The Icy Hand by Chris Mould

Title: Something Wickedly Weird, Vol. 2: The Icy Hand

Author: Chris Mould

Illustrator: Chris Mould

Unjacketed Trade Hardcover: 176 pages

Publish Date: September 2008

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (div of Macmillan)

ISBN: 9781596433854

The yellowy-white translucent light of a long-dead and well respected scoundrel began to form by the side of Stanley’s bed until it was the fully formed (but headless) figure of a man. Of course, Stanley was blissfully unaware of this. It was three in the morning and he was wrapped in his bedclothes preserving warmth and dreaming furiously.

…The spirit felt for Stanley’s sheets, and when he was sure he held them in his hand, he unrolled the tight chrysalis with a prompt jerk. Thrashing wildly, Stanley rolled on to the floor.

… His dead uncle lifted the forefinger of his right hand and drew four words, on inside each small square pane that ran along the bottom of the window. I need my head.

The Icy Hand by Chris Mould, pp 33-39

When I first came across a banner for The Icy Hand by Chris Mould, I thought it would be an incredibly fun book. With a werewolf, a headless ghost, angry pirates back from the dead and a talking fish, how could it possibly go wrong?

*sigh* Let me tell you how…

Within the first 30 pages, this book was off to a bad start. Part of its problems are poor transitioning. There are times when it goes from one event to another, hours later, without any break. The pacing and tempo is either all over the place or completely M. I. A. from this book. My thoughts on this issue were that, given it’s listed for ages 9-12, maybe it’s a style that works for the younger, less patient audiences?

So I grabbed my 9-12 year old (Maggie, age 10), and read her the books description. Like me, she thought werewolves, headless ghosts and pirates sounded promising. However, after only a few pages, she brought the book back to me saying, “It’s not my thing. I like stories with main characters in them.”

Which brings us to another problem with this book. The characters are poorly developed and rather two-dimensional. It is possible that they were developed in book one, which I have not read, but I’m disinclined to believe that. Again, with the characters, this book is all over the place. They do this then that… sometimes seemingly without purpose.

There is a bright spot with this book. The illustrations are fantastic. They’re dark and creepy, but still maintain a safeness that keeps them from being terrifying to small children. In some ways, the illustrations remind me of the Lemony Snicket series (though I don’t know exactly why), but they are uniquely Mould’s creations.

While The Icy Hand by Chris Mould has a few problems, it’s not entirely unlikeable or readable. I’d be willing to bet, though, this is one of those books that would make a much better movie. I definitely think it’d be a really cool movie, but it’d probably be better to make one of the whole series instead of just one book. I give The Icy Hand 3 out of 5 stars.

I found an interesting video to go with this post, but the embedding is disabled. Watch as Chris Mould creates the cover art for The Darkling Curse, another book in the Something Wickedly Weird series.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

Title:  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Author:  J. K. Rowling

Hardback:  352 pages

Publisher:  Scholastic Inc.

Publish Date:  2005

ISBN:  9780439784542

“Fine,” said Harry, who was concentrating on handing Ron a glass of pumpkin juice.  “There you go, Ron.  Drink up.”

Ron had just raised the glass to his lips when Hermione spoke sharply.

“Don’t drink that, Ron!”

Both Harry and Ron looked up at her.

“Why not?” said Ron.

Hermione was now staring at Harry as though she could not believe her eyes.

“You just put something in that drink.”

“Excuse me?” said Harry.

“You heard me.  I saw you.  You just tipped something into Ron’s drink.  You’ve got the bottle in your hand right now!”

“I don’t know what you’r talking about,” said Harry, stowing the little bottle hastily in his pocket.

“Ron, I warn you, don’t drink it!”  Hermione said again, alarmed, but Ron picked up the glass, drained it in one gulp, and said, “Stop bossing me around, Hermione.”

She looked scandalized.  Bending low so that only Harry could hear her, she hissed, “You should be expelled for that.  I’d never have believed it of you, Harry!”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling, page 293

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling  is the sixth of the seven book series chronicling the lives and exploits of the orphaned title character and his friends and classmates as they discover they are witches and wizards, go to Hogwarts school to learn to hone their skills, and learn to bond with friends and co-exist with enemies under the genially paternal headmaster, Professor Dumbledore.  In this particularly darkest book yet (I’m told book seven is even worse), Harry struggles with coming to terms (still and again) with the deaths of those close to him, while desiring to get revenge on Lord Voldermort, aka Tom Marvolo Riddle, for the deaths.

Yeah….  I remember when the first book was taking the American bookworld by storm, causing some Christian groups to suffer apoplectic fits at the thought of their sweet angelic prodgeny being infected by evil should so much as the book’s binding touch their innocent hands, and children clamoring to snatch the books off their shelves.  However, six books in and it just seems to be a repeat of each of the last five books’ plotline.  The children return to school, Harry suspects evil is afoot right away, no one believes him, everyone turns against him and treats him like a nutter, then evil pops out from behind the painting of the tutu-wearing trolls and says “Bwa-ha-ha!”  Harry saves the day, Hogwarts and the entire wizarding world, everyone apologizes for doubting him, then they all say good-bye for the summer and look forward to returning in the fall where they can go through the whole cycle all over again.  HP and the HBP has all that plus pimples, crushes and love potions.

It’s an okay book, but nothing I’ll remember next year… I doubt I’ll remember it next month, even.  I found myself trying to remember when whatever event being referenced occured, and I realized that I’ve forgotten a lot of the content of the previous books already.  What’s more, I think up to a third of this book could have been dropped.  Some of it was a repeat of what had happened in a previous book, but some of it  just seemed superfluous.

I’m glad I read it since I’ve read the other books of the series, and I definitely wanted to get it done before the movie comes out this coming July.  Some people have said the last book, Deathly Hollows, is the best book of the series. 

From the way this book has ended, Deathly Hollowsat least seems like it will break the endless cycle.  Harry tells Ron and Hermione that he doesn’t plan to return to Hogwarts for his final year because he plans to hunt down and kill Voldemort, and his friends inform him they’ll be right beside him wherever he goes.  But… it’ll be a while before that movie comes out so I needn’t get into too much of a hurry reading the book.

While Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling  was an easy and comfortable read, it often fell flat and fizzled in places.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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The movie looks like it’ll be really good, I thought the others were good, too.

TSS -Mad Dash for the Finish Line!

The Sunday Salon.com

Happy Sunday! and Merry (almost) Christmas 🙂

I have been a readin’ fool this week; I’m trying to reach my goal of 75 books by December 31st. I’ve really made progress this past week, but I’ve also been busy on Second Life, as well. I could probablyget more read if I stayed off SL, but I need balance between the two loves. At any rate, the following books were read and reviewed on Mt. TBR this week:

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil GaimanI am blown away by Gaiman’s ability to weave magic throughout his writing. A master at creating art, the pages of a book are his canvas and words his medium. I will definitely be reading more Gaiman in the new year!

Robot Dreamsby Sara Varon A very cute and touching graphic novel that tells a story of Dog and Robot without words. Great for a family of all ages to share, Robot Dreams shows the fragile and organic nature of friendships and relationships.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Unionby Michael Chabon  In this murder mystery, Chabon uses an alternate timeline to mix Jewish culture with the Arctic setting of Sitka, Alaska. Landsman is a maverick detective with personality failings and quirks, i.e. an alcoholic afraid of the dark. Yiddish Policemen’s is a story of the love children have for their fathers, and how age never dims their desire for their fathers’ acceptance and love.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis  Last of the Narnias to be written, Lewis intended The Magician’s Nephew to be read first. It gives the background of the events to take place in the most widely known Narnia book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. However, I think I enjoyed reading it better having read the latter first.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis  The most widely known and read of all the Narnia tales, this book is one of my all-time favorites. This is the fourth time I’ve read it, not to mention having watched both the BBC TV production and the Disney movie version several times. Written as a Christian allegory of the work of Salvation, this story is still enjoyable without that as a reader’s focus.

Besides reading these books, I’ve also launched a second BookBucks Giveaway. After receiving a disconcerting email from Joshua Henkin about the potential narrowing of new book selection due to the decline in publishing profits, I wondered what I could do to bring this concern to more people. And what brings more people in than free money? Don’t forget to sign up for your chance to win a $25, $15, $10, and $5 gift card to your choice of Borders, Amazon or Barnes & Nobles!

In the coming week my plans for reading are: The remaining five Narnia books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling, Brisingr(the third book in The Inheritance cycle) by Christopher Paolini, The Book Thiefby Markus Zusak, and Visions of Sugar Plums(Stephanie Plum Christmas novel) by Janet Evanovich. I also plan on finishing the books I’ve started but not completed this year: A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeline l’Engle, Bed, Bath and Beyond by J. D. Warren, and How to Be a Villianby Neil Zawacki. Okay, even without the kids here, this may be an ambitious list… lol.

As to Second Life, my vampire clan has split again and this time I’ve gone with the new family. Chosen Immortal is everything Treasured Vamps was suppose to be but has lost their way and become more about numbers, titles and politics. I’ve also moved from my old apartment to a floor in a friend’s castle. I’ve gained more space at about a tenth of the cost. I’m also going to be selling pictures and other things at a friend’s store, C&C’s Designs.

AND… due to an accidental purchase of a pregnancy pack, my avatar is now expecting. A $1500L mistake, I figured I’d just go ahead and use it… hate to spend the money and then throw it away. Currently, the little one’s name is “Mommy’s li’l Oops!”. It’s a boy (I have three girls in real life, by golly I’m having a boy this time 😉 ), and I’m not sure what to name him. Since BF is a werewolf, I had a half a thought to name him “Wolf”… lol… last name “Blitzstein”… That’s funny, because, unthinking, I made a comment the name “Wolf” worked well for the newsman Wolf Blitzer. Hahaha!