The Black Cauldron


by Lloyd Alexander

Published 1965

This is the sequel to The Book of Threea continuation of the Prydain Chronicles, and the adventures of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper.

One of the things that I love about the Prydain stories is the way that each book is a little deeper and more thoughtful than the one before, while still retaining the light-hearted fun and happiness that make these books so enjoyable.  In each tale, Taran learns a bit more about what it means to be a man, and I love watching him grow.

The Black Cauldron deals a great a deal with pride and honor, as Taran accompanies a host intent on seeking out the black cauldron, which is being used by the arch-enemy to create the feared Cauldron Born.  These living dead are dead men who have been put in the cauldron and emerge without any memory of life, and they cannot be killed.

As the story unwinds, lives are lost in the attempt to find and destroy the cauldron, and Taran learns more about the true meaning of honor.

I can’t stress enough how much I love these books.  Read them!!!!


Taken at the Flood (AKA There is a Tide)


by Agatha Christie

Published 1948

This particular Christie novel was a mixed bag for me.  The mystery wasn’t that great, in my opinion.  But, some of the characters were, if that makes any sense.

The background of this book is post-war.  People trying to settle back into life.  People readjusting to all the changes.  People relearning who they are and what they’re doing.  And that part of the book was, I think, excellent writing.  Lynn Marchmont has been in the war, in the Women’s Royal Navy Service, and now has returned to the small village where she grew up.  Her fiancee (since before the war), was exempt from service–he and his cousin owned a farm, and only one had to go; the cousin won (or lost, depending on your view) the draw, and went to war.  He was killed there.

So, the background story is about Lynn, trying to settle back into her life in this small village, after she’s seen the world and been all about.  And now she’s coming  home and marrying someone with whom she’s grown up, who never left, who doesn’t understand what she’s seen and where she’s been.  And in the midst of all of that, drop a handsome and dashing young stranger.

I enjoyed that story’s unwinding, and watching Lynn and Rowley (her fiancee) work through their misunderstandings.  But the mystery itself, and, in some ways, the very involvement of Hercule Poirot, seemed almost jarring.  Almost, this story could have just been written as a story about Lynne and Rowley, without any murder or mystery, and I would have liked it.

As a mystery, it was just pretty average, a 3/5.

Fire and Hemlock


by Diana Wynne Jones

Published: 1985

This book was addictive.  I could not put it down, and I can’t really explain why.  The writing was excellent and the pacing perfect.  The dialogue was believable and the characters personable.  The plot was intriguing and the language was beautiful.


The story was also a bit confusing and convoluted.  And the end–the end was a disappointment to me.  It came abruptly, almost discordantly, and just felt like a cop-out.  As though the whole book had been building, and then the last chapter she was just like, “Oh, wow, I’ve really been rambling on!  Better wrap this up!”  It was very dissatisfying, as I felt there was very little resolution, and that all the little mysteries that had been occurring were very, very poorly resolved.

So, the book would be a 5 if the ending had satisfied me, and it’s still a 4/5 as is.  I’ve checked out another of her books to give it a go.  She was a prolific writer, so I think there be some potential for future reading.

Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Authobiography



by: Lemony Snicket

Published: 2002

So, this book was actually published in the midst of the Unfortunate series, and, while immensely entertaining, is completely useless.  I hoped that it may provide a few clues (you may remember that I was quite dissatisfied with the ending of that series), but no such luck.  Still, for pure entertainment and amusement, the book is delightful.  I found it hilarious, if simultaneously frustrating.


The Book of Three


by Lloyd Alexander

Published: 1964

So, this is the first book in the Prydain chronicles, and I had forgotten how much I love them until I started reading them again.  These books are delightful in every way.  The Book of Three is fairly light-hearted.  It introduces all of the main characters, bringing them together has they travel through Prydain.  The main character is Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper of Caer Dallben.  When the pig in his charge, Hen Wen, runs away, Taran is caught up in an adventure.

While this book feels like a bit of an introduction (and it is), it is still delightful in its own right.  I highly, highly recommend this entire series.  5/5.

Tiger’s Destiny


by Colleen Houck

Published: 2012

And here we have it, the fourth and final installment of the Tiger series!

The series did have a fairly satisfying ending.  This book also involved a phoenix, which is my favorite mythological creature.

WHICH REMINDS ME.  Somehow, when I was reviewing Tiger’s QuestI forgot one thing I was going to mention, and that was the fact that one of the things I did not particularly like about this series was the way that it haphazardly mixed religion and myth, as though they are both equally unbelievable.  I really know nothing of the Hindu religion, but I do not think that if I was a Hindu that I would take kindly to a series of books that basically, by its very premise says, “Your religion is a fairy tale.”  In Tiger’s Quest, Kelsey and Kishan find Noah’s Ark, and it’s the same kind of attitude from the author–we can include this in my fairy tale book, because it’s the stuff of fairy tales.  And I find that offensive.  Not in a I AM GOING TO WRITE TO THIS WOMAN AND GIVE HER A PIECE OF MY MIND kind of way, but just…  really?  I don’t appreciate the mockery of religion.  Like I said, I know nothing of the Hindus, so I have no idea if they would find Houck’s take on their religion offensive or not.  So.  End rant.

Ennywho, this book also involved time travel, which is always a good time, and death, which is pretty much never a good time, and the same stupid love triangle which is consistently OBNOXIOUS.

Still, this book, and the series overall, ranks a 3/5 for me.  I may read it again someday, but it’s not really a set of books I expect to return to again and again.

Per usual, spoiler-rants below.  ;-)

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Tiger’s Voyage


by Colleen Houck

Published: 2011

In this third installment of Houck’s Tiger series, we pick up directly following the close of Tiger’s Quest.  Throughout the story, Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan must now work together to travel on a journey meeting with several magical dragons who give them items that the trio need to complete their overall quest.  Once again, the writing was good and the story intriguing, but there was just toooooo  much Kelsey/love triangle drama for my taste.  Overall, a 3/5, because the dragons were awesome.  See below for spoiler-filled ranting if you are interested.  :-D

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The Labours of Hercules



by Agatha Christie

Published: 1939

As a side note, the list of Poirot titles that I have has let me down the last couple of books by not having them in accurate published order, which is a tad annoying.  Ah well.

This book is comprised of twelve short stories, tied together with a common theme.  In the introduction, Poirot is talking with someone, who comments on the irony of Poirot’s first name (Hercule).  Poirot responds that he does not know what possessed his mother to name him after Hercules, but he thinks that they are not unalike, for while Hercules performed tasks requiring superhuman strength, he, Poirot, performs tasks that require superhuman mental strength.  After his guest departs, Poirot researches the life of the mythological Hercules, and decides that he, Poirot, will undertake to solve twelve mysteries that follow the same lines as Hercules’s Labors.

Usually, I am not a huge fan of Christie’s short stories, but these were actually a lot of fun, with a bit of snarky humor thrown in.  I think that the reason that they were enjoyable was because they were not super-involved mysteries crammed into a chapter, but mysteries that made sense to solve in a chapter.  It was also fun to see how Poirot followed the twelve Labors.

Overall, 4/5.

The End: An Unfortunate Series of Events, books 9-13.



by Lemony Snicket

So, I reviewed the first half of this series earlier, and have been plugging along through them ever since.

I wanted to like these books.  I really did.  The writing was great fun and the similes amazing.  But…  just…  it was irritating.  I spend thirteen books following these kids around, reading about all the just stupidly frustrating and depressing things going on in their lives, and in the end…  I get nothing.  No resolution.  No answers.  No explanations.  Absolutely nothing.

And in fiction, I like resolution.

This series, overall, was 2/5.  I’m glad I read it, but I will never bother reading them again.