3.5 stars Fredericks takes a really unique approach to talking about bullying in school, specifically bullying of girls. I loved how bullying became t3.5 stars Fredericks takes a really unique approach to talking about bullying in school, specifically bullying of girls. I loved how bullying became this kind of evil energy, almost magic, that girls worked on one another. I think that interpretation is really provocative and really captures the feeling of the victim, especially when it seems like one popular girl has bewitched the entire school to turn against you. So I was totally behind this book, up until the end. Unfortunately, I felt that the end, while appropriate for the message Fredericks wanted to send about negative and positive energy, was a little too cheery and happy for the tone she sets early on in the novel. This was a story that called for darkness and tragedy a la The Craft. And the positive ending felt a little unbalanced. Nonetheless, I thought it was a great, creative, readable take on bullying, and of course anything that mixes magic and every day-ness gets my vote....more
I really loved this book. I thought it was imaginative and interesting and unique. Schlitz sets the perfect balance between historical ficti4.5 stars!
I really loved this book. I thought it was imaginative and interesting and unique. Schlitz sets the perfect balance between historical fiction, adventure, fantasy, and gothic. Most of all, I love her characters. They're all very well rounded and complex, even the secondary ones, even the "villains." The children especially are struggling with their own faults and failings, but they are always so very much themselves, and they learn that it is OK, that it is better, to be yourself instead of trying to be different.
I read a few reviews complaining that the plot seemed too long and the imagery too scary. I totally disagree. First, I love those moments in books when nothing really is happening but we get to see a bit of the everyday life of the characters. It helps enormously in character development and allowing the reader to really know and own the characters. Second, children have pretty gruesome imaginations. Goodness, by this age I was reading Goosebumps and Fear Street and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and I didn't even like horror stories.
Anyway, I very much enjoyed this book, and I totally think it's deserving of all its accolades....more
I really liked this book. 4.5 stars! I think that Zink did a wonderful job of capturing the feeling of the late 1800's in the narrative voice and dialI really liked this book. 4.5 stars! I think that Zink did a wonderful job of capturing the feeling of the late 1800's in the narrative voice and dialogue. And this book is so atmospheric! Very gothic and haunting. Very creepy. I love how Zink took the Victorians' obsession with spiritualists and turned it into a system of magic all her own with a society of sorceresses, a magical realm called the Otherworlds that you can travel in your dreams, and an army of Lost Souls that plot to bring in the Reign of Chaos. And Zink's titular pophecy adds an the perfect atmosphere of anciet myth and legend to the story. Half the fun of the book is deciphering the prophecy and figuring out what its parts mean to the Sisters' quest.
Some of the reviews that didn't like this book critcize it for its lack of action, but I totally disagree. I think that pleanty happens in the plot. But this is a book that focuses more on the atmosphere and creating an overall feeling rather than hurling through a set of plot-points, so be warned. I love that, though, in certain moods, so I was happy as a clam. And I'm definitely going to try to read the next one....more
I really liked this book. I thought the story was inventive while still being reassuringly familiar. It had some of the recognizable tropes of childreI really liked this book. I thought the story was inventive while still being reassuringly familiar. It had some of the recognizable tropes of children's fantasy - three young orphans, a prophecy, a magical object, an evil witch, a wise old wizard - while including some really interesting twists and turns, like time traveling and elf-hating dwarves. It was just funny enough and just suspenseful enough and just sweet enough. And I think it'd appeal to both boys and girls.
My only caveat is that maybe the character of the youngest sister, Emma, didn't totally ring true for me. But I get the feeling that this is going to be a trilogy with each book focusing on one of the children, so maybe that will change in Emma's book.
Also, Stephens wrote for "Gilmore Girls," so I gotta give him props for that. (Though hopefully he was one of the earlier writers rather than that later ones...)...more
Update: There was a really good review about this book on NPR that totally conveys my feelings for this book.
"I darkly suspected author DeborUpdate: There was a really good review about this book on NPR that totally conveys my feelings for this book.
"I darkly suspected author Deborah Harkness of just following through on the dinner-party game of ginning up ideas for zeitgeist-button pushing bestsellers. "Let's see ... a unicorn in a Depression-era traveling circus run by a vampire!" "Oooh, how about a vampire who's chased by members of a secret Catholic cult through Italy, India and Bali, learning valuable life lessons along the way?" "Nooo, a politically incorrect vampire who was horribly abused as a child rescues a lovable vegan Labrador from Swedish Nazi sympathizers!") This book seemed like that.
That the witch and vampire are really into doing yoga? Did not help. ...
But against all odds, A Discovery of Witches becomes increasingly charming as it goes along. There's a fine story here, centered on Bishop's discovery of a manuscript that promises to unleash all sorts of magical mayhem. Harkness tucks in bright plot twists and details based on her studies of the history of science and of really, really good wine. It's a shrewdly written romp and a satisfying snow-day read for those of us who heartily enjoyed the likes of Anne Rice and Marion Zimmer Bradley. By the book's rousing end, I didn't even miss the cackling. In fact, I was impatient for the sequel."
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Maybe a 4.5. My review will have to come later. Too sick to think in full sentences now. ...more
**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this book, especially the way it played with conventional fantasy/fairy tale tropes. I was as a little wary of the**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this book, especially the way it played with conventional fantasy/fairy tale tropes. I was as a little wary of the ending when *spoiler alert* Howl and Sophia fell in love. I mean, I knew it was coming, but I felt like they were kind of pushed into it by the author. But I've read a few of Diana Wynne Johnes' books lately, and I love them all. She's a wonderful writer, and I pretty much devoured this book. I can't wait to read the companion book!...more
**Update: sigh I love Harry Potter so much. And I've decided that I have no time for naysayers! JK Rowling is writing young adult fiction, she's not t**Update: sigh I love Harry Potter so much. And I've decided that I have no time for naysayers! JK Rowling is writing young adult fiction, she's not trying to be the next James Joyce. And frankly, she knows how to write a story.
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I'm taking a break from Vampires to read about Witches and Wizards! This is the only Harry Potter book I've read only once, so I thought it was time I gave it a re-read. I'm loving it again so far. JK Rowling's world just sucks you right in....more