Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Hallowed - Cynthia Hand (2012)

3.5 stars

I finally finished this book! It's been really hard finding time to read lately, I feel guilty for not studying whenever I try to relax - but I squeezed in this one. I also noticed that Clare and I have only read three books between us this month - an all-time low! So we've gotta work on that.  I really liked the prequel Unearthly and Clare and I were hanging out for Hallowed.

After a little research (ie. Google) I found Cynthia Hand's blog Writing Angels, and she is really honest and down-to-earth. Even more juicier - the third book in the Unearthly Trilogy is called Boundless and is due out 22 January 2013 (so soon!)

On a separate note - I have an enormous stack of books sitting in my room, waiting to be read. Annoyingly I never get the time to read any before the pile grows again thanks to school. But next year, I hope to read it down to nothing. Wish me luck!

Yet again, ClareBear's done the hard yards for me, check out her plot summary!

A Series of Unfortunate Events - Lemony Snicket (1999)

3 stars

This was a series that I adored as a child and waited impatiently for the latest to be released. It's one of those few books that is accurately translated into a movie. Reading it again, I realised that it is a very depressing book for a child to read (and I was reading it around the age of eleven...) though in saying that the resourceful children always find a way to get themselves out of their unfortunate circumstances.

There is 13 books and each details a new unfortunate adventure that the children worm their way out of, with Count Olaf constantly on their tales.

Trailer for the movie: (it's got Jim Carrey!)

Violet, Klaus and Sunny live a happy life with their loving parents, until a fire burns down their house and leave them orphans. They are taken to their (geographically) closest  relative, who is Count Olaf. He immediately relates his plot to take their fortune from them. He forces them to do enormous amounts of chores. The children try to tell the manager of their parent's estate and their neighbour, but they are ignored. Fortunately, the children cannot access the money until Violet is 18. But Count Olaf continues to conspire and  involves the children in a play. Violet is the bride, and Olaf the groom. But it is really a marriage under the guise of a play. If Olaf marries Violet, her money becomes his as well. But Violet signs the marriage certificate with her left hand, and this invalidates it. Count Olaf is revealed as the true louse that he is, but manages to get away from the authorities. The orphans are shepherded to their next closest relative.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell - Chris Colfer (2012)

3.5 stars

I was really excited for this book because I think Chris Colfer is an amazing person and I was interested to see if he would write a book well. I was happily surprised with how much I liked this book, considering I usually find fairytales a bit boring. I think I would still admire Chris even if this book was bad, considering he wrote this while he was editing his screenplay for his movie that he wrote, and later starred in, at the same time as being on glee tour. Also he's friends with John Green and that makes anyone ten times cooler.

Although this book is for children, I found it had some complex vocabulary and themes in it that made it enjoyable for me as well as other older readers. I think it's a good idea for a plot with the idea of fairytale characters having more to them then their popular story. I thought Chris did a great job when writing the main characters, giving both twins aspects that are familiar at the same time as being original. My favourite character was probably Conner, (I read this a while ago and can't really remember which princesses I liked) I thought he brought much needed lightheartedness to the story and ever since he said that he can't deal with stories where dogs die, I felt that even though he's a fictional character, we share a bond. Although the end was predictable and corny, I thouroughly enjoyed most of this book and would recommend it to anyone that is a fan of fairytales.

Alex and Conner are twins celebrating their 12th birthday, their first birthday after their Dad's death. Their Grandmother comes to visit them for their birthday and she gives them their Dad's old book of fairy tales, The Land of Stories, Alex is overjoyed with excitement as she's loved the book ever since she was a little girl however Conner starts to notice Alex acting strangely. Alex tells Conner that the book glows and absorbs anything she drops into it, Conner then realises that Alex is going to go into the book herself and he gets home just in time to see her going into the book so he follows her. They end up in the Land of Stories in the middle of a forest and are rescued by Froggy, a frog who was once a man but turned into a frog by a witch. He lets them stay the night at his house and gives them a journal which details how to use the wishing spell so they can go home. To complete the spell they must collect items from all over the fairy kingdom, on the way they battle trolls, wolves and must complete the spell before the Evil Queen does as the spell can only be used once more. The Queen captures them before they can complete the spell and tells them her story then uses the spell to bring back her love, but he dies in the process. The twins are then at Cinderella's baby shower when the fairy Godmother requests to see them, she turns out to be their grandmother and has been travelling between the worlds her whole life. She tells them their Dad grew up in the Land of Stories and she took him to their world once and he fell in love with their mother, it turns out it was him that was the one that had used the wishing spell previously so he could return to their mother. Their Grandmother then takes them back to their world with the promise that they would go back again someday.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Quirky Tales - Paul Jennings (1987)

4 stars

I found my old copy of this and was compelled to read it. As a child, I loved Paul Jennings and I still do. I remember teachers and librarians reading the class extracts to get us interested in reading. This is the first Jennings book I bought and led me to amass a considerable collection. His short stories are very clever, they are designed for the kids who hate reading - short and punchy. But reading them now, there are a lot of  nuances that I never noticed as a kid.

It had nine short stories:

Sneeze'n coffin
A girl's undertaker stepfather brings home a corpse.

Santa Claws
A boy saves the life of a Santa Claus that has claws for fingernails (for climbing chimneys) that gives him and his siblings two wishes each. 

A Dozen Bloomin' Roses
A boy buys flowers for the girl he likes, and when she does nothing when she is bullied, he is killed and then his flowers grow from her hand.
Tonsil Eye 'Tis
A boy is given a gnome with a little face in its mouth. The face attaches itself to his tonsil and an eye appears on his finger.

Unhappily Ever After
A sadistic principal goes for a boat ride and is sucked into a whirlpool, and what he has done to others is done to him.

Spooks Incorporated
Two boys pretend to be ghosts to convince owners to sell their 'haunted' houses. 

The Copy
A boy's inventor friend designs a machine that can copy anything, even a person.

A boy takes revenge on a man who kills and stuffs cane toads and sells them to tourists.

No is Yes
A girl is locked up in her house her whole life, being taught words with opposite meaning.