**spoiler alert** Diane Sarrasi heads off to ...the Middle East!? Well...only sort of. She heads off to Carthak to negotiate peace with those whom she**spoiler alert** Diane Sarrasi heads off to ...the Middle East!? Well...only sort of. She heads off to Carthak to negotiate peace with those whom she has been in one sort of battle or another for the series thus far.
She arrives, immediately judges everything she sees as something strange and/or barbaric (mostly 'and') then becomes the talk of the town (as usual). She isn't happy to confine her miracles to talking with three or four gods, but also effeminating a group of trained soldiers, for which she is greatly celebrated by these same men. She proceeds to become Jesus, then God as she first raises People from the dead, then in a burst of outrage decimates the city.
Despite all that I enjoyed the book the most so far in the series. Diane truly is a somewhat insane character (perhaps a bit pulpy in her unbeatable power and charm), but Pierce's other fine characters make up for Diane's shortcomings. Despite the sometimes unbelievable reactions characters have in the book (nobody likes to be beaten at anything least of all a young man (note the ego) by a little girl), for the most part the book holds you in Pierce's realm and enchants you to keep flipping those pages.
One thing though that I felt a bit let down about in the book was Diane's main reason for being along on the "Peace Negotiation Mission." Her purpose was to further the talks by taking care of the emperors precious birds. They have what seems to be a very strange illness, described as a black mist around their normally bronze auras. The way Pierce describes the birds and their sickness had me thinking that someone had to be poisoning the birds and that would be the big mystery that Diane had to figure out to save the negotiations. It wasn't. The birds were rarely mentioned and seemed stuck in there only as a reason to get Diane to where she needed to be. Not the most well-done narrative trick. It turned out the birds had lead poisoning from eating the sealant off some decorative murals. ...totally lame. Also, wouldn't she have figured that out after looking at them once? From her other famed powers, one might assume that...but then again that would just make Diane's presence superfluous and keep her from falling into the Emperor's trap later.
So in general I liked it, but in comparison with some of Pierce's other work I thought it was a bit sloppy.
I didn't feel very nostalgic while reading it. Which was a bit of a disappointment. I think I stopped feeling nostalgic on the second one, but now I'm reading them just to finish what I started....more
I got this book one Christmas from my aunt along with a ruby ring of my own. Although it wasn't magical like Lucy's I did love wearing it.
Lucy startsI got this book one Christmas from my aunt along with a ruby ring of my own. Although it wasn't magical like Lucy's I did love wearing it.
Lucy starts out as a typical spoiled little girl, she begins the novel by betraying her best friends secret to the entire school, fighting with her brother and overall acting very selfishly. However, by the end of the novel everything has turned around for her.
Lucy is about to turn 11 so her grandmother hands down a ring she also got when she was nearing 11 years old. The ring is something that has been handed down through the women of the family and supposedly magical. That night when she goes to bed Lucy discovers the magic of the ring and makes a wish for a bigger house. Then she finds herself caught back in time as a servant in large manor house.
Many lessons are learned about hardship, patience and friendship. She learns a great deal from the daughter of the family whom she finds, at first, to be unbearably snobby and cruel to her younger brother. It was also interesting reading the historical elements of the story as well, though I don't think I cared too much about that as a kid.
In the end, she awakes in her bed the day after she made her wish as if nothing has happened. Except that her attitude has changed completely.
It was interesting returning to this book, I remembered a lot of the elements as they came up in the book and remembered really enjoying it as a child. I enjoyed it again now. I wonder if as a child this book made me desire tea and scones as much as it did this time as I was reading it....more
This was a very nostalgic book for me. I remembered the story a bit better than the first boxcar children book with the mystery of the cabin and the sThis was a very nostalgic book for me. I remembered the story a bit better than the first boxcar children book with the mystery of the cabin and the squirrels in the attic. This also was a great book to read with all the snow we'd been getting this year.
As with the first book the Alden children never ceased to amaze me with their consistently positive attitudes, polite speech patterns and unflinching work ethic. I also noticed however that although they didn't go out of their way to be extravagant their situation has changed a lot from the first novel. Everyday that they were able to the Aldens walked to the Nelson's store and bought whatever they wanted, though no mention of how much money they were carrying or where it came from was ever made. However, the things they bought were never non-necessities and were often given multiple purposes.
Grandfather Alden is, like his grandchildren, an extraordinarily polite and moral person. He also seems to own the entire town where he lives. So, in the end, the children, the Nelson's and a local grocer in town benefits from the Alden's adventure.
I wonder what I learned from these books as a kid, what I took from them. I am fairly polite in my dealings with people, and I do have a good work ethic...but I'm not sure if it stems from being an introverted person never wanting to draw negative attention to herself or from an Alden induced sense of decorum. My money's on the introversion. Also, my nature is just not on an Alden level. I don't think I learned to be as ...realistic as I am, I think it may run in my family (or at least the dose I got).
I still occasionally entertain notions that the Aldens are really some form of advanced robots made by Mr. Alden and then lost for a brief time before he managed to recover them. They are programmed to always see the silver lining and to respect all life at all times; even when trying to wrangle squirrels they try to maintain the squirrels dignity.
In conclusion, perhaps I can credit some of my limited good qualities to reading about the Alden children, though I believe it is impossible to be as positive, polite and contented as the Aldens are (I've never met anyone who hasn't had a bad day). However, I also believe that not many people read the Boxcar books to their children anymore and I do not believe that many children read it to themselves. I wonder if the Boxcar children have any place in literature today except as pieces of nostalgia?
If that is so, then it is a sad waste. If only more children (and adults for that matter) were held up to Alden like standards the world would be a better place to live....more
Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son, in fact he's more than the seventh son of a seventh son, he's the son of an amazing and powerful womaThomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son, in fact he's more than the seventh son of a seventh son, he's the son of an amazing and powerful woman as well. As the 7th of the 7th he's in position to become the Spooks new apprentice, but does he want to follow the footsteps of so feared a man into so frightening a career. But, as his father says, "Someone has to do it, so it might as well be me."
So Tom begins his one month trail as the Spook's apprentice. After that month he must decide whether or not he wants to spend the rest of his life hunting ghosts, boggarts and witches. Tom's not certain what his fate will be, but his Mum seems to think he'll be the Spook's last apprentice.
The story follows Tom as he begins his training a bit wobbly, as the story progresses he learns hole digging, to avoid girls with pointy shoes and that the Spook has three witches buried in his garden.
Tom makes a couple big mistakes, the first of which is a promise he makes to Alice, a girl with pointy shoes.
I enjoyed the story and liked all of the characters, including the slightly misogynistic Spook, Mr. Gregory. "Never trust women. Especially those who wear pointy shoes." This might have got my ire raised, except that Tom kept responding with statements such as, "But my Mother's a woman and I trust her!" And thinking to himself that just because women wear pointy shoes doesn't mean he should judge them based solely on that.
I really enjoyed the beginning of the book, ghosts are truly frightening and Delaney did a great job evoking bone-chilling scenes. The witches too were gruesome and terrible to behold. Maybe not the first book I would suggest to any child who is easily frightened, but well...face it we all know it's what they want anyway, right? To be scared out of their trousers? Well, if that's what one's looking for, this will certainly deliver....more
The Chrestomanci series. I first read this book when I was a bit older maybe 15 or 16, but it was enough to hook me completely and make me spurn lesseThe Chrestomanci series. I first read this book when I was a bit older maybe 15 or 16, but it was enough to hook me completely and make me spurn lesser works (such as Harry Potter). Jones creates a truely magical world (similar but not quite like our own) that draws readers in and to my knowledge never lets them go. Each character is unique and uniquely described by Jones, her words, worlds and characters do seem to jump right off the page and exist in your imagination...or perhaps just a world away from us. This is one of the few series that I read and re-read over again and again....more
**spoiler alert** When I started reading this book I had no idea it would involve the fair folk, like the other book that I happened to read at the sa**spoiler alert** When I started reading this book I had no idea it would involve the fair folk, like the other book that I happened to read at the same time, War of the Oaks. Overall, in both War of the Oaks and Fire and Hemlock, as well as in Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (another book involving the Sidhe) it would be very bad to get involved with them. This book was pretty subtle in it's use of them, though. It took me the longest time to figure it out. I thought it was very clever for Mr. Lynn to keep giving Polly books about his plight, since he couldn't tell her straight what was happening (just like the poor victims of the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair in Clarke's book). I was so absorbed trying to figure out why everything Polly and Tom made up came true in some way.
I was a bit confused about Tom Lynn's age throughout the book. Either he was very much younger than I thought he seemed when Polly met him, or he didn't age throughout the story (which also wouldn't be that surprising if he was under an enchantment). I also would have liked to know a bit more of the background of how Tom got into that situation in the first place and his relation to the Sidhe. Charles gave him to them, but when and how and why? The ending seemed a bit rushed with some loose ends.
Overall, still a wonderful read, though not my favorite Jones story. At least everyone didn't end up married at the end (though Polly probably will in the near future)....more
This is one of my very favorite Diana Wynne Jones book of all. Although it doesn't take place in my favorite realm (that of the Chrestomanci series) iThis is one of my very favorite Diana Wynne Jones book of all. Although it doesn't take place in my favorite realm (that of the Chrestomanci series) it has it's own enchanting world, which drew me in completely. I loved the various characters in their double roles and the way she played with your perception of what was happening and what was happening in the 'real world' and what was happening in the created fantasy realm. I really enjoyed reading from Ann's point of view and having a strong female main character in the lead. Although many of Jones books star young men as main characters she always balances the stories with characters of both gender with characteristics unique to themselves and not their gender. If I were able to recommend any book over the overbearing Harry Potter series I would recommend Jone's books, since they are sure to delight any reader of any age (and cause them to never return to Rowling's stereotype-ridden realm)....more
**spoiler alert** I suppose I should fore warn readers that this review is only for those who've read the book or do not care about important plot poi**spoiler alert** I suppose I should fore warn readers that this review is only for those who've read the book or do not care about important plot points and perhaps the ending being revealed. The fourth book in the Demonata series Shan again introduces a whole cast of new characters to get to know and try to remember. Helpfully, though, for those like myself who tend to read a lot and have a lot of characters and plots to keep track of, Shan kills all but one character by the end of the novel. I was quite relieved as now I could forget about them entirely and not have to worry about them popping up again in the next book and then having to look back since I'd all but forgotten them. I guess that would also reveal the fact that I'm not entirely sold on these series that insist on telling the story through a host of times, places and personalities. Apparently, one is just not enough. I would have been more pleased if it had again been about...that bald kid...I'm sure I'll remember his name any moment now. It was weird. I know that...his name was weird. It was short for something else, which I remember thinking I'd rather be called than his self-given nick name...it was something like Amadeus or something. Montblanc. Ulysses. Archimedes. AUGH! Googled it. It was Cornelius or Kernel. Okay. Well. That's my point, it hasn't been that long since I read the third book, but I guess it's been long enough since I've read the second book for me to forget the main characters name. That's a problem. Now what I was saying was that I would have felt better if the series switched off between Grubbs and Kernel because then I might be able to even remember their names and I was really expecting that as well, since to me that made a lot of sense. Since, unlike this fourth book, they had at least two characters in common, which I enjoyed and in a way the two story lines could have united bringing the characters together, which is really what I expected to happen in the fourth or fifth books. The fourth book only shares Lord Loss in common with the others, of course. In the last two books as well, the world was at least recognizable, not that big of a temporal shift for the reader, but in the fourth book, it just completely throws you for a loop. I thought that the druid was going to be Bernabus just for some link to the other books, but Shan needed to invent some new character (though his similarity to Bernabus was rather dull). I've read the author notes for some of the books and apparently he didn't write them in the order which they're being fed to us. I'm sure that makes sense to him. If not to anyone else. However, he does seem very enthusiastic about the books if his use of multiple exclamation points at the end of every sentence is an indication of that. I suppose I really shouldn't assume. As for the imagery of this novel. It was in the same vein (ha) as the others. Though I guess I have to appreciate that he has finally put in a female character as more than a side note. Even then I'd have to say that she is the most luckless and pathetic of his 'heroes' thus far. And shes dead. Spoiler? ...more
**spoiler alert** This book went back to Grubbs, but I felt there was more connections between the other books made in this one, so I felt a bit more**spoiler alert** This book went back to Grubbs, but I felt there was more connections between the other books made in this one, so I felt a bit more like the narrative was progressing towards a complete series. I didn't really like it that much though. It seemed to progress very slowly and then the end wasn't satisfactory to me at all. All of the books have had open endings, which have been fine so far, but this one seemed to break off at a very inopportune moment. I felt like after finally getting to the meat of the story it ended. In a personal note I really don't like Grubbs. I first noticed that I was liking him less and less in Slawter, but in this book it became a solid dislike of his character. I don't like how he treats his relationship with Bill-E at all. Not only does he abandon Bill-E (who had acted as his best friend since the moment he arrived), he allows his new 'friends' to bully Bill-E cruelly. He is more self-obsessed than ever. He puts himself before anyone else with such ease, there is very little second guessing when it comes to number one. Anyone else would think something was up when their Uncle's girlfriend started putting the moves on them, but not Grubbs, to him it must be natural to have every woman around him after him. And then to abandon his Uncle, who has protected him, fighting Lord Loss in his place, to run off with his Uncle's girlfriend, whom he himself barely knows...it defies logic to me. And never telling Dervish that the blood under Loch's body disappeared...if I went through what Grubbs had, I definetly would be suspicious of things like that and would tell anyone I thought could help me figure out what was happening about it. Instead Grubbs selfishly keeps all information about his transformation, the cave and his magic to himself and it gets at least an airplane full of people plus Loch and the Spleens killed. And also the fact that no one caught onto the coincidence that the spells on the cave were broken and then someone who has enough power to do that just happens to show up...I mean come on...I was suspicious of Swan the moment she was re-introduced and I knew from the moment her character stepped into Dervish's study unharmed that she was working for Lord Loss. There was no suspense or surprise for me that it turned out the way it did. I felt that previous installments have been much better in suspending my disbelief in the characters reactions to various events. This one just left me thinking, "how stupid are these people?" ...more
Great book. The fact that Pullman is able to pack so much intrigue, great characters, locations, and action into such a compact volume is truly amazinGreat book. The fact that Pullman is able to pack so much intrigue, great characters, locations, and action into such a compact volume is truly amazing. As a follow up to the Harry Potter series to read aloud with my family, it was a bit of a change. At first I think everyone was still stuck in Harry Potter mode, not realizing that this is a completely different sort of book. You can't fall asleep for half a chapter and still go on as if nothings happened with this book, for one thing!
After reading the Harry Potter series for nearly half a year it was a bit hard to think we were no longer following the lives of Harry, Ron and Hermione, but Sally, Jim and Frederick are a welcome change, though very different in some ways (their differing ages) the three complement each other, just as in the Harry Potter crew.
In a way the Studio somewhat reminded me of the Burrow, a safe refuge for Sally as the Burrow was for Potter.
I suppose that reading these books in succession has reminded me that each time you read something it is affected by whatever else you're reading at the time.
As for the rest of the series, I hadn't read it before so it will be new territory for me....more
**spoiler alert** The Shadow in the North is not for the faint of heart. Don't read this book if you prefer unrealistic tales of love triumphing in th**spoiler alert** The Shadow in the North is not for the faint of heart. Don't read this book if you prefer unrealistic tales of love triumphing in the end. This is Pullman remember?
That said, if you don't read this series, you've missed out. The writing is wonderful, engrossing the reader entirely in Sally's world. The characters are all fully fleshed out, they get into your head, they could be real. The world is at once our past, and yet just one step away.
As much as this book broke my heart, I know that it couldn't have gone another way. Everything about it shows Pullman is a superb storyteller, though he is cruel to his characters and readers, but true to the harsh reality of life. Those people who stand up for what is right, what is just and true. They often are cut down, their lives given to pain and unjust, unfair, cruelty and punishment. Yet Sally soldier's on. So there....more
Another suspenseful story, this one even more harrowing than the last. I found this story especially fraught with tension due to the sexism Sally hasAnother suspenseful story, this one even more harrowing than the last. I found this story especially fraught with tension due to the sexism Sally has to face from her adversary throughout. It seemed that wherever Sally turned reason was suspended due to her gender and the dice were cast against her.
Why is it always more difficult to write reviews of the really excellent books than the mediocre or the duds? Pullman yet again introduces his readers to Sally's world in such detail, both the beauty and the horror completely envelope the reader. The characters take on such life that it's difficult for the page to contain them. Every twist and turn of the plot in this book was like a knife twisting in my brain, trying to figure out the mystery and trying to find a way out for Sally and the gang. The ending was a bit of a surprise for me. Overall, this, like all of Pullman's work, is one of the greats, a book that might change you for reading it....more