Long Lost Review: The Colour of Magic (#1) by Terry Pratchett

Long Lost Reviews is a monthly meme created by Ally over at Ally’s Appraisals which is posted on the second Thursday of every month. The aim is to start tackling your review backlog. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of how it affected your life, one sentence stating that you only remember the ending, or that you have no recollection of reading the book at all. 

Published: 18th January 1985 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Corgi
Pages: 287
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell like our own, but which looks completely different. Particularly as it’s carried through space on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown).

If you’re new to the Discworld don’t worry, you’re not alone . . . Twoflower is the Discworld’s first tourist, he’s exceptionally naive and about to get himself into an array of dangerous and fantastical situations on his travels.

And if that didn’t sound fateful enough, it’s the spectacularly inept wizard, Rincewind who is charged with safely chaperoning Twoflower and his Luggage (a walking suitcase that has half a mind of its own and a homicidal attitude to anything threatening) during his visit.

Safe to say chaos ensues…

I’ve wanted to start reading the full Discworld series for years and finally started. They can be read in any order but I’m not one to read things out of order so I’m starting at the beginning. This is a great introduction in that you get introduced to the world but also you get thrown into this bizarre reality and have to make sense of how things work there.

Pratchett’s writing is wonderful in that it’s quirky, strange, and incredibly funny but also makes a lot of sense in the right circumstance. It has a similar tone to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide, and even in some way The Never Ending Story. I loved this absurdist, fanciful world where things are magical but based in some reality, and logic comes into play but it isn’t the right sort of logic you’re used to.

Twoflower is an ideal character because he brings his own quirks on top of trying to navigate Discworld as the first tourist and with Rincewind acting as guide the pair of them have some fantastic encounters which are chaotic in different ways.

It’s easy to fall in love with these characters and this world Pratchett has created. The humour is brilliant in its absurdity and the whole book is a fun little adventure that makes you want to dive right into the next one.

Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance (#15) by M. C. Beaton

Published: 1st December 2005 (print)/10 June 2011 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
St. Martin’s Paperbacks /Audible
Pages: 256/6 hrs and 10 mins
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Cosy Mystery
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Infuriated that her holiday was ruined by a mugging, Agatha Raisin decides to open up her own detective agency. The romance-minded sleuth is thrilled by visions of handsome fellow gumshoes and headline-making crimes—but soon finds the only cases she can get are a non-glamorous lot of lost cats and an errant teenager. But when a wealthy divorcée hires the agency to investigate a death threat against her daughter Cassandra, Agatha thwarts a vicious attack on the heiress bride. Now Agatha is in hot pursuit of the culprit. But when the groom’s father turns up dead, Agatha must untangle a growing list of suspects, from Carsely’s quiet village lanes to Paris’ most fashionable streets. Soon the wilfully undaunted Agatha is in trouble with French and British police; on the outs (again) with old friends—and dead in the sights of a murderer.

Finally a breath of fresh air and a new direction for the characters to go in. After 14 books there’s something new happening and a real chance for Agatha and these characters to grow and develop, hopefully without being flung back into bland, one dimensional people on a whim.

It was a fascinating decision to have the main story not be the focus of the book, instead there’s a lot of character interaction and small details that fill the pages instead. This could be in part because there are so many new characters and new situations to unfurl, but it was also a nice change to focus more on characters and delve deeper into their relationships and lives. It’s often the more pleasing parts of these books when done properly.

With the creation of the detective agency we aren’t stuck on the single case now either and Agatha has slightly more legitimacy to butt in everywhere. There are lots of different cases to focus on too which allows good side plots away from the main one and means there doesn’t need to be useless fillers in between key discoveries.

I loved the new influx of characters we get to know and love how the old characters remain and are incorporated into the story. The story felt real and I loved that the new employees felt genuine in their work roles, even without getting a lot of depth. If this agency remains I can only imagine they’ll develop as the series goes on.

I enjoyed how murderous everybody became through this story, it was fun and added some of the eccentricity that’s been lacking. Agatha grows up a bit in this book which has been needed for a long time. She is less vain and focuses more on her work.

It isn’t a perfect book though by any means, Beaton still includes some standards of opinionated characters that moan about the state of society – complaints about Americans and swearing, about “youths” and other remarks. Previously these have often come from Agatha and I took it to be one of her fun quirks we had to deal with but these come from a lot of different characters which makes me think these are coming from the author instead, inserting her opinions because sometimes it feels out of character.

The formula is there though slightly more detailed. Agatha can’t solve anything without being put into peril herself but I appreciated that there was a more complicated and decent plot after the mess the last few books have been. It was a much more enjoyable experience and makes you remember that these books, while never perfect, didn’t used to be so terrible.

You can purchase Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Published: 1st September 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins
Illustrator: Esphyr Slobodkina
Pages: 48
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Caps for Sale is a timeless classic beloved by millions…one of the most popular picture books ever published! Children will delight in following the peddler’s efforts to outwit the monkeys and will ask to read it again and again. Caps for Sale is an excellent easy-to-read book that includes repetition, patterns, and colors, perfect for early readers. This tale of a peddler and a band of mischievous monkeys is filled with warmth, humor, and simplicity and also teaches children about problem and resolution.

I love old books that describe what the story is about in the subtitle so you know going in this is about caps and monkeys and monkey business but the story is delightful all the same. I’ve loved this story since I was a kid and it’s as fun now as it was then. There’s joy in seeing the peddler navigate the town with his caps, and his confrontation with the monkeys. Slobodkina’s writing is simple but amusing and it’s a nice adventure in the day of the peddler.

There’s repetition in the narrative and humorous gesturing in the illustrations when the peddler interacts with the monkeys and it’s great seeing even the simplest illustrations depict this gentleman stamping his foot in frustration at thieving monkeys.

The illustrations are simple but entertaining. The sight of the man with his numerous caps on his head is delightful and while the colours aren’t overly bold or bright the images reflect what is being described on the page.

The story isn’t overly complicated, nothing happens of consequence yet it’s cheeky and enjoyable to read and one kids could have fun with. I’m curious about the cover because at no point does he get in the tree, but it’s alluring at best if you want to give it a go.

You can purchase Caps for Sale via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Couch Potato (#4) by Jory John

Published: 3rd November 2020Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harper Collins
Illustrator: Pete Oswald
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

The Couch Potato has everything he needs within reach of his sunken couch cushion. But when the electricity goes out, Couch Potato is forced to peel himself away from the comforts of his living room and venture outside. And when he does, he realizes fresh air and sunshine could be just the things he needs…

Readers of all ages will laugh along as their new best spuddy learns that balancing screen time and playtime is the root to true happiness.

I am a huge fan of Jory John’s books and the Bad Seed series is one I’m growing to love because they are a clever and fun set of books that highlight different behaviours and situations that don’t feel like readers are being preached at yet a good message still comes through with brilliant humour and great illustrations.

This is book number four and as per usual the humour, the puns and play on words are divine. The different variety of potatoes are on show as Couch Potato tells us about their family and introduces us to their life. We’re told about the fabulous set up they have and the inventions and contraptions that means they never have to move from their spot on the lounge.

John never makes Couch Potato into a bad person (potato) for enjoying his life doing nothing but looking at screens all day, but through creative storytelling and a change in circumstance shows us that there is a better, more balanced way to live your life. I really enjoyed how through the whole story it’s Couch Potato’s own choices that change his circumstance. It isn’t his mother pestering him, or anything shameful, it’s his own realisation that maybe being inside all the time isn’t the best thing to do.

Key highlights are of course the potato based television shows including MadYam, Fries, and M.A.S.H.E.D. Oswald’s illustrations are once again filled with humour and help visualise John’s narrative and I absolutely loved how well the jokes worked for the potato world.

You can purchase The Couch Potato via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Mrs Honey’s Hat by Pam Adams

Published: 1st June 1980Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Child’s Play International
Illustrator: Pam Adams
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

One of a series of humourous tales about the misfortunes of Mrs Honey, the lovable grandmother. Why is everyone staring at Mrs Honey’s Hat? This classic story with clear text, repetitive refrain and a strong emphasis on days of the week is ideal for early readers.

I love this story. I read it as a kid and I always think about it. Through the course of a week Mrs Honey’s beautiful hat slowly gets transformed as things get stuck to it, fall onto it, and are replaced.

The story is structured around Mrs Honey’s daily activities on Monday through Sunday and how her hat is transformed day by day. On Monday the feathers are swapped with bubblegum and by the end of the week there is nothing of the original hat left except an interesting new creation.

It is a simple story but it is fun too because we follow Mrs Honey as she goes about her business, and then see the cause and reason why items on her hat disappear.

Adams’ illustrations are bright, bold and colourful. They are simple but do the job of depicting the scenes and various activities. This is a fun story about Mrs Honey and her hat as well as the personification of the animals around her who interact with her hat.

You can purchase Mrs Honey’s Hat via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Wordery | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

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