HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE by Diana Wynne Jone

April 26, 2009 at 10:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Howl's Moving CastleSince probably third grade I have been obsessed with manga/anime and have loved it with an immense passion. In third grade my dad brought me to see “Spirited Away” at the movie theater. I HATED IT! It scared me and creeped me out and that pretty much closed off Hayao Miyazaki’s movies for me. In sixth grade (or was it fifth?) my dad came into the kitchen and said “Gemma, why don’t we go out tonight and see ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’? It was made by the same guy who did ‘Spirited Away’!” I hate to say this but I screamed and ran away to my room. That was the last I had heard of it. Last year my Italian teacher had us bring in all the books we would like to share in the class and started a sort of class library with all our books. My friend Alessia had brought in a load of books and I just chose one since we both had the same taste in books (Twilight anyone?) I took out a book that had “Il castello errante di Howl” written on the front cover and decided to read it (yes people…in Italian! If you haven’t understood it yet I AM bilingual and I DO read in Italian occasionally). I never really liked reading in Italian but I had too…so yeah! I couldn’t get into it seeing as it was in Italian so my mom had the ever so brilliant idea of buying the anime version for me on DVD. I screamed, I yelled but I still watched it and…LOVED IT! I immediately fell in love with Miyazaki’s work (but that’s a different story!) I decided I wanted to read the book again in English since I loved it so much…

The story- Sophie Hatter is an eighteen year old girl living in Market Chipping in Ingary (these are all imaginary places people! Deal with it!). She lives above her family’s hat shop (WOW! The Hatters’ own a hat shop! How original!) with her two sisters, father and stepmother. Her father soon dies and Fanny (her stepmother) has to pull the three girls out of school and send them off to be apprentices. Since Sophie is the eldest (and in Market Chipping it is known that the oldest can never make any fortune) stays in the hat shop (doing what? Making hats silly!) On May Day the Hatter’s shop is closed and Sophie decides to go visit her sister at Cesari’s bakery. On her way there she’s stopped by two guards who try to flirt with her but is dragged away by a mysterious man claiming to be her partner. She ends up at Cesari’s still amazed that a mysterious young man courted her. With her sister she speaks of everything   but in particular she speaks of Howl, a mysterious magician who has a magical castle that floats between Market Chipping and Upper Folding. After the May Day celebrations Sophie goes back to the hat shop when an eccentric woman walks into the store wanting to purchase a hat. She doesn’t generally like the hat Sophie shows her and before leaving turns Sophie into an old crone (gross!) Sophie leaves the next morning quite calmly to find some other place to stay. She comes across the moving castle and enters. Inside she sees a fire and sits in the chair right across from it. The fire speaks (WTF?! She really is crazy!) and claims to be a fire demon (Oh…that explains it!) He detects that Sophie is under a spell (which is a huge relief since Sophie can’t speak about the spell) and they both agree that they will try to break each other’s spell. Sophie falls asleep and when she awakes she sees a young boy of fifteen named Michael ( yummy!) busy bodying around the castle. He’s Howl’s apprentice and as if he had been summoned Howl walks into the castle. Sophie is amazed to see that it is the same man that had saved her on May Day (lucky her!) From then on they all bark on an adventure to destroy the Witch of the Waste (sorry…she’s the one who cast the spell on Sophie -_-’)

The author, Diana Wynne Jones, has also written two other books to complete the series. Though “Castle in the Air” (1990) was in fact published before “House of Many Ways” (2008) it is not in fact the sequel to the book but a companion to the series in which the main characters are featured at the end of the story. Do you all want to know a really random fact? The author’s husband was actually one of my mom’s university professors at Bristol! How random is that? I really do suggest this book to anyone but especially to people who have in fact seen the film adaption since it is 5000000000000000000 times better!




Volterra Reader


GENERATION DEAD by Daniel Waters

April 7, 2009 at 10:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Generation Dead

I’ve NEVER been someone who labeled myself unlike my friends. I have friends who practically go around with those “Hello my name is…” stickers attached to their shirts with their stereotype not their name in the name slot. You’ll find my friend Virginia with her “Hello my name is Emo” sticker or my friend Alice with “Hello my name is Hippie” stuck to her forehead. I’m not like that. I don’t get the point of labeling yourself and the people who live around you (I don’t see anything wrong with it though if you do. I just don’t see myself doing it!). Why can’t you just be yourself? Why do you have to fit in with the norm or with the people you find cool? I will never be afraid to go around with a sticker on my shirt saying “Hello my name is Gemma and I am 100% uniquely and perfectly me and if you have a problem you can stick it up your a$$”. Sorry if that got a little ugly but that’s who I am and people who have a problem with that have problems. I am myself. I consider that I have a little portion of any stereo stype in my blood. Yes I like slasher movies and I think blood is tasty, yes I wear indian and bohemian skirts, yes I sometimes wear a shit load of eyeliner, yes I love wearing pink and miniskirts, yes I love to read (as you can all see). Does that make me Goth/Vampire? Does that make me a Boho Hippie? Does that make me Emo or Scene? Does that make me a complete Girly Girl? Does that make me a bookworm? No…it doesn’t! it just makes me ME…Okay. Sorry I got slightly out of hand here…I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND LABELS!!!

Let’s move on to the book…

The story- Phoebe Kendall is your typical High School student attending Oakvale High. Yes she’ goth and has an immense passion for writing gothic poetry so how does that make her average? No, Oakvale High is not a school for goth kids (though that would be AWESOME) it is apparently one of the best schools in the USA for differently biotic kids. Only a few years earlier a strange phenomenon occured all over the world mostly concentrating itself in suburban United States. People are coming back from the dead! Well…not just people. It seemd that the differently biotic only seem to be teenagers and the scientists believe it’s because of fast food and comfort food. Pheobe and her best friend Margi have had a bad experience with differntly biotic kids before. Only a year or two before their close friend Collette died drowning and came back giving them all a shock. Since then Margi and Phoebe have never gotten close to any of the “zombie” kids. But that all seems to change. Tommy Williams is fairly new at Oakvale and along with Karen, he is quite different for the other “dead” students. He can speak quickly and use his brain without taking hude blocks of time. He walks instead of shuffling and suprising the entire country signs up for the Oakvale High football team. Adam, Phoebe’s neighbour and probably closest guy friend, is on the team and doesn’t understand his friends’ reaction to Tommy. His friend Pete for example doesn’t understand why they come back and honestly doesn’t want them to be back. The situation is quite normal; undead kids running around on the football field and stuff (OMG…I find that normal??? I am weirder than I recall!) But everything stirs when Margi sees a poem hanging in Tommy’s locker. Differently biotic kids aren’t known to be at all creative and Margi gets an even bigger scare when she notices that the poem is in Phoebe’s handwriting (WTF Pheebs?!) As the school becomes part of an experiment to study differently biotic kids and how they react in the company of normal kids Phoebe and Tommy get closer, close enough for him to ask her to the homecoming dance. Adam has already discovered that he likes Phoebe as more than a friend and knows that if he interferes she won’t be happy. As homecoming night approaches the zombies organize a party at the Haunted House, an old abandoned home where some of the zombies live. There Adam’s old gang conduct a plan to get rid of the differently biotic. In the exitement Pete aims at Phoebe and Adam jumps in front of her. Adam dies and come back. As he comes back to “life” Phoebe can think of only one thing; “Bringing him back. Bringing him back as far as she possibly can.” (page 392 GENERATION DEAD by Daniel Waters Hyperion New York 2008 hard copy edition).

This book was really good. It’s different from all the other zombie books out there. It’s a zombie love story if you will. I love the whole idea of going to school with undead beings. It truly makes you think what you would do if that actually happened. I suggest you read it if you like an originally spun tale.


Volterra Reader ♥


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