Monday, November 25, 2013

Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint


Charles de Lint is one of those authors I turn to when I need a dependable escape from reality that is sure to give me an emotional and mental experience that, when I come back out of my book, makes me feel refreshed, looking at the world around me with new eyes.

I've read this short story collection several times since it was first published in 1993, and one day I noticed it was available as an audiobook through my library's digital collection. It was a nice change of pace to return to my beloved Newford through the narration of the aptly named Kate Reading, who did a great job bringing all the characters to life.

If you've never read de Lint, you are in for a treat. Along with a wonderful series of characters who appear as protagonists in some stories and novels, and as minor or supporting characters in other stories and novels, he also writes about Newford, a fictional Canadian city that is just about a character in its own right. The short stories touch on new and familiar lives here and there, in and about Newford, featuring magical characters, normal everyday characters somehow touched by magic, mythical elements, gritty, edgy issues, young characters, old characters, and everything in between. As usual de Lint's love of music and the arts shines through in many of these stories, which is another element I always enjoy in his fiction.

Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint; narrated by Kate Reading (Blackstone Audio, 2009)

Also by de Lint:
Angel of Darkness
Dingo
Eyes Like Leaves
 Little (Grrl) LOST
Waifs and Strays
Widdershins
Wolf Moon

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Seraphina


Seraphina Dombegh lives in a world in which there is an uneasy truce between dragons and humans. She has secrets of her own, and when a member of the royal family is murdered in a way that seems to can only have been perpetrated by a dragon, she finds herself plunged in the middle of a complex and dangerous situation. Instead of protecting her own safely by discreetly staying in the shadows as she's been taught, Seraphina finds herself continually brought to the attention of people who could, if they knew her secret, make life very difficult for her.

I didn't know much about this book before reading it, and I'm glad. It was one of those delightful stories that just sucked me into a world that is fascinating and surprising, populated by compelling characters that I came to care about. There's magic, action, adventure, danger, romance, mystery and intrigue - what's not to like? Although the novel stands well on its own, there a sequel slated to be published next year. And anyone who reads this book will be happy about that. This is a great choice for anyone who enjoys a good fantasy novel with excellent world-building, or a book with a strong and likable female protagonist. Highly recommended!

Books in the Seraphina series:
1. Seraphina
2. Shadow Scale (2014)

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random House, 2012)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Wednesdays


One of the young patrons at my library recommended this one to me while we were out in the stacks looking for good books for him to read. I love how readers advisory goes both ways - I often find great books that I wouldn't have otherwise put on my reading list after talking books with people at my library.

This one is a solid middle reader fantasy, creepy and funny at the same time, about a town in which strange events happen on Wednesdays, inconvenient, "mostly harmless" things, such as cars breaking down, baked goods burning (or even catching fire), tea being switched with perfume. These pranks make adults angry, children scared, and everyone in town just stays inside on Wednesday, waiting for the day to end. Everyone, that is, but Max.

Max sneaks outside, curious about what actually happens on Wednesdays, but then he finds himself beset by the worst case of the Wednesdays ever - on every day of the week. Soon he has lost his friends (anyone who comes near him is beset by a catastrophe), and even his family relegates him to sleeping outside. Max must discover the secret behind the Wednesdays before it's too late.

This was a fun read with a likable protagonist and an interesting situation. It is never fully explained why this particular town has this unusual problem, nor how the fantastical elements actually work, but the story is certainly interesting, and I doubt most readers will be bothered by this. This would be a good choice for fans of the May Bird series or Buckley's NERDS series.

The Wednesdays by Julie Bourbeau (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012)

Also reviewed at Book Chic Club