Clariel- Garth Nix

Clariel

Unexamined feelings lead to all kinds of trouble.

I picked up the Abhorsen Trilogy back when I was in middle school. I remember loving it! I also remember thinking “this is a young adult novel?” when it described the gentle curve of a male statues, ahem, well you know. I ended up losing the first book in the series Sabriel probably in a move. It wasn’t until I was in college, and I remember this part quite clearly, that I found the trilogy for sale on amazon. I was sitting quietly, probably having a glass of wine, in our little studio apartment on Michigan Ave. when all of the sudden amazon recommended I read the Abhorsen Trilogy. I squealed with joy remembering a book a long ago lost and was desperate to find again; because for the life of me I couldn’t remember the name of the damn thing.

I devoured the trilogy and loved every second of it. I have vivid memories of staying up late and reading and hanging on every word. Fast forward to a couple months back when I was killing time wondering around over at goodreads.com and they recommended that I check out this new novel by Garth Nix. When I found out it was part of the Abhorsen world I jumped at it. I put it on the back burner for a while to read a few other things that I had higher up in my queue.

I want to start out by saying that I ultimately did enjoy this book. Ok. I should say I enjoyed the last half of the book. The beginning was very slow and when I finally was hooked on the book I was already 75% of the way through. I read another review where they said it read like a first draft not a final product; and I would agree that the first part did read a little like that. There wasn’t a lot of substance behind the words. I know he was trying to set up certain things to get you to the finale but I think the story of Clariel could’ve been told as a short story. By the time I was deep in to the story it was over and I wanted more.

***SPOILER ALERT***

 

 

One of the main reasons I ended up enjoying the end of the book was the return, or introduction rather, of a beloved character from the trilogy. A little cat that you grow to love even though he may be one of the darkest creatures known to Free Magic. That’s right, Mogget is back, or introduced, or whatever. He is still the same old Mogget that we know and love from the trilogy and I wish he had more of a leading role in this story.

Pick up this book if you loved the trilogy as much as I did, but don’t go in to it thinking it’s going to hold a candle to the original series. When you’re finished you are going to want to read the trilogy again. Something I may do, just for the sake of writing a review of it since it was well before this adventure started that I read them. I also hear that Mr. Nix is coming out with a new book this fall called  Golden Hand which is set after the events if the Abhorsen trilogy end. I never read his book of short stories that deal with the Abhorsens so I’ll probably do that before the new book comes out.

Now what to read? I may try and tackle Stephen King’s 11.22.63, I finished the mini-series last week and I’m praying that the book gives me more answers to the burning questions I have. But at 842 pages it may take me awhile to finish.

Stay tuned, friends.


Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children- Ransom Riggs

libraryofsouls

“It was never just a story. I would know: a story had swallowed my whole life.”

I finished Library of Souls yesterday afternoon after a long day of laundry and other things that I had put off since the weekend. This being the last book in the series I was looking forward to an epic battle with the wights and the peculiars. I was hopeful that I wouldn’t be let down.

If I’m being honest, this was my least favorite of the series. It was a pretty slow start and when it finally did get going I found it very predictable. I also felt like the end was rushed. So much so that I gave myself false hope; seeing the bar at the bottom of my kindle say that I was only 98% of the way through the book. Alas, the last pages were just information on the photos that are used through out the book.

In Souls you follow Jacob, Emma, and Addison (the brave dog they met in the second novel) on a journey to save their friends and ymbrynes. They make it to Devil’s Acre via a dingy little boat captained by the always cloaked Sharon. Devil’s Acre is home to all of the peculiar rabble and outcasts. Peculiars who have taken too much ambrosia; a drug that was cooked up by Miss Peregrine’s brother to keep peculiars in line. You meet other people along the way who help the children to find their friends. Bentham, Miss Peregrine’s other brother, someone you’re not quite sure if you should trust.

For me, the reason I didn’t quite like this one is because it was slow to start and then when it got moving it was a boulder hurtling down a hill and then it just stopped. Got stuck by a pebble, if you will, until that pebble was dislodged and then it went hurtling to the end. Yes, I was happy at some aspects of the ending, but I also felt it was a bit of a let down, a tad predictable. It felt like they needed to get this book on the shelves by a certain day and just said “ok, that’s it. Done.”

As a series I did very much enjoy it but if I had to put them in order of which ones I liked best I would have to go with publication order. I felt the start and the middle of the series were the most fascinating and the pacing was superb. While the end was satisfying but could have been a little more fleshed out.


Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children- Ransom Riggs

missp2

“She had maintained her strength in the face of all this for so long that we had come to take it for granted, but she wasn’t bulletproof. She might’ve been peculiar, but she was also human.”

I finished the second novel in the Peculiar Children series last night with a marvelous glass of wine. I absolutely devoured the first installment and I was excited to get back to the world of the Peculiar’s. I have had this problem before with second novels though. Namely with the second book in the Abhorsen Trilogy: Lirael. It was a book that didn’t really go anywhere but it was crucial to the plot of the story. A story that continued in the next book.

I don’t want to say that the author had  signed a three book deal so that is what they did. I sometimes think that putting all of that content in to one book would just be too daunting. As is the case with the second Peculiar book. It took a little while for it to get rolling, but when it did, oh when it did. The ending had me in chills. The story continues with the children trying to find a solution for Miss Peregrine and their adventures area nothing short of fascinating.

I hope the last book in the series delivers all of the punches that I’m wishing it does. This series reminds me that sometimes you need a good fantasy novel to remind you that there is wonder in everything.


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children- Ransom Riggs

miss p.jpg

“I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.

I received this trilogy for Christmas this year and was not disappointed. I have seen this series floating around in the book-iverse for quite some time and was always interested in picking it up. But I never quite knew what it was. Is it a young adult novel? Is it just straight up fantasy? What is it? Tell me! It is billed as a young adult novel, though I found some very adult themes running through out and if I had read this as a teenager or “young adult” I would definitely have had nightmares. It does feel somewhere in between Harry Potter and The Magician’s.

The premise is simple enough to follow; a boy, Jacob, witnesses his grandfather’s murder by some monster that only he can see. Then he sends himself on an adventure to find the home that his grandfather lived in before he left for WWII. Jacob remembers his grandfather’s fantastical story of a girl who could levitate, a boy living with bees inside of him, an invisible boy. There were even pictures to accompany his grandfather’s “tall tales”, pictures that are peppered through out the book to accompany the tale that you are reading. Which I find amazing! It lends just a little more to the the fantastical nature of the book, it also makes you feel you may be reading someone’s diary. The pictures are all real, some slightly doctored, which Mr. Riggs makes mention of at the back of each book.

<<slight spoilers ahead>>

 

You meet some fantastic characters along the way, not only the invisible boy and the girl who can levitate. There is also a girl called Emma, whom you find out had a rather romantic relationship with Jacob’s grandfather. This is where things get a little weird for me. Emma and Jacob strike up a rather intimate relationship, one that Riggs does comment on as being strange for Jacob. No mention on what Emma feels as of yet. I’m interested to see where Riggs goes with this sordid relationship. I also  have found myself scared for the safety of every character; it feels very Game of Thrones, he may off one at any minute. Which makes me sad because in the span of 300 pages I have grown to love all of the characters; including Jacob’s dad, who I hope makes a triumphant return in the sequel.

This book is for anyone who wants to get lost in a magical world during these last dark days of winter. It’s a quick read because you can’t put it down. You’re racing against time with Jacob to find out the truth behind his grandfather’s last words and to put the pieces together of his own life as he hurtles toward manhood.

Some of the plot twists I saw coming but that doesn’t  mean I enjoyed it any less. I’m excited to get back to Miss Peregrine’s world and fit some more pieces of the puzzle together.

So, let’s go find some loops.


Jane Eyre- Charlotte Brontë (and some thoughts about technology)

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I am not an angel,’ I asserted; ‘and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me – for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you: which I do not at all anticipate.

Alright, confession time. For those of you who are friends with my on Facebook or have seen me at work you already know. A little over a week ago I was having a glass of wine after work. Then I had another glass of wine. Then I decided to get on Amazon. Two days later (Praise Amazon Prime) I had a kindle. I know…I know. I have received a lot of backlash from my fellow literary minded friends. I also chastised myself quite a bit. Years ago my mother bought me a Kindle because I was hauling The Autobiography of King Henry VIII: with notes from his fool 2 miles to and from the train in Chicago. This book is 1,000 pages and was a back wrencher. I finished that book in hardcopy, mostly just to say I did it, then moved to the Kindle. I read a few modern books; The Hunger Games, Beaches, etc. Then found “The List” and dove head first in to reading The Hobbit. As I sat on the train looking around at the people reading newspapers and the like I realized that this was sacrilegious. This is not how this book was supposed to be read. I sold my Kindle and never looked back. Flash forward to a week ago and wine. The new version of the Kindle is lightyears ahead of the clunker that I had back in 200(I don’t remember). The screen actually has the look of paper and just feel nice. The tap anywhere to turn the page is also a nice feature. A regular of mine at work said that I would love the dictionary function and that it would be hard for me to read hardcopies again because of it. She was right. If you’re on WIFI it can even translate different languages for you (Where were you when I was laboring over the Greek in The Secret History!). There’s no glare and which will be nice for when we are able to have Porch Time again. So, yes, I like my Kindle. Nay, I love my Kindle. Never fear, friends, I shall continue to read hardcopies, my own library is too large to not. I have also toyed with the idea of subscribing to Kindle Unlimited; think Netflix for Kindle. Anyone out there have it? In fact, anyone out there have thoughts about the Kindle and want to share? Comment away! Now, on to Jane Eyre.

Keeping with the theme of honesty, I saw the movie first. My fiancé was out of town and it was a rainy September night. What better way to watch Jane Eyre? I loved the movie and when I saw it on The List I knew I would probably love the book as well. I loved Wuthering Heights after all, this should be no different. It wasn’t. Eyre was easier to read actually, only towards the end does she start to write in the cadence of people’s accents. Something her sister did right from the get go. The language is beautiful and easy to understand even if you don’t know the correct definition to the words they are speaking, you get the emotion behind them.

As far as characters go…Jane was very likable sometimes annoyingly so. She always seems to do what is right for everyone around her. That’s not to say that she doesn’t look out for herself, above all things she knows the importance of being true to one’s self. Something I, and I’m sure most women, admire in her. Rochester…Oh, Rochester. For me his character swayed like the grass on the moors. One minute I felt as though the love he had for Jane would tear him in two. The next I thought he would strike her and keep her docile and compliant. As I was telling a coworker of mine; you have to keep in mind that this was written at a time when women were supposed to be docile and sit in corners with their sewing. I believe that this is why Rochester cherishes Jane so. She is different than the rest of the ladies that come in contact with him throughout his life. She can sit quietly and stare out a window meditating over her day or she can sit by his side and have the witty repartee that I believe he craves.

In the end Jane Eyre is a book not only about love but about forgiveness and how we, as a community, treat one another. There are many similarities between Eyre and Heights and I can’t help but imagine the sister’s sitting in a parlor together swapping notes and reading each other’s manuscripts.  That is a beautiful thought.


“Hey, Boo” I said

Dear Friends, today my heart is sad. I woke this morning and went through my normal routine of checking emails and such when I came to buzzfeed and the first headline I saw was: “Harper Lee dies at age 89”.

I was in sixth grade when I was asked to play Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird along side my friends and colleagues at The Magik Theatre in San Antonio. I quickly cut my hair, to that Jean Louise bowl cut and grabbed a copy of the book. I tore through it. Surprisingly, or maybe not, it was never required reading. At least I never remember it being. The characters in the book spoke to me as they do to everyone who reads it. You want to be as good as Atticus and see the world the way the children, Scout, Jem, and Dill do. To somehow get back to a place where the world was still a mystery and you didn’t know of all the evil happening around you.

I have many memories of that show, but one that stands out for me always when I think back on it is a scene where Scout and the boys follow Atticus to the jail cell where Tom Robinson is being held. Atticus was told that a mob was coming to take Tom away and ultimately lynch him for the crimes he allegedly committed. Disobeying her brother’s orders of not getting involved she rushes to her father’s side and recognizes one of the men as boy’s father whom she goes to school with, even hidden under his white sheet.

Is that you, Mr. Cunningham? Well, don’t you recognize me, sir? I go to school with your boy Walter.

I turned to see my friend David Morgan take the sheet off of his head and face me with tears in his eyes. “Yes, I recognize you.”

The show and all the people in it live with my forever. The book changed lives, the play changed mine. I will aways have a part of Scout with me. So it is on this day, and yes, with tears in my eyes I say my goodbyes to Ms. Harper Lee. You wanted to be the Jane Austen of the South and you were, ma’am, you were. We will never forget your words and the lessons you so beautifully taught us. Thank you and rest easy.

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks”

Nelle Harper Lee- 1926-2016


The Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis

Narnia

“Things never happen the same way twice.”

Hello again, friends. After reading Fates and Furies I decided that I needed to get back to the list, at least for a couple books anyway. I decided that I finally needed to tackle The Chronicles, especially with The Magician’s still fresh in my mind. I’m sure we all remember my rants about the similarities between the two and by jove if it gets even worse!

Now, one might ask, “But Emily, how did you know about the similarities between them if you had never read them?” The answer is simple. Back in middle school when I was living in Texas I had the very esteemed opportunity to play young Lucy in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. So, I knew the bare bones of it. But now, after tackling all seven I have come to realize that there a similarities not only to Magician’s but to a great many books.

I will not dismiss this series out of hand. I understand the weight they have in the literary world and beyond, but I will say that they weren’t my favorite. I do wish I would’ve read them when I was younger; a phrase I’ve heard from many adults whom I’ve run into while reading the series. Another is how chock full of religion it is. I didn’t see it at first. Yes, in the first book it is hinted at, but it’s not until you get in to the last three that you hear chants of “Aslan forever” or how they blatantly call him a god.

Speaking of “the last three book” there is much debate about in which order you’re supposed to read the books. There is the “Publication order” camp and then there is the “The way he intended it to be read” camp. I went with publication order and I’m happy I did. I felt it had more of a flow and the end of The Last Battle put a nice stopper on the whole series. Even though I was not quite sure where A Horse and his Boy was going or even the real purpose of it.

I did actually enjoy going to Narnia every night. Most of the characters are endearing and you are on their side on every grand adventure. Since every book seems to have the same outline. Narnia is in trouble. Kids are summoned. Kids go on adventure to save Narnia. Narnia is saved. Kids leave. My favorite adventures have to be in Dawn Treader and Silver Chair mostly because I fell in love with Reepicheep (who doesn’t) and Puddleglum. Puddleglum reminded me so much of an Ent from The Lord of the Rings, albeit more fast paced than the slow moving trees.

Though the similarities run deep, they do say that “imitation is the highest form of flattery”, I was completely taken a back when two children pop up into the wood between worlds after putting on magic rings and emerging from a sort of pond. Not unlike, a few young adults who find a button and end up emerging from a fountain in the middle of an abandoned land.

I’m glad I finally read them, it’s been a long time coming. Will I read them again? Probably not. Maybe, just maybe, I will read a few of them to my children some day. I will tell you one thing…I will never look at lamposts the same way again.

Further up and further in.

 


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