“The Lives of Christopher Chant” by Diana Wynne Jones

It’s highly possible that these Chrestomanci books might become one of my favorite middle-grade fantasy series. I’m really enjoying what I’ve read so far and can’t help wondering again and again if I’d read these books as a kid. They’re such fun!


MG Fantasy


Chrestomanci, book 2



Quick summary

Instead of continuing where the first book, Charmed Life, left off, The Lives of Christopher Chant instead gives us the backstory of the Chrestomanci, a noted magician, in Charmed Life.

Christopher Chant is raised as a lonely kid, secluded in his nursery with only his governesses to interact with as his parents become more and more self-absorbed as they grow apart. But soon Christopher is able to go off on adventures, exploring other worlds. He doesn’t realize that he’s unique, that he has more than one life and can do magic.

When his father leaves their home in disgrace (I think he got the family bankrupt), his mother turns to her brother, Ralph, for help instead, and once he learns of Christopher’s ability, Uncle Ralph begins to exploit him. With Christopher’s help, Uncle Ralph is able to smuggle in contraband goods from other worlds, committing atrocious crimes to get it done, of which Christopher is unaware. But soon Christopher’s father becomes somewhat wise to all this and, realizing that Christopher may be key to having a better future, he tries getting Christopher to the best person who can train him — the current Chrestomanci, Gabriel de Witt. But it takes more than simply moving Christopher into de Witt’s care to get him out of Uncle Ralph’s clutches. (Goodreads)

My thoughts

I had a wonderful time reading this, and I think I got through it pretty quickly too. I remember not wanting to break from it for long because I wanted the story to keep going and to see how things would resolve.

There’s much to love in this one. I enjoyed visiting the other worlds with Christopher, since we don’t get much of that in the first book. And I liked how it’s slowly revealed — or we are made aware little by little — what Uncle Ralph is really up to. We read from Christopher’s perspective and because he’s a kid, there are certain details he doesn’t dig into, so hints are dropped along the way and it’s easy to guess that Uncle Ralph is up to no good, but I like that it takes a while for hard evidence to materialize, and for us and Christopher to believe it all.

In addition to the adventures, I also liked the action and shenanigans that occur toward the end as the Chrestomanci staff try to hold off Uncle Ralph, and also the visit to Eleven series to see the Dright to help out Tacroy. I liked a few of the characters, Dr. Pawson most of all. He’s the guy who shouts a lot and gets Christopher started on magic and helps him realize that silver weakens him. It was also lovely to see Millie in this one and to learn where she’s from.

As for the things I didn’t like — it’s just one thing, and it’s that the adults ignore Christopher because he’s a kid. It would frustrate me sometimes, because much could have been resolved quickly or avoided if the adults had just really talked to Christopher. Christopher was frustrated at this too, so I’m surprised that it’s continued somewhat in Charmed Life, when Christopher is the Chrestomanci. Btw, after having met Uncle Ralph, I thought that older Christopher, in Charmed Life, developed his sense of style based on his Uncle’s.

And, OMG! Christopher was so careless with his lives! He mentions this in Charmed Life, but I didn’t realize just how true it would be.

Overall: ★★★★☆

It was a fun read, and I can’t wait to get started on the next book. I wonder if it will be about a different Chrestomanci or if it will pick up with Cat from the first book.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

I still think it’s worth owning these books.


Top 5 Tuesday #92: Some Spirit

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm, and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic:


(Topic of your choice!!)

Well, since we have a freebie topic and the theme for this month has been the Avatar: The Last Airbender show, I think I’ll go with spirit as my topic for this week, since spirit is an element that only the Avatar can bend.

Now, how do I choose books that fit this topic? Well… it was difficult.

Eon by Alison Goodman

The first in a YA fantasy duology about a girl posing as a boy so that she can be considered to become the next Dragoneye and bond with a dragon. I chose it for my spirit theme because the dragons in this series are more spiritual than tangible beings.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

These are YA paranormal books about a group of teens searching for the resting place of a dead Welsh king along ley lines in West Virginia. I chose it for my spirit theme because it has a ghost in it but also because it’s dreamy and atmospheric.

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Fantasy Books I Recently DNF

Every now and then, I do a roundup of books I did not finish (DNF). I don’t often give up on books, but I’m trying to do so more often since there are many things I’d like to read and there’s no point torturing myself with something I do not like.

And I also sometimes rate the books I DNF. However, I only do so if I’ve read a decent bit of it to have formed a strong opinion. I always mention in the review, or whatever writeup I do, that I DNF the book so folks know to take my opinion with a grain of salt or something.

Previous DNF roundups:

The Sword Defiant by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan




Lands of the Firstborn, book 1



Quick summary

This is the first in a new fantasy series by the author. The story mostly focuses on Sir Aelfric, a veteran warrior who was instrumental in defeating the Dark Lord with his band of warrior friends.

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Once Upon a Time Book Tag

For this Book Tag Thursday, I’m doing the Once Upon a Time Book Tag, which I found over on the Bookforager and knew I HAD to do.

It was created by I Have 12% of a Plan (love this blog name) and Imperial Scribis.

And since it’s Wyrd & Wonder month, I’ll try to stick to fantasy things in my responses.

Cinderella: A book that changed your life

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe, illus. by Roc Upchurch

It’s the first in a fantasy comic-book series about a band of female mercenaries. I decided to go with this since it’s one of the first comics I read that got me hooked on that form of storytelling as an adult.

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Read-Along Discussion: Howl’s Moving Castle, Week 3

Time for the third and last check-in for the Howl’s Moving Castle read-along. This week’s discussion questions come from Beth & Nils of the Fantasy Hive.

Let’s start with the epic magic battle we’re treated to in ch16! What did you make of it? Was all the magic easy to visualise?

It was easy for me to visualize, but I wasn’t much impressed by it. I think I’d gotten so wrapped up in wanting Sophie to realize and acknowledge what’s going on with and around her that I became too frustrated to be impressed by much. So I think this is one I’ll enjoy a lot more on reread. However, I’d love to see how Miyazaki brings about this battle scene in his film.

Following the battle, it’s decided they must move Calcifer, and so Howl purchases the hat shop. This is one of the few moments in the book where we witness Howl actually perform a magic spell. What did you think of the move and the resulting flower shop?

I actually really liked this set of events I think because Sophie has such a strong reaction to them, even if she couldn’t tell what’s bugging her at first. But it’s one of few times that Sophie doesn’t seem to simply accept what’s happening to her and is instead angry and expresses that anger. I didn’t care much about Howl performing the spell and instead wanted the story to dig more into the emotions Sophie was battling with. I wondered how she felt and what she thought about the hat shop being vacant and returning to the place. We got some of that, but I wanted more.

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Top 5 Tuesday #91: Airy Ones

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm, and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic:

Top 5 books with air

Calm like a monk, or wild like Aang? Don’t forget to breathe deeply. 💨🍃
(Variant: flight)

Again I had difficulty coming up with selections that match the week’s topic, but I tried and managed to find four, because I limited myself to selecting only fantasy books (or books I believe to be fantasy, in honor of Wyrd & Wonder month).

A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos, transl. by Hildegarde Serle
Flight, Vol. 1 edited by Kazu Kibuishi
Air Awakens by Elise Kova
Flyte by Angie Sage

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Read-Along Discussion: Howl’s Moving Castle, Week 2

Unsurprisingly, I’m late posting my replies to the second week of the Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones read-along for Wyrd & Wonder, a monthlong celebration of all things fantasy.

This week’s questions come from Beth & Nils, who both blog over on the Fantasy Hive. They posed about 11 questions, but I’ll only answer a few.

This week’s reading opens with Sophie mending Howl’s suit. By Chapter 14, Sophie finally learns that she’s been inadvertently charming clothes. Was it as obvious to you as everyone else in the book? Or were you as surprised as Sophie?

It was so obvious to me that I was becoming annoyed with Sophie and the story for not fully acknowledging it earlier. I kept thinking that maybe there was some sort of magical block preventing her from realizing what she was doing (like Cat in Charmed Life), but that doesn’t seem to be the case, which frustrates me. I was also hoping for a greater reaction from Sophie — more surprise — when she found out, so I was disappointed there too.

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Top 5 Tuesday #90: Fire & Lightning

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm, and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic:

Top 5 books with fire

(We’re more into channeling Iroh than Ozai… but where are all our fire-benders at? 🔥☄️)
(Variant: lightning)

OK, this week’s topic was difficult to find answers for, but somehow I managed to find books that fit.

Olympians, Vol. 1: Zeus, King of the Gods by George O’Connor (illus.)

First up is this middle-grade fantasy comic book that’s the first in a series about the Greek gods. This first volume retells select stories about Zeus, focusing on the god in his younger years.

The Shadow Saint by Gareth Hanrahan

This one may be a stretch, but I think there was a lot of fire in the war that occurs at the end of the book… but I can’t remember for sure. The Shadow Saint is the second in the Black Iron Legacy fantasy series that’s set in a world were the gods are at war.

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“Page” by Tamora Pierce

My glacial progress rereading the Protector of the Small series continues with Page, the second book.

I started this book last year but ended up putting it down several times, finding the story too boring to keep my interest for long, which surprised me. I wisely guessed that it must be a “mood thing” and set the book aside for much of the year before returning to it earlier this year and quickly completing it in a week. I was glad for that, as I’d started to become worried that I’d fallen out of love with a childhood favorite. Turns out that I just had a bout of the reading blues that lasted for much of 2022.


YA Fantasy


Protector of the Small, book 2



Quick summary

After completing a probationary year, Keladry of Mindelan finally, officially begins training to become a knight. She (and me, too) is still angry at having to do a probationary year at all, but she’s pleased that Lord Wyldon has agreed to allow her to continue.

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Cozy Fantasy Book Tag

Here’s another fantasy-themed book tag that’s perfect to do for Wyrd & Wonder.

It’s the Cozy Fantasy Book Tag, which I found over on Corner of Laura. It was created by 24hryabookblog.

Let the journey begin! What’s the first “cozy fantasy” book you’ve ever read?

The Tea Dragon Society by Kay O’Neill (illus.)

Cozy fantasy is still a new concept to me, so the books in the Tea Dragon series are probably the first books I read that I considered “cozy fantasy” at the time I read them. They are such sweet reads. They are middle-grade graphic novels about a group of people who care for miniature dragons that grow tea leaves from their horns.

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