Review: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles Books 1 & 2 by Patricia C. Wrede

The following two reviews are going to be a little different than normal, as I have read both books before (sometime in the early 2000s).

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Title: Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book One)
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult
Publisher: Magic Carpet Books (1st November 2002)
Blurb:

Princess by Birth. Adventurer by Choice.

Meet Princess Cimorene – a princess who refuses to be proper. She is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboy-ish, smart . . .

And bored.

So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon. And not just any dragon, but Kazul – one of the most powerful and dangerous dragons around. Of course, Cimorene has a way of hooking up with dangerous characters, and soon she’s coping with a witch, a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird, a stone prince, and some very oily wizards.

If this princess ran away to find some excitement, it looks like she’s found plenty!

Review:

DEALING WITH DRAGONS is the first book in Patricia C. Wrede’s superb Enchanted Forest Chronicles. This book follows the story of Princess Cimorene of Linderwall who finds that the life that is expected of her as a princess is actually rather dull. Especially as there are a lot of expectations about how a ‘proper’ princess is supposed to behave, and what she is supposed to do. When her parents try to marry her off to a prince, Princess Cimorene runs away and ends up living with Kazul the dragon.

DEALING WITH DRAGONS was one of the books I read when I was a young teen that really cemented my love of fantasy, particularly my love of fantasy with strong female heroes.

Princess Cimorene is not your typical princess; she has little interest in activities that are normally associated with princesses, and would instead prefer to learn Latin, or magic, or how to fence. I found her to be a really likeable and relatable character – I especially admired her ‘can do’ attitude. I also really liked Kazul the dragon, who I think Wrede wrote brilliantly. She was like an elder sister to Cimorene.

Wrede brings humour, fun, and a unique spin on what could be your typical fairy tale. Princess Cimorene is not stolen away by a dragon, instead she runs away to a dragon so she can live the life she wants. Neither does she have to be rescued by a prince, turning fairy tale conventions on their heads.

Although the main plot thread of DEALING WITH DRAGONS focuses on Cimorene finding her place in the world, Wrede cleverly interweaves some addition plot threads that make the book a compelling read. The story is easy to follow, and Wrede takes the typical ideas from fairy tales about what dragons are like and princesses, and princes, and wizards and turns them into something new.

If you are thinking of venturing into the realm of fantasy fiction, then this series might just be the one for you. Wrede writes a strong female hero, an interesting plot, and a humorous, interesting story.


 

Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Title: Searching for Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book Two)
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult
Publisher: Magic Carpet Books (November 2002)
Blurb:

Kidnap a dragon? How daring!

How stupid.

Cimorene, the princess who refuses to be proper, is back – but where is Kazul the dragon? That’s what Cimorene is determined to find out.

Luckily – or perhaps not-so luckily – she’s got help: Mendanbar, the not-very-kingly King of the Enchanted Forest, has joined her in her quest. So with the aid of a broken-down magic carpet, a leaky magical sword, and a few buckets of soapy lemon water, they set off across the Enchanted Forest to tackle the dragon-napping and save the King of the Dragons.

Review:

SEARCHING FOR DRAGONS is the second book in Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and continues the story of Princess Cimorene and her life with Kazul the dragon. This time Kazul has disapperared, and Cimorene makes it her mission to find her. Meanwhile something is going on in the Enchanted Forest and its king, Mendanbar, is determined to find out what.

SEARCHING FOR DRAGONS is a great addition to the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Wrede continues Cimorene’s journey, and introduces some new characters as well as more of the world. Wrede also continues the theme of re-imaging fairy tale tropes, which I think she does to great success.

The book starts by introducing us to the King of the Enchanted Forest, which I think helps us to get to know Mendanbar better. It was interesting to see what the world was like from his point of view. Cimorene was exactly as I expected her to be; comfortable and settled into her role as the King of Dragon’s Chief Cook and Librarian, and still exasperated with the occasional knight who turned up to try and rescue her.

The plot of the book focused on two main mysteries; where was the King of Dragons, and what was going on in the Enchanted Forest. I think this worked well, and Wrede told a compelling story, which was fun and enjoyable to follow. The world of the Enchanted Chronicles seems like a really interested, complex world. And I really love some of the ideas in this book that are introduced with the appearance of new characters.

SEARCHING FOR DRAGONS had the same fun and irreverence as the previous book – if you enjoyed DEALING WITH DRAGONS then you are sure to enjoy this one too.

Review: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

Title: Archangel’s Enigma (A Guild Hunter Novel, 8)
Author: Nalini Singh
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz Fiction (3rd September 2015)
Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to her world of fark passion and immortal power and to one of the most seductive and impenetrable heroes ever to stalk the Guild Hunter landscape . . .

Naasir is the most geral of the powerful group of vampires and angels known as the Seven, his loyalty pledged to the Archangel Raphael. When rumours surface of a plot to murder the former Archangel of Persia, now lost in the Sleep of Ancients, Nassir is dispatched to find him. For only he possesses the tracking skills required, those more common to predatory animals than to man.

Enlisted to accompany Naasir, Andromeda, a young angelic scholar with dangerous secrets, is fascinated by his nature – playful and brilliant, sensual and brutal. As they race to find the Sleeping archangel before it’s too late, Naasir will force her to question all she knows . . . and tempt her to walk into the magnificent, feral darkness of his world. But first they must survive an enemy vicious enough to shatter the greatest taboo of the angelic race and plunge the world into a screaming nightmare . . .

Rating: **** (4 stars)
Review:

ARCHANGEL’S ENIGMA by Nalini Singh is the eighth book in her fantastic Guild Hunter series. This book follows the story of Naasir – one of the Archangel Raphael’s Seven – who Raphael asks to locate and wake a Sleeping Ancient, a task that is considered taboo. To complete this task, Naasir needs the help of Andromeda, a young angelic scholar.

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Review: Dark Debt by Chloe Neill

Dark Debt by Chloe Neill

Title: Dark Debt (Chicagoland Vampires, 11)
Author: Chloe Neill
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz Fiction (5th March 2015)
Blurb:

A vampire never gets old. But neither do his enemies. When a figure from Ethan’s dark past makes a splashy debut in Chicago, Merit and her Master don’t know whether he’s friend or foe. But they’ll have to figure it out soon, because there is trouble brewing in the Windy City.

At an exclusive society soiree attended by the upper echelons of the human and supernatural worlds, Merit and Ethan barely stop the assassination of a guest. When the target turns out to be a shady businessman with a criminal edge, Merity suspects a human vendetta. But the assassins have fangs.

The connections to Chicago’s Houses go deeper than Merit knows, and even one wrong move could be her last . . .

Rating: **** (4 stars)
Review:

DARK DEBT is the eleventh book in Chloe Neill’s fantastic Chicagoland Vampires series. This book continues Merit’s story, as she and her Master, Ethan, get drawn into some more trouble. A figure from Ethan’s past makes a dramatic reappearance, and there is trouble brewing in Chicago that could mean problems for all the Houses.

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Illumicrate Unboxing

Illumicrate is a UK based subscription service. It is a box that contains a book and some other bookish goodies. It costs £29.99 (plus P&P if you live outside the UK). You can find out more information and sign-up for updates about the next box here: http://www.illumicrate.com/

This is the first Illumicrate, and actually my first subscription box. I have been thinking about signing up to one for a while but for various reasons I haven’t up until now. I was super excited to get this and find out what was inside. You can watch me open the box in the video below, or skip past that straight to the pictures.

The items that came in the Illumicrate are:

I am really glad that I signed-up to get this box. I think it – and other services like it – are really neat. I loved what I got in this box, and I’ll definitley be signing-up to get the next one.

Review: End of Days by Susan Ee

End of Days by Susan Ee

Title: End of Days (Penryn and the End of Days, 3)
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: Dystopian, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (21st May 2015)
Blurb:

AFTER A DARING ESCAPE FROM THE ANGELS, PENRYN AND RAFFE ARE ON THE RUN.

They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and Penryn’s sister. As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war. As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious? Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: their own kind, or each other?

Rating: ***** (5 stars)
Review:

END OF DAYS by Susan Ee is the concluding book to the brilliant Angelfall Trilogy/Penryn and the End of Days. Penryn and Raffe’s journey continues, and they face many obstacles but as the apocalypse approaches they are faced with a tough decision.

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Review: Lover Avenged by J. R. Ward

Lover Avenged by J. R. Ward

Title: Lover Avenged (A Black Dagger Brotherhood, 7)
Author: J. R. Ward
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Piatkus (4th November 2010)
Blurb:

As the vampire warriors of the BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD defend their race from their slayers, one male’s loyalty to the Brotherhood is about to be tested – and his dangerous mixed blood revealed.

Caldwell, New York, has long been the battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the Lessening Society. It’s also where Rehvenge has staked out his turf as a drug lord and owner of a notorious nightclub that caters to the rich and heavily armed. His shadowy reputation is exactly why he’s approached to kill Wrath, the Blind King, and leader of the Brotherhood.

However, Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood. He’s a symphath and the revelation of this deadly secret will result in his banishment to a colony for sociopaths. And as plots within and outside the Brotherhood take their toll against Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in a darkening world: Ehlena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has taken its hold on him – and the one thing standing between him and eternal destruction.

Rating: **** (4 stars)
Review:

LOVER AVENGED is the seventh book in J. R. Ward’s intriguing Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This book tells the story of Rehvenge – brother of Bella – who is a symphath, something that is supposed to be cast out by the Brotherhood and the Blind King.

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Review: Rock Hard by Nalini Singh

Rock Hard by Nalini Singh

Title: Rock Hard (A Rock Kiss Novel, 2)
Author: Nalini Singh
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publisher: TKA Distribution (10th March 2015)
Blurb:

In New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s newest contemporary romance, passion ignites between a gorgeous, sinfully sexy man who built himself up from nothing and a shy woman who has a terrible secret in her past . . .

Wealthy businessman Gabriel Bishop rules the boardroom with the same determination and ruthlessness that made him a rock star on the rugby field. He knows what he wants, and he’ll go after it no-holds-barred.

And what he wants is Charlotte Baird.

Charlotte knows she’s a mouse. Emotionally scarred and painfully shy, she just wants to do her job and remain as invisible as possible. But the new CEO – a brilliant, broad-shouldered T-Rex of a man who growls and storms through the office, leaving carnage in his wake – clearly has other plans. Plans that may be equal parts business and bedroom.

If Charlotte intends to survive this battle of wits and hearts, the mouse will have to learn to wrangle the T-Rex. Game on.

Rating: *** (3 stars)
Review:

ROCK HARD by Nalini Singh is the second book in her self-published series Rock Kiss. This book tells the story of Charlotte Baird, Molly’s best friend, and her boss Gabriel Bishop – who Charlotte refers to as T-Rex. ROCK HARD takes place almost simultaneously with ROCK ADDICTION (review), though ROCK HARD starts a little later.

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Review: Lover Enshrined by J. R. Ward

Lover Enshrined by J. R. Ward

Title: Lover Enshrined (A Black Dagger Brotherhood, 6)
Author: J. R. Ward
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Piatkus (7th October 2010)
Blurb:

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other – six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Now a dutiful twin must choose between two lives . . .

Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s bloodlines alive – he is to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished.

As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body but his heart for herself – she sees the emotionally scarred male behind all this noble respobsibility. But as the war with the Lessening Society grows more grim, Phury must decide between duty and love.

Rating ***** (5 stars)
Review:

LOVER ENSHRINED by J. R. Ward is the sixth book in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. It tells the story of Phury, Zsadist’s twin brother, and how he copes with the fallout from the choices he has made. This book leads directly on from the previous book, LOVER UNBOUND (review).

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Review: Tortall and Other Lands

Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce

Title: Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales
Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Fantasy, Swords and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Bluefire (10th April 2012)
Blurb:

Years ago, the novel Alanna introduced fantasy lovers to the magical kingdom of Tortall. In Tamora Pierce’s subsequent sixteen books set in this medieval relam, readers have gotten to know generations of families; legions of friends, foes, and fantastical creatures; and much about the history, magic, and spirit of this extraordinarily well-drawn locale.

But epics do not always provide the smaller, more intimate tales. Collected here are six wondrous shorter tales from the land of Tortall, featuring previously unknown characters as well as old friends. There are four more fantasy tales not set in Tortall. And as a bonus, there’s one nonfantasy set in contemporary Idaho that proves that Pierce’s multilayered characters, finesse with dialogue, and impeccable storytelling are not limited to worlds inhabited by dragons and magic.

Dive in and get carried away. Few writers can envelop you as completely as Tamora Pierce.

Rating: ***** (5 stars)
Review:

TORTALL AND OTHER LEGENDS: A COLLECTION OF TALES by Tamora Pierce is a collection of eleven short stories mostly set in the world of Tortall – although two are set in our world. The short stories contain mainly new characters are situations, though there are a couple of familiar faces throughout the collection.

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Review: My Neighbor Totoro The Novel

My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel

Title: My Neighbor Totoro The Novel
Author: Tsugiko Kubo
Illustrator and Original Concept: Hayao Miyazaki
Translator: Jim Hubbert
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult
Publisher: Viz Media (7th November 2013)
Blurb:

The beloved animation classic by legendary Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki, My Neighbor Totoro, is now a novel. This edition features original illustrations by Miyazaki himself, accompanying a story by veteran children’s author Tsugiko Kubo.

Eleven-year-old Satsuki and her sassy little sister Mei have moved to the country to be closer to their ailing mother. Soon, in the woods behind the spooky old house, Satsuki and Mei discover a forest spirit named Totoro. When Mei goes missing, it’s up to Satsuki to find her sister, and she’ll need help from some new, and magical, friends.

Rating: *** (3 stars)
Review:

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO THE NOVEL by Tsugiko Kubo is literally what it says it is: the novel version of Hayao Miyazaki’s film of the same name. The book tells the story of eleven-year-old Satsuki and her four-year-old sister Mei. The sisters move with their father to the country so they can be closer to their mother, who is ill and resides in Shichikokuyama Hospital.

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