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Review: Dealing with Dragons (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1) by Patricia C. Wrede

Dealing with Dragons

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Meet Princess Cimorene – a princess who refuses to be proper. She is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart…
And bored.
So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon. And not just any dragon, but Kazul – one of the most powerful and dangerous dragons around. Of course, Cimorene has a way of hooking up with dangerous characters, and soon she’s coping with a witch, a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird, a stone prince and some very oily wizards.
If this princess ran away to finds some excitement, it looks like she’s found plenty!

 

 

This was adorable! I quite enjoyed every minute of this read – and I’ve been a very fussy reader lately.

Cimorene is curious about everything – except those things deemed appropriate for princesses. After being told by her parents she was going to be married off to someone she didn’t want to marry, Cimorene runs away and volunteers to serve a dragon.

One of the things I adored about Dealing with Dragons is that Cimorene gets to be quickly known for her common sense and clear thinking. This is definitely a book I could see giving to a young girl to read! Cimorene isn’t “too good” to do anything, her problem is that everyone wants her to do nothing. Princesses are pretty and ornamental but they don’t learn Latin or magic or sword fighting – everything that Cimorene finds interesting.

Instead of being content with her lot in life, Princess Cimorene takes action. She becomes the servant of a dragon, Kazul, and then proceeds to make herself very comfortable. Kazul expects Cimorene to cook, clean and serve. She also expects Cimorene to know enough (or learn!) to be a Librarian and she trusts Cimorene in her treasure room.

I love that this book explores and embraces being different and experimenting with new and different things until finding what makes you happy.

This was a fun but quick read. It’s much more MG than YA but I loved every second of it. It’s not a book I can see myself re-reading but I would like a copy in my library for future young readers.

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An Aficionado’s Guide to the top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – All

FINALLY. The full list.

Like the previous list I posted on this blog An Aficionado’s Guide to The 20 Best Urban Fantasy Novels of the Last Decade this is a VOTED ON list. The group that voted on this list is Fantasy Aficionados and the group had huge participation in this project. Even the placement that each book/series is listed at (with #1 being the best (objectively, of course – this is a very refined list).

As always – if you see a book that is part of a series, the recommendation is for the entire series.
 
 
The Fellowship of the Ring1. The Fellowship of the Ring
Series: The Lord of the Rings (Including The Hobbit)
Movies: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2013, 2014

The dark, fearsome Ringwraiths are searching for a Hobbit. Frodo Baggins knows that they are seeking him and the Ring he bears—the Ring of Power that will enable evil Sauron to destroy all that is good in Middle-earth. Now it is up to Frodo and his faithful servant, Sam, with a small band of companions, to carry the Ring to the one place it can be destroyed: Mount Doom, in the very center of Sauron’s realm.

 

A Game of Thrones2. A Game of Thrones
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire
TV Series

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

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Review: Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle

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Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

I’ve heard of this book (and Diana Wynne Jones) before but I’d never read any of her work. Jones was on Mt. TBR but I pushed Howl’s Moving Castle up because it was picked to be a book club group read.

WOW!

I really loved this book. It’s a quite the page turner. I loved it so much that I purchased a copy asap (the copy I originally read is a library loan).

Howl’s Moving Castle was one of those reads where I didn’t take any notes and I didn’t have any concerns – I just got pissy when I had to stop reading. 😀

Howl’s Moving Castle starts with an introduction to the main character: Sophie. Sophie is so convinced that she will never amount to anything (being the eldest of three sisters) that nothing can change her mind. This idea of worthlessness was so strong that Sophie could not see her own abilities and strengths. While the reader is easily able to see how great Sophie is, Sophie doesn’t realize her worth til the end of the book. I feel that Sophie is a great character! So many people – old and young alike – believe that they are less than just like Sophie, making her a very easy character to relate to. I loved being in Sophie’s head.
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The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

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“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “All the monsters are coming back.”

“Why?” said Tiffany.

“There’s no one to stop them.”

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, “There’s me.”

Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnapped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk’s local Nac Mac Feegle – aka the Wee Free Men – a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds – black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors – before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone….

In a riveting narrative that is equal parts suspense and humor, Carnegie Medalist Terry Pratchett returns to his internationally popular Discworld with a breathtaking tale certain to leave fans, new and old, enthralled.

I really enjoyed this!

My friends have raved about Discworld for years…but every time I tried to read The Color of Magic I found myself dying of boredom.

One of my friends recommended that I start with The Wee Free Men…thank you! This was quite cute and I really enjoyed it. That’s 1 Discworld down, only 5,895,986,856 to go.

Four Stars!

Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines

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Jig is a scrawny little nearsighted goblin-a runt even among his puny species. Captured by a party of adventurers searching for a magical artifact, and forced to guide them, Jig encounters every peril ever faced on a fantasy quest.

I first heard about Jim C. Hines via a mention the Dear Author blog. Jim Hines created a hilarious poem based off of the song Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot. I laughed so hard when reading his poem Baby Got Books that I had to chase down his blog.

I learned that Jim Hines wrote comedic fantasy in the same vein as The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Another Fine Myth. Delighted, I poked around his back list to locate a good starting place. I decided to start with Goblin Quest and I’m so happy I did.

I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk this year. There’s not been much that has caught my attention. But this? This was wonderful! I had so much fun while still getting every single bit of a typical fantasy adventure. !!!

I loved Jig. He’s a great character. It was funny to read the point of view from someone who is normally considered “the bad guy.” Instead of being the bad guy, Jig is a totally awesome good guy. He helps others, he loves and cares, he’s smart and canny.

I’m currently waiting for the rest of this series to arrive. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for Jig the Goblin Hero.

Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood

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Clerks meets Buffy the Vampire the Slayer in this original urban fantasy eBook about Geekomancers—humans that derive supernatural powers from pop culture. Ree Reyes’s life was easier when all she had to worry about was scraping together tips from her gig as a barista and comicshop slave to pursue her ambitions as a screenwriter.

When a scruffy-looking guy storms into the shop looking for a comic like his life depends on it, Ree writes it off as just another day in the land of the geeks. Until a gigantic “BOOM!” echoes from the alley a minute later, and Ree follows the rabbit hole down into her town’s magical flip-side. Here, astral cowboy hackers fight trolls, rubber-suited werewolves, and elegant Gothic Lolita witches while wielding nostalgia-powered props.

Ree joins Eastwood (aka Scruffy Guy), investigating a mysterious string of teen suicides as she tries to recover from her own drag-your-heart-through-jagged-glass breakup. But as she digs deeper, Ree discovers Eastwood may not be the knight-in-cardboard armor she thought. Will Ree be able to stop the suicides, save Eastwood from himself, and somehow keep her job?

Have you ever read such a good [fantasy] book that by the end of it you believed in magic…if only a little? Or maybe watched Star Wars, episode 2 and walked away from it feeling that if you only found a Master and practiced your latent Jedi powers would manifest? What about reading one of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels and then find yourself shopping for a trench coat and a skull? Or walking away from an episode of Firefly itching for a sixshooter and a spaceship…?

If so, this is the book for you. Geekomancy is a love song written by a geek for geeks. This book is pure comedy wish fulfillment for the person who wishes that the force really exists.

Ree Reyes is a screenwriter (see “barista”) who suddenly finds herself in a world in which magic exists…and that the geeky TV shows, books, movies and games that she has always loved powered that world.

Ree jumps into this newfound world of magic and danger with both feet…and of course she gets slapped sideways, lol. Ree has does has help, however. Her introduction to “Geekomancy” (the use of magic fueled from the world of Pop Culture) is by Eastwood, a scruffy old Geekomancer who becomes her mentor. She also hooks up with another character that totally stole the show for me, Drake, a Steampunk inventor and adventurer extraordinaire. I ♥ Drake. As you wish. 😉

Ree and Eastwood’s task is simple (on the surface): find out who is causing a string of teenaged virgin suicides and stop them before they kill again. But…as anyone who’s ever read any Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Comic books or played any MMO RPGs…things are never quite as simple as they seem.

There are a great many geektasic references that a reader may or may not get. This books is hip deep in geek references like D&D, Firefly, BSG, Gaiman, RPGs, MMORPGs, comics, anything Joss Whedon (of course), Doctor Who, Sherlock gets a mention, Star Wars, Star Trek, The Princess Bride (book and movie), Dresden, Steampunk and I even detected a hint of Bleach…. There are a lot of references (too many references?) and I didn’t get all of them. I think it would be almost a drinking game to get them all, lol (*ahem* or maybe a great companion book? If you read this and do it, Underwood, I want acknowledgements! lol) As I haven’t read any Gaiman (shoot me, ok? I own a few…but I’m being very hipster about the whole “Gaiman” thing) I had to look up the Sandman reference (that I caught). I had to look up a couple of things, TBH. But I didn’t feel that it really distracted from the story in any way.

If you didn’t live your childhood with your face planted in a book/video/computer game or you didn’t get most or any of those comments I made in the above paragraph…this may not be the book for you. But…if you want some fun brain candy that doesn’t take itself too seriously AND you have a sense of humor yourself, this is a great book to read! Note: Please keep Wikipedia on hand.

A lot of people have complained about the beginning RPG references…which I ate up with a spoon (I will keel you yet, Diablo!!) but one of my biggest problems was the characterization of Ree. She…was a little too gun-ho and a little too much of a know it all. I get that she’s 23ish and people of that age seem to feel immortal…but she took it to the next level sometimes and I occasionally wanted to slap her. She’s like the protagonist that just blunders into plotlines. Much like the standard orphan hero that finds the “special sword” and instantly becomes a better swordsman than a master…Ree stumbles and bumbles her way into a win over people/entities she should not be able to overcome.

The book dragged a bit starting around 50% but it picked back up again around 65% – 70%. And I had a major issue with the ending. A major issue. A issue so large that I’m not sure how the author plans to redeem this problem in book 2. To avoid spoilers but still giving hints…it’s a serious Bleach type of event. Let’s just say that Ree was Ichigo and entered the Soul Society for a bit. Ugh, I guess. But I have certain plans to read book 2 when it comes out.

I also want to make a point to say that I greatly appreciated this book for one more thing. The complete and TOTAL lack of sex. There’s not a lick of (hehe, I said lick) of sex in this book. Nor is there any smooching or heavy petting. There is no scantily clad, stiletto boot wearing angry UF Chick with a sword marching around. There’s no Romance in this book. Well…there’s a slight hint of geeky love…that you might catch if you get the reference. And the MC is a woman. A regular woman working a regular job who will get her ass fired if she doesn’t show up to work. Sleep is mentioned quite frequently…as in she gets none and wants some with her entire heart.

I had a hard time scoring this one. Its wavering between a 3 and a 4. I’d love for the author to make the book a bit more accessible to the non-geeks and I’d like for him to do a little more work on his female characterization. So, I’m going towards the 4 because I would pick up book 2, Celebromancy tomorrow. If it was available.