The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, Roald Dahl – Book Review

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Title: The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
Author: Roald Dahl
Genre: children’s book, classic, humor
Release Date: 1985
Length: 73 pages

Synopsis

A small boy with a desire to own a candy shop meets a window-washing team of a giraffe, a pelican, and a monkey and together they go to work for the wealthy Duke of Hampshire, who makes all their dreams come true.

1st sentence

Not far from where I live there is a queer old empty wooden house standing all by itself on the side of the road. I long to explore inside it but the door is always locked, and when I peer through a window all I can see is darkness and dust.  

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What — Well since my little brother enjoyed the first Roald Dahl book I read him he asked for more, so I guess we’ll make our way through the rest of the books till he gets bored then I’ll finish reading whatever is left. He also wanted a short story this time and he picked this one. 

The cover — All the main characters are crammed in the cover in a very nice way and I love the combination color of green and orange.
The book in the box set has black and white illustrations but I’ve read that The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me is also available as a picture book with colors. 

My thoughts

This is such a sweet and short read about a boy named Billy and the new friends he meets at an abandoned building that used to be a sweet-shop that he’s been admiring for some time. He meets a giraffe, a pelican and a monkey (the ‘Me’ in the title. The monkey keeps on singing and one of the lines he sings is “The giraffe and the  pelly and me!”) and all four start a window washing business, through which they get to work for the Duke who’s quite loud and bossy but ends up giving the 3 animals and the boy everything they desire. 

My little brother loved the part with the thief who stole the duchess’ jewelry and the way she reacted with her loud opera voice.
As for me, I really liked the reference to Willy Wonka’s Factory (from the author’s famous book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). In the book Billy asks the Duke for his help to make the building he admires into a candy shop and so he does and Billy orders candy and chocolate from all over the world, which also includes special candy form Wonka’s factory and I loved that Dahl included that here. 

Overall          

A nice story to read to little kids. There aren’t lots of funny moments in this book but you’ll enjoy Dahl’s writing and of course Quentin Blake’s marvelous illustrations.    4/5 stars

The Giraffe stooped low and went out through the tall door. The Monkey jumped off the window-sill on to the Giraffe’s back. The Pelican, with me in his beak hanging on for dear life, flew across and perched on the very top of the Giraffe’s head. And away we went.

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The Enormous Crocodile, Roald Dahl – Book Review

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Title: The Enormous Crocodile
Author: Roald Dahl
Genre: children’s book, picture book
Release Date: November 1, 1978
Length: 60 pages

Synopsis

The ENORMOUS CROCODILE is planning what to have for his lunch.
This FOUL FIEND – the greediest croc in the whole river – wants to eat something JUICY and DELICIOUS.
His TEETH sparkle like knives in the sun and he’s getting HUNGRIER and HUNGRIER.
But what can the greedy, grumptious BRUTE guzzle up?
BEWARE! He’s looking for someone …
someone that looks a lot like YOU …

1st sentence

In the biggest, brownest muddiest river in Africa, two crocodiles lay with their heads just above the water. One of the crocodiles was enormous. The other was not so big.

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What — Well, we were in a bookstore and my brother was going through Roald Dahl’s books saying “we have this and this and this…” then he spotted The Enormous Crocodile -which isn’t included in the Roald Dahl box set I have- and said “What’s that? Why don’t we have this? look, there’s colors inside … get it .. GET IT NOW.” so, I had no choice but to get it after making him promise to listen to the whole book or else I’m returning it.

The cover — Unlike the books in the box set, the cover of this book has some parts -the book title, author’s name and the crocodile- popped out of the cover a little. Also, the inside of the cover includes the synopsis written in yellow with a red background while the inside of the back contains a collage of 16 of Roald Dahl’s books.
The cover is quite creepy with the kids scared of one hungry crocodile. 

My thoughts

This book follows a crocodile who decides to leave the river in search of juicy children to eat. During his search he encounters different animals who are disgusted by the crocodile’s plans. Later in the story, wherever children are surrounded, the enormous crocodile would disguise himself in many funny, and at times, unbelievable forms in order to attack and eat them. But with each time, he gets his hidden identity discovered by one of the animal characters he’d met before.

Here, Roald Dahl repeats some words over and over (like: enormous, tricks, plans…etc) which helps kids learn that word by heart after they’re done with the story, without even being aware of it themselves. So in a way, the kids will enjoy the funny incidents in the book and learn a few words along the way. 

Some characters mentioned here I’ve seen before in Dahl’s other book The Twits (The Roly-Poly Bird and Muggle-Wump the monkey). So it felt nice seeing characters that we’ve seen in a book we previously read show up here too.

Overall          

A beautiful book with colors that will entertain all children. I also loved it as well.  4.5/5 stars

“I have secret plans and clever tricks,” said the Crocodile.
“You mean you’ve nasty plans and nasty tricks,” said Trunky. “You’ve never done a nice thing in your life.”
The Enormous Crocodile grinned up at Trunky and said:
“I’m off to find a yummy
child for lunch.
Keep listening and you’ll hear
the bones go crunch!”

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Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen – Book Review

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Title
: Northanger Abbey

Author: Jane Austen
Genre: classic, gothic fiction, romance
Release Date: December, 1817
Length: 286 pages
(total of 31 chapters as 2 volumes)

Synopsis

Catherine Morland is a young girl with a very active imagination. Her entry into the fashionable social scene in Bath results in an invitation to stay with new friends at Northanger Abbey, but Catherine’s naivety and love of sensational novels lead to embarrassing and entertaining consequences.

1st sentence

No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine.

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What— Having read 3 of Jane Austen books I plan on reading the rest so I picked up Northanger Abbey. I also remember watching the PBS movie when it first came out in 2007.

The cover — This Vintage Classic is very beautiful. Their height are a bit shorter than the usual trade market books and easy to hold. The inside of the cover is the pattern used in Emma, which I also have.

My thoughts

There’s just something about Jane Austen that always captivates me. I love her writing and the stories she created are considered classics for a very good reason.
In this book I liked that she was narrating the story and she kept addressing the reader about certain characters and what to expect next (e.g. “I fear, to the bosom of my readers, who will see in the tell-tale compression of the pages before them, that we are all hastening together to perfect felicity.”) you see, doesn’t it make you feel like you’re getting personal with the author, like she’s reading you a story while sitting in the same table together?

In Northanger Abbey we follow Catherine Morland visiting Bath for the first time and the friends she makes there. She had a very pure and innocent upbringing so she naively assumes that all other people are like her until she discovers the true self of Isabella Thorpe who she befriended and who was  her brother’s fiancee for a while… I really hated Isabella, seriously woman who are you fooling with your fake acts and lies.
Then we have: Henry Tilney, he’s a fun male lead character; he’s sarcastic and honest. I would like to become friends with him and enjoy his company. Henry and Catherine hit it off instantly and I loved reading the parts with the both of them together, you can feel the ‘falling in love with each other so fast’ coming straight out of the pages.

It was nice to have our main character obsessing over gothic novels. Sure it got her to imagine things that led her to some trouble and sadness but it’s the side effect that comes when getting too immersed in a well-written book.

Overall          

A novel that doesn’t get that much love which deserves to be read by more readers.        5/5 stars

….fond of Mrs. Morland, and probably aware that if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad, invited her to go with them. Mr. and Mrs. Morland were are all compliance, and Catherine all happiness.

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Cinder, Marissa Meyer – Book Review

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Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fairy tale, Science Fiction, Romance, Dystopia
Order in series: Book #1 in The Lunar Chronicles
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Length: 387 pages
(total of 38 chapters as 4 parts/books)

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

1st sentence

The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What— I remember wanting to read this book for the longest time. Back when it first came out it was one of the years when I used to read a lot and the idea of a retelling of Cinderella appealed to me but the book wasn’t available in my country then. I finally bought it a few months ago after I was sure that my sister will be able to bring the other books of the series with her from the States (and she did). I decided to make it my first read for October -since it’s my birthday’s month I take extra time in choosing awesome books to read throughout the month.

The cover — I love all the covers of The Lunar Chronicles. Here, I  love the dust jacket with an illustration showing the mix of Cinderella’s slipper with the science fiction part, and I also love the black hardcover with the red engravings on the spine; And the thing I like the most is the font of the text inside; rarely do books get published in a font other than what they normally are printed as, so I liked that the font used here was different.

My thoughts

Cinderella isn’t my favorite Disney movie ’cause I don’t like how the prince never actually got to know her, he just fell for the person he danced with and that’s it. That’s why I prefer retellings of the story which show us the prince getting to know Cinderella before the ball (Luckily there’s a lot of movies out there that did that). 
In this book the concept of the Cinderella story we know is here but everything else is different, I mean she’s actually a cyborg and a lunar and the prince is asian and it’s set in the future. 

I enjoyed all of the characters; Cinder is a strong character that only shows her strength when the situation demands it but when it doesn’t she’s quite calm and patient in enduring the rough times she goes through and I liked that she’s a tom boy (I prefer the female characters that way); Prince Kai is a tall and handsome prince who really cares for the people of his country, what I loved the most about him is his sarcasm, even in serious situations he always has something smart and funny to say; Queen Levana – the villain of the story – well I had so much fun imaging her dialogues being played in my head, she’s elegant and you could feel the amount of fear people have of her with just the mention of her name, I’d like to see more of her in the future books; and Dr.Earland a guy with a secret of his own, he has a certain mission which put him in the gray area, sure he has good intentions to reach a certain goal but the thing he did to reach that were questionable.
Of course, there’s Ika – Cinder’s android – she was sweet and a really good friend to Cinder. And let’s not forget Cinder’s mean stepmother and stepsisters, Pearl and Peony, Peony was nice though and her storyline was sad. Oh, and there’s Torin, the prince’s adviser, he’s this silent character who always seems to know how to calm a political argument.

The chemistry between Cinder and Kai was great, loved their banter and the prince’s flirtations. In their situation it was Cinder who knew everything about him from their first meeting since the prince’s face is everywhere, he was always in the unknown with her and even when all the truths of Cinder were revealed in the end I liked how he took her side and defended her even when he discovered that she’s of the race he despises. So I do forgive him for his anger towards her, he was okay with everything but when he discovered that’s she’s a lunar with the capability of brainwashing others it’s very natural for him to misunderstand her.

 I was shocked with the open ending, I thought that each book dealt with the titular character’s story but with an the ending we got I sure hope that we’ll see the continuation of their story in Scarlet.
Cress was introduced in this book and Winter was mentioned. So I can’t wait to read more about them in the other books.
One last thing, I liked the reference of her escape car looking like a pumpkin, get it?

Overall          

If you’re a fan of fairy tales, like me, then you’d definitely enjoy reading this book. The only thing that I felt was weak is the writing; for some reason I wasn’t that impressed with the writing style of the author, I felt it was too simple and direct. The good concept is what saved the book.     4.5/5 stars

Kai tilted his head, peering at her as if he could see right through to the metal plate in her head. The intensity of his gaze didn’t mellow. “I think you should go to the ball with me.”
She clutched her fingers. His expression was too genuine, too sure. Her nerves tingled. “Stars,” she muttered. “Didn’t you already ask me that?”
“I’m hoping for a more favorable answer this time. And I seem to be getting more desperate by the minute.”
“How charming.”
Kai’s lips twitched. “Please?”
“Why?”
“Why not?”
“I mean, why me?”
Kai hooked his thumbs on his pockets. “So if my escape hover breaks down, I’ll have someone on hand to fix it?”

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Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor – Book Review

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Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young adult, Romance, Paranormal
Order in series: Book # 1 in a trilogy
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Length: 418 pages
(total of 60 chapters + an epilogue)

Synopsis

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

1st sentence

Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What— Before 2016 I heard nothing about this book or series, NOTHING… until I heard 2 book tubers name this series as their favorite series ever and how even the 2nd and 3rd book are as great as the first one. Oddly enough neither of the 2 girls said anything about the story, claiming that it’s best to dive into it not knowing anything about it. So later when I went to the bookstore that rarely does any discounts I bought a few stand-alone novels that were 10% off and of course I had to take a look at the box sets, they were at 20% off; I was debating on whether getting The Hunger Games, Divergent series, John Green’s book collection, or a set of 3 Dan Brown books. Then I saw this book series and thought “You know what I’ll just get it since I don’t know anything about it.” Debate over.

The cover — The cover is great, the feathered mask gives you that masquerade feeling (I was so excited to find out as I was reading that it’s actually from a scene in the book)… on the internet I also saw the UK cover, the one with the red door, it’s also amazing but I think this one looks more like a young adult book. Though I also love the other cover (so haunting). Anyway, this is the one I have. The pages feel very rough when flipping them with your fingers, still it’s a beautiful book.

My thoughts

Speechless. this book was AMAZING. I read it in 2 nights, and it was torture having to keep thinking about what will happen next during work.

I usually write the page numbers of pages with a quote or line that I like on a small notebook but here from the start I knew that I wouldn’t need to do that ‘cause every line is so beautifully written I’d end up writing all the pages ahead of me and that stayed true to the very end. Such beautiful writing. The author created a beautiful world in Prague, Morocco and in ‘Elsewhere’. Her descriptions of the different settings were stunning, especially Prague (I wanna go there so bad).  

I got lost in the whole world of angels and chimaeras. It was so easy to relate to Karou and her relationship with the chimaeras who raised her and whom she considered as her own family; her friendship with Zuzanna; her self discovery and of course her love relationship with the beautiful angel Akiva.

Akiva considers himself in battle with the whole race of chimaeras and has killed so many of them as shown in the marks on his wrists –whenever he kills one of them he adds a scar to his arms as a tally- he suddenly finds himself curious about this blue-haired girl he saw coincidentally. One he was supposed to kill but couldn’t. I kept on wondering why he did what he did? Why he feels a certain attraction towards her? Why does he hate the chimaeras so much?….…. Pages flew by until I got an idea of what happened and even though I figured out the answer to all those questions above and to the weird things that’s happening to Karou, reading the scene of Akiva’s breakdown on the bridge and revealing everything that we already know (since the writer gave enough hints for everyone to figure out what Karou was by then) was amazing. Seriously that scene was so epic and beautiful.

Then of course there was this whole part after Karou broke the wishbone that was dedicated to the past, now those chapters were very important since they played out a very important period. I’m impressed with the way the writer got us to love Madrigal with her bat wings and how she managed to mention all the events and objects in the past that are related to present (the present that we read about earlier) in a seamless and smooth manner. And oh that heartbreaking scene in the past where Akiva had to witness Madrigal getting killed right in front of him…. Oh boy!

I loved the meaning behind the marks on the Karou’s palms (mark of Hamas) and how it changes a ‘pure’ chimera (one that hasn’t been resurrected as a different creature body) to a revenant.

One of the other things that I liked about this book is that there was no love triangles, I really hate stories that revolve around a love triangle. Luckily we didn’t have that here. Karou only had an ex-boyfriend and Madrigal was chased by the hateful Thiago. I hope it stays that way in the second book.. though after what Akiva mistakenly did to Karou’s family I have my doubts.

Overall

Obviously I loved loved this book and I can’t wait to read the next two.
If you’d like to get lost in an epic love story and mythical world then I highly recommend you pick up Daughter of Smoke and Bone ASAP.       5/5 stars

“It’s a wishbone,” she’d told him, holding it out. “You hook your finger around the spur, like this, and we each make a wish and pull. Whoever gets the bigger piece gets their wish.”
“Magic?” Akiva had asked. “What bird does this come from, that its bones make magic?”
“Oh, it’s not magic. The wishes don’t really come true.”
“Then why do it?”

She shrugged. “Hope? Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you make things happen, almost like magic.”

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