The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I’ve been subconsciously reading a few classics.  Don’t worry, Northanger Abbey is right around the corner to wrap up my Jane Austen adventures.  I’ve been enjoying revisiting books from my childhood.  The Secret Garden was one of the first Classics that I ever read.  I still have that book sitting on my shelf even though I read this one on Kindle. Something about re-reading the books we’ve read as children as an adult feels like a good thing for the most part.  I’m just hoping most books will transcend time and still have that enjoyment despite having grown up.

Let’s stop this rambling and check out The Secret Garden! 🙂

The Secret Garden
by: Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden

Ten-year-old orphan Mary Lennox comes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors and discovers an invalid cousin and the mysteries of a locked garden.-Goodreads

 The Secret Garden takes us on a journey with Mary Lennox who travels from India, a place with a different culture to a big manor in Yorkshire where she has a new way to live.  Mary Lennox is character with a lot of room for improvement and development.  Its a story really great for kids, showing us the wonders of the outdoors and friends and going at the core of exploration and learning new things.  The culture references might seem a little prejudice as it portrays India rather negatively. However, Mary is a character the learns a lot as she realizes that Colin, a sick boy, has a similar manner to who she was when she was in India and how she wants to better herself when she has to be more independent.

 What does make The Secret Garden a fun read is the contrast of its characters.  Colin is frustrating at first and gives us a reminisce of Mary when she first arrived.  They are both stubborn but with a lot of growth as their world is increasingly expanded due to being exposed to the outside world.  The emphasis on nature and fresh being positive to a child’s growth is an important message here.  Its also about accepting shifting your views and onlook on life and the mental component of how you view yourself.  It seems like a deep message but the simple idea that still lingers here and works is that positive thoughts fuel a healthier and happier lifestyle.  It generates more energy and more smiles and laughter and sometimes, the right people will be able to bring that out as a support but also, you have to have that motivation to think and feel that way for it to really work.

The Secret Garden is magical in its own way.  The writing is a little dragged out at various parts.  Perhaps it doesn’t transcend time as well as other children’s book (like The Little Prince) but it still packs a lot of nice messages and is meaningful.  I believe that positive thinking and fresh air is an important part of bringing up a child (even if I don’t have children of my own) and this book does a fantastic job at portraying that even if it extends a little to talk about the healing power of the whole ordeal but to me, the deeper meaning here is that if we mentally become happier and thinking happier thoughts, our bodies will heal as well.  Its definitely a great little children’s novel and a fun time that made me want spring to drop by and the ground to thaw so that I could go out and do some gardening myself.

Have you read The Secret Garden? 

Amulet series Books#1-6 by Kazu Kibuishi

I’m no frequent reader of comics or graphic novels but I’m slowly getting into it.  The Amulet series was a completely sporadic find one day when I was looking through the Best Kindle free ebooks section and the entire series was there.  Obviously, I don’t miss out on these things especially when I’m still trying to balance the whole homeowner situation and surviving and attempting to save no matter how much I cut out.  Books is one of those things so free stuff, I love it! 😉 Anyways, so that’s how I found this series which feels like a manga series but has that whole teenage fantasy story going on.  It works for me.  I really don’t mind these things.  Plus, its extremely relaxing to be reading books geared towards younger audiences especially after a whole month of pain with  Mansfield Park.

I read one and a half Amulet books a day so its a really good.  Just to give you an idea of why I’m doing a post for all six books instead of one for each. Plus, I’m really lazy and I have a thousand other posts to get done before the festival season starts in Montreal (well, it kind of did already).

Anyways, done with the rambling! Let’s check this out!!

Amulet Vol.1: The Stonekeeper

Amulet The Stonekeeper

After her father’s death, her mother moves Emily and her younger brother Navin to her family home in a deserted countryside.  However, one night, her mom goes to the basement to check a noise and the kids realize that she is taken away by a mysterious monster.  In the effort to save her, Emily finds an amulet that tells her she’s the stonekeeper that will save Alledia.  With her brother, they attempt to save their parents with the help of a few characters along the way.

Amulet is a quick read and very well paced.  The action starts right away and the journey to Alledia and saving their mother.  Plus, the elements and struggle of being a Stonekeeper is a really good concept.  There’s a lot to like for Book 1 and sets up the perfect stage to look forward to see Emily and her friends and family continue on their journey as they support her role as Stonekeeper, one that they all are learning just as much as she is.

Amulet Vol.2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse

amulet #2 the stonekeeper's curse

 The sequel seems to dive a little deeper into what being a Stonekeeper means.  For Emily, its still about finding the control over the amulet and not letting take control of her.  At the same time, her mom is still in grave danger and needs to be saved.  Navin takes on a bigger role and we get introduced to working with Miskit and Cogsley, the robots created by Silas, the great grandfather of Emily (I think). At the same time, we also start to get introduced to another key player who has his own agenda but joins into Emily’s team.  As they get to Alledia, they learn that a curse has caused humans to gradually turn into animals and this new character is exactly that and with some awesome fighting skills, we have Leon Redbeard.  For me, Leon is a great addition and if anything, this lifted up the book a little more.  Plus, there’s a lot more about the Elves and where everything stands.

Overall, a solid sequel that still works to build on the plot and adds in a few new characters to keep the story moving along.

Amulet Vol. 3: The Cloud Searchers

Amulet The Cloud Searchers

The next mission is about finding how to save Alledia and the only way is to seek help from the vanished city of Cielis that has the mystery council.  While Cielis is believed to have been destroyed many years ago, there are still a few that believe it has become a floating city hidden above the clouds. Emily and her crew seek out the new city to find that its not what they expected because its been corrupted.

The story of Amulet series seems to be a lot of changed motives and unexpected/compromised situations.  I’m not complaining.  These books are directed to a younger audience so my expecting something to happen is perfectly normal. What I liked about this sequel is how Emily and Navin both are developing as characters and we are able to see their strengths along with some of the other characters.

Amulet Vol. 4: The Last Council amulet the last council

Cielis isn’t quite what they expected and something seems to be wrong.  That’s when Emily meets Max, who wants to help her become part of the council.  Except the council and Cielis are separating her crew without her knowing about it.  As the group separates, they each go off to learn more about what has happened by other sources.

The Last Council picks up a little more action than the previous two books where we start seeing a little more back story on the characters we get introduced to help thicken the plot a little more.

Amulet Vol. 5: The Prince of the Elves

Amulet Prince of the Elves

Since the first book, Prince of the Elves is the one that I enjoyed the most and breezed through.  It has a lot more action and sticky situations.  Now we finally get a grasp of what the whole elves against the humans/Alledians are and who is behind all this.  Its a lot more fun with some more creative species into the mix and some battles.  The characters are having a good development and the decisions they make are starting to really shape who they are.

Amulet Vol. 6: Escape From Lucien

amulet escape from lucien

 Escape from Lucien features siblings Emily and Navin going in separate directions.  They both have their own missions to reach the end goal of finding a way to stop the Elf King.  The Amulet series has really turned into something fun.  I can see how kids may enjoy this because they can enjoy both a girl and guy protagonist.  The characters are simple and so are their goals: to save Alledia and get out of all this trouble, maybe even get home one day.  Except being a Stonekeeper isn’t easy for Emily, she has her destiny and she’s starting to see how losing control of the stone can affect her.

Overall, the Amulet series is a fun and quick read.  It has good pacing and even though for the older crowd (like me), its a little simple and predictable, the characters are all very lovable and there’s the little animal based ones which are just downright cute.  The bad guys are villainous but not too scary in their evil ways.  There’s a lot of action to keep things rolling and keep the plot unravelling into whatever sticky situation they get stuck in.  And the best part, the artwork. Especially those full page scenes of where the crew end up, its breathtaking and awesome.  I’m reading this on my tablet but imagine it printed in a book, it would be just wow. I’m sure glad that I ended up surfing on the free reads section on Amazon under this category that day but even if I had to pay for the next one, I probably would.  Its a really neat series! 🙂