wizards

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, JK Rowling

hp5Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Goodreads)
Author: Flag_uk J.K. Rowling (website) (twitter)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected…

Details

Series: Harry Potter #5 of 7
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Published: Bloomsbury, 2003
Pages: 766

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:
Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble

Review

The long summer has dragged on, and despite experiencing a terrible and traumatic event with the death of Cedric and the resurrection of Lord Voldemort at the end of his fourth year, Harry is left horribly isolated with his aunt and uncle at Little Whinging. None of his friends or teachers contacts him or offers him any information about what might be going on in the wizarding world, so it’s not entirely unexpected that Harry, probably suffering from Post-traumatic stress, is incredibly moody and upset at everything in the first half of this book.

To top it all off, not only is the Daily Prophet printing articles calling Harry (and Professor Dumbledore) unhinged and mentally unstable, but the Ministry sends Dolores Umbridge to oversee education at Hogwarts.

Imelda Staunton as Professor Umbridge

Imelda Staunton as Professor Umbridge

Ah yes, Dolores Umbridge. Here is a woman who, despite not being a follower of You-Know-Who, still does an excellent impression of a dark witch – punishing students in horrible and unconventional ways, taking away privileges and has the most outspoken prejudices against “half-breeds” of any villain in the series so far. As she steadfastly refuses to believe that Voldemort has returned and that the fifth-years need to know anything about Defence Against the Dark Arts, the students start up their own group called “Dumbledore’s Army”, taught by Harry himself. This gives them a release from the stresses of their school life and gives readers a great opportunity to see more of characters such as Neville and Luna, who are often pushed aside when the action starts. Even Ginny gets more page-time in this book, even if she does spend most of it with Dean Thomas.

The fifteen-year old students are starting to pair up and Harry finally gets together with Cho Chang, his crush of the past couple of years. It’s such an awkward relationship – Cho is clearly rather depressed about the events of the previous year, and Harry has no clue as to how to comfort her. Being in different houses, they hardly ever get to see each other, so it’s really only a matter of time and an extremely awkward Valentine’s Day lunch to break them up again. Ron and Hermione are still delightfully bickering with each other at every opportunity, but I’m not sure even Harry has realised at this stage just how much these two care for each other.

In my review for the Goblet of Fire I wrote that things start to take a dark turn from this book. While this book is certainly dark at times, it is a surprisingly normal school year. The fifth-years do their mountains of assignment work and take their OWL exams with only a few disruptions. Not sure what I was remembering from previous reads – perhaps the memory of Professor Umbridge overpowered everything else!

The confrontation in the Ministry of Magic is a little confusing with all the rooms, objects and injuries involved but it of course leaves Harry with a fresh grief by taking away the father figure he only recently discovered. I always felt Sirius got a bit of a raw deal in the overall story. He’s barely in any of the action and has to stay at Grimmauld Place – a house containing painful childhood memories for him – almost the entire time, then is unceremoniously dumped out of the story again.

At least at the end of The Order of the Phoenix the wizarding world is left with undeniable proof that Voldemort is back and on the loose. What they choose to do about it remains to be seen.

While I really enjoyed re-reading this instalment and seeing all the details left out of the film, I feel this wasn’t the most enjoyable of the stories. The poor kids are swamped with work the entire time and there’s barely any room for the fun that has permeated the previous stories.

On with the re-read!

The Harry Potter series

Harry Potter 1Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in USA)
(1997)

hp2Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
(1998)

Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
(1999)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
(2000)
hp5Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003) hp6Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005) hp7Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)

Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Goodreads)
Author: Flag_uk J.K. Rowling (website) (twitter)

Rating: ★★★★★

It’s the summer holidays and soon Harry Potter will be starting his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is counting the days: there are new spells to be learnt, more Quidditch to be played, and Hogwarts castle to continue exploring. But Harry needs to be careful – there are unexpected dangers lurking …

Details

Series: Harry Potter #4 of 7
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Published: Bloomsbury, 2000
Pages: 636

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:
Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble

Review

The Quidditch World Cup, Mad-Eye Moody, SPEW, The Triwizard Tournament, The Yule Ball, Rita Skeeter, the events after the final challenge…  so much is jammed into the pages of Goblet of Fire that the Goblet of Fire itself doesn’t even make an appearance until over a third of the way in.

Dark dealings start to make an appearance at the Quidditch World Cup, with the torture of a muggle family and the appearance of the Dark Mark. After that though, the Death Eaters keep a low profile as the Triwizard Tournament kicks off at Hogwarts. Students from the other Wizarding schools of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang arrive for the event, and Harry is mysteriously chosen as the fourth champion (no surprise there).

Meanwhile Hermione is busily trying to convince the House Elves to rise up from their slavery and demand payment and holidays from their masters, an idea most House Elves are horrified by. Ron and Harry are rather embarrassed by her continual efforts to get them to join in with her SPEW (Society of the Promotion of Elfish Welfare) schemes, and while Dobby is pleased she is trying to help his fellow elves, Dobby’s friend Winky is very upset about finding herself a Free Elf. It’s a rather heart-wrenching part of the story!

Of course, the third and final challenge doesn’t progress according to plan – Harry and Cedric are whisked off to a strange graveyard where Harry witnesses the return of He Who Must Not Be Named to the flesh. This scene, the ritual to revive Voldemort and the fight that follows is the stuff of nightmares and I seem to remember being totally blown away by it all on my first read. It hasn’t lost its impact – this is the perfect dramatic ending to the story and the beginning of a much darker time in the Wizarding world.

At twice the length of the previous book The Goblet of Fire is no quick read, but I think I have found my new favourite. This is the last bastion of normality at Hogwarts, even though it’s hardly a normal year with the students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang staying for the whole year. Things are still relatively normal and I think the “normal” Hogwarts happenings are some of my favourite details about this series. After this book, things start to take a definite dark turn.

I recently saw The Goblet of Fire film on TV again and wow, I’d forgotten how many story elements were changed. They had to to fit the whole year’s worth into two hours forty minutes I suppose, but they really did leave out everything but the most basic of plotlines. Harry doesn’t spend any time at Privet Drive at all, but starts at the Burrow already. The entire SPEW movement was missing, as was all of Fred and George’s “Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes”. Major plot details were changed around but I still thought the film flowed reasonably well, even if it felt a little rushed at times. Not my favourite film of the series, though.

I’m not sure if you’d want to be reading this particular one to the very small, but middle-sized kids and all other ages should love it. On with the series!

The Harry Potter series

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Published as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in USA) (1997)
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998)
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003)
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)

 

Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling

Prisoner of AzkabanTitle: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Goodreads)
Author: Flag_uk J.K. Rowling (website) (twitter)

Rating: ★★★★★

Harry Potter, along with his best friends, Ron and Hermione, is about to start his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry can’t wait to get back to school after the summer holidays. (Who wouldn’t if they lived with the horrible Dursleys?) But when Harry gets to Hogwarts, the atmosphere is tense. There’s an escaped mass murderer on the loose, and the sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been called in to guard the school…

Details

Series: Harry Potter #3 of 7
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Published: Bloomsbury, 1999
Pages: 317

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble

Review

The Prisoner of Azkaban brings on a darker tone to Harry’s story that we see develop and grow over the rest of the series. The Dementors, in particular, lend a particularly terrifying aspect to this book and I think I might think twice before reading this one to the very small.

That said, Rowling is really coming into her own as a storyteller here and this is one of the most complex but enjoyable stories so far. There are elements that were changed a fair bit in the film adaptation, not always for the better.

Here are my thoughts from this re-read.

What I liked

  • Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs – the creators of the Marauder’s Map. In the interest of avoiding spoilers I won’t reveal their identities but I just love this little glimpse into the lives of previous mischief-makers at Hogwarts.
  • The Firebolt – Harry and Ron’s love for Quidditch really comes to the fore here as Harry takes his place as the star of the Gryffindor team. The Firebolt mysteriously appears at Christmas, and I love how everyone is in awe of it.
  • David ThewlisProfessor Lupin <3 My favourite Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher! I’m so glad that Dumbledore decided he wasn’t a risk to the students and that the other teachers supported him. He’s such a lovely character, but as I was reading I just couldn’t help seeing him in my head as in the film, played by David Thewlis.

What I didn’t like so much

  • Dementors – so scary! I remember being chilled by them in my original read and then really terrified when I saw them in the film! Of course, they are a necessary part of the story, I just find them scary.
  • The scene in the Shrieking Shack – It’s been a while since I saw the film, but I didn’t remember this scene being as drawn out as it is in the book. They just all stand around and chat for a while, telling Harry the story of his parents and Pettigrew as though they weren’t about to execute their former friend. It just dropped the tension for me. Incidentally, I thought the section with Harry and Hermione using the time-turner had a lot more continuity in the film as well, even though all the same elements were there. Well done, screenplay writers!

The more I re-read in this series the more I remember why I loved it so much the first time around!

The Harry Potter series

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Published as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in USA) (1997)
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998)
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003)
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)

 

Review: Jinx: The Wizard’s Apprentice, Sage Blackwood

Jinx, Sage BlackwoodTitle: Jinx: The Wizard’s Apprentice (Goodreads)
Author: flag_usa Sage Blackwood

Rating: ★★★★½

It’s not every day that your evil stepdad abandons you in the deep, dark forest of Urwald. And it’s not every day that a wizard rescues you from the clutches of gnarly trolls. But for Jinx, this isn’t turning out to be a very normal sort of day…

The bubbling cauldrons and coloured potions of the wizard’s house are a world away from the life Jinx has left behind. Even the walls are soaked in magic, and it’s not long before Jinx begins to unlock his own rare powers.

But Simon Magus is no ordinary wizard. He seems to need something from Jinx – something dark. And Jinx begins to wonder: can he trust Simon… at all?

Details

Series: Jinx #1
Genre: Middle-grade fantasy
Published: Quercus, February 2013 (also HarperCollins Childrens Jan 2013)
Pages: 360
My copy: For review via The Book Depository’s review program

Get your copy from Book Depository!

Jinx

Review

Jinx lives with his step-parents in a clearing within the Urwald – a vast forest teeming with nasty creatures and nastier wizards and witches. One day, Jinx’s stepfather decides he can no longer support the boy and takes him out into the forest to abandon him. Unfortunately for Jinx’s stepfather, they cross paths with Simon, an evil wizard. Simon offers to buy the boy instead and takes him home to do chores for him. He doesn’t seem that evil to Jinx, but can he really be trusted?

At first glance you may think that this book is another Harry Potter-ish clone, but while there are similarities, Jinx is quite a different story altogether.

Jinx’s story is told entirely from his ten-year-old point of view, but through his observations of the adult characters in the book, I got the feeling that there is a deeper story here that makes it all the more interesting for an adult reading it. Magic is performed by drawing on power, which can be stored in objects. Evil wizards (or those with less morals) can draw power from the lives of others. As Jinx learns more about magic and how wizards obtain and store power, we’re never quite sure whether all wizards are evil or just various shades of unpleasant. Is Simon, who seems kind enough to Jinx at first, actually performing evil death magic on him?

Jinx is a very determined little boy – he wants to get out and see the world, and feels trapped living with Simon. Once he’s set on his quest, he begins to question everything and must stick to his beliefs and trust in his own power to get through the coming trials. He’s quite a grumpy child at times, but is also quite cheeky and there are some very funny moments as he interacts with the world around him.

The only thing I disliked about Jinx is that a lot of the action seems to happen in dialogue between the characters – a device which doesn’t describe what’s actually going on all that well. Apart from those few occasions, I thought this was a very well-written debut with plenty of scope for future tales.

Jinx is a fantasy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and sets a perfect tone for its intended audience. Highly recommended for the middle-grader in your life, or for anyone to enjoy, for that matter!

Warnings: Violence against monsters.

Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, JK Rowling

hp2Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Goodreads)
Author: Flag_uk J.K. Rowling (website) (twitter)

Rating: ★★★★★

Harry, Ron and Hermione have returned to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for their second year. (But Harry and Ron only just made it-they missed the Hogwarts Express and had to get there in a flying car…!) Soon the threesome are immersed in the daily round of Potions, Herbology, Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Quidditch.

But then horrible things start happening. Harry hears evil voices. Sinister messages appear on the wall. But nothing can prepare the three friends for what happens next…

Details

Series: Harry Potter #2 of 7
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Published: Bloomsbury, 1998
Pages: 251

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble

Review

The second Harry Potter story is slightly longer than The Philosopher’s Stone, and so has room for more action. It actually takes Harry quite a while to get to Hogwarts at the start of this one, but once he’s finally there, there’s a lot to enjoy in this story.

Here are my thoughts from this re-read.

What I liked

  • The flying Ford Anglia. What a way to start this story – with an adventure on the way to school!
  • The Basilisk. An excellent baddie – for most of the book we have no idea what it is, just that it whispers things before striking and is able to petrify people. It’s the perfect mixture of creepy and intriguing! I almost feel sorry for it at the end – blinded and destroyed just for protecting its lair.
  • Moaning Myrtle. Poor Myrtle, forced to haunt the girls’ bathroom where she met her demise… Despite her depressing story she is quite a funny character.
  • Gilderoy Lockhart. Such an awesome character, he manages to charm everyone while remaining completely incompetent both as a teacher and as a wizard! I just can’t get the image of Kenneth Branagh out of my head, since he did such a great job of Lockhart in the film.

Harry-Potter-Quotes-Gilderoy-Lockhart

What I didn’t like so much

  •  Harry, Ron and Hermione kept everything to themselves, even when asked expressly by Dumbledore whether there was anything Harry would like to share. At least they were actually on their way to tell a teacher when the final confrontation began, but through most of the story they insisted on finding everything out the hard way, searching through the library and poking around the castle. Of course, it would have been a much more boring story if they had actually told McGonagall or Dumbledore at the start. Perhaps it’s the adult in me being too sensible 😛
  • Ginny. She’s still a squeaky little Harry fan girl in this one, barely making any appearances apart from the scene in the chamber of secrets. I’m looking forward to the more grown up kick-arse Ginny of the later books.
  • To be honest, I don’t have much to list under dislikes for this one. I really enjoyed re-reading it!

This one has to be my favourites of the series – an easy read but still fraught with danger and scary monsters. Bring on The Prisoner of Azkaban!

The Harry Potter series

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Published as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in USA) (1997)
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998)
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003)
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)

 

Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling

Harry Potter 1Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Goodreads)
Author: Flag_uk J.K. Rowling (website) (twitter)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable muggle aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were.

But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend Hogwarts school for witchcraft and wizardry and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright.

Details

Series: Harry Potter #1 of 7
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Published: Bloomsbury, 1997
Pages: 223

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies: Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble

Review

I first read the Harry Potter books some years ago (maybe… 2005?). Since then I’ve seen all the films numerous times, but I couldn’t remember much about the original book itself. It was a complete delight to discover that it was just as enchanting as I vaguely remembered it being!

There’s no way I could do The Philosopher’s Stone justice in a proper review so I’m going to split it up into the like/not like format. I’m trying to keep in mind that this is the first in a seven-book series, and that it has only 223 pages while later books are a lot longer and have much more complex plots (for example, The Order of the Phoenix paperback has 870 pages!).

What I liked

  • The simplicity. A few middle-grade books I’ve read recently have tried to cram everything from a very detailed world into a few pages. The Philosopher’s Stone gradually introduces the wizarding world to Harry, who has no previous inkling of its existence other than a few odd occurences. The plot is fairly basic and not too challenging, and the characters fairly dark or light in their alignment. That’s just perfect for middle-grade readers.
  • Hogwarts1Hogwarts. There’s something about boarding-school books that appeals to me, even though I’m fairly sure the reality is far from glamorous. It’s something to do with living with your friends 24 hours a day, eating and sleeping all together that my inner tribal-community-self likes the idea of. Hogwarts has it all – it’s a castle, it’s full of wizards and witches learning magic and it has plenty of mysterious secrets. Did I ever tell you about the time I visited the castle at Durham and found out it had been converted into residence halls for Durham University? I was in Hogwarts-fangirl heaven!
  • Meeting the characters for the first time, the antagonism between the boys and Hermione at the start and the gradual bonding throughout the story is delightful. Perhaps it’s because it felt like re-uniting with old friends, but it was great to “meet” the Weasleys, Neville, Hagrid, Ron and Hermione, and of course to be introduced to Voldemort. He is certainly a very scary villain, but this is only hinted at in this first book.

What I didn’t like so much

  • The kids get sent off into danger. I mean, it didn’t help that Harry and co. dive into danger on numerous occasions – I’m not sure what makes them think that three eleven-year-olds are going to be able to save the school from some unknown assailant better than the staff of trained wizards and witches can, but I suppose that’s childhood bravado for you. That doesn’t excuse the fact that Dumbledore gave Harry his father’s old invisibility cloak. He was mysteriously out of the way for much of the action and yet appeared just in the nick of time to save the day. It feels like Dumbledore planned it that way all along. As someone who always thought of Dumbledore as a kindly old Gandalf-esque father figure, this rubbed me up the wrong way on this re-read.
  • The confusion over Snape. Through the whole book, Harry and his friends are sure that he is behind everything and yet at the end it’s someone totally unexpected Harry faces. Harry even finds out that Snape was trying to help him during the Quiddich match, but Snape doesn’t make any more appearances after the climax and we’re left wondering what that was all about. I just felt, as a couple of other Goodreads reviewers have stated, that Snape was targeted too much as the baddie and there could have been a few more hints as to who else might be involved.
  • Magic is very easy. I like a magic system to have consequences, to have transfer of energy of some sort. In Harry’s world you just wave your wand and say a few words and bam, someone’s dead or transfigured or the house is clean. It’s too easy. This is the one gripe I have about the way Harry’s world works.

There are plenty of critical reviews of this book and series, but basically what it boils down to is this: Despite the simple characterisation and storyline, Rowling has picked her audience very well. Even though millions of adults love it, this was meant as a children’s book and I feel it is perfect for middle-grade readers to enjoy. There is plenty of darkness in later books for children to grow into.

A very enjoyable first instalment in this longer tale. I’m looking forward to my Sprout being old enough to want to read this with me!

The Harry Potter series

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Published as Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone in USA) (1997)
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998)
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003)
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)

 

Review: The Last Dragonslayer, Jasper Fforde

lastdragonslayerTitle: The Last Dragonslayer (Goodreads)
Author: Flag_uk Jasper Fforde (website)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery.

Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer.

If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.

 

Details

Series: The Last Dragonslayer #1 of 3 (so far)
Genre: Middle grade fantasy
Published: Hodder and Stoughton, 2010
Pages: 283

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository
E-copies:
Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Barnes & Noble • Bookworld (epub)

Review

Dragons? Sorcerers? Set in the English countryside? Everything about this book had me expecting to love it to pieces. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, the world Jasper Fforde has created in The Last Dragonslayer is an amazing one. Once-great sorcerers are forced to get work rewiring houses and charming moles out of gardens to pay their bills. The kingdoms of Hereford and Brecon are poised to go to war over the stretch of wilderness that will suddenly become available when the last dragon, Maltcassion, dies this coming Sunday (according to the soothsayers).

This world is an enchanting mixture of the modern world and a Potter-esque magical society, where strange beasts exist (I loved the Quarkbeast!) and magic-users must make sure to remember to fill in form B2-5C after casting minor spells. There are some very funny moments, as well as some thought-provoking ones about the state of society and the control of corporations and media.

The main problem I had while reading The Last Dragonslayer was that I had almost no attachment to the characters, and especially to Jennifer. They all carry on with their funny and silly banter, but show almost no emotion at all. Add to that the fact that the two foundlings, fifteen and thirteen years old, speak and act as though they are much older. The adult characters were all very comical and fit perfectly well into the story, but Jennifer and Tiger just seemed a little out of place and I felt the story was much less enjoyable because of that.

I couldn’t help but feel that would could have ended up as a really awe-inspiring story, didn’t quite make it because Jasper Fforde got a bit carried away with the silly. However, I’m pretty sure that that very thing will make it appealing to the middle-grade audience it’s intended for. I’m not sure I’ll continue with the series, but I’ll recommend it to my son when he’s old enough!

Warnings: Mild violence.

The Last Dragonslayer series

lastdragonslayer songofquarkbeast The Return of Shandar  

(Expected September 2013)

 

 

Tour: The Day of First Sun, Sheryl Steines: Excerpt and Competition

Welcome to The Day of First Sun Whirlwind Tour!

Please enjoy this excerpt from the urban fantasy novel, The Day of First Sun. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.
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Day of First Sun, Sheryl Steines

Sturtagaard chose not to speak, though it was he who had called for the meeting. They both checked their watches and realized they had been sitting across from him for ten minutes, watching him sniff the air. If he wanted to play this, they would play along at least for a little while longer, though both were tired of the leering. As the vampire sniffed again, Cham finally figured out why.

“You know, you called us. We really don’t have anything to say to you, so if you’re just playing games, we’re happy to leave. I’ve got other, more important things to do than watch you
sniff and leer,” Cham finally said, and stood up.

Sturtagaard smiled as he watched Cham open the door because he much preferred dealing with Annie, but when she stood up, too, he realized he’d overplayed his hand.

“If I talk, my employer will have me staked. I’d like some assurance that you won’t do the same,” he said rather quickly, before they left.

They turned and looked at him, both rolling their eyes.

“I’ll have you staked if you don’t talk,” replied Cham, as he stood by the door.

“You’re out of options if you ever hope to get out of here again,” Annie said calmly, focusing on his face.

Sturtagaard squirmed a little in his seat, as Annie’s expression was somewhat disquieting and unemotional. He looked at Cham, whose face was expressionless, and then back to Annie,
who hadn’t moved a muscle. The vampire sighed.

“You heard right. I was hired to create a zombie army to overthrow the Wizard Council,” Sturtagaard said. His voice remained steady and calm with resignation.

“Who wants to overthrow the Council?” asked Cham, his hand still clutching the door.

“My employer. I’ve told you, I don’t know who he is. I always dealt with his associate. He’d show up, leave notes, or send others with messages. I’ve never contacted him.” He looked from
one to the other, but they both remained stony and detached. “Come on, now. I can’t give you information I don’t have.” Sturtagaard was charming.

Annie rolled her eyes again. “You really don’t have any idea who the employer is?” she asked with sarcasm.

“Really, I don’t,” he said.

“So you’re building an army of the dead. How long did you have to get this done?” Annie took out her phone and pulled out her calendar.

“He wanted it ready for September first.”

Annie looked up with a grimace, and Cham looked surprised. She didn’t need to mark the date on her calendar or research its significance, though neither could figure out why a zombie army had to be created for that day, the Day of First Sun. It was a very powerful and ancient day for good magic.

“So, your employer wants an army of the dead on that day? Why?” Cham asked in a flat, emotionless voice.

“He’s a black wizard. What do you think he wants? He wants to overthrow the Council, take over the world, practice magic in the open. You know, the typical magical fantasy.” Sturtagaard
grinned because he believed that would benefit the entire supernatural world.

“Wipe the smirk off your face, Sturtagaard. Having free reign won’t be as good as you think, with all the angry mobs, torches, and stakes through the heart.”

Annie smirked at Cham, who shook his head and laughed. He waited to compose himself before looking back at the vampire.

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Day of First Sun eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

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About the book: A vampire, a rogue wizard and an army of soulless zombies are par for the course for Annie Pearce and Bobby “Cham” Chamsky of the Wizard’s Guard. But when the non-magical princess, Amelie of Amborix, is murdered by magical means, a deeper plot unfolds. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible, Sheryl is a constant surprise, using her sense of humor and relatable style make her books something everyone can enjoy. Visit Sheryl on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

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