Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review- The Commander and Den Asaan Raatu

Hello readers- ladies, gentleman, and those of the third kind how has everyone been? I’ve been busy with writing and college life which is actually very worthwhile (in my humble opinion). Upon my return to The Gray Pen I have decided to review a book of a fellow writer I from twitter Michelle Franklin. I wrote this review last night on Goodreads, but I figure I’ll post it on here as well. Hope you enjoy and definitely take the time to pick this one up guys!

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’ve been lucky enough to have read the Tales of Frewyn from the outstanding blog to her two amazing ebooks. The Commander And Den Asaan Rautu is the first in the Haanta series, it begins with an explosion of romance, action and beautiful, clear, and entertaining language. It begins with a giant being freed to fight along the borders of Frewyn and leads to a deep romance which comes off realistic and alluring enticing the reader into the world which is being depicted. I have always been a fan of High Fantasy and The Commander And Den Asaan Rautu ranks high in my list alongside such great authors as Christopher Paolini, N.K. Jemisin and even the legendary Tolkien.

Michelle Franklin didn’t just create a plot and litter it with characters and settings, she created an entire world filled with individuals and vibrant settings which make the tale immersive and appealing.

The Haanta Series is a shining beacon in today’s fantasy and should be used as a milestone for other authors within the genre to strive for.

Find it on:



The Harry Potter Effect- The Lure of Hogwarts

Well in yesterdays post of this little series, From Napkins to Hardcovers, I wrote about J.K. Rowling’s explosion from struggling mother to best-selling author. In today’s post, I’m going to address the appeal of the wizarding world; more importantly Hogwarts castle. 

From the instant I opened the first Harry Potter book I was drawn into a fantastic world of both good and evil, of beauty and destruction and an ominous shadow overhead. When Harry first reaches Diagon Alley he is driven into a world of magic; far different than his previous mundane existence. The world is laced with secrets, omens and beauty far beyond anything he had ever dreamed. However, when he reaches Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he discovers a home for the first time. The castle is full of portraits along the wall composed with the souls of the dead who often conversate to passerby students and bicker with one another. Ghosts from across the ages troll through the hallways, some for better, some for worse.

The castle is full of towers, hidden rooms, floating candles and a lavish dining hall that would make any witch or wizard’s mouth drool. Throughout the series the trio discover new areas of the castle which aid them through their quests such as the Room of Requirements, The Pensieve, secrets pathways and the eery dungeons and what lurks beneath. Many people have called the halls of Hogwarts home; the walls or no longer a confined of school-age wizards, but a retreat for anyone who he needs help. For of course, “help will always been given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it”. 

After finishing the series, I felt compelled to stay within the confines of its pages. The magic of Hogwarts is so immersive that readers don’t read descriptions of this place, but they walk through the great doors into its walls. J.K. Rowling sees the castle as, “A huge, rambling, quite scary-looking castle, with a jumble of towers and battlements. Like the Weasley’s house, it isn’t a building that Muggles could build, because it is supported by magic”. Throughout the series we learn more things about the castle, such as muggle equipment like computers, cell-phones and GPS malfunction around the castle, and that wizards can’t apparate within its grounds. However, in Hogsmeade it is possible, as demonstrated by Dumbledore in the sixth film.

The final book shows a much darker side of the castle. With Dumbledore dead, Severus has a tight hand over the school with Death Eaters on the grounds. Students are being terrorized by the new teachers and all hope is lost. We should assume that the castle is back up and running sometime before the epilogue; seeing as there are plenty of children around station nine and 3/4.

Of course this setting would be attractive to readers. Who would not want to attend a school to learn magic? Instead of football, you can fly around on brooms at speeds of 65 mph throwing balls through hoops infront of a field of raging fans. The whole setting is a romanticized school that I fell in love with through first read.

Question: What’s your favorite part of Hogwarts?


The Harry Potter Effect- From Napkins to Hardcovers

Hello people of the page! As I said yesterday in this post, starting today I will be launching a small series of articles revolving around the success of Harry Potter and some of the mystery involved within it. Today’s article will focus on J.K. Rowling and how she formulated the Wizarding World.’

So how is a best-seller made? Is this classification of story crafted on type-writers of gold or keyboards of porcelain? Well world-renown British author J.K. Rowling had a slightly different approach, napkins at a local coffee shop. Should I back up a bit? I think I will. Well the story starts on a train in 1990. Rowling had always been a writer since the age of six she says, but on this train a sudden thought came over her and she was engrossed in this world of wizardry. This idea was of a young boy with messy black hair in glasses, a boy who had no idea he was really a wizard.

Rowling said later in an interview that the first book was finished in 1995, but the final chapter of the series, the epilogue had been written sometime in 1990. For five years she played with the series, taking her daughter for walks in her stroller and occasionally finding a seat in a local coffee shop where she would pen down ideas for the revolutionary series. Even in 1995, when she had finished the first book, The Philosopher’s Stone, the author had trouble with agents and publishers. The first agent she tried turned down the series and the second took it into consideration, but had trouble shopping it off. After eight publishers turned down the work, they finally struck gold; the rest is history as they say. Of course, one little tidbit was that the publishers wanted her to acquire a gender-neutral name to not scare off male readers; thus began the name J.K. Rowling.

The series has sold millions and millions of copies world-wide, has spawned eight movies, ten video-games and a theme park (soon to be two once WB builds one in England). This explosion of creativity is not only proof, but inspiration that best-sellers can be born anywhere. Writers do not need to be college graduates with MFA’s in Creative Writing (though I think that is awesome!) to break into the industry. By having a great idea and fine tuning it for many years, a perfect story can be born.

Tomorrow will be a much longer post on the parallels between the wizarding world and the real world of our own. Remember to subscribe by the buttons over there -> and leave a comment below on your opinion on this epic saga. 

The End of my Childhood- Harry Potter Review

In 1998, my grandmother bought me a book with some young boy clenching onto a broomstick lingering beneath the title. His messy black hair contrasted with the colorful background and looked like an instant classic, but to my five year old eyes it was another book. Reading was not quite the distant plateu to me as it was to the classmates my own age- I had already been reading for sometime. Sure, most of the reading was done in brief skims and the some of the words never quite stuck, but in my hands I held Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. My life has changed completely since I opened its paper cover.

Life was not an easy ride as a child and though most of the time I was blinded from the harsh realities by youthful ignorance, the plagues of parental separation and struggle had always been present. When I read Harry Potter, I was no longer a child dazed in a world of confusion, but I was a wizard. J.K. Rowling illuminates the wonderful wizarding world in such vivid detail, that I would think it would be difficult to not be sucked into its portkey. (hehe, Harry Potter reference). Harry Potter, Ron, Hermoine and even Hagrid were such colorful characters that I feel that I had developed friends within its text, they spoke to me, as they had to many others.

I hadn’t realized the pure scale of Harry Potter fandom until I was watching the news one night sometime in 2007, and they showed people tenting outside Barnes n’ Nobles for the midnight release of the newest book. Harry Potter had taken over the world. Though the book series has been done for sometime, the movies have finally wrapped up with Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Sure, Rowling will try to illuminate the universe more with her Fall 2011 release of Pottermore, but until then we need to wait and see what will happen. Surely, the wizarding world can’t stay dead for too long.

Instead of dissecting the entire series (I’m saving that for a new series starting tomorrow. So make sure to subscribe), I’m going to list the top-five bad ass scenes of the Harry Potter series. GO!

Warning  this article is full of SPOILERS. Read with your own digression.

1. The Basilisk

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry encounters the Basilisk (which also cues as one of the main antagonists, aside from Tom Riddle of course). This reptillian beast can kill anyone with one look; yes, sorry Moaning Myrtle. Later in the series when Horcruxes are introduced, the trio discover that a fang of a basilisk can destroy them, hence Riddle’s diary.

2. The Introduction of Sirius Black

The suspense in the beginning of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is unparalleled. Sirius Black is introduced as a manic serial killer, who betrayed the Potters and then killed seven people including the beloved Peter Pettigrew. However, when the trio reach the Shrieking Shack following the footsteps of Peter, they uncover a conspiracy. Black becomes a father-figure to Harry until his untimely death in the Department of Mysteries.

3. Voldemort Returns!

The series delves into a much darker place when the Dark Lord himself, Lord Voldemort is brought back to his full power. According to the text he once had an appearance similiar to Harry’s own, however, in his current state he resembles a snake. Voldemort might be the most bad ass character in present day fiction, though in a way he is almost like a Hitler character (or is that Gilbert Grindelwand? We’ll have to look at that in tomorrows series), he fosters no remorse or feelings when he seizes Hogwarts; even though, he does offer the students safety in return for his nemesis Harry Potter.

4. The True Colors of Dumbledore

Throughout the series, Albus Dumbledore is the voice of conscious for young Harry Potter. He assumes himself, as a guardian figure to the endangered young Potter and it seems rather loving and caring. However, as the series progresses you learn of the headmaster’s dark past, and though he might love Harry, he’s only acting in favor of the greater good. Even before Harry attends the magical school, Dumbledore knows that the boy must give his life in order to finally slay the Dark Lord. In one of the most heartfelt flashbacks of the series, he reveals this to a troubled Snape who argues on behalf of Harry.

5. The Death of The Boy Who Lives (irony)

At the end of book seven, Harry discovers that the last Horcrux is in fact his scar. Now this was a complete shock to me amongst many others; Harry Potter is a Horcrux? Through Snape’s memories he learns that he must give his life to defeat the Dark Lord. What results is an amazing scene demonstrated well in both the book and the movies, where Harry is in some sort of afterlife or illusion; neither is explained.

Harry awakens at King’s Cross Station, which is shrouded in blinding light and he sees Dumbledore standing beside him. On the floor lays a miniature Voldemort shrieking in agony. Dumbledore tells him to pay no attention, that he can’t help him.

What results is the best line I’ve heard in a while, Harry asks Dumbledore if any of what he was seeing was real or was it all in side his head. Dumbledore replies, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Thank you guys, there’s my top five bad ass moments in Harry Potter. What’s yours? Tomorrow I will start a series on the Harry Potter Effect. Subscribe to stay up to date ->


The Harry Potter Effect

1. From Napkins to Hardcovers

Coming on 200 Years of Frankenstein

I’ve always been intrigued by early Science Fiction. Whether it be a steampunk assumption of what a steam-based future might be or early stories of wild techologies which filled a limited world. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is one of the most powerful novels in the genre (well in my opinion.) The ideas of a creature being created and turn against it’s creator has become a popular mechanic in many author’s minds. Think The Terminator where machines become self-aware and attempt to destroy humanity.

We recently finished the novel in class and it is a great pice of literary work. A gothic theme with romantic overtones that resonate well with the scenery and description. Weather is a core example of setting the mood and swamping the reader with ominous feelings and foreshadowing. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: