Lucy Carlyle is a ghost hunter, one of the newest members of the Lockwood & Co paranormal investigations company. Unlike the other large ghost hunLucy Carlyle is a ghost hunter, one of the newest members of the Lockwood & Co paranormal investigations company. Unlike the other large ghost hunting firms in London, Lockwood & Co has only 3 employees and they're all kids, no grown-up supervisors allowed. When one of their cases goes horribly awry Lockwood & Co may have to close up shop forever - unless of course they agree to take on the most haunted house in Britain. Of course the last team that went in all died.
This was a fun, fast, rollicking read. I fell in love with all of the main characters and I have to admit the creepy descriptions gave me chills and had me leaving a light on as I read late into the night. Stroud is a genius when it comes to descriptions and Lucy's world comes to life in this book. The world building is superb. The grand mystery was easy to figure out halfway through but I didn't care because I was enjoying the story so thoroughly at that point. I had a hard time pining down WHEN this story takes place, however. At first I thought this was set in a Victorian London or a derivation thereof but it became apparent later that the book is actually set in the present - but an alternate present where there are a lot of historic trappings, ghosts run rampant and not all modern conveniences appear to be in common use. That confusion on time and setting was my only complaint in the entire book. I look forward to reading more in this series and eagerly anticipate the next book....more
It's hard to believe I made it this far in life without reading this ubiquitous children's book. I was surprised at how many things were different froIt's hard to believe I made it this far in life without reading this ubiquitous children's book. I was surprised at how many things were different from the movie and how many were the same. The famous ruby slippers were actually silver. I think I prefer the movie version of those slippers.
The version of this book I listened to was narrated by Anne Hathaway. She did a wide range of voices and is a credible narrator. However, some of the accents she chose were a bit mind-boggling. By the end I found the narration too distracting from the story. Especially as the guard to the Emerald City sounded like Looney Tunes Sylvester with an even worse speech impediment. And the California valley girl accent used at one point - definite WTF, moment.
As for the story itself, it's a children's story and so I'm not looking for much deeper in the narrative. All the same, little things did niggle at me. Weren't Dorothy's aunt and uncle a little concerned their house was missing? Where the heck were they living while she was in Oz? And the wicked witch sends out her wolves FIRST? And then falls back on crows and then bees? Seriously, she needs a better arsenal of hench-creatures. No wonder she was so easily defeated. I wasn't attached to any of the characters in the story overall. It was an interesting read, but not one that I feel the need to revisit....more
Kate, Micheal and Emma Wibberly continue their adventures in search of the fabled Books of Beginning. While Kate now posses the Emerald Atlas, the chiKate, Micheal and Emma Wibberly continue their adventures in search of the fabled Books of Beginning. While Kate now posses the Emerald Atlas, the children are in even greater danger from the Dire Magnus and his minions. When Kate is sucked back in time to turn-of-the-century New York, Michael and Emma embark on a quest for the second Book of Beginning, the Book of Life or Fire Chronicle, in order to rescue their sister.
This second book is filled with action, humor and the excellent writing I fell in love with in the Emerald Atlas. Stephens' whimsical characters and imaginative world building suck me right in and I just loved every page. I found the story line with Kate and Rafe fairly predictable but it didn't stop me from rooting for the two of them. Despite the book having dual stories going (Kate in New York, Michael & Emma pretty much all over) this was really Michael's story and he's the one who shows the most character growth. Occasionally petty and immature, Michael's a bit all over the place in the beginning of the book. By the end, however, he's grown up a lot and embraced his role in wielding the Fire Chronicle. This is such a lush and fun book, perfect for fantasy loves, reluctant readers, and children of all ages who like a good story.
I know a lot of people compare this series to the Harry Potter series in an unflattering light and claim it's derivative, however I think the books stand on their own. There are certain children's fantasy archetypes that are very prevalent in this sort of book and the series does use them. The mark of a good writer is making those tropes and archetypes their own and putting a fresh spin on them. I believe Stephens has done that. Pym is not Dumbledore, though he does fit the wise mentor archetype. The Dire Magnus is not Voldemort, though he does fit the classic villain mode. Calling these books derivative denigrates the time and effort Stephens put into building his world and his characters. I find the series wholly delightful and have nothing bad to say. I cannot wait for the next book in the series....more
In her second adventure, foundling Jennifer Strange must win a wizards' challenge to save the magical company she manages, protect the freedom of magiIn her second adventure, foundling Jennifer Strange must win a wizards' challenge to save the magical company she manages, protect the freedom of magic and prevent a despot from gaining unlimited power. Sounds easy enough - except everything keeps going wrong. The Kazam wizards, one after another, are out of commission, the corrupt king & his cronies are rigging the contest against Kazam and a strange quark beast is on the loose and in danger of being captured by a scruple-less hunter.
A fun, crazy read with lots of strange twists. Fforde is clearly having fun with this series and indulging his love for the absurd. While the plot dragged a tiny bit, particularly in the first third of the book, overall it's an engaging read. This is the sort of story that will make you smile with all the quirky little details packed inside. Recommended for anyone who loved the first book, Fforde's Thursday Next series, or satirical writing in general. ...more
Alanna of Trebond longs to be a knight, something no girl would ever be allowed to undertake. When Alanna and her brother Thom are sent away to schoolAlanna of Trebond longs to be a knight, something no girl would ever be allowed to undertake. When Alanna and her brother Thom are sent away to school they decide to go their own way and Alanna reinvents herself as Alan and begins training. Learning to be a knight is brutal and hard and as she ages it's harder for Alanna to hide her gender.
The story telling was simplistic overall and I found the story largely forgettable. I cringed every time the author described Alanna's lavender eyes. This is an upper middle-grade reader and fits comfortably in that genre, there's nothing overly challenging and deep. Alanna's period is mentioned at one point, that's perhaps the most controversial thing. Though I understand that the second book in the series does push some boundaries most middle-grade readers do not in regards to pre-marital sex and sexuality.
I struggled for a while to understand why I didn't like or connect with this book. I really like the story of Mulan and I'm a huge fan of kick-ass girl stories. But Alanna doesn't want to be a girl and in many ways I feel like she hates herself and her gender. She continually calls females weak and sees herself as less than the boys she's competing with. She hates her body. I prefer a story where the girls aren't filled with self-loathing and are perfectly fine with being female AND kicking some ass. I might have been okay with the story if Alanna had grown to accept her gender by the end of the book, but that wasn't the case. She's outed not by herself, but circumstance....more
Percy and Annabeth must fight their way out of Tartarus, while Leo, Hazel, Frank, Piper and Jason head for the ancient lands in an attempt to rescue tPercy and Annabeth must fight their way out of Tartarus, while Leo, Hazel, Frank, Piper and Jason head for the ancient lands in an attempt to rescue their friends from the other side of the doors of death.
This was another fast-paced, action packed read. A perfect accompaniment to the series. There's some good character progression for Jason in this book, along with Percy and Annabeth, and surprisingly, Leo. We learn more about each of them and there are certainly a ton of romance moments for Percy and Annabeth. I love how their relationship has changed over the series and I also like how Riordan shows us different aspects of each of the characters, how they see themselves and how others perceive them. Percy is everyone's golden boy, but Jason, surprisingly, is the hero of his own story and a hero to Leo and Piper, but not beloved and accepted the way Percy is. I can't wait to read the next book and really loved this one.
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For the longest time, GLBT issues weren't really seen in YA literature other than a few very niche books. These days gay characters are almost a given. I'm happy with that change when the characters fit the story and it doesn't feel like they're just being included as a token gesture. Like the author is ticking off a list "Let's see, potential love triangle, check. Gay character, check. Bit of romance, check." Finding out that Nico is gay and in love with Percy felt forced. I need to reread the previous books but I don't feel like there were any hints in that area so it came out of left field. Perhaps I'm just not reading the subtext in the previous books properly. I just felt like Nico was the token gay character and that personality aspect was tacked onto him. Unlike in a book such as Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green where the fact one of the main characters is gay is a natural part of that character and adds to his storyline and his personality. Nothing about Tiny's character in Will Grayson, Will Grayson felt forced. But in House of Hades, the internal conflict with Nico being in love with Percy did feel forced and unnatural. A manufactured conflict and a way for Riordan to rationalize Nico's need to isolate himself. Nico can't be anti-social and a loner without some big, dark secret. I don't buy it and that was the only aspect of the book I didn't enjoy. If Riordan had built toward this in the previous books and laid groundwork for it, I'd be fine with it....more
Fourteen-year-old American Janie Scott has just moved to London in 1952 and is having trouble fitting in at school. Her parents were about to be accusFourteen-year-old American Janie Scott has just moved to London in 1952 and is having trouble fitting in at school. Her parents were about to be accused as communists so there's no going back to America and Janie will just have to make the best of it. When Janie becomes involved with the Apothecary's son, Benjamin Burrows, she's inadvertently dragged into a mad adventure filled with Russian spies, magic users and, most importantly to Janie, Ben - the boy she's been crushing on.
Janie and Ben read much younger than their apparent ages in the book. Perhaps that's because the story takes place in 1952 and we're to believe that children were, in general, more child-like in those days. The plot is fairly predictable, and the reader is asked to take some pretty huge leaps of faith. (view spoiler)[I still don't understand how Mr. Burrows believes his atomic containment spell will make a difference considering he'd have to be on-site for any atomic explosion to contain it and he'd have no way of knowing, in advance what the target was going to be, and then getting there in time given a devastated transit system (as would inevitably result in the event of a nuclear disaster). (hide spoiler)] The magic aspect being completely tied to chemical and alchemical formula was an interesting twist.
For the most part, however, I found the characters to be largely two-dimensional. That was the biggest failing of the book overall. (view spoiler)[Also, I found the whole memory-loss potion entirely too convenient a plot device - the idea that the Apothecary could wipe out only a set time period stretches the bounds of credulity. Even if the reader buys into that idea, the emotional trauma Janie's parents suffered from their daughter going missing had to have had an impact. It would spill over into their everyday life, even if they couldn't remember why they were reacting as they were. For goodness sakes their daughter was missing and they had no idea what had happened to her. Plus, a kid was missing! Why weren't there more police involved than just the two detectives? There had to have been a case file. But all of that is never addressed or mentioned. (hide spoiler)] The ending felt contrived and false to me.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Ten-year-old Jamie and his sister Jas, have just moved to the lake district with their dad. Jamie hopes the move will mean a fresh start for his familTen-year-old Jamie and his sister Jas, have just moved to the lake district with their dad. Jamie hopes the move will mean a fresh start for his family but instead everything continues to fall apart. His mum ran off with another man, his dad is drunk most days and just like his old school, Jamie has trouble fitting in with his classmates. Five years ago, his sister Rose, Jas's twin, was killed by a terrorist bomb in Trafalgar Square. That's when everything went wrong. Jamie isn't ready to give up though and he hatches a plan to bring his family back together even as he makes friends with the one person his dad will most disapprove of, a Muslim girl.
This is a fantastic, heart-breaking book that worms its way into your head and your heart. Too many books for kids are all sunshine and rainbows or wrapped up in a happy bow at the end. There is no perfect happy ending for Jamie and his family, there can't be and have the story stay true to life. But it is a good ending, one the reader can smile at. Jamie learns a lot and grows a lot during the story and sharing his journey is a pure pleasure. The language of the book is beautiful with great descriptions and memorable characters. And everything that happens, every single detail, is believable and real and unflinching. Excellently written, this is a book the reader will remember and love....more