Review: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

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Genre: Childrens/Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 192
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events #2 (series of 12)
Release Date: August 30, 1999

3 Stars

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The Reptile Room, like the first book, The Bad Beginning, starts off with a letter in which the narrator warns the reader that this is a book which is not-at-all cheerful, and in which bad things happens to the three main characters, the Baudelaire children.

The format of the novel is very similar to that of the first book. The kids find themselves in some unfortunate situation, the stupid adults don’t pay any heed to their concerns, so the kids try to use their cleverness to work things out, with mixed results. The narrative is, same as before, a blend of humour and the way one would talk to a kid while telling him a bedtime story.

Where the book differs from The Bad Beginning is it’s darker theme. I know the narrator warned us, but that was in a I’m-using-reverse-psychology-to-make-you-want-to-read-te-book-even-more way.

Where the first book usually deals with insinuations of evil deeds, this one’s got straight-up murder. But, you know, children can be quite resilient; so I went and asked my mom if she would give a seven or eight-year-old a book in which someone is murdered. Her answer was along the lines of “No way in hell”. And so we find ourselves in a bit of a conundrum.

One one hand, the darker theme would be great for middle-graders. But on the other hand, they would probably find the narrative to be condescending. And this is a childrens book. So while I personally liked the book fine, I’m not sure who I would recommend it to. Probably teenagers and adults who also enjoy reading younger narratives.

If you’ve read this book, I would really like to know what you think.

Review: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

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Genre: Children/Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 176
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events #1 (Series of 12)
Release Date: September 30, 1999

4 Stars

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The Bad Beginning starts with a letter that acts as both the synopsis and introduction. The letter warns the reader that this book is not a happy one. Here’s the letter:

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

The moment I read the letter, I knew that I was going to love the book, if not for the story, than for the style in which it’s told.

The narrative used by the author, which reminds me of Narnia, is very good. It’s like someone telling a story to a kid. Older than Narnia but younger than Percy Jackson. It’s full of explanations for various saying and words, things to learn, and has simple but interesting characters that kids would want to be like.

It’s a short and simple tale in which the clever protagonists try to use their wit to foil the evil the evil villain’s evil plan. It’s a classic formula, and I don’t know what else to say. I really liked the book and I’m going to be reading the rest of the series as well as giving the Netflix show a try. I think you should check it out as well.

Review: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

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Genre: Fantasy, Middle-Grade, Mythology (Greek)
Pages: 279
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2
Release Date: April 1, 2006

Disclaimer: This review will container spoilers for the first book of the series, The Lightning Thief.

4 Stars

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Before I start, I wanted to say, like I did before the review of book 1, that I’m sticking to my original rating because this is a reread and I might, therefore, be a tad biased.

That out of the way… I loved this book.

This is another one from Percy’s perspective but here, he’s not a newbie anymore. He knows where he stands and he’s familiar with Camp Half Blood and it’s workings. He can’t wait to get back. Until… everything that he knows is challenged.

Luke (the traitor) is back to his evil shenanigans, guided by the one and only, Kronos. Thanks to the two of them, the the camp is in jeopardy. And if that’s not bad enough, Chiron is being accused of working with Kronos and has been fired, the camp is being run by some crazy dude from the Underworld, Grover may be in trouble, and Percy suddenly has a half-brother, from the godly side.

So much is going on and Percy and Annabeth are looking for a solution. When they find one, it launches them on a quest to the Sea of Monsters. So yeah, two demigods in a sea full of monsters, what could possibly go wrong?

Answer: Everything. But in a way that is so much fun to read. Percy’s narrative is, as usual, hilarious, the book is full of action and never stops for a second, we get to meet even more mythological figures and go on a hell of a ride.

This book is also kind of the real beginning for Percabeth (that’s Percy and Annabeth’s ship name, if you didn’t know) and they’re both so completely awkward about it; it’s adorable. Then there’s the fact that this is Uncle Rick’s first go at an evil cliffhanger. For those of us who are familiar with the Heroes of Olympus series, we know Uncle Rick is an evil (and also a genius). But the ones reading this series for the first time, they’ll know it by the end of the book too.

Overall, this book is interesting, fast-paced, and a lot of fun with great characters and a great storyline.

One thing I want to add, quite a few people, while read this installment, get stuck about halfway through. If that happens to you as well, just push through. I did (the first time ’round, that is), and it was so worth it.

My Favourite Books: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

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Genre: Middle-grade, Fantasy, Mythology (Greek)
Pages: 375
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1
Release Date: June 28, 2005

This was a reread, and while I’d happily give the book 5 stars, I feel like my opinion may be biased so I’m not changing the rating that I’d given before.

4 Stars

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The Lightning Thief, for me, feels like the start of an era. Rick Riordan has now written many books set in this universe, featuring different mythologies, and it all started with this one book. And what a start it is.

Percy Jackson, my absolute favourite characters, is just a 12-year-old kid in this book. He has dyslexia and ADHD, and has been labelled a troublemaker. He gets kicked out of a different school every year. And in his vacations, he has to live with his horrible stepfather who treats both Percy and his mom very poorly. Things aren’t going the best for him.

What Percy doesn’t know is that he is a half-blood, meaning he’s half human and half god. He finds this out after gets to Camp Half-blood, the only place on earth where half-blood can be safe. On getting there, he finds out that he’s being blamed for something he didn’t do. And he has to go on a quest to clear his name, and to stop a war.

It’s a lot to handle for one kid. But Percy, while not entirely enthusiastic about this turn of events, takes whatever he has to face in stride. It’s one of his best qualities.

Percy has many great qualities and he is one of the biggest reasons this book is so amazing. He’s a really good person who is also exploding with sarcasm, a brilliant combination we get to see via the hilarious narrative. Seriously, this book has one of the most engaging and entertaining narratives I’ve ever read. Add that to the fact that Greek mythology is very interesting and this book is very well-written, and you already have a great read.

Then there’s the concept. It’s so cool. A modern-day demigod, all the Greek deities in the current time. It’s so cool to read how the gods have changed with time, everything from the way they dress to their beverage choices. I love the world that Rick Riordan has created. It’s fascinating.

Overall, I love everything about this book, this series and this world. Uncle Rick has written something unique and wonderful that I truly feel is for people of all ages. Doesn’t matter if you’re eight or eighty, you should definitely read this novel. You’ll be glad for it.

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

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Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 784
Series: Harry Potter #7

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5 Stars

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The epic saga ends at last… and it’s really sad.

On one hand, you’re excited to find out how it all ends, but on the other hand, you really don’t want it to end. Ever. Though I’m sure Harry was ecstatic to know that his suffering was finally about to cease.

Anyway, as you’re all probably aware, series’ endings are difficult. It’s so rare to get one which doesn’t cause at least a little disappointment. This series’ ending is absolutely perfect. And that includes the epilogue, which so many people whine about. I found nothing wrong with it at all.

The way the book starts never fails to blow me away. The subtlety with which Rowling reacquaints us with the world and the characters… amazing.

And that amazing-ness continues throughout the novel. All those plots and sub-plots wrapping up and all those connections to the events in the previous books, everything that happens has such a huge significance and the way the story concludes is, honestly, perfect. I can’t imagine it any other way. Even the sheer amount planning involved is unimaginable.

J.K. Rowling has written such a beautiful series and this book is the most beautiful of all. Her writing is magical and so many times, I sat there reading a sentence over and over because of how great it was. Like this sentence, for example:

Harry wondered whether, as he could feel, he would be able to see. In opening them, he discovered that he had eyes.

Isn’t it flawless?

I just… I love you, J.K. Rowling. Thank you so much for writing this series, for giving us such a magical world and so many endearing characters. You story will be with me, and many others, forever.

Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

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Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Pages: 366
Series: Middle-Earth Universe #1

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4 Stars

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I’ve finally finished it! Only took me… Oh, twenty-six days…

Man, that has to be a personal record. It has never taken me this long to finish a book I was actively reading the entire time. You can blame my brain for that. Because after about 10 pages of reading, it seemed to think it was time to sleep.

At first, I was afraid the book was boring (even though it wasn’t). But as it turns out, the reason it put me to sleep is because it has a bedtime story vibe to it. Like Narnia. Anyway, onto the novel.

The Hobbit is the story of a hobbit, a mythical creature, who is approached by Gandalf, a great wizard, to go an adventure with a company of dwarves. Their mission being to take back a treasure that was long ago stolen. By a dragon.

It’s like THE fantasy. We have mythical creatures, we have a quest and we even have a freaking dragon. Could this get any better. Oh wait, it can. With a map. Because I swear to God, I was obsessed with the map. Not the one in the beginning, the one in the end. This one:

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I loved it. I think the amount of time I spend staring at it could be amounted to an hour. I was always tracing where they were, where they’d gone through, where they were going. It was so cool. Honestly, the entire book was very cool.

Our protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit, was initially not into the quest at all, neither was he very productive. Most of the work was done by Gandalf. But later on, he definitely proved his worth. He was a great character to read about and was smarter than you’d expect.

Gandalf was awesome, and I can’t wait to read more about him in The Lord of the Rings. Many of the characters introduced along the way were also interesting. Though I could never really get behind the dwarves. They were, to me, completely useless, always bitching and whining and blaming someone else. I felt bad for Bilbo for having to put up with them throughout the story.

About the story, it was everything you’d want from a classic fantasy. I really wish someone had read it to me as a kid. I would have adored it them.

I really like it now as well. But the fact that it literally made me fall asleep multiple time is a bummer. I still highly recommend reading it, though. It’s very well written and I understand why it’s a classic.

Review: The Bronze Key by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Review
The Bronze Key by Holly Black
Genre: Middle-grade, Fantasy
Pages: 256
Series: Magisterium #3
Disclaimer: Spoilers for the first two book of the series.
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3.75 Stars
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I’d heard this book screwed with your emotions and made a big change in the series. Now I get why that was said. Because it’s gonna take me forever to believe that what happened actually happened. Just… Oh my God…
In the last book, we saw that Aaron, Tamara and Jasper found out about Call being The Enemy and accepted it. Call’s relationship with his dad was fixed and Call beheaded Constantine body (him taking the head out of the bag was the best scene in the entire series!) and everyone thought Constantine was dead. Call also got Chaos magic. Things were good, except for Master Joseph getting away with the Alkahest.


This book starts off just a few days before the Bronze year is to begin and Call, Aaron, Tamara, Jasper and Alastair are being honoured for killing the Enemy. Things don’t got as planned at the ceremony and we find out someone’s trying to kill Call. And that’s all I’m saying.

The book follows the mystery behind who is trying to kill Call and why. Our three protagonists are trying to solve the mystery while also keeping Call’s real identity a secret and dealing with problems from their teachers and the other student Mages. While Jasper is being is usual useless self, whose only contribution is snark and unhelpful tips.

I loved the story and how fast paced the book was. Things picked up really quickly and continued that way. The book was also very funny and endlessly entertaining.

The wannabe-Makar-killer was someone I didn’t expect. I figured it out like two pages before Call did and when I did, my reaction was:


I’m not ready to accept that it was that person (no, I’m not even revealing the gender). After that, more shit went down that I’m also not ready to accept. Basically, this book is gonna take a while, probably until I read the next one.

The only things that bothered me was the writing in some parts. The last two books flowed really well, but with this one, it seemed as if the authors were struggling a little. This could be considered the bridge book and they seemed to have a hard time with that.

Some important scenes weren’t well written and the one that really upset me was the second last chapter. It was one of the most important chapters in the series and it wasn’t done well. It was a little clumsy and didn’t deliver as big an emotional punch as it should have. It kinda soured the experience.

But I’m hoping that, since the bridging part is over, things will become great again.

Overall, this was still a good installment (The Iron Trial remains my favourite) and it has me freaking out because, as usual, I’ve got no clue what’s gonna happen next.