Tag Archive | Terry Pratchett

Top 14 (ish) Reads of 2020

In which Deborah over-uses the word “delightful” approximately 987348749 times. February’s not too late to have a 2020 bookish wrapup, right? *cough*

Of course I have to share my favorite reads of last year (in several categories . . . so, yes, there’s more than 14!), so let’s get to it!

According to my Goodreads, I read 100 books! (A few more on my personal list, but hey, unpublished etc. things don’t quite count. :P) Yes, many of them were shorter, but anyhoo.

Here are some stats:

  • 32 new-to-me novels
  • 21 novellas/quick reads
  • 12 re-reads
  • 10 short stories
  • 7 picture books
  • 6 non-fiction
  • 5 anthologies
  • 4 graphic novels/comics
  • 3 audiobooks
  • Total: 100 books

And here are the reviews I posted here last year:

TOP NEW READS OF 2020

  • Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows (Arthur Daigle) — Well, that made it to my top-five-favorite books of all time! Jayden and Dana are some of my favorite characters EVER and I’ve talked about short stories of theirs on the blog here before, but they are finally released in a novel form and I’ve now read it four times and just never get tired of it! I’m hoping to review it this week. I just can’t put into words how much I love it! Jayden’s one of my favorite characters ever (an elegant enchanter with anger management issues but a burning heart for justice) and Dana is just as marvelous (this sturdy girl is #goals) and they make an EPIC duo. The book is just SO FUNNY but also epic and the humor and world and snark all blend together to form one of my favorite books ever. Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, Discworld, or Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold.
  • Winter Spell (Claire M. Banschbach) — This wintry tale is perfection and has some of my favorite characters, pair-ups, and world-building ever! Plus we have ice and water magic, different faeries, a dash of romance, an epic buddy story on the side, and Northern Lights. What is not to love? Tonya, Princess Diane, August, and of course Dorian all wrapped themselves around my heart and won’t let go. I love it so, so much!
  • In the Region of the Summer Stars (Stephen R. Lawhead) — This Celtic fantasy felt like coming home and swept me into a world of ancient Ireland that I’d been longing for without remembering that I was. It’s a marvelous adventure with warriors, horses, boats, druids, fae, and our hero Conor, all in the stunning hills and coasts of Eirlandia. It’s fantastic and I really need to finish reading the series — hopefully soon!
  • Between Floors (W.R. Gingell)note: this is book 3; starts with Between Jobs — I’ve been quite enjoying the City Between series, urban fantasy set in modern Tasmania with fae etc., and this was my favorite yet, because Athelas is my faaave! (And Zero. And just all of it.) I love the humor and the snark! Pet and her Psychos are just such fun. I’m reading them aloud with my siblings and the voices are a blast to do. *grinning*
  • Fierce Heart/War Bound/Death Wind/Elf Prince (Tara Grayce) — I’m just lumping them all together because I feel like it’s one story, Farrendel and Essie’s story, and I love iiit. (I think my favorite is War Bound, but they all go together. ;)) Farrendel is the bessst cinnamon roll elf, and I love Essie and her brothers (Edmund, though!) and all the humor and sweet romance and banter and epicness. They’re just a lot of fun (and feels)!
  • The New Emperor’s Concerto (Hazel B. West) — A fabulous swashbuckling buddy story set in futuristic London, this felt like a fun action movie and was equal parts humorous and epicly exciting. Lysander and Flynn forever! And everyone needs a Sinclair (the butler). It was so wonderfully BRITISH and I adored it. Also, all the Pratchett references.
  • Cry of the Raven (Morgan L. Busse)note: book 3; starts with Mark of the Raven — An amazing conclusion to a trilogy with books that have been on my top-favorites list each year — there’s a reason I cosplayed as Selene. πŸ˜‰ Just a really wonderful fantasy trilogy, and Selene and Damien and wyverns and the gifts/elements and THAT SCENE NEAR THE END WITH THE FLOWER, AAHH! MY HEART. I just loved how it wrapped up!
  • continued —
Between Jobs is standing in for Between Floors since I sadly don’t have a paperback of that one (yet!)
  • An Echo of the Fae (Jenelle Leanne Schmidt) — This selkie/fae, winter/summer novel is like a perfect summer day. I loved it so much! A fae summer adventure with a dash of Rapunzel, some selkie mysteries, a determined heroine in our young Echo, delightful side characters and creatures — including mini dragons! — it’s just a delight all-around and it makes me smile.
  • The Changeling Sea (Patricia A. McKillip) — I can’t even describe this book! *shrieks* It was a totally unexpected amazing book, which I picked up on a whim, and it was absolutely delightful and like an original fairy tale, all enchantments and mysterious princes and magic and the sea and a magician and a girl and a little village. Descriptions fail me but it was a lovely little book!
  • The Geppetto Codex (Kyle Robert Shultz)note: book 5; starts with The Beast of Talesend — Gareth the mild-mannered, nervous faun, and Sylvia, the hotheaded dryad, pair up to go up against terrifying puppets in 1920s fantasy Venice — and yes, it’s just as fun and wacky and thrilling and hilarious as that sounds. *grin, grin* If you haven’t tried out this Afterverse adventure yet, you’re missing out. Also, amazing prologue and epilogues which have bits of our favorites, Nick and Cordelia! *flailing*
  • Midnight for a Curse (E.J. Kitchens) — A truly delightful Beauty and the Beast novel, with humor and feels and gorgeousness, mysteries and fun characters, and a wonderful dream-aspect that I super enjoyed! Also, what would happen if the Beat didn’t actually want to be un-cursed? Bwahaha. This one was so much fun and made me happy.
  • Emberhawk (Jamie Foley) — I adored her Sentinel trilogy so I was super curious about this set in the same world at a previous time. It was fun! I loved seeing more of Felix (sly snarky fox!) and Ryon’s story and all the other characters, and the woods and adventures and the treetop city! Also, Lysander forever! (Yes, there’s a Lysander in two of my favorite books this year. It must be a Lysander year.)
  • Thief of Time (Terry Pratchett) — Probably my favorite Pratchett since Mort, Guards Guards, and The Wee Free Men. This was a fabulous conclusion to the Death series and I so enjoyed all the timey-wimey things in it and Susan and just most of it in general.
  • The Islands of Chaldea (Diana Wynne Jones) — I’ve been curious to read this one for a long time, as it’s one Diana Wynne Jones’s sister completed. I quite enjoyed it! It had a Celtic feel and a hot air balloon and yeah, fun as always! I’m nearly out of new-to-me DWJ reads, so it was a delight to read this one last March Magics. (I’ll have to do something for that this year too if I can find time.)

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Here are two books that I simply HAVE to mention, because despite not making it onto my personal top favorites, simply for personal preference reasons, they still absolutely BLEW ME AWAY and everyone must know about them. *grinning*

  • Beyond the Shadowed Earth (Joanna Ruth Meyer) — Y’all, I adore this author’s books, and I was SO impressed with this story! STUNNING and amazingly well done! A bit dark for my personal taste but I was super impressed with the character arc and loved a lot of what I got out of it. And the Silmarillion vibes near the end were a delight. Yeah, it was wow.
  • Ahab (E.B. Dawson) — Aside from a bittersweet/borderline-tragic ending which (personally) I couldn’t handle, this book is definitely one of my favorites of the year! Everything except the last couple of chapters, basically, were ABSOLUTE PERFECTION so of course I have to shout it out! Ahab and Starbuck are LIFE and this Moby Dick retelling set in space is just gorgeous and brilliant and the best aside from some sadness. XD If you can handle some sad, READ IT. IT’S SO GOOD.

BEST QUICK READS/NOVELLAS

Sometimes shorter reads and novellas don’t make it to best-of lists because they’re a little too short to pack quite the punch, which is somewhat unfair and I feel like they deserve their own category since they seem like a different category than novels… So I’m shouting out my favorite novellas/shorter books, because I read quite a few and these were the most amazing! (Not to mention fabulous if you only have a brief amount of time to consume a story.)

  • All That Glimmers (Selina J. Eckert) — An incredible modern fantasy Rumpelstiltskin story. This is one of many seasonal fairy tale retelling novellas by this author, all of which stand alone. The “Rumpelstiltskin” character in this is a mysterious fae (I love him!), and the heroine and her best friend (who has antlers!) are college students who get swept into the fae world and must heal from loss and discover fae secrets. It was just lovely. ^_^
  • Hand of Steel & The Deathhorn (Jessi L. Roberts) — These are space opera sci-fi adventures with worldbuilding/creatures I absolutely adore. I don’t read much sci-fi but this series is just the sort that I love when I do read it! Hand of Steel is about a bounty hunter (Krys) and how she comes up against space pirates including the awesome feline-like Klate (he’s my fave!). The Deathhorn tells Klate’s backstory and I love it so much. Just such a cool series!
  • Fire and Wind (Daley Downing) — Fire and Wind follows a unique character (DG — loved her!) and spans centuries, continents, and multiple fantasy creatures and it’s just a delight. It’s a spinoff from this author’s wonderful suburban fantasy series which includes Masters and Beginners, Rulers and Mages, and Healers and Warriors. I particularly love how this includes creatures and places and times from all over, from kitsunes to Anastasia/Rasputin to phoenixes to Easter Island to modern-day London or Arizona. I just love it!
  • All the Queen’s Sons (Elizabeth Kipps) — A reverse Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling, this follows a shoemaker’s daughter who is trying to discover why the queen’s six sons wear out the shoes her father makes for them. It was so much fun and a marvelous new twist on my favorite fairy tale!
  • The Midnight Show (Sarah Pennington) — Another Twelve Dancing Princesses story, I loved how this was a 1920s-esque fantasy world and how the fairy tale retelling aspect blended seamlessly with being a detective story! Bastian is a great detective hero and the voice was fun and the worldbuilding was delightful. It was delicious!

BEST SHORT STORIES

  • Dawnsong (Bryn Riplinger Shutt) — THIS STORY. *clutches heart* Lyrical writing, amazing characters, funny moments, relatable struggles, a vivid setting I just want to melt into, and a story that touched my heart in all the best ways. And all in a novelette of just 15,000 words! Definitely one of my favorite short reads of the year. (Also, I adore Des, Lilias, and Artair so, so much!)
  • Shadow Light (Sarah Delena White) — This story reminded me of The Silmarillion, George MacDonald’s Day Boy and Night Girl, and a short story by Lloyd Alexander (as well as Windswept, another story by Sarah Delena White, and one of my own unpublished short stories), all in the BEST way. Like pure myth/original-fairytale. I loved it a lot!

BEST NON-FICTION

I don’t have a lot to say about these two other than that I quite enjoyed both and recommend them for creative types. ^_^

  • Adorning the Dark (Andrew Peterson)
  • Walking on Water (Madeleine L’Engle)

BEST ANTHOLOGY

  • A Very Bookish Thanksgiving (Note: This was a limited-edition anthology, but I think the novellas may be published individually later, or the anthology miiight reappear for a bit for a limited time?) — I couldn’t not give a shout-out to this lovely collection of Thanksgiving novellas inspired by works of classic fiction. A Promise of Acorns (by Kelsey Bryant; Jane-Eyre inspired) and As Long as I Belong (by Sarah Holman; Mansfield-Park inspired) were absolutely amazing stories that blew me away. I adore them. I also loved The Windles and the Lost Boy (by Rebekah Jones; Peter-Pan inspired) and the Great-Expectations inspired Grand Intentions by J. Grace Pennington about a writer! (A Fine Day Tomorrow, by Amanda Tero, inspired by Little Women, was too sad/stressful for me, but I expected that. XD So it wasn’t to my taste but those who enjoy Little Women will very likely like it — just my personal taste.) Just such a good collection. ^_^ I loved the classic-inspired aspects to them, and the Thanksgiving theme, and they were just so delightful!

BEST PICTURE BOOKS

  • The Four Donkeys (Lloyd Alexander) — The Four Donkeys was a delightful folk-tale-esque picture book by Lloyd Alexander. One of the last of his children’s books I hadn’t read yet, I got it for my birthday last year and found it full of his winsome wisdom and wry humor and delight that I always love.
  • Marigold and the Snoring King (J.D. Rempel) — I won a copy of Marigold and the Snoring King and it was so fun, original, and adorable! Next time you’re looking for an indie picture book, I recommend this one! It was fun and classic but fresh all at once. Charming. Made me smile!

There we are! I hope you enjoyed this look at my favorite books of the year, and if you stuck with the post this whole time, you deserve a virtual cupcake. *awards it to you*

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these or are any going on your TBR? What’s your favorite book you read last year?

March Magics 2020: Wrapup!

As the month comes to a close, so does another March Magics, and I had a lovely time celebrating Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett. ^_^ Thanks, as always, to We Be Reading for hosting!

Here’s a recap of my March Magics!

Books I Read

  • The Islands of Chaldea (Diana Wynne Jones + Ursula Jones) — This was one of the last of DWJ’s books that I’d been saving up to read . . . I only have a few left, which is sad, but I was happy that I finally read this! It was published posthumously, finished by her sister Ursula (I’m so curious where she picked up and where Diana left off!), and felt like a sort of tribute to the British Isles — in an alternate fantasy world, of course. πŸ˜‰ It was delightful and I loved all the islands and characters and creatures and magical shenanigans and the hot air balloon! So much fun. ^_^
  • Thief of Time (Terry Pratchett) — I had an absolute blast with this! I finally finished this arc of Discworld. I accidentally saw a HUGE spoiler in a review on Goodreads when I was about half done, so… I’m curious how I would have reacted to that if I hadn’t been spoiled, but… regardless, I just really enjoyed nearly everything about this besides the Auditors, but who likes them. XD Death wasn’t in it much, but still. Susan and Lobsang are my fave! And all the time stuff!
  • A Hat Full of Sky (Terry Pratchett) — The Nac Mac Feegles! XD They’re my absolute favorite thing in this. So many good moments! I wish they’d been in it more, and I still love The Wee Free Men more, but ’twas quite enjoyable. I wasn’t sure at first, but things turned out better than I thought, and despite the stress it was nice to see Tiffany Aching growing some, and like I said, it wrapped up well. Also, Rob Anybody attacking Death’s face. XD And when Rob refuses a drink and Jeannie thinks he’s dead. “He’s deid and still talkin’!” XD The Feegles! They’re just so hilarious!
  • Fire and Hemlock (Diana Wynne Jones) — This was my re-read for the month, and it was GLORIOUS! I’ve been meaning to re-read it ever since 2016 as soon as I finished it the first time, so I’m really happy I was able to, finally! I picked up on so many more things now that I knew most of what was going on, and rediscovered some things I’d forgotten too. I love all of it. Polly growing up, and TOM LYNN IS MY FAVE, and all the books and how they tie into things (genius), and Polly and Tom writing stories, and being heroes, and Tam Lin things, and all the subtle magic and mysteries and secrets creeping under the surface. Absolutely fascinating. I got the ending a bit better this time too. And Tom! Just fabulous. Definitely one of my favorite of DWJ’s! (You can still read my original review if you like — one of the first reviews I posted on this blog!)

Watched

  • Howl’s Moving Castle — I did re-watch the Studio Ghibli film and had a blast! It had been awhile since I’d seen it, and I’d sort of forgotten about a few parts, so that was extra fun. I still love the book best, but I find I can still enjoy the movie as a separate entity! I still find it hilarious how nice the characters are in the film, unlike in the book. XD Normally it’s the opposite. πŸ˜› But it’s still gorgeous and whimsical and strange and beautiful, and despite their book counterparts being my favorite, I do still have a soft spot for movie Howl, Sophie, Calcifer and Michael/Markle. And you have to love Howl being voiced by Batman. πŸ˜‰ It’s so strange how movie-Howl is SO NICE but I love him in his way. And the green slime scene is a bit more like his bookish self. XD Anyway, I had so much fun revisiting this movie. ^_^

Instagram

(Just a glimpse at some of my #MarchMagics posts on Instagram!)

I posted about my entire current DWJ collection throughout the month, and a couple of Pratchetts too, and I had a BLAST.

If you’d like to check out my photos and thoughts about any of the books, you can do that here.

I posted every day in March on Instagram! A few pics weren’t for March Magics, buuut most of them were. πŸ˜‰

Giveaway Winner

Congrats to Sarah Pennington, the winner of my giveaway for Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones! The winner has been contacted. Thanks to those who entered! ^_^

Posts

  • March Magics 2020 plans — Featuring my plans for the month. I did not get to one or two other posts I had in mind, or to re-reading Deep Secret, but everything else went off superbly, and I’m so happy with what managed to do!
  • My Diana Wynne Jones Journey (Part 2) — I finally posted a list of all the DWJ books I’ve read since my first DWJ Journey post four years ago! So happy that I got that one up. ^_^ It was a delight getting to look back at them and reminisce.

And that’s it! I had a smashing March Magics and I hope you guys enjoyed this little wrapup. ^_^

Did anyone else participate? Any DWJ or Pratchetts you particularly enjoyed — either this month, or just in general?

Thanks for reading!

Book Ishness! (March 2020)

Just a very quick post today, featuring some GORGEOUS books that released this month, and an update on what I’m reading.

(I usually post these early in the month but life intervened. πŸ˜› And if you want to know what I’m reading, check out my March Magics post!)

MARCH RELEASES

*squeaking* LOOK HOW PRETTY! ❀ I can’t get over these stunning covers. They make me happy! (Titles link to Goodreads.)

  • Emberhawk – Jamie Foley — I ADORED this new fantasy adventure from one of my favorite authors! You can read my review here but it’s just delightful and features elemental magic and a snarky fox. πŸ˜€
  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness & North! Or Be Eaten – Andrew Peterson — These are the new editions, with new illustrations, in hardcover! I’m so excited! I loved On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness when I read it a year or two back, and I’ve been meaning to read North! Or Be Eaten (I love that title) ever since, so maybe this will push me to do that finally. πŸ˜‰ Also, I just read this author’s nonfiction Adorning the Dark and loved it.
  • The New Emperor’s Concerto – Hazel B. West — *incoherent squawking* I’m SO thrilled this book is releasing on Tuesday! It’s a delightfully British book full of snark and action and unlikely buddies and one of the most epic butlers ever. I adore it!
  • Dragons and Ravens – E. E. Rawls — I’m so excited about this novella featuring characters from Strayborn! It sounds so intriguing!
  • Ronnie Akkard and the Brotherhood of Blades – A. C. Williams — This sounds like a super fun superhero story! And I can tell the hero is snarky just from the blurb so I bet it’s a blast. XD

MY READING NEWS

February Reads

I shared about these on my other blog but I’ll repost here. πŸ˜›

Compared to January’s fifteen reads, I did not, seemingly, read as much. But some of these were a bit longer, and mostly delicious, so we’ll call it a win.

  • Cry of the Raven (Morgan L. Busse) // A new favorite! (My review.)
  • Lifelong Writing Habit (Chris Fox) // Some interesting tips.
  • Fairest Son (H.S.J. Williams) // Delightful novella! (My review.)
  • Green Dolphin Country (Elizabeth Goudge) // Absolutely fascinating!
  • This Year You Write Your Novel (Walter Mosley) // Eh. It was okay.
  • In the Region of the Summer Stars (Stephen R. Lawhead) // Aaahh! This was magnificent! Another favorite. I need the sequel ASAP. (My review.)

March So Far

So far this month, I enjoyed a couple of picture books (The Four Donkeys by Lloyd Alexander + Saint George and the Dragon by Geraldine McCaughrean), as well as a nonfiction (Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson) and an ARC (Emberhawk by Jamie Foley). I’ve gotten one Pratchett (Thief of Time) and one Diana Wynne Jones (The Islands of Chaldea) read so far for March Magics. I loved them! I’ve loved all the books I’ve read so far this month. ^_^ Maybe I’ll have some further thoughts later, but that’s what I’ve been reading. πŸ™‚

Currently Reading

  • I’m currently reading A Hat Full of Sky (Pratchett) and enjoying it. The Feegles! XD
  • I’m behind on my bookclub read (Lady of Kingdoms by Suzannah Rowntree) but it’s rich and intriguing so far — historical fantasy during the Crusades!
  • My exercise routines have suffered from all the rain lately so I haven’t listened to If Wishes Were Curses in awhile but one of these days I’m going to finish this fun urban fantasy! (Audiobooks take me way longer than they should and I feel kind of bad about that. XD)
  • And I kind of got sidetracked from Scoundrels but need to get back to that because it’s a delightful Han Solo heist book I’m rereading and having a blast.

RECENT POSTS

Recent Reviews

That’s it on today’s little update. Hope you enjoyed it and that you are all hanging in there and reading good books. Tell me about a book you’re enjoying! Thanks for reading! ❀

March Magics 2020!

It’s March! And that’s means (aside from it being my birthday month) that it’s March Magics / Diana Wynne Jones March!

This online celebration is hosted by Kristin @ We Be Reading and I always have a blast celebrating the works of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett! πŸ˜€ (Though my posts always lean more DWJ. XD)

Read on for my (slightly ambitious, as usual; we’ll see how much happens. XD) plans for the month, including a giveaway!

(And drop by this post at We Be Reading for the official kickoff. The theme is Make Your Own Magic!)

PAGE

Here’s what’s on my TBR for the month!

New Reads

  • The Islands of Chaldea – Diana Wynne Jones — I haven’t read this one yet! I’M SO EXCITED. The more DWJ I read, the more precious are the last few I’ve yet to experience. So I’m very curious and looking forward to this one which was published posthumously, completed by her sister Ursula Jones.
  • Thief of Time – Terry Pratchett — Also a new read! I FINALLY got my hands on this one and I can’t wait to at long last finish Death’s arc of the Discworld series, which is the only arc I’ve gotten more than one book into, yet. XD I’m looking forward to diving in! And I’m always up for a timey-wimey plot.
  • A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett — I had a blast last year reading The Wee Free Men (it made it to my Top 15 Reads of 2019), so I can’t wait to try this next one in the Tiffany Aching series, because those Nac Mac Feegles are hilarious. XD

Re-Reads

  • Fire and Hemlock – Diana Wynne Jones — I’ve been meaning to reread this one ever since I read it the first time, so hopefully this will be the year it finally happens! I’m excited and also lowkey nervous since it’s been a long time and I don’t know how similar it is to my WIP The Other Half of Everything which I’m writing. XD
  • Deep Secret – Diana Wynne Jones — If I manage to read all of the above, I’ve also been looking forward to trying this one again, which I read for my very first March Magics back in 2016! I liked it the first time and want to revisit it since I don’t remember it very well. XD

SCREEN

I’m hoping to re-watch Howl’s Moving Castle since it’s been awhile since I saw it! It’s one of those rare movies that I love even though it’s different than the book.

I still love the book best (I’ve read it six times so far!) but the Studio Ghibli movie is totally different and adorable and fun and I love it despite the differences!

BOOKSTAGRAM

Sneaky sneak-peek!

I have Splendid Plans for this month on Bookstagram! I’m going to be sharing all my Diana Wynne Jones collection throughout the month, and hopefully a few Pratchetts too, so if you are interested in that, feel free to drop by my account: @deborahocarroll

Giveaway

Speaking of Instagram, I was thinking of having a giveaway over there sometime during the month, for a copy of Mixed Magics (the short story collection in the DWJ Chrestomanci series!).

But I don’t want to leave out those who are blog readers or don’t have Instagram . . .

So! To enter to win a lightly-used paperback copy of Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones: leave a comment below mentioning 1) that you’d like to enter the giveaway, and 2) telling me your favorite Diana Wynne Jones book or if you’re new to her works! πŸ™‚

Note: It’s prooobably not the best place to start if you’ve never read a Chrestomanci story or any of DWJ’s work, since it will be more appreciated if you are already familiar with the world/characters, but I’ll leave that to your discretion. πŸ™‚

I will also post about this giveaway sometime during the month over on Instagram for extra entries or for those who don’t see this post here, so some of you may have a chance to enter twice. If you are on Instagram, follow me so you don’t miss it!

Giveaway runs until 11:59 pm Central Time, Sunday, March 29, 2020. US only, please! (Sorry, INT peeps. I love you too, but shipping costs…)

I’ll announce a winner at the end of the month in my wrapup post, hopefully on March 31. πŸ™‚

BLOG

I have a few posts of a DWJ-ish nature which I would like to post during the month, here and perhaps on my other blog, so we’ll see how many of those I actually get written/posted! XD

This month will mark 8 years since I read my very first DWJ book, which is exciting!

I have an idea for a post about writing lessons to learn from Howl’s Moving Castle . . . if I can get that together.

Also, wayyy-back-when, I did a My Diana Wynne Jones Journey post and I’d like to do a Part 2 post about the DWJ books I’ve read since then, so we’ll see if I can get to that!

In the meantime, some of my old DWJ posts and a list of the books by her that I’ve read, as well as quote graphics I’ve made and things, can be found here!


Whew! I’m super excited for whichever of these things I manage to get done this month. I’m so excited to celebrate all things Diana Wynne Jones! (And Terry Pratchett too, of course. ;))

How About You?

Are you planning anything for March Magics? It’s all very relaxed and DIY this year!

If you’re a fan, now is a great time to reread your favorite book by either of these authors, or pick up that new one of their books you want to try.

And if you haven’t discovered Diana Wynne Jones yet, it’s the perfect time to try out one of her books! (I recommend Howl’s Moving Castle, of course. ;))

Join in with the #MarchMagics and/or #DWJMarch hashtags around social media, and be sure to share any blog posts or exciting things you’re up to for this, so everyone can read your post, in the comments of the post over at We Be Reading. Thanks again to Kristen for hosting. ^_^

Let me know what you think! Thanks for reading, and happy March Magics / DWJ March!

Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2019!

Yes, I’m finally here with my favorite books I read last year! (A wizard is never late. *cough*)

Out of all the 140 books (yes, many of those were short stories or novellas) that I read in 2019 (according to my Goodreads list if you’d like to see all of them! My personal spreadsheet has 175, but anyway. XD), there were MANY amazing stories, but here are some of the ones that stood out!

But first, stats! Because stats are fun.

  • 37 new-to-me novels
  • 48 smaller reads (short stories or novellas etc.)
  • 28 rereads (some were short stories)
  • 6 anthologies
  • 9 nonfiction
  • 13 picture books
  • 10 beta-reads
  • 2 graphic novels
  • 3 misc.
  • 4 audiobook
  • 14 libraried

Oh, and here is a picture of the books I read in 2019 of which I have physical copies. πŸ˜€ (54. Last year there were 52. XD)

The pretties! Top: New reads. Middle left: Nonfiction, children’s, anthologies. Middle right: Re-reads (yes, half of it IS by Diana Wynne Jones; why do you ask?). Bottom: bookmarks to represent some books that I don’t own or read in ebook form. Plus a picture book and novella.

Now on with the main post!

In no particular order, other than that the top few are my top favorites, I present…

My Top 15 Favorite Books I Read In 2019

1. Oath of the Outcast (C.M. Banschbach)

Hands-down my favorite book of the year! I had a massive book hangover after reading this and I’m not sure I’ve recovered. It’s just so good! You’ve got a Celtic flavor, epic brothers-by-blood-and-by-bond, much stabbiness, rivers of snark (oh, man, the snark. XD), and of course my smol floof of anger management issues, the Mountain Baron a.k.a. Rhys, outcast and leader of the outlaw Cairns, most epic character of ever, who’s just setting foot on the start of a long road to redemption. I JUST LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH.

[MY REVIEW]

2. Flight of the Raven (Morgan L. Busse)

I adored the first book, and each one gets even more amazing! Flight of the Raven was just SO good (and, spoiler alert, I just read and loved book 3, and I think each one of them is going to end up on the top-reads-of-the-year posts in the years I read them!). Dreamwalking, water powers, growing peril in the land, wonderful worldbuilding and fascinating fantasy “gifts”/powrs, and characters I’ve fallen head-over-heels for! I loved this one so much! ^_^ And getting to dress up as Lady Selene Ravenwood when I went to Realm Makers (and the author also, surprise, dressing as Selene!) was definitely a highlight!

[MY REVIEW]

3. Cress (Marissa Meyer)

I liked Cinder, enjoyed Scarlet, and absolutely fell in love with Cress! I can’t wait to read Winter! Audiobooking Cress was definitely a highlight. I got to live the adventure alongside Cress and Thorne (my faves!) and all the other characters I’d grown to love in the previous book, and all while exercising this summer! (The parts in the Sahara coincided with dead-of-Texas-summer heat, so that made it an interesting exercise companion. XD) IT’S JUST SO MUCH FUN! I’m so glad I finally tried this series. πŸ™‚

4. Curse and Consequence (Savannah Jezowski)

I loved this so much that I read it twice in the same week, because I simply HAD to share the delightful and hilarious story aloud. My siblings and I now quote these characters, particularly Hugh. XD (“Wicky, how could you!”) It’s a Regency-esque fantasy novella, with magical curses and shenanigans, a dragon, and a very Twinkle-like character. IT’S HILARIOUS and I need book two yesterday.

[MY REVIEW]

5. Head in the Heavens (E.B. Dawson)

*screaming* I don’t know WHY I adore this collection so much, other than that the author is apparently a genius. Anyway, E.B. Dawson made me fall in love with sci-fi short stories enough that they’re in my top reads of the year! I binge-read them separately and was THRILLED when they were collected in this handy volume. Sci-fi Moby Dick and Beauty and the Beast, GORGEOUS writing, and edge-of-your-seat dystopian (I don’t even like dystopian but this was just SO GOOD??), are only some of the delights that await you in this anthology!

[MY REVIEW]

6. Deadwood + Hollow (Kyle Robert Shultz)

I simply HAVE to mention these new Afterverse books, Crockett & Crane book 2 and 2.5! (I did edit them, since I am, after all, the Editor of the Afterverse. But they are totally going on this list of simply as a books this fangirling reader loves.)

In Deadwood, Todd and his friends face off against a creepy sentient town in the magical wild west. Also, I love how we get more of Julio, everyone’s favorite (second-favorite?) dragon! There is plenty of signature banter and humor and magical fun, but everything has a more serious side too, as well as creepy Pinocchio elements, and there are plenty of feels! But Todd and Julio are just THE BEST, OKAY? OKAY.

Speaking of feels, HOLLOW! It’s Sleepy Hollow meets Wonderland with a dash of time travel and WOW. It’s so delicious. And, again, feelsy. But with Ichabod Crane (Todd’s ancestor) as the main character, and important characters from both the Crockett & Crane and Beaumont & Beasley series . . . it’s ABSOLUTELY AWESOME and mind-blowing. It packs quite a punch for a novella! (Plus, that cover! *heart eyes*)

[MY REVIEW OF HOLLOW]

7. Dark is the Night (Mirriam Neal)

A new book from Mirriam Neal released and some of my favorite characters, Skata and Angel, have been published — THIS IS NOT A DRILL. I adored this book years ago when I beta-read it, and having it finally on my shelf is A DREAM. I’m so happy to have read the final version in all its vampire-hunter, urban fantasy, southern gothic, snarky-hilarious-banter-buddy-story glory! Buddy stories are my fave, and Skata and Angel are THE BEST. XD

[MY REVIEW]

8. Magic Kingdom for Sale (Terry Brooks)

This one was sheer fun, and I’m so pleased that I finally picked it up on the recommendation of Jenelle Schmidt. I was determined to read one book by Terry Brooks before going to Realm Makers 2019, where I got to meet him (!!!), and this one fit the bill perfectly. It’s a delightful portal fantasy from back when that wasn’t really a thing, and I loved the down-to-earth-ness of the main character, and the quirkiness of the world and other characters! A blast.

9. Mechanical Heart (Sarah Pennington)

Aaahh, this book! I had been dying to read it for years, and I was so excited to get to devour this author’s first full-length novel! Steampunk Rapunzel in a clocktower, with solid characters, politics, mysteries, and inventions? YES PLEASE! I still have not read enough Steampunk, but this is another one to add to the slowly growing list of ones I’ve read and loved. Fabulous!

[MY REVIEW]

10. The Fall of Gondolin (J.R.R. Tolkien & Christopher Tolkien)

Bittersweet as the last book Christopher Tolkien released, made more so by his recent passing, but so, so gorgeous, and a fitting end. I’m so grateful that he got to share so many stories and drafts his father wrote with us fortunate readers! This one was different than The Children of Hurin and Beren and Luthien, but as the third of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Great Tales of the Silmarillion, it was an absolute delight to get a closer look at those drafts and I was surprised how much detail there was, if sad that it wasn’t finished. I absolutely loved it, and the illustrations by Alan Lee are AMAZING!

11. The Wee Free Men (Terry Pratchett)

*laughing* The Nac Mac Feegle, though. XD They’re hilarious and totally the reason why I loved this. I had a blast reading it, and really enjoyed the gorgeous illustrated edition I managed to find at a library. It had a more Celtic feel than the other Discworld books I’ve read, and feels somehow different than them, and rather a lot more like a Diana Wynne Jones for some reason. Maybe it’s because of the young main character, who’s great! I can’t wait to read more about the Feegles and their Scottish accents and ridiculous, hilarious shenanigans. XD

12. Flower of the Underworld (Hazel B. West)

At this point, Hazel West is probably my favorite Urban Fantasy author. I absolutely LOVE her Modern Tales of Na Fianna series (the best UF everrrr), so I was curious to try this modern retelling of Hades and Persephone. IT WAS SUCH A BLAST. The normalized setting of Greek mythology in contemporary times was perfect and hilarious, and there were so many shenanigans, as well as much humor. And Hades (who’s like the only nice guy in his powerhungry family) and Persephone (who works at a landscaping business) are so much fun. And she gives him a plant named George so OBVIOUSLY this book is just the best. I just had way too much fun reading it. XD

13. Strayborn (E.E. Rawls)

This just made me happy, okay? It’s a middle-grade Christian Fantasy magical-academy type story and it felt so fresh and delightful! The characters were fabulous and unique and I loved so many of them — particularly the mentor character, Master Nephryte, who reminded me a little of Chrestomanci! Also, that cover! ❀

[MY REVIEW]

14. The Boggart Fights Back (Susan Cooper)

Aaahh! So, the first two Boggart books were on my top reads of the year lists when I read them, and I suddenly found out that years and years later there was a sequel that just came out?? I immediately snagged it from the library and devoured it. Modern fantasy set in Scotland, this time about the children of the characters from the first two. And I love the mischievous Boggart and Nessie! Delightful. πŸ™‚

15. Compass South + Knife’s Edge (Hope Larson & Rebecca Mock)

I haven’t really read graphic novels before, so this was a first for me, and I’m surprised to see these creeping in at the end of my list, but I just HAD to include them! It’s a duology, and I’ve talked about them before, but they’re just SO MUCH FUN . Swashbuckling MG/YA graphic novels, 99% clean historical fiction, with fun characters (and twins!), unexpected twists, and just… These little books made me happy! I’m so glad I randomly picked them up at the library! πŸ™‚


Aaand here’s a picture of all the ones I own in physical form so far!


So there are my “official” top fifteen (ish) favorites . . . but we’re not done yet!

Now I need to share some runners-up and favorites in other categories.

RUNNERS-UP THAT MAKE ME HAPPY

1. Beneath the Haunting Sea (Joanna Ruth Meyer)

This is by the author of Echo North (one of my top five favorite books I read in 2018), so naturally it’s excellent! Sea and island vibes, original mythology and fabulous characters, and all gorgeous and wild. The Silmarillion meets Jane Eyre is how it was pitched to me, which I find rather accurate. Aside from a love triangle, simply fabulous!

2. Ghostlight (Rabia Gale)

BECAUSE TREY. Trey is the hero of this book and singlehandedly gains it a spot on my favorites. A little spooky for me, but it gave me a slight book hangover, and it’s a delightful regency-esque fantasy with fabulous banter, and did I mention Trey?

3. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells (Sebastian Faulks)

It may not quite be Wodehouse, but it gets jolly close. What a hilarious set of shenanigans! Bertie Wooster and Jeeves and the usual hijinks, in a fabulous homage to P.G. Wodehouse’s classic tales.

4. Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares (Shaun Hume)

Academy story. Modern-day London. Scotland. Ewan and his misfit friends are my favorite. A dragon. A mysterious castle. It’s just a wonderful romp and it makes me happy! (Sequel to Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith.)

5. Fortunately, the Milk . . . (Neil Gaiman)

Well, firstly, that title, which I quote all the time. Secondly, this is absolutely hilarious and it makes me smile and it just wanted to be on this list! (Even if there are obviously other books I read this year which I liked more in general. But it’s just so funny and I had to mention it. XD) I particularly love re-reading the beginning. XD This currently joins Make Good Art as one of my favorite books from this author.


And then a few other categories…


FAVORITE SHORT STORIES

Arbrook Huxley and the Miraculous Confection (Mollie E. Reeder)

A new short story about Huxley from The Electrical Menagerie! *screaming* This story was an absolute delight, and so well-written. It gave me all of the feels! And the ending was perfect. I laughed so hard and then I had to read it to my siblings. XD I just love it! Absolutely delicious.

The Grift of the Magi (Ally Carter)

I loved the Heist Society books when I read them ages ago, and this might be my favorite one! It’s a short story (or maybe novella?), set after book 3, at Christmas-time, and it’s. so. good. HALE and feels and Christmas and a snowstorm and a Scottish castle and so many cons and things and a great twist at the end. I love it so much!

(There’s not a “cover” for the Jayden and Dana stories, but the one I first read was collected in this anthology awhile back, so I’m using this picture. Also, it’s just a really excellent anthology, even if I didn’t read it this year. XD)

Jayden and Dana stories (Arthur Daigle)

These don’t have covers or anything, and I mentioned them in my favorites last year, but they’re a continuing sort of short story serial over on Booksie. I just LOVE reading about these two characters, Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden. I “met” them in some of the Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, and went on to read more stories of their adventures as they’re posted from time to time. There’s over a dozen of these now and I highly recommend checking them out! Jayden is the best, and so is Dana, and I love their banter and the fantastical adventures they get up to!


FAVORITE PICTURE BOOKS

‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem (Jenelle Leanne Schmidt)

I love this so much! The art is so soft and charming and the story and poem are lovely, with elegant borders and a great cover, and the whole is just a gorgeous picture book that I love! ^_^

King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson (Kenneth Kraegel)

I ADORE THIS. I found it at the library and it’s one of the best picture books I’ve read. It’s about the great-great-great-etc. grandson of King Arthur, a little boy, who goes looking for monsters to fight, with the absolute BEST outcomes. XD I just love it!


FAVORITE NONFICTION

I think I read about ten nonfiction books this year, most of them about writing in one way or another, and these were my top favorites.

Not Write Now (Kyle Robert Shultz)

I actually copyedited this one, but it’s a marvelous reverse-psychology writer self-help book. I’ve never read anything like it before, but it’s actually really helpful and also absolutely hilarious. XD

Sometimes the Magic Works (Terry Brooks)

I had the delight of meeting Terry Brooks at the Realm Makers 2019 conference, and picked this up while I was there. I’m new to his work this year, but this collection of essays about his experiences as a writer was fabulous, and really encouraged me in a difficult time. Plus, it was just really fun. πŸ™‚


I know that was a lot! *hides face* I just want to share all the books. XD Have you read any of these? Any going on your TBR? What was YOUR favorite book(s) of 2019? Thanks for reading!

March Magics 2018: Wrapup

I know this is a bit late, but bear with me as I wrap up my reading etc. for March Magics!

(via webereading.com)

Books Read

For March Magics 2018 (all new reads this year for me) I managed to read:

  • The Game – Diana Wynne Jones — This was a quite short novella, so I wish there’d been more, but what there was I LOVED. The idea of the Mythosphere was AWESOME, I loved Flute and Fiddle and Troy, and there were some great references (like the one about The Lord of the Rings and the One Ring. XD). Loved it! 5 stars
  • Dragons at Crumbling Castle – Terry Pratchett — This was a collection of shorter stories by young Terry Pratchett, which were published in a paper when he was in his teens. I loved them! XD The illustrations were actually kind of distracting/annoying to me (and definitely made the book seem like for a younger audience than it needed to be), but most of the stories themselves were downright hilarious, and simply sheer fun! In a way, I enjoyed it even better than some of his fiction for older readers, because sometimes you just want to enjoy yourself. πŸ˜› 5 stars
  • The Homeward Bounders – Diana Wynne Jones — Um. OKAY THEN. O_O This one was fascinating and very different. It’s in first-person (I ended up really loving Jamie, the narrator boy) and… well… let’s just say that DWJ wasn’t all that into happy endings apparently at this time? *cough* It was kinda bittersweet, though at the same time I don’t know how else it COULD have ended. It was like Dogsbody in that way. ‘Twas scary too! But really addicting. And the world-hopping was fascinating. There were also a couple of characters I loved. XD I felt like it was a lot more serious at first and didn’t get really funny and DWJ-ish until the second half, but I really started to enjoy it then. OH. BUT ANCHORS. O_O So, since I was reading this for the first time, and I also had A Blink of the Screen by Pratchett out from the library, I was NOT okay with the Doubleday anchor on the side of that book (see picture above). NOT OKAY, I TELL YOU. (If you’ve read The Homeward Bounders, you will know why. O_O) Anyway, I read it finally and liked a lot of it. 5 stars because I couldn’t not.
  • Yes Dear – Diana Wynne Jones (picture book; not in the above photo) — This was a cute little picture book I read quickly while visiting a library during the month. Not a lot to it, but it was fun. πŸ™‚ 4 stars
  • A Blink of the Screen – Terry PratchettShort story anthologies are always a huge hit-or-miss with me. A lot of these I just didn’t “get,” connect to, or care for, particularly some of the stranger or more sci-fi ones. But I did enjoy some of them! Particularly the one about English queues, the one about Father Christmas, and a couple others I don’t recall just now because I don’t have the book handy at the moment. So some of those are 5 stars and I loved them. XD It’s funny to me that I loved his short fiction from when he was younger (i.e. the Dragons at Crumbling Castle book) better than the ones when he was older and “a better writer.” XD I think I may go back to Pratchett’s longer fiction, and Discworld in particular. πŸ˜› 2.5 stars overall; ratings varied
  • A Sudden Wild Magic – Diana Wynne JonesNot my favorite DWJ book — it’s an Adult book (very, very specifically) and this is why I feel like she should have stuck with children’s books. XD I don’t recommend it for younger readers, and feel like a lot of my friends simply wouldn’t care for this due to some of the content. (Definitely don’t start out with DWJ with this one — start with Howl’s Moving Castle, because it’s the best. :D) This was an interesting read, and while I didn’t care for some of it, it was gripping and fascinating as always — I’m pretty sure DWJ can’t write a terrible book; just not her best. And the car stuff was pretty funny. XD And I liked some of the characters at times (just… less than usual…) and some of it was fun. And centaurs. πŸ˜€ Anyway, not a must-read, but I’m glad I got around to reading it in my continuing journey to read all of DWJ’s books. 3.5 stars

Other March Magics Ishness

This month I also picked up a copy of Pratchett’s The Carpet People when I was visiting a book shop for my birthday… so I’ll get to read that one at some point too.

I will definitely have to still get around to reading DWJ’s Unexpected Magic anthology, which I intended to try but it was out at my library, so I did not get the chance to read it this month, sadly… But sometime!

Posts

As far as posts, I shared these reviews (click covers to visit their posts):

And, on my other blog, I shared a post about some of my favorite Diana Wynne Jones quotes and talked a little bit about them:

Diana Wynne Jones: 6 Quotes to Live By

(the rest are in that post)

Anyway, those were the festivities for this March Magics, for me.

I had fun and I’m looking forward to next year, as always. πŸ™‚

Thanks to Kristin for hosting!

Did you read any Diana Wynne Jones or Terry Pratchett books this March? And have you read any of the ones I mentioned? Let me know your thoughts!

(P.S. What do you think of my new blog header??)

Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer / Deborah O’Carroll