I read this one when I was eight and it's still one of the best books I've ever read. Furlong is an excellent writer and it's obvious that, although t...moreI read this one when I was eight and it's still one of the best books I've ever read. Furlong is an excellent writer and it's obvious that, although this is classified as a children's book, it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. This is one of those books that is infused with imagination and intellect. I remember learning the word "descend" and being thrilled by that. I still love Wise Child's character and can to relate to her rebellious, stubborn nature. Juniper is also a beautiful figure and represents all that is illustrious, luminous and feminine. A beautiful story...worthwhile.(less)
Much like Wise Child in it's lyrical beauty, it's prequel, Juniper provides greater insight into Wise Child's mentor. This is also marvelous and highl...moreMuch like Wise Child in it's lyrical beauty, it's prequel, Juniper provides greater insight into Wise Child's mentor. This is also marvelous and highly recommended for anyone who loves nature, magic and a well written story.
Furlong remains one of my favorite authors to date. I wish she were more popular here in the states. Apparently, when she passed away, all of Britain mourned her loss. (less)
If (like me) you consider yourself a bit of an agnostic--please don't be put off by the title of this one. "Answer My Prayer" is a beautiful, light ta...moreIf (like me) you consider yourself a bit of an agnostic--please don't be put off by the title of this one. "Answer My Prayer" is a beautiful, light tale.
At turns whimsical, innocently romantic and adventurous, this book is perfect for a quick read on an autumn afternoon. When I was about 12 I found this one in the library and simply had to go out and buy it. I've reread it several times, each time relishing the vivid scenes that had first enthralled me.
I was just talking about the fact that--when you crack open a new book and the first thing you see is a beautifully rendered map, clearly created with loving detail--you become confident that you're about to embark on a delightful journey. A good map is like a litmus test for high quality fantasy/fiction.
This book has a wonderful little map at the beginning. The author obviously adored the world he created. The characters in this world have passionate hearts that beat just like yours and mine.
What a sweet, pleasurable read! If you come across a copy, pick it up--I'm sure you'll read it in a couple of hours and feel like you've just watched a wholly enjoyable film--it will make you feel like walking through the forest and reading folk tales.
Set in Edwardian England, "Glass Books of the Dream Eaters" is one part adventure, one part fantasy and two parts completely demented (and I mean this...moreSet in Edwardian England, "Glass Books of the Dream Eaters" is one part adventure, one part fantasy and two parts completely demented (and I mean this as a compliment).
Apparently, many people are undecided about how to rate this book. From what I've observed, people either love it, hate it, or are filled with begrudging indifference.
Apart from all of the "scoffing" and the grossly superfluous use of the word "cabal" Dahlquist manages to write a very interesting and unlikely trio of heroes.
This trio, (consisting of the spirited Miss Celeste Temple, the formidable Cardinal Chang, and the endearing Dr.Abelard Svenson)who are united in fighting against a profoundly determined group of fanatic villains, provide Dahlquist's (otherwise convoluted) premise a great deal of vivacity and charm.
This is clearly the author's first novel and I think the editor was heavily sedated when he or she was suggesting changes. I agree with anyone who believes that this book could have been more powerful had it been condensed to about 5 to 600 pages.
Celeste, Chang and Svenson, however, will linger in my mind and provoke my lips to curl into a side-smile. What great characters! I hope Dahlquist writes another adventure including all three characters, expanding on their relationships and interactions with one another.(less)
Got to admit that I was rather disappointed with this one. I had high expectations, particularly because the first in the series was just so freakishl...moreGot to admit that I was rather disappointed with this one. I had high expectations, particularly because the first in the series was just so freakishly delightful. The second lacked forward motion and that charming, consistent, fairly quippy pace of a good epistolary novel.
It wasn't dreadful, but it wasn't spectacular. (less)
Had I read Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty when I was 12-14 years old, this probably would have been close to a favorite of mine. There’s som...moreHad I read Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty when I was 12-14 years old, this probably would have been close to a favorite of mine. There’s something about the way it is written (Bray’s exploration of insecurity, the quest of finding oneself, budding sexuality and subsequent doubt, yearning and curiosity, conflicts with family, struggling with authority, self-image, etc) that is absolutely perfect for Bray’s young adult audience. Please keep the genre in mind while you read--perhaps then you won't feel too disappointed. This book deserves a chance, I think. It does seem misguided at times, but it's not complete tripe. I appreciate what the author is (and often succeeded in) doing here. Try not to turn your nose up at it.
*I must make an important note here, digress and ask: has anyone else noticed that using the word “gingerly” is practically a prerequisite for young adult authors to consider themselves thus? Seriously, I could (and if I ever have the time, will) make a list of young adult lit that employ that infamous word! Nowhere else have I seen that adjective/adverb so frequently used. It’s certainly never used in common speech. I’m going to test it out–just to see whether or not people look at me as though I have three heads if I actually say something like: “I gingerly took the antique mirror from its place, high upon the wall.” Seriously, who says it? Do publishers force young adult authors to throw the word in for good measure? Is it an ingredient, like paprika, that the potato salad of young adult lit just wouldn’t be the same without? For Libba Bray’s sake, I must note that she used it only once, if I’m not mistaken...and it wasn’t poorly used, by any means...It just makes me smile every time I come across it.
Back to the book–It was well done, although there were portions of the book that seemed a bit forced.
Great & Terrible Beauty is set (during the first 30 pages in India) in turn-of-the-century England, at an all girls preparatory school. Gemma, the main character, has experienced a mysterious tragedy, and enters the school with a sense of foreboding that she cannot shake, or seem to share with anyone. After a very short time, the reader is introduced to what will become an unlikely group of friends, consisting of the archetypal cruel, power-hungry beauty (Felicity), the fickle follower (Pippa), the spirited upstart (Gemma) and the dowdy outcast (Ann).
Certain aspects of the book annoyed me. One of the subplots consisted of Ann’s injuring herself, by scratching at her wrists. While I’m certain women of all eras have harmed themselves in order to remind themselves that they “can still feel”, I couldn’t help but feel as though Bray was taking an idea from a more modern story (about the more modern phenomenon of cutting, for example) and trying to push it into this novel...The lasting effect resulted in the proverbial round peg, square hole dilemma. It didn’t seem too necessary to force that type of character development on Ann, and again, seemed glaring only because it took me out of the time period that was intended for the story.
There are certain scenes that seemed to have been a bit too familiar. The most predictable scenes, however, were often followed by something pleasantly unexpected (I must be vague here, as I despise spoilers).
I have to give Bray credit for writing such a solid story with a main character who is clearly immature and flawed, yet still strong and likeable. I also appreciate the fact that Bray managed to tell an entertaining story, while trying to instill (in her primarily female audience) ideas of feminine power–a celebration of independence, strength and individuality.
As the reader continues on Gemma's journey, the existence of magical realms and an ancient, mystical Order takes over the bulk of the plot. The magic of the realms teeters on the edge of becoming a metaphor for drug use; at times I thought the narration of the story would break, and the reader would be told that the “magic” was really heroine, or something like it. My guess is that Bray was trying to find a venue for the exploration of Power, and what potential harm it can do to a person who thirsts for it without any thought of the consequences.
If you’re looking for a slightly creepy, entertaining novel, you’ll enjoy A Great & Terrible Beauty. I want to read the sequel, Rebel Angels, which I consider a good sign. (less)
Upon further reflection...I think this installment could have been much better. Perhaps Rowling was freaking out under the enormous pressure...never e...moreUpon further reflection...I think this installment could have been much better. Perhaps Rowling was freaking out under the enormous pressure...never expecting her series to be so wildly adored by so many...Still, this book left something to be desired, I think. Rowling made so many predictable moves...and not even the ones that would have had more of an impact...
Snape could have been the hero of the entire series, for example. It would have been rather ironic, considering the fact that he's been the object of every one's disdain--which would have made an outright act of heroism all the more outstanding. I understand that he made a significant contribution to Harry's safety, and Snape's storyline was heartbreaking and interesting...but he could have openly faced Voldermort. He could have raged and fought--he was a powerful wizard, after all... Snape should have gone out with a bang, I think--instead of a blood-soaked whimper.
Also..The necklace around Ron's neck...bringing all of his envy and mistrust to the surface...Where have we seen this before? (just take a glance at the Lord of the Rings)...Harry and Ron have already had that fight about inequity in popularity...been there, done that...Why revisit it in such an awkward, hackneyed way?
The gratuitous deaths also bother me. If you're going to kill a character off, kill one who is critical to Harry's development. Make Harry a three dimensional character! Do something earth-shattering to him!
Also--merely showing a pile of dead bodies on the floor doesn't drive the point home. Some peripheral characters were cast off, as though their deaths were intended to evoke a certain emotion--yet they were clearly not considered important enough to be given more than a page of recognition upon their demise...What does that lead the reader to feel about those characters?
Also, why the hell did Harry spend such a huge swath of the book sitting in a tent like a big doofus? Why didn't Rowling use all of those pages to illustrate the maturation of Harry's skill as a wizard--to give us some details as far as Voldemort was concerned...why wasn't there more conflict there? Why am I taking all of this so damn seriously is a better question...bleh.
There were some interesting bits in this book. I guess it's time for me to state it--there's better young adult fantasy out there...series that deserve just as much, if not much more recognition...as they are better written, better rendered, etc.
I do think of Harry Potter with fondness, however. Perhaps it's the combination of book and film...perhaps it's because so many friends of mine adore the books...I like them for their entertainment value...These are good pleasure reads--and could have been elevated to something much more. Perhaps my expectations were too high for this one.
A solid fantasy novel for young adults. I find myself wishing that I had read it during those teenage years...I probably would have found it more inte...moreA solid fantasy novel for young adults. I find myself wishing that I had read it during those teenage years...I probably would have found it more intense and involving.
Looking for that teenage feeling these days, I think...It's rather obvious I'm trying to escape some major aspect of my life, as I'm almost exclusively reading fantasy these days...I keep telling myself it's just a phase.