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review 2017-02-28 16:42
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling

I found this novel to be the most difficult of the Harry Potter stories to read to date, and the reason was undoubtedly the character of Dolores Umbridge. She is the embodiment of petty authoritarianism backed by government. Though her powers do not begin to approach the evil of the major villains of this universe, her low-key cruelties are somehow more painful. A large part of that is to do with the school setting, where (even with their magical powers, as developed by Dumbledore's Army!) the students are terribly vulnerable. It is fitting that Umbridge is ultimately destroyed (or at least pushed out of power) by elements - the centaurs - which are anarchistic, simply not recognizing the authority that backs her.

 

This novel is also about government authority created and held by the control of information. Rowling clearly depicts an official, state-controlled news medium, and the necessity for the alternative press, however wacky. The crucial event at the end of this novel is not an actual defeat of Voldemort's forces (in fact, an important character dies, a defeat for the good side), but is a breakthrough in the wall of "fake news" which denies Voldemort's return, and thus enables it. Voldemort is also thwarted in his quest for a vital piece of information (the prophecy about himself and a child), while Dumbledore significantly strengthens Harry's position by giving him a great deal more information at the end - information, he regretfully informs us, he wrongfully withheld just out of sheer affection for the boy.

 

The novel reaches a highly cinematic conclusion in the labyrinths of the Ministry of Magic - were the movies in view or even in production by the time this was published? - which manages to be imaginative, gruesome, and occasionally deliberately funny. In the midst of that, we also get to see for the first time a direct Voldemort-Dumbledore battle, in which Voldemort takes advantage of the mysterious synergy between Harry and himself but fails to make Dumbledore destroy Harry as a side-effect of attacking Voldemort. This part of the story also reinforces the elevation of Neville Longbottom from a comic foil to a major character.

 

My goodness, that's a very thematic analysis. Corking good story as usual, but because of Umbridge, I was rather glad to leave it behind and move on.

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video 2017-02-28 11:03

 

 

The Official Book Trailer for PHOENIX 2.0:

 

A Second Edition of the charming Young Adult Fantasy Novel.

 

 

'You're only a prisoner if you believe you are.'


Magic. Sheltered from the cruelties of the world, Princess Violetta came to adore it. When a terrible tragedy befalls her realm, she vows to shun her royal duties, setting off a chain of events that will see her true power come to light.

Prince Ryore spent his life at the mercy of his father and was deemed the weak link in the chain of command. His new found status as Emperor sees the entire Frost realm bow to him. Little does he know that enemies lurk within his walls, determined to end his reign before it begins.

 

 

 


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review 2017-02-27 20:24
Phoenix Blood (Old School - Book 1)
Phoenix Blood (Old School Book 1) - Jenny Schwartz

This is a story set in a world of magic. Not quite the various worlds of vampires and/or werewolves we have all grown accustomed to - or the world of Hogwarts, although it does feature an English boarding school (the Old School of the series title) where magical talents are fostered.

 

Sadie Howard's talent is Finding. She can find anything, whether it be a physical object like the pendant she is carrying when the story opens, or something more intangible like the safety she is seeking as she races into a bikers' bar on the opening page pursued by two "Stag Mercenaries" intent on killing her and seizing the pendant, and finds safety with a man sitting quietly in the corner with his pet bird of paradise.

 

(Do you think one can judge a person's age by the length of her sentences?)

 

A man called Marcus Aurelius, who nine years earlier "couldn't fight a feather duster" but now effortlessly disposes of the two killers; who nine years ago had dropped her publicly and brutally, and broken her heart; who nine years ago had not believed in magic but proves now to be a powerful magician in his own right.

 

(I did it again.)

 

That, then, is the situation. But who wants the pendant so badly that he is sending Stag Mercenaries after Sadie? Will Sadie and Marcus ever complete the long road journey across the States to California, where she must deliver the pendant? Can their love have survived the nine years of heartbreak and loneliness they both (yes, both) went through? And what, really, is the entity now passing as a bird of paradise and Marcus's companion?

 

A great story that on two successive nights kept me riveted to my Kindle till the early hours of the morning.

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text 2017-02-24 16:45
Phoenix Blood
Phoenix Blood (Old School Book 1) - Jenny Schwartz

Am reading this (Jenny - are you there?) It's really good, grabbed me from the first page.

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text 2017-02-04 15:13
January Roundup
The Keeper's Price - Marion Zimmer Bradley,Jacqueline Lichtenberg,Jean Lorrah,Diana L. Paxson,Kathleen Williams,Elisabeth Waters,Linda Frankel,Susan M. Schwartz,Linda MacKendrick,Patricia Shaw Mathews,Cynthia McQuillin,Penny Ziegler,Paula Crunk,Eileen Ledbetter
Affaire Royale - Nora Roberts
Bay of Sighs (Guardians Trilogy) - Nora Roberts
Silver Phoenix - Cindy Pon
One Week in the Library - W Maxwell Prince,John Amor
Murder in Montparnasse - Kerry Greenwood
Mistletoe and Murder - Carola Dunn
The Witch's Daughter - Paula Brackston
The Witches of New York - Ami McKay
An Expert in Murder - Nicola Upson

So January's books... 33 in all

 

Fiction: 

The Keeper's Price by Marion Zimmer Bradley et al. Reminded me of a lot of what I enjoyed about Darkover, I kinda want to revisit...

 

Nora Roberts featured a few times, Affaire Royale, Command Performance and Playboy Prince were actually a 3-in-one copy; Bay of Sighs is a newer book and I found it interesting. 

 

Small Gods the Graphic Novel made me want to revisit the book.

 

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon was a good read, interesting to read a story set in China.

 

The Discerning Gentleman's Guide by Virginia Heath was a good historical romance, though the title did make me snigger a little.

 

 

One Week in the library was somewhat underwhelming, I wanted more.

 

Murder in Montparnasse by Kerry Greenwood was not the best Phryne Fisher story but not bad either, you learn more about Phryne's past.

 

Mistletoe and Murder by Carola Dunn, the framing story was a bit strained but an interesting murder mystery.

 

Paula Brackston's The Witch's Daughter is an interesting twist on the long-lived supernatural, for a change set in England.

 

Awakening the Shy Miss by Bronwyn Scott was an okay historical romance.

 

House of Shadows by Jen Christie was a time-travelling paranormal romance.

 

Captivating the Witch by Michele Hauf was a paranormal romance between a demon and a witch.

 

Witches of New York by Ami McKay took a long time for me to get into and then left me a little underwhelmed.

 

The Lie by C.L. Taylor was a story of learning about real friendship, and how things can go terribly wrong.

 

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson was an interesting murder mystery featuring Josephine Tey and her friends.

 

Scarlet Widow by Graham Masterton featured some problematic sex.

 

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents: Terry Pratchett does the Pied Piper.

 

Bound by Duty by Diane Gaston was a good historical romance.

 

A-Force Presents volume 1 - the first new introductions to female superheroes. Very mixed but interesting.

 

Lucifer - Mike Carey Volume 1 - I prefer the TV series

 

Lady Emma's Revenge - Fenella J Miller - a murder mystery wrapped in a historical romance.

 

A Match for Marcus Cynster - Stephanie Laurens A man discovers that he doesn't need to belittle a woman to be strong, enjoyed this one a lot.

 

Lascar's Dagger by Glenda Larke - interesting world with a cleric discovering a dagger has a mind of it's own.

 

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart - based on fact it's an interesting read.

 

Non-Fiction:

Sink Reflections by Marla "Flylady" Cilley I found underwhelming.

 

Not my shame by T.O. Walker almost broke my heart, a woman facing up to her abuse.

 

The Awakening by Colm O'Connor was a very reflective piece and I found it made me think a lot about living.

 

Other-Wordly by Yee-Lum Mak was charming, illustrated unusual words from around the world.

 

Healing Fatty Liver Disease - exactly what it says.

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