Book of a Thousand Days

Another great work by Shannon Hale! I fell instantly in love with Dashti, a Mucker (you have to read the book to find out what that is!) who lived on the steppes of ancient Mongolia before becoming a lady's maid. When the Lady she serves is imprisoned in a tower, Dashti is locked up with her and keeps a journal of their imprisonment. This is a lovely, compassionate book with faceted characters and beautiful setting. I thought I had this book figured out in the beginning, and I was delighted to be wrong. LIke all of the Shannon Hale novels I've read so far, the heroine is strong and caring and will win you over. Great read-out-loud!

Author: Shannon Hale

Jack of Fables, vol. 2

If you aren't familiar with Bill Willingham's Fables, you're missing out. This graphic novel series follows the lives of Fables living in a secret section of New York City. Snow White runs the town (although King Cole is officially the mayor) and they are plagued constantly by the Advesary who originally drove them from their fable Homelands. I couldn't read these fast enough. Thank god there were the Jack of Fables spin-offs or I would be very sad indeed. The two graphic novels entitled Jack of Fables detail the exploits of Jack Horner (AKA Jack of beanstalk fame, Jack the Giant Killer, and even Jack Frost).

Authors: Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges

The Golden Compass

I just reread this book, and liked it even more the second (or third?) time around. I wanted to be all brushed up before I go to see the movie. As with almost any book, I'm sure the movie will never equal the richness of the written text (the one exception is the Princess Bride, which I thought was a stupid book but one of the greatest movies of all times), but I'm looking forward to it none-the-less. I'm a total Philip Pullman fan, so I expect I will gripe and fawn in equal parts over the Golden Compass movie. I never realized what a fantastic read-out-loud book this is, but I began reading it to my daughter and we both found it enchanting. The book on CD is also very enjoyable; it's supported by a full cast (who are much more authentic than my fake Cockney and London accents, but my daughter doesn't seem to care). The complexity of the Dark Materials plot lends itself well to frequent re-reading. Even this time through I caught things I didn't previously. So if you haven't already, dust this off and curl up with a blanket and cup of coffee before going to see it in the theaters.

Author: Philip Pullman

FOLLOW-UP: I saw the movie. It was actually better than I expected. The film rearranged some sequence of event that worked to not only condense the plot but make it more linear and focused; and the conflict between the Church and free will was made much more clear. I admit that the books left me working harder to discern the importance of Dust, the reason the Maagestrium was after the control of Dust and the purpose of the Intercisions. The movie actually clarified a lot for me. The morphing of Pan and the other daemons also worked very well. Yay!

The Woman Who Rides Like A Man

I'm so totally hooked on this series. They transport me every time, and I love the journey. This is the third book in the Lioness Quartet, and I think they're just brilliant and pulpy in the best sort of way. Alanna is a great heroine and I think her love life is so fun: should she marry Jonathan, the hasty prince who has been her lover but who might want to marry for the wrong reasons?; or should she side with George the King of Thieves, who loves her completely but has a dangerous life style? We still don't know. But Alanna stays true to herself and follows her heart, even if it may take her away from both of them.

Author: Tamora Pierce