I think The Power of Three is one of DWJ’s lesser-known books? I can’t figure out why, unless it’s just because it’s an older book without a recent release. (The covers also tend to be fugly, which surely can’t help.) I’ve read it a few times, though, and it’s actually one of my favorites!
It’s kind of an ambitious book. There’s three different cultures, three different families, (at least) three different protagonists, lots of stuff all crammed together into one short book. The closest thing I can compare it to in scope is maybe the Dalemark quartet, though obviously there’s only one book and not four. There’s also a bit of the mind-messer-upper kind of feeling like in Hexwood! It starts off a typical high fantasy sort of story, and then it gets twisted slightly.
It’s a sad book, about death and vengeance and change. Though it’s got lots of fun adventure things, there’s this overhanging sense of doom. Makes for an interesting tone– THAT reminds me of Dogsbody, the mix of interesting scifi shenanigans and horrible family circumstances. The Power of Three isn’t scifi, of course, but it’s the same sort of mix.
Here’s what I said when I first read The Power of Three:
It takes place in an England-ish area but it feels very Saxon-y, and the overall tone of the book is very traditional German-type fairy tale– Grimm-ish, but better. It does start off a little strangely, with a character who seems primary but becomes secondary, and a rather unnecessary death of a minor character (I hate it when she does that). But don’t let that deter you! If you like myths and fairy tales, if you like hero tales with a bit of Anglo-Saxon in them, if you like DWJ at all, read this book! It’s lovely and it’s got funny bits in it (and some drama/tragedy) and adventure and action and broody heroes and heroine who don’t deal with nonsense and it’s WONDERFUL.
Read the rest of my review here!
Have you read The Power of Three?
Today’s topic is our favorite book covers! Diana Wynne Jones’ books have had some really ugly covers, but the newer releases aren’t so bad. I thought I’d focus today on my favorite foreign/non-English covers! (Sorry for the tiny images on some of these; I couldn’t find any bigger ones.) And then what happened?
No Touch Monkey!: And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late by Ayun Halliday
Published by Seal Press (2003), eBook, 273pg
Filed under: Adult, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Travel
Got my copy from: Bought
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf
Ayun Halliday may not make for the most sensible travel companion, but she is certainly one of the zaniest, with a knack for inserting herself (and her unwitting cohorts) into bizarre situations around the globe. Curator of kitsch and unabashed aficionada of pop culture, Halliday offers bemused, self-deprecating narration of events from guerrilla theater in Romania to drug-induced Apocalypse Now reenactments in Vietnam to a perhaps more surreal collagen-implant demonstration at a Paris fashion show emceed by Lauren Bacall. On layover in Amsterdam, Halliday finds unlikely trouble in the red-light district—eliciting the ire of a tiny, violent madam, and is forced to explain tampons to soldiers in Kashmir—"they’re for ladies. Bleeding ladies"—that, she admits, "might have looked like white cotton bullets lined up in their box." A self-admittedly bumbling vacationer, Halliday shares—with razor-sharp wit and to hilarious effect—the travel stories most are too self-conscious to tell. Includes line drawings by the author. (from Goodreads)
I’m a fan of Ayun Halliday’s zine The East Village Inky
, and I’ve read some of her articles in BUST and online thingies. No Touch Monkey!
is one of her early books, and it feels a little like she was still getting used to her sea legs, so to speak.
It’s a travel memoir, but one focused more on Ayun and her travel mishaps. If you’re looking for a lot of nice stories about foreign climes, with lush descriptive scenes of exciting places and interesting people, this is probably not that book. If you’re instead looking for funny stories about a hippy-ish 20-something woman and her various boyfriends, then welcome to No Touch Monkey land!
While I find AH’s writing charming and at times lol-funny, I was expecting something a little more hard-hitting. Most of her stories involve her doing something really stupid; I think she knows it was stupid, but she never comes right out and SAYS it. It annoyed me! Maybe I’m too used to the travel = personal growth narrative. I didn’t see any personal growth, even over (I think) a decade’s worth of traveling (including one time with her newborn baby!), and I really wanted that. More depth!
That said, I am definitely going to try AH’s other books, because I do like her sense of humor. Probably something other than a travel book, though.
Read: January 23-24, 2014
I’m determined to actually talk about books OTHER than the ones in the Chronicles of Chrestomanci, if only to be slightly more fair to the many other DWJ books I adore. Therefore, I am NOT going to say my favorite character is Christopher Chant/Chrestomanci, as I might otherwise do. Instead, I’m going to say my favorite is Charmain, from House of Many Ways!
I like her because she’s a bookworm, because she’s kinda stuck up and mean, because she tends to ignore the real world in favor of books, because she’s never had to fend for herself OR take care of others, and because, in the course of the book, she realizes her faults and changes into a slightly better version of herself. I’ll also be a little narcissistic and say that she’s probably the closest to myself a DWJ character could get. Bonus points!
Charmain takes some time getting used to, which is why I’d sincerely recommend rereading House of Many Ways a few times if, the first time you read it, you didn’t much like her (this is what happened to me). One of the best things about Diana Wynne Jones’ books is that she let her kids be KIDS, petulance and un-grown-up behavior and all. But she didn’t let them STAY that way (if they’re the protagonist of the book, anyway), which makes them ultimately more enjoyable to read about.
Who’s your favorite Diana Wynne Jones character? Besides Christopher and Charmain, I also adore Cat and probably every other character with a C-name, if I continue along the same pattern.
Happy March, y’all! I am now 26 years old! Yay!
For my birthday we went to the mission in San Juan Capistrano. It was SO pretty; I took lots of pictures and I will be uploading them to my Flickr shortly. I also bought some books! Full price books in paper and everything! Woohoo! I actually tried to find a Diana Wynne Jones book I don’t already own, but they didn’t have any. Boo, those bookstores. They DID have a Terry Pratchett book, though, and it’s a Night Watch subseries book to boot! VERY EXCITING OMG.
In other news, March is Diana Wynne Jones month. You may have seen my post yesterday about my DWJ shelf– I’ll be posting something for most of the prompts, along with my regular reviews and discussions and whatnot. I’ll ALSO be reading as many DWJ books as I can, including two I’ve never read before!
What will you be reading this month? And then what happened?