THE ABC BOOK CHALLENGE – O

Otherworldly delights for this round.

FAVORITES

OD MAGIC, Patricia McKillip.

I love this book so much I read it every year. Od is a wizard who needs a gardener for her school of magicians. But that’s only the start. The story takes place in a kingdom where unauthorized displays of magic are forbidden. So when a theatrical troupe that employs dazzling tricks stops in the city, it draws all sorts of unwanted attention. There are many characters whose fates are interwoven, so it requires a bit of patience with all the points of view, but the tale is wonderfully told and just might leave you wishing for a little magic of your own.

ORLANDO, Virginia Woolf.

A gender-bender, feminist classic that follows the adventures of a poet who changes from a man to a woman and lives for centuries, meeting the key figures of English literary history. Written for Woolf’s companion, Vita Sackville-West, it’s highly personal and a bit bizarre, but Woolf uses the story to criticize sexual and social expectations with wit and dark humor. Not for everyone, as it verges on stream-of-consciousness.

OUTLANDER, Diana Gabaldon.

I’m usually not much for time travel stories, but the romantic in me was charmed by the tale of Claire Randall, who walks through a standing stone in an ancient circle in 1945 Britain and finds herself in 1743 Scotland. She meets Jamie Fraser, a warrior, and eventually falls in love. Very strong writing that really delves into the main characters, avoiding the caricatures you might associate with romances. Very long, but so engrossing that the pages seems to fly by. Even if you’ve seen the TV series–Sam Heughan is definitely swoon-worthy–reading the book will provide a rich background.

WANT TO READ

OF SEA AND STONE (Secrets of Itlantis #1), Kate Avery Elison.

Aemi, a slave in the Village of the Rocks, thinks the stories she’s heard about the People of the Sea, who live underwater and possess unimaginable technology, are just that–stories. Then she’s captured, and enslaved below the waves in Itlantis, a world filled with ancient cities of glass and metal, floating gardens, and wondrous devices that seem to work magic. How will she escape? The first in a five-book series.

Any you’d recommend?

Thanks for reading.

 

THE ABC BOOK CHALLENGE – N

FAVORITES

A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS, Marie Brennan.

An alternative Victorian era “memoir” of Isabella, Lady Trent, a renowned dragon naturalist. This book, the first of five, covers her early life and  struggles to be taken seriously in her pursuits. Not a lot of dragon action, if that’s what you’re into, but Brennan delivers with a lively, witty account of one woman’s passions and adventures. Includes fabulous drawings by Todd Lockwood.

NIGHTSHADE CITY, Hilary Wagner.

I’m not usually a fan of talking animals, but Wagner hooked me with this tale of intelligent rats whose once peaceful underground colony has been overtaken by a ruthless dictator. The story centers on Vincent and Victor Nightshade, two brothers who join a rebel army. Well-conceived characters (I especially like the inclusion of strong females), atmospheric, and action-packed. An engrossing read, on a par with REDWALL and WATERSHIP DOWN. First of a trilogy.

WANT TO READ

THE NAME OF THE WIND Patrick Rothfuss.

A high fantasy “memoir” about Kvothe , a notorious wizard. Over the course of three days, he tells the story of his life to a Chronicler. The Name of the Wind encompasses the first day of his recitation; there are several follow-up books.

 

NEVERWHERE, Neil Gaiman.

After he stops to help a girl bleeding on a London sidewalk, Richard Mayhew discovers an underground world of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. According to the blurb, it promises to be both “eerily familiar and utterly bizarre.” One of NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of All Time.

Any others you’d recommend?

Thanks for reading.

THE ABC BOOK CHALLENGE – M

Magic abounds in this batch of books.

FAVORITES

MASTER OF CROWS, Grace Draven.

Draven writes wonderful fantasy romances and this one is no exception. Lush and compelling.

Silhara of Neithis a desperate sorcerer. The god called Corruption has invaded his mind, seducing him with promises of limitless power. As Silhara seeks to destroy the god that wants to fully possess him, a conclave intent on exposing his defilement sends him an apprentice. Martise is determined to succeed in her spying, for it means freedom from the mage priests who’ve enslaved her.

Of course, nothing goes well, and the two play a cat-and-mouse game that unexpectedly turns into love. I especially enjoyed how Silhara changes his perception of the woman he knows is a spy and how they learn to trust each other. There are several follow-up novellas too.

THE MERMAID’S SISTER, Carrie Anne Noble.

A wondrous tale of two sisters, Clara and Maren, who lives with Auntie, their hedgewitch guardian. Auntie says Clara was left by a stork, Maren arrived in a shell. and their best friend, O’Neill was found beneath an apple tree. Quite a beginning!

When Maren discovers shimmering scales just beneath skin, Auntie declares the girl is changing into a mermaid. She must be taken to the sea or die. But no fantastic journey is without its pitfalls. Ensnared by an evil troupe of traveling performers, Clara and O’Neill race against time to save themselves and the slowly-weakening Maren. A charming story of love, family, adventure, magic and self-discovery. Be aware: it starts out a bit slow.

MORTAL HEART, Robin La Fevers.

The third book in a trilogy called His Fair Assassin, a series about murderous nuns in 18th century France.

This time around, we follow Annith, who has watched her sisters at the convent carry out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain and is eager to serve Death. But the abbess wants her to be the next Seeress, a fate that means being forever trapped in the catacombs of the convent. Unwilling to accept that destiny, Annith strikes out on her own.

Although not quite as strong as Grave Mercy or Dark Triumph, whose main characters were more compelling, it’s a worthy end to the trilogy. Be sure to read the first two books before tackling this one so you have a firm grasp on the world you’re entering.

WANT TO READ

THE MAGICIAN’S GUILD, Trudi Canavan.

When the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables, they encounter an enraged girl who hurls a stone at the hated invaders, penetrates their magical shield, and flees. Now the Guild is desperate to find this untrained mage before she destroys herself and her city. Reviews on Goodreads are mixed, but it sounds like a decent read and I love the cover.

That’s it for now. Any others you’d recommend?

Thanks for reading.