Friday, 27 September 2013

Phantom by Susan Kay

This post contains SPOILERS!!!! Like ENDING SPOILERS (I got a little bit ranty) so if you don't want the book SPOILED for you STOP HERE!!

A child is born... His mother's only gift is a mask. Precocious and gifted, he will live friendless and alone. taunted and abused, he will flee, only to find himself caged again-as a freak in a Gypsy carnival. A brilliant outcast... the world is his home. Filled with bitter rage, he will kill to escape, becoming a stonemason's apprentice in Rome... a dark magician at the treacherous Persian court... and finally, the genius behind the construction of the Paris Opera House and the labyrinthine world below. Lacking one thing only: A woman's love. Cloaked in secrets, his power complete, he will see the exquisite Christine and for the first time know what it means to love. Obsessed, he will bring her into his eerie subterranean world, driven to posses her heart and soul. Phantom--A haunting story of power and darkness, of magic and murder, of sensuality and betrayal, and ultimately, the unforgettable story of a man and a woman and the eternal quality of love.
(Image and Description from

dun, dun, duunnnnn.

So, all in all I found this book very enjoyable to read - if totally depressing, but I suppose I can forgive that since it isn't supposed to be a happy novel anyway.

Thumbs Up!
This book is an imaginary take on what Erik's life could have been like mostly before he became the Phantom of the Opera. Following him through from his birth to his death, During his friendship with the Persian and his attraction to Christine.

The book is told from various view points. Erik, Christine, Erik's mother, the Persian and the master stonemason that Erik studies under for a time. Each different person gives us a unique glance into how they view Erik and what they think of him which I found far more enjoyable than if it had been told just through one persons eyes.

It was pretty cool how Erik came to have a house under the Opera – since according to this plot he was actually helping Garnier build it. And then there is also the reason for the salary that he demands from the managers which was all tied in.

He (The Phantom) is not the youthful, sexy Phantom of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, he is the skeletal, smelling of death, no nose, Erik that Leroux told us of. With emotional and mental baggage to fill a jumbo jet.

Thumbs Down!
But...I do have some issues with this book. Mainly with the way it ended, but a couple that carry on throughout the novel.


The first problem that I had was Erik's addictions brought on from his time in Persia. Now I get that he is troubled and needs to mask his pain and all that jazz but to me I thought it wasn't really needed especially since it throws out the time that Christine spends with him when he kidnaps her the first time. She basically ends up being his nurse after he has what I can only guess is a heart attack.


My one major issue with this book, the issue that makes all the others pale in comparison is Christine becoming pregnant with HIS CHILD!!.

Now I will say that I have no problem at all with Christine having the Phantom's child - no problem at all...IF IT MAKES SENSE! In my mind this makes no sense at all, it seems to have just been thrown in there for the sake of it when I don't think it was needed. After all, I have just had 400-500 pages of Phantomy amazingness and then wham, I have this thrown at me.

This happens when Christine returns to the Phantom to give him an invitation to her wedding (he made her promise before he let the Persian, Raoul and her go). She goes to his home and he is kind of, sort of, DYING! What did she do. Take advantage of him or something?

And just to add another level of strangeness when Christine and Raoul left the Phantom's lair, Erik had seemed to settle himself on viewing Christine as his daughter. Okay, I can deal with that - I think. And then the next thing you know she's pregnant. That totally threw me for a loop. Couldn't the author just pick one type of relationship and STICK with it.

And then this leads me to my next gripe. Her cryptic way of telling Raoul. She tells him that she wants to put the wedding of for a month so that he (Raoul) can be sure than he forgives her. WHAT!? How the heck was Raoul supposed to know what she was talking about. And what is even sadder is that when she goes into labour he thinks that the baby is premature and is worried about losing both of them and the doctor tells him the baby is full term and that is when everything basically falls into place in his mind. SO SAD.

So yeah, by the end I really don't like Christine (not that I liked her all that much anyway) and I am feeling very sorry for Raoul (who I normally want to Punjab lasso as soon as I see his name).

And now to my last ...problem. (Alright, so it's not my last problem but it is the only other one I am going to bore you with.

What is with this book? There was NO NEED for her to die. What was the point? It didn't accomplish anything other than to leave Raoul raising a child that he knows isn't his and not really minding. I could have understood it if a lovey, dovey, slushy, supernatural element has been thrown in where Christine and Erik are finally together or something like that but...but...this makes NO SENSE!!!! Well to me at least.

All in All

So my final opinion on this book. I liked it - even if it was a bit depressing - and if I ignore the take on what happens between Erik and Christine and just focus on Erik's like before the Opera House I like it even more.

A wonderful read until the last...50 pages.

(This was originally posted on my Phantom Novel Reviews blog in February 2011)

Friday, 20 September 2013

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

There are strange goings-on at the Opera House in Ankh-Morpork. A ghost in a white mask is murdering, well, quite a lot of people, and two witches (it really isn't wise to call them "meddling, interfering old baggages"), or perhaps three, take a hand in unraveling the mystery.
(Image and Description from

I loved this book, but for some reason I can’t think of a lot to say about it…Weird.

Thumbs Up!
It is such a fun read with some of the best rounds ups of opera that I have ever read and some of the most brilliant twists.

We have Christine who, although being gorgeous, just can’t sing and is as dim as a broken torch.

Agnes – who has a lovely personality, nice hair and CAN sing, but unfortunately just doesn’t look the part (I love Agnes).

The rat catcher who is reincarnated as a rat – karma really sucks!

Two witches - hoping to soon be a trio once again – ready to solve the mystery at The Opera House.

A ghost who can be in two places at a time – or can he.

And lots more. 

As I said this is such a fun read and kept me turning the pages. Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax jumped out the page at me with their larger than life approach at things. And their side story had me giggling like crazy – Nanny Ogg’s “The Joye of Snacks” isn’t an ordinary cook book.

Agnes’s practical attitude to life was great to read along with her attempts at being more…flighty with her alter ego Perdita. I would rather have a heroine like Agnes over a Perdita any day.  

Thumbs Down!
I can’t actually think of anything I found disappointing about this book…Wow. That does’t happen very often.

All in All
Terry  Pratchett is one of my all-time favourite authors. It is true that some of his books miss the mark for me where laughs are concerned but I am glad to say that this is not one of those books. This hit all the right places and had me sniggering from beginning to end. 

Agnes on Christine - Not liking Christine would be like not liking small fluffy animal. And Christine was just like a small fluffy animal. A rabbit, perhaps. It was certainly impossible for her to get a whole idea into her head in one go. She had to nibble it into manageable bits.
Nanny Ogg on Opera - Well, basically there are two sorts of opera,' said Nanny, who also had the true witch's ability to be confidently expert on the basis of no experience whatsoever. 'There's your heavy opera, where basically people sing foreign and it goes like "Oh oh oh, I am dyin', oh, I am dyin', oh, oh, oh, that's what I'm doin'", and there's your light opera, where they sing in foreign and it basically goes "Beer! Beer! Beer! Beer! I like to drink lots of beer!", although sometimes they drink champagne instead. That's basically all of opera, reely

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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Review - Holiday Heartbreak (Dork Diaries Book #6) by Rachel Renee Russell

It's the biggest dance of the year and Nikki Maxwell is hoping her crush, Brandon, wants to be her date. But time is running out. What if he doesn't want to go with her? Or worse - what if he ends up going with Mackenzie?!!
(Image and Description from

Why is Dork Diaries doing this to me? Why?

Thumbs Up!
The friendship between Zoey, Chloe and Nikki is just as strong as ever and Chloe and Zoey continue to be supportive and loving towards Nikki through all of her drama – on a wee side note I would love to have a book from their side of things (and it could touch on what they really think about Nikki and her pathological lying).
SPOILER – Mackenzie (evil-teen-villainess) ends up rooting through a dumpster.

Thumbs Down!
By the third time (it could have been the last too) she said ‘thingie’ I was ready to scream. By the first time (for this book) she once again fibbed to her ‘BFFs’ I was ready to drag her out of the book and yell at her. Because, yeah, telling porkies has totally worked well for her up to this point. Not. It stresses her out.
The majority of the girl/boy drama between Nikki and Brandon come mainly from a series of misunderstandings and Nikki not letting the poor guy finish a sentence.

All in All
I have loved the Dork Diaries books since I picked up the first one but the past two books have just been lacking that spark I loved so much in the previous books. Still enjoyable but I am becoming very irritated with them very easily and I don’t know if it is a change in me or a change in the books.
I don’t feel like Nikki is moving on at all as a character.

Has anyone else read these books? If you have I would love to know if it is me or the books. How have you found them?

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Friday, 13 September 2013

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The Phantom of the Opera lives under a famous opera house. A mere chorus girl, Christine Daae, becomes, under his guidance, a well known singer with a beautiful voice. But her old child hood sweetheart, the Vicount Raoul de Changy, has also entered the picture. The past comes back to haunt her, the future ahead is uncertain, and the present is undecided. Who will win the heart of Christine?; the handsome, rich Raoul or the masked Angel of Music? A story of romance, murder, sacrifice and sadness, this riveting, seductive tale will keep your emotions high until the very last page of the shocking conclusion.
(Image and Description from

The Phantom of the Opera is one of my favourite books – it gets read at least once a year – and yet every time I read it I don’t know why.

Thumbs Up!
What I love most about this book isn’t actually the novel itself but it is the countless stories and versions it has prompted others to write and create.

There are so many gaps left in the novel that it is the perfect fodder for authors to fill in with their own ideas.

That being said what I really enjoy time after time in reading this are the truly random parts. The rat catcher for instance with is head of fire (because he holds a lamp up to his face) or the men in the cellars shovelling coal into the boilers who to Christine appear to be demons stoking the fires of hell.

Erik – The Phantom of the Opera – comes across as a proper maniac who threatens to destroy the opera at the busiest time of the day if Christine refuses to marry him, which I loved. After all the guy is crazy and what he was going to do was not watered down to a ‘I’ll kill the boy you love’

This is also one of the few books that has ever made me cry.

Thumbs Down!
My main issues with this book are with the characters.

Raoul is anything but a dashing romantic lead. He comes across as a whining boy who we are told has the complexion of a girl. What I hate most about him though is that he all but accuses Christine of sleeping around. Yip, that’s a sure fire way to the heart of the woman you love. Not!

All in All
This book will always have a special place in my heart but at the end of the day my view of it has been dulled by the many (better written) novels that have been based on it.

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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Review - Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

Jerusha Abbott grew up in an orphanage but was sent to college by a mysterious benefactor she calls Daddy-Long-Legs. In college she falls in love with a young man who wants to marry her, but she refuses because she is an orphan. Finally, after Jerusha--now Judy--graduates, she asks to meet her benefactor.
(Image and descriptions from

Really enjoyable! I tried to read this book when I was in secondary school and it just didn’t click. But after watching the film (with Fred Astaire ;)), the anime and listening to the musical – lovely musical by the way – I decided to give it another shot.
I loved it.

Thumbs Up!
The whole book was wonderful fun and just what I needed at the time. Judy is refreshingly honest about what she thinks of things and this may seem silly but what I loved most was Judy being ‘friends’ with someone she isn’t really all that fond of. I don’t know about you but I could definitely relate to that.
The book covers a four year span of Judy’s life through college all told in letters and I didn’t once get bored or want the writing to change.

Thumbs Down!
The only thing I would have loved to have seen was a chapter from Jarvis’ side of things – mainly to see what was going on in his head when he made certain decision and what he thought about Judy’s reaction to them.

All in All!
A lovely story that as 187 pages is not all that long. Definitely worth a read.

“The trouble with college is that you are expected to know such a lot of things you’ve never learned”

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Friday, 6 September 2013

Deception by Shirley Yoshinaka

Following the Paris opera house disaster, Erik, the charismatic and disfigured man known as the Phantom, settled into a secluded home on the outskirts of London. He resigned himself to a life of solitude, but two years later, fate introduced him to a young woman who reawakened his emotions. Although Mellie was a gifted composer, no one took her work seriously. She recognized Erik's brilliance and was desperate for his help. Drawn to both the man and his talent, she made a bold proposition, and he accepted. Together, they forged a unique partnership that became the talk of London society. But when Erik's past returned to haunt him, he could lose everything he'd gained in his new life - including Mellie. Deception is a tale of loss, healing, and ultimately of love.
(Image and Blurb from

This was the first Phantom adaptation that I ever read and I am so glad that it was. Although it was no retelling in the way that it has Christine and Erik admitting their undying love for each other. It is a sequel (more of the musical I would say) that has a wonderful heroine. 

Thumbs Up!
The change of setting. We are no longer in Paris, Erik has escaped to London England. 

It is obvious from the musical that Erik has a temper that rears it's head a few times (you know...killing people...) and this does not vanish in the book. It comes through, as does his violent tendencies. The one thing that stands out though is that he wants to change, he does not want to be the man that Christine called a monster, or the man who killed people without thought.

When Mellie enters his life he strives to be a gentlemen and even though he slips up she accepts that there is that side to him and she does not run.

Mellie and Erik end up sharing Erik's home when he is helping her with her music and writing. Though they are living in a purely business capacity people are under the impression that Mellie is Erik's niece and there are more than a few cute moments between them during this time. 

My favourite bit has to be when Mellie is attacked by a man and when she returns home she doesn't want to sleep alone so she shares a bed with Erik.
"Do you make it a habit of sleeping in your clothes?" she asked, her tone teasing.
"Only when there's a beautiful woman in my bed that I'm intent on not ravishing."
I found that very cute, coming from the dark and charismatic Phantom of the Opera.

The other major factor I enjoyed was that though there is a bad guy within the story Erik continually holds himself back from becoming the person he was in Paris and unleashing his violent side.

Thumbs Down!
I really have nothing I didn't like about this book.

I would have loved for it to have bee longer but otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

All in All!
A wonderful first novel to read when it comes to Phantom sequels and non Erik/Christine relationships.

A light and enjoyable read that I zipped through. 

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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Bad Beginning (Book #1 in A Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket

In this first book, readers are introduced to the unfortunate Baudelaire children -- 14-year-old Violet, 12-year-old Klaus, and their infant sister, Sunny -- when they learn they've just been orphaned by a terrible house fire.

The executor of the Baudelaire estate -- a phlegm-plagued banker named Mr. Poe - sends the children to live with a distant relative: a conniving and dastardly villain named Count Olaf, who has designs on the Baudelaire fortune. Count Olaf uses the children as slave labor, provides horrid accommodations for them, and makes them cook huge meals for him and his acting troupe, a bunch of odd-looking, renegade good-for-nothings. When the children are commandeered to appear in Count Olaf's new play, they grow suspicious and soon learn that the play is not the innocent performance it seems but rather a scheme cooked up by Olaf to help him gain control of the children's millions. 

(Image and Description from

Eeeeeeaaaa…yeah. I really don’t know where to go with this one. I was giving it a try to see if A Series of Unfortunate Events could take the place of The How to Train Your Dragons books once my self-control snaps and I read the last available book.

Yip. That won’t be happening.

Thumbs Up!
There was only one thing that I really liked about this book and it was the bond between the Baudelaire siblings. These were children who would do anything for each other.

Thumbs Down!
It was the adults in this book that irritated me beyond belief and seriously got up my nose. Mr Poe – the banker who was a FRIEND of the children’s parents and the executor of their will – failed epically at protecting the children and then when they did go to him with their problems he does one of the ‘How to Be a Stupid Adult 101’ things and goes and tells the baddie that they had talked to him. IDIOT man.

And then there is the judge who lives next door to Count Olaf. Let’s just say that she could be WAY more perceptive.

Oh, and one more strike against Mr Poe. Dude, Count Olaf is so unsubtle about wanting the Baudelaire fortune and he makes one ‘Violet can’t access it until she comes of age’ comment and then just lets it go over his head…Yip…

All in All!
Not my cup of tea at all – although I do have a friend who read all of them and loved them. I slogged through it but I think I will be finding another series to replace How to Train Your Dragon. I can see how children would enjoy this series and it is brilliant for introducing the meaning of new words but it just didn't click with me.

Any suggestions for another series would be greatly appreciated. I am thinking of giving The Spiderwick Chronicles a try. 

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Monday, 2 September 2013

Review - Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the Great Depression, and for Jacob the circus was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was ultimately their only hope for survival.
(Image and Description from

Thumbs Up!
I really enjoyed it (and this came as a huge surprise to me).

I have never read anything, fictional or otherwise, about circuses or depression era America (although I am a huge lover of films like ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ etc and it has nothing to do with Charlton Heston…Ok, maybe a little) so it was a huge eye opener. There was definitely a dark side to the bright costumes and candyfloss and I don’t think I will ever look at Dumbo the same way again.

I loved the insight to the times as well as the flashes of Jacob’s life in the nursing home and his frustration and anger at his situation. This book did not just deal with the happily ever after and life of a young man in his prime but seventy years on too.

The whole book was like I had been given a backstage, nothing bared pass to the circus (well, the 1930s circus anyway) and I enjoyed every page of it.

Thumbs Down!
There were definitely some things that made me a bit squirmy.

There is animal abuse that we know is going on and a few times when we ‘see’ it happening.

Mental and emotional abuse is also touched on (but violence and abuse towards women always makes me uncomfortable in books even though it wasn't very much IN your face, I was aware something more was going on).

Final Thoughts!
I thoroughly enjoyed Water for Elephants. It caught me up and I was finished before I knew it. I am really glad I got around to reading it.

“She looks at her watch – a real one, with arms. Those digital ones came and went, thank God. When will people learn that just because you can make something it doesn’t mean you should?” 

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