Book Review: The Tales of Beedle the Who?

As you’ve probably already noticed, I am a fan of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. My admiration came from a young age, but despite this, I’ve yet to read all of J.K. Rowling’s works.

This Halloween, I binge-watched the first three installments of the movies.

It’s been a while since I immersed myself in the glory of the Harry Potter series and I’ll admit, I miss it. Still, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read all seven installments consecutively, therefore, I decided to read The Tales of Beedle The Bard.

“The heroes and heroines who triumph in his stories are not those with the most powerful magic, but rather those who demonstrate the most kindness, common sense and ingenuity.”


What You Need to Know

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Rating:****

Genre: Fantasy

Age Group: 10+

Length: 105 pages

Illustrations were drawn by J.K. Rowling and Mary GrandPré, who also illustrated all seven of the Harry Potter books. According to Scholastic, proceeds of this novel will benefit the Children’s High-Level charity, which protects children’s rights and seeks to protect young people.


What It’s About

The Tales of Beedle The Bard is a collection of short stories, first mentioned in the last installment of The Harry Potter series. The Tale of The Three Brothers, in particular, helped the trio defeat Lord Voldemort. These stories are popular among young wizards and witches, and have often been challenged by wizards who are anti-muggle. The current installment had been translated by Hermione Granger after it was given to her by Albus Dumbledore. The collection is comprised of 5 different tales: The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, The Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Warlock’s Hairy Heart, Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump, and The Tale of the Three Brothers.

The tales include commentary written by Albus Dumbledore eighteen months prior to his death.


What I think

Author, Stephen King, says “A lot of writers […]have a tendency to think of ‘the novel’ and once you get your mind set on ‘the novel,’ it’s very easy to lose whatever trick is that involves writing a short story.”

So, how many of my favorite authors can write good short stories?

J.K. Rowling is definitely one of them.

Each of the stories in The Tales of Beedle the Bard has a different message, as it should be, but one thing I enjoy is the coherence throughout the collection. Given that the events in the Harry Potter series deal with bloodlines and the balance between good and evil, it makes sense that the fictional folklore of the wizarding world would influence pro and anti-muggle wizards.

Overall, the collection was a fun read that could be easily enjoyed snuggled in a blanket and cup of hot chocolate at hand.

The Wizard and The Hopping Pot

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(Source: Illustrations by J.K. Rowling and Mary GrandPre via HarryPotter.Wikia)

The plot of the first story is fairly simple. A selfish wizard, whose father was a famous healer, inherits an enchanted pot. Inside the pot, there is a shoe with a note reading: “In the fond hope, my son, that you will never need this.” The mean-hearted man, refuses to help those who seek medical care. With each refusal, the pot develops the malady of the person and grows a foot to follow him around. The wizard can no longer sleep due the noise made by the pot, and decides to cure all of those brought before him. The pot then begins to heal and the shoe appears once more. The wizard then places the shoe on the foot of the pot, and they walk off into the sunset.

I’ll be honest, this wasn’t one of my favorite stories in the collection. The story was well-written but I didn’t take much from the story.

I enjoyed the after-notes with Dumbledore, however short they may have been.

The Fountain of Fair Fortune

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(Source: Illustrations by J.K Rowling and Mary GrandPre via HarryPotter.Wikia)

The second story is about a mystical fountain, rumored to grant fair fortune to those who bathe in it. No person has been able to accomplish the feat, but one day, three witches are able to penetrate the walls surrounding the fountain. One of the witches accidentally drags a knight along, and they are forced to work together to reach the fountain. The first witch wants health, the second seeks fortune, and the third wants to be cured of heartbreak. The knight has no hope that he will be given the opportunity to bathe in the fountain. As the group solves each riddle, they are able to move a bit forward. Along the way, the second witch mixes a potion that cures the disease of the first witch and the second witch gives her a fortune in return. The third witch comes to the realization that she never loved the man who broke her heart and lets the knight bathe in the fountain. The knight, who has fallen in love with the third witch, bathes in the fountain and then asks her to marry him. She accepts and all three of the witches—along with the knight—live full and happy lives without realizing the fountain had no powers at all.

An article by The Statesman, reports that fantasy books are twice as popular with young readers than novels set in a more realistic world. While I definitely believe this to be true and include myself in this statistic, I think it is equally important to relate fantasy to reality.

The Fountain of Fair Fortune is a great example of using fantasy to draw from reality. The knight from the story feels that he is less than the women who have been gifted magic, but finds that he is able to create his own fortune after all.

The underlying message of this story—magic isn’t necessary to solve problems— is a powerful one. We often tend to escape reality by reading, but it’s also crucial (especially for children) to know that their dreams can be achieved of their own merit.

I like this.

The Warlock’s Hairy Heart

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(Source: Illustrations by J.K. Rowling and Mary GrandPre HarryPotter.Wikia)

This story is about a wizard who recurs to dark magic in order to keep his heart from feeling emotion. For years, the wizard thinks he is the envy of all, but when he overhears a negative conversation about him, he decides to take a bride. He chooses a beautiful woman and begins to court her. The woman is not fooled by his facade and tells him she will not marry him because he is incapable of love. The wizard then shows her his heart, which has been locked away, and has been so neglected that it is covered in hair. In order to prove the woman wrong, the wizard opens his chest and puts the heart inside his body. Still, the years have taken their toll, and when he realizes his hairy heart will take away his magic, he decides to switch the woman’s heart with his own. He kills the woman, but before he is able to replace the heart, he dies with a heart in each hand.

Out of all the stories, this is the darkest. But the message is that emotions make people human.

 Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump

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(Source: Illustrations by J.K. Rowling and Mary GrandPre via HarryPotter.Wikia)

The fourth story is about a man who pretends to be a wizard in order to receive money and gold. The king, who wants to keep all magic for himself, solicits the help of a wizard who will train him in magic. The fake wizard, who has fooled the king, is then tested. When he realizes that one of the servants is a real witch, he threatens her into helping him. The king puts on a show to display his new skills, but does not know that the witch is behind the acts. When he is asked to revive a dead dog, the woman stops using her magic. She is soon revealed to be a witch and the con-man admits he lied. The witch is hunted, but threatens the king that if any witch or wizard is harmed in his kingdom, he will feel the strike of a blade. It is then proclaimed that no witch or wizard will ever be harmed, and a statue of her is built. The witch then leaves the kingdom, never to be seen again.

I liked the messages within the story—lies are always uncovered, magic is not to be trifled with, arrogance can lead to treachery.

As the blogger, WriteMeg, said “Any fan of Potter will be delighted to relive one hundred pages with Dumbledore’s running dialogue, and there’s some insight to be gained about the Wizarding world from Beedle, who lived in the fifteenth century.”

A fun historical lesson is always appreciated.

The Tale of the Three Brothers

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(Source: Illustrations by J.K. Rowling and Mary GrandPre via FanPop)

The last story is one that may be familiar to all who have read or seen the Harry Potter movies. This is the story of the three brothers. The three brothers are walking through the forest when they encounter a river that has claimed the lives of many. Skilled in the magical arts, they build a bridge, but are stopped by Death. He asks them what they might like in return for being clever. The first brother receives the most powerful wand on the earth, the second a resurrection stone, and the third receives a cloak of invisibility. The first two brothers meet untimely deaths, but the third brother, who chose his gift wisely, is able to evade death for years. It is only after he reaches old age, that he sheds the cloak of invisibility and meets Death as a friend. 

This is my favorite story in The Tales of Beedle the Bard. 

One of the reasons that I feel the story is so cherished is that it adds to the world of Harry Potter. The deathly hallows are introduced, which in turn helps Harry, Ron, and Hermione defeat Lord Voldemort. This is a story that demonstrates powerful tropes: immortality cannot be reached, humility is prized, and wisdom is a virtue. Blogger, JCarsonWrites, says “It’s the sort of story you can imagine reading as a child and being totally intrigued by.”

This is a collection that feeds into the soul of Harry Potter enthusiasts.

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(Source: Giphy)

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The Word with Book to Movie Adaptations

 

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(Source: Pixabay)

Experiencing the magic of seeing pages transcend onto the big screen is one of my greatest joys as a reader.

Here are a few titles to look out for.


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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(Source: FoxMovies)

This novel is about a sixteen-year-old boy named Jacob who witnesses his grandfather’s murder at the hands of a mysterious creature. Of course, no one believes Jacob, and he soon begins to have nightmares. During a visit to the orphanage his grandfather grew up in, Jacob discovers old photographs that suggest a mysterious secret is lurking behind the walls of the home.

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(Source: Reelz)

According to ComingSoon, the movie adaptation is set to release on March 4, 2016 with Asa Butterfield as the lead. Filming began earlier this year with Tim Burton as director. Other cast members include: Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, Chris O’Dowd, Ella Purnell, and Terence Stamp.

Personally, I cannot think of a greater director than Tim Burton for this project. His talent for portraying dark and playful themes is a perfect fit. Will he be able to stay true to the novel and embody the eeriness of Ransom Riggs work? I hope so.

The biggest challenge of this adaptation will be to appeal to a larger audience. If done correctly, Tim Burton will be able to adapt a movie franchise that could be as successful as The Hunger Games trilogy.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

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(Source: ComingSoon)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a novel in possession of a good premisemmust be in want of…brain-eating zombies.

An article on LiveScience, reported that fantasies about the zombie apocalypse make up a large part of post-apocalyptic pop culture.

I believe it.

The novel will be a spin on Jane Austen’s, Pride and Prejudice, and set in an alternate reality. Elizabeth and her sisters are zombie-fighting warriors while Mr.Darcy, is a famous zombie hunter. The premise to this story remains true to Austen’s work, however, there is more action and brutal twists to the original plot.

Being a Pride and Prejudice fan, I am interested in this dark tone of the interpretation….and skeptical. Will it flop like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (which was also written by Smith)? Or will it surprise us like Warm Bodies (another zombie book to movie adaptation)?

Pride and Prejudice is a novel that has stood the test of time, so the original premise to be kept alive. If the zombies compromise the overall message of the story, I’m afraid things will go South quickly.

Based on this trailer, it seems like the story will focus on the effect zombies have had on societal life, which could be an interesting turn.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

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(Source: MovieNewz)

It’s been a while since I finished the last installment of the Divergent Series, but the second movie left me feeling like I had been reading a different book. As movie blogger, TheMovieGuru, said “the film’s choppy structure and tediousness prevents it from ever doing anything interesting.”

This story is about a sixteen-year-old girl, Tris Prior, who lives in a futuristic Chicago, divided into factions based on virtues. Tris, who does not fit into any faction (divergent), is then forced to pick a faction and face the dangers that come with being divergent. In the last installment, Allegiant, we see Tris Prior stepping across the wall that surrounds Chicago, finding out what lies ahead, and exactly what it means to be divergent.

One major flaw is that the creators have decided to split the novel into two movies. Despite the thickness of the novel, the book does not have enough content to be split into two movies.

I will definitely have to check out this last installment. Who knows? It might surprise us all.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling

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(Source: Collider)

Will I ever get enough of the Harry Potter world?

Probably not.

When the film was first announced, I couldn’t help but think it was a dire mistake. How could this film compete with the original franchise?

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a fictional textbook written by magizoologist, Newt Scamander. This textbook is first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when Harry takes a look at the list of required materials for first-year students. The textbook offers descriptions about different magical beasts, their environment, and whether or not they are dangerous. The reading also includes a forward by Albus Dumbledore, information about the author, and subsections titled: What is a Beast?, A Brief History of Muggle Awareness of Fantastic Beasts, Magical Beasts in Hiding, and Why Magizoology Matters.

So, how is this becoming a movie?

I have no idea, but I’m excited to find out.

According to YouTube channel, Clevver Movies, the movie is set to be released on November 18, 2016 with Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander. The film is being directed by David Yates and the screenplay has been written by our very own J.K. Rowling. Interestingly enough, this will be the first installment in three movies and will include noted actors: Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Ezra Miller, Ron Perlman, and Katherine Waterston.

When interviewed by Entertainment Weekly, David Yates told reporters that Fantastic Beasts would most likely resemble Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Since this is my favorite of the Harry Potter movies, I just about swooned.

As long as the script and visual effects to par,  I suspect we can expect great things from Fantastic Beasts.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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(Source: ShadowhuntersTV)

This series is about an 18-year-old girl named Clary Fray who lives with her mother, Jocelyn Fairchild, in New York. One night, she and her best friend decide to visit a popular night club, where she witnesses a young man killing another attendee. Unbeknownst to Clary, the young man belongs to a race of half-human/half-angel warriors that fight demons threatening the human world. The attendee is actually a demon in disguise, and no one but Clary can see these angel-human warriors. Clary begins to think she’s going crazy, but when her mother goes missing, she reaches out to the warriors to find her mother. Clary then begins to realize that there’s a reason she can see the warriors and she might hold the key to her mother’s disappearance

Blogger, TheM0vieBlog, offered a great summary saying “The only real problems with The Mortal Instruments become obvious when the movie slows down and starts playing into the teenage fantasy tropes with earnestness rather than self-awareness.”

Still, there was hope, and earlier this year, ABC Family announced they were picking up a TV show based on the novels. The series was renamed Shadowhunters and recast.

The biggest obstacle I see in the tv series is the script. How do you make angel-human warriors appealing and sound mature? That’s a tough one.

In reality, I think the companion series, The Infernal Devices, would be a bigger hit. It’s set in the same Shadowhunter universe but takes place in the 1800’s. The magic gives the novel a steampunk feel and the characters are much more lovable and complex. It would also add maturity to the script, given the language used in Victorian London.

ABC Family’s Youtube channel recently released two previews of the series. Check them out and judge for yourself. Will we be tuning it?

The show will premiere on January 12, 2016 and I do hope it gets enough viewers to help the show progress. Perhaps we might also see The Infernal Devices adapted. Fingers crossed.

So far, 2016 holds some promising book to movie releases. I can only hope we see these titles provide entertainment and gather even more fans/readers around the world.

Book Review: What A Monster Did For Me

(Source: TowerBabel, Illustration by Jim Kay)

I was browsing the internet in search of a book when I ran into The New York Times review of A Monster CallsThe writer recalls her time with one of the authors, Siobhan Dowd, whom she was was interning for in 1997. Unfortunately, Dowd passed away from breast cancer in 2007 before she could write the novel.

After Dowds passing, Patrick Ness was contacted and asked to consider finishing the novel. In an interview with Dymocks Booklovers, Ness explains why he took on the project: “There was such vividity and such power in her ideas, that I started getting ideas for how the story might go on almost without being able to help it.”

Needless to say, I had to give the novel a go.

Who am I?’ the monster repeated, still roaring. ‘I am the spine that the mountains hang upon! I am the tears that the rivers cry! I am the lungs that breathe the wind! I am the wolf that kills the stag, the hawk that kills the mouse, the spider that kills the fly! I am the stag, the mouse and the fly that are eaten! I am the snake of the world devouring its tail! I am everything untamed and untameable!’ It brought Conor up close to its eye. ‘I am this wild earth, come for you, Conor O’Malley.”

“You look like a tree,” Conor said.


What You Need to Know

(Source: PatrickNess, Illustration by Jim Kay)

Rating: *****

Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy

Age Group: 12+

Length: 216 pages

According to an article on ComingSoon, production has now started on the film adaptation of A Monster Calls. The cast includes Liam Neeson, Lewis Macdougall, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebell, and Geraldine Chaplin. The film will be directed by Juan Antonio Bayona and will be released on October 14, 2016.


What’s All the Talk About?

Thirteen-year-old Conor has a lot going on in his life. His mother has cancer, the bullies are after him, his grandmother wants to take him away, his best friend betrayed him, and his father is busy spending time with his new family. On top of everything, Conor has horrible nightmares, ones that wake him up in a cold sweat. Things only get worse when he begins to hear his name whispered late in the night. It’s the monster coming for him, the one from his nightmares.

Except, it isn’t.

One dark night, a monster appears in the form of a yew tree that is just outside his home. The monster is enormous and capable of inflicting serious damage. Conor isn’t scared of this monster because it’s not like the one in his nightmares. Surprised at his lack of fright, the monster looms over his window and with a booming voice declares that he will visit him soon and tell him three stories. When he finishes the last story, Conor has to tell him his story. Over the course of the nights, the monster tells him the stories, each with a different purpose. The first is of an evil queen, the second of a selfish man, and the third about an invisible man. Conor is then forced to relive the nightmare he fears the most,  and reveals a truth so well hidden, sending the reader on a whirlwind of emotions.

What I Think

It’s like having a papercut…in your heart.

Initially, I was skeptical about the premise of this novel: Would it be too childish? Would I feel out of my element? Would it leave me satisfied?

I am a 21-year-old college student that, despite her love for fantasy and YA novels, finds it difficult to connect to characters that are so young at times. A 2012 survey conducted at The Guardian said 55% of YA readers are adults, so why am I having this problem? Am I forgetting what it felt like to be a teen?

A Monster Calls isn’t a story about overcoming the fear of a giant monster, it’s about facing a terrifying truth.

(Source: Telegraph, Illustration by Jim Kay)

***Disclaimer: Potential spoilers ahead.***

That being said, I’ve been blown away from the writing style Ness employs to write this story, and the illustrations are breathtaking. Fellow blogger, TheBookSmugglers, puts it best in her review: “It is superb in its storytelling as it celebrates storytelling itself as the Monster tells his stories. It is unforgettable as it follows a young boy dealing with the saddest thing of all: the prospect of losing a mother. It is hopeful and beautiful even as it leads to the liberal production of heartfelt tears.”

Now, let’s talk about the monster.

Initially, I thought the monster would either be some kind of friend or mentor that Conor would turn to. Maybe a hardwood version of Albus Dumbledore.

Nope.

The monster is an ancient being: majestic, arrogant, proud, and wise. The reader knows something is coming, but isn’t sure what to expect.

Conor’s tumultuous relationship with his father, for example, reflected a harsh reality for many children. Conor’s grandmother is a different story altogether. She is depicted as stiff, proper, and unfeeling at times. Even though this was how Conor thought of his grandmother, the reader is clearly able to see that she struggles to cope with her daughter’s illness.

“Her mouth closed, but it didn’t close into its usual hard shape. It trembled and shook, as if she was fighting back tears, as if she could barely hold the rest of her face together. And then she groaned, deep in her chest, her mouth still closed. It was a sound so painful, Conor could barely keep himself from putting his hands over his ears.”

The stories the monster tells Conor are beautifully interwoven throughout the novel. They’re filled with imperfect characters, unexpected storylines, and even more unexpected conclusions. Each one reflects a challenge in Conor’s life: the first one deals with Conor’s misconception of good and evil, the second one with the destructive nature of selfishness, and the third with the meaning of being visible.

“You do not write your life with words’ the monster said. ‘You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”

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(Source: Giphy)

The conclusion brought a culmination of sadness and satisfaction, leaving me both grief-stricken and happy. There is a clear emphasis on adolescent emotion and the transition from teen to adult. Suffice it say that I highly enjoyed this novel and encourage readers of all ages to pick it up.

This novel might even help us embrace some of our own monsters.

 

I’ll Admit, I’ve Judged Books by Their Cover

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(Source: Pixabay)

We like beautiful things, it’s in our very nature.

Book covers do not determine the quality of a novel, but they do determine whether you pick it up from the shelf and read the premise.

Smashwords founder, Mark Coker says it best, “In addition to promising what a book will deliver, the [cover] image also promises (or fails to promise) that the author is a professional, and that the book will honor the reader’s time. ”

So, what makes a good book cover?

I’m no expert, but here are some of my favorite covers and why I gravitated towards them.

Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

(Source: Time)

When I was 7 years old, I was introduced to what would become, one of the most influential books of my life.

What drew me to Harry Potter was the beautiful artwork. I wanted to know who the young wizard was, why he was holding a glowing egg, and who the people in the back were.

Book covers should convey information, they need to appeal to the reader and make them ask enough questions to actually read the book. It would be easy enough to put a picture of Hogwarts on the cover, but adding bits of information draws the reader in.

 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

(Source: Penguin.co)

According to Rachel Carlyle, research has shown that by age 11, children stop challenging themselves as readers and fall back on more popular titles, meaning classics are being read less and less.

I was in my senior year of high school when I was assigned to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I was lucky enough to find a beautiful copy that conveyed the tone of the novel and pulled readers in. Today, Jane Eyre stands as one of my favorite novels of all time.

Collage Artist, Megan Coyle, writes that color is used to articulate mood and atmosphere, so it is no surprise that this cover appealed to me and continues to be highly sought out. The blue tonality of the cover created an atmosphere that encapsulated darkness and genuinely made me want to read the book.

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

(Source: TMISource)

Have I mentioned I’m a big fantasy novel fan? I read them whenever I get the chance, and there are plenty of covers that I love.

Rather than simply taking a picture of a model and pasting it onto a book cover, they’ve edited the picture to make the model look ethereal. More so, her profile has a light shadow to it that makes it easier for the reader to envision the character to his/her liking.

The potential reader might also notice the Blackfriar’s Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background, letting him/her know that the story takes place in London. More importantly, the character’s state of dress lets us know it’s Victorian London.

The designer also chose a cool-toned palette with a pop of rose and gold which gives the novel a gloomy but intriguing tone. I can also say, that this cover definitely reflected the quality and had the best-written epilogue I’ve ever read.


I might be overanalyzing covers, but they make a difference. Personally, I try to give every book a chance, but as YouTuber Ariel Bissett said, “As animals (the way that we started), we had to learn to profile, to choose out of a selection of things—which one was better? […] We choose the things that appeal to us.”

I guess it’s just in our nature.

 

Book Review: A Princess in Disguise, an Ex-Street Lord, and an Evil Wizard…Do I Need to Say More?

(Source: Wallpaper222)

Whether it’s the magic, knights, time-travel, or dragons, fantasy continues to fascinate me.

“The Demon King was the monster in every scary story. The devil you wouldn’t name for fear of calling him to you. The one that waited in the dark down a crooked street for bad children to come his way”


(Source: CindaChima)

What You Need to Know

Rating: *****

Genre: Fantasy

Age Group: 14+ due to some mild language.

Length: 519 pages

This is book #1 in a tetralogy, followed by  The Exiled Queen, The Gray Wolf Throne, and The Crimson Crown.  A companion series is set to come out on April 5, 2016.


 What’s All The Talk About?

Ex-street lord, Han “Cuffs” Allister, has decided to turn his life around. No more stealing, no more spending time with thugs, and definitely no more fighting. Han’s focus is now on providing for his impoverished family and doing whatever it takes to make sure they don’t go hungry. Unfortunately, things aren’t looking so good and the only thing of value he owns are the silver cuffs worn around his wrist since infancy. Han knows they hold magic because he has yet to grow out of them, but the mystery surrounding the cuffs grow each year and his mother refuses to speak.

(Source: CindaChima)

When Han and his best friend, Fire Dancer, encounter three wizards setting the mountain of Hanalea ablaze, a fight takes place. One of the wizards, Micah Bayar, begins to use magic against them, and Han takes an opportunity to steal the amulet that controls his powers. Unbeknownst to Han, the amulet once belonged to the legendary Demon King, who single-handedly broke the world a thousand years ago.

Han soon finds himself on the run from The High Wizard, who will stop at nothing to see the amulet back in his hands.

Princess Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells, has decided to let go of propriety and seek some adventure. Disguising herself as a maid, she travels along the roads of Fellsmarch to witness the way her people live. Appalled at the poor living conditions, Raisa becomes determined to do good by her people and earn their loyalty.  Little does she know that her mother and the High Wizard have plans of their own for her. As her sixteenth birthday approaches, she is pressured into marrying but the three years at Demonai Camp have changed her. Living amongst her clan has taught her how to be a warrior Queen. As a hidden evil begins to creep itself into her kingdom, Raisa and Han’s world collide in a way that leaves the reader hungry for more.

What I Thought

How she created this world is beyond me, but one thing is for sure, she is one fierce writer. I’ll admit, I was a bit lost at the beginning of the novel, but as the world began to unravel, I was pulled into this story of magic, love, grief, and madness.

This story focuses on two perspectives: Han and Raisa. While they definitely seem to embody some of the cliché molds fantasy writers use for their characters fellow blogger Fantasy Faction has talked about, the story itself is extremely entertaining. More importantly, we see the characters grow from one phase to another. Raisa is a spoiled and entitled princess but she recognizes it and tries to fight it. One of the things I found most intriguing was the relationship between Raisa and her mother. Although her mother is cold and infuriating, Raisa’s love for her the Queen makes it difficult to hate her completely.

“When she was little, Raisa used to creep out from the nursery to watch her mother sleep, afraid that she would stop breathing if Raisa wasn’t there to intervene. The fact that there was something ethereal, almost other-wordly about her mother only reinforced Raisa’s fears.”

To my dismay, we don’t see much of Han and Raisa together in the story. While it is clear that their lives will intertwine at some point, it doesn’t happen until more than halfway into the novel.

“The Demon King stole Hanalea away on her wedding night. He chained her in his dungeon when she refused him. He tortured her with dark sorcery, trying to win her heart. When she resisted, he broke the world.”

The legend of the Demon King raises more questions than answers as Han tries to uncover the truth: Was he truly evil? Why were the Bayars in possession of his amulet? Who killed The Demon King? Why are they hiding the truth?

I wanted to find out more about Han and his connection with The Demon King and I wanted to know about what the amulet would do to Han.

I appreciated the fact that Chima does not compromise the depth of the novel in order to satisfy readers.

The novel ends with Han and his friend, Fire Dancer, heading off to Mystwerk House at Oden’s Ford in order to control his powers. We also see Raisa running away to Wiens House at Oden’s Ford in order to complete her warrior training under disguise.

This book has it all.

How to Find Cheaper Books

1. Book Outlet

This incredible website is my go-to on saving money for books. Instead of heading straight to a Barnes and Noble website or store, I ALWAYS check if it is available on BookOutlet. They have books from every genre, with prices ranging as low as 50 cents to a couple of dollars. A popular book I found was Cassandra Clare’s fantasy novel, Clockwork Princess. This hardcover book usually retails at $20.00 but is available at BookOutlet (brand new) for $5.99.

Also, make sure to check out the Scratch and Dent section which sells books at a cheaper price.

WARNING: Scratch and Dent books usually have some type of defect, e.g., torn or bent page, missing dust jacket, or slight discoloration in cover. These defects are usually very mild and mostly undetectable.

2. Thrift Books

 Thrift Books, an online-based bookstore that definitely gives BookOutlet a run for its money. You can almost always find the title you are looking for at a discounted the price. The only issue is that certain titles can be difficult to find in good condition. Still, my favorite thing about this website is that they inform you on the condition of the book. You always know what you buy and it saves you a lot of money.

Recently, I bought a HARDCOVER copy of author Cinda William Chima’s, The Crimson Crown for $4.38! You also get free shipping on any order of $10 or more and are kept updated on upcoming sales.

3. OverDrive

This app is great for lending books..but you’re going to have to do some work. First, you have to pay a visit to your local library and get a library card. Then, make an overdrive account and put in the required information. Once you put in your information, you have a whole range of books at your fingertips. Magic!

Basically, OverDrive is an ebook library that is perfect for people who love reading on their phone, kindle, iPad, etc. The only downside is that you’re renting rather than buying.

 

According to The Telegraph, reading for 6 minutes a day can help reduce stress levels by 68 percent. Nobody wants to spend their hard earned money on a $20 book, but reading helps me with stress, so I knew I had to find a way to make my money last. That being said, I hope these resources help you as much as they have helped me, happy reading!

Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Picture by Unsplash, via Pixabay

Picture by Unsplash, via Pixabay

“Hey Clark’, he said. ‘Tell me something good’. I stared out of the window at the bright-blue Swiss sky and I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn’t have met, and who didn’t like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other.”


 What You Need to Know

Photo taken by me.

Photo was taken by me.

Me Before You is soon to become a movie, read more about it here and click on the links to see which actors will play the lead roles!

Rating: *****

Genre: Contemporary

Age Group: 18+ Due to controversial topics

Length: 369 pages (Hardcover copy)


What’s All The Talk About?

Picture by Martin Cavaney, via MelfordMercury

Louisa Clark is a small town girl living her life day to day without an ounce of ambition or willingness to explore uncharted waters. She has never expected much out of life and it seems life has never expected much out of her. Lou figures she’ll marry her fitness-obsessed boyfriend, Patrick, and pop out a kid or two while maintaining her loving, if not exasperating family.

Lou has a terrible time finding a job that she can really handle when she comes across a care taking job for a wealthy man in his thirties. No bathing, changing diapers, or cleaning up puke, how hard can it be right?

Will Traynor, aka ex-Master of the Universe, has been rendered quadriplegic ever since a motorcycle ran him over two years ago. The glamor, adventure, hordes of gorgeous women, and enthusiasm that were once present in his life are no more. Bitter and depressed over his physical incapability, he has shut everyone out of his life and has no desire to please or make friends with anyone, least of all his mousy caretaker, Lou.

When Lou and Will first meet, there are no fireworks or seeds of lustful thoughts that take root, only a strong sense of dislike for one another. In fact, Will tries to run Lou off by making her life impossible.

“It’s not the bloody carrots that upset me. It’s having them sneaked into my food by a madwoman who addresses the cutlery as Mr. and Mrs. Fork.’
‘It was a joke. Look, let me take the carrots and—‘ He turned away from me. ‘I don’t want anything else. Just do me a cup of tea.’ He called after me as I left the room, ‘And don’t try and sneak a bloody zucchini into it.”

Despite Will’s efforts to run Lou off, they form an unlikely friendship that begins to mend wounds, not only for Will but Lou as well. Lou’s less than extraordinary life soon begins to take a turn. Will opens her eyes to the world and makes her see that while his life is ruled by his physical disability, Lou’s has been defined by her emotional disability.

Just as Lou is beginning to attain the courage she needs to live, she learns a terrible secret. Will plans to kill himself in six months and Lou is determined to make him see that life is still worth living.

What Do I Think?

This novel is about friendship and acceptance. It is about learning to deal with the harsh realities of life and loving a person enough to let them go. Most of all, this is a story of healing and finding the courage to live life to the fullest extent.

Not only did I find myself resonating with Lou but the novel had me thinking about the characters long after I reached the last page.

With that being said, I loved this book.

Hopefully, you’ll feel compelled to pick up this jewel, happy reading!

P.S. This book is a part of Oprah’s Book Club.

 

5 Simple Ways to Find a Great Book

Here is a list of my favorite ways of coming across rich, compelling, and MEMORABLE books.

  1. GoodReads

The Listopia section on GoodReads is my holy grail on finding books specific to my own cravings. If I am sitting alone on a Saturday night, in need of a funny young adult novel, I look up “funny young adult novels” on GoodReads and the Listopia section works its magic. Recently, I fell in love with Diana Gabaldon’s, Outlander, and because I craved more of that Scottish galore, I used Listopia to find books within that framework. Trust me, it was verra verra helpful.

Disclaimer: this is a method that works best on google if you’re using a phone because the app does not let you search through the lists.

  1. Instagram/Hashtags

photo-3

Snapshot taken from iphone.

This one is a fairly simple one. Instagram is a tool that can be used to specify your own interest with a single word or phrase. This is a great way of finding books that are being read from people all over the world and read their opinions. One of my all-time favorite novels was found through Instagram (Me Before You by Jojo Moyes).

  1. BookTube

Booktubers are  YouTubers who make videos about the books they buy, read, and review. Videos might include book events, top ten books of the year, or anything related to literature. A user I follow is PeruseProject, who does a great job at balancing personality and quality of the review.

4. Library

An ancient but useful source of information. It would seem as though we are forgetting the value of a good library and it is important to take advantage of the resources it provides.

Ultimately, the best resource for finding books is yourself. Everyone has different tastes and only you can decide whether a book is good or not—so make smart choices. Trust yourself and follow your gut.