Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Ten Books for People Who Liked Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

1. The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

These two talented ladies found inspiration in each other’s work, and it shows. There’s much of Howl in Gen, including an impossible wit and proclivity for temper tantrums. There’s also just enough fantasy to keep genre fans satisfied.

2. Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling

Flewelling’s series juggles numerous adult themes and so the tone is more mature than that of Jones’s classic children’s book. However, Alec and Seregil constantly snark at each other and get into hijinks reminiscent of Sophie and Howl’s adventures.

3. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

There’s decidedly less humor in Cashore’s series, yet fans of Diana Wynne Jones’ writing will surely find much to love in Cashore’s lush worldbuilding.

4. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unlike Howl, Unspoken is set in modern times, yet Brennan has infused her story with the same wry humor that Jones was so well known for. Had Jones decided to write a gothic romance novel, Unspoken surely would have been its doppleganger.

5. A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede

Mairelon reminded me quite a bit of Howl, though he was rather less prone to histrionics. A Matter of Magic is a slower read than Howl and rather less funny, but it’s a great example of a fantasy of manners.

6. Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman can turn anything into gold, and his attempt at an original fairy tale is no exception. Both Howl and Stardust excel at not taking themselves too seriously, which I believe is an important but oft-overlooked elemet to any humorous fantasy novel.

7. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

McKinley is the queen of fairy tale adaptations, yet her Damar stories are just as brilliant. While Howl fans should seek out McKinley’s entire catalogue of work, The Blue Sword is a good place to start.

8. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

If you’re after humorous fantasy, you can’t do better than The Princess Bride.

Some other titles that aren’t quite as similar yet that might interest Howl’s fans include: Chronicles of Lumatere series by Melina Marchetta, Study series by Maria V. Snyder, Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, and Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.

 

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Showcase Sunday

Showcase Sunday is a meme created by Vicky at Books, Biscuits, and Tea to share new book acquisitions, whether bought, gifted, received for review, borrowed, or won.

Bought

  • Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found by Sophie Blackall
  • Casket of Souls by Lynn Flewelling
  • The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
  • The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
  • Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
  • The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale
  • The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
  • Illyria by Elizabeth Hand
  • The Demon’s Covenant (signed) by Sarah Rees Brennan

For Review

  • Good Bones by Kim Fielding (from NetGalley)
  • The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers (from NetGalley)
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (from NetGalley)
  • The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé (from NetGalley)
  • The Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed (from NetGalley)
  • Asher’s Invention by Coleen Kwan (from NetGalley)
  • His Heart’s Obsession by Alex Beecroft (from NetGalley)
  • Scott Pilgrim Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley (from NetGalley)
  • Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills (from NetGalley)
  • Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (from NetGalley)

Won

  • For Darkness Shows the Stars ARC by Diana Peterfreund plus tons of bookmarks (I think some giveaways might be in order) (Thanks to Diana!)

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a meme created at Book Journey to catalogue everything read in the past week, what you’re working on now, and what you hope to get to in the coming week.

The Past Week

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

Flat-Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Reading Now

Boys of Summer Anthology edited by Steve Berman

The Week Ahead

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

I read my first Brennan earlier this year, and unfortunately have not been able to get my hands on any more of her Demon’s Lexicon series. While it pains me to let a great series go unfinished for the time being, when I saw the description for her new series touting a gothic romance tagline, I knew I couldn’t resist. Unspoken‘s description is rather misleading; it’s not a gothic romance so much as it is a commentary on the genre. It’s irreverent, tongue-in-cheek, and wholly unlike any of the other young adult paranormals on the market today. It’s also most probably the result of an illicit love affair between Diana Wynne Jones’s Castle series and Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart, so it goes without saying that I am all onboard for this literary lovechild.

Unspoken dares to go where few young adult paranormals go; it follows the path that

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

real people would likely take, and the results are completely unexpected. In a genre where single-brain-celled characters consistently insist on making reactionary decisions that undermine their own credibility, Unspoken stands out for its unabashed ability to allow its characters a natural progression of reasoning. Usually, my reading experiences consist of reflecting on how I would handle a situation, then frustratingly following along as the characters bumble along doing the exact opposite. It came as no small surprise, then, to find that Kami and Jared nearly always reacted in a way that seemed completely rational. It’s also perhaps a sad commentary that their realistic reactions were such a novelty. Nowadays, it seems that only the truly predictable is, in fact, artistically unpredictable.

Unspoken is a breath of fresh air infused by characters who think before they speak, and whose words are worth reading when they do speak. Kami and Jared’s interactions are witty yet age-appropriate. They sound like two intelligent and sarcastically clever teenagers, rather than two thirtysomethings culling their mental archives of pretentious pop culture references. True, the characters (Kami and Jared included) often read as rather one-dimensional archetypes, yet I believe that Brennan was striving for that effect somewhat, as the novel reads as a rather cheeky reflection on the genres that provided its inspiration. In this context, lack of dimension isn’t necessary, but it’s also not a fireable offense. I had no problem connecting with Kami and her friends, though Ash never really resonated as more than a foil for Jared.

Unfortunately, where the beginning of the novel drew me in straightaway, I feel that Brennan lost her footing in the middle, and by the time the action plot was underway, the whimsical tone and novel approach to paranormal simply weren’t enough to save the rather mediocre underlying story. This came as a blow, since I was convinced early on that this would be a rare five-star book, but the end didn’t fulfill the promise of the beginning. Still, Brennan leaves her characters with an intriguing premise for future books and, most importantly, ample room for character growth. I’ll definitely be back for the second installment and lament the fact that I’ll have to wait over a year until I’m back in Kami’s company.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a meme created at Book Journey to catalogue everything read in the past week, what you’re working on now, and what you hope to get to in the coming week.

The Past Week

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

What I Didn’t Say by Keary Taylor

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart

The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Reading Now

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

The Week Ahead

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a meme created at Book Journey to catalogue everything read in the past week, what you’re working on now, and what you hope to get to in the coming week.

The Past Week

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

Hiren's Magical Adventure by Kathleen Patel

World on Fire by Hayley B. James

Doubletake by Rob Thurman

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Reading Now

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The Week Ahead

The Burmudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

Jane by April Lindner

Review: The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Not long ago, I lauded Holly Black’s Curse Workers series as a slightly more lighthearted literary little brother to Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros series. If Cassiel is Cal’s little sibling, then Sarah Rees Brennan’s Nick is the middle child. The Demon’s Lexicon’s narrator is moodier than Cassiel yet not as witty and sarcastic as Cal, yet we eventually learn there’s good reason for his temperament. Nick and his brother, Alan, share the tight sibling bond that keeps me coming back to Thurman’s series time and again; throw in some demon fighting abilities, and one could be forgiven for assuming that Brennan has stolen her inspiration from Thurman outright. Yet Brennan’s tale holds its own and quickly begins to spin a worldbuilding thread that sets it apart from its peers.

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Alan is as fascinating a foil as Nick is a narrator, made all the more intriguing by his brother’s constant assertions that, despite Alan’s seemingly benign appearance, his brother is actually an accomplished liar and strategist. Jamie is an equally appealing secondary character; his dialogue provides a few moments of levity, and I would have liked to see his character take a more prominent role in the story rather than hiding behind his sister, Mae, for many of the more action-packed encounters. Unfortunately, Mae was my least favorite character, her bravery and edginess merely contributing to a Mary Sue image in my mind without any contrary traits to provide depth. I’m dismayed to learn that the next in the series switches to her point of view, yet hopeful that a changed perspective will at least offer a different take on some of the characters we got to know in this first installment.

Brennan treads the line between foreshadowing and genuine surprise expertly, pulling the wool over my eyes on several occasions despite having been handed all the pieces to the puzzle beforehand. Her plot development is on par with her characterization, each melding together to produce a tightly woven urban fantasy that doesn’t let up from the first engaging paragraph. While The Demon’s Lexicon doesn’t surpass its aforementioned peers, it’s nonetheless an exciting addition to the genre and the first in a series that I’ll be sure to continue.