review: the wizard’s promise by cassandra rose clarke

wizard's promise

part of me will always be impressed by cassandra rose clarke’s novels and “the mad scientist’s daughter” will forever and ever occupy a part of my heart.

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so, let’s get to the book, now, shall we?

set in the same world as “the assassin’s curse” our heroine hanna, is the daughter of a former pirate and fisherman but with aspirations to be a proper witch. under the tutelage of kolure, one very grouchy fisherman, who is following his own agenda she has to push through all kinds of obstacles including saving herself, help a non-human boy, prevent evil to spread and find a way back.

after the first few chapters you can already see some character similarities between hanna and ananna. a little ignorance, a pinch of anger and the always underlying ambition to make their dreams come true. scrolling through other reviews both the goodreads and non-goodreads variety, makes me realize that most people thought that “the wizard’s promise” lacked a special something and they wanted this hole to be filled. more worldbuilding, a greater level of characterization, tense action or at least less repetitiveness and focus on some daily activities.

in some ways i certainly did too, because as a reader i tend to expect more of an author whose books made it to my all-time-favorite shelf and keep their level of awesomeness to increase with every new book, which is strictly speaking doing both the author and me a disservice.

and you know what?

i’ve read too many bad books and this is definitely not one of them. i have this niggling feeling that after reading the not-yet-released sequel that my mind shall be appeased and that is quite enough for me, till cassandra rose clarke releases her next adult novel.

this e-arc has been kindly proved by strange chemistry through netgalley!

rating 3.0

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review: rooftoppers by katherine rundell

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magical things can happen on rooftops – or at least should.

when i was still at an age and height where i couldn’t reach the cupboard’s highest and thus of course most mysterious shelf –even when stretching and standing on tiptoes (there may have been frustrated grunting involved), my family and i would fly over to my grandparents in india during our summer holidays.

we kids were bored out of our minds.

without further ado we’d decide that it was an amazingly ingenious idea to jump from rooftop to rooftop and explore other people’s properties where we would, among other things, pet stray cats, feed impatiently clucking chickens, see the birth of puppies, go –what can be best described as—‘people-watching’ and shoot spitballs at innocent civilians. on the downside, we managed to damage our neighbor’s already somewhat leaky rooftop and our parents were furious when they found out what we’ve done. of course we wouldn’t let that stop us,- instead we were just more careful about it.

something that rundell easily manages is capturing how as a child you somehow always strive to have your own adventure; that is if it doesn’t find its way to you beforehand. a small thing that may seem trivial to an adult could be invaluable to a child. rooftoppers keeps reminding the reader that beautiful things can happen particularly in childhood when you’re not yet set in your ways, keep an open mind accept people and things the way they are in their varying shapes and forms. children don’t give a damn about customs, manners and danger. stupid mistakes are bound to happen of course, but it’s kind of sad how we develop this aversion to taking risks based on the experience we have made, instead of showing more courage like we did when we were children.

if you have ever seen and enjoyed amélie [trailer], love me if you dare [trailer] or any wes anderson film, then you have a small taste of what you can expect from rooftoppers. if you haven’t … even better: dive into it with closed eyes and be prepared to have your inner child’s mind blown with this whimsical little tale. i wish i could give this to my 7 year old self that would cherish this and probably leave a bigger impression than on my by now adult version. it’s the stuff that childhood dreams are made of, encouraging children to believe, if only for a little while longer.

quotes:

“she will come,” she said. “or i’ll go to her.”

“no, sophie. that is not how the world works.” miss eliot was sure that sophie was mistaken, but then miss eliot was also sure that cross-stitch was vital, and charles was impossible, which just showed that adults weren’t always right.

one day sophie found some red paint and wrote the name of the ship, the queen mary, and the date of the storm on the white wall of the house, just in case her mother passed by.

charles’s face, when he found her, was too complicated for her to look at. but he helped her reach the high parts and wash the brushes afterward.

“a case”, he said to miss Eliot, “of the just in cases.”

“but she’s-”

“she is only doing as i have told her.”

“you told her to vandalize your own house?”

“no. i have told her not to ignore life’s possibles.”

[6%]

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

“is the girl worth it? worth committing a felony?”

“she is,” said charles evenly.

“she is bright enough to start a forest fire.”

“she seemed fairly ordinary,” said the clerk. crouched outside, sophie bristled.

“people usually do, until you know them,” said charles.

“sophie is uniquely endowed with intelligence, grit, and, at this particular moment, coffee stains. in fact, speaking of which-” a chair scraped, and sophie just had time to stumble backward two steps before the door opened.

[35%]

book pairing:

 the kneebone boy

rooft

rating 3.0

song: team by lorde

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there’s been a lot of buzz about the samsung ad when it first first aired. the first time i saw it, i thought it a pretty cunning move of samsung to use a song that snubbed materialism and use it for their newest product, the samsung galaxy note 3 which is a smartwatch.

having forgotten all about it, i randomly went through the latest youtube music videos a couple of days ago and stumbled across lorde’s newest music addition. and boy was i hooked. the more often i listened to it, the more i liked it. at work i’ve been listenting to this song over and over again in an infinity loop. so here’s my totally non-professional attempt at dissecting the whole thing. and. here. we. go:

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the nameless boy is being brought to a sealed off place on a boat with a potato sack thrown over his head.

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i don’t think it was intended but the “a hundred jewels between teeth” immediately put this picture in my head:

gold teeth

some people like to flaunt how wealthy and awesome they are by wearing conspicuous jewellery. of course it depends. in some countries if you’re poor you still try to buy some gold at the risk of running into debts, merely to show that you’re from a good and while not über-rich, at least not out of money … just to save face and marry off your offspring.

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ah, there’s a lonely kid staring holes into the air…

i love these lines that acknowledge teens with puberty acne.

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nameless dude gets the potato sack off his head and is being led somewhere. but where?

sometimes we like coat the truth with lies, because we like to hear that instead of the truth and it is easier to endure.

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this implies the disconnect lorde wants to accentuate between new zealand and the glitzy hollywood world, with its flashing bulbs and papparazzi. as a kiwi singer she’s from a town that is stripped of all the glamour we are used to seeing on the screen. while not beautiful and rich, it has its own gritty charm.

the last line “but we sure know how to run things” is what i hear when i listed to the songs, a lot of the lyric pages online spill it as “but we sure know how to run free”. i just went with the former.

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by now, we get the feeling that he is very tensed and obviously has to prove himself worthy.

the lost kids who formed their own community and can depend on each other, the “team”.

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nameless boy sees other kids who seem by turns happy, sheltered and lost.

sick of being stamped as not caring of anything that is happening around you. they do care.

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lorde is once again suggesting that you pick your battles. why compete for a love you won’t receive? the effort will never satisfy the desire, so the end never justifies the means. we might all fight for things that are futile in life, despite knowing better. but you can survive such situations when you have your team behind you and supporting you. [popcrush]

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this again is what i extract when listening to the song. some lyrics pages say “…when i rebelled without a care” which i’d like to contradict. this is the awkward phase where you’re not a small, naive kid anymore but still too young to be considered an adult by your environment. so you are aware that certain actions do lead to consequences and think things through before doing them.

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and … he’s in!

review: goblin market and selected poems by christina rossetti

goblin market

forgive me father, for i have sinned. it’s been a long time since my last confession. these are my sins:

i bought rossetti’s goblin market and selected poems as an expensive a folio edition, because i enjoy a good story as much as thoughtfully crafted book design. plus i only understood fractions of it, the writing style is not much to my taste, but that might change if i understand the subtle undertones and messages the author is trying to convey.

this is it, you guys. you cannot get a better designed book if you’re looking for a collection of rossetti’s poems. and … holy shit, it’s just awesome because jillian tamaki illustrated it! [ see more ]

goblin market tamaki

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obviously the most famous of her poems is the goblin market. i had my first encounter with her work through laini taylor’s beautiful book lips touch: three times which can be discribed as a nod to rossetti’s poem. here some of my favourite lines:

two thoughts of death.

her heart that loved me once is rottenness
now and corruption; and her life is dead […]
foul worms fill up her mouth so sweet and red;
foul worms are underneath her graceful head.
yet these, being born of her from nothingness
these worms are certainly flesh of her flesh.

– p 114

buds and babies

a million buds are born that never blow,
that sweet with promise lift a pretty head
to blush and wither on a barren bed
and leave no fruit to show.

sweet, unfulfilled. yet have i understood
one joy, by their fragility made plain:
nothing was ever beautiful in vain,
or all in vain was good.

– p 100

life and death.

life is not sweet. one day it will be sweet
to shut our eyes and die […]

life is not good. one day it will be good
to die, then live again. […]

– p 72

at home.

when i was dead, my spirit turned
to seek the much frequented house:
i passed the door, and saw my friends
feasting beneath green orange boughs […]

– p 24

rating 1.75

review: handbook for dragon slayers by merrie haskell

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i knew that i was in for a treat when i picked up handbook for dragon slayers. when we’re introduced to the heroine we quickly find out that she has a deformity that stamps her an outcast making the people around her sign against the evil eye. mathilda is the princess of alder brook and a half orphan. when the story begins her protective mother is currently abroad. standing or walking for too long shows its effect on her lame foot and she needs to rest and massage it.

this is why she likes to read books and has high aspirations to go down in history as a famous writer if nothing else than to prove the people wrong about being a living curse roaming the earth. tilda is tired of her endless, repetitive duties and responsibilites that comes with being a princess and just wants to leave everything behind and start somewhere afresh.

as chance would have it her handmaiden judith and friend parz decide to slay a dragon. tilda plans to do something no has done before: write a handbook for dragon slayers. of course, things don’t exactly go as planned an she accidentally thwarts the wild hunt by freeing their silver and copper horses, befriending dragons, getting imprisoned by a bluebeard-like character who has his own hidden agenda … all the while saving alder brook from her greedy relatives.

what can i say? i liked tilda well enough, though i have to admit that i probably would not have picked this up if it weren’t for merrie haskell’s wonderful debut the princess curse which won me over with a wonderful heroine. tilda is a bit dull when compared to the princess curse‘s shining heroine reveka. but i have to admit that i am a sucker for dark fairy tales with hades-persephone touch and a dash of twelve dancing princesses. also, the villain in handbook for dragon slayers was not as multilayered as in princess curse and i like my characters grey not black and white.

as it is, the handbook for dragon slayers is a book that does its job by being adventurous and i should think appealing to both genders.

rating 2.5