Throwback Thursday: The Storyteller’s Daughter by Cameron Dokey

The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey

It’s been awhile since I had a chance to re-read a book, so I chose a shorter one to focus on.  I don’t remember what exactly triggered my desire to re-read The Storyteller’s Daughter by Cameron Dokey, but I’m glad that I picked it up.

I think my favorite part of this book is how the author interwove the “parables” into the main story without compromising either part.  Or it might be that the narrator breaks the fourth wall occasionally, which I greatly enjoy in both books and movies.  I do know that the initial reason I picked it up, when I was younger, was because of my love for the 1001 nights.  And although I haven’t read all of those tales, I have read quite a few re-tellings/adaptations that were quite fun.

I haven’t had a chance to read The Wrath and the Dawn yet, but with all the amazing reviews, it may bump this version from my favorite version’s seat.  Here are just a few of the others I’ve read over the years:

Shadow SpinnerCastle in the Air (Howl's Moving Castle, #2)Keturah and Lord Death

What do you think?  Have you read any of these?  Which is your favorite version?  Did I miss it?  Let me know in the comments!

Throwback Thursday: Little Book of Book Making by Charlotte Rivers

Little Book of Book Making: Timeless Techniques and Fresh Ideas for Beautiful Handmade Books

Little Book of Book Making: Timeless Techniques and Fresh Ideas for Beautiful Handmade Books

by Charlotte Rivers

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.)

Give it Time (It’ll grow on you.)

Pros:

  • Easy to read layout with informational text and photographic examples
  • Multiple examples from all over the world
  • Great hands-on, step-by-step projects
  • Ability to lay the book flat while working on your projects
  • Written without too much unexplained jargon

Cons:

  • The title led me to believe the book would focus more on making your own projects

Overall, I really enjoyed both the layout and subject matter.  Having recently completed a college course in bookbinding, I would highly recommend this book to anyone taking a similar class or who is interested in learning about bookbinding across the globe.  Public and school libraries would find this title to be a useful addition to their craft section.

Throwback Thursday: Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

R★: Highly recommended. (Must-read right now!) Creative Must (Does something different really well.) I had to stay up last night just to finish this book. While the beginning was a little slow with world-building, the pace quickly grabbed my...

R★: Highly recommended. (Must-read right now!)

Creative Must (Does something different really well.)

I had to stay up last night just to finish this book. While the beginning was a little slow with world-building, the pace quickly grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. As a humorous breakdown of horror stereotypes in a MG novel, the characters really came to life.  Majordomo-the Frankenstein monster, Cook and her son Angus-minotaurs, Serenissima-she’s completely unique, and Pins-a voodoo doll come to life.  Here’s what you need to know about this book!

Pros:
Great characterization and well-rounded cast
Main character had to confront a bully, but she had great support from friends
Catch more flies with honey not vinegar trope well-used
Twisted horror tropes
Firm conclusion with space for a sequel (NOT a cliff-hanger ending)
Fun art throughout
Enjoyable for all ages

Cons:
Beginning was a little slow to set the stage
The tasks and Board of Magic were a bit confusing at times

This is definitely a title every library should have, and it should be added to bully prevention lists for its portrayal of support.

 

Reviewed from an uncorrected proof.

Throwback Thursday: Rose by Holly Webb

Rose (Rose, #1)

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.)

Creative Must (Does something different really well.)

A young orphan is chosen to become a maid in the house of an alchemist, Mr. Fountain, but as she learns her duties around the house, she becomes aware of the magic that permeates it.  Magic that the other staff can’t see or feel.  Not long after she starts work, news comes that children are disappearing off the street, and Rose soon finds herself looking for a missing orphan friend.

I received this book from the publisher in anticipation of the sequel’s release and blog tour.  (Look for my review here with a giveaway of Rose and the Lost Princess on May 18!)

Originally published in the UK, there are numerous facets of this book built towards a UK audience; however, since the story is set in a magic-filled Victorian England, there is no required fore-knowledge.  Especially since the author takes plenty of time to set up the orphanage and the world building around Rose.  The rest of the world beyond Rose is absent except for the occasional passing mention.  For example, since Rose lived at an orphanage too poor to afford magic, there is no mention of magic at all before she learns of her new master’s position, but Rose brushing this information to the side with very little concern until she discovers she might have a magical side.

The pacing for this book flowed so well, I didn’t realize I was halfway through the book the first night I picked it up.  The villain was incredibly creepy and reminded me of the Elizabeth Bathory legend, but that plot point seemed to come from almost nowhere as there was very little build up.  The climax of the story made sense though and left the reader with a sense of wanting more from these characters and this world.  I look forward to finishing Rose and the Lost Princess.

This title is especially suited for young readers who enjoyed the movie Annie or the Harry Potter series and for those who enjoy reading something light now and then.

Throwback Thursday: Willow: Wonderland by Jeff Parker and Christos Goage

Willow: Wonderland

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: WillowWonderland
Script: Jeff Parker and Christos Gage
Pencils: Brian Ching
Inks: Jason Gorder
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s  Jimmy Betancourt

Reviewed from NetGalley ARC

Rating: R    Creative Must

Just months after Buffy destroys the seed of magic in order to save the world (again), Willow starts to notice changes all around her. Her friends just think she misses the power she had when magic was around; however, power is not the only thing missing.  Rainbows only have two colors, no one can hit a note, suicide rates are rising, and creativity is slowly deteriorating.  As she leaves to find a solution, Willow explores new dimensions and herself while confronting her past.  Giant worms try to eat her; she’s drugged and kept pliant; a large blue caterpillar gives her magic memory water; the protagonist overcomes the challenges that hamper her on the way to her goal–finding or creating a pipeline of magic that flows back to Earth.

Any Buffyverse fan will enjoy this side-trip that features Willow the witch and her delicate relationship with magic.  The artists rendered highly detailed comic-style graphics, which allows the reader to better visualize the fantastical landscapes, which the characters jump between during their quest.  Many of the characters play no bigger part than to reaffirm the protagonist’s inner monolog as she tries to find the root of her magic anxieties.  Fortunately, Willow didn’t come across as whiny, which is a recurring problem when other authors portray self-doubt and misery.  To best understand this iteration of Buffy, the reader needs to have a working knowledge of the seven season television program and the Season 8 comic series.  Reading Season 9, Faith & Angel, and even Spike’s side story will give the reader an even deeper appreciation for Willow’s journey to bring magic back to Earth.  By the end of this graphic novel, the reader will wonder how many hidden references were included.  The many clues about where Season 9 will take the fan base as Joss Whedon’s brain child continues to grow in unpredictable ways are fun to search out.

This book would make a great addition to any collection.  Libraries will be glad to have another strong female character as well as an adventure fantasy that features soul searching and self-confidence.  Physical battles amongst mental challenges make this a great read and a worthy addition to the Buffyverse.

Throwback Thursday: The Lost Days by Rob Reger

The Lost Days (Emily the Strange Novels, #1)

Reger, Rob.  Emily the Strange: The Lost Days.  R  Gr. 5-8

A girl wakes up on a park bench one day with no memory, just a notebook, pencil, and a slingshot.  Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad if anyone in Blackrock (the tiny town she seems to be stuck in) could help her remember anything about herself or her situation.  She does know a few things: she’s a girl; she likes black; she likes the number thirteen; she’s good at drawing. She’s also resourceful as she trades labor for lunch at a sandwich shop.  The reader can only read faster to find out just who this girl is since it’s her journal, and we don’t know any more than she tells us; although, as she starts putting together clues (that seem to be left where only she could find them throughout the town), the reader has the opportunity to make connections along with the protagonist.  With each clue, she discovers more about herself and her situation, starting with her name, which is Emily, and she has four smart cats (they help her find some of the clues).  She knows that she’s a little strange, but she doesn’t know how strange until she puts together that Raven, the sandwich shop girl, is a golem that Emily created, and the amnesia the protagonist suffers is self-inflicted.  For really good reasons, she is protecting a family secret from a villainous character who (with the help of an employee who can read minds) would use it for nefarious purposes.

This is the first novel (of a four part series) starring Emily the Strange.  She originated from a skateboard art design and eventually starred in a comic book.  Using a blend of journal entries with drawings made by Emily, the authors are able to portray her in her own voice, creatively engaging the reader.  I enjoyed the simple art; it was more finished than I would imagine sketches in a notebook would look, but the black, white, and red palette showcased the same emotions that Emily’s written entries portray.  The mystery (with a hint of fantasy elements) is in the lead from page one, and the reader is kept guessing throughout the narrative.  One memorable entry describes how Emily remembered who she was and what she is doing in Blackrock and how disastrous this is, so she makes sure that she loses all her memories all over again.  This evoked frustrating emotions within me since we were so close to finding out what the big secret was.  The climax was emotionally-wrenching but appropriate, and the authors did a fantastic job of conveying Emily’s frustration with her situation and the amazing discovery of her genius.

Emily the Strange can be an interesting character to use in a teen area display.  I have actually created a display that emphasized her solid self-esteem, ingenuity, and opinionated sayings.  Be careful of copyright issues here by contacting the publisher, but there is an initiative to spread her visage across the States, so you can find promotional materials available on the internet.  Emily will resonate with teenagers who don’t feel normal but can’t express themselves in their own words.

Redd’s Rating: Creative must

Throwback Thursday: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.) Creative Must (Does something different really well.) I have a lot of feels about this book, and it’s difficult to sort out the frustration from the awe. I have to admit the writing was great since it...

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.)

Creative Must (Does something different really well.)

I have a lot of feels about this book, and it’s difficult to sort out the frustration from the awe.  I have to admit the writing was great since it kept me awake last night to finish, but then I couldn’t fall asleep due to the feels of frustration and anger over some of the last story bits.  Kudos to the author for writing such great depth that I, the reader, could empathize so deeply with the characters and story.  I enjoyed most of the great story twists, and the ones I didn’t could be overlooked due to the great story.  Enough of my confused rambling, here’s what you need to know in a nutshell.

Pros:

  • Fantastic writing, both the characters and world-building flowed smoothly
  • Depth of feelings was real and believable
  • Main character, Twylla, was fun to follow as the focal point
  • Plot twists that make the story even more exciting
  • Seemingly empowered ending
  • Character growth felt real throughout (except for one twist at the end)

Cons:

  • Ineffective love triangle, it just felt forced
  • The ending was not straight forward enough, like it was scared to say which way it went
  • Without spoilers, it’s hard to describe why the ending felt frustrating and unsatisfactory

The author has set up a story that could have a sequel, but I haven’t searched for that info. at this time.  As a debut author, Salisbury has impressed me enough that this is a highly recommended read, and I will be on the lookout for more of her work in the future.

Reviewed from galley.

Throwback Thursday: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.)
Creative Must (Does something different really well.)
I loved the premise of this book: Instead of the Library of Alexandria disappearing, it becomes the “impartial” reservoir of all knowledge. Written...

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.)

Creative Must (Does something different really well.)

I loved the premise of this book: Instead of the Library of Alexandria disappearing, it becomes the “impartial” reservoir of all knowledge. Written books are supposed to be handed over to the Library, which leads to an extensive black market trade. There was a lot to like about this book, and I’m glad the author’s already working on book 2!

Pros:
Diverse characters, full of personality
Bits of ephemera between chapters to flesh out back story
Main character learns to accept himself as an individual
Just enough description, great world-building
Homosexual relationship presented as accepted

Cons:
Sometimes the pace seemed distracted or slowed
Character deaths, they were logical mostly, I just hate when named characters die 😦

This is definitely something everyone should read and share with their friends as soon as possible!

I received this uncorrected proof in exchange for an honest review through AceRocStars.  I’m looking forward to reading the sequel soon!

Throwback Thursday: The Charmed Sphere by Catherine Asaro

The Charmed Sphere (Lost Continent, #1)

Paperback, 473 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Luna Books

I’ve been wanting to re-read this series for some time now, and I was finally able to make the time to read the first book.  Actually, I purchased the ebook/audio package from Amazon since it was around $5 for both, and I started listening to the book on Audible before moving to the ebook and finishing it with the physical book.

Here’s an abbreviated history of how I came to initially love this series.  I judged the book by its beautiful cover, looked for it at every used bookstore until I found it a year later (limited money as an early teen), read it, loved it, discovered there were more with similarly amazing art, purchased and devoured them as they came out (with money from my part-time job), and last year, I contacted the author to acquire signed bookplates!

So, I discovered two things during my re-read.  1) I still love the characters, world, and magic system that Asaro built.  2) There was definitely a pacing issue throughout.  This was the largest of the 5 book series, and I believe the other 4 books were edited to be more concise.  But, that was the only issue I had really.  The magic system is based on shapes and hues of colors, which lent itself to the reader paying more attention to descriptions.  I think the magic was the best part of this first book, which does feel like an introduction to the magic system and the main country of focus.

I do hope that I can find time to continue re-reading this series  because I enjoy visiting this world.  And if the author ever has a chance to write more stories in this wonderful world or with these characters, me (and my money) will be there waiting.

Summary:

Once Chime had been the most promising mage in the land, feted and celebrated for her potential and future role in the kingdom. Then Iris, her young competitor, made a stunning leap in skill and turned Chime’s world upside down.

Now no longer the most powerful, no longer promised to a prince– and still unable to harness her magic properly– Chime was set adrift. As was the new king’s cousin– and former heir– Lord Muller. Yet when the neighboring kingdom threatened war, Muller and Chime were tasked with uncovering the plot. Both were flawed, yet unwilling to accept a lesser destiny than they had once known. Could this quest be the opportunity for redemption– or would it lead them to their deaths?

Award-winning author Catherine Asaro, creator of The Skolian Empire, creates her first full-length fantasy novel in a world rich with magic and power. Originally a glimpse of the kingdom of Aronsdale in “Moonglow” from the Charmed Destinies collection.