Twelve year old Percy Jackson is about to be expelled from school again. Somehow he always gets in trouble at whichever boarding school his mom sendsTwelve year old Percy Jackson is about to be expelled from school again. Somehow he always gets in trouble at whichever boarding school his mom sends him to, and his ADHD and dyslexia doesn’t make things any easier. As hard as it is to believe, being expelled is the least of his worries. Lately the weather is acting strangely and creepy monsters seem to be following him. His best friend turns out to be a satyr, his mother disappears in a flash of light in a “car accident” and, oh by the way, he also finds out his father is Poseidon, the Greek god of the seas.
A lot of people compare this series to the Harry Potter series. There are definitely similarities, but the differences outweigh them greatly. For one, Harry Potter has a constant element of “seriousness” in it, whereas Percy Jackson & The Olympians is all humor and fun. The Lightning Thief stars an impulsive and somewhat cynical boy who gets thrown into a myriad of hilarious situations while trying to unfold a mystery: Someone has stolen Zeus’ master lightning bolt and is trying to frame Percy and Poseidon for it. In an effort to clear his own name, Percy embarks on a journey with his satyr best friend Grover and another demigod (or “half blood”), Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena, to the entrance of the Underworld (located in … Los Angelos!) to confront Hades, who they believe is the thief. Percy is a likable main character who almost always has something funny to say, although most of the time he isn’t trying to be intentionally funny. He’s extremely fluent in sarcasm.
A lot of places (such as my local library) have this book in the Young Adults section, but I seriously think it’s more of a children’s book (age 10+ maybe). I’ve never seen the movie, but the trailer makes the story appear to be “serious”. It’s not. The plot is charmingly juvenile in many ways; for example, the scene where Percy and his friends walk into a water-bed shop only to be captured by the crazy salesman who ties them to the water-beds and tries stretch their bodies to the exact length of the bed. It’s something a younger person would find funny (I found it amusing, probably because I’m a kid at heart but I know some people will probably just roll their eyes). Anyway, the plot is funny and is intended to be silly (at least, I think so) and moves at a decently brisk pace.
If you like Greek mythology, and don’t mind the idea of ‘modernizing’ them (think Ares on a motorcycle, or Poseidon dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and carrying a fishing pole), then you’ll probably like this book. Greek mythology isn’t all togas and white pillars and people sitting around on clouds in the sky in this series. I found this book to be a fun, fast read and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series.
If it isn’t obvious by now, I am a huge, huge Diana Wynne Jones fan. I mean, she brought us Howl. And Chrestomanci. So I was extremely happy to have bIf it isn’t obvious by now, I am a huge, huge Diana Wynne Jones fan. I mean, she brought us Howl. And Chrestomanci. So I was extremely happy to have been able to find myself a copy of her latest work, Enchanted Glass.
The story begins with Andrew, a thirty year old scholar with a doctorate (that causes everyone to mistake him for a university professor) who inherits his magician grandfather’s house and lands after his death, with the expectation that Andrew will watch over the ‘field-of-care’. As Andrew settles into his new home and becomes accustomed to the house’s two bossy, fussy servants (Mr Stock the gardener and Mrs Stock the housekeeper, both of no relation to each other), a mysterious boy pops up at the house one day in need for a place to stay. His name is Aidan, and he had run away from his foster family because he was being pursued by some shadowy Stalkers. Andrew decides to let him stay because he feels a strong connection with him. When Andrew and Aidan take a walk around the ‘field-of-care’ Andrew has inherited, they discover that Andrew’s neighbour Mr Brown is slowly trying to take over his lands!
I am extremely sad to say that this book kind of disappointed me. It did not seem as magical or humorous as her past works have been. Maybe I’ve come to expect too much amazing-ness from Jones, I don’t know. I feel kind of let down. While the characters are likeable enough, the story is none too engaging. In fact, it was confusing. “Field-of-care” was a term tossed around a lot without any explanation as to what it was (I am still on the assumption it’s a plot of land). The whole situation with “counterparts” or dopplegangers of characters was not explained; I didn’t know why there were dopplegangers of characters and what purpose they served. I didn’t understand where Shakespeares’ Midsummer’s Night’s Dream characters figured in this. King Oberon is the one hunting down Aidan and that is why he is constantly sending the Puck around to find Aidan but I just didn’t … understand. I was expecting some sort of parallel to the Shakespearean play perhaps, but it seems like they were chosen at random to cameo in this unrelated story or something.
As for the “enchanted glass” of the title, it seems to play a big and small part at the exact same time. It is often mentioned as mysterious glass that no one knows anything about throughout the story, and only at the very end does Andrew realize the bigger role the glass plays. Yet after that realization, it goes back to being rarely mentioned. The ending of the novel also felt unimportant and glanced over. I am not particularly fond of endings where it all ends with, “Oops, made a mistake. Guess all that was for nothing!”
It’s not a bad book, but if you’ve read previous works by Diana Wynne Jones, this one may be a let down. It certainly felt that way for me. She has a way of being mysterious in her writing and not plainly explaining everything, leaving it up to the reader to decipher the story themselves, which is actually normally okay and works great with her other books, but with this particular story, it just didn’t work out that way. The magical element in this story was minute and it was just altogether unimpressive. Her stories like Howl’s Moving Castle or The Lives of Christopher Chant remain strong in my memory after reading them; this one, I can see myself forgetting all about it in a few days.
Side note: While most sites ’round the web still classify this novel as a children’s book, my local library has this shelved in the Young Adults section. I imagine it’s because there’s an inappropriate word in there (“bitch”), which I was kind of surprised to see.
So right from the get-go, I was really impressed with the way the story was shaping up (Percy Jackson is MISSING?!) and I got really into it. Like theSo right from the get-go, I was really impressed with the way the story was shaping up (Percy Jackson is MISSING?!) and I got really into it. Like the Percy Jackson books, this one is also full of crazy adventures, laughs and of course, lots of Greek mythology. Except this time, we also get .... *drumroll* ... ROMAN mythology as well!! Which I think is absolutely fantastic.
Oh and there's a robot dragon. How cool is that?!
I love how The Heroes of Olympus series includes the Roman mythology as well, which is very similar to the Greek mythology; Rick Riordan isn't simply pretending the Roman mythologies don't exist for simplicity's sake. Nope, he created this whole brand new series that gives some focus to the Roman side of things without confusing everyone. (view spoiler)[Basically, Camp Half-Blood is a Greek camp and at the end of this book, you find out that there's a Roman camp out there with Roman demigods too. I LOVE THIS! It opens up so many possibilities! (hide spoiler)]
I really like the new characters as well, especially Jason. I think of him as Percy Jackson's double, actually. Jason is a bit moodier though, a bit sadder (but for good reasons, I think ... he did lose all his memories). Piper and Leo are fun new characters as well, but I like Jason the best :)
Cannot WAIT for book two, The Son of Neptune!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series as a part of Shannon’s Harry Potter read-along. July was supposed to be the month for the Chamber of Secrets, bI’m re-reading the Harry Potter series as a part of Shannon’s Harry Potter read-along. July was supposed to be the month for the Chamber of Secrets, but unfortunately I 1) forgot and 2) was busy (as evident by the lack of books I posted about in July). But! I am trying to catch up now, before I fall too far behind.
In The Chamber of Secrets, Harry’s excited for his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but before he even has a chance to return, strange things are happening to him, including a disastrous visit from a house elf, and being magically blocked from boarding the Hogwarts Express train. Harry is forewarned that Hogwarts is no longer safe for him to go to, but Harry brushes the warnings aside and returns anyway.
Something is attacking the Muggle-born witches and wizards. Whisperings of the Chamber of Secrets are passed from student to student, about how only the heir of Salazar Slytherin can control the horror within. Worse yet, everyone seems to think Harry might be the heir. Nobody seems to know how to stop the attacks, and if they continue, Hogwarts may be closed for good.
The second Harry Potter book has always been my favourite one in the series. Still is, actually. All my real-life friends seem to prefer The Prisoner of Azkaban (which I also love!) and find The Chamber of Secrets their least favourite one! Not quite sure why, I’ve never understood it — must simply be a difference in preference. I’ve always loved the mystery/sleuthing aspect to the story, as Harry, Ron and Hermione try to discover the culprit. Also, since it is the second book, there is less “introductory” things in this book compared to The Philosopher’s Stone, although there are still lots of new things to discover about the wizarding world here, like floo powder, Squibs, the Polyjuice potion, etc. Always love discovering new things about Harry’s world!
Anyway, this re-read was lots of fun and brought back a lot of memories. There’s a lot of scenes that I have completely forgotten because my memories of the Chamber of Secrets have largely been replaced by the movie version: the Deathday party Harry attends, the Kwikspell letter of Filch’s, to name a few. I always feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside to re-discover these forgotten scenes — it’s like running into an old friend you haven’t seen or thought about in ages.
This book also introduces some characters that become more important later on, like Cornelius Fudge and Ginny Weasley (same name as me! Except I begin with a letter ‘J’ :P). Oh and who can forget Gilderoy Lockhart? When I was younger, I hated him because he was so arrogant … but now, re-reading it as a young adult of 22, I just find him hilarious. Not quite sure why I was so passionately against him as a child, heh....more
I adore fairy tale retellings, especially Cinderella, because it’s definitely my most favourite fairy tale of all time. When I saw this available on NI adore fairy tale retellings, especially Cinderella, because it’s definitely my most favourite fairy tale of all time. When I saw this available on NetGalley, I knew I wanted to read it!
In Cinder and Ella, there is actually a family of six — a mother, a father, and four daughters. The father disappeared long ago, lured away by a dark prince. The mother spends all her time working and doesn’t really bother to take care of her kids. Two of the daughters, Katrina and Beatrice, are absolute brats and the other two, Cinder and Ella are more responsible (Cinder being the more kind one). I thought it was really unique that the character of Cinderella was split into two characters, I never saw that before.
The story is really cute and sweet. Cinder goes to work at the kingdom castle and Ella runs away from home to work as a servant for someone else. When Cinder returns home for the weekend, she sees Ella has run away and her worry causes one of the castle knights, Sir Tanner, to decide to embark on a quest to find Ella. This quest, however, is watched over carefully by the dark prince, who Cinder begins to fall in love with. Tanner can’t figure out why the prince wants Ella so badly, so he becomes quite wary.
I am not really sure why this book is categorized as a Young Adult novel. I think this is definitely more of a children’s or middle-grade book. The story is really short and simple, the characters are one-dimensional (not that that’s a bad thing in a children’s book) and the writing is simplistic as well. It really reads like a Brothers Grimms fairy tale. If I had picked this book up expecting a YA novel, I think I would have been disappointed.
But as a children’s novel, it’s perfect. It definitely feels like an original take on an old fairy tale, and I loved how at the end there were a list of discussion questions, such as “When members of a family are struggling, what effect can that have on the other members of the family?” (Also based on the questions, this is another reason why I feel it’s more of a children’s book than a YA book). The only thing I was not as crazy about with the story was how it ended. It was one of those kinds of endings that make you go, “Well, why didn’t he just do that from the very beginning?!”
But other than that, I enjoyed this Cinderella retelling. It was a fast-paced story and made for a quick, fun read....more
I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series as a part of Shannon’s Harry Potter read-along. August is the month for The Prisoner of Azkaban (hurray for beiI’m re-reading the Harry Potter series as a part of Shannon’s Harry Potter read-along. August is the month for The Prisoner of Azkaban (hurray for being caught up)!
In this third book, the wizarding world is thrown into a bit of a panic as news of Sirius Black’s escape from Azkaban (a wizard prison) spreads. Even the Muggles are warned about the criminal. Sirius was Voldemort’s right hand man, and everyone is sure that he has escaped to hunt down Harry and avenge the death of his old master.
As you can imagine, this is not a particularly delightful thing to hear about for Harry Potter. Not only does he have that hanging over his head, but friends, teachers and even the Ministry of Magic are determined to do what they can to keep Harry as safe as possible — which ends up feeling a bit stifling for the poor boy. Even worse are the Dementors — frightening creatures that can suck the happiness right out of a person — who are stationed all around the school. Still, Harry tries to carry on his school year as normally as possible, but it is clear that he is in a very dangerous situation as Sirius Black continuously attempts to get close to Harry.
As a kid, The Prisoner of Azkaban was actually my least favourite book. All my friends found it to be their favourite, except me (who favored The Chamber of Secrets). However, ever since the movie and having re-read it a few more times as a teen and as a young adult now, I’ve definitely warmed up to the book much, much more. In fact, I think it’s one of my favourites of the series now. I’m not a hundred percent sure why, but I’ve come to appreciate the complexity of this particular installment much more now.
What’s different about book three compared to the first two is that the story becomes more detailed and complicated. Firstly, we have Harry, Ron and Hermione’s relationship grow. Instead of being happy-go-lucky friends, they’re experiencing many fights with one another, which is all a part of the growing-up process. The characters are developing to become more complicated, as are their relationships with one another.
Secondly, there is a lot more background story introduced in Azkaban, a lot of it having to do with Harry’s father’s life as a Hogwarts student himself, and of the night Harry’s parents died. The first two Harry Potter books were quite simple in plot and characterization, but I think starting with Azkaban, the story takes on a more serious tone. Because of all the information regarding certain events that happened before Harry was even born, this makes Azkaban one of the most important installments in the series, in my opinion.
So, like I said, I didn’t really like it as a kid (and I know I am the oddball in that regard), but re-reading it this time around, I was completely engrossed by the story. This book has been out for over 10 years now, surely it’s not a spoiler to say I loved the time-travel aspect of it? Well … I do! Time traveling is something I love to read about in all books, and I really like the way J. K. Rowling tackled it in this book. This book was great, amazingly written, and if you haven’t read the Harry Potter series yet, well, I’m sure you’ll find this particular installment very addicting to read.
I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series as a part of Shannon’s Harry Potter read-along. September is the month for Goblet of Fire.
Goblet of Fire has alI’m re-reading the Harry Potter series as a part of Shannon’s Harry Potter read-along. September is the month for Goblet of Fire.
Goblet of Fire has always been one of my favourite Harry Potter books, and re-reading it for the umpteenth time now, nothing much has changed. I still love this book and I had a really great time re-reading it!
In this fourth book of the series, Harry attends the Quidditch World Cup before school starts with his friends Ron and Hermione, but the exciting tournament ends horrifically when several Death Eaters (Voldemort supporters) scare everyone and shoot the Dark Mark into the sky.
At school, Harry discovers that Hogwarts is hosting the Triwizard Tournament, an event not held for over a century now. The Tournament is a friendly competition of magical skill and bravery between three magic schools, with one student from each school chosen to represent them. Only students seventeen and older may drop their name in the Goblet of Fire to compete, which means Harry can’t try, but he’s perfectly happy to support whoever the Hogwarts champion is.
However, when it comes time to choose each school’s champions, the Goblet of Fire spits out an extra fourth competitor — Harry Potter. Suddenly, Harry finds himself having to perform all sort of dangerous tasks; whoever put his name into the Goblet seems to want to put Harry in danger.
I really like this book for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is the introduction of these other wizarding schools. I admit ,when I first read this book, I was like Harry — it did not occur to me there were other wizarding schools, as it was never mentioned before. Anyway, I love the Triwizard tournament and the idea that there are other wizarding schools out there, especially Durmstrang, even though they’re hinted to be a not-so-great school because they focus a lot on the Dark Arts, I just love the idea of a school in the far north, with uniforms that include fur trimmed hoods and stuff, and they traveled to Hogwarts in a pirate ship! Okay, it wasn’t a pirate ship exactly, but it was a ship and I thought that was cool … Hahaha, so random, I know.
Another reason I like this book is the growth in Harry’s relationship with his friends, specifically Ron. Harry and Ron have a huge fight in this book, and I really like the depth it brought to their relationship. With Harry now a competing school champion, Ron’s subconscious jealousy of Harry (of being famous and all that) explodes and comes out at last, and they stop speaking to one another for a while, only to, of course, make up later. Friends fight in real life — I’m glad Rowling incorporated this into her story as well. And it makes their friendship seem all the more stronger and genuine for future books!
With each Harry Potter book, the plot becomes progressively more complex, but I think this is especially so in Goblet of Fire because we have more bits of the past revealed to us now and must piece it together with the present, as well as the fact that the Ministry of Magic is more involved and that means things get relatively more political. I love plots like this, where lots of things that happened in the past are now affecting the present and future in the story.
My final thoughts? Goblet of Fire is still as amazing as ever, 11 years later! Oh, and yes, I did get teary when Cedric died (I can say he died, right? It's not really a spoiler by now, is it?) Especially when Dumbledore honored Cedric with his speech. Beautifully sad.
Continuing my Royal Diaries nostalgic re-readathon, I have just finished this one on Eleanor. I actually don’t even remember if I read this particularContinuing my Royal Diaries nostalgic re-readathon, I have just finished this one on Eleanor. I actually don’t even remember if I read this particular one as a kid, though as an adult now, I find myself fascinated with Eleanor of Aquitaine’s life.
I think this book is a great way for kids to be introduced to this princess/queen. This book focuses on Eleanor’s life as a pre-teen. In this story, she is living happily with her father, the Duke of Aquitaine, and her younger sister Petra. The Duke of Aquitaine holds even more land than the King of France himself, and as the Duke has no male heirs, the lands will pass to Eleanor one day. Eleanor worries about how a lot of people seem to despise her father, especially when he decides to help Count Geoffrey of Anjou invade Normandy. When her father returns, he is a changed man, becoming more kind and spiritual, although many doubt this is a sincere change. When the Duke unexpectantly dies, Eleanor realizes she has become the most eligible bride in the country, since she is in control of so much land, and is soon to be married to Prince Louis the Younger of France.
This portrayal of Eleanor is mostly made up, I think, since even the historical note at the end said the real Eleanor was said to be extravagant and spoiled, which is not really shown in this book. However, she was also said to be headstrong and carefree, which this book Eleanor certainly was. Book Eleanor was also very much a family person and adored her father and younger sister, as well as a person who was quite kind to her servants. So basically, she was portrayed in the most positive light possible, which is how all the other royalty in this book series are portrayed too. Not that that’s a bad thing, exactly, but the princesses all kind of blend together since they are not really made to be unique. I guess they want to set a good example for the middle schoolers reading this book, which is understandable, and I suppose one would not notice unless one actually plans to read more than few books from this series.
Characterization is basically my only complaint with this book. Other than that, I enjoyed reading this quite a bit. You get to learn the circumstances that brought Eleanor to become Queen of France, and there is also quite a lot about what life was like back in the medieval times. I knew the medieval times was a “dirtier” time, with ticks and bugs crawling in people’s hair being a regular thing, but I was really horrified at the scene where Eleanor sees one of her servant boys throw up a mass of white worms, and a physician pulling out a long white worm the length of an arm from a girl’s head! Poor medieval people, I thought!
All in all, this was a pretty good book, I think a middle schooler would enjoy reading this one. It ended off at a good spot too, right when Eleanor becomes Queen, so that kids who are interested in what happened after she became Queen have a good place to start. ...more
AnotherRoyal Diaries read! This one is on Queen (or "King") Kristina/Christina of Sweden. The historical note at the back of the book states that sheAnother Royal Diaries read! This one is on Queen (or "King") Kristina/Christina of Sweden. The historical note at the back of the book states that she is the second most discussed queen amongst historians (first is Cleopatra VII), but I have not heard of her before this book, to be honest. She had a really fascinating upbringing, from what I can tell from this book.
In this juvenile novel, Kristina is the only child of the King and Queen of Sweden. When she was born, everyone thought she was a precious boy because of the caul covering her body. Of course, later everyone realized she was actually a girl. Her father thought this meant his child was very clever, already playing tricks on everyone, and announced that Kristina will be raised as a boy, as a prince, and one day become the King of Sweden, not Queen. And so, Kristina was raised learning all the things required of a royal prince, instead of the feminine arts required of a princess.
Her father dies when she is young and she is suddenly King of Sweden. While she will not rule on her own until she is 18, Kristina must deal with her emotionally unstable and overly smothering mother, her dear aunt and her councillors, all of whom want to find the best husband possible for Kristina to rule Sweden with. But Kristina doesn't want to marry -- ever!
I really liked this book. It's written by the same author that wrote the Anastasia book, which I adore, so I expected the same level of great storytelling with Kristina as well. I feel like I learned a lot about a royal who, before this book, I knew nothing about. She seems absolutely fascinating, being crowned King instead of Queen and all; I was a little disappointed to read later that she ended up abdicating her throne after a mere four years, due to stress and converting to the Catholic faith (a religion which Sweden banned from their country).
Kristina is one of the few royals in this series that actually had an interesting childhood that suited the age range for this book series, in my opinion. Some of the other books in this series, like Eleanor or Marie Antoinette, led more interesting lives as adults than as preteens, so those books may not feel as interesting. Kristina, however, experienced a lot of important changes and events in her life quite early, so her preteen years alone feel exciting. After reading this book, I would love to learn more about Kristina!...more
I really, really enjoyed this book about Marie Antoinette! I’ve always been a little fascinated with Marie Antoinette, she has a rather interesting liI really, really enjoyed this book about Marie Antoinette! I’ve always been a little fascinated with Marie Antoinette, she has a rather interesting life story … and of course, tragic as well. I’ve never been of the mindset that Marie Antoinette was an ignorant, frivolous queen who didn’t care for her subjects and peasants much, and I’m glad this book stresses the naivety of Marie Antoinette and how her upbringing shaped her. After all, being the 15th child, not many people would have expected such a grand future for her.
In this book, we only see Marie Antoinette as a preteen, which includes the time before she married her husband, and just a little bit of the time after. This book tells the story of the relationship between Marie Antoinette and her mother, her experience going from the Austrian court to the French court and her rivalry with Madame du Barry (Marie Antoinette’s father-in-law’s mistress). I think this book is definitely one of the best in this series. I think it has one of the more exciting or interesting plots in the series, especially the rivalry part, and it had an ending that left you thinking, “Wow, Marie Antoinette is going to make an amazing Queen!” Of course, in reality, her people did not really think so, but it’s a good way to end the book!
Apologies for the short review! It’s a short(ish) children’s book, and I liked it a lot, nothing to complain about here! If you want to venture into the Royal Diaries series, I highly recommend this one to start with (or Cleopatra or Anastasia, these three being my favourites)....more