Book Haul: Diana Wynne Jones Edition

From what I’ve seen in the interwebs, Book Haul isn’t a meme or a feature in a particular blog but it’s a pretty catchy term for books recently bought or received. Thanks to my friend Holly for the heads up on this. I feel like the past couple of days in this blog have been dedicated to Diana Wynne Jones. Remember when I said I wanted a copy of Fire and Hemlock? Well, I dropped by Fully Booked to check if they had copies of that and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore and look what I ended up buying:

April 2012 Book Haul - Diana Wynne Jones

Three titles by Diana Wynne Jones:
A Tale of Time City
Fire and Hemlock
Dogsbody

I couldn’t help it! They looked so pretty side by side and I know that Fire and Hemlock and Dogsbody have been out of print for a while so might as well get copies while I still can. And look who wrote introductions for those books – Ursula Le Guin, Garth Nix and Neil Gaiman. I used a Fully Booked gift card that I received for my birthday. I think this is the longest that I’ve had gift cards with me, it took me more than a month to use this one. Whenever I get a bookstore gift card, I usually use it right away. In case you’re wondering what those pretty prints in the background are, those are summer dresses that I bought from one of my favorite clothing stores, Forever21. What are the tin cans in the upper left? It’s funny because they’re labeled as postcards but the tin cans are too small to contain postcards:

One tin can is carnival-themed while the other is travel-themed and they contain lomo-esque stickers and small cards. I have to confess that I’m a sucker for cute things like these, which is why I ended up getting two.

Too bad these cards are too small to send as postcards. They’re just the right size for bookmarks though:

So, so, so. Got any good books lately? Or have you purchased anything cute and fun that you’d like to share? Leave a comment and let me know.

Want Books: Fire and Hemlock

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted here at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now. Everyone is free to join, just grab the image above. Leave a comment with a link to your post so I can do a roundup with each post.

Since I talked about Diana Wynne Jones yesterday, I thought it would be fitting to feature one of her books for this week’s Want Books post. I’ve had Fire and Hemlock on my wishlist for a while now. I’ve heard so many reader friends mention that this is one of their favorites and I felt sad when I first found out that it’s out of print. Thankfully, publishers have decided to reissue this well-loved title and I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a copy in local bookstores soon. I’m fond of fairy tale retellings and I’ve yet to find a Tam Lin retelling to love.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Polly has two sets of memories…
One is normal: school, home, friends. The other, stranger memories begin nine years ago, when she was ten and gate-crashed an odd funeral in the mansion near her grandmother’s house. Polly’s just beginning to recall the sometimes marvelous, sometimes frightening adventures she embarked on with Tom Lynn after that. And then she did something terrible, and everything changed.

But what did she do? Why can’t she remember? Polly must uncover the secret, or her true love – and perhaps Polly herself – will be lost.

It looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Can you recommend other Tam Lin retellings? So far, I’ve read Tithe by Holly Black, Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip and The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. Also, what book is in your wishlist?

Let’s Celebrate Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones’ publishers have organized an ongoing celebration of her novels. Drop by the DWJ 2012 Tumblr site or the Greenwillow blog to check out quotes, stories and tributes. I’ve wanted to write about Diana Wynne Jones for a while now but I kept hesitating because unlike some of my blogging buddies, it shames me to admit that I’ve only read a couple of her books. That doesn’t mean that I loved them any less though – Howl’s Moving Castle is included in my list of absolute favorites. It convinced me to read the companion novels and to watch the Hayao Miyazaki film adaptation because I wanted more of Howl. I’m not an expert when it comes to Diana Wynne Jones’ books but I am a fan. She has an extensive back list and I plan to go through all of her books – next up is probably Deep Secret or The Dark Lord of Derkholm. I’m really curious about Fire and Hemlock as well, I hear it’s been reissued so I hope I find a copy soon. I remember writing a letter when I found out through Sounis that DWJ was sick and she’d appreciate getting some fan mail. I didn’t expect a reply but I got a nice one from her agent’s assistant:

I’m amazed at how Diana Wynne Jones has inspired so many readers and authors. She seems just as magical as her books. I love going through the beautifully written tributes that have been posted about her, some of them even made me tear up a bit. I think it’s wonderful when one of my favorite authors is a fan of another favorite author. A few posts about DWJ written by authors I admire: Robin McKinley, Megan Whalen Turner, Sarah Rees Brennan, Garth Nix.

Image from Neil Gaiman’s tweet from way back.

Diana Wynne Jones is a great YA fantasy author – her books were published way before the YA craze started. She seems like a lovely person based on everything that I’ve read about her. I keep wishing I found out about her books when I was younger, I’m pretty sure I’d be a bigger fan if that was the case. It saddens me that there isn’t much that I can contribute to this celebration except to spread the word about it and encourage more people to read her books. I just wanted to talk about her because I feel that Diana Wynne Jones has touched my life and I have a feeling she’ll do so over and over again whenever I pick up one of her novels or even when I read novels written by authors who found inspiration in her writing.

Quote from Howl's Moving Castle

Image from Tumblr

Want Books: Deep Secret

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted here at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now. Everyone is free to join, just grab the image above. Leave a comment with a link to your post so I can do a roundup with each post.

Diana Wynne Jones is well-known for her YA fantasy novels. She wrote about magic and wizards way before Harry Potter became popular and I plan to read all of the books in her backlist. I can’t remember where I got the recommendation for Deep Secret but I have a feeling it’s from Sounis (many MWT fans are also DWJ fans). It’s an out of print fantasy novel written for adults. I ordered a copy of it from Better World Books last year but sadly, it got lost in the mail. I heard from somewhere that they’re planning to reprint DWJ’s old titles but I don’t know when that’s going to happen.

Here’s the summary from DWJ’s official website:

All over the universe, Magids are at work to maintain the balance of magic, using their own talents to push the right people into doing the right things at the right time. And on Earth, the Magids are working hard to coax the world into its rightful place Ayewards, towards magic.

Rupert Venables has been the junior Magid here for only two years when his sponsor dies; it’s up to him to find a replacement. Trouble is, the most promising on his list of five names, Maree Mallory, doesn’t want anything to do with Rupert Venables. And while the junior Magid is trying to track down the other four, the fatelines are becoming dangerously entangled on more than one world and magic starts getting out of hand…

What about you, what book is in your wishlist?

Want Books roundup:
Meann of The Girl Who ReadThe Way of the Wizard

Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones

Castle in the Air is a companion to my favorite Diana Wynne Jones novel, Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s not really a sequel but the events in this one occur after Howl’s Moving Castle. I’ve had my copy for over a year now, this was given by Evert as a birthday present in 2010.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Abdullah was a young and not very prosperous carpet dealer. His father, who had been disappointed in him, had left him only enough money to open a modest booth in the Bazaar. When he was not selling carpets, Abdullah spent his time daydreaming. In his dreams he was not the son of his father, but the long-lost son of a prince. There was also a princess who had been betrothed to him at birth. He was content with his life and his daydreams until, one day, a stranger sold him a magic carpet.

Diana Wynne Jones’ novels are always a lot of fun, even if they’re written for younger audiences that what I’m used to reading. I think most of her books fall under MG or younger YA fantasy. I wish I knew about her when I was younger because she’s been writing about magic and wizards long before Harry Potter became popular. I probably would’ve loved her books to bits if I read them when I was a child. Castle in the Air is an Aladdin-esque story set in the same world as Howl’s Moving Castle and some of my favorite characters even make an appearance. I mentioned Aladdin because Abdullah lives near a desert, buys a magic carpet and gets to meet a genie. There are glimpses of Howl, Sophie and even Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle in this installment but I still think Castle in the Air stands well on its own. Abdullah is a carpet merchant who loves to daydream. He didn’t inherit his father’s wealth because of a prophecy at his birth. It doesn’t matter because he’s content with his small booth in the bazaar in Zanzib, where he can daydream whenever business is slow. His main source of irritation comes from his father’s first wife’s relatives who keep on trying to tell him what to do with his life. Abdullah gets thrust into one adventure after another when a merchant sells him a magic carpet.

While Howl’s Moving Castle is still my favorite DWJ novel, I still enjoyed reading about the quirky characters in this one. I liked that it had a different setting from Howl and that Abdullah came from a different culture. His way of using flowery language when speaking is unique and he even uses some adjectives that I wasn’t familiar with! Castle in the Air is easy to fall into, the plot moves along at a nice pace and there are a lot of silly and funny moments in the story. I think that assessment is applicable to all of the other DWJ novels that I’ve read. They’re all light and fun – filled with characters who end up in crazy situations that they eventually manage to get out of. If you’re a fan of MG and YA fantasy and you’ve never read any book by DWJ then I recommend that you give them a try soon. I know that she has a lot of fans out there, even her fellow authors admire her work (I know Megan Whalen Turner is a DWJ fan). If you’re familiar with DWJ’s books, I’d like to know what’s your favorite.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
Spoilers and Nuts
Teen Book Review Blog

Author Love

I’ve mentioned before that although I haven’t read all of Diana Wynne Jones’ books, I’m still a fan. I’m also a huge fan of Robin McKinley and I have copies of most of her books. When Neil Gaiman came here this year, I attended his book signing. So I was really happy to see Neil Gaiman’s tweet the day before yesterday and he even uploaded this picture:

It looks like Neil and Robin visited Diana Wynne Jones! I didn’t even know that they knew each other. Don’t you find it amazing when some of your favorite authors are friends? I think it’s great that they get together in real life. I have a feeling that so much awesomeness occurs when they do. Robin also wrote about the visit in her blog.

What do you guys think of this? Are you fans of all three authors? If you haven’t heard of them, I highly suggest that you look them up and try their books. I recommend that you start with Howl’s Moving Castle by DWJ, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley and Stardust by Neil Gaiman. 🙂

Retro Friday: Howl’s Moving Castle

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

I haven’t done a Retro Friday post in a while because I’ve been busy putting up We Love YA features every Friday. I don’t have a feature ready for today so I decided to write a review from one of my favoritesHowl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I know I’ve mentioned this book several times here on the blog but I realized that I don’t have a review of it up. I’ve successfully recommended this book to several friends and they’ve all enjoyed reading it.

Here’s the summary from Diana Wynne Jones’ website:

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 eye.

I don’t know why but I’ve always had a soft spot for books with magic in it. So when I saw the premise of this one, I knew I had to give it a try and I’m so glad I did. I loved reading about Sophie and how she slowly came to her own. At first, you’d think that Sophie is a quiet type of girl, destined to a life of boredom making hats. Without meaning to, she sets in motion events that are full of humor and enchantment. Throw in an eccentric fire demon and a self-absorbed, flamboyant wizard and you’re in for a good time. Howl is such a character! You can’t help but like him even though it seems like all he thinks about is how he looks and how famous he is. Here’s a passage that I really liked, Calcifer is Howl’s resident fire demon:

“Go to bed, you fool,” Calcifer said sleepily. “You’re drunk.”
“Who, me?” said Howl. “I assure you, my friends, I am cone sold sober.” He got up and stalked upstairs, feeling for the wall as if he thought it might escape him unless he kept in touch with it. His bedroom door did escape him. “What a lie that was!” Howl remarked as he walked into the wall. “My shining dishonesty will be the salvation of me.” He walked into the wall several times more, in several different places, before he discovered his bedroom door and crashed his way through it. Sophie could hear him falling about, saying that his bed was dodging.

This was the first ever DWJ book that I ever read. Later on, I learned that it was DWJ who gave MWT (Megan Whalen Turner) a leg up in the publishing world so we have her to thank for the wonderful Queen’s Thief series. Maybe that’s why both Howl and Gen are so awesome? As proven by the fact that they were the last two standing in the recently concluded YA Fantasy Showdown. I already have several other DWJ books in my TBR and I know I’ll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed Howl’s story. I’ve seen the Hayao Miyazaki film version and although it’s very different from the book, I also liked it.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
Tempting Persephone
Squeaky Books
Mother Daughter Book Club
Random Musings of a Bibliphile

YA Fantasy Showdown

What’s the latest buzz around the interwebs lately? Well for YA fantasy fans, it’s the YA Fantasy Showdown! I mentioned it briefly here a couple of days ago but I haven’t had a chance to talk about it again. I’ve been checking it out every day though! It’s so fun to read the battles and try to decide who to vote for. Some are easy because I’m not familiar with all of the characters but when two favorites are battling it out, it can be a difficult choice.

For the final round, Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones and Eugenides from the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner were the last two standing. Read the final battle here. I loved the battle that they wrote, it was so hilarious! Very fitting for both characters, you can really see them go drinking instead of dueling and I love the bit about the wives. The winner line in that one is “What a lie that was!” If you’ve read both books, you can appreciate how awesome that final battle is. If you don’t know who these characters are, you better go read these books! I love Howl but I love Gen more so I’m doing a little happy dance because Gen won (by a small margin) although I wouldn’t have minded a tie. I don’t have a review of Howl’s Moving Castle but here’s my review of the first three books in the Queen’s Thief series.

So, so, so. Did you guys enjoy the battles? Who were you rooting for? 🙂