I was really interested in reading this book because I wanted to read more about royalty from Spain (or, rather, at the time, it was the kingdoms of L...moreI was really interested in reading this book because I wanted to read more about royalty from Spain (or, rather, at the time, it was the kingdoms of Leon and Castile, Aragon, and Granada. Maybe some others too, but those are the ones I remember). All I knew about Isabel is that she is particularly famous for helping Christopher Columbus’ plans on traveling to the Americas. This is a middle school book, but perfect for my purpose of wanting an introduction to Isabel. Also, I adore the Royal Diaries series, lots of good middle school memories. I never read this one when I was a kid though, this is my first read through.
Isabel starts off as 13 or 14 years old in this book. Her father died a while back, and currently, the kingdom is split between her two brothers — Enrique, her older half-brother and Alfonso, her younger, full blooded brother. Isabel is caught in the middle between her warring brothers, but tries her best to stay neutral. She is currently staying with Enrique, who is keen to marry Isabel off to someone for political advantage. With some good luck, Isabel manages to avoid being wed off to some much older, ugly and cruel men. She hears about the Prince of Aragon, Fernando, the only royal who is actually around her age. She hears that he is handsome and kind. With her brother trying to push her into marriage, Isabel tries to convince him that she should marry Fernando. Her brother Enrique breaks promise after promise, however, and in the end, Isabel has to take matters into her own hands.
I feel that this is definitely one of the best Royal Diaries books I’ve read. Some of the other ones have pretty skimpy and weak plots, but this one on Isabel felt interesting, consistent and well done. Isabel is not merely a passive character in this story, describing events as they unfold — which is what I felt some of the other books in this series sometimes do. She is actually a true part of the story, and initiates events on her own. I had no previous knowledge as to the politics of the Spanish peninsula during this time period, so everything that happened was fresh and new to me. I suspect if you had actual knowledge about Isabel and her time period, it might not be as surprising and it might feel kind of predictable. I had no idea what to expect though, so it was all new and wonderful knowledge to me.
Isabel herself is portrayed as a religious young woman who tries to push for peace and harmony. She does not like her brothers fighting, as it splits the entire family up and means civil war in their kingdom. However, she is definitely not a passive little mouse. She wants to take her destiny into her own hands. She didn’t want to marry the old men Enrique wanted to set her up with, so she secretly pushed her own agenda (with some outside help, of course) to try to marry the Prince of Aragon. Pretty admirable in that time period, when women had to obey men, and Enrique was also king!
If you enjoy the Royal Diaries series, this is definitely a must-read! Well written, well plotted, and for those like me with no historical knowledge on Isabel, very fascinating!(less)
Another Royal Diaries read for me! The Royal Diaries books can be a hit or miss since they all have different authors; I’m happy to report that this o...moreAnother Royal Diaries read for me! The Royal Diaries books can be a hit or miss since they all have different authors; I’m happy to report that this one is definitely a hit, for me. This one is on Kaiulani, the last princess of Hawaii. I had no idea Hawaii used to have a monarchy, so this book was very interesting and a big eye opener for me. I don’t know much about Hawaii, I never even been there before, so this book has been the most educational experience for me.
Fourteen year old Kaiulani is a princess of Hawaii, second in line to the throne (her uncle is the king, and next in line is her aunt (the king’s sister), then her). Kaiulani is half Hawaiian and half Scottish, actually (on her father’s side), but she considers herself very much a Hawaiian person all around. Knowing her destiny is to sit on the Hawaiian throne, her family sends her to be educated in England for a year or two. Kaiulani is a dutiful and obedient girl so she does as she is told, even though it breaks her heart to be away from her family and her beautiful Hawaiian nation.
Even though England is often chilly and nowhere as colorful and vibrant as Hawaii, Kaiulani enjoys her time at boarding school, applying herself so that she may become a properly educated princess. However, bad news travels to Kaiulani about her beloved country back home — the Reformers from America are illegally taking over their nation and forcing the monarchy to dissolve. Kaiulani desperately wants to save her country, but she is on the other side of the world, what can she do?
I really enjoyed this book. I love learning about Hawaii and its sad history. This book is a children’s book so it doesn’t dive into the nitty-gritty political details too much but you get the big picture — Hawaii is full of profitable natural resources which the Reformers want to take advantage of. The Reformers want to annex the nation to the USA, but of course, the monarchy does not want that to happen. Obviously, you know what ends up happening to Hawaii due to its present day situation as the US’s 50th state, so you know the book is not going to have a happy ending for Kaiulani, making her efforts to save her country seem even more tragic.
Kaiulani herself is an admirable young girl. Even though she is only fourteen when the book begins, you sense an air of maturity around the young lady. She loves Hawaii dearly and you can tell it breaks her heart to be far away from her nation and her family. She is also very much in control of her emotions and appearance, as evident when the reporters swarm around her in America and in England. She knows her role, she is a princess, and she acts accordingly. I think Kaiulani would have made an amazing queen for Hawaii if she hadn’t fallen ill and died shortly after Hawaii fell to America. Romantically, many like to believe she died of a broken heart.
This is definitely one of The Royal Diaries books that I highly recommend. She’s not a very well known princess, admittedly, but this book does a great job providing an introduction to Kaiulani. As with all of the books in this series, it is a middle-school book but even for adults, an interesting (and short) read.(less)
I’ve always wanted to read a James Patterson book, and I thought picking a YA one would be a good place to start since I like YA books. I guess I had...moreI’ve always wanted to read a James Patterson book, and I thought picking a YA one would be a good place to start since I like YA books. I guess I had higher expectations since he is such a big name author. I felt a little let down, but I still want to see where this series goes. Also, this book is “YA”, and I opened this book up with that in mind, but it is actually more of a middle grade book.
The Angel Experiment is the first book in an eight book series about a girl named Maximum Ride and her friends. Max and her six friends are 98% human and 2% avian. They were lab experiments created by scientists. Each of them have a magnificent pair of wings on their back, and each of them also have unique powers. The six of them were rescued from the lab by a sympathetic scientist named Jeb and for the last four years were raised in a secluded house high in the mountains. Two years ago Jeb disappeared though, most likely dead. One day, out of the blue, Erasers — werewolf-like creatures also created by those same scientists — crash their hiding place and kidnap the youngest of their group, a little six year old named Angel. Determined to get their friend back, Max and the others prepare to journey to rescue her, while at the same time, hoping they will be able to find more about their past before they became ‘mutants’.
I think my problem with this book was the way the story progressed. The characters had clear goals to get to, but for some odd reason, would get extremely easily distracted and do something else for a few chapters before remembering, “Oh yeah, we have to rescue Angel.” There were also chapters where they did things that didn’t seem necessary to the plot, like attend a concert or eat in a restaurant. Granted, the chapters were very, very short, so it’s not as if I had to spend an agonizing number of pages reading about mundane activities, but still. The Erasers also showed up at regular points in the story to shake up Max and her friends, but they always win the fight and manage to get away. Very predictable, and kind of reminded me of children’s cartoon shows where the bad guys show up but the good guys always, always win.
The ending was also rather disappointing as well. The climax was not very climactic and it all happened very, very quickly. I was pretty surprised to realize I have reached the end of the book. The ending didn’t feel very conclusive, which I suppose is intended as it is the first book of a series, but it felt rushed and abrupt.
Other things I was not too happy about was the juvenile style writing (I do realize it’s a kid’s book, but the writing was still pretty lackluster) and the characters being rather one dimensional.
However, I did really like the concept of the lab created mutants and it was actually a pretty fun and humorous book as well, even if it is kids’ humor. I do find myself wanting to find out more about Maximum Ride and why the scientists think she will one day “save the world”. The book definitely has appeal, I was just not too crazy about the actual flow of events in the story. If you are looking for a book aimed at actual young adults, I think this series is a little too young, but if you don’t mind middle grade books, I think the book was pretty fun. It has its flaws, but I hope it gets better in the next installment. Admittedly, I am not this book’s target audience; I think actual kids would find this book pretty engrossing.(less)
Mary, Queen of Scots is one of my favourite European queens so I was pretty excited to read this book that has a fictional account of her preteen year...moreMary, Queen of Scots is one of my favourite European queens so I was pretty excited to read this book that has a fictional account of her preteen years. I think the best way of summing up my reading experience with this book is that it was mildly interesting. My expectations were a little high, I suppose, especially since Mary is one of my favourites.
This book takes place during the part of Mary’s life when she is living in France with her betrothed, Francis, the crown prince of France. She is Mary, Queen of the Scots, but she is far from Scotland. In the book, Mary misses Scotland and tries to assert her position as a royal Queen, even though in France she is “merely” the betrothed of their Dauphin.
Sadly, not much seems to happen in this book, plot-wise. Mary contemplates her friendship with Francis, her best friends who are all named Mary, and delicately dances around her future mother-in-law, the current Queen of France. The story doesn’t lead up to anything exciting, it’s truly like a diary of her day to day affairs, and unfortunately, since this book is about her childhood, it is nowhere as interesting as her adult life.
She spends an awful lot of time reminiscing about Scotland in this book, which I personally found odd. The real Mary left Scotland at age five and spent the next thirteen years in the French court. Historically, part of Mary’s problem with ruling Scotland was that she was too French. I suppose the author wanted to emphasize that she is Queen of the Scots, and related to Scotland, since the series already has a number of historical princesses from France (Marie Antoinette, Eleanor of Aquitaine …). Still, in my opinion, having left Scotland at such a young age, I found it difficult to believe Mary was as Scottish as this book made her appear to be.
I thought this book was okay, but it did lack a lot of pizzazz. I’m still, of course, a big fan of this children’s series, so I will continue to read on about more princesses!(less)
In comparison to the rest of the Royal Diaries series, it’s less exciting, however, I still find Jahanara to be...more3.5, (but I rounded up for Goodreads).
In comparison to the rest of the Royal Diaries series, it’s less exciting, however, I still find Jahanara to be an excellent book, especially as a starting point to get kids interested in Indian culture. I read this book for the first time in late elementary/early middle school and I remember it was this book that got me interested in the culture. For those who do not know who Jahanara is, she was the oldest daughter of the Indian emperor Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal.
In this book, Jahanara starts off living with her exiled family, but later on, are returned to their proper places. Her father becomes emperor and Jahanara is granted the title “Princess of Princesses”. As a royal female living in India, Jahanara and other ladies are always kept behind screens and are not allowed any contact (even eye contact!) with men, other than family members and eunachs. Still, Jahanara proves to be a valuable member of the family as she tries to keep harmony between her scheming brother, “evil” step-grandmother, and the rest of the family.
Much of the book revolves around Jahanara finding things out about her family and her relationships with her family. The events that do occur, like her father being crowned emperor, are exciting but happen rather infrequently. Much of the book seems to introduce pieces of Indian culture to the reader. I didn’t really mind that since it still flowed with the story and never did I feel like I was reading a textbook or anything. It did get me very interested in Indian culture, in the end! Story-wise, this one was a tad slow moving, but I still liked it quite a bit. I’m pretty excited to start reading more historical fiction about Jahanara because she was so well respected in her time, and from what I read online, is still well-known in India today.(less)
I’ve heard a bunch of good things about this series, so I looked into it. I was a bit surprised that it was a children’s series, because the people wh...moreI’ve heard a bunch of good things about this series, so I looked into it. I was a bit surprised that it was a children’s series, because the people who were praising the series didn’t seem like the type who read children’s books, but I was looking for something easy to read during my commutes to campus, so why the hell not? It seems like a light hearted read, which was exactly what I was looking for.
Artemis Fowl is a genius and millionaire 12 year old. His father mysteriously disappeared years ago and his mother has been depressed and holed up in her bedroom ever since, leaving little Artemis on his own most of the time. This is fine by Artemis because he’s quite independent and in fact, very mature and advanced for his age. It’s also beneficial that his parents aren’t really around because Artemis is a criminal mastermind, and not having the parents around makes his criminal activities a little easier to conduct.
His latest crime? Kidnapping a fairy. Yes, a real fairy! Artemis has big plans to obtain some fairy gold as per old legends and myths, but little does he know what the fairy world is really like. He captures Captain Holly Short, a member of the LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police Reconnaisance) unit, and her colleagues are determined to rescue her from Artemis’ clutches.
The idea of Artemis as a criminal mastermind really appealed to me for some reason. A lot of children’s books often have a more traditional protagonist, someone more heroic and ‘good’. This is the first children’s book I’ve read where the protagonist is a self proclaimed criminal mastermind; it made for a rather interesting read. Artemis isn’t actually a bad guy, he just happens to dabble in criminality because it’s the only way to get what he wants. There are some things that he wants — such as his father’s return, or for his mother to notice him — that can’t be bought with money.
I was a little surprised that there was a fantastical element to the book. When I was looking up the series, I guess I somehow missed the fairy stuff, which I know is really hard to miss when you’re looking up Artemis Fowl on the internet, so no, I don’t know how that happened. You can imagine my surprise when I’m reading and reading and suddenly fairies are introduced. I know fairies are an integral part of the Artemis Fowl series, and for the most part I didn’t mind them, the fairies are alright. But I hated the dwarves. They just seemed too silly, even for a children’s book. I mean, one of them had an attack where he shot poop out his butt … so weird! And yes, I know, this is a kid’s book and I’m a mid-20′s adult, but I’ve always considered myself a kid at heart. Even I felt a little “WTF” when I read that part.
As for the actual story, it was alright too, a little simplistic but entertaining enough. Reading this book was kind of like watching a Saturday morning cartoon, it was funny and charming. It easy to pick up and put down repeatedly, which is a good attribute for a commute-ride-book. Never had a problem following the story. I’m not dying to know what happens to Artemis next, but I wouldn’t mind reading book two to see what misadventures he gets up to later. This book was certainly fun to read, it had its silly moments and laugh out moments, and lots of action too.(less)
I really, really enjoyed this book about Marie Antoinette! I’ve always been a little fascinated with Marie Antoinette, she has a rather interesting li...moreI 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).(less)
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 she...moreAnother 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!(less)
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 particular...moreContinuing 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. (less)
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 al...moreI’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.
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 bei...moreI’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 adore fairy tale retellings, especially Cinderella, because it’s definitely my most favourite fairy tale of all time. When I saw this available on N...moreI 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.(less)
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, b...moreI’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.(less)
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 the...moreSo 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"]>(less)