BLOG

THE ABC BOOK CHALLENGE – W

Tiny blue tattoed men, a family that manipulates beauty, and a sorceror-priest who uncovers shocking truths.

FAVORITES

The Wee Free Men (Tiffany Aching #1), Terry Pratchett.

I dare you to read this and not start talking like the Nac Mac Feegle–aka the Wee Free Men–a clan of fierce, sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men. This is the story of Tiffany Aching, a young, spunky witch-to-be who defends her home, with the help of the WFM, against the monsters of Fairyland: headless horsemen, ferocious grimhounds, and the sinister Queen of the Elves. First of four books. Part of the Discworld series. If you’re not familiar with Pratchett, this is a good place to start. He was a fabulous writer and this book showcases his wit. So what are you waiting for? “Gang awa’ oot o’ here” and start reading!

Wicked Like a Wildfire (Hibiscus Daughter #1), Lana Popović.

The story of two girls, Iris and Malina, with special gifts called gleams: Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her visions into kaleidoscopic glasswork; Malina interprets moods as music. Their mother warns them to keep their powres hidden, but when she’s attacked, they learn there’s a curse on the family, one they’ll have to use magic to counter. This book is so sensual, so full of lush, beautiful writing that you might need to read it in small doses. The beginning was slow, but once the twins begin to search for the person/thing that took their mother, the tension really picks up. Iris is somewhat prickly at first, but as the plot progresses you understand why and she becomes a more sympathetic character. Loved the magic, and Popović describes it vividly. An addictive read. Can’t wait to read the sequel.

Way of Arata #1 (The Burning Land), Victoria Strauss.

Okay, technically this begins with “B” but I can’t finish this challenge without mentioning it. Strauss is a compelling writer who immerses you in an intriguing world where a monk, Gyalo Amdo Samchen, learns dark truths about his realm, Arsace. Long ruled by godless tyrants, the land is finally free to worship Ârata, its once-outlawed deity. Smchen is also a Shaper, a powerful mage beholden to no one. He goes on a mission into the Burning Land (desert) to rescue those who fled the country’s religious intolerance. Among them is the Dreamer Axane, who’s afraid to reveal her visions of a world beyond. Considered a fantasy classic. First of a duology.

WANT TO READ

The Watermight Thief (The Fire Queen’s Apprentice #1), Jordan Rivet.

From Goodreads: “Welcome to Pendark, a city of murky canals, brutal gladiator fights, and sorcerers who feud over access to the silvery magical substance known as Watermight. Tamri is a scrappy magic thief who’s trying to get her grandmother out of this festering swamp of a city. But when a quick score involving a dragon goes wrong, she’s shipped off to a distant mountaintop kingdom where the legendary Fire Queen is starting a school for magic wielders.  The King of Pendark suspects the Fire Queen is up to something more dangerous than training young wielders, and he orders Tamri to find out the truth. If she fails, neither she nor her grandmother will survive the school year.” Sounds like a winner!

The Wicked Deep, Shea Ernshaw.

From Goodreads: “Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow… Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town. Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into. Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

I’ve read the sample on Amazon and it’s very, very strong.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.

THE ABC BOOK CHALLENGE – U, V

A dragon who doesn’t eat girls, a seductive vampire, and a boy in search of his missing father.

FAVORITES

Uprooted, Naomi Novik.

A dragon who’s really a wizard protects a village from a sinister forest. As compensation, he claims a girl to serve him every ten years. Sounds creepy, but it’s a wonderful exploration of the latest girl he chooses, Agniezska, and her journey of self-awareness as she becomes his assistant. There’s magic and monsters, sorcery and chivalry, but with a fresh twist. Very intense at times–the evil “Wood” is one nasty piece of work! Engrossing, with only a few missteps (scenes that border on abuse make it hard to believe Agnieszska would fall in love with the perpetrator ). Based on Polish and Russian folklore. Definitely recommended.

The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #2), Anne Rice.

I didn’t love this as much as Interview with the Vampire, but it’s still an absorbing read. We follow Lestat from his days as an aristocrat in pre-revolutionary France to his latest incarnation as a rock star in the 1980s. Throughout the centuries, he seeks others like him, trying to understand the mystery and meaning of his existence. A tad overwritten but Rice is so talented you can just skim through the redundancies and enjoy the ride.

WANT TO READ

The Underland Chronicles, Suzanne Collins.

Before her mega-hit Hunger Games series, Collins penned a trilogy about a boy seeking his father in a strange world beneath New York City.

From Goodreads: When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor’s arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland’s uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it — until he realizes it’s the only way to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.

That’s it for this round. Thanks for reading.

THE ABC BOOK CHALLENGE – T

A baby reared in the jungle, cunning thieves in “La Serenissima”, and false queens.

FAVORITES

Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Yes, I know I’m going way back for this one, but it’s an engrossing story about the Viscount Greystoke, raised by primates in Africa after his parents are shipwrecked and die. Imaginative, exotic, suspenseful, and packed with adventure. Burroughs really knows how to write cliffhangers. A pulp classic, with many sequels and the basis for a slew of movies. My favorite? I liked the intelligence and  simmering sensuality Christopher Lambert brought to the role, even though Alexander Skarsgard’s physique was a pure pleasure to watch. 😉

The Thief Lord, Cornelia Funke.

Prosper and Bo, two orphaned brothers, run away from a cruel aunt to Venice, where they’re taken in by a community of young thieves who live in an abandoned movie theater. They willingly do the bidding of their leader, but it turns out he has a dark secret that involves a supernatural treasure with the power to spin time itself. Reminiscent of Oliver Twist in some ways but with an enchantment that comes from an exquisite rendering of a city with its own magic.

The Tower at Stony Wood, Patricia A. McKillip.

I know, I know, I’m hopelessly addicted to McKillip’s work. This one isn’t her absolute best, but it’s still far superior to a lot of other fantasy works. It’s the tale of Cyan Dag, a knight of Gloinmere, who learns that his king has married a counterfeit queen, and undertakes a dangerous quest to rescue the real bride from her tower prison. Sounds simple enough, but the plot becomes more complex as the story progresses, so you really need to pay attention. Based on “The Lady of Shallot” ballad by Lord Tennyson.

WANT TO READ

Tiger’s Curse (The Tiger Sage #1), Colleen Houck.

From Goodreads: The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

I’m very curious about this book, as the reviews on Goodreads are all over the place. Seems like you either really like it or absolutely loathe it.

Thief of Cahraman: A Retelling of Aladdin (Fairytales of Folkshore Book 1), Lucy Tempest.

From Goodreads: After years on the run, Adelaide thinks her lonely and dangerous life as a thief is finally over. But her world is upended when a witch steals her away to a faraway kingdom, to perform an impossible heist. If Adelaide fails, her newfound family would be sacrificed to a beast.
To complete her mission, she’s forced to assume the role of a noblewoman and enter a royal competition. The prize is the hand of the elusive Crown Prince. Elimination means certain death.
As the witch’s literal deadline approaches, Adelaide has one last gamble to save the day, and to escape to a new life with Cyrus, the handsome and mysterious fellow thief who stole her heart.
But everything falls apart when the prince finally reveals himself…

This caught my eye because I don’t recall a fairy-tale retelling about Aladdin. Hmm, another book with thieves. Do I detect a theme here?

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading and be sure to send along any suggestions.