Return to Tanglewood forest. This time with a puppy.

Seven Wild Sisters by Charles De Lint

I read The Cats of Tanglewood Forest almost exactly a year ago. It was the story of a little girl who got pulled into a fairy tale. Seven Wild Sisters is it’s sequel, and it has the same delicate storycraft, wonderful characters and real fairy (not Disney fairy) lore.

Aunt Lillian, the young girl from the first book is worried. She owes the Father of Cats a favour, to be passed down to her children, but she has never had any. But seven girls move in the farm down the hill and Sarah Jane, the middle child is drawn to Aunt Litiian. But one well meaning mistake on Sarah Jane’s part throws her, Aunt Lillian and her six sisters into the middle of a great fairy feud.

The story is told alternatively in first person from Sarah Jane’s perspective and third person for the other sisters. Despite being a relatively short book, it does a good job and developing each girl individually and delving into older fairy mythology.

Compared to some of the children’s books on the shelves right now, it’s not as face paced, action driven or as funny, but it’s still a very nice, careful read. I would recommend reading it allowed or giving it to more advanced readers. There’s also a bit of grim content, with a few fairy deaths here and there, but overall it is quite innocent and charming. Roots the dog and the supporting case of fairies are all lovable and witty characters who should earn the love of anyone who reads it and the girls’ courage and devotion to their family is all pretty feel good. Overall, a win.

Perfect for everyone looking to escape for a bit.

Last movie I watched:

I think Georgina Rules. That was upsetting and grim, but I guess it all worked out in the end

Last TV episode I watched:

Once Upon a Time!! They’ve lost Henry!!

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Ethics, Apocalypses and teenage angst

Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson

This young adult novel really depends on a lot of big reveals (like maybe three of them) so I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to say without revealing these details, which I don’t want to do because it was a really, really good book and I seriously recommend reading it.

Jenna Fox is seventeen and she wakes up from a year long coma in a new house in California. She doesn’t remember the accident that put her there, she doesn’t remember well, anything really. Her life is in a future when the overuse of antibiotics created a bubonic-esk plague that has devastated the global population and left the survivors at risk from every little infection.  Her father is a leading doctor, her mother used to renovate brownstones, back when they lived in Boston. They tell her everything’s all right now, that she will regain her memories, and get her life back. But there are things they won’t tell her. She slowly pieces together  her old life and a hundred questions, but the biggest one always remains: how did she survive the accident?

For the purposes of this post, my title will be my thesis.

This book had a pretty complex discussion of medical ethics. After the loss of antibiotics thanks to a reckless medical industry a regulatory body called the FSEB has gained significant power and they fight to oversee and limit what the medical professionals can do. Their agenda is personified in Allys, Jenna’s friend, who lost her arms and legs to infection. But on the flip side, there is Jenna, saved by illegal procedures. One girl killed by medical arrogance, one saved by it and in the face of questions like that how are we supposed to decide our own best practices? Certainly right now scientific developments are happening at alarming rates, promising solutions to out most serious problems, but also at a human cost.

As far as apocalypses go, an drug resistant super bug is both a pretty real one and a pretty scary one. Like, right now it’s relatively possible and that’s super, duper scary. This book doesn’t spend a lot of time world building. That’s okay and kind of makes the super threat, which is mostly abstract since it happens well in advance of the book actually starting, kind of scarier then it already is.

The last thing this book was very good and very real I thought was Jenna’s feelings of frustration as a teenager. She’s trapped between wanting to be the perfect child, to succeed, to be perfect, be everything that her parents want her to be and being a young adult, following her passions and bucking those expectations entirely before she can set up her own. The contrast is exemplified particularly by Jenna’s conflict with her post accident self, new Jenna and her recovered memories, old Jenna. I think teens, as well as most other people will enjoy this story and the tension Jenna feels. And that’s not even touching on her complicated feelings about herself and her identity after a terrible accident, something that lots of people who have experienced that kind of trauma might relate to.

It’s a great book, and I have recently been informed, part of a trilogy, so that’s something to look forward to. I strongly suggest picking up this first book at least and just seeing what you think. Obviously, I had lots of thoughts and yours will probably be better.

Last movie I watched:

Full Monty. HILARIOUS GUYS. You don’t think a bunch of out of work steel workers in the north of England who take up stripping could be this funny, BUT IT IS.

Last TV episode I watched:

The last ever Charmed. It was worth the whole dumb 8th seasons for that episode.

I just don’t know what to say

The Roundhill by Dick King-Smith

The Roundhill is a sweet little story by Dick King-Smith, the author of Babe if anyone missed that (I know I did once). Evan is fourteen, it’s 1936 and while he’s happy enough with his life, he feels a little empty and alone. His parents are nice, but very British and not inclined to show affection. He wants to believe in God but he can’t quite understand how God could be real. School is fine but he misses home. Home is full of routines and patterns. The thing he loves most in the world is the Roundhill he can see from his bedroom window,  and goes to visit once every holiday. Until he meets a little girl named Alice who looks uncannily like a a famous literary figure sitting on the Roundhill. They become unusual friends, but Evan knows there’s something even more unusual about her.

I probably would have liked this book as a child, but I was kind of an unusual child. Really, it’s an older story, it’s a slow, meticulous and rather beautiful to read and compared with early readers now, it’s probably not going to be the one more kids pick up on their own. It’s also very serious. Evan is a very serious young man, Alice is a more real character, with none of the whimsical (yet dark) feel of Alice in Wonderland. It also felt like it should have an agenda, although I’m not sure what it was. It might have been an innocent lost theme, but I think that’s often missed by children. It’s probably more of a read together kind of book. And for an adult, they might appreciate all the things their kids are missing.

Last movie I watched:

Atlantis: The Lost Empire. I fail to see how Atlantis was an Empire. They didn’t seem to be invading anybody.

Last TV episode I watched:

Once Upon a Time. This Captain Hook guy seems pleasant.

That funny feeling where you’re missing something

A Dragonborn Novel: Fireborn by Toby Forward

So, if I ever find a job and if that job involves picking up ARC of books, I’m going to try and read them before their release dates. Because I have no idea when or where I got this book but it came out Christmas 2013. Worth the wait though.

It is the prequel to Dragonborn, which I have not read. That’s the part that I didn’t get. I think there were some big reveals about the characters from that book, particularly near the end of this one, but not having read the next one, I have not idea. Whatever, it was still a good book on its own.

It’s the story of two young wizards – Cabbage, apprenticed to the wise, powerful and kind Flaxfield and Bee about to be apprenticed to a greedy, powerless old wizard called Slowin. In an attempt to steal Bee’s power, Slowin takes her name, and in doing so unleashes the wild magic that turns helpful spells deadly. Cabbage, Flaxfield and a roffle called Perry set out to understand the death of a man, killed by magic  unexpectedly and end up having to save the world.

This book was neat! I liked the language and the language play and the story, with some lovely characters and some solid world building and particularly the roffles (another species who live in the Deep World and always speak in riddles but only to keep themselves mysterious, if it gets too bothersome they can stop).

Bee, after surviving the horrifying ordeal of having her magic taken from her, is left permanently, physically scarred. Her struggle with her appearance and constant pain made me think this is a good story for children who survive bad accidents or live with an illness that causes them pain. It seems to me that it’s important for children to have this kind of story so they get to see their own experiences and feelings. For this and it’s many other excellent narrative qualities, I would recommend it to reasonable strong readers who love fantasy.

And also roffles.

Last movie I watched:

Something Borrowed. That actress is seriously risking being typed cast as excessively meek and in love with someone else’s spouse. But in Once Upon a Time, she was a lot more kick ass.

Last TV episode I watched:

Game of Thrones! Everyone panic all the time! Weird things are happening.