I read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken first when I was twelve, and it was one of my favorites immediately. I keep rereading the whole series all the time and still find it fascinating.
About the Book:
Wicked wolves and a grim governess threaten Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia when Bonnie’s parents leave Willoughby Chase for a sea voyage. Left in the care of the cruel Miss Slighcarp, the girls can hardly believe what is happening to their once happy home. The servants are dismissed, the furniture is sold, and Bonnie and Sylvia are sent to a prison-like orphan school. It seems as if the endless hours of drudgery will never cease. With the help of Simon the gooseboy and his flock, they escape. But how will they ever get Willoughby Chase free from the clutches of the evil Miss Slighcarp?
These were truly believable characters, and they were dropped into a really nasty situation. No one likes losing their parents, but adding the loss of their home topped it all. I loved the way the two girls never let themselves get down. They fought back with everything they had. Since this story takes place in an England with slightly alternate history, the story also taught me (unconsciously) about the way of live in GB. Joan Aiken is a genius. What I loved best about this series is that she took one minor character from the first book and made him the hero of the next and so on. That way, there was always room for the characters to grow, and I was never bored. I might borrow this idea some day. 😉
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.
It’s time. Everything went as planned, so here it is: Scotland’s Guardians
Since Bryanna grows up in Scotland, she is familiar with hobgoblins, selkies, and kelpies from the tales of her homeland. But she is extremely surprised when she starts seeing these creatures one day. Is she hallucinating? Before she can ask her father’s advice, he is kidnapped by a woman whose scent seems awfully familiar. Instead of calling the police, Bryanna follows the kidnapper and lands smack-dab in the middle of the adventure of her life. It’s just as well she knows the old legends and myths well enough. The world she lands in is murderously dangerous. And even if she survives the journey, she is fated to kill her father.
All right, I played around with the cover some more, but I didn’t like the way the letters obstructed the lovely picture. I think it’s better now. Hopefully, you think so too.
I got the idea to this story during one of my numerous visits in Scotland. Beside the unbelievably beautiful nature, this country has much to offer particularly one thing: the supernatural. Every region has its own mythical creature, and every Scotsman knows at least one haunted house or Loch monster. No matter whether on the mountains, at the coast, or in the valleys, there are as many stories about brownies (household sprites), Boobries (giants birds), and kelpies (waterhorses) as there are grains of sand by the sea. Fascinated, I decided to put at least some of these creatures into a novel. It took form after a woman appeared in my mind whose eyes mirrored the Scottish moors and not the garden she looked at.
Since Bryanna grows up in Scotland, she is familiar with Hobgoblins, Selkies or Kelpies from the tales of her country. But she is very surprised when she begins to see these creatures one day. Is she suffering form hallucinations? Before she can ask her father’s advice, he gets kidnapped by a woman whose scent is strangely familiar to Bryanna. So, she follows the kidnapper instead of informing the police and lands smack dab in the middle of the biggest adventure of her life. It’s just as well she knows the old tales well enough. The world she lands in is murderously dangerous.
Scotland’s Guardians will be available at the end of the month as an eBook on Amazon. Other retailers will follow. A date for the print-version will be announced on time.
Review Monday: The gauntlet and sequel by Karen Chance
This week, I’m featuring two free books again. I haven’t read anything else from Karen Chance yet because I don’t like to get started on long series but I might just make an exception since I enjoyed these two books a lot. I will also check out some of her other free stories.
About “The Gauntlet”
Vampire Kit Marlowe seeks out an imprisoned red-headed witch whose help he needs. He didn’t count on her starting a revolt of the prisoners against their capturers that would bring down the whole prison, but in for a penny in for a pound as they say.
About “The Queen’s Witch”
After their escape, Kit Marlowe follows the witch to London and manages to bribe her into helping him. despite the fact that she’s none too find of Queen Elizabeth I., she agrees to help thwart an assassin attempt on her. But their opponents have been planning long and hard, and their connections to the throne are much better. Will Kit and his witch be in time? And what has a zombie-monkey got to do with the story?
I read “The Gauntlet” and the sequel “The Queen’s Witch” and loved them both. They are very fast paced with wonderful characters. The only drawback was that there were some sub-plots that could have done with some more story time. I understood the need to have the protag’s daughter in the story but her reaction to a traumatic experience was missing. I know that with the fast pacing there wouldn’t be much room for this but a hint here and there would have turned a great story into an outstanding one.
I believe it is worth your time to check out this author,
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,