Posts Tagged ‘ho hum’

Castle in the Air

by Diana Wynne Jones

HarperCollins, 1990

Source: public library

Read it because . . . I love Howl’s Moving Castle


Many moons ago,* I read this review over at things mean a lot and learned that Diana Wynne Jones wrote two companion books to Howl’s Moving Castle. Since I completely love and adore Howl’s Moving Castle, I decided I absolutely had to read Castle in the Air and I was going to do it for the Once Upon a Time Challenge and it was going to be Awesome.

Well, I read it. But folks – and this pains me to say this – it was not awesome.

I know. It doesn’t seem possible. Diana Wynne Jones not be awesome? After I finished reading Castle in the Air, I had the hardest time admitting out loud that I didn’t like it. It’s been a few months since I read it so most of the specifics have already left my brain, (and I don’t even want to skim the book to refresh my memory), but from what I remember the book felt not like the carefully work I’ve come to expect from Jones but like it was haphazardly thrown together. I never connected with any of the main characters. When Sophie, Howl and Calcifer arrived on the scene, it felt like a last-minute decision, like Jones suddenly remembered that this was a companion to Howl’s Moving Castle and she better find a way to tie the books together.

Did anyone else feel this way about Castle in the Air, or am I alone in my disappointment? I haven’t given up on Jones, but I don’t think I’m going to read the third book in the series, either.

Other reviews: BookLust, Chachic’s Book Nook, Dogear Diary, things mean a lot,

Did you write a review?  Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

*I just realized that I started this review the exact same way I started the Howl’s Moving Castle review I wrote two years ago.  Weird.

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by Shobhan Bantwal
Kensington Books, 2011
Source: public library
When I spotted The Full Moon Bride on my library’s new books shelves a while ago I remembered that S. Krishna had given it a positive review.  I impulsively checked it out, stayed up way too late reading the first half of the book, and then, over the course of the next week . . . skimmed the rest.  This may sound strange, but I’m actually proud of myself for skimming the second half of the book.  As I mentioned once before, I am bizarrely obedient when it comes to finishing books.  I don’t like to put down a book half-finished, even when it’s just not working for me.  Hence my delight my skimming the rest of The Full Moon Bride.  It’s a baby step in the right direction.
Even though I had a tough time finishing it, I’m not going to rip on The Full Moon Bride.  It’s a fairly decent book, and one I might have enjoyed it more were it not for one little thing: there was way too much telling and not enough showing.  (Actually, there were other little things that bugged me, too, but that was the main annoyance.)  I wanted to tell Soorya, the narrator, “Stop.  Stop telling me who you are.  Stop telling me who everyone else is.  Just live your story, and I will see who you are.”  The characters never really came to life for me, which is a pretty big drawback in a book that’s more character-driven than plot-driven.  
I do encourage you to check out other reviews before writing this book off completely.  If you wrote a review, please let me know so I can add it to the list.
I realized when I sat down to write this review that I can count this book for two different challenges – the South Asian Challenge and the What’s in a Name? Challenge (for the “life stage” category).  Yay!

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The Trumpeter of Krakow
by Eric P. Kelly
Simon & Schuster, 1928
Source: public library
1929 Newbery Award winner

I don’t usually review books I feel so-so about, but I need one more book for the What’s in a Name? challenge, so here I go . . . 

Three things jumped out at me as I read The Trumpeter of Krakow: 1) I enjoyed it significantly more than most of the Newbery winners from the ‘20s (which isn’t saying much, I’m afraid); 2) it reads like a love letter to Poland; and 3) you could tell if a character was good or bad by merely looking at them.

In regards to #1: In spite of this, it took me a long time to read this book.  Even though I’m still behind in my group’s Newbery reads, and could have put it off a little longer, I absolutely did not want to leave this for 2011.  I want the ‘20s behind me.

#2: The author very clearly loved Poland.  This was great and all, but the lavish descriptions bogged down the book a little.  I also found myself longing for a more objective narrator, one who could tell me, straight up, about life in fifteenth century Poland.  The book felt like an excuse to wax poetic about Poland.  This probably wouldn’t have bugged me as much if I had really loved the story.

#3: I know this is fairly common in fairy tales and Disney movies, but I got very tired of the main character taking one look at someone and just knowing that they were a Very Good Person or a Very Bad Person.  Really, dude?  You’re trusting this complete stranger with your family secrets just because he looks like a fine, upstanding man?  You know who else looks trustworthy and kind?  Polar bears.  And they wouldn’t think twice about eating you.

Hurray, I’m done with the 1920s!  On to the ‘30s.

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