Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

“‘Once upon a time’ These are the most magical words our world has ever known and the gateway to the greatest stories ever told. They’re an immediate calling to anyone who hears them-a calling into a world where everyone is welcome and anything can happen. Mice can become men, maids can become princesses, and they can teach valuable lessons in the process.”

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The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer, is the story of a pair of twins, a boy and a girl, named Conner and Alex Bailey. In the book, Conner and Alex accidentally get transported into the fairy tale world, and they want to find a way back home. But, the only way to get back to the real world is to collect certain items that are dangerously hard to comeby. These items form the Wishing Spell, and will grant the twins passage back home. In this person vs. person conflict, Conner and Alex must work tirelessly to obtain the necessary items before time runs out.

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I have to admit, when my brother first recommended this book to me, I was a bit skeptical. However, as soon as I was a couple chapters into this book, I was hooked. But, since it did take a couple chapters, I would rate the book a four out of five. In my opinion, there is a healthy balance of action (mild action, if I may add) as well as some valuable lessons learned and a conflict that kept me on the edge of my seat. I particularly enjoyed the part of the book when Alex and Conner are retrieving a specific item from the bottom of the sea, and encounter The Little Mermaid herself. In general, the main reason I enjoyed the book was because of the widespread presence of characters from all the fairy tales we know and love, including Snow White, Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Cinderella. The only criticism I had with this book was the way Chris Colfer twisted some of the stories to comply with his plot. For example: in the book, Red Riding Hood is an elected queen, and has her own kingdom. This is obviously a departure from the original story, but it can be easily forgiven. Because of its universal subject matter, this book will appeal to a wide range of audiences, but I would particularly recommend it for ages 8-13. It would also be a good book for a group read. The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell is the perfect book for a reader who loves fantasy with a little action.

Extra Note: In case you loved this book and want more, there are three more books in this series, which I have listed below. Enjoy!

2. The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns

3. The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning

4. The Land of Stories: Beyond the Kingdoms

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Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

“The funny thing about facing imminent death is that it really snaps everything else into perspective.” (Patterson, 2005, pg.1) This is the first sentence of the first Maximum Ride book, The Angel Experiment. It’s also what Max and her gang face for a big part of their lives- imminent death.

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Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson is a action-packed, exhilarating story of six kids who are very different from everyone else. Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, The Gasman, and Angel. Aside from being mostly human, they have wings, and the bone structure of a bird. The flock spends a good chunk of their life running from the scientists who had once created them and the scientists who were now trying to re-capture them. To do this, the scientists sent out Erasers, or blood-thirsty werewolves whose mission is to recover the ‘mutant bird kids’.

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Set in modern-day America, this is the story of six outcast children, trying to find out who they are, and where they came from. My favorite part in this book is probably when the flock (What Max refers to as all of her ‘siblings’ and her) are all flying through the air. The way that Max describes the feeling of flight makes you feel as though you were up thousands of feet with her. However, the book is a bit violent, on par with something like The Hunger Games, so I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone under age 12. Overall, I loved The Angel Experiment. I’m not quite done with the series; however, I am definitely hooked, and you will be too, as soon as you read this first installment.

In addition to this book, there are eight other books in the series:

  1. The Angel Experiment
  2. School’s Out Forever
  3. Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
  4. The Final Warning
  5. Max
  6. Fang
  7. Angel
  8. Nevermore
  9. Maximum Ride Forever (Which won’t be released until May 4, 2015)

There will also be a Maximum Ride movie sometime in the future, however the release date is unknown. Stay tuned!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Boom! Boom! Boom! A cannon fires. And then another. And then another! More tributes dead. This is all good for Katniss Everdeen, who is competing for victory in the 74th Hunger Games held in the country of Panem.

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a story of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the post-apocalyptic country of Panem. In Panem there are 12 districts, and Katniss lives in District 12. This district is known for coal-mining, and is universally recognized as very poor. The people are starving, and when Katniss’ father dies in a mining accident, her mother sinks into deep depression, and Katniss must learn to hunt in order to keep her family alive. Winning the games will mean riches beyond compare for her and her family, and glory for her unpopular district. Will she make it back to her family alive? Will the odds be in her favor? Travel with Katniss on her action-packed journey through the Hunger Games as she struggles to survive.

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Some of the universal themes that are portrayed in this book are love, family, courage, oppression, and tyranny. But, because some of these things are very mature, I would recommend this book to kids ages 12 and up.
My favorite parts in this book are whenever Cinna, Katniss’ stylist describes different costumes that Katniss wears to her interviews, training, and other public appearances. And, of course, my favorite character is Katniss.
In addition to to this book, there are two others in the series: Catching Fire and Mockingjay. If you do end up reading the first book, be sure to check out the next two! Also, there are movies for all of them, and Mockingjay Part Two is coming out in November 2015. I hope that these books keep you on the edge of your seat like they did for me!

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bilbo Baggins thought he was the least likely candidate to be fighting the most evil forces in the world. He was perfectly comfortable in his hobbit hole, drinking his tea and taking naps every few hours. Until, that is, Gandalf the Grey sends several unruly dwarves to wreck his home, destroy his peace, and devour all of his food. This is the start of the journey that ends up forcing Bilbo to embark on an adventure of a lifetime that will change the course of his life forever and make him into a legend in Middle Earth.

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Middle Earth, a fantasy world created by J.R.R. Tolkien is inhabited by many people and creature groups, such as Dwarves, Elves, Wizards, Hobbits, Orcs, Men, Animals, Giants, Trolls, Dragons, and Talking Trees, to name a few. This story is primarily about the Dwarves and the Hobbits, with a couple of wizards thrown in to help and guide the other two groups. Many years before The Hobbit begins, a dragon had stolen the Dwarves’s gold and retreated into the Lonely Mountain to hoard the treasure until the original owners muster the courage to steal it back. The reason they enlist Bilbo to join them on their quest is because, unlike the dwarves, he is small, nimble, and quick, which are some necessary qualities for stealing something from a dragon. Because of this, Bilbo is given the nickname ‘Burglar’. Not necessarily something Bilbo is comfortable with.

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This book touches on many universal themes, which may be one of the reasons why The Hobbit is so enduringly popular. Some of these themes include Good vs. Evil, the Power of Friendship, Courage in the face of danger, and Triumph over adversity.

If you’re someone who enjoys a good, challenging fantasy story, then this is a great book for you! In terms of age level, I would recommend this book to ages 12 and up. Also, there is a great movie that came out two years ago based on this book. Be sure to check it out!

 

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

If you’ve been living in America or Europe for the last decade, you probably heard of Harry Potter before. Many people had suggested these books to me to read, but I always resisted and said that they were just for fantasy-lovers. Boy, was I wrong.

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The first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, is about an 11-year-old boy, Harry Potter, who has been living with his horrible aunt and uncle, and their spoiled, bratty son, Dudley, ever since his parents died. He hates it there, because he is very different from the Dursley’s. While Mr. and Mrs. Dursley live very ordinary lives, and are very ordinary people, Harry, (though he doesn’t know it) is a wizard. So when a letter arrives from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry sets off on the Hogwarts Express, not knowing what awaits him there.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is about a boy who finds out his true identity, and realizes that he has a big role to play in the huge battle of Good vs. Evil in the Wizard world. Will Harry rise to meet the challenges before him, or will the dark side prevail? There are so many things to love about this book:  mystery, adventure, and friendship. Even the descriptions of life at a boarding school are interesting.

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The only reason this book may not be for you, is if you strongly dislike anything to do with witchcraft or wizardry, even if it is harmless. Also, I wouldn’t recommend Harry Potter to younger children, because if you end up liking the first book, and want to read the rest of the series, the story can get pretty intense and violent toward the end. There are 7 books in this series:

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone- Year 1
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets- Year 2
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban- Year 3
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- Year 4
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix- Year 5
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince- Year 6
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows- Year 7

I hope that, if you read this book, you love it as much as I do.