Tag Archives: fantasy

The Saga of Darren Shan

These books are AWESOME!  Of course I read Twilight too but these are so much better.  The best part about the Saga of Darren Shan (better known as the Cirque du Freak series) is that Shan really wrote them with pre-teen children in mind.  In fact, they seem to be for pre-teen boys.  I really like the voice and how Shan ever-so-surreptitiously sneaks in little vocabulary lessons just to make sure it’s a didactic experience.  I also really liked Shan’s vampire mythology, and how it’s presented somewhat meta-humorously: he constantly refers to what traditional vampire lore and tells you “No, that’s not really how we vampire folk are… those are just stories” and it all kind of made me giggle.

There are twelve books in the series but I swear it didn’t feel like it. I think I read about two or three books of the series per day, depending on how much time I had to read.  But yes, I bought all 12 books in the span of about a week.  Yikes.

Read it! Give it to your children/siblings/cousins to read!

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Neverwhere

Neverwhere by possibly my favourite contemporary writer, Neil Gaiman, is about a reg’lar chap who lives a reg’lar life in London, complete with a normal job and a normal (if slightly, ok excessively, overbearing) fiancée. Then an injured girl on the street quite literally opens doors for him. All at once he finds himself in the London Below which is an entirely different and separate world from what he knows.

I really think that Gaiman probably has my favourite voice (and I don’t just mean when he speaks out loud, although in all fairness the man has won audio book awards) of all time. The main character, Richard Mayhew, is at first convincingly BORING to the point that you almost (but not quite) empathize with his domineering fiancée. And he continues to be quite unremarkable when facing a girl who can open all doors and create openings where there were none, and a hunter woman who is absolutely lethal. But he quietly and almost reluctantly wins battles on his own and starts to become the hero that he never knew he was.

This sort of character development really reminded me of Glory Road by Robert Heinlein, which I read recently. I’m quite sure I liked Neverwhere better, if only because I felt it had better characters; that is, more developed and just more interesting in general. Definitely exciting – I read it in just a few hours because I couldn’t put it down!

Harry Potter re-run

I am quite literally on the first page of The Reader because I got distracted with the Harry Potter series. I had read the sixth book last week to reacquaint myself with the plot before the movie comes out (July 15!!!). But then I wanted to read the seventh to round out the series. But then I picked up the first book… then the second, third, fourth, and now I’m on the fifth. I hadn’t noticed that the first through sixth books all came out before I started keeping track so they’re all finally making it onto my list. However, I’m honestly not feeling up to writing an entry on each book! Too much to talk about with people who have read the series; too many spoilers for people who haven’t read, and probably quite boring for them as well. Suffice it to say, I will still always love the series and will probably keep reading them again and again.

The Lost World

I forgot to do a write-up about The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (free at Feedbooks)! It was a really fabulous read. It’s about an expedition to a virtually isolated plateau in South America which boasts species which never went extinct or evolved separately from the rest of the world. If you’ve seen the recent Pixar movie Up, a lot of it will sound familiar to you. Like in Up, the basic premise is that there’s this extremely famous scientist – Professor Challenger in Lost World – who brings back a completely unimaginable specimen from South America, but everyone calls him a fraud, driving him to go back at his own peril to prove himself. And of course, this scientist is just a bit (or a lot) mad and has this fantastic temper which makes this months-long journey even more difficult for everyone involved.

Professor Challenger said this and actually made me laugh out loud, so of course I’m going to share it with everyone:

From henceforth I take command of this expedition, and I must ask you to complete your preparations to-night, so that we may be able to make an early start in the morning. My time is of value, and the same thing may be said, no doubt, in a lesser degree of your own.
(Location 1060-1062)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I’ve already read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince but it was before 2006 when I first started keeping track so I’m counting it now. Mainly I wanted to re-read it before the movie came out to refresh my memory and I ended up reading it all in a day. I swear I can never put down a Harry Potter book once I pick it up.

Anyway I really liked Half-Blood Prince. It seemed, more than any other book, to take time out to explain a lot of the past which was still a mystery, and I liked that. I think that’s some of my favourite parts of the series, when there are flashbacks and explanations of the past, whether it’s about Voldemort, or James and Lily, or any of the Marauders. I think my favourite part of this whole book was Slughorn. Such a well-written character! It’s like he ought to be detestable, but you can’t quite hate him because he’s just so jolly.

Not all those who wander are lost…

Why did no one tell me?!!! Tolkien is finally1 available in Kindle format! They have the three separate books as well as Lord of the Rings trilogy in one volume, at a bargain price. The Hobbit and The Children of Hurin are also available. I really want Silmarillion to come out though, as I’ve never read it.

Now I’m afraid I’m asking too much for Ayn Rand (besides Anthem) to become available, and in some alternate universe, Harry Potter.

1 Is it bad that we want books to magically appear on the Kindle Store overnight? Because I kind of do. And we know most books are already typed up in some sort of digital format before they go to print, so the delays must be mainly legal and administrative issues. Frustrating!

Glory Road

Finally reading again!!! I was quite busy with the last few weeks of school and technically I still am but I’m procrastinating on my senior thesis…

Glory Road by Robert Heinlein was a quick and easy read, but very enjoyable. It’s about this guy who basically plans out his life with the sole purpose of dodging the draft, but that fails. And his life after his tour is mostly purposeless, until he meets the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen and she takes him on a, ahem, wild ride. It’s pretty cool – she takes him quite seamlessly into other universes on a quest to obtain this heavily guarded “Egg”. And there are monsters! And dragons! And swordfighting! All very fun and adventurous.