Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth


‘Wild by name and wild by nature,’ Dortchen’s father used to say of her. He did not mean it as a compliment. He thought her headstrong, and so he set himself to tame her.

Wild Girl is the story of Dortchen Wild, a young girl growing up in the small German kingdom of Hessen-Cassel in the early 19th century. She so happens to live next door to Wilhelm Grimm, scholar and collector of tales. Yes, he is indeed one of the Grimm brothers of fairy tale fame.

She pretty much falls for him the first time she meets him – she aged twelve, he aged nineteen, home from university. But theirs is an impossible relationship, his family is too poor, her father too strict (she is one of six daughters) and Wilhelm at first seems more interested in her older sister. But he is collecting old stories and she has some to tell so they keep in contact although her father disapproves of the Grimm family.

I was expecting more fantasy and fairy tale, a bit more like Patricia A Mckillip’s books like Winter Rose. But Forsyth has written something more like historical fiction than fairytale. Here it is not so much about the tales but about who it was who did the the telling.

She already tells us in her forward that our impression of the Brothers Grimm  isn’t accurate.

Most people imagine the brothers as elderly men in medieval costume, travelling around the countryside asking for tales from old women bent over their spinning wheels, or wizened shepherds tending their flocks. The truth is that they were young men in their twenties, living at the same time as Jane Austen and Lord Byron.

And indeed I have been guilty of thinking just that. So this was some eye opener for me!

Forsyth sets the scene well. She brings in a lot of historical background – the kingdom is taken over by the French, Napoléon Bonaparte is trying to take over the world, the fighting, the poverty, the struggles. History is very much alive in this book.

I also like how Forsyth brings in not just old folk tales but also folk medicine. The use of herbs, plants, flowers in medicine (Dortchen’s father is an apothecary and she helps him collect raw materials for his medicines) and also in charms and spells. Their servant, Old Marie, was full of what Dortchen’s father called “pagan nonsense”, such as the gathering of oak moss on Midsummer’s morning for luck and good fortune.

The dried yellow petals of St John’s wort, which Old Marie called ‘chase-devil’ for the way it could drive the megrims away. Gaudy calendula, bright as the sun. Sweet-smelling lemon balm, guaranteed to lift the spirits with its aroma alone.

Wild Girl has bittersweet notes in it. Dortchen’s life is not an easy one. Her father is difficult and cruel, yet Dortchen remains a dutiful daughter. Her life is filled with such longing that you cannot help but hope for a happy ending.

‘Stories are important too,’ Dortchen said. ‘Stories help make sense of things. They make you believe you can do things.’ Once again she felt a sense of frustration at not knowing the right words to express what she meant. ‘They help you imagine that things may be different, that if you just have enough courage … or enough faith … or goodness … you can change things for the better.’

Kate Forsyth is an Australian author. And apparently she has written plenty of books, especially for children (I only first heard of her via a link on the Once Upon a Time sign-up post, Earl Grey Editing had put Wild Girl on her OUAT tbr list).

The Witches of Eileanan series
Dragonclaw (1997) – released as The Witches of Eileanan in the US.
The Pool of Two Moons (1998)
The Cursed Towers (1999)
The Forbidden Land (2000)
The Skull of the World (2001)
The Fathomless Caves (2002)

Rhiannon’s Ride series
The Tower of Ravens (2004)
The Shining City (2005)
The Heart of Stars (2006)

The Chain of Charms series (for 9-18 year olds)
The Gypsy Crown (2006)
The Silver Horse (2006)
The Herb of Grace (2007)
The Cat’s Eye Shell (2007)
The Lightning Bolt (2007)
The Butterfly in Amber (2007)

Ben and Tim’s Magical Misadventures (for young readers)
Dragon Gold (2005)
Wishing For Trouble (2006)
Sea Magic (2008)
The Impossible Quest series
Escape from Wolfhaven Castle (2014)
The Wolves of the Witchwood (2015)

Children’s novels
The Starthorn Tree- young adult (2002)
The Puzzle Ring (2009)
The Wildkin’s Curse (2010)
The Starkin Crown (May 2011)

Contemporary fiction
Full Fathom Five – as Kate Humphrey (2003)

Historical Fiction
Bitter Greens (2012)
The Wild Girl (March 2013)

I read this book for the Once Upon a Time X challenge, 

hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh



It must take some daring, writing a novel inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, which has seen so many versions and interpretations that it seems impossible to write something fresh and different based on it.

(One of my favourites is Sharaz-De, the visually sumptuous graphic novel version by Italian Sergio Toppi).

But somehow Renee Ahdieh has done it. She’s written a story that is more than just the One Thousand and One Nights of stories, it is a story about a brave and strong young woman, who is fearless and also vulnerable, and a conflicted king with the reputation of a monster, one who marries and murders each new wife before dawn. It is an adventure with sword fighting and archery and a hint of dark magic.

“We women are a sad lot, aren’t we?”
“What do you mean?”
“Strong enough to take on the world with our bare hands, yet we permit ridiculous boys to make fools of us.”

Part of me was a bit hesitant when I went into this book. But then I got sucked into it, and this reader-of-several-books-at-a-time sank and submerged into this one book and only came up for air when I was done. It just propelled me along, wanting to know the reason for the caliph’s evil deeds, whether Shazi would seek revenge for her best friend’s death, and what was going on with her father??

Ahdieh is adept at making the reader reconsider the characters in the story, that the ‘good guys’ might not necessarily be the heroes, that there may be something else behind the ‘bad guys’.

As she said in an interview with Hypable:

“There are no heroes or villains,” she told us, “There are only people who want different things.”

Silly me, I hadn’t quite realized this was the first book in a series when I started reading it, but too late, I was already enthralled and will just have to wait until the next one emerges soon – later this month!


I read this book for the Once Upon a Time X challenge,

hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings.

Once Upon a Time X



Wow! It is Once Upon a Time X! Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings has been hosting this springtime challenge for ten years! Thanks so much Carl!

If you’re new to this, here’s what it’s about

This is a reading and viewing and gaming event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum. The challenge continues through June 21st and allows for very minor (1 book only) participation as well as more immersion depending on your reading/viewing/gaming whims.




I’m going to go with Quest the First,

Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

And here are some books I hope to read:

The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey (maybe this is the year I finally will read this book! I first listed it on my 2013 OUaT pool)

Diving Belles – Lucy Wood (cornish folklore)

The Girl with Glass Feet – Ali Shaw

Throne of the Crescent Moon – Saladin Ahmed

Monstrous Affections – edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J Grant (after I saw it on The Writerly Reader)

Wild Girl – Kate Forsyth (after seeing it on Earl Grey Editing)

Lagoon – Nnedi Okorafor

Fudoki – Kij Johnson



Books I read and reviewed:

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth


What are your recommendations for Fairy Tale, Folklore, Mythology books? Are you taking part in Once Upon a Time this year?


Winter Rose and Ella Enchanted


There is something gnarled and bramble-y about Winter Rose. Patricia A McKillip dreamily draws out something deep, romantic and a little magical in her retelling of Tam Lin.

Rois, who looks nothing like a Rose, whose “skin is not fit for fairy tales” sees Corbet Lynn walk out of the light, a blur of gold:

“I turned, walked into the hot noon light, and saw him, with his pale gold hair and light-filled eyes, riding his horse the color of buttermilk across the green grass, as if he were human as the rest of us, not something that had stepped out of light into time. I could not move; I could not breathe. And then, as if he read my thoughts, his eyes met mine. Pale green seemed to melt through me, and I thought: How could they be any other color?”

Rois is obsessed with Corbet and his past – his grandfather was murdered by his own son and laid a wicked curse “You are the last of us and you will die the last: As many as you have, your children will never be your own”. So then who is Corbet Lynn and why does he appear in Rois’ intoxicating dreams?

Her language can be a tad flowery so it is not for everyone. But when I read her words, I hear this voice in my head, a whispery, echoey kind of voice, the kind of voice that sounds as if spoken in an ageing castle. The writer sits with a goblet of wine, a quill resting on the paper. A heavy rug is underfoot for it is the depths of winter and snow is ever so quietly falling outside. A fire is roaring and crackling, breaking the stillness.

Her book, her words are so very dreamy, I drift off into her dark world where curses are laid and enchantments are made. And it is difficult to emerge from her wintery world and into the bright sunshine, colourful toys around, decorations from the party still hanging, kids napping upstairs.


The Cinderella adaptation Ella Enchanted is such a very different read. Things move at a faster clip and the language is far simpler and less descriptive. It is still a rather entertaining story, at times a little silly (which would make its intended audience giggle – OK so I did too), and just such a fun read. I mean, how could a fairy’s blessing become such a pain?

Well it can if the blessing is obedience, leaving the poor child condemned to obey every order she’s given, even if it’s something as simple as “eat”.

A short but very satisfactory read with a strong-spirited and intelligent lead character and a refreshing retelling of the Cinderella tale.

At first I wondered if I had seen the movie version but then I realised it was the image of Drew Barrymore in Ever After that kept popping into my head – Anne Hathaway stars in Ella Enchanted so said the Internet. And the consensus (at least on Goodreads) seems to be that one should stay far away from the Ella Enchanted movie. I’ll be heeding that advice, but if you’ve watched it, was it really that bad?



Winter Rose and Ella Enchanted were my second and third reads for Once Upon A Time VIII.


On reading fairy tales for Once Upon A Time

It’s Once Upon a Time season again and I’ve been submerged in fairy tales of all sorts, coming up for air only when necessary.

Ok ok, in reality though, it’s more like I’ve been sneaking reads on my Kindle or tablet or an actual paper book (a bit harder with a baby) whenever I can. It’s always hard reading with two kids around. Today for example, the baby took more than half an hour of patting and fussing, picking-up-ing and putting-down-ing before he fell asleep for his morning nap. He usually drops off by himself within a few minutes so I’m not sure what’s happening. Teething maybe, growth spurt? Only he knows. And he can’t tell me anything. He sure likes to point though.

And then there’s the blogging thing. I’m at the laptop in the kitchen, typing furiously away while the 3yo reads his birthday books with Grandma (thank goodness for visiting grandparents!). But should I be spending the time reading instead of writing? It’s a toss up!

So anyway I’ve been leaning towards fairy tales or fairy tale adaptations this Once Upon a Time.

But as I ponder my selection, I realize that they are largely stories set in the western world (made up worlds, yes, but with a tendency towards the west more than the east). Where characters are fair of face and all that (although not fair of hair, it seems from the covers of the books I’ve been considering). Where are the tales of Asia among my reads? I’ve searched the catalogues of my library system but nothing comes up (and we have a decently diverse collection, with quite a few books written in other languages like Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean).

We are of Chinese descent by way of Singapore, and as we live in the San Francisco Bay Area, far from our own beginnings, I want my children to know where they come from. I don’t just mean knowing their grandparents and other relatives, but their traditions and customs, and the stories they are told. So I try to include books that are written by Asian writers and feature Asian people in my kids’ library loot. They aren’t the easiest thing to find but we have found some favourites like Anastasia Suen, Wong Herbert Yee and Roseanne Thong. But when it comes to nursery rhymes, folk and fairy tales, or delving into history whether fictional or non, the options are fewer. Maybe if we were in Singapore, or if I could find more books written in Chinese, there might be more choices.

I think back to my own childhood and realise that in some way, I did know about these Chinese tales. Perhaps there were mentions in school textbooks? There was a popular Chinese TV adaptation of Journey to the West (a Chinese classic that I’ve never read) that I remember watching. But were these fairy tales? Not really. Are there actually such things are Chinese fairy tales (what really does the term ‘fairy tale’ mean?)? All of these stories that I remember seem to be of gods and goddesses, deities and demons. Mythology might be a better word for it. Folktales? I think I need a crash course on all these terms.

But when I was growing up in Singapore, among our shelves of books written by and about the western world, there was a collection of Chinese myths. It was a large hardcover book with stories and pictures. There were tales of Nezha and Pan Gu.


But the one tale I always remember is that of the cow herder and the weaver girl. A tale that is still celebrated as a festival today. A romantic tale of forbidden love. The zhinu (织女) or weaver girl is actually the daughter of a goddess, who comes down from heaven in search of fun, and falls for this cow herder or niu lang (牛郎). The goddess finds out and orders her daughter back to heaven. The cow herder follows her but the goddess draws a line across the sky, the Milky Way, separating the two lovers forever. Once a year though, the crows (or is it magpies?) fly up to the sky and form a bridge for them to meet. Awww, it’s a bittersweet tale that is celebrated as kind of like a Chinese Valentine’s Day in China. In Singapore though, it is the 15th day of the Lunar New Year (Chap Goh Meh) that is seen as the Chinese Valentine’s Day, and coincidentally, it fell on February 14 this year, resulting in a flurry of weddings and hotels all being booked up.

I’ll have to wait for my next visit to Singapore to figure out if that book is still in my parents’ house. I asked my mum about it and she has no recollection of that book at all. It’s not a figment of my imagination. At least I don’t think so. If a book that you remember from your childhood is no longer among your collection and you’re the only one that remembers it, did it ever exist?

My search for Chinese folktales/fairytales/myths continues.



Once Upon a Time VIII

It’s Spring apparently.

Here in Northern California, it’s been Spring-like for quite a while now. Sometimes even summer-ish, with people in T-shirts, shorts and slippers (sorry if you’re reading this while huddled under a thick winter jacket and three layers of socks). But some of the trees in my neighborhood are in that lovely stage where there are some hesitant showings of first leaves. Other trees have already hurriedly shown off their flowers with a flourish and petals are everywhere. And it’s fava bean season again! I can’t wait to get to the farmers’ market on Sunday (it’s conveniently located at the local mall’s parking lot, just 5 minutes away, and the kettle corn always tempts).

(Although today as I post this – having written this yesterday when the sun was shining – it is raining and gloomy)

Vegetation aside, spring is time for Carl’s Once Upon a Time challenge (here’s the Review Site). And I’ll be embarking on….

questthefirstRead at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres. 

Perhaps the most fun bit about a reading challenge is making the list. And so here is mine. Too long as always. But lots of fun went into its making!


Plenty of new-to-me authors here – Pamela Dean, Malinda Lo, Joan D Vinge, Steven Brust, Lucy Wood, Gail Carson Levine, Dubravka Ugresic

The Huntress – Malinda Lo
Juniper, Gentian and Rosemary – Pamela Dean
Kissing the witch – Emma Donoghue
My mother she killed me, my father he ate me: forty new fairy tales – edited by Kate Bernheimer
The snow queen – Joan D Vinge
The sun, the moon and the stars – Steven Brust
Tam Lin – Pamela Dean
Winter Rose – Patricia A McKillip
Mr Fox – Helen Oyeyemi
Diving Belles – Lucy Wood
Cart and Cwidder – Diana Wynne Jones
The fairy godmother – Mercedes Lackey
Ella enchanted – Gail Carson Levine
Boy, Snow, Bird – Helen Oyeyemi
Baba Yaga laid an egg – Dubravka Ugresic


Are you joining this challenge? Have you read any of these books? Which would you recommend? I know everyone’s reading Boy, Snow, Bird so I’m second in the hold queue at the library where its status is still ‘on order’.

The Dark Lord of Derkholm


“My kingdom is being ravaged,” he said, “I have been selected as Evil King fifteen times in the last twenty years, with the result that I have a tour through there once a week, invading my court and trying to kill me or my courtiers. My wife has left me and taken the children with her for safety. The towns and countryside are being devastated. If the army of the Dark Lord doesn’t march through and sack my city, then the Forces of Good do it next time. I admit I’m being paid quite well for this, but the money I earn is so urgently needed to repair the capital for the next Pilgrim Party that there is almost none to spare for helping the farmers.”

Elves, demons, dwarves, dragons, wizards, griffins. (Oh my!)

All this and more in one book.

What? You need more?

How about Friendly Cows and garden monsters? Or flying pigs and talking horses? Magic spells and battles?

And Pilgrim Parties, organised by a man from another world – Mr Chesney who holds a demon captive in his pocket to make the magic world do his bidding. The people of Mr Chesney’s world pay good money to him to dress up, to be fought with, chased by avians, led by wizards as they journey through this other world of magic. It’s not just about illusions and magic though, people from both worlds actually get killed (some pilgrims are marked ‘expendable’ and aren’t meant to make it back home) and the lands racked and ruined.

This time, the Wizard Derk has been chosen to play the Dark Lord (and also chief tour coordinator), his son Blade is to be a Wizard Guide leading one of the many Pilgrim Parties, and their lovely home to be magicked into an evil citadel. It’s not an easy job but Derk is managing well enough, until a dragon puts him out of action, and Blade, his bossy bardic sister Shona and their five griffin brothers and sisters have to figure things out in his place.

“Just remember that when the Pilgrim Parties arrive there, they will expect to see hovels, abject poverty, and heaps of squalor and that I expect them to get it. I also expect you to do something about this house of yours. A Dark Lord’s Citadel must always be a black castle with a labyrinthine interior lit by baleful fires – you will find our specifications in the guide Mr Addis will give you – and it would be helpful if you could introduce emaciated prisoners and some grim servitors to solemnise the frivolous effects of these monsters of yours.”

The Dark Lord of Derkholm was just such great fun. A romp! A hoot! A whole cast characters who frustrate, endear and amuse. No wonder I sighed when it was over – all too soon!


I read The Dark Lord of Derkholm for Once Upon a Time VII (review site)

Now why have I waited so long to read more by Diana Wynne Jones? I enjoyed the animated film version of Howl’s Moving Castle some years ago (I’m a Miyazaki fan, although I have to admit that Howl’s is not among my favourites – which do include Totoro and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind) and might have been overwhelmed by the long list of works she’s created. I did pick up Derkholm after discovering that many of her works are in the e-book library catalogue. Hooray!

I will definitely be reading Derkholm #2 but I would love to know your DWJ recommendations! And ‘all of it!’ doesn’t count.

Here’s her bibliography in chronological order:


Changeover (1970)
Wilkins’ Tooth (1973)
The Ogre Downstairs (1974)
Dogsbody (1975)
Eight Days of Luke (1975)
Cart and Cwidder (1975) – Dalemark
Charmed Life (1977) – Chrestomanci
Drowned Ammet (1977) – Dalemark
Power of Three (1977)
Who Got Rid of Angus Flint? (1978)
The Spellcoats (1979) – Dalemark


The Magicians of Caprona (1980) – Chrestomanci
The Time of the Ghost (1981)
The Homeward Bounders (1981)
Witch Week (1982) – Chrestomanci
Warlock at the Wheel and Other Stories (1984), collection
Archer’s Goon (1984)
The Skiver’s Guide (1984), nonfiction
Fire and Hemlock (1985)
Howl’s Moving Castle (1986) – Howl’s Castle
A Tale of Time City (1987)
The Lives of Christopher Chant (1988) – Chrestomanci
Wild Robert (1989)
Hidden Turnings, edited (1989)
“Mela Worms”, in Arrows of Eros (NEL, 1989)


Castle in the Air (1990) – Howl’s Castle
Black Maria (1991)
“A Slice of Life”, in Now We Are Sick (1991), poem
Yes, Dear (1992)
A Sudden Wild Magic (1992)
Hexwood (1993)
Crown of Dalemark (1993) – Dalemark
Stopping for a Spell (1993), collection
Fantasy Stories, edited (1994)
Everard’s Ride (1995), collection
Spellbound, edited (1995)
Minor Arcana (1996), collection
Deep Secret (1997) – Magids
The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (1997), nonfiction
Dark Lord of Derkholm (1998) – Derkholm
Puss in Boots (1999)
Believing is Seeing (1999), collection


Year of the Griffin (2000) – Derkholm
Mixed Magics (2000), collection – Chrestomanci
Stealer of Souls (2002), originally in Mixed Magics (2000) – Chrestomanci
The Merlin Conspiracy (2003) – Magids
Unexpected Magic (2004), collection
Conrad’s Fate (2005) – Chrestomanci
The Pinhoe Egg (2006) – Chrestomanci
Enna Hittims (2006), originally in Believing is Seeing (1999)
“I’ll Give You My Word”, in Firebirds Rising (Penguin, 2006)
The Game (2007)
House of Many Ways (2008) – Howl’s Castle
“JoBoy”, in The Dragon Book (Ace, 2009)

“Samantha’s Diary”, in Stories: All-New Tales (HarperCollins, 2010)
Enchanted Glass (2010)
Earwig and the Witch (2011)
Reflections On the Magic of Writing (2012), nonfiction

Mini reviews: Tithe, Dreaming in Hindi, Alif the Unseen


I picked Tithe as one of my reads for Once Upon a Time, knowing little more about it than that it’s part of Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tales series. I like the idea of modern faerie tales. And this one is indeed ‘modern’.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms – a struggle that could very well mean her death.

The writing is nothing to shout about, and the characters are not very likeable, but it is relatively readable as the plot moves decently enough and it’s aimed at a younger readership than I belong to. Plus I have to give credit to Black for creating characters that are less than typical – in terms of ethnicity (Kaye, for instance, is half-Japanese), personality type and background. And her faerie world is one that is different, dark and beguiling.


I read Tithe for Once Upon a Time VII (review site)

Holly Black’s Bibliography
Young Adult Novels
The Modern Faerie Tales
Tithe : A Modern Faerie Tale
Valiant : A Modern Tale of Faerie
Ironside : A Modern Faery’s Tale

The Curse Workers
White Cat
Red Glove
Black Heart

Standalone Novels
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Middle Grade Novels
The Spiderwick Chronicles
The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide
The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Seeing Stone
The Spiderwick Chronicles: Lucinda’s Secret
The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Ironwood Tree
The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Wrath of Mulgarath
Arthur Spiderwick’s Notebook of Fantastical Observations
Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You
The Spiderwick Chronicles: Care and Feeding of Sprites
The Nixie’s Song: Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles
A Giant Problem: Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles
The Wyrm King: Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles

Magisterium Series (with Cassandra Clare)
The Iron Trial

Graphic Novels
The Good Neighbors
The Good Neighbors: Kin
The Good Neighbors: Kith
The Good Neighbors: Kind


Magazine editor Katherine Russell Rich loses her job (she’s also been diagnosed with cancer), takes a trip to India and falls in love with the place and language, and sets off for a year in Udaipur, a city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, to learn Hindi.

She writes about her observations about life in Udaipur (she lives with an extended host family), a new culture and lifestyle (where everyone seems to know what she’s up to), her first-hand insights into learning a language as an adult (including plenty of research about Secondary Language Acquisition and all the behavioural and neurological studies that come with it – judging from Goodreads reviews, it might have been too much information for some readers, but it was mostly fine for me*). It was quite fascinating to read of how her acquisition of Hindi led to a deterioration in a sense of her English and Spanish:

“Hindi pollutes my English and vice versa. I construct clunky Hindi sentences using English syntax; total groaners, all wrong. The courtly politeness of Hindi filters into my English, ‘by your kindness’, ‘I am obliged to your honour’. It leeches my American personality, makes me feel I’ve gone pale. I never realized before the extent to which we reside in language. We are how we speak.”

* I learnt, for example, that using two languages every day can help stem dementia by several years. Unfortunately, while I was forced to learn Mandarin Chinese for ten years in Singapore, my main language is English, that is, if I wanted to use Mandarin, I have to think in English and translate it into my garbled Mandarin. I have been reading Chinese books to wee reader though, so there’s still hope!

Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language
The Red Devil : A Memoir About Beating The Odds


Alif the Unseen is quite an unforgettable read, although I’ve been reluctant to write about it. For how does one go about describing it? It’s a modern, cyber-fantasy I guess, with a young Arab-Indian hacker at the centre of it. There are djinns and an ancient book, firewalls and government censorship. It is such a strange, unique book, an adventure, a romance, a fantasy, all rolled into one. It was such great fun.

(JoV at Bibliojunkie has a far better, more detailed review – she also recommends Wilson’s memoir The Butterfly Mosque)

“Aces” (with co-author Shannon Eric Denton and art by Curtis Square-Briggs, in Negative Burn #7-10)
The Outsiders: “Five of a Kind – Metamorpho/Aquaman” (art by Josh Middleton; collected in Outsiders: Five of a Kind)
Cairo (with art by M.K. Perker, original graphic novel)
Air (with art by M.K. Perker, ongoing series, Vertigo)
Vixen: Return of the Lion (with Cafu, 5-issue mini-series)
The Butterfly Mosque 
Superman#706, 707 (with art by Amilcar Pinna; collected in “Superman: Grounded. Vol. 1”)
Mystic (with art by David Lopez, 4-issue miniseries, Marvel Comics)
Alif the Unseen

Once Upon a Time VII Challenge


It’s here!

Ok so it’s already begun and I am a little late to the game. Still, I have until June 21 to read and read! Here’s what Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings has to say:

Thursday, March 21st begins the seventh annual Once Upon a Time Challenge. This is a reading and viewing event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum. The challenge continues through Friday, June 21st and allows for very minor (1 book only) participation as well as more immersion depending on your reading/viewing whims.

The Once Upon a Time VI Challenge has a few rules:

Rule #1: Have fun.

Rule #2: HAVE FUN.

Rule #3: Don’t keep the fun to yourself, share it with us, please!

Rule #4: Do not be put off by the word “challenge”.


I am taking it super easy and going with The Journey, where it’s about reading at least one book. I hope to read more than one of course, but with wee-er reader due in early May, I don’t expect very much reading to be done after that.

And of course it’s so much fun to make a list of books!

My pool:


Spindle’s End – Robin McKinley

All the creatures of the forest and field and riverbank knew the infant was special. She was the princess, spirited away from the evil fairy Pernicia on her name-day. But the curse was cast: Rosie was fated to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a poisoned sleep-a slumber from which no one would be able to rouse her.

Cinder – Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Tithe – Holly Black

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms – a struggle that could very well mean her death.

The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

Black Swan, White Raven – edited by  Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

A stellar assymbly of many of today’s most creative and accomplished storytellers has gathered around the tribal fire to embroider well-worn yarns with new golden thread. Black Swan, White Raven revisits the tales that charmed, enthralled, and terrified us in our early youth – carrying us aloft into the healthy, beating heart of cherished myth to tell once again the stories of Rumpelstiltskins and sleeping beauties, only this time from an edgy, provocative and distinctly adult perspective. The themes and archetypes of our beloved childhood fiction are reexamined in a darker light by 21 superb teller of tales who deftly uncover the ironic, the outrageous, the enigmatic and the erotic at the core of the world’s best-known fables, while revealing the sobering truths and lies behind “happily ever after.”

The Magic Toyshop – Angela Carter

One night Melanie walks through the garden in her mother’s wedding dress. The next morning her world is shattered. Forced to leave the comfortable home of her childhood, she is sent to London to live with relatives she never met: Aunt Margaret, beautiful and speechless, and her brothers, Francie, whose graceful music belies his clumsy nature, and the volatile Finn, who kisses Melanie in the ruins of the pleasure garden. And brooding Uncle Philip loves only the life-sized wooden puppets he creates in his toyshops. The classic gothic novel established Angela Carter as one of our most imaginative writers and augurs the themes of her later creative works.

And I would also love to read something by Diana Wynne Jones.

Here’s the link to the Review Site

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