Thursday, August 18, 2011

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Disclaimer- Christians that don't agree with magic should not read this book. For me personally I read the series thinking of the magic as something that made the series unique. I also know that some people practice magic, I do not support magic in the real world. Harry and his friend also did some things that I feel Christians shouldn't support, lying, breaking rules, plotting revenge, and stealing are some of the common things that did happened in the book that I don't agree with.

Harry isn't normal, he lives under the stairs at his Aunt and Uncles house, where he is treated more like a slave then a nephew. When Harry receives his first birthday letter he learns that his father and mother were wizards! And that he can train to be a wizard too! He can leave his miserable life with his Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and Cousin Dudley!
When he arrives at “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” Harry is automatically the popular kid and quickly makes enemies because of it. On top of making new friends, fending off enemies, and schoolwork, Harry finds himself wrapped up in a mystery that includes the evilest of dark wizards who killed his parents when he was a baby. There is evil a foot, unbreakable banks are being robbed, mirrors are not telling the truth, and no one knows who will help bring He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named back from the near dead.

After hearing so much about this series I finally just picked them up. I was pleasantly surprised. The first book in the series is rather light hearted with an excellent plot that had many twists, red herrings and humor.

Harry is well developed and was easy to attach too, I took instant pity on him as I saw what he had to grow up with for “family”.  Harry quickly showed that even with his unusual history he just wants to be a normal boy. Sadly no one will let him be that, so he must compensate and just be ‘the’ Harry Potter famous for something he can’t even remember.
Harry couldn’t have asked for a better pair of sidekicks in his adventure. Ron and Hermione really brightened up the story with Hermione’s know-it-all attitude and Ron’s care free relaxed bearing.
I also loved the supporting characters. Neville I think was my favorite minor character, I feel the same as he does about studies. The teachers were all fitting for the typical teacher style, making it easy for young student readers to relate to the mysterious Hogwarts School.
Lastly I enjoyed the way J.K. Rowling had a minor enemy that was front and foremost in the story’s plot and a major villain that is plotting destruction in the background. This made the book have a good ending with the minor villain but kept the series going with questions for the next books.

For the world I thought Rowling could have added more. The only real description of Hogwarts is basically, “A castle looming on a mountain surrounded by a black lake.” Rarely will I complain about a book not having enough description but I feel a little extra would have helped. Later in the series the description adds up so you can almost see Hogwarts but for a first book it was weak.
Now I had heard about the game Quidditch before, but had no clue about what it was. After learning about it the Quidditch matches they quickly became some of my favorite scenes. The game Quidditch it gave me a feeling of a real school, with popular jocks and fans.

So minus the facts about Harry's poor moral choices the book is easily worth a B. If Harry had kept strong moral character the book would have been a A+ easily.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul

A dragon egg is in the clutches of an evil wizard, Risto. Paladin and his followers know that if the egg is hatched within Risto's clutches destruction will befall that land of Amara. Paladin must rely on a slave girl turned servant, who has an extraordinary gift. Just this child isn't a warrior, she knows nothing of the world beyond the village she served in as a slave. How can she fight evil wizards, find a hidden treasure and expect to raise minor dragons?
Kale has already started her journey, following a planned path she is looking for adventure as a servant in the capital city Vendela. When she is told that she is suppose to follow a couple of strangers into a bog looking for a wizard that doesn't want to found, battle an evil wizard and raise minor dragons she doesn't think she can handles it all. Will this naive girl survive the dangerous path she needs to follow and trust in Wulder?

Kale is the main character of Dragonspell, she was very well developed growing throughout the book in a realistic manor. With her history as a servant showing through everything she does it was easy to understand her. She learned a lot throughout the book, growing from and ignorant slave girl that doesn't understand companions and friendship, to a quester who is looking forward to learning as much as she can about the world around her.
There were many characters in this book, though not to many that I got them confused. I enjoyed all of them. They were all unique in their own way; Dar and his flashy antics, Leetu as she learned to lead, Fenworth with his nonsense talk, and little Gymn fainting throughout the book, as well as everyone else had some special feature that I loved.

For the world, Amara is probably one of my favorite fantasy worlds. With minor dragons, the 7 high and low races, the bogs, mountains and the history made Amara feel like it was a real place. The magic was well placed and didn’t over bear the book, but still was needed for the plot. The minor dragons really made the world stand out, with their adorable hobbies that had me laughing.

Plot was fine, slightly slow at times because it would wander from the main plot line. I feel this is okay though, it gave us more insight into the world and characters as well as taught many lessons about character development.
The book could have been read like it had two main plots, find the meech egg and teach Kale. I liked this because it made the book more interesting. With only one plot the book would have been very similar to many other books, the underlying plot gave a certain flare, which made Dragonspell more memorable.

All in all I feel this book was a good lighthearted and humorous read to enjoy with my busy life. 


Thank you Waterbrook for giving me this reviewers copy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Final Hour by Andrew Klavan

Charlie West is caught. His days of running from the law are over, but that doesn’t mean he is safe. Prison life isn’t like walking though a bed of flowers, and the Homelander members that share the prison with him are making sure he knows it. Beatings are common and death is peering over his shoulder. He has to get out if he is going to live to see the New Year.
Freedom is offered but at a terrible price. Will he do the unthinkable to get out and save the lives of others? And what about the Homelanders? Almost all have been caught but that doesn’t mean they will stop fighting. They are mounting a final attack that will happen at the last possible hour. . .

I loved this series. Book 1, “The Last Thing I Remember”, was fast pace and all action. While Book 2, “The Long Way Home”, was absolutely hilarious. Book 3, “The Truth of the Matter”, had emotion and discovery, and I feel book 4, The Final Hour, was a mix of all these, but mainly action.

Once again Charlie is written amazingly, the first person view point had my heart racing while he raced through the mud, exchanged bullets and crash landed. It also helped me will him on, making me feel the loneliness of prison life, cringe with pain at each blow and hold my breath hoping and praying for the best.
Charlie is truly the main character but I have to add the Detective Rose and Mike were excellent. Stone face and chucklehead gave me something to laugh at in the midst of the trouble.

Plot was different then the last 3 books, it was more straightforward. Almost all the questions have been answered in the past books. This book was more about getting an ending that ties up the last loose ends and leaves the reader content. It was a good plot with action and twists, but I feel that it was the weakest of the series. Now as a testament to the series and how good it is, the plot was still amazing. Just not quite as strong and interesting as “The Last Thing I Remember”, “The Long Way Home”, and “The Truth of the Matter”.

Klavan brings up ideas of bravery, morals, and perseverance. All of which I loved, using a fiction book to teach, and in such a way that it doesn’t slow down the plot, phenomenal!
In closing I think this is one of the best series I have read, the best first person I have ever read, and a great addition to Christian fiction.  

Thank you to Book Sneeze for giving me this book to read.