Tuesday, 12 January 2010

A Christmas Carol ~ Charles Dickens

I’m sure most of us are familiar with the story of Ebenezer Scrooge: the miserly, selfish old fellow who doesn't care about mankind except if they aid in his business of making money. As to his feelings towards Christmas? Well, “Bah. Humbug!” he eloquently declares when his nephew mentions the holiday. Because of his faulty attitude towards others, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts: the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Together they will take him on a journey through events from his life and present to him what kind of death awaits him if he continues on his current course. Ebenezer cannot help but be horrified by what he sees, and he learns a moral that alters him, and his enjoyment of Christmas, forever.
Let me state for the record that I am NOT a Dickens fan. I have read several of his novels (albeit a few were the Reader’s Digest Condensed Versions), and I haven’t found one that I enjoyed…until now. From the very first paragraphs I found I liked the story. I can only describe Dickens’ writing in this book as easy and cheerful. Even the more morbid parts were still beautifully described. Maybe it was because the book was so short that I found the story so easy and engaging; one could read this book in a few hours. And what I liked best about the book was that it ended happily, but the reader didn’t have to endure chapters upon chapters of depressing events in the main character’s life like in Dickens’ other novels. If you’ve ever thought of reading this popular Christmas story I would encourage you to do so.

Arch Enemy (Looking Glass Wars Series #3) ~ Frank Beddor

This is the third and final book in The Looking Glass Wars Series. What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of them? Well then let me give you a synopsis: Remember the book Alice in Wonderland? Young Alice Liddell has a fantastic dream about falling into a world where rabbits can talk but can’t keep adequate time, odd men wearing hats perpetually have tea, and queens are vile women who try to have their disobedient subjects murdered at every turn. Great story.

Now, take that fantasy world that Alice imagines, and pretend for a moment that it is a real place called Wonderland. Alyss Heart is a princess and is the next in line to the throne. But her mother’s reign is cut short due to a coup by Alyss’s aunt, Redd Heart. Redd wants to rule Wonderland, and she will use her gifted imagination and her lethal army of Card Soldiers to achieve her dream. First on Redd’s agenda: kill Alyss Heart. Accompanied by her bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, and through the protection of an army of Chessmen, Alyss escapes Wonderland through a magical portal of mirrors. She ends up in our world, in London, where she must live for the next decade of her life. But all the while Alyss retains a hope that she will one day return to her home world and claim the throne that is rightfully hers.
This series is decent overall. The books are geared towards young adults so they are relatively easy to read, but they are interesting enough to enthrall older readers as well. I really like the premise of the book--Wonderland being a real place, etc. It was fun to read how Beddor borrowed characters and ideas from Lewis Carroll’s books and tweaked them for this series. I enjoyed books one and two, and I was looking forward to this final novel and the conclusion to the whole story. I was disappointed though. Book three wasn’t as good as the other two, and it seemed rushed; as if the author didn’t put as much effort into the writing. In trying to tie up all the loose ends from the previous novels Beddor jumped around a lot, and he included events that just didn’t seem to fit with the previous books. But I liked the series as a whole, and I would recommend them to teen and adult readers who enjoy the fantasy genre.