
  • Notes: Re-read aloud (reading for second time), for March Magics Diana Wynne Jones readalong

[Find The Pinhoe Egg on Goodreads]

review

AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH I LOVE THIS BOOK SO SO MUCH!!! It may be my absolute favorite Chrestomanci book ever. ❤ And one of my top DWJ books, period.

Just so much is going on in this thing! Not to mention all the fabulous characters, including several familiar ones.

It’s closer to an actual sequel-type-book than Diana Wynne Jones usually wrote. A lot of her sequels follow entirely different characters, just in the same world, with cameos. This was more of a proper sequel to Charmed Life and some of the other Chrestomanci books, and it was such a delight to be back at Chrestomanci Castle with Cat, and Chrestomanci, and Millie, Janet, Roger and Julia, etc. New characters Marianne Pinhoe and her brother Joe were great fun. I also really liked Irene! And a certain character who’s a spoiler ‘til near the end… but he was great too! 🙂

It’s HILARIOUS, too. Julia and Janet going into a horse-craze, Roger and Joe and their inventing, etc. (WE BELONG TO CHRESTOMANCI CASTLE!)

And I so so enjoyed reading about Chrestomanci and his misadventure or two and how he fixes things when he knows about it; Marianne and the Pinhoe shenanigans; Cat and his problems with having to raise a baby griffin, keep a horse happy, help Marianne without Chrestomanci (doesn’t go so well), and learn more about his magical abilities, because he is, after all, going to be the next Chrestomanci someday.

These CHARACTERS, though!

Cat is just a fabulous hero. I really like him a lot, for some reason.

Marianne is a lot like Cat, though his opposite in some ways. They’re fun together.

Millie is the best mum/wife ever. She’s so calming and great! Gah.

Time would fail me to talk of sullen Joe Pinhoe, Roger and Julia, Cat’s sort-of-sister Janet, the lovely Irene (formerly Pinhoe; yes, there are a lot of Pinhoes in this), and all the rest. But it’s such an awesome cast!

Plus Klartch the griffin. There’s also a unicorn. Yesss to the fantasy goodness.

Last, but far from least, Chrestomanci himself is the absolute BEST!

I felt like we got to see an unusual amount of Chrestomanci in this one, which was fantastic! His dry and witty dialog, his sarcastic look that makes you want to melt into the ground, his elaborate dressing-gowns (one for every day of the year, according to an interview with the author!), his elegant suits, his vague looks that mean he’s paying extreme attention, his calm ability to step in and fix a magical disaster efficiently and with some great sarcastic remarks — as soon as he knows the disaster is there, of course (since the main characters often don’t tell him until it’s almost too late).

But he’ll also make sure that the right people help fix it, so that they learn from their mistakes, etc., and also that the right people get their comeuppance. It was also fabulous/hilarious to see him more in a parental-type-role, dealing with the antics of his son and daughter, Roger and Julia, as well as with young Cat and Janet.

AND HIS DIALOG. I CANNOT GET OVER HIS DIALOG. He’s sooo funny and dry and sarcastic and just… I cannot. (It was absolutely so much fun reading this book aloud, if only for his lines.)

Chrestomanci (a.k.a. Christopher Chant, since Chrestomanci is merely the title of the nine-lifed enchanter) is simply one of the absolute best characters ever; and if ever I was in a magical difficulty, I’d definitely want his help!

I love this series, and although I would read dozens more if there were any, this book was the perfect ending for it. Classic DWJ, and Chrestomanci is one of my top-favorite characters ever. ❤

Have you read any of the Chrestomanci books? (Which is your favorite?) If not, you must read one ASAP, because they are delightful books, and you need Chrestomanci in your life!

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

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

Ghostly Echoes (A Jackaby Novel) by William Ritter

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3starratingTitle: Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby, #3)

Author: William Ritter

review

I’ve been looking forward to reading this for quite awhile, and now I have conflicted feelings on this book, and I can’t entirely decide what I think about it or what I should rate it. I just feel vaguely “meh.” I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but afterward… I dunno. I LOVED the first book (and the novella); the second one annoyed me; this one just fell a little flat somehow?

A couple things annoyed me/I didn’t like, or seemed totally randomly thrown in there “just because”, which was weird, and a couple things came out of the blue or weren’t explained; plus it was darker/creepier than the first two, at least to me. I mean, it’s about a ghost and underworld stuff, and there’s a ghost in the title so obviously. 😄 And I didn’t mind a lot of that as much as I thought I would, but still not as fun as the first one.

Buuut it did have some cool Faerie stuff in this one, so I liked that.

But it also kind of cliffhangered! At least, the book was suddenly over but the story wasn’t. So I feel strangely like I didn’t finish reading the book? Even though I know I did. It’s… kind of a weird feeling… >.> I do look forward to reading the final book whenever it comes out to see how it all ends up, but there’s some spark that the first one had that’s just died for me in the last couple. Might just be me, though.

I do still like Jackaby (most of the time), and Charlie’s loyal and adorable and awesome, just… not around very much (his parts were cool though). And I liked the Faerie stuff! Even though some of that was weird too, as were all the dead-people type things. And Jackaby doesn’t seem to be his usual fabulous self all the time. I mean, he is, and I still like him, but he’s not as THERE with his lines as he used to be; at least I don’t think so.

Anyway, it’s a pretty good book, just… I’m not enjoying them as much as they go on, I guess. (It’s also very possible I just wasn’t in the mood when I read it, since I was sick. *shrug*) I guess I enjoyed it okay, I just feel “meh” and mostly kinda left hanging since it didn’t wrap things up and is just leading up to the next book… But Jackaby is still fun to read most of the time, so there’s that. 🙂 And we get some slight hints about Jackaby backstory in this, so that’s neat… Hopefully there will be more in book 4. >:D

So, overall… read the first book, Jackaby, and the novella The Map. I’m still on the fence about the rest, so that will probably remain true until I can see how it wraps up in the final book. *nod* There’s just something about reading an “unfinished” book that leaves me unable to review it very well… Beware of cliffhangers, people!

summary

From Goodreads:

ghostlyechoescoverJenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

factoids

Genre/Category: Historical Fantasy / Mystery / Paranormal

Age Group: YA

Published: 2016

Pages: 340

Series?: Book 3 in the Jackaby Series — 1 Jackaby, 2 Beastly Bones, 1.5 The Map. (See my series review for all of these.)

When Read: November 28-29, 2016

Favorite Character: Jackaby, Charlie

Source: Library

findbook

{Goodreads} • {Amazon} • {Barnes & Noble}


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

 

An Exchange of Gifts by Anne McCaffrey

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Title: An Exchange of Gifts

Author: Anne McCaffrey

review

A random small review for a small book. 🙂

I’ve never read anything by McCaffrey before — I’m mostly aware of her as being the author of a number of Adult Sci-fi/Fantasy books which I haven’t read. But when I saw this little book at a library sale, it looked so darling I couldn’t resist picking it up, and I’m glad I did. 🙂

An Exchange of Gifts is a bite-sized fantasy novella (complete with illustrations) which I quite enjoyed. 🙂

It reminded me a little of The Princess and the Goblin, and The Ordinary Princess, though less fairy-tale-ish, and more realistic/older. (Like YA instead of Children’s?) But it did have an intriguing fantasy element which I liked — the way their Gifts were woven in was really neat. The mysterious sort of twist to it was interesting as well.

Meanne (the heroine) was quite well written (although I kind of thought she was a younger teen, and then found out near the end she must be older, since her eighteenth birthday was mentioned), and Wisp (the hero) I really liked! He was awesome and I liked his twists too. 😀

I liked how it wrapped up — though part of me wonders about a few things, since there wasn’t time to explore them… but at the same time it just WORKED really well to just have this little glimpse into this story and world.

Anyhow, not a “must-read” exactly, but I liked it muchly all the same. It just… kinda made me happy. *shrug* A very small fantasy tale which I really enjoyed reading. ^_^ (I think I miss reading fantasy! O_O This must be remedied…)

summary

From Goodreads:

anexchangeofgiftsWhen Meanne, a princess of the realm, runs away from her father’s castle and an unwanted suitor, little does she realize the hardships and difficulties that lie ahead of her. Loneliness is the worst part — until she finds a fellow refugee, a boy named Wisp. Together they must make new lives for themselves. Yet they both have secrets — hidden pasts and magical powers that can tear them apart!

factoids

Illustrated: Pat Morrissey

Genre/Category: Fantasy Novella

Age Group: YA

Published: 1995

Pages: 92

When Read: September 6, 2016

Favorite Character: Wisp! 🙂

Source: Library sale.

findbook

{Goodreads} • {Amazon}


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

 

Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman

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Title: Make Good Art

Author: Neil Gaiman

review

Small book, small review.

I love this little book so much. I’m so very very glad that I picked it up at the library. Now I want to own a copy of my own so that I can read it whenever I like.

Every writer should read this. EVERY WRITER. Every artist of any kind. Read this.

Or, if you don’t, at least go watch the video of the author speaking (in a fabulous British accent) all of the words in this book and a few more, at the commencement address at which he presented this speech.

It’s 19 minutes long, and well worth every second. —-> https://vimeo.com/42372767

Four things:

  • Inspiring.
  • Funny.
  • Fraud police.
  • Make Good Art.

This has all of those, and I’m extremely glad I read and listened to it. 🙂

(I personally do better reading words than hearing them, but it was also splendid to hear them as well afterward.)

However you consume it, whether through reading the delightfully original and art-like arrangement of the words in this book, or listening to the author saying them online, I do hope that you will take 20 minutes out of your day to absorb these words.

Because they are inspiring and funny and just a little perfect, and it will be some of the best 20 minutes you’ve spent.

That’s what I think, anyway.

factoids

Book designed by Chip Kidd

Genre/Category: Non-fiction / Inspiring / on Writing and Art

Age Group: Anyone

Published: 2013 (speech from 2012)

Pages: (not numbered)

When Read: September 9, 2016

Source: Library

summary

From Goodreads:

In May 2012, bestselling author Neil Gaiman delivered the commencement address at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, in which he shared his thoughts about creativity, bravery, and strength. He encouraged the fledgling painters, musicians, writers, and dreamers to break rules and think outside the box. Most of all, he encouraged them to make good art.

The book Make Good Art, designed by renowned graphic artist Chip Kidd, contains the full text of Gaiman’s inspiring speech.

findbook

{Goodreads} {Amazon} {Video Speech}


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

 

Wolf Tower by Tanith Lee

WolfTower

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Title: Wolf Tower

Author: Tanith Lee

review

I’m a trifle mixed on this book… But on the whole, it was an enjoyable, unique fantasy adventure.

It’s the journal of the heroine, Claidi, and one of its high points is the conversational and often quite funny tone of the narrative. I really loved that!

Because of the journal setup, we get a very limited outlook on what’s going on, which makes for an interesting read. Claidi herself was an odd combination of feisty/daring and yet oddly naive about a lot of things. She starts out as a servant at a very proper House, which seems reminiscent of somewhere in Asia or India, perhaps?

This whole story, which takes place in a variety of places all different than each other, has none of the usual pseudo-English/European fantasy setting about it (which I love, incidentally, but this IS a change, I suppose). It’s very diverse in its settings/lands and peoples and cultures, so for anyone looking for a different sort of fantasy, this is definitely that!

The general feeling is like a usual semi-medieval fantasy tale, and yet it’s at times more advanced, more like Victorian? There are clocks and things, and a general touch of something almost steampunk, what with the hot air balloon near the start, and the city with clockwork soldiers later on, and some sort of surveillance thing mixed in, almost sci-fi? Near the end it even felt like a touch of dystopian. o.o Anyways, it was definitely an intriguing mix! I enjoyed the fresh, different feel of it. 🙂

Okay, so now we get to what I didn’t like as much, which… um… I really can’t talk about BECAUSE SPOILERS. But let’s just say that there was a character who I wanted to like and wished something had turned out differently and it DIDN’T but it’s probably all for the best (there was a sort of almost love triangle involved; cue more squirming) and it turned out as well as could be expected I suppose. BUT GAAHH I STILL WANTED SOMETHING DIFFERENT MAYBE? I don’t even know. All of this made me drop it from a potential five-star to 4 stars, because I really DID enjoy the book and liked it, but it just… gaahh, the stress. *flails*

For those who are wondering, a certain person named Argul is fantastic, and the-other-person-we-don’t-talk-about was sometimes and I wanted said person to be… um… something else, but then… THAT HAPPENED. *pouts* …But I was suspecting it early on and worried about it and then it WAS and just sllsjkdflj. Sorry, I’m a mite bit incoherent about this whole thing. BUT SPOILERS. (It might just be me, though. Don’t mind me all curled up in a corner rocking back and forth and babbling incoherent “BUT ALKSDJLK WHAT EVEN JUST WHY” sounds.)

I’ve heard that there are three books after this one, but I don’t think I’ll read them…? I really liked the ending of this one (for the most part), and I don’t really want to go through all of that again. -_-

Not a ginormously fabulous book, but by no means a bad one, either! Definitely fun and worth a read if it sounds interesting. And I’m very much looking forward to reading more by the author (since I happen to have “Piratica” on my shelf, watching me, waiting…).

All in all, Wolf Tower was an at times quite funny (I LOVE HUMOR!), unique fantasy read, which I enjoyed a good deal, except for that-thing-about-said-person-we-don’t-talk-about. AHEM.

summary

From Goodreads:

All her life, Claidi has endured hardship in the House, where she must obey a spoiled princess. Then a golden stranger arrives, living proof of a world beyond the House walls. Claidi risks all to free the charming prisoner and accompanies him across the Waste toward his faraway home. It is a difficult yet marvelous journey, and all the while Claidi is at the side of a man she could come to love. That is, until they reach his home . . . and the Wolf Tower.

factoids

Genre/Category: Fantasy, with a touch of Steampunk?

Age Group: Young Adult

Published: 1998

Pages: 223 paperback

Series?: Book 1 of the Claidi Journals (followed by Wolf Star, Wolf Queen, Wolf Wing)

When Read: February 19, 2016

Favorite Character: Argul. And Nemian (sometimes. *squirms*)

Other Notes: Read for the Fantasy Love February Reading Challenge hosted by Grace @ Fictionally.


Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer