Fantasy Realms

Explore the realms of fantasy, from Alagaesia to Middle-Earth, from Coruscant to Tortall and beyond!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Author: J. K. Rowling
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: @@@@@
Pages: 652
Price: $16 - $30, depending on where you buy it.

Summary: Harry’s back and ready for action. He’s a far cry from the Harry of book one, and this story shows it. Lots of romance, lessons with Dumbledore, and a potions book crawling with tips from the Half-Blood Prince make this particular book a definite older-level read. And why is Moaning Myrtle comforting a sobbing Malfoy?

Opinion: This book is very different. Not worse...just not what I expected. The sudden Harry/Ginny, Ron/Lavender, Hermione/McLaggen, and Ron/Hermione and all the “snogging” in the halls seemed gossipy, like a normal teen book. The addition of all the new themes – Horcruxes, romance, etc – made me think it was more like an amazing fanfic than the genuine thing.

Hey! Sorry about the formatting problem. My computer has been doing this weird thing on all my e-mails and posts, and I can't fix it without changing the format. When I try to edit a typo or something, the post shows up about three inches down from the title. It's really weird.

Children of the Lamp

Title: Children of the Lamp: The Akhenaten Adventure
Author: P. B. Kerr
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 355
Rating: @@@@@
Price: $3 (paperback, a real bargain)

Summary: Everyone has heard of genies in the lamp, but this is a whole different view. There are good djinn and bad djinn, influencing luck around the world. Two young djinn, twin brother and sister, are planning to go to “camp” until their uncle appears to them in a dream, and tells them about their heritage.

Opinion: It wasn’t a particularly spectacular book, but it had interesting lore about Egypt that I enjoyed. Overall, a fun and simple read, perfect for lounging at the beach or reading to little kids. The very low price makes it a steal, and you’re not spending so much on a “kids’ book.”

Touching Darkness

Title: Midnighters #2 – Touching Darkness
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Genre: Fantasy/Suspense
Pages: 328
Rating: @@@@@
Price: $16

Summary: Only two weeks after she learned about the secret hour, Jessica Day and the other Midnighters are once again in danger. Dess has been ‘mapping out’ the secret hour, and came across the best surprise yet – one of the old Midnighters. Secrets abound, but how do you keep secrets from a mind reader?

Opinion: Scott Westerfeld quickly rose up to my favorite authors list as soon as I read Uglies, and Touching Darkness did not disappoint. Creating and adjusting the rules of the secret hour has to be hard, but Scott has made them real and believable, with real teen reactions and romances.

Sign of the Qin

Title: Outlaws of Moonshadow Marsh: Sign of the Qin
Author: L. G. Bass
Genre: Fantasy/Action/Adventure
Rating: @@@@@
Pages: 383
Price: $17 (about)

Summary: In this action-movie-like tale, Starlord Zong has been born with the Sign of the Qin (pronounced “chin”), an outlaw band. With the help of his Guardian Monkey (a master thief who’s on his one hundredth life), White Streak (leader of the Qin), and Jade Mirror and Silver Lotus (his kick-butt outlaw maid and his harp-playing, dart-shooting mother), he must overthrow not only the mortal king, but also Yamu, King of the Dead.

Opinion: Another Zodiac-related book. The most confusing part were the Zodiac scrolls, and their meaning. The rest of the book was excellently written, with loads of detailed visuals. It’s slightly out of my style, but it’s good anyway. I love that there are girls out there, fighting with all the others. There’s few girl goddesses, though.

Fruits Basket #10

Title: Fruits Basket #10
Author: Natsuki Takaya
Genre: Graphic Novel/Fantasy
Pages: 192
Rating: @@@@@ (4.5, really, but I can’t show that very well.)
Price: $10

Summary: Tohru Honda lives in a zoo. When her mother died, the Sohma family took her in. But the Sohmas have a secret: they turn into an animal of the Zodiac when hugged by a member of the opposite gender. Right now, Tohru, Yuki, Kyo, and the rest are at the beach, and Yuki tells Tohru something shocking (but rather obvious, really).

Opinion: As with all these books, I loved it. The story line is complex, the characters are alive (I especially love Tohru and Kisa) and the artwork is wonderful. Shigure’s flashbacks about Hatori are slightly confusing, and the speech bubbles sometimes misled me as to who was talking when, who’s thinking what, etc.

A Hat Full of Sky

Title: A Hat Full of Sky
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 407
Rating: @@@@@
Price: $6.99 (paperback)

Summary: Tiffany is leaving the Chalk to learn more about witchcraft. With the Nac Mac Feegle watching her, and a thing stalking her, she faced with peer pressure from other students. Once again, the underlying theme of self-identity takes form. I only have two words for this book: Pink rhinoceros.

Opinion: I liked this more than the first one, although I missed the Wee Free Men, who weren’t as prominent. The two-bodies-one-person idea was brilliant, as was the dancing with bees scene. It really made me think about who I am, how I define myself, and what the plural for “rhinoceros” is.

The Wee Free Men

Title: The Wee Free Men
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 272
Rating: @@@@@
Price: $16 (Hardcover)

Summary: Tiffany Aching, a girl from the Chalk, has been thrust into adventures far…smaller…than the normal kid could handle. With the six-inch-high Nac Mac Feegle (Wee Free Men), she must battle an ice queen to find her snot-nosed brother. Meanwhile, she learns what it means to be herself: Witch of the Chalk.

Opinion: I began reading this for the “Books for the Beast” program – I continued it for the wonderful humor, themes, and the fighting blue midgets. The recurring ideas of ‘Who am I?’, ‘What am I?’ in Terry Pratchett’s books are exactly what teens need and what parents should freshen up on.
Plus, there’s no cursing by the Wee Free Men at all. Really. Those random words they say when they get angry that no one understands, that’s not cursing. Obviously.

Rivers of Zadaa

Title: Pendragon #6 – Rivers of Zadaa
Author: D. J. MacHale
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Rating: @@@@@
Price: $15

Bobby Pendragon: 15, teenage boy, inter-dimensional Traveler, rescuer of the universe (or Halla) five times so far. His girlfriend Courtney had a breakdown, his geeky best friend is trusting the class bully, and he’s off fighting Saint Dane in a parallel world with a fellow Traveler – a hot, girl Traveler.

I love the geek-befriends-bully aspect and was sorely disappointed when I realized Andy was bad. I only hope that he made some progress before Saint Dane took over. I found myself wishing for more about Courtney, then more about Bobby, flipping back and forth. Only downside: Now I have to wait a year or so for the next one!

Yes, I realize I haven't updated in so long. I'm really sorry, and I hope to make it up to you guys with eight short, poorly-written reviews that I found in my summer booklet (yes, I did write them, but for the longest time I couldn't find it), and fixed up. Please forgive me!

Also, in the next week or two I'll be doing a special-edition post about the Books for the Beast conference, which happened a week ago today. The "keynote speaker" was Patricia C. Wrede, so I'll be spotlighting one of her books.