Saturday, February 18, 2017
Rating: PG - some violent moments and some scary moments
Book 1 - The Hound of Rowan - 414 pages: Max McDaniels lives a quiet life in the suburbs of Chicago until the day he stumbles upon a mysterious Celtic tapestry. Many strange people are interested in Max and his tapestry, and his discovery will lead him to Rowan Academy, a secret school where great things await him.
But dark things are waiting, too. When Max learns that priceless artworks and other gifted children are disappearing from around the globe, he finds himself in the crossfire of an ancient struggle between good and evil.
Book 2 - The Second Siege - 476 pages: In this second book of the series, grave forces are converging to seize control of the Book of Thoth, a hidden artifact whose pages hold the key to creating—or unraveling—the very threads of existence. Max McDaniels and David Menlo embark on a quest to protect the book from the demon Astaroth, who would exploit its secrets with dire consequence. And with Astaroth free after centuries of imprisonment, the world outside Rowan’s gates has already become hostile.
Far from home, cut off behind enemy lines, Max and his allies must journey across Europe, descend into the fabled Frankfurt Workshop, brave the tangled corners of the Black Forest . . . and cross beyond the veils of our very world.
Book 3 - The Fiend and the Forge
Rowan has lost the war, and while the Academy works to rebuild, outside its protected walls everything has changed. Astaroth, using the Book of Thoth, has created a world where demons rule, chaos reigns, and humans toil like slaves . . . and worse.
Outraged by Rowan's seeming complacency with the new order and reeling from personal tragedy, Max McDaniels sets out on his own for escape, for information, and for revenge.
In his travels, he will be forced to become many things: prisoner, gladiator, assassin. But can he become the one thing mankind needs most—a hero?
Book 4 - The Maelstrom: The world is at the brink of ruin . . . or is it salvation? Astaroth has been weakened, and the demon Prusias is taking full advantage of the situation to create an empire of his own. His formidable armies are on the move, and Rowan is in their sights.
Rowan must rely on Max McDaniels and David Menlo and hope that their combined powers can stop Prusias's war machine before it's too late.
But even as perils loom, danger stalks their every move. Someone has marked Max for death and no one is above suspicion. Should the assassins succeed, Rowan's fate may depend on little Mina whose abilities are prodigious but largely untested.
And where is Astaroth? Has he fled this world or is he biding his time, awaiting his next opportunity?
Book 5 - The Red Winter: Rowan has won a battle, but not the war. With proper allies, Rowan’s armies could storm the demon stronghold, capture its ruler, and end the reign of demonkind. But while nations clash, a greater struggle lies elsewhere. In his desperate pursuit of Astaroth, Elias Bram scours the world for clues to the fiend’s true origins, identity, and purpose. His horrifying discoveries hint that not only is humanity at risk, but the earth itself. Its fate may depend upon three children. With their unmatchable skills, it’s up to Max McDaniels, David Menlo, and little Mina to tip the balance!
My Thoughts: If you're on goodreads, you'll notice nearly every review of this series is comparing it to Harry Potter. And I would have to agree. It is very reminiscent of HP. Young boy finds out he has magical powers, gets to go to a special, secret school to learn more about them, learns he is extra special, more so than his peers, there's a dark force out there that was defeated years ago but may still be alive...it's all so familiar. HOWEVER, it was different enough that I still enjoyed it, still wanted to see what would happen, etc. I think children who loved Harry Potter would be enthralled with this story. My only complaint was how quickly so many things were glossed over. For example, they never really delve deep into many of the classes Max takes at his school, or what exactly he is learning. Suddenly he just knows how to do things and you're left wondering when he learned it! I'm interested to see where this goes! Just a tip, the books are loosely based on the old Irish legend of Cuchulain, which is briefly summarized in the first book, but I felt like the author did a terrible job of his summary. I didn't really understand it, and I didn't understand how it related to Max. I ended up looking it up on the internet, and found an easier to understand summary and now I feel much less confused. I would recommend you do the same.
Book 2 is where this series takes a sharp turn from the Harry Potter comparison. Harry Potter gradually gets darker and more intense with each book. This series jumps straight for intensity and darkness. If you want to continue the comparison, I would compare the first book with HP 4 and the second book with HP 7 in terms of intensity and action. I honestly would be wary of reading these books with too young of a child, I think middle school is honestly the earliest a kid could handle it. They are very dark. Max and his friends are fighting a very huge evil and it basically seems like they can't win, they can't get ahead. Oh, and a LOT of people die. I'm still intrigued enough to find out what happens in the next books though.
When I went to start book 3, I got a few chapters in and decided to give this one up. So no, I did not actually end up finishing the series. I thought it was intriguing and interesting, but overall so incredibly dark and depressing and just so much evil, that I didn't really enjoy reading it. I would rather read something a bit more uplifting. So, I would say if you think this series sounds interesting go ahead and give it a try, it just wasn't for me.
Saturday, February 4, 2017
Rating: G - This is a very short book, and is entirely suitable for children
Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost. . . .
Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle – that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.
My Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this sweet story. It only took me a few hours to read, and although it is technically a children's book I felt it had some very thought-provoking themes. Edward is a very self-centered, prideful, and selfish rabbit. He does not really care for anyone but himself. Although he is deeply loved by Abilene, he does not really love her back. And then one day, as the summary states, he is lost. Over a period of many years, Edward has several owners, all who love him deeply, and he learns to love them back. It's extremely touching to watch Edward change over the course of the book. I felt that the overall theme of the book is that love is the entire point of existence. In fact, there is a quote towards the end that really encapsulates the whole thing, "If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless." How true that is!