“Emma” by Jane Austen, illus. by C.E. Brock

Here’s another classic surprise. Again I gravitated toward a classic story to read, this time because I watched the movie and liked it so much that I wanted to try the book.

Well, not only did I complete the book and understood what I read, but it was a Jane Austen book and I liked it too! Something weird must be going on with me this year for me, of all people, to like a Jane Austen book.


Genre

Classic Romance

Series

n/a

Pubbed

1815

Quick summary

It’s all about a young woman named Emma Woodhouse playing matchmaker to everyone and causing a bunch of confusion while doing so. There’s also a lot of classism thrown in. (Goodreads)

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“The Old Nurse’s Story” by Elizabeth Gaskell, illus. by Seth

I surprised myself a while back by picking up this classic horror short story to read for a readathon and actually liking it.


Genre

Classic Horror

Series

n/a

Pubbed

1852

Quick summary

The Old Nurse’s Story is a short ghost story an old nursemaid tells her charges about when she and their mother were younger. The mother, Rosamond, and the nursemaid were sent to live at the family mansion with Rosamond’s aunt shortly after Rosamond’s parents died.

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“The Lost Hero” by Rick Riordan

This was another book that helped with my reading slump, and that’s because it was a reread of a favorite. Reading it again reminded me why I enjoyed it so much my first time through. It’s a quick read, it’s funny, and it’s about Greek and Roman mythologies. What’s not to like?


Genre

MG Fantasy

Series

Heroes of Olympus, book 1

Pubbed

2010

Quick synopsis

The Lost Hero kicks off a new batch of books by Rick Riordan, the Heroes of Olympus series. This series immediately follows the Percy Jackson series, middle grade fantasy about the demigod children of Greek gods, but focuses on a new cast of characters and is told from various points of view.

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“Charmed Life” by Diana Wynne Jones

I have a feeling that I may have read these books as a kid, but I really cannot remember having done so.

This is the kind of story I’d have loved as a kid: Those fantasy stories where the characters sit around eating marmalade (whatever that is) and drinking cocoa and having picnics on lawns and there’s a beautiful garden somewhere that they can visit and portals to other worlds as well. Yep, such stories were catnip for me as a kid, and it seems that’s still the case because I loved Charmed Life.


Genre

MG Fantasy

Series

Chrestomanci, book 1

Pubbed

1977

Quick summary

Charmed Life is about Cat, who’s apparently a normal boy. He lives on Coven Street among many witches with his beautiful, talented sister, Gwendolen, under the care of Mrs. Sharp because his parents had died in a boating accident. Through some contrivance of Gwendolen, they move to Chrestomanci Castle, where Gwendolen grows increasingly frustrated since folks there do not acknowledge her amazingness and fawn over her. Cat, on the other hand, seems overlooked and always does what his sister says. But there’s more to Cat and something odd about Gwendolen’s powers. (Goodreads)

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“First Test” by Tamora Pierce

This one was a reread. I often read these books as a kid, in addition to the Song of the Lioness and Immortals series. The Protector of the Small books weren’t favorites back then — as the Song of the Lioness books were — but I enjoyed them too.


Genre

YA Fantasy

Series

Protector of the Small, book 1

Pubbed

1999

Quick summary

The Protector of the Small books, of which this is the first, are set in the same world as Pierce’s Song of the Lioness and Immortals series — Tortall. However, the stories take place after the Immortals War (in the Immortals series) and instead focus on Keladry of Mindelan, who goes by Kel for short.

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“As the Shadow Rises” by Katy Rose Pool

Here’s another one I read while in a funky mood, busy, and in the midst of a reading slump. I enjoyed the first book despite it being a YA novel and me having given up on YA novels, so I was looking forward to reading this second one. But, similar to my reading experience with Terry Pratchett’s Maskerade, I didn’t enjoy this much while reading (due to my mood at the time) but appreciated the story when briefly looking through before working on this review.


Genre

YA Fantasy

Series

Age of Darkness, book 2

Pubbed

2020

From Goodreads

The Last Prophet has been found, yet he sees destruction ahead.

In this sequel to the critically-acclaimed There Will Come a Darkness, kingdoms have begun to fall to a doomsday cult, the magical Graced are being persecuted, and an ancient power threatens to break free. But with the world hurtling toward its prophesized end, Anton’s haunting vision reveals the dangerous beginnings of a plan to stop the Age of Darkness.

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“Maskerade” by Terry Pratchett

I’m steadily working my way through the Witches books. These are a subseries of the Discworld fantasy series. The stories all take place on a flat world that lies on the backs of four elephants that stand atop a giant turtle floating through space. The books are all light, amusing reads.


Genre

Fantasy

Series

Discworld, book 18
Witches, book 5

Pubbed

1995

From Goodreads

Death, to be precise. And plenty of it. In unpleasant variations. This isn’t real life – it’s worse. This is the Opera House, Ankh-Morpork…a huge, rambling building, where innocent young sopranos are lured to their destiny by a strangely-familiar evil mastermind in a mask and evening dress, with a penchant for lurking in shadows, occasional murder, and sending little notes full of maniacal laughter and exclamation marks. Opera can do that to a man.

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“Kushiel’s Avatar” by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel’s Avatar is the last novel in Phèdre’s trilogy, which I actually began when I participated in a Wyrd & Wonder readalong for the first book, Kushiel’s Dart. I participated in a readalong for second book, Kushiel’s Chosen, as well and was so curious about how the story would end that I buddy-read this third book with Millie at Milliebot Reads.

It was a good read, and I had so many thoughts when done that I felt overwhelmed, procrastinated on doing this reflection, and now have so overdone it that it’s quite long with two summaries (yep, really overdid it).


Genre

Fantasy

Series

Phèdre’s Trilogy, book 3

Pubbed

2003

Quick summary (for those new to the trilogy)

If you want to read high fantasy sword & sorcery but want something a bit different, I highly recommend this trilogy, especially if you have strong interest in myths and history and the like, as I do. The story isn’t exactly set in the real world (or you could argue it’s the real world but waaay in the past with some fantasy flourishes), but it is obvious how much religion (especially Catholicism), history, and certain cultures have influenced it.

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“Before They Are Hanged” by Joe Abercrombie

I’m back with the boys from the First Law series. Emily of Embuhleelist (my buddy-reader in all things Hobb, and now in all things Abercrombie) and I are enjoying reading about this cast of characters and have already started on the third book — which is quite entertaining so far what with Jezal’s and West’s promotions. But anyway, this book…


Genre

Fantasy

Series

First Law, book 2

Pubbed

2007

From Goodreads

Superior Glokta has a problem. How do you defend a city surrounded by enemies and riddled with traitors, when your allies can by no means be trusted, and your predecessor vanished without a trace? It’s enough to make a torturer want to run – if he could even walk without a stick.

Northmen have spilled over the border of Angland and are spreading fire and death across the frozen country. Crown Prince Ladisla is poised to drive them back and win undying glory. There is only one problem – he commands the worst-armed, worst-trained, worst-led army in the world.

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Thoughts on the MinaLima Editions of the First Two Harry Potter Books

And finally, I’m discussing the last books I read last year — the MinaLima illustrated editions of the first and second Harry Potter books.

The Harry Potter series is catnip for me. If a new edition is published, I’ll most likely get it, so yea, I’m looking forward to the upcoming Jim Dale illustrated version of the fifth book, which I think is coming out this year in October, and am hoping MinaLima will do illustrated versions of all the books and that a third one is forthcoming.

Since the Harry Potter books are so popular and I’ve discussed the story several times on here, this won’t be a typical review because I won’t discuss the story — plot, characters, and all that. Instead, I’ll just focus on the illustrations and structure of the physical book and how those things affected my reading experience.


My thoughts

The short of it — I LOVE the MinaLima editions of the Harry Potter series. They are exactly what I expect when I see “illustrated edition” tagged to a title. The illustrations are bright, colorful, quirky, and interactive, and I think they fit the playful tone of the story, especially for the first books.

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