For my next Royal Diaries book, I decided to read about Empress Elisabeth of Austria. I don’t really know anything about her, so I didn’t have any preFor my next Royal Diaries book, I decided to read about Empress Elisabeth of Austria. I don’t really know anything about her, so I didn’t have any preconceived expectations or anything like that.
I’ve read a fair number of Royal Diaries books (including this one on Elisabeth, I have read 12 of the 20 books in this series), so from my experience so far, I think this book is the most put-together one. Some of the other diaries were just, well, diaries, where the princesses talked about their day to day activities and barely any plot happens. This series is meant to educate kids about not only these historical figures, but also about what life was like back in their respective time periods, so I understand why some of the books were written that way. I was very pleased to find, when reading this book, that it managed to fit in an actual story as well, instead of just talking about what Elisabeth did every day.
This book on Elisabeth begins with herself, her mother and her sister being summoned to meet the Emperor of Austria and his mother, Princess Sophie. The reality of the meeting is that the mothers have paired up the 23 year old emperor with Elisabeth’s 18 year old sister. However, when everyone met, the Emperor found himself smitten with Elisabeth instead. He asks for her hand in marriage, which shocks Elisabeth. She had not expected this at all, and what’s worse, she’s afraid her sister will hate her for this. However, she, too, really likes this handsome young emperor so she accepts — well, also because her mother really wants Elisabeth to accept so at least ONE of her daughters can become Empress of Austria.
Even though Elisabeth is happy to be marrying the Emperor, she is absolutely intimidated by her future duties as an Empress. As the day of the royal wedding approaches closer and closer, Elisabeth finds herself more and more uncomfortable with imperial life. Yet, she must endure …
Like I said, it was great that this book actually had a story and I enjoyed reading it. It’s extremely short, only about 100 pages — the rest of the book is the epilogue, historical notes, family tree and pictures, which is roughly 50 pages on its own! While the story presented in this book is interesting, Elisabeth’s life after she was married would have made an even more fascinating story, I think! In a tragic sort of way. Of course, the Royal Diaries series focuses on the princess’ and queens’ childhoods since it is a series aimed at children.
Anyway, I digress. This is definitely one of the better Royal Diaries books of the series, short and sweet!...more
Book number three of The Accursed Kings series. Last we left off, Louis X was still on the throne, his wife had just conveniently left the picture forBook number three of The Accursed Kings series. Last we left off, Louis X was still on the throne, his wife had just conveniently left the picture for him, and he was setting his eyes on Princess Clemence of Hungary. Louis had already shown himself to be a bumbling idiot of a king who cannot handle being wrong on anything, so let’s see how he continues to ruin his father’s legacy in this book.
In The Poisoned Crown, Louis successfully becomes betrothed and then, married to Princess Clemence of Hungary. Clemence thinks she is a pretty lucky lady, given that she is already 22 (an old age to be married at in those times, for a noble) and had thought she would end up going to a convent. However, she soon realizes being Queen of France doesn’t make her very happy and her husband isn’t as charming as he seems. Louis, continuing his streak of bad decisions, decides to go to war against Flanders, which ends disastrously.
In the meantime, Robert of Artois and Mahaut, Countess of Artois, are still arguing and bickering over lands like they have been since book one. This time, however, they have involved King Louis into the matter. Louis wants to resolve their differences peacefully, but is forced to pick sides when they refuse to relent in their accusations against one another. Mahaut is outraged at the conclusion and plots the downfall of King Louis.
I definitely liked this book better than the last one. The last one was centered on the rivalry between the Charles, the Count of Valois the Rector-General of the kingdom, Enguerrand Marigny, and was very political in nature, which is sometimes hard for a non-political person like me to understand, even though I did overall enjoy that book. This one is more about family ambitions, which is more up my alley. If you want pure family drama, this book is it.
Clemence is a new character introduced in this book. Even though she’s a solid goody-goody kind of girl, I liked her because she seemed to have an uncanny ability to bring out the best in others around her. And she is so innocent and sweet, no one would try to harm her. Of course, sometimes it was frustrating that she cannot see, or refuse to see, the ‘evil’ that is in the hearts of others. In such cases, it was a little frustrating having a character that’s so solidly in the “Good People” camp. However, I do hope that she and her baby will make it out of this story alright, considering what usually happens to the royal family in this series!
The most infuriating (and I say that in the best way possible) part of this novel is Mahaut, the Countess of Artois. I was like, “God damn it, just give your nephew [Robert of Artois] back some parts of his lands!!” And it’s not like I particularly like Robert that much either, but I do feel really bad that his inheritance got stolen by his greedy aunt. In the previous two books, she was merely an annoying old lady (to me, anyway), but in this book, she has definitely become more selfish. Her daughter was imprisoned a couple books ago, and instead of simply wishing for her safe return like any loving, caring mother would, she thinks about if her daughter is released, and is Louis dies with no heirs, her daughter could get a shot at being Queen of France (since she is married to Louis’ brother). What a strange way of thinking about things like this! Ugh, I hate Mahaut, I hope she meets her end soon (but I don’t want to Wikipedia her actual historical self to spoil things for myself, haha).
Definitely looking forward to the next one....more
This time around in my reading of The Royal Diaries series (one of my absolute favourite childhood series, though I never managed to read ALL of themThis time around in my reading of The Royal Diaries series (one of my absolute favourite childhood series, though I never managed to read ALL of them when I was a kid), the focus is on Queen Victoria from England. I am really interested in Queen Victoria, but it’s hard to find historical fiction on her (I only know of two novels that are about Queen Victoria, including this one). There are lots of books that take place in the Victorian Era, but very few where Queen Victoria is the main character … sad!
This book is about Victoria when she was 9 to 10 years old. The book centers around her childhood and her relationships to the various people in her lives. In particular, she is fond of the king of her time, George IV, who she calls Uncle King. She doesn’t have the strongest relationship with her mother, but does love her; unfortunately she is under the influence of John Conroy, her mother’s comptroller, who also is hoping to rule over Victoria (through her mother). For unbeknownst to Victoria, Uncle King’s heir (his brother) is most likely unable to have children with his wife, making Victoria, their niece, very likely to become Queen of England one day.
One thing that stood out to me in this Royal Diaries installment is that the writing actually feels more authentic to its time period than others. I mean, I understand some of the Royal Diaries are going to have a difficult time making the writing seem authentic to the time period when the princess writing it isn’t even supposed to know English. But some of the other Royal Diaries do take place in European countries and none of them had writing that felt as “real” as this one.
Like most of the other Royal Diaries books, this book is also mainly concerned with the day to day life of little Victoria in 1800′s England. Maybe that would be more interesting to a child reading this book (which I realize is its intended age group); I thought it was just okay. I wouldn’t say I’m really knowledgeable in what life was like in 1800′s England, but I probably know more than a child reading this book, so probably the educational portion of this novel would be much more fascinating to a kid. This book has not much action, I’m afraid. Towards the end, it gets a little more exciting (though I use that word in the relative sense) when Victoria begins to piece together how the inheritance of the throne of England is going … and her shock when she realizes it could be her, though she tries to brush it off at first.
All in all, it was a solid read with both pros and cons. I’m just glad to read something on Queen Victoria, there should be more his-fics on her life!...more
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 LI 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!...more
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 hadI’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....more
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 yearMary, 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!...more
In comparison to the rest of the Royal Diaries series, it’s less exciting, however, I still find Jahanara to be3.5, (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....more
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 whI’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....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’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.
Oh god, I’m finally done this book. I’ve had this book for just over a year, I totally bought it impulsively. I had heard nothing about it before I goOh god, I’m finally done this book. I’ve had this book for just over a year, I totally bought it impulsively. I had heard nothing about it before I got it, just wanted to read a fantasy novel. Well, now I’m done this book, and it was, unfortunately, an ordeal to get through it. I cleaned out my bookshelf yesterday, and I think this book is going in my “to donate” pile of books to bring to the thrift store.
I’ve got a lot of issues with this book. The biggest thing is that it’s difficult to follow. The writing isn’t the best, and there’s weird scene transitions and absolutely no explanations about anything. My copy of the book includes an introduction by the author, and he says in his introduction that he purposely didn’t want to have to explain everything because he didn’t want to dumb down his story, which in turn may be insulting to his readers’ intelligence. Okay, fair enough. However, I don’t think it was handled very well. Some explanation or hints would have been nice. I don’t know how I’m supposed to know which characters were on which side, are what ranking, etc. without a little help. A lot of terms also went right over my head; I still don’t really know what a Warden is, or what a T’lan Imass is. I have a vague idea but still not really sure.
So, the book was confusing. I’m usually prepared to be a little confused at first when I start a new fantasy series. Fantasy series seem to like to drop readers into the middle of the world and have you work your way around the story-verse yourself, which is fine. I usually am able to sort everything out 50-100 pages in (which is nothing, considering how long these books usually are) and then just enjoy the story from there. With Gardens of the Moon, I was on page 600 out of 752 and still had no idea what I was reading about, just a lot of assassins, gods and running around on rooftops …
I mean, I sort of got the gist of the story. The Empire, led by Empress Laseen, tried to take over the city of Pale in the beginning. Pale was helped by Moon’s Spawn (which I had to look up on the Internet — it’s a floating fortress), but eventually Pale falls. Then the rest of the book shifts to the characters wanting to take over or save, depending which side they are on, the last free city of Darujhistan. And there’s some gods who are involved with these mortals’ affairs, which is really putting a kink in Laseen’s plans. So yeah, I kind of get the story, but at the same time, I feel like I didn’t understand the story at all.
The characters and dialogue were rather poor as well. The characters were on the dull side. I didn’t feel invested in any of them, it was like no big deal when any of them died. The dialogue was overly dramatic and corny, also dull. It just wasn’t very engaging.
I do think the world was very intricately built and well done though, from what I can tell with my limited understanding. It’s obvious this book takes place in an immense world with a deep and rich history that spans thousands of years. I do feel a little sad that I was unable to enjoy this world; I did want to like it, but there were simply too many obstacles preventing me.
I have read that the first book is considered the weakest, even amongst fans of this series. I read somewhere that new readers are advised to simply start with the second book (there are new characters and stuff, so it’s not like a direct continuation from book one). At this point in time, I’m not sure if I want to give the series a second chance. I feel quite burnt out from fantasy reading this book, so if I do try the second book, it won’t be for a long time. Perhaps after I read some reviews/opinions on the second one first, then I will decide. As for this first book, I think if you are really, really into epic fantasies, into world building and super complicated fantasy plots, you can give this a try, but for any one else who just reads fantasy from time to time, you’ll probably want to skip this one....more
Pretty Little Liars is not a book I would usually read. I’ve seen it many times in stores, and —(This review originally posted at http://skyink.net).
Pretty Little Liars is not a book I would usually read. I’ve seen it many times in stores, and — I admit — it’s the kind of book that looks like garbage. It just looks like it, I’m sorry! Even though I frequently read books that involve teenagers, I don’t normally read books that I think are just about a bunch of bickering girls in high school because it’s not my thing. Well, this book does involve a bit of that, I won’t lie, but Pretty Little Liars was surprisingly good! I ended up liking it quite a bit despite going into it thinking, “I probably won’t like this very much”. I picked it up to read (I live like, 3 minutes from the public library) after my friend Marjorie gave it a shot and ended up quite liking it. And I trust Marjorie’s opinions on books so I decided I had to read this too.
I think this has become a guilty pleasure series for me.
The story begins with five close friends in the 7th grade — Ali, the “ringleader” of the group, and Hanna, Emily, Spencer and Aria. They’re all great friends, but there seems to be a little fear of Ali as well, because she knows a secret about each one of her friends, a secret that they don’t want anybody else to find out. Even worse, the five of them have a group secret, a terrible one that involves a terrible prank gone wrong that they told no one.
However, one day, Ali mysteriously disappears after a sleepover party.
Three years later, the girls are entering the 11th grade. They more or less have stopped being friends ever since Ali became a missing persons case. They have each moved on and found new friends. But now, each one of them are receiving mysterious messages via text messaging and e-mails from someone who is haunting them with their secrets, and seems to be tracking their every move.
I’m not going to pretend this is a stellar piece of literature because it’s not. It's quite the opposite of stellar literature, actually. It is, however, addictive and easy to read — perfect for those summer days where you’re just feeling too hot to move much (which is the circumstance I was in when I read this, heh). The characters are quite easy to relate to. I don’t mean directly — how many of us are (or were) rich girls from rich families attending a rich private school? — but I’m sure many of us have had to dealt with boys, self-esteem, insecurity issues, living up to your parents’ dreams, avoiding rumours from your peers, etc.
While I didn’t really like any of the characters, and I can’t say I had the same high school experiences as them, the characters (like Marjorie mentions) reminded me of how idiotic one can be when they were in 7th grade, or 11th grade. 7th grade is around the time girls start taking an interest in boys (as opposed to “ew! cooties!”) and I still remember how boy-obsessed me and my own friends were during that time — embarrassing memories, to be sure. Anyway, two of the girls in this book are actually admirable in some ways — they are A students who are aiming to be the best they can be. So it’s not just silly teenagers doing silly things :P
There is quite a bit of underage drinking, sexual scenes and smoking of pot in this story. While I do not condone such behaviour for middle-and-high schoolers (mostly middle-schoolers; I always figure high schoolers are old enough to make their own decisions, and drinking never seemed that bad to me but that may be because up here the legal drinking age is 19 (the characters are 17/18)), I disagree with the reviews I read that this is not a realistic portrayal of 7th/11th graders. Actually, I think it is realistic. Obviously not every kid does all this stuff, but you’d be surprised how common this kind of behaviour is in kids these days — and it’s happening at even younger ages, shockingly enough. I never did any of that kind of stuff because I hung out with a different circle of friends, but I heard of many kids from my old schools who did. Anyway, if that kind of stuff bothers you, I don’t recommend reading it.
But! If you don’t mind that kind of stuff, then you are in for a suspenseful story! It’s a light hearted and fun story, the kind you don’t really want to put down because you’re just so intrigued by what’s happening between the characters. There actually isn’t really much gossiping or backstabbing or catfights between the characters at all. Instead, it is about four girls who are, in a way, trying to “discover” themselves and their true passions … while their past keeps haunting them.
I can honestly say I really enjoyed this book! The ending was really great too, it was something I never predicted. The book ends in a way that it gives you a sense of closure, but also leaves enough room open for sequels. And I know this series has quite a bit of sequels — and I’m going to read them all! (Eventually)....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.
Been a while since I read another WoT book. I’m still determined to finish the series, but I admit, the series is progressing in such a way t1.5 stars
Been a while since I read another WoT book. I’m still determined to finish the series, but I admit, the series is progressing in such a way that it’s been difficult to find the motivation to read it sometimes. I was already starting to see plot progression slow down a few books back, and in The Path of Daggers, it’s really starting to grind to a halt. I literally cannot pinpoint what was the overall plot of this book.
From what I can remember, this is what generally happens to the characters in the book: Egwene deals with people treating her like a puppet Amyrlin, but she’s determined to rise above them. Perrin is on some sort of mission for Rand but gets sidetracked by his crazy wife wanting Perrin to be more bossy (WTF?). Elayne, Nynavae and Aviendha are … I don’t know, actually. They were trying to right the weather with the Bowl of Winds, but I can’t remember what the heck happened after that, just that Elayne eventually ends up taking back the Lion Throne (which, by the way, her return to the throne was rather anti-climatic). And Rand. Ohhh Rand. I don’t even know. I think I started skimming some of his chapters, they just bored me to death. There was a lot of fighting going on, he’s conquering cities, he’s trying to fight back the Seanchan, he tries to use Callandor and all hell breaks loose, he’s trying not to be crazy … I don’t know. I have a feeling there were too many pages spent trying to describe what Rand was doing when in reality you only needed maybe ten, and as a result, I ended up confused.
To me, very little plot occurs in this book. I think it tried to pass itself off as an in-between book — you know, those books that happen in the middle of the series that aren’t as great as the beginning or end books of a series, but has to exist just to progress the story. That’s this book. Except I’m pretty sure you can put all the important things that happened in this book in the next book and it would still have been fine. So much of this book was just long and boring descriptions. I know, I know — descriptions are important in books. I’m not saying get rid of all of them, but there is a limit to how much description a reader wants to take in. I do not need to know every little detail about every body’s clothes or rooms or whatever, especially if they are nothing more than some barmaid or innkeeper or whatever.
Robert Jordan provides even more evidence that he does not really know how to write love relationships in this book. Some past examples include Egwene and Rand *suddenly* realizing they don’t love each other romantically, Perrin’s dislike for Faile and then *suddenly* she’s the love of his life, Lan and his ambiguity towards Nynavae (sure, Jordan says Lan loves Nynavae, but Lan has said or done nothing to convince me of this). Siuan’s one of my favourite characters, but she just got butchered in this book. Essentially, Siuan’s become Nynavae — she has completely taken her personality and her attitude and is Nynavae. And for some reason, Siuan’s in love with what’s-his-face but, like Nynavae, treats him really bad and pretends she hates him when really she secretly loves him. WHAT IS THIS, KINDERGARTEN?
Then there’s Faile and her desire to have Perrin dominate her, so to speak. She wants him to be assertive and boss her around, which, in her mind, will show that Perrin believes her to be a strong enough wife to put up with his shenanigans. I actually can be okay with this bizarre logic if it was only Faile, but it turns out every woman who is Saldean (like Faile) thinks like this. What kind of bizarre culture do Saldean women have? It’s actually kind of almost offensive. The weird thing is, in Robert Jordan’s books, there are never any exceptions. If you are a female from Saldean, you want a dominating husband so you can play the who-has-the-power-in-the-relationship game. I can’t think of more examples right now, but it’s the same with characters from X, Y, or Z places. If you come from such-and-such a place, you are automatically like this or that. So weird.
Okay, so if you can’t tell by now, I didn’t really enjoy The Path of Daggers. It was difficult for me to get through, as the majority of it is just fluff. Honestly you could probably skip this book in the series and continue without it — that’s how unimportant the “plot” was in this book to the overall story.
Seven down, seven more to go. (Okay, six more to go really, because the last one isn’t published yet). I am going to warn you right now this ‘review’Seven down, seven more to go. (Okay, six more to go really, because the last one isn’t published yet). I am going to warn you right now this ‘review’ is more of a collection of thoughts, and is a bit all over the place.
A Crown of Swords begins pretty much right after the final events of the previous book, Lord of Chaos. To be honest, I don’t feel a whole lot actually happens in this book, and what did happen certainly did not require 880 pages to tell. Rand is trying to keep control and stability in Cairhein, and also tries to convince the Sea Folk that he is the Coramoor of their Prophecies. It’s all very political and all the discussing and arguing occurs at a snail’s pace; frankly, not very interesting to me. Egwene sends Nynavae and Elayne off to find the Bowl of the Winds, and doesn’t really pop up after that. Nynavae and Elayne’s chapters were fairly interesting, but their search progresses so slowly. And then there’s like a couple chapters regarding Morgase and whatever’s up with her, and her chapters inched by as well. I guess what I’m trying to say is, the entire plot moved very, very slow.
Then suddenly at the end, it’s like the entire story realized it was moving at a slow speed and it decided to fast forward the last handful of scenes! (view spoiler)[The reason it feels this way is that all of a sudden, Rand just pops up in Illian and takes down Sammael. Seriously. It happened so freaking fast, I was like, “Isn’t Sammael supposed to be super strong or something? How did Rand kill him so easily?” Then again, Rand is not 100% sure he killed Sammael … (hide spoiler)] So I was not very satisfied with the ending. It was too sudden and abrupt.
Character-wise, I’d say everyone is pretty much the same, though there is a few developments. Like Nynavae. (view spoiler)[She marries Lan (hide spoiler)] and now, suddenly, she’s trying to be all nice and perfect. It’s a bit weird. I never really cared about Nynavae — she’s actually my least favourite character, because I find her way too bitchy and angry, but I guess such events change women … maybe …
Also, there is a surprising amount of sex in this book. Not that I have a problem with reading sex (and it’s always off-camera and/or suggested, so it’s not like anything was described in detail), it’s just that the previous books had none, or very little, and then suddenly in this book, everyone’s hooking up! Okay, not everyone, but it sure feels like it. It’s not really a complaint, more of an observation.
Speaking of which: Min and Rand. Min has always been a practical, down to earth kind of girl but around Rand, she’s become this huge flirt. It’s weird! I mean, I know this isn’t unusual behaviour, for girls to act a bit more flirty and girly around the guy she likes, but it feels like almost too big of a personality shift. Then again, I don’t think Min really ever had a solid, concrete personality like Nynavae.
There’s also a new character introduced in this book, Cadsuane. She is a very old, highly respected Aes Sedai and it sort of feels like she’s come in to take Moiraine’s place. Certainly she is trying to “teach him manners”. I am not sure how I feel about her yet. Her role in the story is not really defined at all, I don’t really know why she suddenly decided to appear. All it was said was that she finds such events like the Dragon Reborn interesting. Regardless, I am a little intrigued by her presence and I have a hunch she’ll have a much larger role in future books, but I really hope she wasn’t written in to be the new Moiraine. Moiraine is my favourite character, no one can take her place!
Not going to complain about the lengthy clothing descriptions or Robert’s female character I’ve been over that. It’s still present in the series.
Overall, I think I have mixed feelings towards this book. It was slow, but the events that did happen were fairly interesting and I enjoyed reading the book when the plot decided to actually progress, though not all plot progressions were satisfying. I am a little wary of the books to follow in the series, because I have been warned by several friends that the plot continues to slow down more and more — possibly to milk the series — so we shall see.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
(Originally posted at http://skyink.net). I give this book a 4, but I think it’s really more like a 3.7 or 3.8 … However, I’m not going to get into de(Originally posted at http://skyink.net). I give this book a 4, but I think it’s really more like a 3.7 or 3.8 … However, I’m not going to get into decimals, heh, so I rounded.
Continuing on with The Wheel of Time series, I finally finished reading book six! This one was quite long, hence the lack of updates around the blog while I was trying to get though this phonebook-sized novel …
So what happens in book six? Well, truth to be told, I cannot remember much that happened in the first 500 pages or so — it felt like nothing much was going on and it was difficult to get through. I just didn’t care about Rand’s problems, or Morgase, or even Mat in this book. And I usually love Mat! I think it’s because those characters’ parts of the stories are becoming increasingly political, which normally isn’t really my cup of tea. But the last half of the book was amazing to read, and I was so hooked. Especially all the Aes Sedai stuff. I love the concept of Aes Sedai in this story, it’s one of my favourite things about the series. There are a lot of very important plot points that happen in Lord Of Chaos, events that I am sure are going to play very large roles in future installments.
It’s very difficult to write synopsis for books in a series without spoiling what happens in previous books (so skip this paragraph if you’re worried). The White Tower, as established in the previous book, has split, which is not a good thing at all. The White Tower (or, Elaida, the Amyrlin who usurped Siuan) sends emissaries to Rand, the Dragon Reborn, at the same time as the Hall of the Tower (the Aes Sedai in Salidar). Rand is basically confronted with two schools of Aes Sedai, each wanting him to be on their side — but the truth is, the Aes Sedai need Rand more than Rand needs them. Not to mention the fact that Rand feels he can’t trust any Aes Sedai anymore. That’s the major plotline of this book, I believe. There are lots of other very important events though, such as Rand founding his school (the “Black Tower”, the students affectionately call it, haha, I love it!) and Egwene, Nynavae and Elayne and their becoming Aes Sedai. Egwene, in particular, has something tremendously exciting happen to her that I don’t want to spoil, but I was quite shocked when it happened!
The ending was really great too, it reminded me of the endings from books one and two, where something large and profound happens that forever changes the story world. Definitely makes me want to start book seven right away.
I get the impression that as the series goes on, each individual book becomes hit-or-miss for many readers. I totally understand; for me, this book was mainly a hit, though a belated one. Like I said before, the first half of this book was quite long and boring, and it really felt it could have been pared down considerably. It’s just that, nothing much happens in the first half. I can’t even remember what I read in the first half. The prologue alone used up 70 pages! I would not be surprised to hear that people just give up this book in the middle … which would be a real shame, because the last half is so not worth missing out on.
Also there is a lot of repetition in the series which I am sure readers (who are not die hard fans, and thus, less likely to overlook) may be sick of. I’m a little sick of it myself, but I guess since I am what you would call a fan of the series, I am more willing to forgive it. You know, the constant description of everyone‘s clothes (really?); certain phrases like ‘good Two Rivers woolens’; necklines on dresses and, if they are low, how their boobs are popping out; Rand, Mat and Perrin constantly thinking each other are expert on women; the women constantly thinking men are all ‘woolheaded’; the men constantly thinking women are all confusing; Nynavae and her damn braid-tugging … If you’ve read books in this series, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
But like I said — I do like this series and I am determined to finish it. And as much as I complain about the occasional lack of plot or repetition, I’m fan enough of the series to ignore it. I do completely understand readers who cannot finish the book (or any other book in this series) because of said cons though. I do agree that this book felt stretched out. In fact, some of the previous books felt that way as well. However, there is something about the series that still has me hooked onto it. It simply hasn’t failed in delivering epic-ness yet. Granted, it’s not a continous or even distribution of epic-ness, but I am still loving this series, and this book’s last half was truly fun and amazing to read — so much that I think it makes up for the beginning half’s lack of story....more
I don’t normally write spoilers, but since this book has been out for over ten years, I’m not going to hold back on the sp**spoiler alert** 4.5 stars.
I don’t normally write spoilers, but since this book has been out for over ten years, I’m not going to hold back on the spoilers too much. Besides, it’s kind of hard talking about the fifth book in the series without revealing things anyway. You have been warned!
Ummmmm … WOW. I really, really enjoyed this one. This book was what I needed to rekindle my interest in the series (because if you have noticed, my ratings for the previous installments of this series have been steadily declining, heh). It took me 4 weeks to finish this, only because this was my commuting book, so I only read it on the bus, to and from campus. Despite reading it in small doses at a time, I was hooked into the story world each time I opened it up. Yeah, there were a few sluggish parts — for example, some of the scenes near the end involving Rand and the war. Those were kind of too political-ish for me and I’ve never really been a fan of reading war scenes — but overall, I think this is one of the better ones in the series.
In The Fires Of Heaven, a lot of things happen to everyone, and pretty much all of it is going to be spoilers because, well, that’s the nature of the series. Each book doesn’t seem to have a very cohesive plot, but the entire series as a whole has a cohesive plot … if that makes any sense at all.
Almost everyone was doing something interesting in this book. The book begins with Min, Siuan and those people trying to find the secret gathering of Aes Sedai who have broken off from the White Tower, while at the same time, being chased by a Lord for burning down a barn. This was interesting because Siuan is no longer the Amyrlin Seat — no longer an authority that even kings and queens bow to. So reading about how she is adjusting to her very low status now was exciting, particularly because she refuses to remain in such a low status. She wants revenge. I also enjoyed Nynavae and Elayne’s part of the story. They have joined a traveling menagerie … the circus! And they do tricks! That’s always fun and exciting. What’s more is that they find Brigitte in the dream world and she actually comes to life in the real world after a mistake of Nynavae’s. So we have a newish character join our heroes now, and Brigitte is pretty awesome, being a legendary expert marksman (markswoman?) and all. And in Caemlyn, we also have the whole Morgase being smitten by Gaebril plotline, which finally progresses in this book. Morgase finally realizes Gaebril is slowly taking over her kingdom, but it’s a little too late to find out so she has to escape her own kingdom. This sets in motion a whole separate series of events at the end of the book.
The only plotline in this book I wasn’t too crazy about is, as already mentioned, Rand’s. I was a bit mixed with his plotline — sometimes it was great, sometimes I had serious trouble paying attention because it was boring. However … and this is a big spoiler … one part near the end of the book totally caught my attention and I was absolutely stunned. Moiraine died! I couldn’t believe it! She’s one of my favourite characters! In fact, even though all the characters were talking about her dying, and even Lan says he can no longer feel he connection he had with Moiraine and leaves (no, Lan!), I still couldn’t believe it. I refuse to believe it until I read the entire series and Moiraine still hasn’t come back alive. Moiraaaaine!
While I greatly enjoyed the story, and this book has totally got me craving for the next one, I did find the characterization in this book (and probably the previous ones, though I kind of noticed it more here) very one-dimensional. Most of them anyway. Nearly all the female characters can be grouped as one, all stubborn and proud and believing men are fools and women know best. The men have more ‘categories’, but only a few more — those who find women complicated, those who live life as honorably as possible, etc. I hope for more variety, but it is the 5th book, so I have a feeling I will be stuck with these one-dimensional characters for the rest of the series … not neccesarily too bad of a thing for an epic fantasy, since plot has always seemed more important than character development in the genre, but you know — just a wish. ...more
I’ve been seeing this book (and its other installments of the series) around on many, many blogs and there’s also this hype surrounding the 4th book,I’ve been seeing this book (and its other installments of the series) around on many, many blogs and there’s also this hype surrounding the 4th book, The Iron Knight, that is coming out soon. Soooo I decided I wanted to check out what all the hubbub around this book series is about. I don’t want to miss out on a party when there is one, although I tend to read with cautious optimism when it’s a book that’s beloved by many readers, to save myself from too much disappointment should the book not live up to its hype in my eyes.
I ended up … loving it.
The Iron King is about 16 year old Meghan Chase, who is pretty ordinary, even if she is the school loser. Her only worries are getting her car license, school and whether the popular football player of the school notices her. However, upon returning home one day, she realizes her little 4 year old brother Ethan is gone and replaced by a changeling child who wreaks havoc. Seeing her determination to get her brother back, Meghan’s best friend Robbie reveals that Ethan has been taking into the Nevernever, and that he himself is actually a faery … a rather famous one: Puck.
Meghan traverses into the Nevernever into the Seelie Court, where she discovers something major — King Oberon is actually her real father. Meghan is half human, half fey. Oberon wants Meghan to act like a princess now that she’s in his court, and takes her to a meeting between the Summer/Seelie Court and the Winter/Unseelie Court. It is there that Meghan meets the Winter Prince, Ash, who, despite wanting to kill Meghan to win the favor of his Queen, accompanies her and Puck on their journey to rescue Ethan.
This book was non-stop action. From the moment I picked it up to the moment I finished reading it, there was always something happening, something adventurous and exciting. This was a book where I could just sit and read and not realize how much time has gone by (Studying for exams? What exams?) I’m not exactly that familiar with fey legends and whatnot, and I haven’t read too many books that dealt with faeries (I think the only other faery related book I read was Wicked Lovely, which was okay but didn’t really nab my full interest), but this book has me suckered into the whole fey world now.
I think it’s the world that had me the most addicted to the story. I mean, the plot was fantastic as well, but the world … it felt like Wonderland with a mix of the Labyrinthe. To move around the Nevernever, there’s like secret passageways and maze-like paths, not to mention to move from our world to the Nevernever, there’s even more hidden doorways and whatnot. It all felt very fantastical. They have different territories and the environment of the region is shaped by the kind of fey that live there — my favourite being Nir Na Nog (did I get that right?) probably because I always had a fascination with beautiful, snow covered ice lands. My second would be the iron fey’s territory, because it sounds super cool with all its scrap metal and technology, even if it is horribly dangerous there. Even though these different areas are so vastly different, they fit together really well in the context of the story.
Meghan is a great character. She’s surprisingly courageous and outgoing for someone who’s on the bottom of the school food chain, but perhaps it was the situation (you know, people wanting to kill her in the Nevernever) that brought out these qualities in her. I’m so thankful she isn’t whiny or annoying. She’s got a good head on her shoulder.
The only complaint I have about this book is probably Meghan and Ash’s romantic relationship. I really don’t understand how it went from Ash telling Meghan he’s going to kill her one day … to them kissing and being in love. It kind of just happened — bam! so I’m not completely convinced by their romance. There was no scene that I can remember that helped with the transition. Meghan disliked Ash one moment, and suddenly, Meghan was in love with him. Same with Ash. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care how gorgeous a guy is, if he told me he wants to kill me and I know he’s dead serious about it, I would find it very difficult to make my feelings do a 180. Yes, I admit, I find Prince Ash very swoon-worthy too, but that kind of gets thrown out the window when threats toward my life is made.
I like Meghan. I like Ash. But I don’t really understand Meghan + Ash.
If you haven’t read this series yet — read it! It’s a fun faery story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with a cast of memorable characters. This is a case where yes, the book does live up to its hype.
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
It’s been a super long time since I read any of the Mortal Instrument books. I remember all the characters but couldn’t really remember the plot detaiIt’s been a super long time since I read any of the Mortal Instrument books. I remember all the characters but couldn’t really remember the plot details. It all kind of came back to me as I read this fourth book though — which, by the way, I was a little surprised about because I thought the series ended with three?? But I guess not. Last I heard, there’s also a book five and six planned as well.
In City of Fallen Angels, Simon is adjusting to his life as a new vampire. Things get a bit rough when his mother sort of finds out and Simon decides to move out to protect her. Which turns out to be sort of a good thing, I suppose, since someone keeps sending people to try to capture or harm Simon, presumbly for his powers as a Daylighter, a vampire who can walk in the sunlight. Of course, nothing can harm him with the Mark of Cain on him.
At the same time, Shadowhunters are dying in Downworlder territory, causing a bit of strife between the two groups. At first everyone thinks it’s the leader of the vampires, Camille, but it soon becomes clear there is a greater force at work, with an ulterior motive.
Oh, and there’s also the Jace-Clary part of the story, which was my least favourite part so I’m going to kind of just glaze over it. Jace starts receiving dreams about harming Clary, and believes he might actually harm her. There was a lot of proclamations of undying love, angst and inner turmoil between the two — essentially, their relationship hasn’t really progressed since the last three books. I was hoping for it to mature, but it just can’t seem to get past this “I love you but I shouldn’t” kind of depressing thing. It’s also a bit hard to take their love seriously because this sort of obsessive love is what teenagers experience in “puppy love”, the kind of thing you think is cute but probably won’t last forever.
Anyway, this book felt very much like a “set-up” book — it’s setting up for a second major plot in the series. I’m not sure how I really feel about the continuation of the series; I thought book three ended off pretty well and tied things together neatly. All the same though, I do enjoy the series and the different direction it is headed in now does intrigue me and want me to continue reading. I will be the first to admit this wasn’t really a necessary sequel, but I guess I’m just a fan of the world Clare has created in her books and want to keep immersing myself in it.
I really like Simon (I can’t remember if I liked or disliked him in the previous books, but I think I was generally favorable towards him). He’s sort of the main character in this book (well, a central character anyway) and I think he does develop more as a character. He’s got a whole different life now — and I’m not only talking about being a super vampire that makes other vampires jealous, but also the fact he has two girls interested him! From being friend-zoned by Clary to having to rip girls off his back, Simon manages to feel like a refreshing new character while still retaining his personality, his thoughts and familiar self. He’s also got some angst going on now, with being a vampire and all — angst seems to be a central theme in this series — but I think Simon is a fabulous character and I’m really glad this book focuses more on him and that he has more of a role in the story now.
Overall, I quite liked the book. I was by no means obsessively reading it, but it certainly entertained me during my long commutes to and from campus. If you already enjoy the series, then I’m sure you’ll like this one too. If you haven’t read this series before, I find it is a bit of hit-or-miss amongst readers (at least, the ones I know), so I suggest just going with your gut feeling.