Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

prisoner of azkaban

Reviewed by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K. Rowling
Format: Hardback
# of pages: 435
Grade Reading Level: 5.9; Ages 11+

Summary: School hasn’t even started and there’s and escapee from a high security wizarding prison out to kill Harry Potter. He has been warned not to be looking for Sirius Black by Arthur Weasley, but as Harry said to Arthur, “Why would I go looking for someone I know wants to kill me?” At school the Ministry of Magic has put a guard in place made up entirely of Dementors. The Dementors are only suppose to be in charge of the wizard prison, but Cornelius Fudge seems to think their presence will inspire confidence in the populace. Though how we do not know as Sirius Black has escaped the guards once already! Harry’s life is in danger in more ways than one this year.

Why I Started the Book:

I read this book because I’m continuing to reread the Harry Potter series.

Likes:

  • I liked it when Malfoy got his “just desserts” for insulting Buckbeak the hippogriff.
  • Rowling came up with a really fun artifact– the time turner. I especially enjoyed its use and the turn of events at the end of the story. I thought Dumbledore’s omniscient handling of the predicament to save Buckbeak and Sirius Black was excellent.
  • The Marauders Map was awesome! I liked how it showed where everyone was and where they were going. Now if only it showed the difference between a person in Animagus form and the normal human form.
  • The Dementors were scary, but awesome, and I loved reading the parts where they were mentioned.
  • Remus Lupin is a fantastic character! He was helpful, knowledgeable, and patient. The best Defense Against the Dark Arts teach to date in the books!

Dislikes:

  • I greatly disliked Draco Malfoy and his father. Yes, they’re characters to love to hate, but it really is unfair what they can get away with because they’re Malfoys. For instance when they got Hadgrid in trouble after his first Care of Magical Creature lesson. It clearly wasn’t his fault.
  • I didn’t like Hermoine deceiving and depriving Harry of his new Firebolt. She could have handled her concerns better instead of going above Harry to a teacher.

Last Minute Thoughts: This book is where the series takes off and fleshes out.

Buy: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Paperback), Harry Potter Paperback Boxed Set (Books 1-7), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Audio Book), Harry Potter 1- 7 Audio Book Collection

Book Rating: I give this book 5 treasure chests for cleverness, creativity, and creepy creatures!
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Review: Bunnicula by Deborah Howe and James Howe

bookreview

by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Title: Bunnicula
Authors: Deborah Howe, James Howe
Format: Paperback
Pages: 128
Grade Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Summary: Chester the cat and Harold the dog are curious about the new family pet. The Monroes found the bunny at a Dracula movie in a box of dirt. Chester tries to get rid of the bunny, now named Bunnicula by the Monroes, because he’s convinced the bunny is a vampire. He comes to this conclusion based on a book called The Mark of a Vampire. Bunnicula has all the signs – the black and white coloring, the pointy fangs, the ability to turn vegetables white and to escape his cage through miraculous means. It’s a matter of family safety! The bunny has to go!

Why I Started the Book:

Bunnicula was a class assignment in the month of October for a Halloween read. The book was broken into sections. We started by reading one chapter a week and then our teacher read aloud to finish the novel.

Likes:

  • The pictures in the book were cool. I wish there were more of them because the illustrator did a phenomenal job. The bunny is so cute!
  • It’s a very humorous story. There are a lot of laughs from silly to clever shenanigans. (e.g. Chester mixes up “stake” and “steak” and attempts to pummel Bunnicula with a steak.)

Dislikes:

  • (This is not a book dislike.) Don’t watch the twenty minute movie companion to this story! It’s soooo bad! It’s really just awful and the book is so much better!

Last Minute Thoughts: I enjoyed this book a lot and plan to read the sequel, Bunnicula Strikes Again! I think other classes and kids would enjoy this seasonal book a lot!

Buy: Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery (Paperback)

Book Rating: I give this book 4.5 treasure chests!
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Review: Across the Universe (Across the Universe, Book 1) by Beth Revis

Reviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Across the Universe (Across the Universe, Book 1)
Author: Beth Revis
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 416 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 14 and up

Summary: Godspeed is a spaceship that was sent into space by a group on earth, hoping to find a new earth planet. Amy joined her parents aboard as frozen cargo, not wanting to grow up without them. The journey is only supposed to take 300 years, so when Amy awakes she thinks they must have landed, but that is not the case. They can’t put her back to sleep without risking that she might never wake up again. That leaves Amy stuck on a spaceship, fifty years from its destination that is slowly spiraling into chaos. This is so not what she signed up for at all. How can she get her life back?

Why I started this book:

I picked this book up to read because it has been floating around the blogosphere for some time now and I’ve seen it on the shelf at the library. After reading and enjoying the Hunger Games I went searching for more books to read that would give me a similar read of dystopia and romance. This book fit the search criteria.

Likes:

  • The alternative view of history by a group of people stuck in outerspace desperately hoping to avoid mutiny. (Still horrifying! Amazing how awful histories can be rewritten to sound like a good thing – but that’s propaganda for you.) Take heart; never trade the illusion of safety for the actuality of freedom.
  • The heroine has some guts.

Toss-Up:

  • How the Elder/Eldest is perpetuated. It’s hard to like a hero when you see how he can be warped. It does bring up an interesting issue about personality/character/individuality/soul.

Dislikes:

  • I can’t believe they are really fifty years from reaching the planet. I really thought they were already there and orbiting around the planet for some reason.
  • Oh and the creepy descriptions of getting frozen or waking up from being frozen – and is it me or does the idea of two strangers (middle age men) putting your naked body (teenage female) into a deep sleep seem like a really terrible idea? Where were the female scientists to cover the issues of propriety?

Buy: Across the Universe

Rating: 3.5 Treasure Chests

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Review: Aurelia by Anne Osterlund

by First Mate Keira

Title: Aurelia
Author: Anne Osterlund
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 246 pages
Grade Reading Level: Grades 7-12

Summary: The book begins with a dead body being carted away. Readers soon learn that there’s a plot to kill the crown princess of Tyralt, but the princess herself is unaware. A grown up school friend returns to the palace to help unravel the mystery on behalf of the king. The clues all seem to be leading to the princess’ stepmother, the Queen, or to a King from a neighboring kingdom.

Why I started this book:

I was offered the second book, Exile, in the series and needed to read this book in order to be caught up for the second.

Likes:

  • Who’s behind the assassination plots? The mystery is handled extremely well. I had considered and thrown out the real culprit way early in the story based on red herring information. Well done!
  • Aurelia is not a common princess, as she loves her common subjects and prefers to be among them. She sneaks out of the palace and goes around in disguise (but I’m pretty sure the people know her despite the disguise) and mingles with everyone as often as she can. She dreams of being able to travel, but a crown princess can hardly go into the capital city, let alone visit the farthest reaches of her kingdom. She also wishes for more learning opportunity like university.
  • Robert is a nice guy and I hope to see his suit with Aurelia blossom.

Dislikes:

  • The ending is wholly unsatisfying as the person behind the murder attempts is left unpunished. Well… sort of… I hope said person is forced to marry a certain someone. Would serve that person right!

Buy: Aurelia

Rating: 4 Treasure Chests

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Review: The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman

bookreview

by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Title: The Homework Machine
Author: Dan Gutman
Page Count: 146
Format: Hard cover
Grade Reading Level: 3rd-5th

Summary: Brenton, Snik, Kelsey, and Judy are in 5th grade and have only thing in common. Can you guess what it is? They all hate homework! Brenton, however, has a secret homework machine that only he knows about. Until, he decides to tell Snik, Kelsey, and Judy and give them permission to use it anytime. (As long as they keep it a secret.) But someone tells another student about the machine. When Brenton gets an email the kids aren’t sure if they should still use the machine or who told the other student.

Why I Started the Book:

I read this book because I heard good things about it from my friends and my teachers. The title also made me curious and eager to read it. A homework machine? How Does it work?

Likes:

  • I liked how this book was written. It was like a person was in a room being videotaped and someone was writing what they were saying, also it changed point of view or narrators a bunch of times which I thought was fun.
  • I like the character Snik. To me he’s the, “I think I’m so cool, and everyone thinks so too!” kid.

Dislikes:

  • The things that Kelsey does: like get her navel pierced, seemed real stupid to me. I don’t get why it was included in the book. I think Dan Gutman was trying to show how Kelsey changed throughout the book or how she was trying to get attention, but I’m still not sure.

Last minute thoughts: Dan Gutman has yet to disappoint me! You should try his other books also.

Buy: The Homework Machine (Paperback)

Book Rating: I give this book 4 treasure chests! It was excellent!
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Review: 13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison

by First Mate Keira

Title: 13 Treasures
Author: Michelle Harrison
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 355
Grade Reading Level: Grade 5–8

Summary: Tanya knows that at age 13 she can no longer get away with talking to faeries or about them in front of others as both adults and kids couldn’t see them. Only her. She’d been tormented by them for years and the bullying wasn’t going to ever stop as far as she could see. When she tried to write about them in a journal, they discovered it and punished her. That punishment woke her mother which lead to more punishment… she was being sent away to live with her grandmother. The grandmother she is certain hates her and never wants her to visit. Oh and her grandmother’s place is stuffed with faeries inside and outside the house… talk about jumping from frying pan into the fire.

Why I started this book:

It looked really cute on the library shelf. Cover is very nice.

Likes:

  • Tanya’s and Fabian’s friendship. They work together to solve the mystery of the girl in the woods. The girl, Morwenna Bloom, had gone missing ages ago and but her disappearance was blamed on Fabian’s grandfather. The town thinks he killed her, but there’s no proof. Or is there?
  • Oberon is a good dog. He had a lot of personality infused in his character with just a few lines.

Dislikes:

  • Raven, Gredin, Feathercap, and Mizhog, the bullying faeries that pick on Tanya.
  • Morwenna Bloom. I just knew she wasn’t the sweet missing girl she’s made out to be throughout the story.
  • Another thing I didn’t get was feeling bad for changelings and trying to help them.
  • Florence’s relationship with her granddaughter. The motivations were explained in the conclusion of the story, but it seemed rather weak to me.
  • The 13 treasures the story is titled after appear in the novel as a charm bracelet to go with a legend. It didn’t do anything… I kept expecting it to end up being the real treasures shrunk down, but it was just jewelry.
  • The concept of guardian faeries was very contradicting in terms of world-building. In the end I didn’t quite understand how if one or several of the faeries were on Tanya’s side how they could condone tormenting and torturing her. It didn’t make much sense to me.

Buy: 13 Treasures

Rating: 2.5 Treasure Chests

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