Book Review: School of Wizardry

Last night I finished reading School of Wizardry (Circle of Magic, Book 1)by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald. This were slightly like Harry Potter…hang on, I checked the publication date and must change that to Harry Potter is slightly like School of Wizardry (first published in 1990).

The boy has no training but suddenly finds himself a wizard apprentice. There’s the “can’t do the spells” thing, the fiesty girl and the nasty master wizard but other than that it had a different feel to it – more medieval. I liked the way we got inside the boy’s head and although this was book 1 of 6, I liked the way it ended too. It was obvious what the next book will be about but with the addition of a couple of paragraphs, I felt satisfied with the ending and don’t have to read the next book. I hate being forced to do so, so this gave the book an extra point.

The book was entertaining. I enjoyed it.

The Children of Green Knowe

The Children of Green Knowe by L. M. Boston is a classic from the 1950’s. Before reading the book, I had read a few reviews that compared it to The Secret Garden.

This book didn’t do much for me. In fact, it annoyed me greatly.

It was a spooky type fantasy story, with ghosts of children from many years past visiting a child from the present. There were lots of wild animals and birds that came right up to people to be fed (this was the bit that really got to me) and then the story just ended. I didn’t feel as if there was a plot or a satisfactory ending.

Obviously, things have changed over the last 55 years and the kids of today would expect more – not to mention the publishers. I believe this was a good “what not to do” experience.

Clockwork

Yesterday, I started and finished reading Clockwork : Or All Wound Upby Philip Pullman. Sounds like a great feat, doesn’t it? There was only 81 pages so I can’t imagine anyone taking too long to read a book that thin.

This was the typical “Once upon a time…” type story. In fact, that’s exactly how it started. Those words alone told me not to take the story seriously, and although the story was put together well, in my opinion it wasn’t the best book on the face of the earth.

There was a page at the beginning that claimed that the book was based on an old German story. The surprising thing about this book was that, although it was written for children, the main characters were all adults, which is unusual. There were two children in the story who ended up having the roles that “saved the day” but they were really minor roles up till the end.

The other surprising fact about this story was the way the author talked included gory details. Remember, this book is read by children and I thought it was strange that the publishers allowed characters to be splattered, chopped up, sewn together and dead on their feet. It proves that it’s all in the wording and the tone and I felt the way the author did this was acceptable.

My recommendation? Hmmm. I can’t say I recommend it but it was a good distraction for a cold Saturday afternoon.

Update: Drowned Wednesday

Well, what can I say, I’ve outdone myself and managed to read Drowned Wednesday (Keys to the Kingdom, Book 3) in under two weeks. Not often does that happen. 🙂

As I said before, Garth Nix has let his mind run wild with this series but in my opinion it works well. The story is fast paced and fun to read. The entertainment value is high. There was no talking eye brows in this book but I lived, as I’m sure most readers will. Strangely, the very last paragraph didn’t make sense to me. I suppose it was a set up for the next book – Sir Thursday (The Keys To The Kingdom, Book 4) – but maybe I missed something in the storyline – I’m really not sure.

No matter, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to all young at heart readers who enjoy wacky stories.

The Little Country

The Little CountryYou would have noticed by the sidebar that I’ve been reading The Little Country by Charles de Lint. Last night I finished it.

What did I think?

It started out really well, very interesting. There are two stories running parallel with each other. At first, I enjoyed one story more than the other but I was eventually taken over into the other story. However, the middle seemed to drag on a bit. By the end it all made sense but I sort of lost a bit of interest – not much, just a bit but I’ve had worries and that could have contributed to this.

The pros for the book was that the author used his imagination and touched on things that I’ve thought about but never said out loud. You’ll have to read the book to know what I’m talking about but the way our memory works was the main thing I found interesting…and the possibility that there is magic in our world, if only we could “see” it.

The cons were that there were several scenes that I felt were there for shock purposes. This book certainly is not recommended to under 18 year olds. Then again, that might be me being a bit of a prude. That aside, there were some awkward sentences that broke the flow and a fair bit of head hopping (which I find annoying).

Overall, this was a good read. I feel that if I had given the book more time and read it quicker then I would have gotten deeper into both stories and would have loved it but time is something I don’t have a lot of so it took me a couple of months to read the 630 pages. It was worth it.

Finished “Passage” by Connie Willis

This was the strangest book. It started out repetitive but kept my attention, then the pace increased so much I hated having to put the book down. Then…at a major turning point (I won’t say a word) it flipped into repetition again.

It was a really good book. I read all 700 odd pages, so that accounts for something but after that major turning point I spoke of a second ago, there were elements that really, really flattened me. And I don’t mean this in a good way. The author picked the reader up and took them along but then she went too far. Instead of stopping, and letting the reader marvel in what a great author she is, she kept going and going and going and spoiled it. I was disappointed.

The ending was meant to have a reason and everything, and I didn’t miss what it was or anything, I just thought she killed her own book. I learned a lesson here, when a story is over – it’s OVER!!!