And then there were five.
More Wordless Wednesday fun here.
Deep within the Wood, a young woman lies dead. Not a mark on her body. No trace of her murderer. Only her chipped glass slippers hint at her identity.
The Woodcutter, keeper of the peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of the Faerie, must find the maiden’s killer before others share her fate. Guided by the wind and aided by three charmed axes won from the River God, the Woodcutter begins his hunt, searching for clues in the whispering dominions of the enchanted unknown.
But quickly he finds that one murdered maiden is not the only nefarious mystery afoot: one of Odin’s hellhounds has escaped, a sinister mansion appears where it shouldn’t, a pixie dust drug trade runs rampant, and more young girls go missing. Looming in the shadows is the malevolent, power-hungry queen, and she will stop at nothing to destroy the Twelve Kingdoms and annihilate the Royal Fae…unless the Woodcutter can outmaneuver her and save the gentle souls of the Wood.
Blending magic, heart-pounding suspense, and a dash of folklore, The Woodcutter is an extraordinary retelling of the realm of fairy tales.
You guys. When I started this book, I didn’t know what to expect. It was an impulse buy. It was $3.99 on Amazon. The premise sounded interesting. And I was in a funk and needed some retail therapy. So in the cart it went. Then, somehow, it didn’t flounder in my TBR. I picked it up the next day. STILL not expecting much.
I certainly didn’t expect to fall head over heels in love with it and promptly call it my favorite book of the year. The whole year. Like, I’ve already read my favorite book of 2014 and I already know nothing else will hold a candle, favorite book of the year.
No, I am not delusional. I am in love, damn it!
So, what’s so great about this book?
My favorite character without a doubt was the Woodcutter. His (insert mental picture of me clasping my fists to my head because I can’t think of the words I so desperately want) WAY with his environment; the trees (oh, the trees, my second favorite character), the stories, the pixies, all of it, was simply mesmerizing. He’s such a quiet, unassuming man, but he’s also the hero. Perhaps reluctantly since throughout the book he just wants to go home to his plain, boring, but adored and wonderful wife, but he keeps on. He just keeps on keeping on, doing the job tasked him, because he cares. He cares so damn much. It’s his job, but it’s also something more. It’s his life. He feels like a throwback character to another time to me; when men did what they had to do not only because it was their job but also because it was their passion.
I also loved how all the stories were turned on their heads, so to speak. All the stories change. Red Riding Hood still goes tripping through the forest, but she doesn’t quite end up the way she usually does. Neither does her grandmother. Snow White still flees into the forest with the Hunter, but she never makes it to the dwarves. Rumplestiltskin still goes for a first born, but things don’t turn out quite the way he hopes. Traditionally weak female characters are suddenly empowered. Males find themselves forced into unfamiliar circumstances. And it was all delightful to me. DeLightFul.
Did I mention the writing is gorgeous? Kate Danley really outdid herself with keeping to the traditional fairy tale tropes. The writing practically sings. You know I highlighted a ton of quotes, right? Here are a few of my favorites:
She was who she was, no more, and that was what made her so special.
Winter was fading and the tender touch of spring had caressed the earth, leaving its gift of new blossoms in delicate green.
The absence of glamour was intoxicating. Surrounded by a swirl of other ladies in paired fineries and magicked perfumes, she stood in the firelight with no auras, no spells-just quiet, like an ancient oak rooted deep to the center of the earth.
He took those fingers and held them to his lips, loving them, loving them for loving him, loving them for teaching him how to love.
There are so many more I want to share, but I can’t because they give too much of the story away. I feel like I have been very inadequate in describing this book, but I feel reasonably sure I have conveyed my love for it. If you give it a try, please let me know. I’m dying to talk to someone about it.
I purchased this book through Amazon.com. If you should buy the book through my link, I will receive around 4% of the price in commission.
Unique. Unique could mean so many things. One of a kind. Like no other. Weird. Odd. Strange.
In other words; There Can Be Only One.
And even then, it comes down to what is unique to me. Just because I’ve only read a book like, well, let’s say Quiet, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other books like Quiet. I just haven’t read them yet. They could be better, or worse, or not exist. THIS IS SO SUBJECTIVE. Oh, the pressure. Oh, but hey, it’s there in the title. The top ten most unique books I’VE read. Whew.
So, on that note:
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain – I’ve never read a book that so perfectly described me. And I’ve never read one that described me so well and did it without making me like a complete loser.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan – The Arrival was the first graphic novel I ever read that didn’t use any words to tell the story. Yes, I’ve “read” other graphic novels that do not use words, but none have even come close to making the same emotional impact.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood - Many imitators, few even come close to meeting the standard.
The Suicide Shop by Jean Teule – In my 2013 End of Year Reading Survey, I said, “What a wry, ironic, hilarious gem of a book. Good Lord, I loved this little delightfully sadistic tasty nugget.” That still sums it up pretty perfectly.
Every Day by David Levithan - First time I’ve ever read a book about a character that changes bodies every day, that’s for sure!
The Stand by Stephen King - Probably not that unique if you read a lot of King, which I don’t, so it was completely unique to me. Although, on the other hand, I have read lots of dystopian novels, some where a virus started it all, but somehow, King still seems different from the rest.
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie – “There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name.” Hey, and there is a Ocean of the Streams of Story.
Maus and Maus II by Art Speigelman – I’ve never read a book that so brilliant blended history with art. And in such a, yes, unique way.
Ella Minnow Pea: A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable by Mark Dunn – I read this book pre-blogging! It’s an epistolary novel about an island (?) (it’s been so long!) where a statue (of the man who created the sentence that uses all the letters of the alphabet) starts loosing the letters on it and so the government decides to stop using those letters as the fall off. Each letter gets more and more…interesting…as the writer looses letters to write with.
Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock – Another pre-blogging and also epistolary. This one is unique because you can actually remove letters from their envelopes and read them. At the time, it was very unique and fun.
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Oh my goodness. It’s Monday. Where did that come from?
What are you reading this week? Me? I am not sure. I’ve been so busy! You see, I have a severe case of wanting to read everything and having no time to do it.
No. Time. At. All.
That said, I did finish a book this week! LOL Son was sick, what can I say? I read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in the space of a day and boy, y’all, did I love it. Gabrielle Zevin has been one of my favorite authors since I read her first book (back when it first came out even!) and I can never wait to get my hands on something by her. It has been such a pleasure watching her grow as an author.
I had to do a crazy about of traveling Thursday and Friday for training for work, and since I was driving so much (2.5 hours down, 2.5 hours back, two. days. in. a. row.), I finished up Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, also read by Neil Gaiman. Neverwhere continues to make strides toward being my favorite Neil Gaiman. The Graveyard Book better watch out!
I’m reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, a book firmly embedded in my Top Ten for Life Favorite books list, with my Andiroo, but I’m reading it slowly because 1) I’m savoring it and 2) I’m not totally sure she’s committed! LOL I’ll keep going anyway, but oh how I hope she gets into it soon!
This leaves me without a spare book (I typically like to have at least 2 going, I need the back and forth between books) (for a break, ya know?) and an audiobook. I started and stopped several books yesterday because, like I said, I want to read them all, but nothing really grabbed me. There are so many books! Like you didn’t know this, I know. *sigh*
I’m feeling like I need a young adult novel. To cleanse the palate, as they say. Although which, I have no idea. I think I’ll sit down with a stack and go with the first one that grabs me. I love my techniques, don’t you?
I’m also left without an audiobook on the go. There are so many of these as well, yes, I know you know. I’m leaning toward Gulp by Mary Roach, A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley, or The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. I’m more heavily leaning toward the 100 year-old dude.
What do you think of my plans? What should I read next? Obviously, I can use the advice.
Hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.
Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the ey
“In the land of Ingary where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of the three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.”
I swore this month that I would make friends with Diana Wynne Jones if it killed me (gross over-exaggeration, but typical of me as you know). I’m happy, so happy, to report that after 3 years of trying, I have found a Diana Wynne Jones’s book I like, nay, love. I LOVE IT.
A few things about it:
Oh, I love so many things about what Diana Wynne Jones did with this story. The sheer fun of it was a delight. It was just a joy to read. And I feel like I haven’t read enough books this year that were just plain old fun, joyful reads. I need more of these reads in my life.
I loved the main character of Sophie. She starts the book as such a mousy person, but becoming “old” set her free in so many ways. She started saying the things she thought, she started doing the things she wanted to do…she just became so much less inhibited. As I have aged, I have noticed that I too have started doing and saying things I want and think more often and can only assume that Wynne Jones was showing that getting old can do that to a person. I hope it continues for me! I love that she takes her destiny into her own hands, rather than staying on the path to failure as she believes because of her birth. And I loved how Sophie ended up, but of course, I can’t tell you exactly how she ends up. You’ll have to read the book for yourself.
I was surprised at how much I liked Howl. He is a different kind of immature than Sophie. Sophie’s immaturity is based on a sheltered homelife and a timid personality. Howl is a spoiled brat. When he doesn’t get his way, he throws temper-tantrums. His room is a disaster. He trolls from woman to woman, loving them until they love him back then he’s off on the next conquest. Yet, as Wynne Jones paints this picture of him, I couldn’t help but start to understand him and as I understood him, to like him.
And then, there’s Calcifer. You can’t have Howl without Calcifer. He’s described in the book as a fire demon and he lives in Howl’s fireplace. His magic and Howl’s are so intertwined, it is put forth that one cannot live without the other. The two have made a mysterious bargain. Calcifer is the one who decides to let Sophie in and in return for letting her stay, they will help each other break their respective curses. Calcifer is by far my favorite character in the whole book. He’s so grumpy and crabby and powerful and can be a bit mean. By the end of the book, Calcifer’s life is just as intertwined with Sophie’s as with Howl’s, in a sense making a family.
The main antagonist, The Witch of the Waste, is the most powerful magician around and she has her sights set on Howl, since he spited her. Howl therefore does everything he can to avoid her. I think a lot of her power comes from her broken heart and I appreciated how Wynne Jones shows how that power can be used for ill. By the end, despite all the things she has done, I was merely left feeling sorry for her.
As for Wynne Jones’s writing, it’s equal parts clever, hilarious, moving, and just plain ole fun. I love how she shows age doesn’t necessarily mean life is over, and that anyone can be family. I love that she took a dandy (Howl) and turned him into something more. And I loved how she took this timid mouse of a girl and turned her into something amazing. Gosh, I just loved this book so much. I hope it’s obvious. And I hope you’ll read it. I have left out so much! Howl’s Moving Castle is a book rich in story, characters, personality, and, like I said, fun.
“Yes, you are nosy. You’re a dreadfully nosy, horribly bossy, appallingly clean old woman. Control yourself. You’re victimizing us all.”
“More about Howl? Sophie thought desperately. I have to blacken his name! Her mind was such a blank that for a second it actually seemed to her that Howl had no faults at all. How stupid! ‘Well, he’s fickle, careless, selfish, and hysterical,’ she said. ‘Half the time I think he doesn’t care what happens to anyone as long as he’s alright–but then I find out how awfully kind he’s been to someone. Then I think he’s kind just when it suits him–only then I find out he undercharges poor people. I don’t know, Your Majesty. He’s a mess.”
“Really, these wizards! You’d think no one had ever had a cold before! Well, what is it?” she asked, hobbling through the bedroom door onto the filthy carpet.
“I’m dying of boredom,” Howl said pathetically. “Or maybe just dying.”
“So you were going to rescue the Prince! Why did you pretend to run away? To deceive the Witch?”
“Not likely! I’m a coward. Only way I can do something this frightening is to tell myself I’m not doing it!”
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More Wordless Wednesday fun here.
Today’s Top Ten Tuesday book topic is “Gateway” Books/Authors In My Reading Journey and they say this list can be a mix of a books that got you into reading, an author that got you into reading a genre you never thought you’d read, a book that brought you BACK into reading etc, etc, etc. So here are ten.
1. When I was around 4 years old, I begged my grandmother to read the same book to me every night, to the point where I memorized the text and could “read” it to myself. The Chimp that Went to School by Peggy Parrish may not look like much, but I credit it with starting a lifelong passion for reading.
2. Judy Blume! Can any young reader come of age (well, in the 80s and 90s?) without reading Judy Blume? From Blubber to Fudge all the way to Margaret, Judy played a huge part in my reading life circa 1988.
3. I don’t know what you call different genres of fantasy. I only know what I like. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss introduced me to what I feel like is a type of fantasy that feels real. The magic, the myth, it all feels commonplace, even plausible. Not so fantastical, I guess is what I mean. Instead of magical realism, perhaps it is realistic magicism?
4. Again in the fantasy theme, I don’t know what you call Howl’s Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones except to say it is at the other end of the spectrum from The Name of the Wind. It is completely fantastical. Nothing feels real or common, definitely not plausible. Yet it is no less fun to read. I’m glad DWJ has shown me it can be just as great a read as anything else.
5. After college, I was tired of classics. Since I majored in English, I took a lot of English classes and read lots and LOTS of classics. I was burned out, to say the least. I avoided them for years. I’m not sure of the first one I read after college (I could look, I’m just too lazy) but I know that The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins was the one to start a small spark in me to start exploring them again, this time on my own.
6. My Gateway book to graphic novels was Maus I and II by Art Spiegelman and I can’t think of a better way to be introduced to the genre. Maus really encapsulates the breadth of feeling graphic novels as a storytelling device can bring to a reader.
7. I’ve never been big on short stories. Another thing you can blame college for! But, The Faery Reel, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling caught my attention a few years ago and it was completely delightful. I still don’t read short stories as much as I like, but the fact that I read them at all can be put down to this book.
8. At this point, it’s pretty safe to say that Neil Gaiman is one of, if not my, favorite authors. Thanks to American Gods. Honestly, the first time I read it, at age 23 or so, I wasn’t really enamored with it, but it started me on the path to reading all his work, which I’m grateful for. And when I reread it 10 years later, I was old enough to get it and count it as one of my favorite books ever.
9. Harry Potter. Oh Harry. Thank you for showing me I’m not too old to read and love a kid’s book.
10. I did not grow up on a farm, per say, but I did spend a lot of my young in a garden. My grandfather planted a huge garden full of tomatoes, corn, beans, onions, radish, collards, and more every year until his health started failing and I was expected to help out. I have hulled many a bunch of beans in the fall of the year under the maple in their back yard. After I moved out and started building my own home, I knew I wanted to garden but didn’t exactly know how. I struggled without the big patch of land with the ever present tractor ready to rip that fragrant red clay into hills for me. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver literally changed my life. No, I can’t afford to leave life behind for a year and focus on my garden. And no, she didn’t really teach me much about HOW to grow anything. But she did make it clear to me why I needed to try.
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Dear March. Dear, dear March. Wow, we had quite a time this month didn’t we? So many adventures. I went to Texas for the very first time. I met my bestest friend Andi! I got her married off to an amazingly fantastic man! I made it home to our poor kiddos. Three of the four of us battled the craziest stomach bug EVER. And I still managed to read eight books. EIGHT BOOKS!
What I read?
21. I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
22. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
23. What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang
24. Y the Last Man Deluxe Edition 2 by Brian K. Vaughan
25. The House Girl by Tara Conklin
26. Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan
27. The Woodcutter by Kate Danley
28. Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, read by Cassandra Campbell
Such a great month. What’s Left of Me was something of a disappointment, the more I think on it. Saga was almost a let down after I was so excited about it. I overhyped that one for myself I’m afraid. The House Girl was so so; parts of it annoyed me. I Shall Be Near to You was really good, but I would have liked more out of it. It felt like a young adult, and I’m not sure it is being marketed as such, since I wasn’t expecting a young adult feel. Y the Last Man (#2) was great. Howl’s Moving Castle was amazing. And The Woodcutter came out of nowhere to completely knock me off my feet. I wish I had read Princesses Behaving Badly in print. I wanted to take so many notes that I just couldn’t while listening on my commute. Still enjoyed it, but it’s not going to stay with me As always, Cassandra Campbell was amazing.
So, April, what fun will we have? I expect I’ll be listening to more audio, since I’ll be cleaning out the garden and getting it ready for the garden. Some ideas for April are:
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman (already listening to this one. I had a craving.)
The 100-Year-Old Man Who by Jonas Jonasson, read by Stephen Crossley
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, read by Tavia Gilbert
The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball, read by Tavia Gilbert
A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley, read by Jayne Entwistle
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, read by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp, and Camille Kingsolver
As for reading, I know I’m reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, since it’s my sinister way of making Andi read it. I’d also like to read. I also really want to read A Farm Dies Once a Year by Arlo Crawford. In fact, I think I’ll go start that right now, since the iPad is charging! I hope to finished Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, a lovely collection of Victorian/Steampunk/Fairy Tale/etc short stories. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling sure know how to pick awesome stories. I also have How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, The White Forest by Adam McOmber, The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld, The Martian by Andy Weir, Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall, and many, many more. I mean, I have Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman, Unnatural Creatures edited by Neil Gaiman, Swamplandia by Karen Russell, The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Read Magic by Emily Croy Barker, and How Paris Became Paris by Joan DeJean from the library! SO MANY CHOICES.
My head hurts.
As usual, I’m shooting for way more than I can read, especially with the Readathon looming and all the work that entails, but here’s hoping!
Blah. Blah, blah, blah.
This is the weekend I had. Very blah. My son woke up at 1:00ish Saturday morning throwing up. And he just kept one throwing up. All Saturday morning, into Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday afternoon. He finally stopped after lunch but I can tell even now after just haven’t woken him up Monday morning that he still feels poorly.
Plus, I know because I caught it too.
So, blah. Plus, someone got ahold of my husband’s debit card number and lifted a SUBSTANTIAL amount of money from our bank account Friday. After the trip to Texas last week and that, I wanted a quiet weekend at home, BUT NOT LIKE THIS.
So, in between trips to the bathroom with the boy (who knew a boy could throw up that much) and for myself and just leaving the hubby alone to suffer (such a baby), I did get a bit of reading done. I finished The House Girl, which I’m reading with Andi and for Kelly’s Fellowship of the Worms March pick. More on that later.
I finished Y the Last Man Deluxe Volume 2 and all I can say on that is How Soon Have Volume 3 get here? Oh, wait, I have to buy it, right? AND I HAVE NO MONEY.
Okay, I’m stop wallowing.
Today, since I called in, I’ve been napping and reading The Woodcutter by Kate Danley. It’s a nice, quick read that was about all I could concentrate on right now. The writing is quite lovely and it’s all fairy tales, which is so my bag baby.
After this, I plan to start listening to Princesses Behaving Badly while I (hopefully) find it in me to do some laundry. There is so much laundry. Then maybe one of my Once Upon a Time or Spring Reads will call to me. I’m very fickle right now. I can’t tell you how many books I went through before The Woodcutter caught my fancy.
Happy Monday and have a great reading week!
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