Tag Archive | recommendations

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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An Aficionado’s Guide to the top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 10

A few things you should know about this list:
*It was voted on by a large group of fantasy readers (majority rules)
*If a single book is on the list and that book is part of a series, it’s a recommendation for the entire series.
*I have read some of the books, but not all.
*I provide a link to the books I have reviewed.

I decided to break this into parts because it’s a pretty long list.

An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 5
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 6
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 7
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 8
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 9
 

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.

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Series: Harry Potter
Movies: 2001, Too many to list all

Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He’s never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry’s room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in ten years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him… if Harry can survive the encounter.

 
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Andre Norton: A Primer

Who is Andre Norton?

She’s an author any of y’all following this blog will get to know a lot about! My favorite author, Andre Norton is the Grand Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy. She has not only won numerous awards, she has an award named after her as well.

I first ran into Andre Norton when I was in elementary school. Some how, some way the book The Zero Stone managed to get into my elementary school library. The Zero Stone was not my first exposure to Science Fiction (that honor goes to Isaac Asimov and a collection of short stories my mom owned) but it was my first full length sci-fi. I read through it several times, confused at first but always intrigued.

It was only natural, I guess, that Andre Norton would become my favorite author later in life. It was years before I ran into Norton again: this time it was high school and a public library. It was then that I had the chance to fall in love with Andre Norton all over again. I was entranced with her Witch World series, tickled by her murder mystery and captivated by her science fiction. Andre Norton has written tons of books but my favorites are her Moon Magic series and her Witch World series.

Since this is my blog and I do what I want, I’m going to selfishly create (and post) an exhaustive list of Andre Norton’s Witch World series. As time goes by, I’ll update that list with reviews.

An Aficionado’s Guide to the top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 9

A few things you should know about this list:
*It was voted on by a large group of fantasy readers (majority rules)
*If a single book is on the list and that book is part of a series, it’s a recommendation for the entire series.
*I have read some of the books, but not all.
*I provide a link to the books I have reviewed.

I decided to break this into parts because it’s a pretty long list.

An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 5
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 6
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 7
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 8
 
DaughterOfTheEmpire11. Daughter of the Empire
Series: The Empire Trilogy

Magic and murder engulf the realm of Kelewan. Fierce warlords ignite a bitter blood feud to enslave the empire of Tsuranuanni. While in the opulent Imperial courts, assassins and spy-master plot cunning and devious intrigues against the rightful heir. Now Mara, a young, untested Ruling lady, is called upon to lead her people in a heroic struggle for survival. But first she must rally an army of rebel warriors, form a pact with the alien cho-ja, and marry the son of a hated enemy. Only then can Mara face her most dangerous foe of all–in his own impregnable stronghold. An epic tale of adventure and intrigue. Daughter of the Empire is fantasy of the highest order by two of the most talented writers in the field today.

 
Wizard's First Rule12. Wizard’s First Rule
Series: Sword of Truth
TV Show: 2008-2010

The masterpiece that started The New York Times bestselling epic Sword of Truth

In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, appears in Richard Cypher’s forest sanctuary seeking help . . . and more. His world, his very beliefs, are shattered when ancient debts come due with thundering violence.

In a dark age it takes courage to live, and more than mere courage to challenge those who hold dominion, Richard and Kahlan must take up that challenge or become the next victims. Beyond awaits a bewitching land where even the best of their hearts could betray them. Yet, Richard fears nothing so much as what secrets his sword might reveal about his own soul. Falling in love would destroy them–for reasons Richard can’t imagine and Kahlan dare not say.
In their darkest hour, hunted relentlessly, tormented by treachery and loss, Kahlan calls upon Richard to reach beyond his sword–to invoke within himself something more noble. Neither knows that the rules of battle have just changed . . . or that their time has run out.
This is the beginning. One book. One Rule. Witness the birth of a legend.

 
The Colour of Magic13. The Color of Magic
Series: Discworld

Terry Pratchett’s profoundly irreverent, bestselling novels have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to the likes of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.

The Color of Magic is Terry Pratchett’s maiden voyage through the now-legendary land of Discworld. This is where it all begins — with the tourist Twoflower and his wizard guide, Rincewind.

On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet…

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An Aficionado’s Guide to the top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 8

A few things you should know about this list:
*It was voted on by a large group of fantasy readers (majority rules)
*If a single book is on the list and that book is part of a series, it’s a recommendation for the entire series.
*I have read some of the books, but not all.
*I provide a link to the books I have reviewed.

I decided to break this into parts because it’s a pretty long list.

 

An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 5
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 6
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 7
 
 

A Wizard of Earthsea21. A Wizard of Earthsea
Series: Earthsea Cycle
2004 TV Mini Series

Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.

Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death’s threshold to restore the balance.

 

Howl's Moving Castle22. Howl’s Moving Castle
Series: Howl’s Moving Castle
2004(2005) Animated Movie
Review: 4.5 Stars

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.

 

The Last Unicorn23. The Last Unicorn
Series: The Last Unicorn
1982 Animated Movie

The Last Unicorn is one of the true classics of fantasy, ranking with Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Beagle writes a shimmering prose-poetry, the voice of fairy tales and childhood:

The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.

The unicorn discovers that she is the last unicorn in the world, and sets off to find the others. She meets Schmendrick the Magician–whose magic seldom works, and never as he intended–when he rescues her from Mommy Fortuna’s Midnight Carnival, where only some of the mythical beasts displayed are illusions. They are joined by Molly Grue, who believes in legends despite her experiences with a Robin Hood wannabe and his unmerry men. Ahead wait King Haggard and his Red Bull, who banished unicorns from the land.

This is a book no fantasy reader should miss; Beagle argues brilliantly the need for magic in our lives and the folly of forgetting to dream.

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An Aficionado’s Guide to the top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 7

A few things you should know about this list:
*It was voted on by a large group of fantasy readers (majority rules)
*If a single book is on the list and that book is part of a series, it’s a recommendation for the entire series.
*I have read some of the books, but not all.
*I provide a link to the books I have reviewed.

I decided to break this into parts because it’s a pretty long list.

 

An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 5
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 6
 
 

Daughter of the Forest31. Daughter of the Forest
Series: Sevenwaters

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all…

 

Daughter of the Blood32. Daughter of the Blood
Series: The Black Jewels

The Dark Kingdom is preparing itself for the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy–the arrival of a new Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But this new ruler is young, and very susceptible to influence and corruption; whoever controls her controls the Darkness. And now, three sworn enemies begin a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, and the destiny of an entire world is at stake.

 
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian33. The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian
Series: Conan the Cimmerian
Movies: 1982, 1984, 2011

Conan is one of the greatest fictional heroes ever created–a swordsman who cuts a swath across the lands of the Hyborian Age, facing powerful sorcerers, deadly creatures, and ruthless armies of thieves and reavers.

In a meteoric career that spanned a mere twelve years before his tragic suicide, Robert E. Howard single-handedly invented the genre that came to be called sword and sorcery. Collected in this volume, profusely illustrated by artist Mark Schultz, are Howard’s first thirteen Conan stories, appearing in their original versions–in some cases for the first time in more than seventy years–and in the order Howard wrote them. Along with classics of dark fantasy like “The Tower of the Elephant” and swashbuckling adventure like “Queen of the Black Coast,” The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian contains a wealth of material never before published in the United States, including the first submitted draft of Conan’s debut, “Phoenix on the Sword,” Howard’s synopses for “The Scarlet Citadel” and “Black Colossus,” and a map of Conan’s world drawn by the author himself.

Here are timeless tales featuring Conan the raw and dangerous youth, Conan the daring thief, Conan the swashbuckling pirate, and Conan the commander of armies. Here, too, is an unparalleled glimpse into the mind of a genius whose bold storytelling style has been imitated by many, yet equaled by none.

 
Legend34. Legend
Series: The Drenai Saga
Review: 5 Stars

Druss, Captain of the Axe, whose fame was legendary, had chosen to wait for death in a mountain hideaway. But mighty Dros Delnoch, the last stronghold of the Drenai Empire, was under threat from Nadir hordes who had destroyed everything else in their path. All hope rests on the skills of one man.

 
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An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 6

A few things you should know about this list:
*It was voted on by a large group of fantasy readers (majority rules)
*If a single book is on the list and that book is part of a series, it’s a recommendation for the entire series.
*I have read some of the books, but not all.
*I provide a link to the books I have reviewed.

I decided to break this into parts because it’s a pretty long list.

 

An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 5
 
 
moon called41. Moon Called
Series: Mercy Thompson
Review: 4 Stars

Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy’s next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water…

 
darkfever42. Darkfever
Series: Fever

MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman. Or so she thinks…until something extraordinary happens.

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae….

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane–an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book–because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands…

 
The Wizard of Oz43. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Series: Oz
Movies: 1939, 1978
Review: 3.5 Stars

In a terrifying instant of darkness, a tornado snatches up Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto, whirling them on the wild wind out of Kansas and straight to Oz.

In this wondrous world of sorcery and danger, Munchkins, flying monkeys, talking mice and fighting trees, all Dorothy wants to do is go home…

Together with the Scarecrow who wants a brain, the Tin Man who wants a heart, and the Cowardly Lion who wants courage, Dorothy and Toto must follow the Yellow Brick Road to find the Wizard of the Emerald City. But before the wizard of Oz will grant their wishes, Dorothy and her friends must do the impossible–Destroy the all-powerful Wicked Witch of the West….

 
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