I love reading fairy tales and reading fairy tales from different countries is really interesting as it tells you a lot about their culture and past. So I picked up Welsh Fairy Talesby William Elliot Griffis for my Kindle a few months back.
As you can expect it’s fairly short with a collection of different fairy tales within it’s covers all hailing from Wales.
Anyone familiar with fae lore especially when it comes to the English and Welsh (Scotland had a slightly different take on things) will find some familiar places, myths and even characters.
I’m not going to lie, this book starts off pretty week describing the origins of the “Welsh Rarebit” (aka Cheese on Toast) which whilst interesting to some degree it is not… so interesting it makes you want to read the rest of the book.
However it does go on into the stories of Fae in Wales – a lot of which are tied into not-quite-proven historical events – e.g. King Arthur.
The stories are enjoyable and really interesting if your into mythical history and lore. Unfortunately the Griffis, who is retelling these fairy tales in his own words (many fairy tales are “retold” because they would have been just verbally told way back when) feels the need to get a bit patriotic about Wales. Whilst I do love Wales, he mentions far too many times how Wales did this first, or they made the best this or that and it’s just so obvious and feels unnatural in the context of a fairy tales. Not to mention Griffis wasn’t even Welsh, he was American so it’s not even like he’s singing the praises of his own country because of how dear it is to him.
There are also some inaccuracies for example London Bridge being called Tower Bridge.
That aside though this a great little collection that does capture the spirit of Wales and of a time when men and Fae lived side by side peacefully (for the most part). It’s doesn’t cover all of Welsh Fae stories and lore I’m sure but it’s a great place to start and a quick read.
Author Website: N/A Publisher: Kindle Publication Date: 17th May 2012 (first published 1921) Pages: 146 Genre(s): Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Short Stories Purchased From: Amazon/Kindle UK
The story takes place in the 90’s (despite this first book being published in 1989) and we follow Masklin a fairly young Nome who lives near a motorway cafe with what’s left of his Tribe; of which there isn’t many of them due to food shortage and foxes. The youngest left to find a better place to live but never returned and so Masklin was left to fend for the rest of them in increasingly difficult circumstances and a barrel of complaints from the elderly. And so Masklin decides there is no future for them here and formulates a plan to stow away on a truck from the bear by service station. When they finally agree to ago, it’s a struggle to get them all – and The Thing – aboard a truck but they manage it.
The truck eventually stops at a department store called Arnold Bros, where they quickly find there are other Nomes in the world living right under human’s noses in the department store itself. However they are a strange lot with a religion based around Arnold Bros. (est 1905) and divided into fractions by the different departments of the store. And then there’s all the new human things that Masklin and his tribe have never seen before ceilings, books, carpet, etc. The Nomes of Arnold Bros. (est 1905) however have never been outside, they don’t even believe in it but they may have to if the rumours about the department store being demolished are true.
This has all the Pratchett charm but reels in on the somewhat “out there” aspects that you find in his Discworld series.
The characters are full, comical and you’ll probably find at least one Nome that is just like someone you know.
It’s all poking a bit of fun at human nature, society, religion and politics but all wrapped up in a charming adventure that you’re taken on along with the Nomes. You’re so with them that you’re routing for them at every bump in the road even when the huge impossible obstacles are in their way.
I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would because I was so quickly pulled into the story that before I knew it, I was through a good many chapters. It’s a little like The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents in a much less fairy tale world.
Would really recommend this is you want something entertaining but light with a good measure of the underdog becoming somewhat of reluctant leader/hero.
I’ve brought a load of Kindle books since my last haul so I’m not going to go back to them, rather I thought I’d have a an hour looking around at Kindle books and I can write this blog post at the same time, so you really are getting my very first impressions as I make the decision to buy and download a Kindle book.
As for physical books, I’ll do a mini catch up haul of those and just show you a selection I got since my last haul post soon – telling you about all of them would be simply too much! Then we’ll be all up to date.
You may notice that a lot of my Kindle books are free or cheap – if you’re wondering how to find free and cheap ones, I have a blog post about that right here. Be sure to check that out!
So lets get started!
Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl by Elizabeth Byler Younts Although I’m a little disappointed that this says “real story” and yet it’s fiction – just drawn from the authors experiences as a child in the Amish community, I’m still finding myself wanting to read this book anyway. I would much rather read a true real account in a lot of respects but the fact that the author has the knowledge to write accurately about the Amish way of life does help.
I can’t help but be fascinated by the different ways people live their lives and see the world.
I absolutely love documentaries like this so thought this was definitely worth a read – if only to learn a little more about the human experience and how it differs from person to person.
It’s only 192 pages so not all that big of a read so it shouldn’t take too long to get through and hopefully it will be a nice break from my usual reading habits.
I Think I’m OK by C S Kenny This book has quite mixed reviews but mostly because it has a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes, which I can totally understand as I’m a bit of a grammar Nazi myself but reading the synopsis of this book which is about the author looking back on his childhood as a “problem child” it’s clear that although there maybe spelling mistakes the author is writing exactly how he would tell you the story in person. It’s very personal to him.
I think – I hope I am right in thinking that a lot of editing would really take away from the charm of this genuine man telling his story.
Either way I look forward to reading it and finding out.
H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection. (With Accompanying Facts): 62 Short Stories and 5 Novellas.by H.P. Lovecraft I’ve only read a few H.P. Lovecraft short stories before as horror isn’t really my thing usually but what I have read of his, I did enjoy. So I thought I’d give this a go, as you get the biggest collection from this version at the cheapest price (£0.77) – not to mention it says it has facts and I love me some facts. Perhaps this will serve me well for the Halloween season, we shall see – I don’t very often read something especially for this time of year but perhaps a few short stories from this will go down well. As I said though I’m not really a horror fan, I have a far too active imagination and it doesn’t mix well with horror. So if I go quiet, I’m probably still hiding under my duvet.
Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1)by Robin Hobb Robin Hobb is one of the authors I really want to get into but just haven’t yet. A case of so many books so little time I’m afraid, but I will read one of her books one day. This caught my eye as it’s currently free on Kindle, so naturally I snatched it up.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas This is one of those books that seems to keep showing up everywhere and everytime I see it I pick it up… but then put it back down. There’s something about it but I just couldn’t seem to fully commit myself to buying it.
Then I read ConfessionsofaBookGeek’s Review and I started to think that maybe this book really was worth reading.
I still had to a read a few more reviews on Amazon UK to convince myself fully but I finally took the plunge and brought this book.
I’m not sure why I’m so hesitant but hopefully it will prove me a fool for being so undecided and be a fantastic read. I know this book is gaining quite a bit of momentum in the YA community so hope it lives up to the hype.
The Unicorn Crisis (The Hidden Academy Book 1)by Jon Rosenberg Ever just be scrolling through Kindle Books and something just catches your attention? This is what happened with this book.
And then I read the synopsis – it’s fantasy with humor, perhaps even a bit along the lines of Terry Pratchett – which is right up my street.
Hopefully this will be a fun read.
Foxwise is a short story, which is an off-shoot of the The Legend of Vanx Malic series. It side steps into giving you a short story and a little more background into one of a character that is just about to enter the main series and as I understand it comes to be quite a main character.
It was (and still is at the moment) free on Kindle, so I thought I would give it a go and hopefully get a good feel for the author.
Foxwise or General Foxwise Posy-Thorn to give him is full name – is a fairy/pixie type creature and he is the best of the best in Queen Corydalis guard. Being Fae, they live in a peaceful valley hidden from the eyes of many other creatures. There is a perpetual state of spring in the Valley so everything is young, green and lush. Unfortunately the oldest tree – the Heart Tree, which protects the whole valley and the fae with it’s magic has been poisoned by the Hoar Witch.
Enter the typical fantasy quest! The queen requests the best of her smartest, fiercest and most loyal to retrieve the “Shard” that can heal the tree and defend the realm. So Foxwise teams up with Barb and Bristle to journey outside of their protected boundries and into the Overland, where danger is everywhere for these small creatures.
Short stories can be really great, unfortunately this one isn’t. You barely get to know any of the characters and so really struggle to have anything to hold onto in the short time it takes to read this book. It reads far too much like a children’s TV show – this happens, and then this happens, and then this happens – it’s overly simple. Which I was rather disappointed about since Mathias – from what I’ve read – is a great epic fantasy writer, I expected much more.
However there are some endearing and funny moments that broke it up slightly. You do really want to like the characters and root for them, so it’s a shame there isn’t quite enough for you to identify with them.
Perhaps this makes for better reading if you’ve read the series (or are reading the series) but as a standalone read, it’s pretty poor. My guess is it was wrote specifically to create a little hype for the next installment of the series – it’s filler. Too bad because with either a little more work it could be a great short story (and thus a much better introduction to the author – at least I’m hoping the rest of his work is better) or with a little rewriting, it could be a nice little children’s book.
I really wanted to like this, but it just lacks that something.
I picked up Clockwork Angelsby Kevin J. Anderson as part of the last StoryBundle (if you haven’t check that out yet – do!). Kevin J. Anderson isn’t an author that I’ve read or come across before but whilst browsing the StoryBundle Darren had pointed out to me that it was on his to read list. Since we have super similar tastes after purchasing this bundle I decided I would dive right into this one.
This book was written in quite a unique way, infact to quote the synopsis:
A remarkable collaboration that is unprecedented in its scope and realization, this exquisitely wrought novel represents an artistic project between the bestselling science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson and the multiplatinum rock band Rush. The newest album by Rush, Clockwork Angels, sets forth a story in Neil Peart’s lyrics that has been expanded by him and Anderson into this epic novel.
That’s right it’s inspired by and follows the lyrics of a rock album. This particular part I was all kinds of skeptical and excited about at the time time. So far, I haven’t listened to the album but lyrics are at the beginning of each chapter and they fit really well. It doesn’t feel like it’s forced together. It’s a song that tells a story and this novel simple elaborated upon that story. It actually works well to my relief and I was pleasantly surprised.
So lets get onto the actual book, the story, the meat of it all.
The world we are plunged into is a world of steampunk and alchemy, with pirates, carnivals and lost cities to boot. Exciting times one might imagine, except nothing has really changed in 200 years. Everything runs like clockwork. No crime, nothing unexpected, no blimp on the map of life, no disease and no nastiness whatsoever actually. All thanks to the Watchmaker who has watched over and ruled the empire, making sure everyone has a place in the world, a plan and they have everything they need. They all have a true love, a given career, a house and food. They’re secure and safe from crime and illness. What more could anyone ask for? “The Stability” one calls it.
Enter our protagonist Owen Hardy an apple farmer who is oh so close to his 17th birthday and therefore becoming an adult. He knows on his birthday he will receive a letter from the Watchmaker himself wishing him happiness, he will take over managing the orchid from his father and in a few more months when his true love also turns 17, they will get engaged with the Watchmakers approval.
The problem is that Owen Hardy longs to visit Crown City, the capital and see the famed Clockwork Angels for himself but leaving your village is forbidden and anyway, that’s not the Watchmakers plan for him.
As a result of his girlfriend not showing up meet him at midnight (also forbidden), Owen ends up making a snap decision to stow away on a Steamliner headed for Crown City.
Having left all he knows behind and subsequently tearing himself away from the life the Watchmaker has planned for him, he finds himself among pirates and carnies – the barely tolerated outcasts of society – who follow their own paths. Unfortunately for Owen this mean seeing and facing fears, dangers and hurt he never knew could exist and life around him crumbles.
And yet he is torn between feeling real emotions – even if they’re negative and the safety of The Stability.
At it’s heart Clockwork Angels is a coming of age story with a little revolutionary spirit thrown in. You go through all the emotions, confusion and anger with Owen. As well as seeing a little perspective from the outside influences upon him.
The Watchmaker is the other main character in this journey who is a sort of lovable rogue with a power complex. It’s clear that his heart is in the right place but at times it’s blindingly obvious that he’s lost a screw or two along the way. He’s eccentric in an almost creepy way and his OCD is way out of control. And yet… one can sympathise with him.
It’s a story less about good vs evil and more about order vs chaos, and how good and evil are a matter of perspective.
There is adventure here, some fights and alchemy but this is more of about a journey, one that makes you think and perhaps even grow with Mr. Hardy.
Fantasy is my favourite genre to read but this isn’t too heavy on the fantasy or the steampunk aspect for that matter so really this book has a very wide appeal. Anyone can enjoy it without knowing too much about those genres.