Friday, January 30, 2015

Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: January Reviews

Here are the reviews from the first month of the Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge.

I got off to a pretty good start this month with a bunch of books I have been wanting to read or reread.

The Witches of Echo Park - Amber Benson
"The Flood is coming, Lyse. Prepare yourself."
I picked this up the same day I posted about joining the Challenge. I picked it up as both an audio book and as an ebook.
I fist have to say that it is a real treat to hear Amber Benson reading her own books. I feel I am getting something extra that I would not get from another reader.  The Witches of Echo Park is the first book of a series and thus we are hit with a lot of characters at once and the plot builds.   We meet Lyse and her great-aunt Eleanora first and they are focal characters of this book.  Lyse is your very typical Amber Benson heroine; quirky, a little neurotic, sweet and absolutely no clue about what is in store for her.  I can picture her sitting down with Calliope (from her Daughter of Death series) over coffee and talking about who had it worse.  But also like Calliope, Lyse has a hidden reserve of will and power and hopefully we will see more of it.   We are also in turn introduced to the other members of the Echo Park Coven. Devandra, the tarot card reader and mother of two.  I am expecting her daughters also have some power.  Arrabelle, the second in charge (behind Eleanora) and the herbalist of the group.  Daniela, a powerful empath and equally forward flirt.  She has a lot of secrets.  And lastly Lizbeth. She is the mystery here. 17, mute, and a terrible childhood.
Now it would be easy to complain that this is only a set up and by the time the book gets going it is over.  But no, this book is the set up, but there is a reason why this book does what it does and ends where it does.  The plot is about to be turned up to 11 and our witches are in for a wild ride.
Amber has really honed her craft here.  I like the switching narrators (the various members of the coven) to give a different point of view.  The pacing is good and I feel like I am in for a great ride here.
By the end of the book I did want more, and that is a good thing. The next book can pick up where this left off or a couple months down the line; either way I am excited and looking forward to the next one.
Witch Count: 6 (or 7-8, if you count Dev's daughters)

The Last Apprentice (Revenge of the Witch) - Joseph Delaney
This one I picked up for my son but went through it really fast.  Plus it is going to be a new movie, so I thought I would read it first.  The book deals with Tom, the seventh son of a seventh son.  He can see things others can't and this makes him perfect for the his new training as an apprentice "Spook".  Spooks are men that are charged with keeping the things at bay that would harm mortals. Tom quickly learns about ghosts, boggarts and witches.  He also learns that people fear and stay way from Spooks. That is til they need them. Tom learns his trade from Gregory, his master and the area's Spook.  Though a series of events with a local girl, Alice, and the Spook being lead away. Tom has to deal with a powerful witch, Mother Malkin and her family including Boney Lizzy.
Witches are depicted in this book as being evil, but that changes as we read and Tom comes to understand more and more.
Again this is a start to a series and a great one at that.  One could easily make a D&D campaign based on this world.  Actually, even though the book is aimed at younger readers, Lamentations of the Flame Princess has a similar vibe.
Spooks would work as an alternate type of Ranger.
Witch Count: 3 explicitly mentioned, but it is likely to be 4.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
Of course a total re-read. This time I listened to it on audio book.
I read this book the year after it came out. People online where raving about it.  I have been wanting to reread it now after seeing the movies dozens of times and read it with full knowledge of what is to come.  I have to say the book stands up extremely well.  There are so many details in the book that my awe and appreciation of JKR has increased, if that is possible.  She set the stage for Book 7 very early on in Book 1.  She may not have known all the details yet, but she still knew what direction she was going in.  I am hoping to start Book 2 on audio here very soon.  Waiting for my library to get it in.
I do have to admit that I would love to work on a Harry Potter RPG.
Witch Count: Hundreds if not thousands.

Want to see what others are reading?  Here is a list.

Current Level: Initiate (Read 1 – 5 Witchy Books)

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