Bilbo Baggins is the sort of Hobbit who has never done anything more or less than would be expected of him. He lives alone in his comfortable Hobbit h...moreBilbo Baggins is the sort of Hobbit who has never done anything more or less than would be expected of him. He lives alone in his comfortable Hobbit hole in the hill, and his life proceeds as normal for a respectable Hobbit like himself. That all changes when Gandalf the Grey shows up at his doorstep, looking for someone to partake in an adventure with. While Bilbo initially has no interest in adventures of any sort, he finds himself hosting a large tea party of 13 dwarves. The next day Bilbo Baggins embarks with Gandalf and the party of dwarves to Misty Mountain, where a cruel dragon called Smaug lives. As Bilbo faces trolls, Goblins, elves and a strange creature called Gollum, if he ever does go home to the Shire he won’t be the same Hobbit who left it.
It’s been ages since I first read this book and I reread it to celebrate the release of the first part of the film. I wasn’t quite sure which age group to put this under in the genre heading, since even though it was originally written for children it can be enjoyed by anyone and is also found in adult fiction sections of bookstores. This is the book that started everything, and while it lacks the complexity of The Lord of the Rings, some people prefer it, since because it was written for children it’s much more charming than the more celebrated trilogy. I first read The Hobbit ages ago, and rereading it now is especially enjoyable since not only does it bring memories from reading it as a child, but there’s also a fair bit I’ve forgotten that feels new again. This book was clever and engaging, taking place in a world that is unique and feels real, although it is not as developed as the world is in The Lord of the Rings. This is also one of the best books to read aloud. This great adventure story is fast paced and a great children’s classic. While the bulk of The Lord of the Rings can be intimidating, start with The Hobbit and go there and back again with Bilbo Baggins.
On Harry Potter’s eleventh birthday he is whisked away from his horrible Aunt and Uncle and introduced to the magical world that exists hidden within...moreOn Harry Potter’s eleventh birthday he is whisked away from his horrible Aunt and Uncle and introduced to the magical world that exists hidden within the world he’s always known. Harry learns that his name and his lightening bolt scar are famous in the Wizarding World. Even more famous is Lord Voldemort, the person who turned Harry’s life around when he murdered his parents. Three years later, Harry is about to start his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Summers with the Dursleys are always unbearable, but Harry’s time at number 4 Privet Drive is cut short when he is able to spend the end of summer with his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Together with the Weasley family they go to the last game of the Quidditch World Cup. The excitement of the greatest game on earth is spoiled when Voldemort’s supporters are spotted nearby. Strange events have begun to occur in the Wizarding World and Harry can’t help but feel unsettled. Could Voldemort possibly be gaining strength to return to power? Harry is able to temporarily forget about Voldemort when term begins, and although a school year at Hogwarts is never without excitement, this year will prove to be unlike any other. But when Harry finds himself thrust into dangers that will require more bravery and skill than he has ever had to show, he feels like he is not entirely safe at Hogwarts. If Harry is to survive this year at Hogwarts, he will have to call on help from his friends while using all of his strengths to his advantage.
I will always have a special fondness for this book since it was the first Harry Potter book that was released while I was a fan. The first three books were already out when I started reading them, but this book I had to wait for. I also enjoy this book since it’s so different from the others, with the Quidditch World Cup, the Triwizard Tournament and the Yule Ball. This was the first of the Harry Potter books to be long book, and perhaps because of the length we learn a great deal in this book, and many moments in Goblet of Fire build up to the final book (such as Dumbledore’s ‘gleam of triumph.’) You could argue that this is the first book in the series that could be classified as YA instead of junior fiction. It is certainly darker, and we also see the characters start to have romantic attractions to other characters, although some of these were hinted about before. I’ve read this book at least 12 times (once a year) but likely more, and this time I listened to the beginning as a audio book. I think that Goblet of Fire is a very good example of a well done murder mystery. Of course, while reading we don’t exactly know that a murder is going to take place, but we do know early on that someone placed Harry’s name in the goblet of fire. Reading this with the knowledge of what happens is very interesting, and you can see all the subtle hints and things being built up to. I think that the plot was perfectly orchestrated and planned out. Someone once asked me if the Harry Potter books had flowery prose and wonderful similes, and they don’t. The writing isn’t poetic, but I don’t think anyone could argue with me when I say that J.K. Rowling is a great storyteller. Her world building is certainly amazing. In this book we learn more about the inner workings of the magical world, including the unforgiveable curses and how Harry’s parents were killed. While everyone loves the story and the magical world, one of the main reasons to keep reading the series is the characters. They are the reason I keep coming back and I loved seeing them grow and become the people they will be by the seventh book. One of my favourite little things about this book is Hermione’s passion for S.P.E.W, the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. One thing that caught my attention this time: towards the end of the book, Snape confronts Fudge by showing him something. I want to keep this spoiler free, but I thought that moment was a sign of what his true allegiances are.
The movie adaptation is loved by a lot of people because it’s entertaining. I mean, there’s a ball and dragons! What’s not to love? However, of all the movies, this is the one I have the biggest problem with. I’m usually okay with things being kept out, but I cannot stand when the movies aren’t true to the characters. They will often take a clever line of Ron’s and give it to Hermione, and I can’t stand that. The most obvious thing I didn’t like was when Dumbledore asks Harry if he put his name in the Goblet of Fire, in a very un-Dumbledore-like manner. The scene in which Harry faces the dragon I find particularly annoying, since Harry acts like an idiot and needs Hermione to remind him to use his wand. This scene also makes Hogwarts look, if possible, even less safe than it actually is, since no one stops the dragon from running off with Harry and nearly killing him. I also hate Harry’s hesitation in the maze. The movie also doesn’t capture how well planned out the plot was. It was fun to watch, but I didn’t think it was a good adaptation.
This is a pivotal book in the series that shows signs of the series heading in a darker direction than people imagined when they read The Philosopher’s Stone. At the same time, we see love, humour and friendships tested and strengthened. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people are intimated by this book after reading the first three in the series, which are relatively short. This book is certainly thick, but I never felt like it dragged on. With the Quidditch World Cup and the three tasks in the Triwizard Tournament spread out throughout the book, there was plenty of excitement and suspense. It’s also a fairly quick read despite its bulk; when I first read it I was ten and I read it in three days (it was summer vacation though.) I think new fans of the series will enjoy the fourth book and seeing how the books mature with Harry. For long time lovers of the books, you can always count on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire being just as good as you remembered. For me, it’s comforting to know that whatever happens I’ll always be able to read this book and remember what it was like to be ten years old.
In January of 1939 Liesel Meminger steals her first book, The Grave Digger’s Handbook, which she finds covered by snow on the day of her younger broth...moreIn January of 1939 Liesel Meminger steals her first book, The Grave Digger’s Handbook, which she finds covered by snow on the day of her younger brother’s funeral. As the girl and her mother stand by the boy’s grave, Death watches from afar. The story takes place in Germany during the Third Reich and the Second World War, a time when Death, the story’s narrator, is especially busy. Liesel finds her life changing dramatically as she loses her brother as well as her mother, who leaves her at a foster home outside of Munich. Liesel is taken in by Rosa and Hans Hubermann, who live in a poor area outside of Munich. Her accordion playing foster father teaches her to read her stolen book at night, beginning her love affair with words. Liesel steals her second book from a Nazi book burning and begins her collection. She shares the stolen words with her neighbours as they wait in shelters during the air raids. Things take a dangerous turn in November of 1940, when a Jewish man named Max Vandenburg arrives at the Hubermann’s door with a copy of Mein Kampf.
The Book Thief is a beautifully written story about the lives of lower class German citizens throughout the Third Reich. This isn’t just another book about the Holocaust. Moving and thought provoking, this is the type of book that can be life changing. The writing style is different from anything I’ve ever read (in a good way) and I enjoyed Zusak’s creative approach. I love the characters in this book because they feel so real and can be so complex. Rosa Hubermann, for example, is a foul-mouthed woman who “possessed the unique ability to aggravate almost anyone she ever met.” However, throughout the novel she proves herself to be a loving mother to Liesel. The most memorable character for me is probably Rudy Steiner, Liesel’s best friend who infamously coloured his skin with charcoal so that he could look like Jesse Owens. The characters and the story stayed with me long after I finished this book.
I've read The Book Thief twice- first in high school and again in January of this year. Maybe if I was writing this right after finishing the book I’d be able to think of more of its flaws. At the moment, all I can think of are the things that I loved. However, I’ve read some reviews and have heard people say that they thought the book was hard to get into, that they found Death’s narration annoying, and that they thought that the book was full of gimmicks. If you’re not drawn into the book at first and are tempted to give up, I’d really recommend that you keep going, or at least give it another chance another time. Personally, I really enjoyed the book's narration and unique style. I never felt that Death’s narration was a gimmick, since he had a distinctive personality and offered a unique perspective that was appropriate for the story. Death as the narrator is part of what makes this book so memorable to me.
Overall, I found this book to be an original and engrossing read that I’d recommend to anyone.
Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
In August of 1991 fifteen-year-old Charlie begins writing letters about his life to a s...moreBook Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
In August of 1991 fifteen-year-old Charlie begins writing letters about his life to a stranger who he thinks will listen and understand. He doesn’t want this person to know who he is, so he has changed all the names of the people in his life. Charlie has a tendency to over think things, and prefers to look on from the sidelines than to participate. As he starts high school, he is still trying to get over the recent suicide of his best friend Michael. Charlie soon befriends Patrick and Sam and is introduced to their friends. Their world is one full of sex, drugs, love, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, mixed tapes, and moments that make you feel infinite.
I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the first time when I was about sixteen. I’d heard a lot of people my age say that this was their favourite book, and I thought that it didn’t live up to their praise. It felt like too much happened, as if the writer had tried to fit everything that could happen to a teen in one book. I would have probably given it 3/5 at most. Earlier this summer, I decided to give it another shot, 5 years after I first read it. I was surprised to find myself loving this book. All the things that felt like too much the first time didn’t bother me. This time the events didn’t feel forced. A lot of major issues are addressed but that didn’t stop me from liking Perks. So, there you have another example of me completely disagreeing with my past self about books.
Charlie is easily the most honest and insightful teenage narrator I can think of. He thinks about and questions everything, and looks at things in a unique way. Charlie’s insights are what a lot of people love about this book and why it is so often quoted. He is very naïve and innocent as the novel begins, making his voice distinctive and unlike the average teenager. Sometimes when the writing style in a book is like that I have difficulty getting used to it, but this wasn’t the case with Perks. The writing style reminds me a bit of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and The Catcher in the Rye. Chbosky was influenced by Holden Caulfield while writing this book, and he pays homage to that by having Charlie read The Catcher in the Rye. Charlie’s English teacher Bill assigns him extra novels to read and write about throughout the school year. Charlie’s favourite book is always the last one he has read, and I liked the discussion of books, movies and music throughout the novel. All those things were a huge part of my teenage years, and I always like to see them mentioned in books. Plus the mere mention of mixed tapes makes me nostalgic.
Charlie’s friends and family felt very realistic to me. I’ve heard some people ask why people like Sam and Patrick would be friends with Charlie, but I think that they liked how different he was and that he listened to them. I’ve also heard people refer to Charlie as a Gary Stu and I completely disagree. Charlie is very flawed and both Bill and Sam point out how he needs to participate and not put others before him. Although there are perks to being a wallflower, Charlie needs to stop watching from the sidelines. The ending was surprising and gave insight on why Charlie is the way he is. After I finished reading this book the second time, I tried to put my finger on what makes this book special. It wasn’t the great quotes or the characters, but how poignant this book is. What makes me love The Perks of Being a Wallflower is how real the emotions in this book feel. A lot of the things that happened to Charlie have never happened to me, but while reading this book it felt as if they had.
"So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be."(less)
Miles Halter is sick of his boring life in Orlando and decides to enrol at his dad's former boarding school in Alabama. Miles is looking for the great...moreMiles Halter is sick of his boring life in Orlando and decides to enrol at his dad's former boarding school in Alabama. Miles is looking for the great perhaps, and he's never going to find it if he stays at home. Miles is a collector of the last words of famous people and is the type of guy whose going away party would only be attended by two people he doesn't even like. At his new school, Miles finds friends that are exciting and intelligent. His new roommate the Colonel skipped a grade and is the king of pranks, while Alaska Young, the girl down the hall, is unlike anyone Miles has met before. She's smart, unpredictable and everything is brighter and more exciting when she's around. As Miles enjoys his new independence, he falls in love, almost dies in a pond, carries out the greatest prank ever and learns that one night can change everything.
I should start off this review by saying I was wrong the first time I read Looking for Alaska. I first read this book in December of 2010 and thought it was pretty good. However, I also thought that it didn’t quite live up to all the hype. At the time, I felt like all the great quotes didn't quite make it a great book. However, I read John Green's other novels and loved them. Eventually, all the love for this book made me doubt my judgement, and I decided to re-read it. Now, Looking for Alaska is one of my favourite books. It's a heart wrenching and thought provoking coming of age story. It also happens to be John Green's first novel, and it was his most popular until the release of The Fault in Our Stars. While not everyone is going to enjoy this book, I think of it as a must read for teens and would recommend it to anyone who thinks that YA books are lacking in quality. The characters are intelligent and realistic, the pacing is well done and the story pulls you in quickly. A quick read, Looking for Alaska can go from being deeply funny to heartfelt in a couple of pages. There is also a lot of depth and symbolism that has earned it a place in many classrooms. While some first novels are lacking, John Green did it perfectly on his first try. Looking for Alaska is a one of a kind novel that is unique and beautifully written.
When Matthew Cuthbert sets out to the railway station to pick up an orphan, he is expecting a boy that will help him with the farm work. Matthew and h...moreWhen Matthew Cuthbert sets out to the railway station to pick up an orphan, he is expecting a boy that will help him with the farm work. Matthew and his sister Marilla live at Green Gables in Avonlea, and have taken their friends' recommendations to adopt. But it is not a boy who has been sent, but eleven-year-old Anne Shirley. Anne is as talkative as Matthew is shy, but the two immediately take to one another. Once Marilla reluctantly agrees to let Anne stay at Green Gables, Anne enjoys the beauty of her new home and the kindred spirits she finds there. Trouble seems to find Anne wherever she goes, whether it’s from her overactive imagination or her quick temper. From the disastrous tea party to accepting Josie Pie’s dare, Green Gables seems to be much more interesting with Anne there. When the Cuthberts decided to adopt a child, they expected a hard working boy that would make their life easer. Instead, they were given Anne, and very soon they can’t imagine their life without her.
When I speak about Anne of Green Gables I feel as if I’m talking about my own life or a friend’s. I’ve read the book so many times that it feels like Anne’s experiences are mine. I first read this book when I was nine and have read it every few years since then. I’ve always loved it, and I actually got to read it my Children’s Lit course this past year. Quite a few of the girls in my class had assumed that this book would be boring and dated, but ended up loving it. I’ve never reviewed one of my all time favourite books before, but decided to do this once since it seems to be often overlooked. In my opinion, Anne’s one of the best characters in literature. It’s not just her talkativeness and rapid imagination, but her overall love for life. There are so many wonderful characters in Avonlea: soft-spoken Matthew, the nosy Rachel Lynde, sweet and gentle Diana and stern Marilla, who tries to find a moral in everything. I’ve heard J.K. Rowling say that she hated when characters remain children forever in literature. This isn’t the case for Anne. When the novel begins, Anne is only eleven. At the end, she is mature graduate of Queens College. I loved seeing not only Anne grow, but Marilla as well. For Anne, PEI is a sort of fantasy world. I’ve been to Green Gables in Cavendish (the real Avonlea) and it is truly beautiful, although it has gotten very touristy. When I was younger, my friend and I wanted to move to PEI and open a store called Kindred Spirits Book Shop, in honour of Anne. Anne sees beauty everywhere, and that couldn’t be easier when you live in Prince Edward Island. I love the way Anne sees the world and the way she speaks. I’ve heard people say that what was funny to our great-grandparents isn’t funny to us. Anne of Green Gables was written over one hundred years ago, and I still find humour in many parts of this book. There were also many touching and heartbreaking moments, and I think that’s what makes it still loved today. The plot centres around Anne growing up and evolving from a lonely Nova Scotia orphan to Anne of Green Gables. The story is fairly simple, and if you’re looking for fast paced excitement, then Anne of Green Gables might not be for you. However, if you are looking for a well-written story about the beautiful simplicity of childhood, then you will definitely find it here.
When Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire decide to spend the day at Brimy Beach, they have no idea that they will never return to their home or see the...moreWhen Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire decide to spend the day at Brimy Beach, they have no idea that they will never return to their home or see their parents again. Mr and Mrs Baudelaire were killed in a fire while the children were out, and the Baudelaire children become the Baudelaire orphans. They are sent to live with Count Olaf, who is an actor that they’ve never met. Olaf is a distant cousin of the Baudelaire’s, but geographically he is their closest relative. It soon becomes clear to the orphans that their new guardian is evil and is looking to steal their fortune. Fortunately, the Baudelaire’s do not have access to their inheritance until Violet turns eighteen, in four years. While Olaf might be rude, smelly, selfish and a horrible actor, unfortunately for the Baudelaire’s he is also very clever. Olaf’s plan to take their considerable fortune seems fool proof, and he will certainly dispose of the children once he gets what he wants. Will the orphans be able to prevail?
In a month it will have been eleven years since I first read this book, and I just re-read it today. It’s still wonderful, although books are never quite as magical as they were when I was younger. Oddly enough, I was first interested in this book when I saw one of the illustrations, which shows a baby captured in a hanging birdcage. Ten-year-old me was asking a friend what they were reading, and they let me flip through their book. I thought that it looked interesting and unlike anything I ever saw before, saw I decided to ask for it for Christmas. In retrospect, it’s a bit strange that I thought hanging babies equals a good book, but whatever. Years later, I told this friend how she was the one who got me into the series, and she told me that she actually hated those books. Reading reviews, a lot of people have wondered how kids could possibly have liked The Bad Beginning. I can honestly say that I loved this series and continued with it until the last book, which came out when I was sixteen. I also had a lot of friends who were big fans as well. As promised in the opening paragraph, this series is full of unhappiness and misery. But I appreciated Snicket’s dark humour from the start, which is essential if you are going to enjoy this series. I liked how Snicket addressed the reader and I enjoyed his humorous explanations of words. As it becomes clear later in the series, Lemony Snicket is actually connected to the Baudelaires and their world, although the reader doesn’t fully understand exactly how he is connected until the final volume. This was one of the things that made this book feel very original and unlike anything I’d ever read at the time. At the time, I was in elementary school and wasn’t good at any of the things that were ‘important’ at my school. Mainly sports, art, public speaking and math. At my grade school, being good at English wasn’t seen as important, so I loved reading about kids who get out of sticky situations through reading and using their heads. I liked the references to poetry (which is seen in the names of many characters, but the references are more apparent in the later books.) This series taught me about anagrams and how to send secret messages using poems. I thought all of this was fun and even refreshing, compared to what I usually read. Throughout the series, Snicket often provides explanations of bigger words. For example, “The money is an incentive - the word ‘incentive’ here means ‘an offered reward to persuade you to do something you don't want to do - to read long, dull, and difficult books.’” Reading The Bad Beginning as a young adult, I could see why some children would feel like they are being talked down to with these definitions. However, I feel that now that I’m older I’m always underestimating child readers and assuming they won’t ‘get’ certain things. Since I read this book first as a child I can tell you that I understood that these definitions were intended to be humorous and were often meant to be ridiculous. If you find something like this annoying, then don’t read these books. Snicket does a lot of telling and not a lot of showing, and the series starts stronger than it ends. If you don’t want to read a book where bad things happen to good people, then listen to the warnings the author gives and don’t read this book. That being said, I think these books are very clever and unique. They attract a certain type of person, but The Bad Beginning is a short book that’s worth reading. This is the book where all the trouble begins, and is perfect for anyone who enjoys quirky stories about intelligent children.
Quentin’s mind has always been in the Fillory and Further books he loved as a child. Everyone has read about the Chatwin children and the magical worl...moreQuentin’s mind has always been in the Fillory and Further books he loved as a child. Everyone has read about the Chatwin children and the magical world they found in their summer home. While most people grow out of the books, at seventeen Quentin still wishes he could live in them. He’s always felt like his life should take place outside of Brooklyn, and he is finally proven right when he is accepted into Brakebills school of magic. There, Quentin learns how to become a magician. This world of magic should be everything Quentin ever wanted, but he’s still left wanting more. When Quentin learns that Fillory could be real, he and his friends venture into the magical world of their childhood fantasy, and find that it’s much darker than it is in the stories.
John Green recommended this book for grown up fans of Harry Potter, and I have to agree. The Magicians is the perfect book for anyone who has wished they could live in another world they find only in books, whether that’s Hogwarts, Narnia or Middle-earth. I really enjoyed this fast paced novel that sucks you in and makes you really wish the Fillory books were real. Part of the fun of the book is the buildup to Quentin’s discovery of Fillory, which you know is going to happen. While you can’t help comparing Brakebills and Fillory to other world’s in other books, I liked seeing where Grossman took both of these places, through the themes and the storyline. The characters greatly contrasted archetypes of the genre, being very flawed and realistic. I really enjoyed the complexity and darkness of the magic. While the story could be predictable, part of the fun was the buildup to what you knew was going to happen. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you have forgotten the fantasy worlds you used to yearn for, and The Magicians is the perfect book for anyone that feels this way.