Monday, 25 September 2017

Reviewing the Classics #11 Five Children and It

Goodreads Summary:

When Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane and their baby brother start exploring a gravel pit not far from their new countryside home, they make an unexpected and very curious discovery. The gravel pit is home to a Psammead, a sand fairy. This ugly creature has eyes like a snail, ears like a bat and the body of a spider, and is very grumpy indeed. He grants the children one wish every day, and though they are excited to have all their desires fulfilled, they soon realize that having one's wishes come true can have unexpected consequences...

E. Nesbit's much loved children's tale has enchanted generations of readers, and has been adapted for the screen numerous times - most notably by the BBC in a hugely popular 1990s series. It remains one of the most cherished children's classics ever written, and an indispensable part of every young reader's library.

So for this months classic, I have been reading Five Children and It by E.Nesbit. I remember loving The Railway Children when I was younger, but for some reason I never read Five Children and It. I was actually surprised when I found out that The Phoenix and the Carpet is a sequel to this book, as I remember seeing a stage adaptation and loving it!

Five Children and It follows siblings Anthea, Jane, Robert, Cyril, and their baby brother, who is known as the Lamb. When the children move to a new home, they discover a strange creature in a nearby gravel pit who tells them that he is a Psammmead, a wish granting sand fairy, who will grant the children one wish per day. I always love the idea of wishes being granted, especially by children, who are liable to wish for more interesting things than adults. We have all heard the phrase “be careful what you wish for”, but what if this advice was given to someone who found a way to make their wishes come true? This is exactly the theme of Five Children and It, as although the children wish for things that they believe will be fun or improve their lives, their wishes often backfire on them and get them into trouble.

One thing that I instantly loved about this book was the chapters. Each chapter focused on a different day and a different wish, and was like it's own short story. I loved that non of the chapters ended on a cliffhanger, as although I was eager to find out what the next wish would be, I felt like I could comfortably put the book down at the end of any chapter without feeling as if I needed to immediately know what happened next. I thought this was a brilliant set up for a children's book, as I felt it would be a good book for parents to read to their children as a bedtime story, as they could read a chapter a day.

I often feel as if the characters in children's books act too grown up for their age, so I loved how the children actually acted like children, and were believable characters. I loved all of their wishes, and how they didn't play out like the children thought they would. I also loved when they started accidentally making wishes, as these proved to be even more disastrous!

I loved how, although the children were siblings, each child had a completely different personality, which often caused arguments amongst themselves on how they should deal with the situations they got themselves into. I particularly loved Anthea, as she had a very clever and bossy Hermione-ish attitude. She is the type of character who I would have thought was very cool when I was younger, and who I would have looked up to. I also loved Robert, as he was usually the one to accidentally wish for something. I particularly loved his accidental wishes, and thought they were the most interesting ones.

One of my favourite parts of the story was how they wished for their maid and cook to not notice any of their wishes. This made for some hilarious moments, and I particularly loved Martha carrying a grown man, as she saw him as a baby. I also loved how while one of the wishes was in effect, the children couldn't see or feel the food that the cook had prepared, and could only eat it by biting over a seemingly empty table.

The Psammead, the “It” of the story was an interesting character. I felt as if he was a little like the Genie from Aladdin, as he was unable to grant wishes for himself, and after living for thousands of years, had become tired of constantly granting wishes. I loved how there was a little bit of backstory, which included what people used to wish for thousands of years ago, and how water was fatal to the Psammead. Although I found his grumpy nature funny, I did feel sorry for him towards the end of the book, as all he wanted was some peace and quiet, and I think we can all relate to that.

At only 200 pages, I was surprised by ow action packed the book was! There was definitely not a dull moment, and the action never slowed down at any point. I adored all of the fantasy elements, and how fantasy was mixed perfectly with reality. From castles to giants, this book has everything to impress even the most imaginative child. I recommend this book to both children and adults who enjoy fantasy stories!

Five Children and It is now available to purchase!

 Alma Classics  | Amazon Book Depository 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Review on Odd & True

Trudchen Grey has listened to her older sister's tall tales about the supernatural her whole life. After Odette suddenly crashes back into Trudchen's life after a two year absence, Tru has had just about enough of Od's silly stories. However, doubt lurks on the edges of Tru's subconscious. A formidable looking creature has made a recurrent appearance in Tru's tea leaf readings. When the readings lead them to their mother's house, they are also lead into rumours of the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish creature creating fear and chaos. Could this be the monster from Tru's tea leaves, or is it just a local legend?

When I read what this book was about, I was instantly sold! Magic and monsters are right up my street, and the fact it focused on two monster hunting sisters made it sound even better! The book follows fifteen year old Trudchen, and her older sister, Odette. After learning about a monster in Philadelphia, known as the Leeds Devil, the sisters decide to hunt it down. However, Odette has an alternative motive for wanting to travel round the country. A secret that she is keeping from her sister.

The book is split into two parts, with Tru narrating the current events in 1909, and Od telling Tru about her past through a series of letters. I loved this way of narrating, as the chapters alternated between the two timelines, it was slowly revealed to us what Odette was actually doing in the two years she was away from home, which helped to fill in the blanks of Tru's story. I also loved the time period it was set in, as apart from The Infernal Devices, I don't think I've ever read a fantasy book set in this era.

One thing I immediately loved way the fact that Tru was disabled. After contracting polio, Tru is left with a paralysed leg. Tru is eventually able to walk around with the help of a leg brace, and uses a wheelchair for longer journeys. I feel as if there is a huge lack of disabled characters in YA fantasy, so I loved how such a strong character was given a physical disability. Although it would have been safer to stay with her Aunt, Tru endures a long journey across the country to find her mother and save Philadelphia from a monster. I loved how brave she was, and I felt as if it gave a positive message to disabled people that although their goals may be more difficult to achieve for them than they would be for able bodied people, It is still possible to achieve them with strength and determination.

Although I enjoyed both of the sisters narratives, I did prefer Tru's. I eventually loved Od's narrative and learning about their childhood, but as I started this book expecting a fantasy story, I was initially a little disappointed over the lack of fantasy elements. I did feel sorry for Od, as she had to go through such emotional trauma at such a young age, but I was also disappointed that the story went in the direction that it did, as it wasn't what I was expecting from the book at all. I enjoyed Tru's part of the story more, but I felt as if progressed too slowly. When the story did finally reach it's climax, I was disappointed that it was all over in a couple of pages. I was looking forward to their eventual encounter with a monster, and when it finally happened it was over just as I was getting into it. I was hoping that the sisters would be a bit like a female version of the Winchester brothers, and as a book marketed as being about monster slaying and magic, I felt as if it was lacking in monster slaying and magic. It was a little like that scene in The Wizard of Oz where the wizard turns out to be a little old man without any powers.

Apart from Od, Tru and Uncle Magnus, I felt as if non of the rest of the characters were likable. This my have been intentional to keep out focus on the sisters, but I do enjoy a good side character to keep the protagonists in check. I felt as if Cy was awful for abandoning Od when she needed him the most, and I was glad that she told him where to go in the end. I was disappointed that Ezra was only there to serve as a love interest for Tru, as I felt as if he had the potential to become the lovable side character I felt was missing.

I feel as if it's partly my fault I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would, as I think I made a lot of assumptions from reading the blurb, and went into the book with my brain full of magic and monsters. However once I came to terms with the fact the book wasn't going in the direction I thought it would, I started enjoying it for what it was. I particularly loved the bond between the sisters, and how their relationship was the focus of the book rather than a romance. One thing I did love about the lack of monsters however was that I, like the sisters, started to doubt if monsters really existed in their world, or if it was just going to be a metaphor for the suffering they had to endure.

Although the book wasn't what I was expecting, I did enjoy it overall, particularly towards the end when I practically flew through the last few chapters! I felt as if the epilogue was sweet and the perfect ending, and I loved that the sisters regained their beliefs in magic and monsters. This wasn't the action packed monster slaying book I was expecting it to be, but I loved the family values, and it managed to surprise me! I'm going to give this one a 4 star rating, but I think for me it was more of a 3.5.

Odd & True is now available to purchase!

  | Amazon Book Depository

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Harry Potter Tag

OMG HARREH POTTA!!! So I've been tagged by one of my blogger besties ReadableLife in the Harry Potter tag!! So if you know me at all you'll know I have a mild to extreme Harry Potter obsession, so this is obviously the perfect tag for me! So I bring to you, the Harry Potter Tag!

 What house are you in?

Slytherin of course!!! Back in the day I used to think I was a Gryffindor, but i've taken the Pottermore sorting hat multiple times along with lots of unofficial quizzes and I've been put in Slytherin every time! Now when I say I used to be a Gryffindor, what I mean is that I've been a huge Harry Potter fan since I was eight, and I've been a Slytherin for at least ten years now! And no we're not all evil!!

 What is your Patronus?

So according to Pottermore my Patronus is an Eagle Owl. The funny thing is that I actually met an Eagle Owl a few days before I took the Patronus quiz so I guess it was meant to be! Also I adore owls so I'm perfectly ok with this.
What is your wand?

So back to Pottermore! I actually had to sign in for this one because I forgot. I actually adored my wand the first time I took the quiz, but unfortunately I lost my log in details! I remember it had dragon heartstring though which I much preferred to my current wand which has a core of unicorn hair. It's made of yew wood, 10 ½ inches and slightly springy! I own a death eater wand in real life which is honestly so pretty I love it.
What would your Boggart be?

Ooh interesting question. I'm not sure to be honest and I don't want to go too dark. I remember Mrs Weasley's boggart was of her family being dead, so maybe mine would be my dog being dead I love my doggo

What position would you play in Quidditch?

I would probably just be cheering from the stands as I'm terrible at sports, and I doubt Quidditch would be any different! I'm also pretty clumsy so I would 100% fall off my broom. If I had to choose though I'd probably be a beater. It sounds fun knocking balls into the opponents.

Would you be pureblood, halfblood, or muggle born?

Pure blood of course! I can't be dealing with those filthy mudbloods.
What job would you want to have after graduating Hogwarts?

I'd love to work at Borgan and Burkes. I mean imagine all the strange things you would see every day! I don't particularly enjoy working retail, but I think working there would be really fun. Working with dragons like Charlie Weasley would also be really fun, but I'd probably die on my first day.
Which Deathly Hallow would you choose?

The invisibility cloak so I could hide from my responsibilities.

Favourite book?

Prisoner of Azkaban! I've always loved time travelly things and I loved how this was done so cleverly. Time travel usually confuses me, but this was done so perfectly and wasn't confusing at all. It's also where two of my favourite characters were introduced, Sirius and Lupin. I love these two so much, and I remember being so shocked at the plot twist of Sirius being Harry's godfather!

Least favourite book?
Oh no I love them all! Probably Chamber of Secrets just because I found it a little on the slow side, but also I love Dobby. Ahhh don't make me choose least favourites I don't like it.
Favourite film?

Okay so this is probably going to be highly controversial as I've never seen anyone else say this was their favourite film before. It's Half Blood Prince. Now let me explain! This is where everything gets a whole lot darker, and I loved that so much. Also my favourite character is Draco Malfoy, and this film had a whole lot of Draco. Up until this point, Draco doesn't really get a whole lot of character development, but this one shows just how scared and vulnerable he is, and how once things get serious, he doesn't want to be a part of his dads shitty views anymore. Honestly I just want to hug Draco. Also I love how this is where we find out about Voldemort's horcruxes, and how Harry's journey on killing Voldemort finally starts here. Also although it is dark, it also has enough light hearted and funny moments!

Least favourite film?

Hmm probably Order of the Phoenix. I still love it, especially the legendary scene where the Weasley twins escape from Hogwarts, but I just didn't feel as if it did the book justice. So much was left out, and I do realise that it is a monster of a book and the film couldn't fit in everything, but I just remember feeling a little disappointed with that adaptation.
Favourite Character?

Yes it is Draco Malfoy. I just feel as if there's so many layers to him that finally come to light in Half Blood Prince, and of course I always love a bad boy! I've always felt that under different circumstances, such as Draco's dad just being a grade A douchebag, Draco and Harry could actually have been friends. I feel that they actually have so much in common, and Gryffindor and Slytherin are actually quite similar despite hating each other. I know we all have different opinions on Cursed Child, but Draco in Cursed Child actually broke my heart with explaining how lonely he felt at Hogwarts and how he was jealous that Harry had such great friends. Please someone just give that boy a hug and be his friend.

Least favourite character?
Dolores Umbridge! Oh my god has there ever been a more dispised character? I think we all collectivly agree that she is so much worse than Voldemort.
Favourite Hogwarts Professor?
Mcgonagall! She is just such a badass and she is insanely cool. I love how much she actually cares about Harry, and her feud with Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix was actually legendary!
Least favourite Hogwarts Professor?

Well seeing as Umbridge was the DADA teacher in OOTP it would obviously have to be her again.

f you could save one character from the finale battle, who would you save?
Oh no just one? Probably either Tonks or Lupin, as I just feel so bad for little baby Teddy being an orphan.