Book Review: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Title: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Short: Alice in Wonderland)

Author: Lewis Carroll, with illustrations by John Tenniel

Age Group: Young Readers, 8-12; Children’s Classic

   I was finally able to read this novel for the first time yesterday and it proved to be another one of those novels that I wished I could have read sooner. It’s truly brilliant and well surpasses that of it’s film and television spin off counterparts – as is usually the case when a novel is created as a visual.

   I think this is easily said, when you see all the movies and other visual media that has been created based off this novel in the years passed, they was always something missing about them. I can’t say I’ve ever come across a movie that I actually enjoyed – this is excluding the original animated version that Disney did back in 1951 as I have not yet seen that version. After reading the book I’ve been able to put my finger on exactly what’s been missing; simplistic nonsense.

   Alice in Wonderland is filled with imagination, adventure, and just plain nonsense – and this is quite possibly the best part about it. The movies tend to be a bit dark and steer away from the overall basis of the story, and that’s all this was; a literal story. Charles Dodgson (better know by his pen name, Lewis Carroll) told this story to three girls who he looked after; Alice, the middle aged of the three sisters, is who the story is named after. Alice enjoyed the story so much that she asked Charles to write it down – and thus began the making of the manuscript. This is why the plot seems nonsensical, because the best stories are the ones that are made up on the spot, and all the films seem to look past this one very important feature.

   Another thing that makes the original story jump out so much from some of the visuals is that the book doesn’t delay in getting to the point. There’s no three or four chapter build up – you’re practically down the rabbit hole from chapter one, and this is great. Personally I love nothing better than a story with no delay.

   Alice makes a fantastic children’s classic, and good reading for children aged 8-12, and I think it’s something that every child should read at least once in their life. It’s very thrilling and for younger children could make a very enjoyable parent-child read at bedtime.

   I believe that this novel has bought with it a fair bit of controversy in the past based on the Queen enjoying her fair share of beheading, but in fairness there are worse things that children see visually and no doubt on a daily basis. The most important thing to remember is that this is just a bit of fun fiction and as long as you can keep that in mind, you’ll love it too.

   Personally, I rated this 4/5 stars.

Until next time, keep turning those pages.

xx Phoenix

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Short Story: Flight

   Anxiously she waited near the door, pacing; anticipating the very second the barrier between her and her freedom would swing open and set her running through the vast open fields.

She tried to call out and see if conceivably there would be someone who could open the door for her. Thus she went from room to room, looking; seeing if there was a body capable of helping.

For you see, the door was locked, and she was unable to open it herself. There were times when she would stretch out to reach for the handle and she called out to the person unlocking, but she was just helpless when it came to sliding the bolt at the top.

   Her calls finally made it through as life began to stir in one of the far rooms of the house. This time her calls were that of excitement in lieu of the need of aid. Sprinting to the door, she paced excitedly, she was a very transient being and couldn’t wait for the door to open.

   A hand reached up, pulling the bolt with a clunk, and – another hand – reached out and twisted the door knob; the dominant click of the push lock sounding at last. The door swung open, the cool breeze of the early dawn air brushed across her face as she ran out the door, getting almost to speed by the time she hit the driveway.

   It was still the early days of autumn, but the morning air was already proving to be quite crisp and chill. Leaves were slowly starting to populate the bases of their respective trees, with the large majority still hanging to branches.

   She ran faster as she got to the top of the driveway, her joy purely taking over the situation, imitating in a rush of adrenaline that was coursing through her. In the blinding dash, she was unaware of the noises around her: all she knew was her and her freedom. Sometimes we get to the end of our nine lives.

   She looked at the last minute at the headlights that came rushing at her, she panicked, and scrambled for the side of the road. At the sound of squealing breaks, she flew like a leave in a breeze, up and out of the way. It took her a moment to come to grips with the sensation but she was soon able to right herself again. However, when she had come to right herself, she didn’t quite feel right. It was light a dizzy, lightheaded sensation that had come over her

   There was yelling now, shouts of, “Why were you travelling so fast?!” and “these are residential roads!”, followed closely by threats of, “I’m going to report you!” and “I’ll call the police!”. She let out a call so her voice could be heard. A way to say, I’m here and okay, but she wasn’t being heard. She tried again but it was to no avail.

   Once her head cleared slightly and her vision became less of a blur, it was almost as though she was staring in a mirror until she was able to fathom what it was that was playing out in front of her. There was the face, the legs, some blood, the body, and … here was the tail.

   She looked around once more, trying to wrap her head around exactly what she was seeing, but surely this was all a dream? She realized that the flying sensation she’d felt earlier at the sound of the breaks was just her moving out the way … her moving out her body.

   As her owners wrapped her lifeless body in a blanket and cried into the bundle, she let out one last meow that fell onto deaf ears.

Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Author: Mark Haddon

Age Group: Young Adults, 13+

   “But I said that you could still want something that is very unlikely to happen.”

   Christopher Boone was one of the most insightful characters I’ve ever come across in a novel in all my years of reading. His intelligence makes you question your own, and what you believe in, and it’s a truly beautiful thing. To anyone who hasn’t yet read this novel, I hope by the time I’ve signed off you’ve added it to your to-read list.

   The plot follows the first person perspective of young Christopher Boone, a fifteen year old who – although not directly stated – has special needs. He doesn’t like the colour yellow or the colour brown, he has an incredible brain when it comes to mathematics and physics, and most importantly, he doesn’t like being touched – not even by his family.

“Everyone has learning difficulties, because learning to speak French or understanding relativity is difficult.”

   Christopher’s world starts to turn upside down on a night when he finds the neighbours dog has been killed with a garden fork, and he goes on a detective mission to uncover the truth of who committed the crime; following in the footsteps of his favourite detective, Sherlock Holmes. However, during his detective work, he finds out secrets that his father has been keeping from him and his world starts to come crashing down around him.

   “And I said “Yes,” because loving someone is helping them when they get into trouble, and looking after them, and telling them the truth, and Father looks after me when I get into trouble, like coming to the police station, and he looks after me by cooking meals for me, and he always tells me the truth, which means that he loves me.”

   The book is filled with some of the most touching quotes and inspirations that I’ve ever come across in a Young Adult novel, and after finishing it, I was no longer surprised as to why this book was on one of the “Top” lists at my local bookstore for so long. For any Young Adult – or rather for anyone – who hasn’t yet read this novel, you won’t be disappointed. It’s gorgeous.

If you have read this book and felt differently, please let me know your thoughts! I’d love to hear them.

Lastly, for the first time in a long time, this book gets a 5/5 stars from me.

Until next time, keep turning those pages.

xx Phoenix

Book Review: The Invisible Man

Title: The Invisible Man

Author: H. G. Wells

Genre: Science Fiction

   Back to back reading of two books by the same author! This was a first for me, I don’t usually follow on from what I’ve just read – whether it’s a series of books or something by the same author, I have to give my brain time to refresh and sync with the content I’ve just received; but this was the first time I didn’t need to!

   H. G. Wells is turning out to be one of my favourite old school authors – I just bought a copy of The War of the Worlds a few days ago that i plan on reading in the next few weeks. I’ve already read “The Island of Doctor Moreau” and “The Time Machine”.

   Griffin – who is The Invisible Man – is a scientist who has researched and invented a way to change the refractive index of the body to have the qualities of air, making it unable to absorb or refract light and thus giving his body it’s invisible qualities. After he attempts the experiment on himself, he finds it a success but he fails to be able to reverse it and is now trapped in a body no one can see. While yes it does have it’s advantages, it comes with a few negatives too.

The one negative to this whole fiasco Griffin has going on, is that – although I’m sure he enjoys running around naked – his clothes are visible when worn, but he can choose the stealth attack method by going full moon.

You’d think being invisible would have driven Griffin to insanity but it turns out he’s just psychotic for the sake of being psychotic; seriously, the guy is a total a**hole. He’s the ultimate definition of Mad Scientist.

Nonetheless, this made to be an absolutely fantastic novel about a jerk who ultimately get’s his comeuppance by the end. H G Wells has once again amused me in my journey to read his work and kept me entertained for hours whilst I read this one. Despite being 120 years old, I found it very easy to read – unlike a lot of old school novels that make you want to destroy things in the frustration classic literature brings (for me anyway).

I am undoubtedly over the moon about having added this to my collection and am thrilled to say that I look forward to reading more of this mans work in the months to come.

   As a final, I gave this one a 4/5 stars.

Until next time, keep turning those pages.

xx Phoenix

Book Review: The Time Machine

Title: The Time Machine

Author: H. G. Wells

Genre: Science Fiction

   I feel foolish for not having tried to read this mans work a lot sooner than what I have. For those who see my reviews quite frequently, you’ll have seen that I quite recently read “The Island of Doctor Moreau” – and I couldn’t get enough which is why I moved on to another of his novels.

   In The Time Machine we follow the Time Traveler and his incredible account of the journey he took – 800,000 years into the future. The time machine takes him to a dying earth where he discovers two races known as the Eloi and the Morlocks, and on his journey he learns how to speak the foreign language of the Eloi and how to understand them and their strange ways. Weird things start to happen which he tries to uncover, but the Eloi avoid his questions and panic when he asks certain questions.

   I absolutely loved Weena and the bond and relationship she forms with the Traveler.

   This is one of those novels that puts the science into science fiction. It’s an absolutely incredible read and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the world of Sci-Fi.

   Despite being 122 years old, this was a great read and doesn’t read like an older novel. I know from personal experience, I find it very difficult to read the older novels because of their format and style – and the older English – but thus far I haven’t encountered that problem with H. G. Wells and his work.

   Overall, this was a 4/5 star book for me.

Until next time, keep turning those pages.

xx Phoenix

Book Review: Black and Blue

Title: Bookshots Series: Black and Blue

Author: James Patterson with Candice Fox

Genre: Fiction, A-Z

   First things first: when James Patterson started this whole Bookshots thing, I can honestly say I though it was a little weird and perhaps a bit of a money making scheme – please don’t get me wrong on this, Mr P is like a God to me, I love this man and his work – but in time I came to see that it was one of the best ideas anyone had ever made.

   The idea of Bookshots is so that busy people with busy lives who enjoy reading can still enjoy reading. The stories are written small – around 120-140 pages each – but contain all the information and character development that any other James Patterson novel would contain.

How does he get this right?  I hear you asking.

He’s a genius. Plain and simple.

   All this said, I found this to be a very interesting shot; not really knowing if I enjoyed it as much as I have with any other James Patterson novels, but it was still good and maintained that fast pace that all of his books do. I don’t want to say that there was confusion, but I found there to be quite a bit of back and forth between different characters perspectives., and it resulted in me getting a bit lost from time to time, but I would soon find myself right back on track again.

   It was good, but perhaps it was missing a little something?

   With what my brain is currently going through, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s just my thoughts getting scrambled and making me think it needed something. It was good, and for anyone who leads a busy life but enjoys reading – you can still have your down time with a good book.

   I gave this one a great 3.5/5 stars.

Until next time, keep turning those pages.

xx Phoenix

 

Book Review: The Ugly Truth

Title: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 5: The Ugly Truth

Author: Jeff Kinney

Age Group: Young Readers, 8-12.

   I read some of these novels at random a few years ago and only recently decided to pick them up again and continue from where I left off; and I can honestly say that this series is one of the few that I have always thoroughly enjoyed. It’s like a “slice of life” but for a younger audience; the same sort of category that I place Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume in – they’re informative fiction that are still funny enough to hold the attention of the reader.

   One thing that Gregory was looking forward to in this novel was “The Talk” that his grandma was going to have with him. He was thrilled, thinking that she was going to be passing on some super cool family secrets with him – but as it turns out, she’s just going to have a slightly varied version of the puberty talk with him.

   This is going back to the point I made in my first paragraph, the characters are starting to go through body changes – as children do in the ripe age barriers of 8-14 – and this is one of the best ways to go about it. Gregory is interested in a girl that’s in the year above him, Rowley things he’s super cool because he got his first pimple, and – when the story begins – Rowley and Gregory aren’t on talking terms with one another and this is pretty standard of young children. When the hormones start raging, this age is a difficult time, and novels like these bring a little something funny to it.

   Overall, I’m super excited to continue reading the series; I forgot how awesome it was.

   This one got an awesome 4/5 Stars from me.

Until next time, keep turning those pages.

xx Phoenix

Book Review: Wild Born

Title: Spirit Animals, Book 1: Wild Born

Author: Brandon Mull

Age Group: Young Readers, 8-12

   In my own personal opinion, I found this novel to be quite mediocre, which is a shame because it was one of the few young readers novels I was looking forward to the most.

   This novel is the first in the Spirit Animals series. Essentially, this novel is based in the world of Erdas, where all the children participate in a special coming of age ritual when they reach eleven. In tradition, a ceremony is held where the children go on stage and drink a sip of sacred nectar in hopes that they may  summon a Spirit Animal – however not everyone is able to summon a Spirit Animal. The people of the world of Erdas believe that when a human and an animal come together, the greatness of both is multiplied. People with good bonds with their Spirit Animals are able to develop powers and greatly enhance  any skills they already possess.

   It sounds good, and that’s why I chose to read it but I’m honestly not sure why it was that I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I though I would. I think my biggest struggle may have been with Meilin, she’s a very “prissy” character – which stands to reason in the environment she grew up in – which is something I didn’t quite enjoy. She came across as bossy and self righteous, and I can honestly say I wasn’t a huge fan.

   The characters in general I felt maybe needed a little more work, but seeing how long the series is, I’m sure they all develop more over time.

   Although I didn’t quite enjoy the first novel, I’d be willing to give the next one a go and see how I feel from there. I’m not the type of person who likes to leave a series hanging once I’ve started but I also don’t believe in forcing oneself to continue on a journey they’re unhappy with. I’d like to give the second book a go and see how my thoughts and opinions change from there as to whether I’ll continue forth with the rest or not.

   In fairness I feel it right to state that despite my opinion, I can see why children enjoy this series. It is very thrilling and adventurous; it’s multi-cultural and very diverse and allows some space for learning and discovery – and that’s great.

   It just so happened to be a story that wasn’t quite for me; resulting in a very small 2/5 Stars.

   Don’t let me damper you, give it a try! Everyone has a different opinion.

Until next time, keep turning those pages.

xx Phoenix

Book Review: Artemis Fowl

TITLE: Artemis Fowl Book 1: Artemis Fowl

AUTHOR: Eoin Colfer

AGE GROUP: Young Readers, 8-12

   I found myself on the fence between okay and good when reading this novel, and before I delve any further into this I feel it fair to state that I was bearing in mind the age group that my local bookstore places this novel in, and on that basis explains the majority of my review.

   First things first, I think the main issue I had with this novel was how young the main character is. He’s twelve, a genius, and a criminal mastermind. I found this the only difficult concept to grasp and it made the character a tad unbelievable and tough to focus on. He’s very mature for his age and is acting in ways I would never have expected from a twelve year old.

   Don’t get me wrong, a kid genius isn’t impossible and I’m fully aware and in no way disputing that fact, I just found Artemis a little too unrealistic and other than his age I just couldn’t quite put my finger on what else may be causing this.

   On the basis of some of the present themes in this novel, I personally feel that this would be a story suited to the older end of the age group, the eleven to twelves – perhaps even as far as the thirteen-fourteen year old readers – and that’s purely what I feel based on the evidence of suggestible themes. Although swearing is not actually used in the novel as characters tend to get cut off before their tongue slips, it’s not that difficult to figure out exactly what a character is trying to get at. I know children are swearing from a younger age and that a lot of them are exposed to unnecessary amounts of swearing – I mean, in today’s modern world, who isn’t? – but I just feel like it’s not always applicable nor necessary to have it in novels for a younger audience.

   Now to look past the age group my local bookstore has placed it in, ‘d like to take a look a little further into this novel – if this was a book set for Young Adults 13+ it would be a fantastic book that I would encourage anyone to read. It’s filled with action and adventure, and has an awesome twist on the magical world. It provides a great tale and in all honesty I’m looking forward to trying out the rest of the series to see where it intended to go.

   Overall – once again my rating has been based on the age group my bookstore has placed this novel in – I only rated this novel to be 2.5/5 Stars, but given that I still want to continue the series may also change my thoughts about this later on.

Until next time, keep turning those pages.

xx Phoenix

Book Review: The Island of Dr Moreau

Title: The Island of Dr Moreau

Author: H G Wells

Genre: Science Fiction

IslandOfDrMoreau.JPG

   It took me a long time to actually get around to reading this novel and once I’d finished it, I found myself asking, “Why? Why did I take so long to do this?” It’s superb, and blatantly obvious to see why it remains one of Wells’ most popular books to this day.

   I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the differences between an older science fiction novel versus the modern day one. There is a big difference but in fairness, this book was published in 1896 – so we are looking at a 121 year gap.

   There’s really is nothing I enjoy more from a novel than when it’s themes and ideas can have a psychological impact on you; something that makes you stop and think. Dealing with the biggest themes of pain, cruelty, and human interference with nature are quite a heavy topic to deal with but Wells was able to do it in a truly incredible way and shows how tampering in areas that shouldn’t be tampered with can lead to quite dramatic repercussions.

   If you’re a fan of Science Fiction and haven’t yet given this novel a go, I would highly recommend doing so. I know for some, reading an older novel or a classic can turn into being quite a chore because of how differently they read to modern books and that’s understandable – I’m one of those folk, classics tend to drive me up the wall – but this one is honestly worth the read.

   Overall I rate this an impressive 4.5/5 stars.

Until next time, keep turning those pages.

xx Phoenix