Archive for January, 2011

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by
Series: Harry Potter #4
Published by in 2002
Genres: ,
Pages: 734

Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Chang, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious event that's supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn't happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. Unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal - even by wizarding standards. And in his case, different can be deadly.

My thoughts:

It seemed to take forever to get through this one! I am so ready to move on to the next book, but I didn’t want to skip anything. That’s cheating after all. So, after finishing, my thoughts are as follows:

1) Watching that awful excuse for a movie had coloured my view of this book more than I expected, especially since I read the book way before seeing the movie. It’s actually not that bad – probably because the details are what makes the story and most if not all of them got left out in the film.

2) I know Rowling probably meant to be all metaphorical and whatnot on the whole house elves issue, but I’m still not sure I understand what she was getting at – it’s so confusing when the slaves themselves assert that this is what they want. Is Dobby really that odd, or have they been brainwashed for too long to know the difference? I like to think of myself as on Hermione’s side, because, well, I’ve always seen myself as a real life version of Hermione, but sometimes I have to agree with Ron – she’s not even listening to the House Elves!

3) I love Hagrid for many reasons, but one of the most important ones is:
“You all righ’?”
“No, yeh’re not. ‘Course yeh’re not. But yeh will be.”
We’ve all been there. We’ve all had someone ask us if we’re alright, and out of whatever stupid ideas we have about the situation we say “yeah I’m fine.” And you know what? Some days you just want them to look you straight back in the eyes and say “Liar”

4) Dumbledore is awesome and I wish Richard Harris had lived long enough to at least finish the role.

5) It’s really amusing to note where they had to have changed a British word for an American, and others where they didn’t. This is especially true since I spent a year there learning their slang, and translating on both sides of the ocean (I’ve been watching Primeval with a friend here, and every once in a while they’ll say something and she’ll look at me like “whaaaaat?” It usually takes me a minute to figure out why she’s confused). I’m also amused by the fact that none of these things that I could never have understood before detracted from my previous readings, or really added all that much to this reading – and so I would like to say to the publishers “Leave the originals alone, thank you! Americans aren’t all that stupid, and it doesn’t change anything!”

There’s more I could say, but I think I’ll leave it there for tonight. I’m going to take a break from Harry Potter for a few days, hopefully get some other reading done, and then back to it this weekend.


Book Review: Nuclear Time

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Nuclear Time Nuclear Time by
Series: Doctor Who: New Adventures Series #40
in 2010
Pages: 256

Colorado, 1978. The Doctor and Amy arrive in Appletown - an idyllic village in the remote American desert where the townsfolk go peacefully about their suburban routines. But when two more strangers arrive, things begin to change. The first is a mad scientist, whose warnings are cut short by an untimely and brutal death. The second is the Doctor... As death falls from the sky, the Doctor is trapped. The TARDIS is damaged, and the Doctor finds he is living backwards through time. With Amy being hunted through the suburban streets of the Doctor's own future and getting farther away with every passing second, he must unravel the secrets of Appletown before time runs out!


My Review:

If there is such a thing as guilty pleasure books, the Doctor Who books are it for me. They’re not even that good, but boy do I love them. I’m slightly embarrassed to even admit that I read them, but for posterity (and challenges) sake, I’m going to at least write down a few thoughts.

This is one of the newest ones, about the Eleventh Doctor and his companions Amy and Rory. They land in Colorado during the Cold War in a town that is too perfect. Of course, that’s because all the people are robot assassins, about to be terminated because they couldn’t tell the difference between the target and everybody else.

The book overall reminded me of the episode Amy’s Choice, and not in a good way. It was one of the less well written in the series, simply re-using bits and pieces from the series in a different order and slapping in a bit of admittedly accurate dialogue. That was the best part, really, because Smith got the voices of the characters just right.

I guess, in the end, the books can never live up to the series. One of the reasons I love the series is the way the writers are so careful about tying in loose ends and tying the entire series together. It really makes the show for me, and it tells me the writers truly care about the story and not just how many viewers they can get. True, each series has its own one-off adventures, and some are better than others, but they all tie in somehow, even if it’s just the mention of a few words or a shot of a crack in time at the end. When you have a series made up of thousands of books each written by a different author, and often written before a series has even finished airing, it’s really difficult to tie the stories in. So instead, you get a bunch of one-off adventures, some better than others, but without much relation to the series itself. It’s good enough to tide you over when the next episodes are nearly a year away, but not the real thing. (Kinda like being on a diet. You can’t eat the real thing, so you make do with something that’s close to satisfy your cravings. Not a perfect metaphor, but you get the point.)

Anyways, overall, I wouldn’t recommend this one, mostly because it’s my guilty pleasure, and that’s the only reason I enjoyed it. Only someone else as obsessed as me would get the enjoyment.

Book Review: The Lost Hero

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The Lost Hero The Lost Hero by
Series: Heroes of Olympus #1
Published by in 2010
Genres: ,
Pages: 557

Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?
Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.
Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god.

My Review:

OMG, MORE PLEASE! I flew through this novel in two days, constantly on the edge of my seat!

I’ll admit, mythology is kind of my thing. When we did Ancient Civilizations in Elementary school, I was always the one working on mythology for my final project. I still remember the boxes and boxes of notecards I had on Egypt (one of the more difficult ones because every single town had their own deity on top of the standards – who all had a different name depending on where the city was, talk about confusing!). I’ve also always liked the idea of those Gods in modern times. So when I first heard about the Percy Jackson series, I thought I had to read it, just to see what the hype was about.

When I finally did get around to reading it, I thought it was pretty good, but I could tell that it had been written for a younger audience than me. For what it was it was pretty awesome, so I kept reading. By the time I got to the end of the series, most of the enjoyment for me was recognizing the Gods I’d studied and loved when I was the same age as Percy. It was ok, and I would recommend it but it wasn’t on the level of Harry Potter.

Then I read The Red Pyramid. I had high hopes for this one, mostly because I absolutely loved the Egyptian Gods, and I thought they would be much more interesting. I was slightly disappointed to find I had trouble getting through that one. That may have been somewhat due to my extremely stressed mood at the time, but I found the characters too young to relate to, and aside from the occasional self-referentiality Riordan put in, there wasn’t much exciting. This may have something to do with the writing style – it felt uncomfortable that he made it a transcription of a recording, and every time he interrupted the narrative to remind us that we were supposed to be hearing a recording I got rather annoyed. Just tell the story! That said, when the next one comes out I’ll keep reading, in hopes that it was mostly due to my mood and not the writing.

So then, going in to The Lost Hero I had lowered my expectations slightly. After all, the previous books had mostly flopped for me because I had such high expectations, and honestly, no one could have lived up to them (not even if I’d tried to write them myself – that probably would have flopped worse!) I decided I would go in to this one not expecting anything from him. I tried my best to forget everything I knew about mythology and focus on the story.

I needn’t have bothered. Finally, Riordan has captured my attention! I found the characters engaging and relatable, even though they are a little young compared to me. I spent most of the novel trying to figure out what was going to happen (that’s a huge seller for me, and I have fun doing it, even if it does ruin the novel sometimes – the good ones it shouldn’t ruin, because I shouldn’t be able to figure it out). This one literally had me stumped until the final clue only a few pages from the end. This truly is a new myth, much as the very first Percy Jackson book seemed, not following the archetype of any of the ancient ones.

Another big seller for me in this novel was the mixture of Roman and Greek mythology. Most authors treat the two mythologies as completely separate entities – you have to chose one or the other – probably because they are so similar. I love the way that Riordan acknowledges these similarities, but highlights the fact that the Romans defined their Gods slightly differently. Riordan explains it all in his book, but the Roman Gods were shifted slightly from their original Greek to be more in line with Roman values, and that is portrayed beautifully, especially in the relationship between Thalia and Jason, and the different forms the Gods appear in.

I am so excited for the next book Son of Neptune and I cannot wait to see where he goes with his works in general. I find it interesting that he started with Greek mythology, and is concurrently running Roman and Egyptian (that’s the order I always thought of them in historically). I would love to see him add more mythologies to his world – there are so many to play with! He hints at a strong background in Cherokee heritage for Piper (wouldn’t it be awesome if her Grandfather, who is often mentioned was a Cherokee Demigod?). I also am waiting with fingers crossed for him to come out with a series on Norse Mythology, as that was always one of my favorites, and personally I think Rotterdammerung would be an awesome time to get Demigods of all mythologies together to save the world.

This novel, for me, has finally brought Riordan’s writing up to the standard of Harry Potter. I will be collecting all of his novels and recommending them to friends whenever I can!

Book Blogger Hop! Jan 14-16

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It’s time for another Blog Hop! This week’s question is:

Why do you read the genre that you do? What draws you to it?

Hmm, another hard question. I guess firstly, what do I read? Fantasy mostly, with sci-fi thrown in, and YA in both categories, then YA in other categories. Why do I read those genres? Well, as I explained in last weeks question, it all started with Harry Potter, and then became my way of escapism. I was very grades oriented as a kid and got very stressed about homework. I hate to admit it, but I kinda felt like if I wasn’t the best at everything people wouldn’t like me (how stupid, huh?) Anyways, my books were the way of getting away from that, so I chose the stories that were least like my own life.

What can I say, I was a messed up kid! =D

How about you? Why do you read what you read?

Recent events around here:
The Pay it Forward Giveaway
The Potter-Thon – Reviews of books 2 and 3

Book Review: Eric

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Eric Eric by
Series: Discworld #9
Published by in 2002
Pages: 224

An inept demonologist wants three wishes granted--to be immortal, to rule the world, and to have a beautiful woman fall in love with him. But instead of a demon, he calls up Rincewind, the most incompetent wizard in the universe. Because Eric gives him no other choice, Rincewind tries to grant him his wishes--with hysterical results.

My Review:

This book is supposed to be a satire on the story of Faust (in fact, many of the covers for other editions list it as Faust with a strikethrough and rewritten as Eric). I will be the first to admit that I know practically nothing about the Faust legend and what I do know is filtered through retelling upon retelling in various mediums. I don’t really feel qualified to judge it in relation to Faust, because I don’t know the original.

In relation to the rest of Pratchett’s work though, I’d say this is the runt of the litter – mediocre at best. Rincewind was never my favourite storyline of his (what can I say, I have a thing for Sam Vimes and Captain Carrot!). Without knowing what he is parodying and honestly having trouble finding the “funny” I’m just not impressed.

The one redeeming factor, for me, was Pratchett’s portrayal of Hell. I like the idea of boredom as Hell, because he’s right, once you’re dead, you have no body and therefore shouldn’t be able to feel the pain of the fires… Anyway, that bit made me chuckle a bit, and was actually quite good, though I lost track of what was going on towards the end.

So, overall, a mediocre read – I would only recommend it to someone who is desperate for a new Pratchett book, not someone looking to read Pratchett for the first time.

Pay It Forward

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Here at Creativity’s Corner we’re all about Creativity, no matter what format it comes in. So when I saw this giveaway over on Tea and Tomes, I knew it was right up my alley!

The rules are as follows:
1) Put the following status either in a blog post or a facebook status: I promise to send something handmade to the first 5 people who leave a comment here. They must in turn post this and send something they make to the first 5 people who comment on their status. The rules are that it must be handmade by you and it must be sent to your 5 people sometime in 2011.

2) Comment on this post with a link to your giveaway (I will check) and an email address where you can be reached.

3) I will take comments until January 31 – plenty of time to sign up if you want.

4) The first 5 commenters will receive something handmade from me sometime in 2011 (no matter where you live – I welcome international entries). These handmade items can be anything and will be a surprise. My only hint is that they will all be book related. (I may do some stalking of your blogger profile to find out what books you like etc. so I can better fit the gift to you, OR if you like, you can put in your comment what your favourite novel/series is, if you’re picky – no guarantees that what I make will be related to your comment however).

I can’t wait to see who is ready to pay it forward! =D

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by
Series: Harry Potter #3
Published by in 2004
Genres: ,
Pages: 435

For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.
Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter's defeat of You-Know-Who was Black's downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, "He's at Hogwarts... he's at Hogwarts."
Harry Potter isn't safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.

My Review:

This book has always been my favourite of the entire Harry Potter series, so this time around, I decided to read it with that in mind and try to figure out why. While I don’t have one specific reason, there are several possibilities.

1) Remus Lupin – No, he’s not my favourite character in the entire series. But, and call me Hermione if you will, I want to take his class! I don’t care what he’s teaching – in fact he could teach me Science if he wanted (BLECH!) and I would probably still take the class.

2) I have a thing for time-travel – I hadn’t even considered this before now, but going by my two favourite things (this book and Doctor Who) and my recent addiction to Primeval even though it is sooooooo CHEESY, this is a definite possibility. I shall look into it.

and 3) I love all the possibilities at the end of this novel – Really, I think this is the most likely reason. Even though I’ve read the rest of the series and I know where Rowling is going with this, I finished this one feeling that the possibilities were endless. And all those amazing possibilities are like a drug for the imagination – if I had even known about it then, I would probably have started writing fanfic after this one. I would still write fanfic about what happened after this one, if not for my thing about going against canon.

oh and possibly 4) the music for this movie was AWESOME – I don’t care if you don’t like the film, you have to admit this is the best score John Williams has ever written – and I had the music running through my head the whole time I was reading.

So there we have my thoughts on the 3rd Harry Potter. All in all, I’d say I’m on track for my goal since it’s been approximately a week and a half and I’m about to hit halfway (though of course the books only get longer, so we’ll see). Oh and school started yesterday, so posts may be a little fewer per week. I daresay you would rather that anyway, since I’ve been averaging two a day when I had nothing else to do and therefore bombarding your inboxes (sorry!).


Book Review: The Quillan Games

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The Quillan Games The Quillan Games by
Series: Pendragon #7
Published by in 2006
Genres: , ,
Pages: 496

Each new episode seems to raise the stakes of this action adventure series. In the seventh installment, Bobby Pendragon realizes that the Quillan Territory can be saved only by defeating game masters Veego and LaBerge in a fateful competition: Winning the Quillan Games could bring him a giant step closer to understanding the meaning of being a Traveler. Losing brings instant extinction.

My Review:

I started reading this series forever ago. Not even kidding. Remember those little leaflets of Scholastic books that you used to get in elementary school, which would prompt you to beg your parents for pocket money so you could order one? I’m pretty sure I bought the first 4 books out of one of those. Then stuff happened. Mostly, I bought other books instead. I read the next two from the library and then just didn’t read the rest (I think this had something to do with the fact that I was reading them as they came out and by the time the next one came out, I was thinking about other books). Anyways, I saw this, and the next one, in the library the other day like a blast from the past and I decided to pick them up. It took me a while to finish, mostly because I’m not as invested in the series as I once was, but I am now prepared to (finally) review it!

This book, more than anything else, reminds me of The Hunger Games, though of course it was published many years earlier. Now before you rush out to buy it on that statement alone, let me remind you that this is the 7th book in a fairly long series, and you will probably be extremely lost if you start there (and the rest aren’t even remotely Hunger Games ish. Sorry).

The premise of the world (called “territory” in this series) Quillan is a world much like ours that has been taken over by a single company. This company controls everything, from what foods you eat to what television you watch. Similar to the Hunger Games, the main form of entertainment is the “games,” most of which are deadly, and all of which are televised (on big screens in the street too, you can’t possibly miss it). The people have forgotten their rich heritage and forgotten how to think. Our hero, Bobby Pendragon, is swept into the games and forced to fight for his life only minutes after arriving in the territory, without a clue what is going on.

It is interesting, to me, to pick up a series that you never finished as a kid. I can see why I loved it – it is very original and I still love that. There are so many different territories that it seems like MacHale gets to world build constantly, but that doesn’t detract from the action. He somehow has figured out how to build his worlds in a way that is quick but gives a full sense of where you are.

Then, of course, there are the sections about Bobby’s two friends Courtney and Mark, who still live in our world (Second Earth in the series). They are his acolytes, and we see Bobby’s entire story through their eyes – he magically sends them journals that they have to read and keep safe for him… I forget why, it’s very early on in the series, and hasn’t been that important yet.


But the thing that made this book stand out from the rest of the series, for me, is how twisty it has become. I don’t remember how long Bobby has been traveling on his own, but he is now making decisions for himself, trying to figure out who to trust. He makes some definite mistakes in this one. We don’t find out until the very end, but someone Bobby trusts basically screws him over. This is the novel, much like Book 4 of Harry Potter, that marks a turning point in the series. Bobby is becoming an adult. It’s a really important part of the series, and I like how MacHale deals with it. It happens so fast that when Courtney sees him at the end, she doesn’t recognize him.

Bottom line: If you liked Hunger Games and Harry Potter, this series is definitely for you. It’ll be a little weird at first, but give it a chance and I can almost guarantee it’ll grow on you.

This series is 10 books long and was finished in 2009. The first novel is The Merchant of Death and can be found in both novel and graphic novel formats.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by
Series: Harry Potter #2
Published by in 1999
Genres: ,
Pages: 341

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.
And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.
But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone - or something - starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects... Harry Potter himself!

My Review:

I don’t really have a “review” as such for this one, but three thoughts struck me that I thought I’d share.

1) Whoever cast Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart was a genius. I don’t care if he’s not like that in real life, his characterization was perfect!

2) The clues were all there. I was just too wrapped up in the story the first time around to see it. It’s nice to read it again and go “wow I was dumb for not seeing that.”

and 3) This really is the filler novel of the series. It’s Harry Potter, ergo it’s good, but it doesn’t stick out. In fact, some days when I’m being particularly thick, I can’t even remember the plot.

On to book 3, my favourite of the entire series!


100 books in 2011

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I finally found a challenge that counts up how many books I’ve read in the year! I’ve been looking all week!

Book Chick City is hosting the 100+ books in 2011 challenge. Books can crossover for other challenges, and you’re of course welcome to read over 100 (my official goal is 111, cause that would be cool). If you want to join, just click the icon!

Many older posts are currently under reconstruction. Please excuse the inconvenience.


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