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Jonesing for a Good Read: What Makes Diana Wynne Jones Magical

Howl's Moving Castle

Howl’s Castle – From the Miyazaki film

Diana Wynne Jones is one of the authors I foist on everyone who asks for a fantasy reading recommendation. Because I didn’t discover her work until I was well into my twenties (thanks to the Miyazaki film version of HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE), I try to make up for lost time and spread the word of an author whose works deserve to be widely read.

My relationship with HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE is a bit backwards. Usually, I seek out the book before watching the movie, but I didn’t in this case. Howl, a tortured wizard with a penchant for snazzy dressing and a weakness for hair dye, was the perfect animated hero. Sophie was also a nuanced heroine with a tinge of sadness so common in Miyazaki films, and Calcifer just cracked me up. I ended up loving the film and I knew I had to read the book.

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Posted by on March 21, 2013 in Author: Diana Wynne Jones, Fantasy, Tribute

 

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Root Bound (Emma & the Elementals #1) by Tanya Karen Gough

Root Bound by Tanya Karen GoughNote: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Root Bound is the first of a planned quartet called Emma and the Elements. This middle grade fantasy series follows Emma as she comes of age and discovers how her unique magic can restore order to the mysterious land of Under. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Remembering Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones died on March 26, 2011. She was only 76. Since then I’ve been mentally composing and uncomposing various tributes to her, one of my favorite novelists. What could I write that would be equal to the person who inspired me to pursue writing?

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Wee-Views: The Ring of Solomon and The Merlin Conspiracy

The to-read pile continues to grow (and I have yet to pick up this book club’s selection, A Discovery of Witches, probably because some of the reviews make me feel slightly frightened) and I have an ever growing pile of books that need to be reviewed. So I make some headway and so I feel at least slightly accomplished, I’m writing Wee-Views of some of these books. I’m going to skip all the plot summaries (you can read those on Amazon.com or any other online book site) and cut right to my opinions. I’ll also rate these on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being exceptionally good). Read the rest of this entry »

 

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The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey — Trenton Lee Stewart

Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance return in this sequel to The Mysterious Benedict Society. Set one year after the first book’s events, the quartet become embroiled in international intrigue that only they can unravel. Mr. Benedict had planned a globe-trotting scavenger hunt for the kids, but was kidnapped by Mr. Curtain before he could surprise the children, who are the only ones who can decipher his clues and determine his whereabouts. With only their extraordinary wits and sheer determination to guide them, the children leap from one precarious situation to the next before rescuing their mentor.

This was a well-written sequel to the excellent original novel. As all children and good characters are wont to do, these children evolve, but without losing the quirkiness that makes them so memorable. Sticky struggles with his new-found pride and strives to be as brave as his friends. Constance, while as contrary as ever, seems to have softened with age. Reynie, from whose point of view the story is mainly told, struggles with his perceptions of others–people are much more complex than they would seem. Kate, from what I noticed, remained essentially the same–brave, resourceful, and full of exuberant energy.

 

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The Mysterious Benedict Society — Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Society is one of those breezy, yet exciting reads that keeps me reading children’s fiction, even though I’m no longer the target audience. Meaty enough for adults at 471 pages (trade paperback) but written in a linear, simple style for younger readers, Benedict combines precocious orphans with perilous adventures to great effect.

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