When I began reading English, my Scottish mother (adopted) bought me a book. It was quite slim so I wasn’t too frightened to try, and it turned into one of my all time favorites to this day. The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye is a story for all ages.
About the book:
Along with Wit, Charm, Health, and Courage, Princess Amy of Phantasmorania receives a special fairy christening gift: Ordinariness. Unlike her six beautiful sisters, she has brown hair and freckles, and would rather have adventures than play the harp, embroider tapestries… or become a Queen. When her royal parents try to marry her off, Amy runs away and, because she’s so ordinary, easily becomes the fourteenth assistant kitchen maid at a neighboring palace. And there… much to everyone’s surprise… she meets a prince just as ordinary (and special) as she is!
This book shows everyone that ordinariness or it’s opposite lie in the eye of the beholder. Princess Amy is anything but ordinary. Her problem is that she’s not what her parents want her to be. She doesn’t behave like princesses are supposed to, and she isn’t fixated on beauty (hard to do when you’ve got freckles believe me). When her parents come up with a nightmare idea to marry her, she takes matters into her own hands. This is the absolute anti-Cinderella story and that’s why I love it so much. It contains just as much romance and some typical fairy tale elements, but it twists them in a way that makes them new and exciting. If you haven’t yet, give this story a try. It’s not very expensive and you can get it as an eBook too.
My absolute favorite author is Diana Wynne Jones who died in March 2011 unfortunately. She managed to create something new with every single one of her stories. Not like some big successes (HarryP cough, cough), where the same story repeats with slight variants. Every single one of Diana’s works is unique, the characters so alive they could jump right from the page into real life. Of course, it’s difficult to choose one from the big list (she wrote countless stories, here an overview). They are all great. The first story I ever read from her (I was 10 years old) was “Charmed Life“, the first volume in the Crestomanci series (all books can be read independently from each other). Till today, it’s still one of my most favorite stories.
About the book:
Cat doesn’t mind living in the shadow of his sister, Gwendolen, the most promising young witch ever seen on Coven Street. But trouble starts brewing the moment the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Ancient and turreted, the castle is every bit as grand as Gwendolen had hoped. But there are disappointments. No butler opens the door to her, no lavish banquets are given in her honor. Instead, she and Cat have to do lessons in the schoolroom with Chrestomanci’s two children, and worse of all she is forbidden to practice magic except under supervision. Frustrated, Gwendolen conjures up a scheme that could throw whole worlds out of whack.
From the first page, I hated Gwen (I still do but not as strongly as back then – come on, it’s been more than 30 years). She is a beast, and her brother Cat always has to bear the blame for her tricks. When they arrive at Crestomanci’s, Gwen seems to be close to her goal, but she gets worse with anger because the big magician simply ignores her. Crestomanci is so disinterested, the reader considers him absentminded. As a child, I was sometimes very angry with him because he didn’t help Cat one little bit. But of course, there is a really good reason (as always with Diana Wynne Jones) for his actions. What a pity I can’t tell you. You’ll have to read the book yourself.
How about you? What’s your favorite book? Do you know Diana Wynne Jones (maybe from the cinema where one of her books was turned into a movie titled “Howl’s Moving Castle“)? Leave me a comment and I promise to answer.
I know, I have been neglecting this site somewhat lately. It wasn’t on purpose. With the kids on holiday, my schedule went haywire, and I decided to focus on getting me next books ready for publication. In the next months, you can expect at least 5 more eBooks to see the light of day, starting with a YA Fantasy set in Scotland, my favourite country in the world. But now, to the review.
About the book:
After unknown strangers kill his parents, Nobody Owens, known as Bod, grows up in a cemetery, protected by ghosts and his guardian, a creature between life and death. They teach him as best they can, although some ideas they have are rather old-fashioned. Then, one day, Bod meets a strange girl-ghost near the wall of the end of the cemetery who wishes for a real tombstone. But when he leaves the cemetery, he alerts the old evil that’s still looking for him.
Imho, this is not Neil Gaiman at his best, but it is a pleasurable read for younger children. Neil’s strength lies with creating wonderful worlds with rich backgrounds and well thought out rules. His characters however sometimes fall a little flat, especially the villains. The Graveyard Book is absolutely wonderful up to the point where the villain shows up for the third time. After that, it became utterly predictable for me, and I thought that a pity. Sure, the average MG reader probably won’t notice (having read much less than I did) but considering it’s Neil Gaiman we’re talking about here, he could have done better.
That said, I loved the cemetery crew. There are some brilliant characters hidden away in there, so the book is worth a read. Maybe my disappointment was due to the fact that most of Gaiman’s other work is so much more than this was. Still, if I had to give stars (like on amazon), I would still give it 4 of 5 without hesitation. I hope you will enjoy it.
First of, I love Fairy Tales in every disguise. If you don’t, this book is not for you. Catspell is the retelling of a little known Fairy Tale called “The White Cat” but it’s so wickedly funny, you don’t recognize the tale until half way through the book. Even then, you can’t predict the outcome.
About the book:
A head cold can muddle the clearest of heads, and fairy godmothers are no exception.
Which is why Nerissa finds herself agreeing to help Breena, a Damsel in Distress, even though she’d rather wrangle a whole posse of evil stepmothers than accept the job. To her credit, Breena, would rather kiss a hundred toads than work with a fairy godmother.
After an ill-fated attempt to get out of their contract, Breena now has whiskers, claws, and a tail. Finding a suitable prince for a small, white cat isn’t going to be easy, but that’s the least of Nerissa’s problems. The person who gave Breena the “cat” potion isn’t going to stop until she’s destroyed everything Nerissa stands for as a fairy godmother.
If she wants to save Breena, Nerissa is going to have figure out where the fairy tale went wrong and how she can bring a Happily Ever After to the only girl she’s ever failed.
Due to the great description and the wonderful cover, I had this book on my “Wanted” list for quite a while but never got round to ordering it due to a very busy schedule. Then, I won it in an Internet competition held by several new but good Indie authors. It came as a surprise when Danyelle contacted me about my win since I had already forgotten I participated (‘Unimportant’ things like that often slip my mind, but my kids and hubby never do 😉 ). Of course, the book immediately went to the top of my TBR pile. I started reading it a few days after I got the eBook and went through it without a break. I even neglected my writing a little.
From the first page on, the slightly sarcastic voice of the fairy godmother grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. It was very well counterpointed by the slightly naïve Damsel in Distress (DID) with her cats, that weren’t really cats, and the voice of the adventuring prince’s magician who’d rather be somewhere else studying magic. The story twists often but never once got confusing. The author expertly tangled the DID’s and her fairy godmother’s life in a net of interwoven story threads and never dropped a single one. The end is full and well fitting for the story. I already ordered the three available sequels, Firespell, Applespell, and Frogspell.
I hope you will enjoy the book just as much as I did,