Category Archives: Book Review

Second and Third Books Reviewed

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Greetings, readers!

As you may recall, I gave the first book review of the year just a few days ago.

I am pleased to report that I have now finished the series, and enjoyed them. As a reminder, the series is the “Riyria Revelations” by Michael J. Sullivan.

As a minor note: Each of the three “books” actually contains two novels. (In terms of length: Combined, each “set of two” is nowhere near as long as a usual Brandon Sanderson novel, but that may not be saying much.)

But onto the review part.

Pros: 1) The characters remain fun to read. The different characters have noticeably different speaking styles, and the banter is droll. 2) The writing style noticeably improves. Whereas the first part of the first book read more like somebody’s D&D adventure, the later books feel more coherent and well written. Furthermore, some of the plot-twists become a bit less predictable. (Some remain fairly obvious, but others are better done.) Furthermore, the author does a reasonable job for some of the twists and surprises of “show, don’t tell”.

Cons: 1) Some of the plot-twists feel as though they were not initially supposed to be there. A term that is relevant is the idea of “retcon“. Granted, it may not be retcon, as some cases simply did not provide the vital piece of information. However, it still felt that way. 2) Some of the writing jerks about. Time-frames in particular are not entirely clear.

Overall, I enjoyed the series, and will likely invest in the prequels (which were written after the originals series) at some point.

Happy Sunday.

First Book of 2018 Read

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Greetings, readers!

In my time this week, I have finished reading my first “new” novel of 2018. By new, naturally, I mean that I had not yet read it. The book was apparently published approximately seven years ago.

The book was called “Theft of Swords”, and it was a set of two rather droll fantasy stories starring a Mercenary duo.

Pros: The characters were amusing. The author (Michael J. Sullivan) particularly did the banter well.

Cons: The plot(s) was (were?) reasonably intuitive. If a book is supposed to be a maze, where you are not sure what is coming next, then this one had a fairly straightforward set of branches, fairly visible ahead of time. Whereas some books have plot twists that are well laid retrospectively, this one makes it clear what the twists are as the author builds towards them.

However, the second part of “Theft of Swords” was (somewhat) better done, and I am looking forward to reading the second volume. The author is telling a fun story, and the characters are amusing with witty banter.

If you find it at a library, or happen to have extra to spend on books and no purpose, it is worth considering for a pleasant piece of fluff.


Book Rec: Howl’s Moving Castle

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I recently read, and then re-read, the book Howl’s Moving Castle.

As was probably indicated by the fact that I re-read the book, I enjoyed it a lot. It’s a delightful story that takes place in the land of fairy tales where, and it held up for the re-read. (It was fun seeing all the foreshadowing that actually happened.)

So, yup! Enjoy.

An old friend, but a nice friend to have around- Tacky

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Hi, Fluffsters!

Today I’m going way, way back in my discussion of “old friend” books, back to my early childhood before I could read.

Even though I couldn’t read, my parents were avid readers and made sure to read a lot to me.

One of my favorite young-person serieses was Tacky the Penguin.

This absolutely adorable children’s story tells the tale of Tacky the penguin and his fellow companions. His companions (Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect) are “normal” penguins. He’s an odd bird.

The story is a typical children’s picture-book- one picture per sentence, basically. The art is delightfully done, and the story is sweet.

I don’t remember the first time my Dad read it out loud to me, but I’m fairly sure it was right around my birthday. From the first reading, I fell in love with it. It’s cute, sweet, humorous, and has a good message. What more can you ask for?

Even now, the book is a beloved one of mine. Yes, it’s an “old friend” primarily because I’ve known it for a long time. But it is also simply endearing, and well worth a read. Even by adults.

If you can, I highly encourage you to find this book. It’s a friendly, five minute read, and worthy of becoming an “old friend.”

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban- yet another “Old Friend”

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Hi Fluffsters!

What kind of Fantasy Nerd would I be if I didn’t post about at least one of the Harry Potter books in a series on “old friends”?

How do you expect me to answer that?

Oh. You’re not actually supposed to. That was supposed to be a rhetorical question to lead into the topic of this post.

Ah. Well, how about instead of that, you explain the odd specifics of your title?

I was actually just about to. But you interrupted me.

…By answering your question.


As I was saying, I really needed to include at least one of the Harry Potter books in this list. However, the problem is that there’s actually a little bit of, well, depth in this series. And it’s got some slightly stress-inducing points, even in the earlier ones. So I decided to go with my favorite- Prisoner of Azkaban.

For those of you who don’t know, this is probably one of the two lightest books in the series, with number one being the other. Number three is basically an adventure story, and it’s longer than number one, and it’s the one I would go to more frequently than Sorcerer’s Stone when I wanted to reread something.

Rowling puts forth some fun ideas in this one, including some ideas concerning time travel. And actual real plot development for the rest of the series.

So I guess I chose this book as the “old friend” because it’s my favorite insofar as lack of trauma but wealth of content are concerned. It’s a comfortable book to just pick up and reread. And it’s got some great, humorous scenes. (Anything with the Marauder’s Map, for example…)

So that’s why it’s the one I chose to be an “old friend.”

I hope you enjoy! And have a great day.

“Old Friends” Books- Ella Enchanted

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Hiya, Fluffsters!

Today’s post deals with a book that is far, FAR superior to the movie “roughly inspired” by it: Ella Enchanted.

If you have not seen the move, GOOD. DO NOT EVER. If you have seen the movie, don’t judge the book on it! The book’s actually good, honest!

The book Ella Enchanted is a delightfully charming story. It deals with a girl who has been given a “gift” by a fairy- the gift of obedience. If she’s ordered to do something, she will do it.

Now, this sounds like it might be a little dark, but it’s not. It’s really not. Gail Carson Levine, the author, is wonderful at writing the books. She keeps the atmosphere of the book light and charming, and very much a children’s story.

This is one that can easily become an “old friend” quality of book. The writing style is easy to follow, the story is familiar, yet fresh, and the characters are endearing. It is definitely a comforting one to read when one needs an “old friend” book.

Personally, I don’t even remember when I first read it. It seems like forever ago. But it’s one of my favorites of its type, and well worth the read.

I hope you enjoy it!

“Old Friend” Books – Enchanted Forest Chronicles

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Hi, Fluffsters!

I’m continuing the series on books that are “old friends”. This time I’m going to talk about one of my favorite authors: Patricia C. Wrede. I’ve loved everything of hers that I’ve read, but I’m especially talking today about The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

These books are just simply delightful. They’re pure joy to read. The series lightly parodies traditional fantasy books and fairy tales, and is just all around charming. Seriously.

The chronicles take place in the world of The Enchanted Forest, where princesses are taught etiquette of exactly how loud one is permitted to scream when being abducted by a giant and it is customary for characters to do traditional fairy-tale like things. The main character of the first book (Dealing with Dragons), though, does not like being stuck in the princess stereotype. So she runs away and volunteers to be a dragon’s princess. It continues on from there.

These books qualify as “old friends” for a few reasons.

First, they are very lighthearted, friendly, and welcoming. Wrede’s style in general is easy to read, but these books especially are just charming– rather like what you’d expect of a long-term human friend of yours.

Second, I’ve been reading these for a long time. I think probably since I was about seven or eight years old. So, once more, they’re old favorites of mine. Whenever I was too sick for school when I was younger, I would read the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. (I may possibly have feigned illness a time or two in order to read these books…)

These were the type of books that I made sure to purchase my own set of when I left for college, because I wanted to make sure I had the comforting world of the Enchanted Forest to retreat to if I ever had time to take a decompress break.

If you ever have the opportunity, you should read these. The charm and humor of these books is delightful.

Have a great day!

The Belgariad– Another “Old Friend”

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Hiya, Fluffsters!

I’m continuing the series on “old friend” books.

Today, I’m going to be talking about the series “The Belgariad”, and why it totally qualifies as an “Old Friend” book / series.

First of all. For those of you who enjoy fantasy and haven’t read the Belgariad series yet, fix that. NOW. Seriously. Go get the first book. Stop reading this blog (for the moment) and go check out “Pawn of Prophecy” from the library or, better yet, purchase the entire set.

Now that you’re back, I’ll continue. 🙂

I was first introduced to The Belgariad when my Mom read them aloud to the family in the car. My family has a marvelous tradition of reading out loud in the car on “long car drives.” My sister and I would always love long days of travel, because Mom would read out loud to us. (Seriously. We’d ask “We’re not there yet, are we?” instead of “Are we there yet?”.)

Anywho. We started The Belgariad shortly after finishing the Lord of the Rings, and it quickly became one of my absolute favorite series. Since you’ve all read the Belgariad at this point (or else you ignored my second real paragraph…) I don’t need to tell you that it’s a fantasy coming-of-age quest story that is waaaay underrated.

I love these books.

But that’s not entirely the purpose of this post. The purpose is to explain why The Belgariad qualifies as an old friend.

Well, as mentioned previously, Mom read them out loud to us, starting when I was relatively young. So once more, I’ve known these books for a while.

But more importantly, these books have characters, and character. Eddings has a wonderful way of describing things that always evoke pictures, at least for me. So rereading these books is very much like going through a scrapbook or picture album, with lots of favorite memories. And because of the characters in the books, it’s as though the characters are commenting on the scrapbook as well.

In other words, the characters are so lifelike (at least to me) that you could basically hear them having a conversation with you whenever you read them.

If having a conversation with favorite characters doesn’t count as visiting old friends, it should certainly be a close second.

So, yeah. These books (Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician’s Gambit, Castle of Wizardry, and Enchanter’s Endgame) are some of my favorite “old friend” books. I hope they are, or become, some of yours, too. And that was way too many commas in that sentence.

Well, I hope you enjoy rereading them!

“Old Friend” books — Redwall

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Hiya, Fluffsters!

And Fluffy, really. Didn’t you think I’d have posts stocked up ahead of time?

What are you talking about?

I “might not be able to generate content”? From Wednesday’s post?

Well… Better safe than sorry, right? And you did ask me to fill in for you a few times.


Anywho. Today’s post is in the category of “what books are old friends, and why?”

The book Redwall definitely qualifies.

Redwall, for those of you who don’t know, is a book by Brian Jacques about an abbey full of talking animals. (There are no humans in this world.)

The story is fun, full of adventure, and has great characters. The righting style uses a few more adverbs than is strictly necessary, but I still enjoy it.

This one is definitely an old friend type of book. For one, it’s very understandable, and a children’s story. That means that even if you haven’t read it for a while, you can still know exactly what’s going on, kindof like when you talk with an old friend who you know really well, even after a long time.

For another reason, this is one of the first books I actively remember my sister reading out loud to me when we were much younger. So, it’s an old friend because I grew up with it, it’s old, and the book is basically a friend.

But I would wager that for many of you, even if you haven’t read it, Redwall could become a new “Old Friend” book. So, give it a try!

Have a great day!

What makes an excellent fantasy story (Part 3)

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Hello, Fluffsters! Happy Saturday!

I hope your weekend is going well.

Good news! I have the rest of The List for you! (Who knew I could spend three days on a list, right?) Well, I hope you enjoy the remaining points.

5) Something new and/or original. This was one of the areas where Dragon Champion did an excellent job. The entire book was told from the perspective of… the dragon. That particular perspective was fun! I wouldn’t have thought about how dragons view the world. But E.E. Knight did. And he presented it in a wonderful way. The Dresden Files’ particular take on the interaction between magic and nonmagic is also a lot of fun, and is a very fresh perspective. Summer Knight (from the Dresden Files) presents an “enchanting” perspective of fairy hierarchy, for example. It’s fun.

That’s also part of the reason why I did not like the book “Eragon.” Ok, so it was amusing to see all the different places that the book seemed to steal from. (Star Wars knock off, anyone? No? Well how about Lord of the Rings? Dragonriders of Pern? And that magic looked suspiciously identical to the magic system from The Belgariad…)

As another example of originality, Wrede pulls it off in her Enchanted Forest Chronicles. I mean, seriously- a princess volunteering to be a dragon’s princess, and being bored with normal princess-y things? It’s enchantingly new.

6) Consistency of Magic. This is actually more of a subset of point 4. But it’s important enough to get its own point. It annoys me to no end when fantasy stories (be it written or televised) ignores rules. Especially when there are designated rules, not a designated “there are no rules.”

To again use Eddings as an example, he incorporates a few different types of magic in order to provide consistency. But even so, there are distinct differences. And each category of magic is extremely consistent. The primary type — sorcery — works through “the Will and the Word.” (You gather your Will, and release it with any sort of word that somehow relates in your mind.) The one thing that is absolutely impossible is to will something into nonexistence- it breaks the absolute rule, and therefore backfires.

These rules of magic are followed scrupulously throughout Eddings’s series in that universe. The consistency helps make The Belgariad excellent fiction.

Well, that’s about all I can think of for right now. I hope you have an excellent rest of your weekend!