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.

 

 

 

THE ABC BOOK CHALLENGE – S

Supernatural killer horses, a musician with a deadly secret, beautifully written Irish myth, and a pair of English ladies battling magic.

FAVORITES

The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater.

This was on my to-read list for a long time, and I’m happy I finally got around to it. The titular races happen every November and involve vicious water horses who would just as soon kill their riders than reach the finish line.  All the contestants have been men, until Puck Connolly enters in a desperate to win the prize money and  keep her home. Along the way she has a low-key romance with the returning champion, a rather moody young man. Fast-paced and involving. A strong YA read.

Seraphina, Rachel Hartman.

An outstanding debut about humans and dragons that fold themselves into human shape in the kingdom of Goredd. Tensions run high as the anniversary of a peace treaty nears. The plot revolves around Seraphina Dombegh, an unusually gifted musician, who joins with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, Prince Lucian Kiggs, to investigate a murder at court. But Seraphina has a secret that explains her musical genius–and it’s a secret so awful  she’ll be destroyed if it’s revealed. A wonderful read, especially if you think you don’t like dragon stories.

The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Juliet Marillier.

Marillier is a New Zealand author who writes delicious fantasy, although sometimes the pace is a bit slow. This trilogy covers three generations of a family and its struggle to save magic in Ireland. The series: Daughter of the Forest, in which Sorcha must save her brothers from a spell that turned them into swans; Son of the Shadows follows Sorcha’s daughter, Liadan, a healer and seeress whose quest to keep her family safe leads to unexpected love; and Child of the Prophecy, the tale of Fianne, a Druid’s daughter who is blackmailed by her sorceress grandmother into taking vengeance on the clan that thwarted her initial enchantment of the six brothers.

Sorcery & Cecelia: The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, Patricia Wrede, Carolyn Stevermer.

An absolutely delightful romp through Regency-era England, told through letters between the title characters. The ladies, one in the country, one in London, get caught up in a magical plot. Clever, witty, a quick read. Written by the two authors who actually sent letters in character, neither knowing how the other would respond. First of a trilogy.

WANT TO READ

Sapphique, Catherine Fisher.

This is a sequel to the wildly inventive and engrossing Incarceron, the story of a living prison. In this follow-up Finn has escaped from Incarceron, but his brother Keiro is still inside. Outside, Claudia insists he must be king, but Finn doubts his identity. Is he the lost prince Giles? Or are his memories no more than another construct of his imprisonment? Meanwhile, the crazy sorcerer Rix may have found the Glove of Sapphique, the only man the Prison ever loved. I’ll be sure to re-read the first one before tackling this.

The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi.

With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, May is scorned and feared in her father’s kingdom until he  arranges a wedding of political convenience, making Maya queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. As a queen, she finds her voice and power. As a wife, she discovers desire. But Akaran has secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree bearing memories instead of fruit. Maya suspects her life is in danger and doesn’t know who to trust. Features Indian myth.

Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor.

Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has a been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but won’t cross half the world to find it. Then a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors offers him a chance to do so. Will he learn why Weep was severed from the rest of the world 200 years ago? Discover what the Godslayer slew that went by the name of god? Suss out the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving? The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries. Taylor is a strong writer, so this looks promising. First of a duology.

That’s it for now. Any suggestions? Thanks for reading.