Book Reviews

02 – The Witcher Saga – Season of Storms

They say that progress illuminates the darkness. But there will always be darkness. And in that darkness there will always be Evil, in that darkness there will always be fangs and claws, murder and blood. There will always be things that go bump in the night. And we, witchers, are the ones who bump back at them.

Before he was the guardian of Ciri, the child of destiny, Geralt of Rivia was a legendary swordsman. Join the Witcher as he undertakes a deadly mission in this stand-alone adventure set in the world that inspired the blockbuster video games.

Book Reviews

How to Hang a Witch – Adriana Mather

“Salem prides itself on its witches. That history is very real to the people who live here.”

It’s the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself. 

Book Reviews

Enchantment * Orson Scott Card Book Review

“He stopped short at the edge of the clearing and looked around. Shouldn’t it be a meadow here, where the sun could shine? Tall grass and wildflowers, that’s what it should be. But instead it was just like the forest floor, dead leaves thickly carpeting the undulating surface of the clearing. Nothing alive there.

What could be so poisonous in the ground here that neither trees nor grass could grow here? It had to be something artificial, because the clearing was so perfectly round.

A slight breeze stirred a few of the leaves in the clearing. A few blew away from the rise in the center of the clearing, and now it looked to Vanya as if it was not a rock or some machine, for the shape under the leaves undulated like the lines of a human body. And there, where the head should be, was that a human face just visible?

Another leaf drifted away. It had to be a face. A woman asleep. Had she gathered leaves around her, to cover her? Or was she injured, lying here so long that the leaves had gathered. Was she dead? Was the skin stretched taut across the cheekbones like a mummy? From this distance, he could not see. And a part of him did not want to see, wanted instead to run away and hide, because if she was dead then for the first time his dreams of tragedy would come true, and he did not want them to be true, he realized now for the first time. He did not want to clear the leaves away and find a dead woman who had merely been running through the woods and hit her head on a limb and managed to stagger into the midst of this clearing, hoping that she could signal some passing airplane, only she fell unconscious and died and …

He wanted to run away, but he also wanted to see her, to touch her; if she was dead, then to see death, to touch it.

He raised his foot to take a step into the clearing.”

In Enchantment, Card works his magic as never before, transforming the timeless story of Sleeping Beauty into an original fantasy brimming with romance and adventure.

The moment Ivan stumbled upon a clearing in the dense Carpathian forest, his life was forever changed. Atop a pedestal encircled by fallen leaves, the beautiful princess Katerina lay as still as death. But beneath the foliage a malevolent presence stirred and sent the ten-year-old Ivan scrambling for the safety of Cousin Marek’s farm.

Now, years later, Ivan is an American graduate student, engaged to be married. Yet he cannot forget that long-ago day in the forest — or convince himself it was merely a frightened boy’s fantasy. Compelled to return to his native land, Ivan finds the clearing just as he left it.

This time he does not run.

This time he awakens the beauty with a kiss . . . and steps into a world that vanished a thousand years ago.

“Prosi mene posagnõti za tebe,” she said slowly, each word separated. He understood now — easily, in fact: Ask me to marry you.

A rich tapestry of clashing worlds and cultures, Enchantment is a powerfully original novel of a love and destiny that transcend centuries . . . and the dark force that stalks them across the ages.

What I liked:
This book is a perfect “what if scenario”. What if I could travel back in time to 896 AD, live in a medieval kingdom, marry the princess and fight the evil witch Baba Yaga who is a pretender to the throne?
What if I found out I am as unfit there as a medieval knight would be in today’s modern world? What if my strength in books and intellectual curiosity would be deemed peculiar and fit for a mere “Scribe”?

Echoes of Narnia sound (including some slightly preachy undertones) as Ivan is drawn back into the princess’s time. He finds that he has no skills useful in the ninth century, and yet must find a way to defeat the witch Baba Yaga, who has harnessed the power of a god to take over Princess Katerina’s kingdom.

I also loved the myth debunk of Baba Yaga:

So Brat’s precious “Yaga” was Bear’s wife now, and no one even remembered that she had once been Olga, a hopeful young princess in a lovely kingdom on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. And now that she happened to be getting on in years, they were starting to call her Baba Yaga — grandmother, of all things! Of course it was ironic. A term of endearment, used for someone they hated and feared so much? The accusation that she ate babies was so widespread that she was tempted to cook one up and taste it someday, just to see what all the fuss was about. Grandmother, indeed.

I also loved how they discussed life in a small medieval village, the introduction of Christianity for the Slavs, the keeping of the Pagan rites despite the apparent conversion for the sake of the king and the superstitious people.Ancient-jewelry-headwear-of-Russian-women-of-XI-XIII-centuries

I also liked the description of the modern world to an innocent medieval lady. Something similar was discussed in Stephen King’s 11/22/63 Book when the hero thinks about bringing Sandie back from the 60’s to 2010. Imagine the culture shock!

What I didn’t like?
Not much really. The book is a great story for children and adults alike, it shows the strengths required to be a man and a good king and the importance of keeping promises. (And never marry the first girl you meet!)

Read first 4 chapters online:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Ivan brings his betrothed into the modern world to keep her from Yaga’s clutches and the pair learn to understand not only each other, but each other’s powers and weapons. By the time they return to the fairy-tale world, they are armed with modern-day knowledge and aided by Ivan’s relatives, who turn out to be minor Russian deities and witches. In an apparent desire to make his tale believable, Card leaches it of some of its magic, offering up the extraordinary as matter of fact, and his characters lack some of the depth that usually makes his writing so rewarding. His new look at a classic tale is clever, however, adding attractive whimsical twists and cultural confluences to a familiar story. Author tour. (Apr.)


Book Reviews Growing Up

Beautiful Creatures Novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl * Book Review

Do you remember The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare where a normal teenager gets mixed up with creatures like faeries and werewolves and angels?
Or Ink Exchange from Melissa Marr dealing with faeries and tattoos?
Or maybe the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy?

Well, there is this book about a teenage girl just turning 16, moving schools into a new town and finding out that when the clock ticks on her 16th birthday she will turn either into a destructive dark witch or a good-natured white witch. She falls in love, meets some villains and has a great time in a small minded town when her powers start showing.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Book Reviews

Blood Canticle (The Vampire Chronicles) by Anne Rice

Lestat is back with a vengeance and in thrall to Rowan Mayfair. Both demon and angel, he is drawn to kill but tempted by goodness as he moves among the pantheon of Anne Rice’s unforgettable characters. Julien Mayfair, his tormentor; Rowan, witch and neurosurgeon, who attracts spirits to herself, casts spells on others and finds herself dangerously drawn to Lestat; Patsy, country and western singer, who was killed by Quinn Blackwood and dumped in a swamp; Ash Templeton, a 5,000 year old Taltos whose genes live on in the Mayfairs. Now, Lestat fights to save Patsy’s ghost from the dark realms of the Earthbound, to uncover the mystery of the Taltos and to decide the fate of Rowan Mayfair. Both of Anne Rice’s irresistible realms – the worlds of Blackwood Farm and the Mayfair Witches – collide as Lestat struggles between his lust for blood and the quest for life, between gratification and redemption.

Book Reviews

Anne Rice * Blackwood Farm Book Review

From the Vampire Chronicles comes this wonderful book about Tarquin Blackwood, the last heir to the Blackwood fortune and young master of Blackwood farm and how he’s become a vampire, in love with one of the Mayfair witches and tortured by a spirit called Goblin.

The book is wonderful (maybe because of its narcissism, self-obsession that is so specific to Anne Rice’s vampires) and also due to the setting in the Southern part of US. The young Tarquin writes to Lestat to inform him of his becoming a vampire and upon his arrival, proceeds in telling him his entire history (from moment of birth) to the moment that he met Mona Mayfair.

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Blackwood farm

Welcome to Blackwood Farm: soaring white columns, spacious drawing rooms, bright, sun-drenched gardens, and a dark strip of the dense Sugar Devil Swamp. This is the world of Quinn Blackwood, a brilliant young man haunted since birth by a mysterious doppelgänger, “Goblin,” a spirit from a dream world that Quinn can’t escape and that prevents him from belonging anywhere. When Quinn is made a Vampire, losing all that is rightfully his and gaining an unwanted immortality, his doppelgänger becomes even more vampiric and terrifying than Quinn himself.
As the novel moves backwards and forwards in time, from Quinn’s boyhood on Blackwood Farm to present day New Orleans, from ancient Athens to 19th-century Naples, Quinn seeks out the legendary Vampire Lestat in the hope of freeing himself from the spectre that draws him inexorably back to Sugar Devil Swamp and the explosive secrets it holds.
A story of youth and promise, of loss and the search for love, of secrets and destiny, Blackwood Farm is Anne Rice at her mesmerizing best.

Book Reviews

James Patterson * Witch and Wizard

Witch_and_Wizard_Cover The world is changing: the government has seized control of every aspect of society, and now, kids are disappearing. For 15-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside down when they are torn from their parents one night and slammed into a secret prison for no reason they can comprehend. The New Order, as it is known, is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Being a Normal Teenager. But while trapped in this totalitarian nightmare, Wisty and Whit discover they have incredible powers they’d never dreamed of. Can this newly minted witch and wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents–and maybe the world?

“They’re afraid of change, and we must change. They’re afraid of the young, and we are the young. They’re afraid of music, and music is our life. They’re afraid of books, and knowledge, and ideas. They’re most afraid of our magic.”