Friday, August 30, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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"Nothing's ever the same," she said. "Be it a second later or a hundred years. It's always churning and roiling. And people change as much as oceans."

I received this lovely book when I went to the Neil Gaiman event a few months ago. It was pre-signed (though I did still wait for five hours to get my copy of Stardust signed) and I wanted to tear into it immediately. However, I was halfway through rereading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so I had to wait.

On my way home from visiting my family last month, I finished reading A Monster Calls not long after my plane taxied out. Thankfully, I'm a chronic over-packer when it comes to books. (I left for that two week long visit with twenty-five books on me. I'm pretty sure I brought double that on the return trip.) I saw this book and immediately fell upon it, hardly even looking up between chapters as I read.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told from the perspective of a nameless male protagonist who finds himself having wandered back to the house at the end of the lane where, once upon a time, he met Lettie Hempstock and thus began the adventure of a lifetime. Only, for some reason, he seem to only just now remember what happened all those years ago, when he was only seven years old and the world became more terrifying than he could ever have imagined.

When a man committed suicide in their neighborhood on a hot summer day, things shifted and beings awoke that should have remained asleep. Lettie, her mother, and grandmother are uniquely equipped to put an end to what has begun to terrorize the neighboring homes, but it only takes one misstep by our protagonist for things to become much worse. What he carries inside him has the potential to wipe out everything and everyone in its path, but Lettie has promised to protect him no matter what the cost. And if he knows anything, it's that the Hempstocks know what they're doing and they are more than capable of bringing this threat to its knees. He can only hope that they manage it before it's too late.

Once again, Neil Gaiman has managed to create a fantastical world that draws the reader in from the start. This book is overflowing with creativity and insightful truths, with more than a little magic sprinkled throughout. I loved every part of this dark fantasy, though it had me equally entranced and horrified. I don't know where the man gets his creative genius, but I would love to find out!

Be prepared, this isn't a kid-friendly fairytale, but it's one of those magical tales you'll want to go back to again and again. This one is going to win more than a few awards and it will deserve every one. You can count on that.

Rating: ★★★★★

"Oh, monsters are scared," said Lettie." That's why they're monsters. "As for grown-ups . . ." She stopped talking, rubbed her freckled nose with a finger. Then, "I'm going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just as they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world." 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

GNW: Americus by M.K. Reed [Illustrated by Jonathan Hill]

I picked up Americus at Teen Book Con. (By now, those of you who read this blog frequently are wondering, Just how many books did she 'pick up' at Teen Book Con?? A lot, my dear reader, more than I'm willing to 'fess up to buying.) I thought it seemed like a pretty interesting premise, plus I managed to get it signed by the author, who complimented me on my Lord of the Rings tattoo and even mentioned it in her personalization when she signed my book.

Americus is told from the perspective of Neil Barton, a young teen who is still trying to figure out his place in the world: what he likes, what he doesn't like, what the hell those girls are giggling at . . . the usual stuff. What he does know is that he loves "The Adventures of Apathea Ravenchilde," the book series he and his best friend are obsessed with and his librarian keeps urging him to read faster so they can talk about all of the wonderful things have happened in the latest addition.

But when Neil's best friend, Danny, is discovered reading the latest addition to the series by his very strict and scarily religious mother, all hell breaks loose. His best friend is sent to military school following a series of fights between he and his mother after the discovery and, to top it all off, Danny's mom has begun to campaign for the banning of the series from
the local library. If he wants to save his beloved book series, Neil is going to have to learn to step outside himself and fight for what he believes in, and team up with other likeminded individuals in the process.

I really enjoyed Americus. I read it all in one sitting after work a few nights ago and pretty much fell in love. Neil is an awkward, out of place teenager who reminds me very much of myself. And don't get me started on how much a loved that badass librarian! I loved the focus on fighting the banning of beloved books. It's a familiar tale for anyone who is invested at all in the book industry.

The art was fully black and white and quite similar in style to artists like Faith Erin Hicks. It's very simple in its lines, but that doesn't mean it sacrifices the art at all. Each person looks different from the next and that just makes the artwork even more interesting (plus it keeps the reader from getting confused on who's who).

Americus was a fun read and one I'd recommend to anyone who loves graphic novels, adores books, and is interested in the topic of censorship. It's definitely worth sitting down with over a cup of coffee, remembering what it's like to fight for the things we love.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness [Illustrated by Jim Kay]

Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they may wreak.

I picked up A Monster Calls at a bookstore after hearing more than a few people gushing about it on book review vlogs and blogs. The artwork on the cover is stunning and hooked me for certain and, to add that extra cherry on top, I noticed the blurb by John Green that stated, "Patrick Ness is an insanely beautiful writer."

How could I not read it?

My younger brother even got his hands on my copy before I did and tore through it in one sitting. When he finished, he couldn't stop telling me how good it was and that I needed to read it immediately. I got the memo and started in on in while waiting for my flight back to the States after visiting my family a few weeks ago.

When Conor wakes up in the middle of the night, he expects the monster in his nightmares to be lurking just out of sight. He knows with everything that is in him that the monster will come for him soon and he'll live the horror of his nightmares in his waking hours. But it's not the monster Conor expects when he looks out his window and finds the yew tree from the graveyard is now standing firmly in his backyard, his booming voice informing the young boy that he has come for him.

However, Conor is not scared of the yew tree that stands menacingly behind his house, because he's seen worse. Nothing is worse than the monster in his dreams and he'll take any horror over the reality of that nightmare coming true.

However, the great yew tree has different plans for Conor. He has come to demand the truth and to share it. He promises to tell Conor three stories, but after that, Conor must share his story, the one that haunts his every waking hour, as well as his sleep.

My absolute favorite illustration from within A Monster Calls.

I honestly cannot say enough about how utterly spectacular this book is. I can already tell it will be one of those that I read again and again and again, because of its breathtaking beauty and truth.

This is the first work I've read by Patrick Ness, though I've heard people raving about him for years now. I definitely regret not having enjoyed his prose sooner. The storytelling in this book is beyond superb and is only compounded by Ness's profound mastery of the material and his ability to spin and weave the words into something so stunning that it nearly leaves the reader breathless.

And speaking of breathless, look at that artwork! I'm not even sure I can produce words for how intensely beautiful the illustrations are. They litter nearly every page and make the text that much richer; the story that much brighter. I seriously have to find out how I can get my hands on some prints of these.

Overall, I have to say this: if you haven't read A Monster Calls you are seriously missing out. You need to get your hands on this book as soon as you get the chance. It is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year and I'm certain it will be yours as well.

Rating: ~★★★★★~

There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.
Conor shook his head. "That's a terrible story. And a cheat." 
It's a true story, the monster said. Many things that are true feel like a cheat. Kingdoms get the princes they deserve, farmers' daughters die for no reason, and sometimes witches merit saving. Quite often, actually. You'd be surprised.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

GNW: Brain Camp by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan [Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks]

Brain Camp is one of the graphic novels I picked up at Teen Book Con earlier this year (and unfortunately one of the only books I bought that I didn't manage to get signed). I had read Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks only a few weeks beforehand and, though this wasn't written by her, I instantly recognized Hicks' superb artistic style and snatched it up.

In Brain Camp, we are introduced to Jenna and Lucas. Jenna's the oddball in her perfect family, not as smart as her sisters and too weird for her parents to understand. Lucas, on the other hand, is something of a thug, hanging out with all the wrong people and going home to a mother who drinks too much and views him as yet another hassle who is more than likely to turn out just like his father. But when a representative of Camp Fielding shows up at their homes, both Jenna and Lucas are sent off to a summer camp where they make kids just like them become everything their parents always dreamed they would be.

It isn't long before the two teens discover that there is something very sinister going on at Camp Fielding. Only they seem to have the strength to stop the threat before it overcomes the entire camp, but only if they can keep it from overwhelming themselves first.

Brain Camp was a fun, gross, terrifying, and exciting adventure geared toward older children and teens, though still a great read for just about anyone who's interested. It pits two underdogs against formidable opponents and a threat they could never have imagined.

The artwork is splendid and the story both believable and captivating. I would definitely lend this one out to anyone who might be interested. It won't disappoint.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

But I wasn't simply going nuts, tumbling down a shaft into Wonderland. It was my misfortune- or salvation- to be at all times perfectly conscious of my misperceptions of reality.

I found this book after watching the movie of the same name that stars Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. I had been eyeing the movie at my work for a few weeks and finally had time to watch it. I rented it out and grabbed a beer before settling in to watch it.

Turns out, it's a ridiculously interesting movie with quite a bit of great acting in it (particularly from the aforementioned leading ladies). When I realized it was based off a novel, I immediately headed over to I had already purchased it by the time the credits began to roll.

Girl, Interrupted is the memoir of Susanna Kaysen in which she details the events of her stay in a mental hospital in the late sixties. She had been sent to this hospital after being diagnosed with depression and borderline personality disorder.

In the book, Kaysen recounts her two year stint in McLean Hospital and her coming to terms with the conditions that brought her there. She details the friends she made and the encounters she had with her own mental instability as well as the instability of others.

As someone who takes a particular interest in memoirs, particularly those written by those who have had to tackle their own mental illness, I was not at all surprised that I enjoyed this book. It was deeply interesting and I really enjoyed getting to see through Susanna's eyes as she dealt with the daily rigors of living in a mental infirmary.

Girl, Interrupted is an insightful look at what it was like to be diagnosed with a mental illness in the late sixties, while providing the reader with an incredible view of the practices and malpractices of McLean Hospital at that time. It's definitely one of those memoirs I'm glad I didn't pass up the opportunity to read.

Rating: ★★★★☆

This clarity made me able to behave normally, which posed some interesting questions. Was everybody seeing this stuff and acting as though they weren't? Was insanity just a matter of dropping the act? If some people didn't see these things, what was the matter with them? Were they blind or something? These questions had me unsettled.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray (Spellcaster, #1)

"Thanks," Verlain whispered. "Kendall was being such a witch." 
Nadia tried to brush aside her momentary annoyance. "I prefer bitch actually. Most witches are perfectly nice people. Sorry - pet peeve."

I picked up this book at Teen Book Con earlier this year. I had the pleasure of getting to hear Claudia Gray pitch her book and, frankly, I was intrigued. She explained the synopsis of the story and I was interested; but it was her description of how she had basically reinvented the laws of magic that piqued my interest. She explained that, while she had wanted to have that magical element in her story, she hadn't wanted to get the "universally accepted magicking laws" messed up. She didn't want any obnoxious letters about how she had messed it up. So she created her own.

In Spellcaster, the spells are not powered by your typical magic. Each has a list of ingredients that aren't really ingredients at all. They're memories. The stronger the memories in the combination, the stronger the spells. When she explained this, I knew I had to purchase the book. And though it took me a while to actually get to it, I've finally read it.

When Nadia, her father, and brother move to Captive's Sound, she's already got a lot on her mind. Her mother recently packed her bags and abandoned them. This is hard enough for any family, but it's especially hard for Nadia, who was being taught the Craft by her mother and now has no teacher and no way to further her mastery of witchcraft.

It's not long before Nadia realizes that there are sinister forces at work in Captive's Sound and she seems to be the only witch around who can do anything about it. However, because she has no one to continue training her, she's not sure how much she can do about the growing threat. And now she has to deal with a mysterious boy whose family is cursed and a girl that seems to be constantly overlooked or forgotten. It's up to Nadia to figure out what's going down in Captive's Sound and do her best to fix it without getting herself, her family, or her friends killed in the process.

I really enjoyed Spellcaster. I was hooked from Chapter One and could hardly convince myself it was worth interacting with my family instead of reading this. Claudia Gray has managed to create both an original magical mythos, as well as a great heroine and a fabulously terrifying villain. (Seriously, though. Props to her for creating a villain so believable and intensely scary.)

I really enjoyed the story and the new context of the magic involved in it. I was quite excited to find that this is slated to be a series (with book two set to hit shelves in March of next year) and I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel. If you're a fan of magic and contemporary fantasy, you'd better get your hands on this book as soon as humanly possible!

Rating: ★★★★★

"But no matter how hard I pushed you away, you just kept coming. You're relentless, you know that? You wanted to understand me. You wanted to know me. You wanted to save me, and I think you're the only one who can."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

GNW: Avatar: The Last Airbender (The Lost Adventures) by Nickelodeon

Avatar: The Last Airbender is an animated show that lasted for three season on Nickelodeon and garnered quite a large fandom. Fans loved the series so much that it received its own (poorly made) big screen adaptation, a spin-off series (Legend of Korra, which is now on its second season), and a few graphic novels with new adventures inside.

In The Lost Adventures, we get to join up with the Gaang once again as they're making their way across different nations in their journey to teach Aang each of the bending techniques he needs to learn before facing Firelord Ozai. This graphic novel is a collection of untold stories from within the time frame of the three seasons we were given from Nickelodeon.

For those of you who miss getting to spend time with our favorite benders (and Sokka!), this is the perfect solution. It was a fun afternoon spent reading them. Everyone is perfectly in character and you can practically hear them aloud as you move from story to story.

I definitely appreciated this volume of lost stories the fans never had the chance to see before. I would absolutely suggest it to anyone who has seen the TV series. You won't regret it.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Monday, August 12, 2013

Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves (Interworld, #1)

"For a moment I thought you were going rational on me. Always remember: In an infinity of worlds, anything is not only possible, it's mandatory."

I'm always up for reading something by Neil Gaiman. The man has written or helped write more works than even he can keep track of. When I spotted this short novel on the shelf at my library, I decided I would give it a shot, because he's never let me down before.

Joey Harker gets lost wherever he goes. So when he gets lost on a school assignment in the middle of town, he's not surprised. However, he is surprised when he manages to get himself so lost that he ends up in another dimension.

It isn't long after that when Joey meets Jay, who tells him that they are both gifted with the ability to walk between worlds. Joey happens to be one of the strongest with this ability, but that's not necessarily a good thing. It happens to have drawn the eye of those who seek to use him to gain control of every dimension and would kill him in the process. If Joey wants to start saving worlds, he's going to have to save his friends, and himself, first.

While the premise of this story sounded really good, I honestly couldn't really get excited about it. I finished the book mostly because I wanted to see what happened and not really because I enjoyed it. It didn't really draw me in the way the books I love do.

I'm not sure what went wrong with it. It was an interesting mix of sci-fi and fantasy that I had never really encountered before, and I usually love that sort of thing. I think a major factor was that I never really cared for any of the characters and the story was a bit too scattered for my taste. The loose ends that left me dissatisfied at the end were easily explained when I realized this was a series, but I'm frankly not interested in reading a sequel. I didn't hate this book, but I wasn't enthusiastic about it either.

I will mention that I did enjoy the villains quite a bit though. I thought they were well-constructed and scary enough to make them believable foes. I also enjoyed Hue's few cameos throughout.

Overall, this was an unsatisfying novel and I'm just not interesting in reading more. It wasn't terrible. It was just uninteresting for me. So maybe it's just not for me and you'll like it better. It's up to you to find out. (If you have read it and like it, I would love to hear your feedback on what made it interesting to you.)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

"Sometime was is necessary to teach us the value of peace. Sometimes you need to learn the real value of diplomacy in avoiding war."

Friday, August 9, 2013

Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli

All of us led other lives, with work and school and families who didn't understand how we could love anything as much as we loved Harry Potter, who even, at times, made fun of us for devoting so much time and energy to it- but then would spend six hours shouting themselves hoarse at a football match, and five after that shouting themselves hoarse at each other as they discussed the same game.

I picked up Harry, A History at LeakyCon when I attended last year. The author, Melissa Anelli, runs the convention and I'd heard her speak a few times (and even met her once) when I saw this in the LeakyCon bookstore. I figured it was worth a read and added it to the stack books I had in my arms at the time.

I still hadn't managed to read it a few weeks ago when I was getting reading to go visit my family. It was about that time that news got out about the stalking case going on with Melissa Anelli. To make a long story short, Melissa has been stalked for the past five years by a mentally unstable woman who has threatened both her, her family, and her friends. Though this has been an open case for a while, no justice has been brought to the situation yet.

There isn't much of anything I can do personally for this lovely author, but I wanted to show some sort of solidarity with her. I wanted to show, in some small way, that I support her and my thoughts and prayers go out to her in this rough time. So I yanked this book off the shelf, settled it into my carry-on, and spent most of my ten hour plane ride tearing through it.

In Harry, A History, Melissa Anelli documents the Harry Potter movement, showing the numerous ways it impacted a generation and launched more than a few people into following their dreams and making the difference they had always hoped to make in this world.

Anelli tells her own story of falling in love with the Harry Potter series, all the while weaving in the stories of the people she has met- from the brothers who started the band "Harry and the Potters" and thus started the Wizard Rock (WROCK) genre to telling us about the popular Draco Malfoy fan fiction written by Cassandra Claire (who now goes by Cassandra Clare and is the author of the Mortal Instruments series, with its first movie adaptation coming out in the fall). She even takes a full chapter to  detail how she met with Laura Mallory, one of the top spokespersons for the banning of Harry Potter in the United States.

This book was incredibly interesting. As someone who really only entered the Harry Potter fandom about two years ago, I really missed out on a lot of the excitement of waiting anxiously for the release of each new book. The closest I managed was seeing the Deathly Hallows Part 2 on the night of the release (and I hadn't even read the books yet!). I really enjoyed having Melissa Anelli take me back to when Harry Potter was a bit more underground and not that book series that nearly everyone has read by now. She let me experience that excitement and that thrill with her.

If you're a fan of Harry Potter or even want to see what all the chatter is about, I definitely suggest that you give this book a chance. It's absolutely worth it and will draw you in from page one.

Rating: ★★★★★

What does [J.K. Rowling] hope people will take with them about this time?
She pauses, but the answer is right on her tongue.
"When all the fuss and hoopla dies away, and when all the press commentary dies away, I think it will be seen that this phenomenon was generated, in the first instance, by kids loving a book. A book went on shelves, and a few people loved it. When all of the smoke and lights die away, that's what you'll be left with. 
"And that's the most wonderful thing for an author."

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

GNW: Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Maggie has plenty to be worried about on her first day of high school. Her mother went AWOL a few months ago, her older twin brothers are hardly speaking to each other anymore, and she's being haunted by a ghost from the local graveyard. Oh, and did I mention that her first day of high school is also her first day of public school? She and all of her siblings had been homeschooled up until their first day of freshman year.

Though she's terrified, Maggie does manage to make some new friends in Alistair and Lucy, the two misfits siblings that she starts sitting with at lunch. When she tells the two of them about the ghost that follows her around, the three devise a plan to find out how to let the ghost rest in peace. The only problem? That plan might include stealing an artifact from a local museum and having a run-in with the Pack, a group of bullies from school who also happen to have it in for Alistair.

Faith Erin Hicks does a fabulous job in her depiction of Maggie's world, both in her storytelling and in the beautiful artwork that fills the pages. I really enjoyed Maggie's character and seeing her perspective as she deals with the overwhelming prospect of growing up. Starting high school is rough on its own, even without having to deal with a missing mother and a ghost that can't stop following you around.

As someone who is very close with her siblings, I'm the type of person that really enjoys literature that shows off siblings that care about and stick up for each other. Hicks manages to highlight this in her story while still capturing the frequent fights and the words we wish we could take back. The bonds of friendship, and especially family, are the central point of this novel and I loved everything about that.

Overall, this was a great and spooky adventure, filled to the brim with wonderful relationships and second chances. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who's willing to give it a fair shot.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Monday, August 5, 2013

Gustav Gloom and the People Taker by Adam-Troy Castro (Gustav Gloom, #1) [Illustration by Kristen Margiotta]

Again, Fernie wanted to stamp her foot. "But that doesn't explain anything! Shadows can't run around by themselves!"
"Who says they can't?"
The simple question swept Fernie's legs out from under her. Because as it turned out, she didn't have an answer. She couldn't remember anybody in her life ever telling her what a shadow could or couldn't do; not even her father, who knew fourteen ways television sets could explode if you changed channels too quickly.

I picked up Gustav Gloom and the People Taker at the Paris Shakespeare & Company last December. For Christmas, my parents pretty much let us buy our own gifts and then wrap them so we'll have things under the tree in the morning. This was one of the lovely volumes I chose, because it's cover drew me in and the synopsis told me this would be a very interesting book indeed.

When Fernie What and her family move into a new neighborhood, Fernie is not impressed. She has moved into an ugly Fluorescent Salmon colored house in a typical suburban neighborhood. While this suits Fernie's father, who happens to be a professional worrier, it dismays the What sisters, who are the complete opposite of their father and relish the scary and the dangerous.

So when Fernie What meets Gustav Gloom, the boy who lives in the spooky mansion next door, she is more than elated. But when her cat wanders into Gloom Mansion and she follows suit, she soon finds herself in over her head. Gustav's home is more dangerous, and more magical, than she could have ever imagined. Gustav is eager to usher her out, but his house is bigger on the inside and filled with strange dangers that stand between the two children and Fernie's only way of escape. And at the top of the list of dangers is the People Taker, who has set his eye on Fernie as his next victim.

I really enjoyed this book. Adam-Troy Castro did a wonderful job in weaving a dark children's tale that had this twenty-one year old enthusiastically captivated all the way through. Every child loves to be a little frightened every once in a while and this story gives you just enough fear and just enough of a fantastic element to keep readers of all ages dying to know what happens next and, when they've turned the last page, eager to hear more of Fernie and Gustav's adventures together.

Let's not forget about those stunning illustrations. Kristen Margiotta's beautiful styling of the characters and the Gloom Mansion draws you in just as completely as the story itself. They're the perfect complement to this story, mixing in that gothic element in with the very magical and fantastic bits.

I adored this book. It really had me hooked. You should absolutely go find a copy for yourself as soon as you get the chance. I would especially suggest this for Neil Gaiman fans. It was a very similar style to a few of the lovely works I've read of his, which only elevates it in my mind.

Rating: ~★★★★★~

"It must be scary living here." 
"Sometimes. But it's like I told you: I'm used to it. I guess it's another reason why I never really tried to do anything about the People Taker before he snatched all those people on your side of the fence. It just didn't seem all that unusual to me. Monsters, people takers, beasts, dangerous rooms . . . they're all just things I've grown up with."

Friday, August 2, 2013

Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones (Howl's Moving Castle, #2)

"It is of course a magic carpet."
Abdullah had heard that one before. He bowed over his tucked-up hands. "Many and various are the virtues said to reside in carpets," he agreed. "Which one does the poet of the sands claim for this? Does it welcome a man home to his tent? Does it bring peace to the hearth? Or maybe," he said, poking the frayed edge suggestively with one toe, "it is said never to wear out?"
"It flies," said the stranger. "It flies wherever the owner commands, oh smallest of small minds."

[Click here to see my review of book 1: Howl's Moving Castle]

I almost did it again. Twice before I've picked up a book and managed to read the whole thing before realizing it was a sequel. The first was Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson; the second was The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima. This time, I almost messed up with the third book in the Howl's Moving Castle series: House of Many Ways.

I hadn't really bothered to double-check what order the books were supposed to be in and simply saw it sitting on its own on the library shelf. I got about a fourth of the way through it before I realized I was on the wrong book. At least I didn't finish it this time!

Castle in the Air is the story of young Abdullah, a carpet merchant in the city of Zanzib. When a stranger comes to his hut offering to sell him a magic flying carpet, Abdullah is admittedly wary of the merchant, but when he proves that the carpet truly does fly, Abdullah takes the deal.

That night, the carpet takes Abdullah to the night garden of a very rich man, where he meets Flower in the Night and immediately finds himself falling in love. But just when the two make plans to run away together, a djinn carries her off into the night and Abdullah is blamed for her capture. Now he has to use the carpet to find his beautiful Flower and save her from the djinn before it's too late.

This was a really interesting book. I enjoyed seeing more of the world of Howl's Moving Castle as well as getting to revisit some old friends from that book. That being said, I do feel like the beginning of this book dragged on. It wasn't anything I had to struggle through, but it did feel slower than it ought to be. Much of this is due to setting up the scene, which is entirely understandable, and the other could very easily just be because I was so eager to catch a glimpse of Sophie and Howl and see how they were doing that I had a bit of trouble enjoying Abdullah at first.

I did enjoy the novel overall and the closer you get to the end, the better it gets. I really loved the way Diana Wynne Jones went about creating this world and adding more detail than we had previously received, as well as the way she tied up all the loose ends. I definitely can't wait to start back up on the conclusion of this series.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

[Click here to see my review of book 3: House of Many Ways]

"I never said my wishes were supposed to do anyone any good," said the genie. "in fact, I swore that they would always do as much harm as possible."