Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

Generally stories of the fire-breathing dragon, vampire, werewolf, flying horse, and evil wizard varieties.

December 9

Comments: 9

Review: The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

by Ann-Katrina

Back Cover of The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers’ attention in the book known as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger’s new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J. K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore. Never before have Muggles been privy to these richly imaginative tales: “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump,” and of course, “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” But not only are they the equal of fairytales we now know and love, reading them gives new insight into the world of Harry Potter.

Three Quick Points About The Tales of Beedle the Bard

  • Point 1: This was a quick read. Coming in at roughly 100 pages, with good spacing, margins, and font size, it could be lazily read in a couple hours or less.
  • Point 2: Ms. Rowling channeled the bard himself. The book is not like reading a Harry Potter book, it’s like reading someone else’s text and stories whereas J.K.R. just interjects a few footnotes. (Totally cute.)
  • Point 3: J.K. Rowling is a skilled illustrator. Illustrations appear throughout the book, and though they have the wispy quality of doodles, they are quite well done and add to the book’s atmosphere.

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9 Comments, add yours...

November 4

Comments: 3

Review: Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews

by Ann-Katrina

Magic Bits Cover

Back Cover of Magic Bites

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic…

When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

Three Quick Points About Magic Bites

  • Point 1: The prose and pacing are exquisitely done. The book is smartly written without being pretentious and urges you forward without shoving you down a flight of stairs. It’s evident that the word selection and syntax were assembled with care.
  • Point 2: This novel is a perfect exercise in world-building. Set in a future version of Atlanta ravaged by magic, the descriptions are vividly dark and disturbingly crafted. It becomes real.
  • Point 3: What, no sparkly, beautiful, or dangerously seductive vampires? Nope. In this book, vampires veer from the contemporary norm. They are hideous quadrupedal humanoids continually degrading into something much worse—”an abomination in progress.”

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3 Comments, add yours...

October 21

Comments: 43

Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

by Ann-Katrina

From the back cover of Wake

She is floating. Not the falling dream again, she thinks. She is sick to death of the falling dream.

The scene changes immediately. Now Janie is outside. It’s dark. She’s alone, behind a shed, but she can hear muffled voices. She’s never been alone before, and she doesn’t know how people can have dreams that they are not in. She is curious. She watches nervously, hoping this isn’t somebody’s nightmare about to explode through the wall of the shed, or from behind the bushes…

Three quick points about Wake

  • Point 1: It’s rather short. With abrupt, sometimes awkward, sentence structures.
  • Point 2: This is either a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ book, yet somehow I managed to be squarely in the middle, loving some aspects, craving more definition, and hating others.
  • Point 3: The characters remind me of Bella Swan and Eward Cullen in their inexplicable love that just somehow seems to work for the story.

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43 Comments, add yours...

September 29

Comments: 8

Review: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

by Ann-Katrina

coraline-cover

From the Back Cover of Coraline

When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous. But there’s another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Coraline will have to fight with all her wits and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

Three Quick Points About Coraline

  • Point 1: This book is absolutely riveting. Who knew I’d ever use the term riveting to describe a short novel penned for third-graders?
  • Point 2: I’m sure some children will wind up with nightmares after reading it (or having it read to them). I can’t deny that I’m a huge fan of horror and creepy stories; my library as a youth (and even today) tells this tale. But, reading Coraline definitely sent a few chills up my spine…more so than some of the adult novels I’ve read.
  • Point 3: Coraline is a splendid reminder that we (children and adults alike) are all capable of great courage. Coraline has a real child’s personality–not some fantasized version of one–which made her courageous adventures incredibly relatable. I was able to see much of myself, when I was a child, in her and watching her dig deep to find her courage made me want to dig deep and rediscover my own.

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8 Comments, add yours...

September 26

Comments: 7

Review: Nightlife (Cal Leandros, Book 1) by Rob Thurman

by Ann-Katrina

Nightlife Cover

From the Back Cover of Nightlife

There are monsters among us. There always have been and there always will be. I’ve known that since I can remember, just like I’ve always known I was one…

…Well, half of one, anyway.

Welcome to the Big Apple. There’s a troll under the Brooklyn Bridge, a boggle in Central Park, and a beautiful vampire in a penthouse on the Upper East Side—and that’s only the beginning. Of course, most humans are oblivious to the preternatural nightlife around them, but Cal Leandros is only half human.

His father’s dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares–and he and his entire otherworldly race are after Cal. Why? Cal hasn’t exactly wanted to stick around long enough to find out.

He and his half brother, Niko, have managed to stay a step ahead for four years, but now Cal’s dad has found them again. And Cal is about to learn why they want him, why they’ve always wanted him: He is the key to unleashing their hell on earth. The fate of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal’s life….

Three Quick Points About Nightlife

  • Point 1: If you were to remove all the adjectives and adverbs from the book, it would probably shrink by about 60 pages. Being a lover of adjectives and adverbs, it pains me to say this, but there’s a limit to their use. They should be treated like a fine and potent spice–use only as much as necessary or the entire dish could be spoiled.
  • Point 2: This Cal character is a sardonically wonderful guy. The novel got heavy at times and it felt like trudging through mud, but the twisted humor injected through Cal’s voice certainly helped to balance it out.
  • Point 3: What happened to the climax? The build up is good, the tension is there, and you’re poised, ready to see what dark and ominous creatures spring forth to tear the main characters into shreds, and then…wha…that’s it?

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7 Comments, add yours...

 

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