The colour of magic by Terry Pratchett

Amy The Colour of magicI have long been encouraged to read Terry Pratchett, and I put it off, I’m not sure why. I think, somehow, I just had a sense that he wasn’t for me. Perhaps I chose the wrong book. The Colour of Magic is very imaginative, funny, or at least amusing, and action packed, but I didn’t really enjoy it. All action and jokes, no character development and no heart. It’s kind of like a video game, with one dimensional characters moving quickly from one life-threatening situation to the next. If you like that sort of thing, it’s great, but I read for something different.

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Brilliance of the moon by Lian Hearn

Amy Brilliance of the MoonThe third out of five tales set in an evocatively conjured country based on feudal Japan, Brilliance of the Moon continues to follow Takeo and Kaede as they deal with the consequences of their actions. The setting as always is lush, full of colour and beauty, the characters are compelling and the story is full of action, contemplation, loyalty, betrayal and the search for one’s destiny.

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Across the nightingale floor by Lian Hearn

Amy Across the Nightingale FloorAcross the Nightingale Floor is set in an imagined time and place, based on feudal Japan. A young man is rescued, after his family is killed, by a man who adopts him. He discovers he has unusual skills that are highly prized, and bring him a great deal of danger and adventure. The setting is lush and luminous, the characters are compelling and it is a great story of loyalty, treachery, love, loss and honour.

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Grass for his pillow by Lian Hearn

Amy Grass for his PillowThe sort-of-Japanese setting is lush, evocative and almost the best thing about this series. Continuing on from the first book, Takeo is a young man, forced into a life he hates, and Kaede a young woman trying to overcome her misfortunes, and learn to command respect like a man. They both have a difficult journey ahead, made harder by their youthful impetuousness. I found the relationships a little too much in this book, but I am still keen for the rest of the series.

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Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Cynthia StardustLife moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall – named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester and for the coveted prize of her hand, Tristran vows to retrieve a fallen star and deliver it to his beloved. It is an oath that sends him over the ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining . .

A very descriptive story with a great cast of magical creatures. It was quite dark in places. Help was given to Tristan whenever he needed it, which pushed him towards the story’s conclusion. I think watching the movie first helped me bring the book alive, even though there are many differences. The movie gives you a sweeping story whereas the book is more descriptive and matter-of-fact. I enjoyed both formats of the story.

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Orlando by Virginia Woolf

amy-orlando.jpgOrlando is such a beautiful, lyrical, whimsical, funny, dreamlike, book; I wanted to read it out loud. It’s an historical fantasy story about an aristocratic young man, with a great passion for nature and living, who somehow lives outside of time, and one day wakes up as a woman. Yes, it is bizarre, but a joyful, amusing, and exotic journey.

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Slade house by David Mitchell

Amy Slade HouseEvery nine years, someone will find just what they have been hoping for at Slade House, a grand old house that almost appears out of nowhere, and then, they disappear. Beginning in 1979, and ending in 2015, we are those poor unfortunates as they discover the horrors behind the house. It is creepy, not really scary, and so very clever, as we get into the heads of needy people, just as things are turning around for them, then spectacularly turned upside down. You don’t need to have read his earlier book, The Bone Clocks, but if you have, it will be especially good.

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La belle sauvage by Phillip Pullman

Amy la belle sauvageIt has been a long time since I read His Dark Materials, and I very much enjoyed my time back in Pullman’s Brytain. A curious and thoughtful young boy lives with his parents, in a pub outside Oxford, but as he becomes involved in the life of baby Lyra, he must make a dangerous journey. It’s a magical world, in many senses, and the journey is delightful, frightening, heart-wrenching and full of wonder. I do hope we don’t have to wait too long for the next instalment.

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The last days of new Paris by China Mieville

Amy Last Days of New ParisTotally bizarre, The Last Days of New Paris certainly isn’t a book for everyone. It is alternate history set in two time periods, 1941 and 1950. What is created in 1940, leaves Thibaut and Sam still fighting Nazis in 1950 Paris, along with surrealist art that has come to life, and demons. It’s kind of like looking at surrealist artworks; I don’t really have any idea of what is going on, but it is disturbing, intriguing, frightening and somehow beautiful.

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The improbability of love by Hannah Rothschild

Amy Improbability of LoveThe Improbability of Love is the story of an 18th Century French painting, which turns up in a junk shop, and sets an awful lot of drama in motion. It’s a fast-paced mystery/thriller with elements of chick lit and satire. It was a bit of a mixed bag for me, sometimes the sense of everything going wrong before it could go right, just made me want to put it down, and I found some aspects over done, but the resolution was satisfying and the journey often amusing or engaging.

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