My Book a Week Challenge: Book 1

WHAT’S PLAYING: Alison Krauss “Down to the River to Pray”

I decided to kick off the challenge with one of my favorite books in which three witches make the Godmother an offer she can’t refuse: “Witches Abroad” by Terry Pratchett.

When fairy godmother Desiderata Hollow dies unexpectedly, she leaves Princess Emberella in the care of the other – evil – godmother, Lilith. Now it’s up to Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick to save a city and make sure that the princess doesn’t marry the handsome (frog) prince.

“Witches Abroad” is about many things: good and evil, free will, balance, but it’s mostly about the power of stories. Of course, any writer can tell you about the power of stories, how they affect us in ways we can’t explain. Make us feel things, change the way we look at the world and each other. This is one of those stories.

This book delves into some of our favorite childhood stories and turns them inside out. Little Red Riding Hood is an obnoxious brat and the big bad wolf is neither big nor bad, just a wolf tragically altered by a demented fairy godmother obsessed with stories and happy endings. As Terry Pratchett put it: “Lilith held a mirror up to life, and chopped all the bits off life that didn’t fit…”

Dive into this book and you’ll find several of your favorite stories waiting for you: including The Hobbit, the Three Little Pigs, the Wizard of Oz, and Sleeping Beauty.

The thing about Terry Pratchett novels is that I always walk away feeling smarter. The writing is superb, full of real-world allusions and tongue-in-cheek humor, all of which is great. I leave them entertained, but also wiser. The way he takes universal truths and couches them in humor is awe-inspiring.

Favorite Line: “Listen, happy endings is fine if they turn out happy…You can’t make happiness…all you can do is make an ending.”

What I Learned: Stories should be like life. Love, laughter, tragedy, horror and humor, all blended together to make life worth living. Any story worth telling should make us think, feel, laugh, cry and cheer. They should show us life as it is and how it should be. Anything else is just words on a page.

Coming next week: “The Enchantress of Florence” by Salman Rushdie

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8 comments on “My Book a Week Challenge: Book 1

  1. Witches Abroad is one of my favourite Discworld books; I can’t resist Nanny Ogg, she’s amazing. I want to be like her when I grow up!

    • Nanny Ogg is definitely one of my favorite characters. I would love to be like her, if only to learn all the verses to “The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered At All.” Unfortunately, I’m more of a Granny Weatherwax.

      I’ll be attending the Discworld Convention in Birmingham, UK in August. If you don’t feel up to stopping by, shoot me an e-mail with your contact info and I’ll be more than happy to send you some premium Discworld swag! (jt@jacquitalbot.com)

      • I had no idea there was a convention; do you have any idea if there are tickets left? I’ll let you know if I end up going! Thanks very much for the offer, I may well take you up on it ;)

        I don’t see you as a Weatherwax, but then, I’m no Nanny Ogg either. I try to be, but I’ll always be more akin to Rincewind or, heck, Gaspode.

      • Don’t feel bad, I didn’t discover it until last year. Unfortunately, this year’s convention is sold out, but don’t despair, they hold one in the UK every other year. If you can’t wait until 2014, then you can always cross to this side of the pond and attend the North American Discworld convention next July!

        I see you as more of a Vimes than anything else. A well-developed sense of fair play, and so much stronger than you know.

  2. S.Z. Williams says:

    Have you ever read, “Good Omens,” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman? It’s one of my favorites. Those two were made to write together.

    • justjacqui2 says:

      “Good Omens” is one of my favorites too. I actually attended a panel discussion where Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman discussed their process while writing the book. Honestly, the stories were hilarious, almost as much fun as the book itself!

  3. Mandy says:

    This is the end of my week–and just in the nick of time to get my book review in–whew!

    I find it amazing that The Lovely Bones is Alice Sebold’s debut novel. It is amazing! I’d heard it was pretty dark and disturbing. About a 14 year old girl who was raped and murdered by her depraved, middle-aged neighbor, living in a cornfield. From the very first page I was hooked and couldn’t stop reading. At first, I couldn’t imagine how the book could go on, since the killer, and the murder were revealed right at the beginning. But, there was so much more, unexpected, to come.

    The girl, Suzie Salmon, narrates the story from heaven. Lucky for me, not being a “believer”, there is no attempt at being religious, or spiritual. I have to be honest though, Suzie made me feel at peace with her death and the hereafter. . . Suzie watches over her family and friends on Earth now; she can get inside each of them, and share with us their grief and she sends them little clues to help find her remains and show them who the murderer is.

    Many of us have experienced a tragedy like this in our lives–some horrific event in the community, but we don’t really see how it affects each individual. This story looks at all the important people in Suzie’s life. Her immediate family appears to become so broken–yet we learn, through Suzie’s close analysis, that they’d all been fracturing long before her death. We look at the boy young Suzie has a crush on–and watch his pain as he realizes, not only his love for her, but that he will be accused of her murder.

    About the last quarter of the book, it gets bogged down, sometimes I lost focus, a little too long and unnecessary. But, I’d read it again–it was THAT good!

    Next weeks book: One True Thing: a novel by Anna Quindlen (about a successful magazine writer who quits her job, gives up a relationship to (begrudgingly) take care of her mother, who is dying of cancer.)

    Jacqui– Witches Abroad sounds great! I’ll have to take a look when I’m in the bookstore. I laughed when it tells of Little Red Riding Hood being a spoiled brat! Thanks!

    Mandy

    • justjacqui2 says:

      Mandy,
      Thanks for dropping in to post your review. The Lovely Bones sounds like an interesting read. I’ve heard good things about it, but always thought it sounded too depressing. You’ve changed my mind. I especially liked that Sebold managed to make you feel at peace with such a monstrous act. Not many writers can travail the heights and depths of human emotion. I’ll add it to my list of books to read.
      Thanks again, and I look forward to your review of One True Thing.

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