Feasting Around the Blogosphere

PFF Orange Grove Cover - SmallAs you (hopefully) know, my next novel will be published one week from today!  I always like to celebrate a new novel (and spread the word) with a blog tour, with guest posts and interviews on other blogs.  So far I’ve done a Blog Wander and a Blog Waltz :) and this time, I’m calling it a Blog Banquet–because my narrator, Tarry, really loves good parties and excellent food.  So think of this as a kind of Movable Feast, with each course of the written banquet on another blog!

So you know where we’ll be going, here are the lovely bloggers who are letting me visit:

I’ll let you know each time a new post is up, so keep an eye out.  And if you’d like to join the party, it’s not too late–just let me know! :)

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Book Reviews: My Unfair Godmother and The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie

Every so often I read a book that I don’t have quite enough to say about for a review…so today you’re getting a twofer with two mini-reviews!

My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison

This is a decent book that I would have liked better if I hadn’t been expecting something completely different from what I actually got. I saw the cover and title, read the plot description and thought: story about an inept (and sparkly) fairy godmother? I’m so in!

Turned out the fairy godmother was really more of a supporting character…part of her ineptness is that she’s never around to help, leaving Tansy to deal with the fallout of her wishes on her own. So really the story here is about a teenage girl coping with accidentally bringing Robin Hood and his Merry Men (more bandits than heroes) into her small town, and then with accidentally transporting herself and her family into a medieval-era Rumpelstiltskin tale. While fighting with her father, and crushing on her brother’s attractive but disapproving friend.

All of that is reasonably entertaining, but not what I was expecting! And this turned out not to be as much my type of book as I was hoping. Even though this is a fantasy, Tansy is very much a modern, real-world teenager. I have nothing against actual real-world teenagers, but there’s a certain type of book-teenager…shallow, self-absorbed, fighting with her parents and having trouble balancing priorities (say, a fight with her boyfriend vs. stopping a government conspiracy…though that’s a different book). Tansy is not by any means the worst of this type I’ve seen—she’s fairly likable on the whole—but there was still a flavor of that type in here.

There was a fair bit of whimsy and humor here too, and the inevitable romance had some nice moments. It was all a rather light froth of a book, which can be fun…although I did wish there was a bit more depth on at least one point. Tansy has some very real issues with her father, which is explored in the first few pages and made me feel sympathetic towards her…but then that never really got resolved. Storming a castle together as a family is not the same thing as having a serious heart-to-heart about how it felt when Tansy’s parents got divorced and her father moved out of the state. A demonstration of love doesn’t simply erase emotional damage.

So don’t look for a lot of depth here, and don’t look for a story about a fairy godmother (all indications to the contrary), but it’s not a bad frothy modern fantasy…with a side-trip into medieval England.  And incidentally, this turned out to be a sequel (to My Fair Godmother) which I haven’t read, but it didn’t seem to matter for following the story.

Author’s Site: http://janetterallison.com/

Other reviews:
Story Snoops
Literature Purgatory
These Paper Hearts
Anyone else?

Buy it here: My Unfair Godmother

Lucy McKenzieThe Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie by Kirsty Murray

This was another book I liked, but not as much as I hoped too—which may be a product of reading too many time-travel books, or just of liking a different kind of time-travel.

Lucy has to spend the Christmas holiday (in Australia, so it’s summer) with her Great-Aunt Big, in a ramshackle farmhouse in a secluded valley. The dining room has gorgeous murals of the valley—one season on each wall. And at night, Lucy finds that she can walk into the paintings, to meet April and her family living in the valley.

This is a sweet story about family, and Lucy grows in confidence throughout the book in a nice way. It’s fun to read the Australian setting too, with the blistering hot January Lucy travels into for summer.

So my reservations? It was abundantly obvious to me on paragraph one who April was…but I’ve read a lot of time travel stories, so I tried to be cool with that. And Lucy figures it out (relatively) quickly. My other issue is that I like dynamic time travel (actions in the past can change the present) and this was distinctly fixed time travel (the present can’t change and everything done in the past only creates the present as it already was). Fixed time travel just feels a little pointless to me because…nothing can be changed! Especially when Aunt Big’s life is a bit sad in the present. Lucy ends up understanding more by the end, but not enough for the understanding alone to be entirely satisfying to me as a reason for the time travel.

However. All of that is pretty darn subjective, so you might not be bothered by those things at all. And even with those issues, this was a nice book, a very fast read, and ultimately there was an upbeat ending too.  And I do love the idea of walking through paintings…such a cool concept.

Author’s Site: http://kirstymurray.com/

Other reviews (from people who loved this!):
Charlotte’s Library
The Bookbag
First Impressions
Anyone else?

Buy it here: The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie

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2015 Reading Challenges – Three-Quarters Update

We’re just starting October, so it’s time for another reading challenges update!  My laid-back reading challenges are continuing along in a laid-back way, with more re-reading and a few more checked off on the random-criteria-challenge.

On the rereading front, I finished my reread (via audiobook) of Harry Potter.  It was a lot of fun, though I do notice some cracks in the story as an adult that went right past me as a kid…still a good read though!  I reread the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, plus Extras, the fourth book that may actually be my favorite, about the “reputation economy.”  Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster was another good reread–the first time I read it, I’d only read Pride and Prejudice, so I got a lot more out of it on the second time, when I’ve read all of Austen’s novels.  I’ve just started a reread of the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace; I’ve about finished their childhood and am excited to go on to the high school years, my favorite of the series.

Then we have the random-criteria-challenge…

Goodwill Librarian Reading Challenge

I completed 29 of these in the first half of the year, and a few more these past three months:

  • A classic romance: The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer (published 1928)
  • A book with a number in the title: The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie by Kirsty Murray
  • A book your mom loves: Francis: The Journey and the Dream by Murray Bodo, O.F.M.
  • A memoir: Home, a Memoir of My Childhood by Julie Andrews
  • A book set in the future: Future Crime, edited by Cynthia Manson and Charles Ardai
  • A graphic novel: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
  • A banned book: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

That puts me at 35 down, 15 to go before the end of the year.  I started actually paying some attention to this challenge in late August, and will need to do a bit more to hit those final, more elusive ones.

Let me know if you’re curious to know more about any of these books…and I’d love to hear if you have any reading challenges going on for the year too!

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Book Review: Lost in Austen

I recently wrote about the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and today I have another very unusual Pride and Prejudice retelling…Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster. If you’ve heard of the movie by the same name, they’re related but not actually remotely the same. The book is a choose-your-own-adventure through Austen novels.

Written in the second person (you, your), the story begins in the familiar opening pages of Pride and Prejudice, with Mr. Bingley recently moved to the neighborhood and “your” mother eager to introduce “your” sisters to the eligible bachelor. But very soon you start having choices—which path will you take to Mr. Bingley’s house? Will you speak to Mr. Darcy at the dance or remain silent? And as the story goes on…will you accept this marriage proposal or that one? Will you confess your family’s scandal to Mr. Darcy or keep it secret? And in the end…will you achieve your mission of a successful marriage? Continue reading

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Numbers Game: 1,000th Post

Drumroll and fanfare…according to WordPress, this is my 1,000th post on Tales of the Marvelous! :)  Thank you to all you faithful readers who have read 10, 100, 500 posts or even more…if I was talking into a void, I’m sure I would have stopped long ago.

1,000 posts is a LOT of words.  Today, I thought I’d give you a few numbers.  Since beginning this blog, I have posted 468 Reviews, 54 Fiction Fridays with excerpts from my writing, and 56 Blog Hops on bookish topics.  I’ve posted 29 times updating about NaNoWriMo, and 45 times to update you on my writing.  I’ve shared other people’s writing (or at least, clever sayings) with 47 Quotables.

I’ve referenced L. M. Montgomery in 65 posts, J. M. Barrie in 42, Edgar Rice Burroughs in 35, Terry Pratchett in 62 and Star Trek in 78.  I’ve referenced the Phantom of the Opera in 80 posts, including reviews of 7 different versions.

But possibly my favorite number?  All of you have left me more than 4,600 comments.  :)  Thank you for reading, and for joining the conversation!

Posted in Ruminations | 4 Comments